Start With Why – Simom Sinek

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What’s you why?

Another great great book that I have to write about!  Simon Sinek’s book is so powerful, yet the concept is so simple!

What’s the common denominator between Tesla motors, Martin Luther King and Apple?

Why is it that people queue up outside to put their deposit down for the new Tesla car, when historically no one pre-orders a car, or lines up outside a car shop?  How did Martin Luther King galvanise so many people and create a movement that changed the world?  Why do people freak out over new Apple product and not over the latest Android product?

As the book title suggests – it’s because of why!  

Most people talk about how.

Most people talk about what.

Leaders talk about why!

Here’s an example of what a typical computer company would say to gain your interest:

“We make great computers (the how), they’re beautifully designed and user-friendly (the what).  Want to buy one?”

A good computer company (Simon Sinek often talks about Apple) would say something more like this:

“Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo, we believe in thinking differently (the why).  The way we challenge the status quo is by ensuring our products are beautifully designed, simple to use and user-friendly (the what).  We just happen to make computers (the how).”

Totally different feel and message in the last example!

Notice how people that change the world speak exactly in the opposite way (the why -> the what -> the how) to people who have no impact on us (the how -> the what -> the why).

Now it sounds really simple, but have a think about how powerful this simple concept is.  I recently had to pitch my business idea to a bunch of people and I literally had a few of them in tears because I spoke about why I’m doing what I’m doing!  I’m just creating a piece of software and I had people on the edge of their seats!  Most people who pitch their business ideas or talk about themselves, talk about what and how they do things, but very rarely about why.

This is the difference between a leader vs a follower.  The trend setter vs the race to the bottom.

What’s your why?

The War of Art – Steven Pressfield

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“Creative Work is….. a gift to the world and every being in it.  Don’t cheat us of your contribution.  Give us what you’ve got” – Steven Pressfield

I had that feeling to write a blog post today.  There was a little voice in the back of my head.  “It’s too late, just go to bed” it said…..”Don’t do it, what will people think” it said……..”Do it tomorrow”…..

The War of Art had been recommended to me by a number of people and I can see why now.  We’ve all heard that voice.  It’s called The Resistance and if you don’t constantly fight it everyday it will win.

It’s the amygdala, the most primitive part of our brain that causes us to think this way.  It stifles our creativity and stops us being authentic.

It stops you from putting your hand up in meetings and offering insights.  Why?  Because if you do put your hand up and say something not quite right, then your boss will notice, then she’ll look at your CV and realise you lied once and then you’ll get fired and then you can’t pay your mortgage and then you’ll end up homeless and then you’ll die!

Of course this isn’t true, but the amygdala/the lizard brain is what’s kept us alive and let humans thrive.  However, we don’t live in that era any longer….

If we make a mistake we won’t get killed.

The same things that made humans thrive are the same things that now hold us back.  We don’t need to be afraid of building real connections with strangers.  Hell, thanks to the Internet, nowadays we can find more like minded people who we can truly connect with than ever before.  Look at this blog and the random people that like it from around the world! (Thanks by the way!)

This is a topic that is hardly ever talked about.  If you want a reality check and how it is often indeed yourself that’s holding you back from doing your important work then read this book and keep fighting The Resistance.

Influence & Yes! by Robert Cialdini

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Influence or be influenced

Double book review today!

Both of these books will change your life!  These two books should be taught in all schools across the world.  Why?  Because they teach the basics of human interaction.

Influencing people is something we do all day everyday.  You may disagree with the premise of the book and frown about wanting to learn more about influencing others but, know this – if you are not aware of how to influence others, then it is likely that you are the one being influenced.

These books are not “woo-woo” or esoteric in nature.  They are both grounded in science and reference an immensely huge number of studies throughout.

How easily we are influenced is quite startling and will make you reflect on your own life a whole lot.  One of the funniest things I read in the book was that people tend to live in cities or choose careers which sound similar to their own names!  For example dentists are 82% more likely to be named Dennis than you’d expect if name similarity had absolutely no effect on career choice.  Imagine my shock when I realised that I lived in Leeds (England) and my friends all call me by the nickname Keeb!

 

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Yes! is the sequel to Influence and has some amazing insights

So, you’re probably thinking how you can use these techniques to your own ends.  Well, as it turns out there are six concrete laws to influence.

  1. Reciprocity – Ever wonder why that salesman gave you a cup of tea/coffee before starting negotiations?  It’s because they know that once you give someone something, they feel it is incumbent on them to repay the favour.
  2. Authority – When you visit your doctor and they have their degrees and certifications hanging on the wall, you are much more likely to believe what they are saying.  In fact there was a study which showed that medication compliance increased greatly when doctors displayed their diplomas in their offices for patients to see, than when they did not!
  3. Commitment – Imagine if a friend bumps into you one day and asks you if you support cancer research.  You are likely to say yes, unless you’re a douche bag.  Say that the friend then bumps into you a week down the line.  “Hey, I thought you’d be interested.  I’m running a marathon for cancer research.  I remember you were interested in this.  Would you like to sponsor me?”.  You are much much more likely to say yes and give a larger amount of money than if you did not make your initial commitment.
  4. Scarcity – If you are the only guy at the part, the girls are much more likely to find you attractive and want to get to know you than if you were one of a hundred dudes there.
  5. Liking – The more we like people, the more we want to say yes to them!
  6. Social Proof – If everyone at work has an iPhone, you want one.  If someone recommends your services then you are more likely to get more business.  If friends at a party sing you praises, then the people you don’t know at the party will want to get to meet you.

Of course you can use all of this information for your own needs, but using these techniques unethically will backfire in the long run.  If you come from a place of authenticity and use these techniques to enrich your relationships then knowing these rules can be incredibly powerful!

Buy these books to get a much deeper understanding – I’ve only just scratched the surface here.

The Rise of Superman

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Getting into “Flow”

I remember that moment when I was 16 years old playing in my first band.  We were improvising on the spot, our minds connected.  The notes seemed to flow out of me, the licks I had been trying to nail for weeks were just pouring out of me with seemingly no effort.

I remember that first date with my girlfriend.  We spoke for hours and for that period of time there was no before or after.  There were no distractions, we could only see each other.

These moments for most people are rare and sometimes life changing.

I had no idea that there was real science behind this state of mind.  This book delves into the science of “flow state” including discussions about brain imaging, neurotransmitters, neurochemistry, as well as how to “flow hack” – hacking your actions to get into flow state more often.

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Shane McConkey getting into flow

“Flow state” is a powerful state of mind.  The research out there shows that when you are in this state your senses are heightened, your decision making skills improve exponentially, you are able to interpret data at a much greater speed, your skills, strength and energy all go through the roof.

The book is full of anecdotes from extreme sports legends as these are the people who are continually pushing themselves to the limit, putting themselves into situations that are risky and have mastery of a skill that allows them to have some control over their situation.

These are some of the prerequisite factors that help us to get into “flow”.

However, it is not just extreme sports athletes that can utilise this state of mind.  Large corporations are investing heavily into this research and changing the environments their employees work in to get them far more productive.  Individuals can also utilise this research to tap into “flow” more frequently to improve their lives.

Unfortunately, toying with “flow state” can be very dangerous for obvious reasons.  Shane McConkey in the image above died as a result of one of his ski-BASE jumps.  Always trying to push himself harder and harder led to  disaster.

As the book points out, getting into “flow” means that your brain is releasing some of the most addictive neurochemicals known to man which can sometimes drive people to an unstable psychological state.  Some ex-extreme sports athletes report symptoms of PTSD after their careers are over.

Want to perform at the ultimate level of human performance?  Then you might just have to take that risk.

Hooked by Nir Eyal

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The step by step approach to get people addicted to your product!

We’ve all done it.  We’ve all been dead set on getting down to work, but then end up watching random cat videos on YouTube, or ended up looking at random pictures on Pinterest for hours on end.

This book is precisely about that.  It reveals the techniques that some successful companies use to get us addicted and keep us coming back for more.

I won’t go into the techniques used too much as I want you to get and read the book yourselves!  However it can be summarised with a pretty basic flowchart:

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The four steps to hook users

Essentially, there are four steps.  Triggering (for example your phone vibrating or ringing), users taking action (opening emails or liking photos etc.), getting rewarded (people liking your comments, viewing your content), investing (giving companies data such as your personal information or uploading content).

Yes, hooking is basically synonymous with manipulation or getting people addicted to your product.  As much as the author, Nir Eyal  espouses that this information should be used for the good of mankind, I am sure people will use this information for the exact opposite reason and to make a quick buck.  However, even if you disagree with a step by step guide to hooking/manipulating people I think it’s pretty important to be aware of how you are likely being manipulated already.  At least if you are aware of this then you can choose to continue in your habits, break free or consciously take part.

The problem is that the hooked model is just so damned effective because of what Nir calls “internal triggers”.

One of the “internal triggers” that seems to motivate people the most are negative emotions.  For example studies have shown that depressed people tend to use Facebook much more than others.  It’s our fear of missing out that keeps us checking that Twitter feed.  We keep checking our e-mails because we’re worried that something has happened at work.

Personally I found the psychological implications and insights much more eye opening than what techniques large companies use to keep us using their products, as I think most people out there have already guessed that corporations have invested large amounts of money and research into making sure we keep using what they’re selling.  It’s just a very powerful reminder on how primal human beings really are and how our fear of scarcity, failure, rejection etc. motivate us to literally spend hours everyday with technology.

Linchpin by Seth Godin

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Are you a linchpin?  Or are you listening to you lizard brain and are part of the crowd?

This is an excellent book which I highly recommend – especially for people who are stuck in a rut and not satisfied with their life/career and where it is going.   Not only is it for those people, but it’s a wake up call to everyone who is stuck in the comfort zone.

As a doctor I believe I am in one of the “safest” professions – as in I am not easily replaceable.  If I go off sick then patients may come to serious harm.  When I become a senior physician I will be a named physician for my patients and will often have to accept sole responsibility for their wellbeing.

Why is it then that I have an uneasy feeling about being your run of the mill senior physician and about the future prospects of my career?

It’s because times are changing.  People can no longer expect to go to school, college and University and gain an education that will last them a life time.  I simply can’t believe how the doctors who are near to retirement age right now have managed to get through their whole career without hardly learning anything new.

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The fact is that the world is changing at such a rate that people will have to more and more reinvent themselves in very short time frames.  The large companies that used to employ us are all collapsing because there’s a “second industrial revolution” going on right now with the internet and low cost technologies.

People can no longer expect to be employed by a large organisation and get that 401K and gold watch at retirement.  More and more, we will be independent workers, workers in small organisations and if you are not a linchpin  – that is, if you are not causing a ruckus, not trying to strive to be better and offer some real value to the word in your own unique, weird and wonderful way – then you’ll be in trouble.