Captivate

(Post originally appeared on my other site, www.MinMarketing.com)

Captivate: The Science of Succeeding With People by Vanessa Van Edwards

As a human behavior hacker, Vanessa Van Edwards created a research lab to study the hidden forces that drive us. And she’s cracked the code. In Captivate, she shares shortcuts, systems, and secrets for taking charge of your interactions at work, at home, and in any social situation. These aren’t the people skills you learned in school. This is the first comprehensive, science backed, real life manual on how to captivate anyone–and a completely new approach to building connections.

Just like knowing the formulas to use in a chemistry lab, or the right programming language to build an app, Captivate provides simple ways to solve people problems. You’ll learn, for example…

– How to work a room: Every party, networking event, and social situation has a predictable map. Discover the sweet spot for making the most connections.
– How to read faces: It’s easier than you think to speed-read facial expressions and use them to predict people’s emotions.
– How to talk to anyone: Every conversation can be memorable–once you learn how certain words generate the pleasure hormone dopamine in listeners.

When you understand the laws of human behavior, your influence, impact, and income will increase significantly. What’s more, you will improve your interpersonal intelligence, make a killer first impression, and build rapport quickly and authentically in any situation–negotiations, interviews, parties, and pitches. You’ll never interact the same way again.

I first came across Vanessa Van Edwards via a Self-Made Man podcast interview she did with Mike Dillard. If you’re curious, you can listen to that podcast here. I was immediately taken both by Vanessa’s easy storytelling style and the captivating information she was relaying. I purchased Captivate the moment I finished the podcast.

I was not disappointed in reading this book. Captivate is an engaging and interactive read. Not only does Vanessa relate what she’s learned in an easy-to-digest (and apply!) way, she also encourages you to take quizzes and other actions to enrich your reading experience.

During the course of the book, you will learn 14 powerful ways to hack human behavior. The book is divided into three sections, meaning that no matter what your profession or personal social challenge, you’re sure to get something of value from the book. Whether you’re the type of person who has to meet a lot of new people or someone who’s trying to enrich their existing relationships, Captivate is a must read.

I can already see that this is a book that will stay on my shelf and that I’ll revisit time and again. There’s so much good stuff, it would be impossible to really get everything out of the book on a first read. I think an appropriate way to start applying the knowledge of Captivate in your own life is to pick one behavior hack at a time to focus on learning and internalizing. Each chapter features a “Challenges” section with ideas for putting each behavior hack into action. I am looking forward to trying these in my own life!

You Are a Badass

You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero

In this refreshingly entertaining how-to guide, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author and world-traveling success coach, Jen Sincero, serves up 27 bite-sized chapters full of hilariously inspiring stories, sage advice, easy exercises, and the occasional swear word. If you’re ready to make some serious changes around here, You Are a Badass will help you: Identify and change the self-sabotaging beliefs and behaviors that stop you from getting what you want, blast past your fears so you can take big exciting risks, figure out how to make some damn money already, learn to love yourself and others, set big goals and reach them – it will basically show you how to create a life you totally love, and how to create it NOW.

By the end of You Are a Badass, you’ll understand why you are how you are, how to love what you can’t change, how to change what you don’t love, and how to use The Force to kick some serious ass.

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This is one book that you definitely have to be opened to receiving. I’ve been introduced to the idea of The Law of Attraction before, so this was nothing new to me. But I did find her candidness and enthusiasm for the subject refreshing. I enjoyed reading her own stories and experiences she put into this book. In some ways, it almost felt like reading a memoir more than a personal development book.

I have never read The Secret. But if you are looking for an introduction to The Law of Attraction, this is a great place to start. This book introduces and explains the subject and explains how to put it into practice without feeling too preachy or too woo-woo crazy.

I think this is a great book that everyone should read. There’s sure to be a nugget in here that will resonate with you and motivate you to get in touch with your inner badass!

The Power of Habit

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

A young woman walks into a laboratory. Over the past two years, she has transformed almost every aspect of her life. She has quit smoking, run a marathon, and been promoted at work. The patterns inside her brain, neurologists discover, have fundamentally changed.
 
Marketers at Procter & Gamble study videos of people making their beds. They are desperately trying to figure out how to sell a new product called Febreze, on track to be one of the biggest flops in company history. Suddenly, one of them detects a nearly imperceptible pattern—and with a slight shift in advertising, Febreze goes on to earn a billion dollars a year.
 
An untested CEO takes over one of the largest companies in America. His first order of business is attacking a single pattern among his employees—how they approach worker safety—and soon the firm, Alcoa, becomes the top performer in the Dow Jones.
 
What do all these people have in common? They achieved success by focusing on the patterns that shape every aspect of our lives.
 
They succeeded by transforming habits.
 
In The Power of Habit, award-winning New York Times business reporter Charles Duhigg takes us to the thrilling edge of scientific discoveries that explain why habits exist and how they can be changed. With penetrating intelligence and an ability to distill vast amounts of information into engrossing narratives, Duhigg brings to life a whole new understanding of human nature and its potential for transformation.
 
Along the way we learn why some people and companies struggle to change, despite years of trying, while others seem to remake themselves overnight. We visit laboratories where neuroscientists explore how habits work and where, exactly, they reside in our brains. We discover how the right habits were crucial to the success of Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, and civil-rights hero Martin Luther King, Jr. We go inside Procter & Gamble, Target superstores, Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church, NFL locker rooms, and the nation’s largest hospitals and see how implementing so-called keystone habits can earn billions and mean the difference between failure and success, life and death.
 
At its core, The Power of Habit contains an exhilarating argument: The key to exercising regularly, losing weight, raising exceptional children, becoming more productive, building revolutionary companies and social movements, and achieving success is understanding how habits work.
 
Habits aren’t destiny. As Charles Duhigg shows, by harnessing this new science, we can transform our businesses, our communities, and our lives.

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I really love books like these, where the authors have managed to dig up a series of fascinating stories that they utilize to illustrate their points. It really elevates what could be a dull read into something captivating.

The Power of Habit is divided into three parts: The Habits of Individuals, The Habits of Organizations, and The Habits of Society. But it really feels like the book is divided into two parts. The first four chapters illustrate how habits work in the brain and how they can be changed or altered (or not). The last five chapters are really a further study of habits with a focus on practical applications.

The most powerful section of the book though is the appendix. It’s in the appendix that the author takes times to illustrate the how of changing or creating habits – in eleven pages. Luckily The Power of Habit isn’t very long or I suspect many a reader would be frustrated that they picked up a book to figure out how to transform their habits and had to wade all the way through to the end to get an answer.

But The Power of Habit is more than an instructive book. It’s a persuasive book that argues that though we may be “creature of habit” we alone have the power to change our habits and our destinies. Which brings to mind one of my favorite quotes from East of Eden:

But the Hebrew word, the word timshel—‘Thou mayest’— that gives a choice. It might be the most important word in the world. That says the way is open. That throws it right back on a man. For if ‘Thou mayest’—it is also true that ‘Thou mayest not.

And that, truly, is the core of what The Power of Habit is about. When you understand your habits, you have the freedom to control them.

Summer at Tiffany

Summer of Tiffany by Marjorie Hart

Do you remember the best summer of your life?

New York City, 1945. Marjorie Jacobson and her best friend, Marty Garrett, arrive fresh from the Kappa house at the University of Iowa hoping to find summer positions as shopgirls. Turned away from the top department stores, they miraculously find jobs as pages at Tiffany & Co., becoming the first women to ever work on the sales floor–a diamond-filled day job replete with Tiffany blue shirtwaist dresses from Bonwit Teller’s–and the envy of all their friends.

Hart takes us back to the magical time when she and Marty rubbed elbows with the rich and famous; pinched pennies to eat at the Automat; experienced nightlife at La Martinique; and danced away their weekends with dashing midshipmen. Between being dazzled by Judy Garland’s honeymoon visit to Tiffany, celebrating VJ Day in Times Square, and mingling with Cafe society, she fell in love, learned unforgettable lessons, made important decisions that would change her future, and created the remarkable memories she now shares with all of us.

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I first heard about this book when I went to the SDSU Writer’s Conference in January. Marjorie Hart was one of the speakers, talking about how her book was discovered at the conference. She read a little section from the book and I couldn’t wait to pick it up and read the rest. I was excited when my bookclub chose Summer at Tiffany for our April read.

This was a lovely little memoir, a window into a different era. It really does seem like it was a simpler time, full of innocence and magic. This isn’t meant to be a deep, instructive memoir like The Glass Castle.

I enjoyed that the book came with a section of Marjorie and Marty’s pictures and illustrations of New York. I also found myself googling the famous people they met and learning their stories as well. Judy Garland, Marlene Dietrich, Wallis Simpson…names I knew, but stories I knew precious little about. And the history they witnessed! Marjorie and Marty arrive in New York at the tail end of World War II…what a time to be alive!

This is an easy read that was over much too soon! It’s sweet, it’s fun, and it would make an awesome beach or summer afternoon read!

 

Getting to Yes

Getting to Yes by Roger Fisher and William Ury

Since its original publication nearly thirty years ago, Getting to Yes has helped millions of people learn a better way to negotiate. One of the primary business texts of the modern era, it is based on the work of the Harvard Negotiation Project, a group that deals with all levels of negotiation and conflict resolution. Getting to Yes offers a proven, step-by-step strategy for coming to mutually acceptable agreements in every sort of conflict. Thoroughly updated and revised, it offers readers a straight- forward, universally applicable method for negotiating personal and professional disputes without getting angry-or getting taken.

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I thought I was a pretty good negotiator. Good, not great. But sufficient. Until I read this book. Boy, do I have a lot to work on!

I feel like Getting to Yes will be a book I come back to many times. I found myself reading a section and then stopping and rereading it because the concepts felt so foreign I had to take extra time to process them.

The major premise of this book is that the way most people negotiate is flawed. Most of us negotiate in one of two ways: by driving an overly hard bargain to get as much as you can from the other person for the sake of “winning” or negotiating too complacently. The book calls this time of negotiating “positional bargaining”.

Getting to Yes posits that there’s a third way to negotiate that people can learn and use to find outcomes that leave both parties feeling mutually satisfied. No particular name is given to this type of negotiation, but it has four main components:

  1. Separate the People From the Problem
  2. Focus on Interests, Not Positions
  3. Invent Options For Mutual Gain
  4. Insist on Using Objective Criteria

This book was pretty eye-opening to me and it made me think of the negotiation styles of people I know well and people in power and it did made me realize that the best negotiators I could think of were using the tactics in Getting to Yes.

This isn’t a very long book, but it’s definitely a must-read even if you’re not in a sales or negotiation profession. The tips in here are applicable to all kinds of problems.

 

Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

In Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography, Isaacson provides an extraordinary account of Jobs’ professional and personal life. Drawn from three years of exclusive and unprecedented interviews Isaacson has conducted with Jobs as well as extensive interviews with Jobs’ family members and key colleagues from Apple and its competitors, Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography is the definitive portrait of the greatest innovator of his generation.

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I struggled with this book at first, as I do with almost all biographies. Unless I’m doing research for something, I can feel way too bogged down by all the details.

There was also the matter of how Isaacson approached the biography of Steve Jobs. Jobs was obviously a very flawed human being. I think the introduction should have been a little longer, to give the reader more of a warm-up for (the uninitiated) how not nice of a guy Jobs could be at times. I knew he wasn’t a super well liked person, but I didn’t know the full extent of it and not being adequately prepared for it made me struggle to keep reading because I just couldn’t root for him for the longest time.

There’s a passage at the very end of the book from Jobs’ wife that I think should have been somewhere in the introduction. She summed up Steve and Isaacson’s treatment of his life in this biography really well:

“Like many great men whose gifts are extraordinary, he’s not extraordinary in every realm…he doesn’t have social graces, such a putting himself in other people’s shoes, but he cares deeply about empowering humankind, the advancement of humankind, and putting the right tools in their hands.”

For its flaws, I really began to like the book after we got to the part about Pixar. I think the biography started to hit its stride there, as Jobs did in his life. And the rest of the book was more interesting to me since that is roughly the time period I lived through.

I also thought the epilogue to the book was superb. Absolutely superb.

I definitely walked away with a greater understanding of Jobs and how his vision informed Apple and all of the products I loved. End-to-end integration wasn’t a term I was familiar with before this book, but I really resonated with that idea.

I absolutely loved this quote from Steve Jobs himself, as he summed up his legacy:

“What drove me? I think most creative people want to express appreciation for being able to take advantage of the work that’s been done by others before us. I didn’t invent the language or mathematics I use. I make little of my own food, none of my own clothes. Everything I do depends on other members of our species and the shoulders that we stand on. And a lot of us want to contribute something back to our species and to add something to the flow. It’s about trying to express something in the only way that most of us know how-because we can’t write Bob Dylan songs or Tom Stoppard plays. We try to use the talents we do have to express our deep feelings, to show our appreciation of all the contributions that came before us, and to add something to that flow. That’s what has driven me.”

Chasing Relevance

Chasing Relevance: 6 Steps to Understand, Engage And Maximize Next-Generation Leaders in the Workplace by Dan Negroni

There are more than 83 million millennials in the United States, representing 36% of our workforce. By 2025, that number will grow to 75%. If millennials are not your employees yet, they will be soon-as well as your biggest customers. Our ability to attract, train, manage and retain this next generation of leaders is critical to the future success of our businesses. But a huge and damaging connection, communication, and understanding gap exists between non-millennials and millennials in our workplaces. Why? Because millennials are not a problem that needs to be fixed, they are an opportunity that needs to be embraced. We must all find relevance in bridging the gap to create next-generation leaders in all of us by: – creating powerful, authentic relationships – promoting behavior that creates a culture of openness, delivering value and shared purpose – teaching real-deal skills and increasing individual accountability to drive sustained results

That’s what Chasing Relevance is about: being better leaders by guiding those millennials and letting them guide us, having everyone be their best self by caring enough to connect. The choice is clear: we need to care more about millennials by pushing ourselves to be better leaders, coaches, and mentors. Because we love them, we need them and we want them to succeed. It’s time to stop chasing relevance and make it happen.

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Perhaps because I’m a millennial, I don’t understand how anyone could manage their employees (let alone their millennials) in ways other than through the strategy outlined in Chasing Relevance. Yet they do because I’ve lived it, I’ve seen it, and I keep seeing it.

This was a truly fantastic read! 36% of the American workforce is millennials, yet people are still writing articles about how millennials are the worst generation (like this*). It’s a refreshing change of pace to read a book that talks not only about what’s great about millennials, but how to do better in the workplace whether you’re a manager of millennials or millennial employee.

Even if you somehow don’t have any millennial employees (and you haven’t been avoiding hiring them), you can use the tools and techniques in this book. Because the strategy in Chasing Relevance is really a better, more productive way to manage a business and be in a workplace. Period.

Chasing Relevance is divided into two parts. The first is about making over yourself to be a better employee or manager. The second is about the B.R.I.D.G.E. theory of getting over generational gaps to boost employee morale, retention, and productivity. It’s important to take the time to work through each section of the book. The first part is very interactive and requires you to do some external thinking beyond just processing what you’re reading. The second part is a 6-step process that you will probably need to tackle piecemeal, especially if the concepts are really foreign to how you manage and interact with others.

As a millennial, I will say this book is completely spot-on. The six steps of B.R.I.D.G.E. are how I manage and also how I like to be managed. I’m not saying I’m naturally perfect at this because I’m a millennial. I’m a human and I struggle to be better in certain areas – particularly with I, D, and G. But I firmly believe this is the best way to get the most out of people. All other methods are problematic pretenders that have no place in the modern workplace.

*Yes, I did deliberately choose an article from Breitbart

Click here to buy: Chasing Relevance: 6 Steps to Understand, Engage and Maximize Next Generation Leaders in the Workplace