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The Prince

Today is not a good day, early in the morning and my relatively young blood already boiling, the feeling of being lied to, hurts.

This somehow remind me about the book by Niccolò Machiavelli, which in my humble view can be seem as truly controversial book, but makes sense nevertheless. I need to re-read this since I am in dire need to learn politics just not end in hot waters.

After all, I am still a work in progress. The goal is always to be the best version of me. And today, I just refuse to race with dogs.

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I simply refused. Just like this particular cheetah.

Just a recap on the book main lessons learn, Machiavelli suggest that:

  • Niccolò Machiavelli’s classic treatise instructs rulers to focus on political reality, not moral ideals. Although moral compass still play a huge role in my decision making, but usually I relate it to reality and practicality of the situation. 
  • Two forms of rule exist: free states, such as republics, and principalities, such as autocracies.
  • The ruler must do everything to secure his power, even if he has to use force.
  • He can secure his power either by using foul play or by gaining his subjects’ loyalty through good deeds.
  • As a ruler, it is better to be feared than loved.
  • The prince must make his subjects happy, facilitate trade and, at all costs, avoid becoming hated by the people. Which in my view is hardest of all, a simple at time innocent lie could spark these hatred and ill-feeling.
  • A leader should always appreciate the art of war. And we need to understand that it is okay to lose the battle as long as you win the war.
  • After conquering a region, rulers must assure their power. Retaining power is harder than gaining it.
  • The best methods of securing power are to destroy the captured capital city, establish a residence and set up a loyal local government.
  • A private army recruited from the people is more reliable than mercenary troops. Since it is easier to be sure of their loyalty.

Review of the book (In short, Its awesome, albeit a bit dark for me)

Machiavelli suggest that the end justifies the means, although Muslim on the other end believe that the means is almost as important as the end. With regards to the book, this simple, pragmatic maxim underpins this Niccolò Machiavelli’s classic work, The Prince.

Written in 1513, when Machiavelli was a former Florentine registry official, this handbook of political power provoked controversy like no other. Its central theme is how Renaissance rulers should act if they want to prevail in gaining and retaining power. According to the author, a strong state requires a leader who is able to defend his power at all costs. Machiavelli maintains that a ruler may opt for deception, trickery, oppression and even murder his opponents, as long as his misdeeds serve the state’s stability.

Without question, this short treatise offers enough material to demonize its author. However, Machiavelli does not actually suggest that we resort to unlimited ruthlessness and violence. Nor does he justify any objectives that seem to warrant violence. However, he also does not try to align his work to any religion’s morals as he examines the practice of statecraft and leadership. As his work is purely from his own view and personal experience. Maybe in the future we could discuss more on Islamic, Christianity and other major religion view on power.

Back to our topic, the term “Machiavellian” emerged in the 16th century to describe a devious, cruel tyrant, who uses any means to achieve his goals. When 20th century dictators praised Machiavelli’s masterpiece, it came into disrepute, but in contemporary thought, its literary foresight makes it a classic. Modern readers will be able to understand the book’s significance thanks to the accessible translation and annotations by Peter Bondanella. Kudos to him, for his wonderful effort in preserving such classic.

To put the treatise in context, Maurizio Viroli explains in his introduction, “For Machiavelli, the old way of building and preserving a regime had to be abandoned in order to embrace a new conception based on the principle that no state is a true dominion unless it is sustained by an army composed of citizens or subjects.”

Machiavelli’s The Prince, for all the controversies that it sparks, and all the bad reputation is earned, still there’s still some lessons in it which we all can learn from, regardless.

Lesson 1: Forms of Rule

People live under two types of governance: Either they are citizens of

  1. A free state, such as a republic; or
  2. A principality, such as an autocracy.

In both type, a leader can achieve sole rule through inheritance or through obtaining new territories. The leader can be the founder of new entities, as was the case in Milan, or he can conquer existing towns and regions.

A leader who inherits his kingdom will encounter fewer problems in both ruling and retaining it. First, the people accept and respect his power because he comes from a long tradition of leadership in which the term ‘rightful ruler’  could be seen to be used freely. And second, any potential opponents would be at a disadvantage since they would have to turn to cruelty to gain respect, thus losing the support of the people.

Lesson 2: The Correct Form of Conquest

Language plays a large role in the successful annexing of states. When the new, added territory uses the same tongue as the existing territory, the ruler can take over by ousting the former ruling family and keeping the existing laws. I would use the analogy of ruling parties in our modern days, people would expect greener posture under the new leadership of the ruling parties, although in actually they could be worse. It would be a task for the ruling party to maintain its power thru mass popularity or thru sheer force.

In most such cases, the subjects will pose no problem. However, to assert his authority and make his presence known, a head of state should always erect an official residence. Creating colonies is a cheap, effective way to increase your power, and it is easier than conquering whole countries. With colonies, a ruler needs to dispossess only a few powerful inhabitants and render them too poor to pose any meaningful threat thereafter. Drive them away and settle your followers on their land.

In general, aim to strip the powerful of their power and make the less powerful your allies.

Lesson 3: Retaining Power

There are a few struggles in retaining power due to the difference in geopolitical landscapes. Take kingdoms, such as Turkey, are more difficult to take over since they have sole, supreme leaders who are hard to depose or eliminate. If you do manage to dethrone a king, leading subsequently will prove relatively easy since the land had only one ruler, so you won’t have to tackle territorial lords pushing their own agendas. In states such as France, seizing power is simple, but holding it is difficult. A number of power-hungry princes and barons surround the king and so forging alliances is easy. Should you defeat the king, but fail to dispossess the other barons, maintaining power will become a miserable, Sisyphean undertaking.

Once you conquer a territory, Machiavelli’s suggest to take three necessary steps to secure your governance:

  1. Destroy the capital city. This is the safest thing to do.
  2. Establish a residence in the region.
  3. Create a government from loyal locals. This way, the state may retain its own laws, but it will still heed your authority.

Examples of this could easily be seen by looking at our history.

Lesson 4: Conquest Through Ability and Luck: Cesare Borgia

A ruler who takes over an empire by conquest must use his forces to maintain his dominance. However, an individual who rises from citizen to ruler generally has no private army and thus must proceed with caution. If he acquired power with someone else’s help, he must act cleverly, so as not to lose his position too quickly.

For example, to gain power, Cesare Borgia relied too heavily on his father, Rodrigo Borgia, elected in 1492 as Pope Alexander VI. Cesare Borgia saw his chance to take over Romagna, Italy, when the pope granted the French king dissolution of his marriage, and the monarch expressed his gratitude by sending troops to the pope. With that might, Borgia soon appointed himself duke. The new ruler used every means to consolidate his rule. He murdered his political opponents and chose a new governor, Remirro Del Orco, a Spaniard known for cruelty. At the time, Romagna was overrun by lawlessness and debauchery, and Del Orco restored order using an iron fist. However, his harsh methods made the new governor hugely unpopular. To distance himself from Del Orco’s actions and to get the public back on his side, Borgia had the governor executed, putting his remains on display to satisfy the masses.

To eliminate the threat of a new pope, who would have been dangerous to him and his father, Borgia ousted the entire ruling family, and won over the nobles of Rome and the majority of the College of Cardinals. As an extra measure, he strove to broaden his power with further conquests. However, before he succeeded, his father died and he himself became deathly sick. In the end, he was unable to fight off the attacking Spanish and French armies.

Lesson 5: Other Forms of Acquisition

A private citizen can become the ruler in two other ways.

First, he can use foul play to gain power. Luck plays no role in exercising this option. The individual secures control independently and ruthlessly, and relies on no one for help.

Agathocles of Syracuse used underhandedness to gain command in 300 B.C. The son of a potter, he rose through the military ranks and eventually sought the title of prince. One day, he organized a gathering of the state’s wealthy citizens and Senate members. Once the city’s most powerful inhabitants had assembled, his guards sealed the doors of the meeting room and every attendee soon met a grisly end. After this, no one dared to challenge Agathocles’ rule.

This method of seizing power is cowardly, however, and Agathocles will never count among the greats because of it. Should atrocities be necessary to acquire power, a would-be ruler should carry them out quickly and in bouts. Once he has achieved the desired result, he must rein in his actions. Under no circumstances should he continue using force. Those who expose their subjects to increasing degrees of violence soon lose dominance.

Second, citizens can rise to power either with the assistance of the public or with the help of the powerful. The latter is difficult because each of these “mighty men” feels that he himself should rule, and as a group, these powerful individuals seek to oppress the public.

However, leaders who are true men of the people bolster their rule by securing the support of their subjects. If the public anticipates that their ruler will be cruel, he can use good deeds to encourage their loyalty.

Lesson 6: Under Siege

A strong ruler generally needs a private army so that he can compete well on the battlefield. However, if a ruler with no army comes under siege, his only recourse is to retreat to a fortress. For this plan to work, the city must be prepared in advance. The imperial urban areas in Germany are the prototypes of such “free” cities. They are so well protected and own so many supplies that they can withstand siege easily for a year. This long period leaves attackers vulnerable to the changing seasons, and in most cases, they are forced to retreat shamefully.

Another weapon in a ruler’s arsenal is popularity. If the people cherish him, they will remain loyal, and a foreign attacker will have an even harder time penetrating the land’s defenses.

Finally, spiritual leadership is a useful tool: If the ruler promotes religion, tradition and God, his citizens will not dare rebel against these powerful forces.

Lesson 7: Mercenary Forces

Whoever seeks to consolidate his rule needs good laws and good armies. Those who must rely on mercenary soldiers will eventually encounter betrayal and treachery. These soldiers serve their masters out of greed, not honor or duty. They are generally dishonest and steal from the public in times of peace.

In wartime, mercenaries often become cowardly and can even switch sides. Mercenary leaders are especially dangerous: If they are masters of their craft, they seek to draw power to themselves. Amateur mercenary leaders, on the other hand, damage the country through poor management.

Auxiliary troops, which might arrive thanks to a powerful ally, usually do more harm than good. Only those states that possess their own locally recruited forces, such as Switzerland, can really call themselves free. For this reason it is important that they remain especially well fortified.

Lesson 8: The Art of War

A ruler should never neglect the art of war since he is expected to excel in warfare and defense above all other things. Many citizens rose to power by perfecting their wartime skills and battle techniques. The opposite is also true: Many rulers have been relieved of their power because they avoided going to war. Even during times of peace, leaders should keep their armies ready for battle. Preparation is the key to victory. A prince must also know his territories inside and out, since he does not want to falter in his own marshes when trying to outsmart the enemy. The wise ruler should study the lessons of others who succeeded in battle using guile and skill.

Lesson 9: Best Behavior

No gain can come to a leader from adhering to ideals. Surrounded by unscrupulous people, the good person inevitably will suffer defeat. If a ruler possesses certain virtues – all the better. If he possesses any bad qualities, he must keep them hidden. People believe what they observe without further investigating the matter. For instance, generosity is by and large a useless characteristic in a head of state. Eventually he will have to raise taxes and in no time people far and wide will hate him. Whoever has the reputation of a miser should not try to change it. He can fall back on his thriftiness when he needs money to serve the general good, such as when the country is under attack.

A prince should be loved and feared equally. If he must choose only one or the other, he should opt for the fear of his people, but not so much so that it turns to hatred. By being charitable, he feeds anarchy, whereas by using cruelty, he keeps the peace. A kind ruler can rarely rely on his subjects’ gratitude: They are often fickle and will not repay his kindness.

If need be, the head of state may break his word. After all, everybody eventually does. However, he must have a valid reason for this breach of promise. Whoever can create the appearance of absolute virtue will be in a strong position. The populace believes what it sees and is happy to follow.

Employ capable ministers who are committed to the interests of the state. If they are confident and clever, allow them to tell you the truth rather than flatter you when unpleasant matters arise. Their insights will serve you better than their compliments.

Consider these final precautions:

  • Never interfere with citizens’ possessions or their women.
  • Protect their livelihoods and encourage their work.
  • Encourage festivals and celebrations. They increase the people’s happiness.

That’s it for now. Once I finished writing this post, it seems that my anger is subsided somehow. That’s good.

Till next time.

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Way of the Wolf: Straight Line Selling

A book by Jordan Belfort. Master salesman Jordan Belfort has done consulting work for more than 50 public companies. His two international best-selling memoirs The Wolf of Wall Street and Catching the Wolf of Wall Street  have been published in more than 60 countries and translated into 25 languages.

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Take-Aways

  • Jordan Belfort is an innate salesperson who can make anyone an expert in sales.
  • His “Straight Line Selling” works for sellers in any industry. It helps move prospects from “absolute uncertainty” to “absolute certainty.”
  • The Straight Line method tightens sales cycles, effectuates closes, develops referrals and solidifies customer relationships.
  • Straight Line sellers never make presentations to people who have no interest in buying.
  • Prospects and salespeople who aren’t honest waste each other’s time.
  • For every successful sale, the prospect must love the product or service and trust the salesperson and his or her company.
  • Salespeople get only four seconds to connect positively with potential buyers.
  • Prospects judge sellers based on their words, their tone and their body language.
  • Plan, develop and work from scripts for all communications with prospects.
  • Once you secure the deal, focus on getting referrals.

The “Straight Line System”

Jordan Belfort is an innate salesperson. At any time or at any place, he can sell anything to any prospect. Belfort can teach you to become an expert salesperson. As portrayed in The Wolf of Wall Street, a 2013 movie, Belfort taught raw, young salespeople how to sell $5 stocks over the phone to America’s wealthiest, the top 1%.

As a result of Belfort’s guidance and his Straight Line System, the rookies on his team became master closers. Many became millionaires. In the system, the salesperson assumes control of the sale, maneuvering the prospect “from the open to the close along the shortest distance between any two points: a straight line.”

“The Straight Line System [levels] the playing field for anyone who’d been held back from achieving greatness.”

Straight Line salespeople don’t lose focus or waste time by conversing with prospects on subjects that have nothing to do with the sale. Everything they say and do when talking with potential buyers has a focused objective: Stay on the Straight Line and close the sale.

“If I were a superhero, then training salespeople would be my superpower.”

After his initial work with novice sellers, Belfort went on to teach his methods to experienced marketers and other persuaders worldwide and across many sectors, including in banking, real estate, automobiles and professional services.

The Straight Line System “will show you how to shorten your sales cycle, increase your closing rate, develop a steady stream of customer referrals and create customers for life.”

He promises salespeople that Straight Line selling will cut their sales cycles, build referrals, generate more closings and help them form permanent relationships with customers. As well, the Straight Line System teaches non-salespeople to become more persuasive.

“The human ear has become so adept at recognizing tonal shifts that even the slightest one can have a dramatic impact on the meaning of a word or phrase.”

The Three Essential Elements of Any Successful Sale

A basic proposition of the Straight Line System is that “every sale is the same.” No matter what product or service you sell – in whatever industry – the same three elements must exist within a prospect’s mind for a sale to succeed:

  1. “The product, idea or concept” – The prospect must fall in love with your product or service. You want the potential buyers to be at a level 10 of enthusiasm. If your prospects are at a six or a seven, you must move them up to a 10.
  2. “Trust” the salesperson – If you can’t establish great personal rapport with your prospect, you will never make the sale.
  3. “The prospect must trust and connect with the company” – Aim to establish great compatibility and affinity between the prospect and your organization.

“We can be proactive when it comes to choosing our emotional state, as opposed to reactive, which is what most human beings have been conditioned to think is our only choice.”

Without these factors, you can’t sell. If you make the three elements line up in the prospect’s mind, you have an excellent opportunity to make a sale.

Think of these as the “three 10s.” Potential buyers who feel “absolute certainty” about some aspect of your proposition are at a 10. In contrast, if your prospects feel “absolute uncertainty,” then they are at a one.

“When it comes time to ask for the order…the closer you’ve gotten your prospect[s] to a 10, the better chance you have of closing them.”

Look for two types of certainty: “Logical certainty” depends on the words you say, and “emotional certainty” depends on gut feelings. Your goal as a salesperson is to move prospects along the “continuum of certainty,” from absolute uncertainty to absolute certainty.

“Be actively building rapport throughout the entire sale, 100% of the time, without ever letting your guard down.”

The “Action Threshold”

Besides the three 10s, the Straight Line System requires you to lower the action threshold, so that the prospect becomes ready to act. You must also “raise the pain threshold,” so that your potential buyers need to buy your offering to alleviate some discomfort.

“You are capable of becoming proficient at anything you put your mind to.”

For example, you can dial up the pain by asking your prospects to imagine what will happen if they don’t act now to fix their problem.

Closing a sale depends on the quality and content of your communications. Your responsibility as a salesperson is to plan and manage communications to provide the best opportunity – a Straight Line – to sell to your prospects.

Straight Line Selling Principles

Mastering four facets of a transaction will help you use the system more effectively:

  1. “The first four seconds”  People make virtually instantaneous decisions about the people they meet. You get only four seconds to make a positive connection with a prospect over the phone or in person. In that brief time, you must communicate that you are “sharp as a tack” and can solve all problems, that you are “enthusiastic as hell,” and that you are “an expert in your field” – competent, knowledgeable and professional. Behave as if you possess all these qualities.
  2. “Tonality and body language” – Your voice and how you speak are crucial to success with prospects over the phone. Sound is equally important in face-to-face meetings, as is your body language. Your tone should be caring, sincere and empathetic. Effective body language includes appropriate facial expressions, a smile and your posture matching that of your potential buyer. The language you use carries great weight and works with your tone and body movements. Your words sway your prospect’s conscious mind by making a “logical case.” Your tone and body language affect your prospect’s subconscious mind and make your “emotional case.”
  3. “State management” – Use “future pacing” as a visualization technique to charge up your state of mind. Imagine a movie showing that you’ve attained a goal and are actively benefiting from it. When you engage in positive visualization, you experience a wonderful feeling, similar to how you’ll feel when you achieve a desired objective.
  4. “Looping” – Use looping to deal with customer objections, which can serve as smoke screens for prospects’ uncertainty. Eliminate those uncertainties – move prospects along the continuum of certainty – and you eliminate objections. Looping involves deflection: You briefly delay responding to the prospect’s objection. Then you go back to a previous aspect of your presentation to reinforce why the prospect should love your offering, you and your firm. Basically, you resell the prospect. If you loop correctly, you increase the prospect’s conviction about doing business with you and your firm.

“If you spend the next few minutes focusing on everything that’s great in your life…then you’ll quickly pop into a positive, empowered state that reflects all those wonderful things.”

Superior Sales Presentations

Whenever you communicate with anyone – or pitch a prospect with a sales presentation – be sure to deliver three messages: Show you understand the prospects, that you care about them and that you feel their pain.

“If you screw up the first four seconds, you have another 10 seconds, at most, to play catch-up ball, but after that, you’re completely done.”

As you pitch, don’t “wing it.” Work from a well-planned, memorized script that ensures a flowing conversation. Don’t mention benefits at the beginning. Later, stress the benefits, not the features. Rely on scripts for every aspect of communications with prospects.

“Act as if you have unmatched confidence, and people will have confidence in you. Act as if you have all the answers, and the answers will come to you.”

Follow each important idea that you present with a “stopping-off point,” such as, for example, “Make sense so far?” Use conversational-style phrasing, not elevated, stilted or technical language. Be honest and ethical.

“People don’t buy on logic; they buy on emotion, and then justify their decision with logic.”

Ask strategic questions to secure valuable intelligence about your prospects and to refine your targeting. Give this intelligence gathering the time it needs.

“The 10 Rules of Straight Line Prospecting”

When you’re working on finding and qualifying good prospects, follow these 10 guidelines:

  1. “You are a sifter, not an alchemist” – Gold prospectors in the 19th century would plop down at the side of a stream, use tin pans to sift the sand under the water and wait patiently to snag gold dust. They didn’t perch by the stream expecting the water to transform itself into gold. They were sifters, not alchemists. As a salesperson, you must sift through your prospects to find the most likely sales. Don’t waste time trying to transform unlikely buyers into passionate prospects.
  2. “Ask for permission to ask questions” – No one likes to be interrogated. Yet salespeople do need to ask questions to learn about prospects: what they are like, what they care about and what will motivate them to buy. To overcome this dilemma, get the prospect’s OK before you ask questions.
  3. “Always use a script” – All industries are different. Salespeople who need information from and about prospects should pose industry-specific questions, asked in a certain order. Without a script, that will be hard to do. When you work with a script that you’ve committed to memory, you won’t worry about coming up with the best questions on the spot, and you will be able to pay more attention to the prospect’s answers and body language. When you don’t need to think of which questions to ask, you can focus on using the perfect tone of voice.
  4. “Go from less invasive questions to more invasive questions” – Asking prospects questions is like peeling an onion: You start at the outer layer and work your way to the heart of the matter. Less intimate queries set you up for more intimate questions. You must always earn the right and establish the necessary rapport to ask questions of prospects, who are, after all, strangers. You earn this right by asking your least obtrusive questions and working your way up to more sensitive queries.
  5. “Ask each question using the right tonality” – A salesperson who adopts a callous or disrespectful tone can’t sell anything. The wrong tone of voice communicates far more than the actual words you use. In contrast, the right tone – showing consideration, empathy, caring and respect – amplifies the strength and compelling nature of your words. The right tonality promotes the sale; the wrong tonality kills it.
  6. “Use the correct body language as the prospect responds” – Use five productive body-language techniques: 1) When the prospect speaks, nod your head to signal that you’re paying close attention; 2) when the prospect tells you something he or she considers important, nod your head slowly while “narrowing your eyes and compressing your lips”; 3) use vocal exclamation points – “oohs and aahs” – to register your affinity with your prospect; 4) lean your body forward when you ask an emotion-based question and continue to lean forward as the person answers; and 5) when you ask a logic-based question, lean back and nod as your prospect responds.
  7. “Always follow a logical path” – Sequence your inquiries coherently to help you present yourself as an expert.
  8. “Don’t resolve their pain” – Your goal in the early stages of your relationship with prospects isn’t to eliminate the discomfort that only your product or service can alleviate. At the beginning, you want to amplify this pain.
  9. “End with a powerful transition” – The point of the Straight Line is to move prospects along it at a regular pace, so long as your product or service makes sense for them. Be ready with effective transitions: “Well, John, based on everything you just said to me, this program is definitely a perfect fit for you. Let me tell you why…”
  10. “Stay on the straight line; don’t go spiraling off to Pluto” – To illustrate, consider the example of a conversation between a salesperson and a prospect. The salesperson asks the prospect what job he has. The prospect says he’s a midlevel manager and works in a geographic area famous for duck hunting. He launches into a monologue about how much he loves to hunt ducks. The salesperson takes this as a cue for his own song-and-dance about duck hunting. In no way does such a conversation promote an eventual sale. When you speak with prospects, avoid this common mistake. Don’t shoot off to Pluto; always stay right here on Earth. You can’t close sales on Pluto.

“Even if you’re not in sales, you still need to become at least reasonably proficient at sales and persuasion.”

The Basics      

In combination, the basic elements of the Straight Line System allow you to establish yourself in the first four seconds, develop a rapport with the prospect, secure the intelligence you need, make a strong presentation, “ask for the order,” use looping to establish certainty in the prospect’s mind, lower the prospect’s action threshold, uncover the prospect’s pain, and detail how your product or service will relieve it.

Once you secure the deal, focus on getting referrals. Do all you can to solidify your customer relationships for life. Stay flexible and adapt your “core language patterns” to the system.

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Key Quotes from Way of the Wolf: Straight Line Selling

A book by Jordan Belfort. Master salesman Jordan Belfort has done consulting work for more than 50 public companies. His two international best-selling memoirs The Wolf of Wall Street and Catching the Wolf of Wall Street  have been published in more than 60 countries and translated into 25 languages.

Key Quotes

  1. “The Straight Line System [levels] the playing field for anyone who’d been held back from achieving greatness.”
  2. “If I were a superhero, then training salespeople would be my superpower.”
  3. The Straight Line System “will show you how to shorten your sales cycle, increase your closing rate, develop a steady stream of customer referrals and create customers for life.”
  4. “The human ear has become so adept at recognizing tonal shifts that even the slightest one can have a dramatic impact on the meaning of a word or phrase.”
  5. “We can be proactive when it comes to choosing our emotional state, as opposed to reactive, which is what most human beings have been conditioned to think is our only choice.”
  6. “When it comes time to ask for the order…the closer you’ve gotten your prospect[s] to a 10, the better chance you have of closing them.”
  7. “Be actively building rapport throughout the entire sale, 100% of the time, without ever letting your guard down.”
  8. “You are capable of becoming proficient at anything you put your mind to.”
  9. “If you spend the next few minutes focusing on everything that’s great in your life…then you’ll quickly pop into a positive, empowered state that reflects all those wonderful things.”
  10. “If you screw up the first four seconds, you have another 10 seconds, at most, to play catch-up ball, but after that, you’re completely done.”
  11. “Act as if you have unmatched confidence, and people will have confidence in you. Act as if you have all the answers, and the answers will come to you.”
  12. “People don’t buy on logic; they buy on emotion, and then justify their decision with logic.
  13. “Even if you’re not in sales, you still need to become at least reasonably proficient at sales and persuasion.”
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Leaders eat last

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Treat People Like People

I once heard someone share that the higher you go up in leadership, the harder it is to remember your why. Sinek in his book, shares that many times leaders forget to treat people like people. Sinek’s recommendation, although simple, is imperative for anyone leading, “Every single employee is someone’s son or someone’s daughter.” This would give us alternative perspective. EVERYONE belongs to someone.

Create a Common Cause 

Sinek provides multiple examples of effective leadership that is centered around creating a common cause. Sinek encourages leaders to not only create a common cause but know the people that are working on living out the cause. Everyone wants to believe that what they are doing within their organization matters as well as who they are as a person.

Leadership sets the tone of the culture

Sinek is not the only writer who has recently written about culture. Most recently, a former educator, now writer and speaker, Jimmy Casas wrote the book Culturize. Both Sinek and Casas state that leaders who create a culture in which everyone knows that they are responsible for the positive (or negative) culture that is created, the organization will go further than if the leader tried to create a positive culture alone. When people within an organization feel a sense of responsibility to live out the mission + vision in creating a positive culture, the organization will be known to others as a place where people want work and be a part of a culture that cares about those within the organization.

Leadership is a matter of character 

Multiple times in his book, Sinek refers to the Marine Corps as a model of excellent leadership. Sinek highlights three key values that the Marines carry out daily: leaders eat last, leaders lead with integrity and leaders always put people first.

Redefine struggle

Within the past 5 years, educators have learned a lot from leading researcher Carol Dweck about growth mindset. Jo Boheler, a researcher from Stanford University, has also studied growth mindset and struggle. Bohler concluded that without a growth mindset and struggle existing, one does not learn and retain what is learned as deeply when one does not struggle to accomplish a task. Sinek provides multiple examples in his book from Apple to Microsoft that illustrate that within the business world, successful organizations that create an environment where the people believe in the mission + vision and they are tasked with a challenge (and those within the organization know that is expected that they struggle), they will outperform and create solutions that are far greater than what other organizations could do.

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Memorable Quotes From Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook

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There are a lot that of quotes and insight from Gary V book, jab, jab, jab, right hook,  this are some of them.

1. “It took thirty-eight years before 50 million people gained access to radios. It took television thirteen years to earn an audience that size. It took Instagram a year and a half.”

2. “Great marketing is all about telling your story in such a way that it compels people to buy what you are selling.”

3. “There is no sale without the story; no knockout without the setup.”

4. “A story is at its best when it’s not intrusive, when it brings value to a platform’s consumers, and when it fits in as a natural step along the customer’s path to making a purchase.”

5. “Today, getting people to hear your story on social media, and then act on it, requires using a platform’s native language, paying attention to context, understanding the nuances and subtle differences that make each platform unique, and adapting your content to match.”

6. “Your story needs to move people’s spirits and build their goodwill, so that when you finally do ask them to buy from you, they feel like you’ve given them so much it would be almost rude to refuse.”

7. “Successful storytelling builds brand equity, and businesses with high brand equity don’t need to draw as much attention to themselves and their achievements as those that are still establishing their value to the customer.”

8. “One out of every five page views in the United States is on Facebook!”

9. “On Facebook, the definition of great content is not the content that makes the most sales, but the content that people most want to share with others.”

10. “If you’re in business, first and foremost, you have to be nice. Show your customers that you care.”

11. “Use every customer point of contact to weave stories about who you are and what your brand stands for.”

12. “It took Flickr two years to reach the milestone of 100 million uploaded pictures; it took Instagram eight months.”

13. “Creating content that allows us to share our experiences, thoughts, and ideas in real time is becoming an intrinsic part of life in the twenty-first century.”

14. “The skill sets it takes to be a successful entrepreneur, a successful marketer, or a relevant celebrity is a different skill set than you needed ten years ago, even though that was the skill set that mattered for decades.”

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Making organization ‘more intelligent’

Nobel economics laureate and psychologist Daniel Kahneman is widely considered as the father of behavioral economics. He retired from his teaching position at Princeton a few years ago to co-found a consulting firm in New York. In a talk at the recent Wharton People Analytics Conference, he said of his consulting experience that he had “expected to be awed” by the quality of the decision-making in organizations “that need to make profits to survive in a competitive world.”

“I have not been awed,” he stated.

“You look at large organizations that are supposed to be optimal, rational. And the amount of folly in the way these places are run, the stupid procedures that they have, the really, really poor thinking you see all around you, is actually fairly troubling,” he said, noting that there is much that could be improved.

Figuring out how to make the act of decision-making “proportionate with the complexity and importance of the stakes” is a huge problem, in Kahneman’s view, to which the business world does not devote much thought. At the conference he described how significant progress can be made in making organizations “more intelligent.”

The Problem with People

If individuals routinely make poor decisions as Kahneman says, why is that the case? The answer lies in behavioral economics, a field which explains why people often make irrational financial choices and don’t always behave the way standard economic models would have predicted. (Kahneman explained much of his work in his much-lauded 2011 international bestseller Thinking, Fast and Slow. which is one of the best book I have read in recent years)

Behavioral economists believe that human beings are unknowingly restraint by overconfidence, limited attention, cognitive biases and other psychological factors which inevitably lead to errors in judgment. These factors affect everything from how we invest in stocks, to how we respond to marketing offers, to how we choose which sandwich to buy for lunch. And most organization, if not all, uses these restraints of ours to sell us their product, either by package manipulation or clever advertising.

“We are fundamentally over-confident in the sense that we jump to conclusions and to complete, coherent stories — to create interpretations,” said Kahneman. “So we misunderstand situations, spontaneously and automatically. And that’s very difficult to control.” Furthermore, he said, much of human error is not even attributable to a systematic cause, but rather to “noise.” “When people think about error, we tend to think about biases…. But in fact, a lot of the errors that people make is simply noise, in the sense that it’s random, unpredictable, it cannot be explained.”

“You look at large organizations that are supposed to be optimal, rational. And the amount of folly in the way these places are run… is actually fairly troubling.”

He cited some disturbing evidence about the professional judgment of experts: “You put the same X-ray in front of radiologists, and about 20% of the time in some experiments they don’t reach the same diagnosis.”

From his consulting work, Kahneman offered an example from a large financial institution in which loan approvals and insurance company judgments are routinely made. The decisions, involving hundreds of thousands of dollars, frequently hinge on the opinion of a single individual. Kahneman setup an experiment in which team leaders were asked what percentage they thought two different professionals’ decisions would vary if they were each asked to evaluate the same case.

“Many people give the same [guess]: somewhere between 5% and 10%,” said Kahneman. “But the answer is between 40% and 60%. It’s an order of magnitude more. It’s completely different from what everybody expects.” He noted that at the organization in question, there was “a huge noise problem” of which the leaders were completely unaware.

The problem cannot be chalked up to the relative inexperience of some employees, according to Kahneman: “What was very surprising, at least in our experiments, is that experienced professionals were as variable as novices.”

Could it help matters to have experts arrive at decisions together, as a group? Even if this were feasible in organizations, which it is often not, there are pitfalls here as well. Kahneman said that according to social psychology, when a group of people discusses a case there are “huge conformity pressures” that lead participants to radically underestimate the amount of disagreement among them.

In the face of what seem like daunting odds that business decision-making can be improved, what’s a company to do?

The Cure: Algorithms

Kahneman’s prescription is for organizations to temper human judgment with “disciplined thinking” through the use of algorithms. The indications from the research are unequivocal, he said: When it comes to decision-making, algorithms are superior to people. “Algorithms are noise-free. People are not,” he said. “When you put some data in front of an algorithm, you will always get the same response at the other end.”

“Algorithms are noise-free. People are not.”

A good algorithm does not require a massive amount of data, said Kahneman. (He said this was “a secret not widely known in the financial industry.”) Let’s say you are evaluating the financial stability of firms, he said, for example to give them a loan or insure them against financial risk. His recommendation is to sit down with a committee of people who are knowledgeable about the situation and make a list of five or six dimensions. More than eight is probably unnecessary. “If you create good ranking scales on those dimensions, and give them equal weight, you will typically do just as well as with a very sophisticated statistical algorithm.” And do just as well — typically much better — than experts on the average, he added.

Kahneman, who is Israeli-American and now in his 80s, recalled inventing a prototype of this procedure when, as a young Israeli platoon commander with a psychology degree, he was asked to set up a new interviewing system for the army. Though met with some resistance at the time, he said, the system he designed is actually still in use by the Israeli armed forces.

Kahneman identified six dimensions that could be rated one at a time, among them punctuality, sociability, conscientiousness, “something called masculine pride” (he noted that these were interviews for combat units, 60 years ago), and others. “Very important to rate things one at a time,” he observed. “That way you don’t form a global impression of the person, but a differentiated impression of [each] topic. It controls what psychologists call the halo effect.”

The entire selection process was to consist of generating the six scores and adding them up. When many interviewers complained — one saying “you’re turning us into robots” — Kahneman said he added a final “global rating” step as a concession to human intuition: “Then, close your eyes and think what kind of a soldier this person is going to be. Put down a rating between 1 and 5.”

When the new interviewing system was validated against actual performance a few months later, said Kahneman, it turned out that the final global rating was very accurate. In fact, it was much more accurate than any of the single dimensional ratings. “But there is a lesson to be learned,” he stated.  Previously, candidates were interviewed with only a global rating, and “it was worthless.”

“Global rating is very good — and intuition is very good — provided that you have [first] gone through the exercise of systematically and independently evaluating, the constituents of the problem,” he explained. “Then when you close your eyes and generate an intuitive, comprehensive image of the case, you will actually add information.”

Implementing this type of procedure in any organization can of course meet with resistance from employees, said Kahneman. “You have to do it with a light touch, because otherwise people will hate you and not comply. But if you do it in a way that they view as helping them perform their tasks, it’s not too bad.” In his experience, he said, if you put effort into guiding people to look at information in a particular way, they actually find that it helps them do a good job.

How do company leaders respond when they are first told they should implement algorithms to guide their experts’ opinions? “Not very well,” he said. But “when you tell team leaders that there is 50% variability when they expected 5% or 10%, then they’re willing to take an algorithm.”

“When you tell team leaders that there is 50% variability [in expert judgment] when they expected 5% or 10%, then they’re willing to take an algorithm.”

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Will Artificial Intelligence Replace Human Intuition?

Kahneman, whom widely considered as the father of behavioral economics, was asked about the growing role of artificial intelligence (AI) in business thinking: In particular, about powerful algorithms that are increasingly performing tasks previously done by accountants, consultants and managers. His response surprised many in the audience: “I think I’m quite worried about it.”

“I think I’m quite worried about it.”

His concern is that as AI becomes more sophisticated, it is moving beyond simply helping humans achieve disciplined thinking to actually being able to execute professional judgment on its own which in itself is a rather pretty scary notion. This will be “very threatening to the leaders of organizations,” he said. “Because once you have decision analysis, anybody can outguess the leader…. How will this affect the power structure?”

He cited as an eye-opening AI milestone the fact that earlier this year, a Google computer program beat the world champion of the popular Asian game Go — who had won 18 international titles — four games out of five, that is 80% success rate.

“Go is supposed to be the example of … an intuitive game…. The real experts cannot explain exactly how they reach their conclusions: it’s too complicated.” But, said Kahneman, the Google team had built software based on 150,000 actual human matches, and the software then improved by playing the game against itself about 30 million times. That, he said, is how you end up with a program that is superior to the world champion: the program had access to more information than one human being possibly could.

“All of this depends on the availability of data: this is how intuition develops,” he noted. “We develop intuition with the data we collect in a lifetime. AI will be able to do better. How will we live with that?” Or are we going to be extinct ? 

What do you think?

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Developing self-awareness

womans-hands-circle-frame_4460x4460We need to be self-aware so that we can help those around us and ourselves to be aware of the role their emotions and automatic habits play in learning and growth.

Self-awareness can be culminating by reflecting on –

  • Processes: What are the default ways in which we approach new tasks? What are the strengths and limitations of their habits? When have we experimented with working in a different way, and what was the outcome? Have these outcome and experimental method properly recorded and analyzed?
  • Emotions: What emotions serve us well? When are we most willing and able to learn? What triggers defensiveness and/or resistance?
  • Adaptability: How quickly can we assimilate new information or norms? When do we tend to hold on too long to an idea?
  • Blind spots: What kinds of ideas and people do we gravitate toward? What or whom do we avoid? Are we open to hearing from people who hold opposing views? Are we open-minded enough to listen to criticism?

Even those of us who consider ourselves to be extremely self-aware will often have a knee-jerk defensive reaction when we are confronted with some evidence or opinion that our performance has been less than optimal, or when our decision is question or when we are violently criticized. We need to be aware that this is a basic function of the human ego, which tries to keep us feeling positive about ourselves and keep our ego protected. Therefore, when dealing with another person ego, beware not to taint it, learned to control and measure your words carefully. This will definitely take time and enormous effort and wisdom.

So let’s embrace that idea of learning with your friends and say we’re going to move up the steps of learning, starting off from being unconsciously incompetent, where you don’t know what you don’t know, to becoming consciously incompetent, where you now have a clear view of what it is you want to be able to do well and you realize there’s a gap between your current skill level and the skill level you aspire to. Any time that we learn, we’re always moving from a mode of not knowing or partially knowing to a mode of knowing more, but never assume that we know everything. There is always something new to be learnt, even for experts.