Tag Archives: Social

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini

  1. For years Cialdini studied which factors and techniques would induce people to say “yes” most of the time. He studied compliance professionals through participant observation and learned that six laws are used which correspond to human psychology. These laws are used (often maliciously) to get people to say “yes” without thinking.
Key Takeaways
  1. There are 6 weapons of influence – RCLASS
    1. Reciprocation
    2. Commitment and consistency
    3. Liking
    4. Authority
    5. Social Proof
    6. Scarcity
What I got out of it
  1. Fantastic book which explains the various influences which we can use (or can be used against us) to get others to agree. These influences can be used for good purposes or deceptively but they are designed to get past our rational brain and attack our automatic responses. Cialdini uses a great term, “click, whirr” to show when this automatic process is being used. Highly recommended

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The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene

Robert Greene lays out 48 laws which will help you in you the mastery and conquest of your given field. He draws on historical examples of people who have observed or transgressed these laws as well as portions of fables and other short stories to help illustrate each law. A bit Machiavellian but better to be aware and not use than be taken advantage of due to ignorance

Antifragile: Things that Gain from Disorder by Nassim Taleb

  1. Taleb describes that something is antifragile when it gets better with chaos, disorder, and time whereas anything fragile hates volatility. Nature is the ultimate example of something antifragile as it can adapt and gets stronger with difficult times. Forecasts, predictions, and the desire to be too precise are all examples that cause fragility.


If you’d prefer to listen to this article, use the player below.

You can also find more of my articles in audio version at Listle

  Key Takeaways  

  1. Anything that has more upside than downside during random events has antifragility
  2. Suppressing randomness from antifragile things (ourselves are one of the most antifragile things) actually harms them and makes them weaker. The diet, our economy are antifragile but we have been making them weaker
  3. Fragility and antifragility can be measured but rare events cannot be predicted accurately
  4. Should focus on the fragility of things instead of the probability of something happening. Things lie on a scale of fragility (the triad – antifragile, robust and fragile)
  5. Moving towards simplicity and removing things makes things more antifragile than adding anything 
  6. Absence of challenge degrades the best people and firms. Mental and physical effort forces people into a higher gear
  7. Evolution one of the best examples of antifragility as it loves randomness and volatility and gets stronger from it. Natural things love randomness up to a point – if all life on earth wiped out the fittest will not survive to reproduce
  8. Central illusion in life – randomness is risky. Man made smoothing of randomness makes things more fragile. Daily variability helps strengthen a person or system 
  9. Extremely important to try to differentiate between true and manufactured stability
  10. Much more difficult to examine people who have been successful by procrastinating or non acting as it is not obvious or apparent as that is what caused their success
  11. Believes that in eliminating projections which are almost never right will make us and our economy more robust. What is not measurable and non predictable will remain that way. Let’s not kid ourselves and make us more exposed than we already are
  12. Turkey problem – mistaking what we don’t see for the nonexistent
  13. Exposure more important than knowledge. Do, rather than just learn
  14. Time is the worlds best debunker of fragility 
  15. Small occurrences and events effect us much less than a large event does. For example, a 10 lb thrown at your head would do more than 5x the damage of a 2 lb stone thrown at your head. That which is fragile is hurt much more by extreme events than by a succession of small ones
  16. Barbell – medium risks are still exposed to massive volatility. Better to be at either end (completely anti black swan or for black swan) than stuck in the middle. Don’t do things in the middle – pure action or pure reflection. Barbell method is the domestication not the elimination of risk
  17. You are antifragile when you have more to gain than lose from volatility – more upside than downside. First decrease your exposure to downside
  18. When have optionality, do not need to understand something perfectly and can make good decisions with less information. Can still limit downside and have upside. Having options helps us understand ourselves as we are forced to decide
  19. Tinkering and iterations are much more antifragile than blueprints and hard plans. This allows for more optionality and better decisions since will have better information
  20. When you find antifragile options, there are hidden benefits and therefore need to be right less often compared to linear payoffs to still wind up on top
  21. Avoiding mistakes and being a sucker is quickest way to become antifragile. We know much more of what is wrong than what is right (negative knowledge). Disconfirmation much more rigid than confirmation
  22. Robust decisions rarely require more than one good reason. The man with the most alibis is usually guilty. In addition, a man should be known for one great idea
  23. The longest surviving works are the most robust as time devours everything, the fragile first
  24. Longer term forecast are most prone to error and exponentially so compared to short term. Any reliance on predictions is fragile. Respect and consume the wisdom of our ancestors – philosophy, food, tools, etc.
  25. Perishable v nonperishable – for perishable, younger expected to live longer but for non the older can be expected to lived longer. Established tech more likely to outlive new tech
  26. There is logic in nature much deeper than we can often understand 
  27. Even if there is solid evidence (lose fat if limit carbs), People often don’t act until there are theories they believe. Should be the opposite, if solid evidence, should act regardless of theory as they change all the time
  28. Via negativa – Subtracting things not seasoned by nature reduces the chances of black swans while leaving one open to improvements. For example, eating less extends lives and avoiding new foods and sugars
  29. He argues against buying things with huge marketing budgets as most high quality things do not require it (eggs, meat, art, museums, etc .)

  What I got out of it  

  1. An thoroughly thought-provoking book which makes you very aware how fragile many systems and institutions truly are. The most powerful part of this book is understanding that this mental model can be integrated into every single part of your life – from diet to work to investing to relationships, etc. An absolute must read
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The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli


  1. Machiavelli lays out what the prince of a territory should and should not do in order to rule successfully. His insight covers topics from how to rule your people, what to do with colonies, whether one should wish to be feared or loved (not hated turns out to be the answer), how to rule newly conquered people, etc. It is often very direct and harsh in its suggestions.
Key Takeaways
  1. It is far better to gain the confidence of the people than to rely on fortresses
  2. He who thinks that new favors will cause great personages to forget old injuries deceives himself
  3. Of fortune and women, it is the bold rather than the cautious that will win and hold them both
  4. Men are still the dupes of their simplicity and greed
  5. The cloak of religion still conceals the vices of mens’ ambitions
  6. Louis XII made the 5 errors – he destroyed the minor powers, he increased the strength of one of the greater powers in Italy, he brought in a foreign power, he did not settle in the country, he did not send colonies
  7. He who has not first laid his foundations may be able with great ability to lay them afterwards, but they will be laid with trouble to the architect and danger to the building
  8. Upon this a question arises: whether it be better to be loved than feared or feared than loved? It may be answered that one should wish to be both, but, because it is difficult to unite them in one person, it is much safer to be feared than loved, when, of the two, either must be dispensed with. Love is preserved by the link of obligation which, owing to the baseness of men, is broken at every opportunity for their advantage; but fear preserves you by a dread of punishment which never fails. Above being feared and loved, it is more important to avoid hatred
  9. A prince who is not wise himself will never take good advice, unless by chance he has yielded his affairs entirely to one person who happens to be a very prudent man.
  10. It is of the greatest important in this world that a man should know himself, and the measure of his own strength and means; and he who knows that he has not a genius for fighting must learn how to govern by the arts of peace. 
What I got out of it
  1. The term Machiavellian has been a bit distorted over the centuries to become synonymous with manipulation. While Machiavelli undoubtedly advises this in certain situation, that is not his main argument. Many valid points on how to deal with people or groups of people and while his examples are dated, his messages are as clear as ever.

Read The Prince

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The Charisma Myth by Olivia Fox Cabane


  1. Cabane succinctly lays out what exactly being charismatic entails and how anyone can become more charismatic. Useful for anybody from any walk of life
Key Takeaways
  1. The myth is that charismatic people are simply born that way. It takes work but people can acquire charismatic traits but it is important that you choose what suits your personality as well as the situation you’re currently in
  2. People automatically, almost magically drawn to charismatic people and want their approval. They influence everyone around them
  3. 3 essential characteristics of charismatic people – presence, power and warmth
  4. People follow more willingly and take ownership of whatever they’re focused on
  5. Charisma is not inborn; it can be learned and turned on and off. It is a combination of body language and nonverbal cues
  6. We immediately and instinctively try to asses others power and incentives when we meet them (if they like you)
  7. Charismatic people have high power and high warmth. They have a presence – completely present and focused on you or the situation on hand
  8. Make others feel great about themselves
  9. Can be a charismatic introvert
  10. Charisma tips – lower intonation of voice, reduce how often you nod, wait two seconds before speaking
What I got out of it
  1. Lots of great tips and will be something I refer back to a lot. Getting along well with others and being a good leader is essential ub nearly any walk of life and this book helps you get there.

Read The Charisma Myth

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The Social Animal by David Brooks

  1. David Brooks creates a narrative of Harold and Erica, two fictitious characters. He details their lives together, how they age, how their background and childhood shape them, their ambitions, what they feel at different stages of their lives, etc. Discusses in detail what drives individual behavior and decision making through Harold and Erica.
Key Takeaways
  1. Harold has a good upbringing and enjoys history and becomes a curator
  2. Erica is Mexican/Chinese and has a poor and difficult upbringing. She becomes a very successful businesswoman and then Chief of Staff for the President of America. Their lives are very different and they drift apart but then back together. I think a very interesting way of portraying some life lessons through these people instead of through a more factual or direct manner
  3. Subconscious minds makes most of our decisions and determines who we are and how we behave
  4. Environment somebody grows up in extremely important for social and neurological development
  5. Brooks depicts human beings as driven by the universal feelings of loneliness and the need to belong—what he labels “the urge to merge.” He states that people feel the continual need to be understood by others
  6. Young children have no inner narrator
  7. Babies born with some core knowledge and then experiment, make maps, in order to learn and understand the world
  8. Freedom without structure is its own slavery
  9. Ryne Sandberg’s MLB hall of fame speech is unbelievable. Don’t work hard because want/need validation, work hard because that is what you’re supposed to do. Would be disrespectful to sport, coaches, teammates, uniform not to
  10. Cultures are diverging over time
  11. People smart because teach others and this helps next generations start on a higher level. Smarter in groups too (no one man cab build an airplane)
  12. People in progress prone cultures believe can shape their own destiny
  13. Attempt to be the glue in all social networks 
  14. Really have little control over decisions and lives
  15. Priming has big effect on us and our decisions. Anchoring and framing too. More than we care to ever admit (pair with Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow)
  16. No substitution for living our different lives and personalities. People often day dream but this is often just a waste of time and a tease
  17. Almost everything in your friend group is contagious
  18. Limerence – inner and outer harmony (romantic attraction and a need to have that feeling reciprocated
  19. The conscious is an overconfidence machine – often taking credit for things it had no hand in doing
  20. Incompetent people most unaware of how incompetent they are
  21. Life is just a series of progressive failures
  22. “Being wise is the art if knowing what to overlook.” – William James
  23. Humans have a deep motivation to be seen as a moral person by others
  24. For ourselves, more what we believe in than actually do that matters
  25. Unconscious thoughts and emotions have supremacy but not total dictatorship
  26. Speaks to how social trust has been destroyed in the US from fragmented political parties and this has trickled down to the public. Democrats and Republicans no longer trust each other enough to work together
  27. “He who has a why can bear almost any how.” – Nietzsche
What I got out of it
  1. Very interesting way to get his point across. By using fictional characters, Brooks can create a story and show how their backgrounds influence them throughout their lives. We are much more susceptible to our subconscious’ prejudices and decisions than we care to admit. People are inherently social and strive to be accepted and seen as moral by others.

Brooks’ TED Talk:

Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More than IQ by Daniel Goleman

  1. Our rational and emotional brain shapes our personalities and our decisions. Emotional skills are often overlooked when compared to what is typically thought of as intelligence but is every bit as important. By combining the rational and emotional, we can improve our performance in every facet of life.
Key Takeaways
  1. Resisting impulse is the root of all self-control. This was stressed a dozen different ways and those who have better impulse control tend to be emotionally more stable, smarter, more successful…marshmallow test
  2. People who are optimistic see a failure as due to something that can be changed so that they can succeed next time around, while pessimists take the blame for failure, ascribing it to some lasting characteristic they are helpless to change.
  3. Coordination of moods is the essence of rapport
  4. Those who had a dependable web of intimacy showed no relationship whatsoever between high stress levels and death rates
  5. Fundamentals of EI (can be summed up with competency)
    1. Self-awareness – know what you are feeling and why
    2. Self-management (ability to motivate oneself/persistence)
    3. Social awareness
    4. Ability to manage relationships
  6. 5 key abilities of emotional intelligence
    1. Knowing one’s emotions – have a better sense of how they really feel about something
    2. Managing emotions
    3. Motivating oneself – delaying gratification and pushing off impulses
    4. Recognizing emotions in others
    5. Handling relationships – often simply handling other’s emotions
  7. XYZ method – When you did X, it made me feel Y, and I wish you did Z instead
  8. Cannot decide when we have our emotional outbreaks but can decide how long they last, a sign of emotional maturity
  9. Key to impulse control is knowing the difference between feelings and actions
What I got out of it
  1. Very interesting book which highlights the importance emotion plays in our everyday lives, our personalities, our decisions and our relationships. He makes great points but I found that he reiterated them so many times that it became redundant.

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