Guest Post: Book Reviews

Our dear roommate has returned to Wisconsin, however John and I have been chatting over a few awesome books that he’s reading lately. I haven’t read a few of them, and I asked if he would give them a quick review for the blog to see if people would be interested in reading some material on decision sciences and the art of influence and communication. I have read a few audio books that I just adore on decision making, and really overall understanding of why we are trapped in certain behaviors or say certain things.

Anyway, on to the main event of John’s review – thank you so much for contributing to my blog to keep the content well rounded!! I sure appreciate it!

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion,  by Robert Cialdini

#1 recommended book by Charlie Munger, longtime vice-president of Berkshire Hathaway and best friend of Warren Buffett.  Cialdini, a renowned Ph.D pychologist, uses extensive, evidence-based research to dissect why we (humans) often act the way we do.  Master persuasion and compliance are composed of six principles: reciprocity, commitment and consistency, liking, social proof, authority, scarcity.  Each concept and chapter is supported by a bevy of examples and applications.  The concepts carry the potential to be interconnected.  When the themes work in conjunction the subsequent bias-based behavior tends to be even stronger.  For example, Tupperware parties are often run by a Tupperware “consultant” for a community host who invites friends and neighbors into their home.  The Tupperware business model uses reciprocity (partygoers first play games and receive free prizes before any buying begins), commitment (each member publicly describes the uses and benefits of Tupperware they already own) and social proof (once the buying begins each purchase is seen by other partygoers, reinforcing the idea that the product “must be good”.  This is a book I strongly recommend and plan to revisit several times.

Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration, by Ed Catmull

I came across this book as a recommended read by Mark Zuckerburg, founder and CEO of Facebook.  Ed Catmull, President and co-founder (with Steve Jobs) of Pixar describes the inner workings of a company that aims to deliver an inspiring animated film.  I recommend this book for any type of manager or individual that identifies with a leadership position.  Catmull is certainly perceived as a motivated, hard-working entrepreneur.  Yet I was most impressed by his emphasis on candor and integrity.  A wonderful model of humility-Catmull describes the value of a team-based approach, rejecting the forces that may lead to a overinflated ego.  I value Ed first as a talented storyteller and more importantly, as a man of high character and integrity.  Creativity, Inc is an easy read and gives the audience a snapshot into the culture that drives Pixar to create innovative and inspiring animated films.  

I am looking forward to getting my hands on these books and many more… I forget how much I enjoy a good book, until I’m about half way through…  Thanks John!

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