To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others by Daniel H. Pink
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I am a fan of Dan Pink, and I attribute much of my interest in this genre of reading to his earlier works. To Sell is Human is a compelling argument for the fact that selling is a part of basically everyone's life these days. Because of the ubiquity of information, the power is now in favor of the "buyers" rather than the "Sellers". Because of this a new way of selling is needed. Pink argues for the ABC of selling; attunement, buoyancy, and clarity. Attunement can be summed up as having empathy for those you are trying to move, and really take the time to listen to them. Buoyancy is the ability to keep afloat in the "ocean of rejection" by having a generally positive outlook on life and an accurate understanding of your own identity (locus of control). Clarity is what it sounds like, being clear. The more specific and direct we are in helping people understand what we are trying to do in moving them the better.
In addition to the ABCs Pink shares a multitude of activities, resources, and discoveries from the social sciences that can be helpful in moving others. Things like the power of rhyming when packaging short statements ("If the glove doesn't fit, the jury must acquit"), mirroring others to a certain degree, and framing your proposals in different ways such as in a question.
The book was very practical, and I wish I had bought a copy rather than checked it out from the library because it is the kind of resource that I would like to return to. The activities and ideas seem like a great reference for just about anyone since we are all in sales now!
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I just finished reading Give and Take which happens to be A Revolutionary Approach to Success as stated by the book's subtitle. Another book I read and enjoyed ignited Susan Cain's Quiet Revolution" and the "Doodle Revolution" led by Sunni Brown was recently featured in one of my favorite podcasts. It seems everywhere I turn there is some sort of "revolution" going on, so much so that I wonder what the term has come to mean.
For example, does the guy at the end of this video really believe he is starting a revolution with this "smart helmet"? Or is he just using some old recycled copy everybody else has already burned through in the last decade? Either way, I think he is a little annoying.
In an article in the New Yorker called Small Change, Malcolm Gladwell states, "Where activists were once defined by their causes they are now defined by their tools . . . Fifty years after one of the most extraordinary episodes of social upheaval in American history (civil rights), we seem to have forgotten what activism is."
I will be the first to admit that I don't think I really know what it is like to be a part of a real movement. Everything is a movement these days, just like everything is a revolution. Maybe it is a symptom of being a Millennial to make bold and sweeping claims that you are going to change everything with a revolution. Somehow it seems like the lost quality of terms like "movement" and "revolution" signifies the diminishing essence of our society's moral and social fabric. If we all want to change the world, who will be around to ensure those changes are sustainable? Will we all the change the world in ways that lead to a more united or more disconnected society? We are so hasty to indicate that we are in want of change, when I believe we should be even more interested in listening and understanding those who live in the current reality. I can't think of a better example than the way the western world has treated (and continues to treat) the continent of Africa over the last few decades.
Another quote from Gladwell's 2010 article:
"The evangelists of social media don’t understand this distinction; they seem to believe that a Facebook friend is the same as a real friend and that signing up for a donor registry in Silicon Valley today is activism in the same sense as sitting at a segregated lunch counter in Greensboro in 1960 . . . (social media) makes it easier for activists to express themselves, and harder for that expression to have any impact."
Social media and the Internet at large has made it easier than ever to start a movement or ignite a revolution. But at the end of the day, maybe we should take a step back and reflect on what we are moving away from or revolting against? I am very unhappy with what has happened in Ferguson and what continues to happen on a daily basis to people of color all across America. However, I don't think the solution will come with a few likes or tweets. Something more substantial is required, and I don't know what that is. Maybe maintaining the identity of the public school system to enable people of different colors and classes to interact and learn together? Or perhaps pouring more resources in developing strong family units rather than tearing them apart by sending kids to jail or parents to a foreign country? I don't know.
Public school and the traditional family unit are old news. But maybe if I frame it right, I could start a revolution to bring them back to the center of our society.
Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I loved this book. Throughout high school I remember we often had to memorize who wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin, but never do I remember even learning about the book's plot. I was surprised by the literary power of the novel, the depth of the characters, and the wonderful insight of Mrs. Stowe on the human condition. It is hard to imagine what it might have been like to have "read from its pages by the light of the Vermont fireplace" at the time it first came out. It is one of the most compelling and complete arguments for human rights I've ever read.
If all you've known about this book is who the author is, I recommend you read it. The audio version is free on LibriVox, and it is really well done. It isn't a happy book, but it is a great story of human suffering and redemption. I wonder if we never read it in school because of the strong religious tones?
I thank God there were truly good people like Mrs. Stowe who argued and fought for what they knew was right. Uncle Tom's Cabin is a powerful monument to that great group of people who worked so hard and love so much.
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Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success by Adam M. Grant
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Give and Take is a very thorough exploration of evidence that being open and willing to give more than receive leads to a happier and more fulfilling career and lifestyle. Grant shares many different stories, pieces of evidence and insight into how Givers behave in contrast to Matchers and Takers.
Perhaps the most important section for me was the chapter about Givers learning not to be doormats. Often I have struggled to be more firm and selective with my time and energy but end up giving away everything to anyone that seems in need. I understand my burn out in Teach For America in a whole new light! I was trying to give everything to my job and my family with little feedback or immediate method for seeing my giving make a difference.
As I reflect on this book I think there is much to be learned and acted upon, though I fear like with most things I read I quickly forget what was in them. Some cool ideas I hope to remember include:
- When negotiating, Givers can be stronger by taking a mindset of advocate. If what you are negotiating concerns more than just you, think about the needs that must be filled by those that will be impacted (story of man negotiating for a higher salary in order to sustain his family). Don't cop out just because you want to please someone if it isn't what is best for those you are already serving.
- If you are a Giver and are burning out from too much giving, see if you can find a way to give in a setting that provides feedback more quickly. It is hard to feel like you are making a difference if you never see the result.
- Reciprocity Rings: spending 15-20 minutes with a group of people in which individuals can make a public request and the group tries to come up with some advice, help, or guidance related to that question.
- The best givers are always open to give, but are careful around takers and create simple ways to weed them out.
I recommend this book, though it was longer than it needed to be. I am sure if you read a couple of Gran'ts articles online and visited his website you could get the gist of what he is saying. However he writes very well and the stories throughout the book bring the idea of giving alive.
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I am a graduate student in Instructional Psychology and Technology at Brigham Young University. I enjoy writing, hiking, and spending time with my family.