Finally, I wrapped up Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow. I was recommended the book years ago to better understand psychology. Understanding psychology has many benefits for entrepreneurs, sellers, marketers, and others – better understand people improves interactions within teams, with customers, and even provide hypotheses for product direction.
Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow
Let me start off with: this is a dense book. The paperback copy spans 499 pages. It’s both conceptual and technical. I’ll likely need to read this book multiple times to truly appreciate its depth. As it stands, I feel the book could have (should have) been split into multiple books with the latter half diving very deep into sampling (sizes).
The two concepts I took away most from the book:
  • System 1 vs. System 2. This is the most renowned principle of the book – the systems that think “fast” and “slow”. System 1 is the mind’s reactionary processes. System 1 relies on heuristics such as recency (a recent event prejudicing the current situation), anchoring (think about the first number thrown in a negotiation), and others. System 2 is a more deliberate, limited-resourced process of the mind. Solving a math problem like 34×27 being an example. It requires a slower, deliberate thought process.
  • Sample sizes. Especially the latter half of the book, Kahneman makes several points about understanding sample sizes when deliberating biases, results, and even research (psychologists and economists most notably studied). Too often, statements or actions are based on limited sample sizes (read: not statistically significant). Instead, they are influenced solely by “what you see is all there is”.

There’s a lot more covered in the book. I am limiting the concepts here in these two broad concepts because they’re absolutely key to my take-aways. But also, there was so much discussed in this book that sticking to the highlights help influence change.

And what’s the change? Kahneman consistently reminded the reader that the research he and his former partner Amos was applicable to everyone. Though the situations hypothesized often drew criticism or defensiveness from others (readers included), the findings were widely accurate for readers – myself, included. The change then becomes more self-awareness of the fast thinking that occurs, and the necessity to slow down, when more scrupulous attention is needed.
System 2 is a limited resource. It was not hard to realize in my own life how often my System 1 jumped into action to save even just seconds of System 2 “work”. It’s true. Viewing optical illusions within the book or even evaluating double-digit multiplication, my System 2 was lazy. It was easy for my System 1 to take a quick glance and draw a conclusion (usually incorrect as was designed to throw me off) or even renege completely on the problem in front of me. It’s shocking.
I can couple this thinking and need to slow down with Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. One of my greatest challenges is slowing down and stop being immediately reactionary (read: impulsive). Perhaps because of recent events with people and challenges, it’s no wonder being more mindful is one of my main take-aways.
The book is great. It reinforces (or rather, puts a foundational view on) many other literature I’ve read recently including Dale Carnegie’s book as well as Never Split the Difference and others. Helpful to set that foundation. Though, the book is quite long, and half-way through, I wanted to skip to my next book with more actionable tactics. Choices, choices… need some time to slow down and think about this. J
I stumbled on this cartoon recently that I thought was funny and relevant to perspective bias.

If you don’t see why this is funny, maybe we appreciate different types of jokes. Otherwise, it’s about the rhino painter’s distorted view of the world – always obstructed by her horn in front of her eyes. It’s omnipresent in all of her paintings.
The relevance on bias, then, is about our biases to things without knowing we have biases. This is touched on my current read Thinking Fast and Slow and a recent read The Mom Test. Many folks are quick to see the world in their own perspective only, and they are less perceptive to differing views.
This happens to me, too. I can be at fault of dismissing other ideas quickly, choosing to listen to what I am thinking. It can get me in trouble. In more specific cases, I can dismiss a colleague’s effective, authentic language style in prospecting, choosing to adopt my more structured, market-y messaging. Then, we find my colleague’s method is 3 times more effective than my own.
When I focus with my view only it’s about ego – Andrew Carnegie points this out, too, in his book How to Win Friends and Influence People. My perspective has me as the envisioned “winner”. A holistic perspective including others has the goal of a team win.
We have blind spots that have been there all of our lives (personal and professional). Because they’ve been there for so long, we’re not aware of them. That shouldn’t stop us from challenging our own perspectives. If anything, that means we should be morecognizant of what we could be blind to, and actively look to be more inclusive.
I just completed Dale Carnegie’s best-selling book How to Win Friends and Influence People. I’ve been excited for so long to read it as it’s all about psychology.
The book was different in style than what I was expecting. Perhaps because I’ve read many sales books recently like The Challenger Sale and SPIN Selling (review to come). The book was focused from a point-of-view what Dale Carnegie’s identified as effective tactics as well as stories from either his students or great leaders – notably several U.S. Presidents.
Each chapter was a lesson, and as I read the book, I was wondering how I would employ each lesson. However, I realized it’d be too challenging being literal and narrow. Instead, the book could be best understood and employed by collapsing the lessons into broader concepts.
Here are my take-aways then:
  • It’s never about you. Influencing others and creating a positive relationship starts from a place of empathy. Whether someone has done something wrong or has a contentious point, influence needs to come from a place of wanting to learn why the other feels that way. Arguments are never resolved by more arguments. Instead, arguments are resolved from a place of conciliation, coming to the “right” answer by the other (not by arguing to the point of “convincing”), etc.
  • Flattery, praise, and humility go the only way. The book stresses how arguments tend to come from a place of proving selves right. In doing so, the other party can feel embarrassed, guilty, etc. The best way to win friends is to praise others and help guide them to understanding a counterpoint. This way, the other can save face. The other can feel confident and comfortable coming to a conclusion that s/he realized on his/ her own.
  • Make others the model of distinction.No, this does not mean making an example out of someone. Instead, to influence someone, speaking highly of him/ her. Even go so far as to give him/ her a high distinction or responsibility. In this way, the person may live up to the distinction, and thus, be influenced to the act in a desired way. To be told or given the responsibility of being the best, you must be just that – and they’ll try that much more to live up to it.
  • Stay positive. Always. This book stressed positivity in every lesson. This shouldn’t be a surprise, but it reinforces the importance and power of the “simple” positivity. This can start as a smile. This can also include faking a smile. Akin to living up to a high distinction, faking positivity can create positivity.
  • Being supremely tactful is perhaps the best way to start. I can recall several instances recently where I’ve been… less than enthused. There have been times I have argued. Each time, I’ve realized a better way afterwards. Each time, I’ve acted more impulsively. What this book has taught me (or reinforced strongly) is to take a moment and be tactful in the face of disagreements and criticism. I will no doubt feel knee-jerk reactions, but I will have to take a moment think before actions (like the event at the apartment complex recently). With constant practice, I think my knee-jerk reactions will then be more positive and empathetic than today.

Check out the book. Reinforce things you may know, or may not have thought about. But also, take a moment to reflect on how you interact with others and the silent impression you give off.

What and how can you change to create more friends, or be more influential?
I’m reading a couple books right now including: How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie  and SPIN Selling by Neil Rackham. SPIN has been a big focus in my day-to-day at SalesWise. However, Dale’s composition is arguably the focus of every day life.
This weekend led to a perfect opportunity to employ one of the lessons from How to Win Friends from Chapter 3 – “Be empathetic”. What could have started out as a formal complaint or accusation, instead, turned into a moment of empathy and understanding.
The situation: I was at an apartment complex when two women were talking to one another while looking visibly curious and annoyed at an apartment balcony. It turns out that they were looking at the balcony because water was being poured intermittently from the top door to the two balconies below. The two women happened to live on floors directly below.
The women mentioned the water was landing on their balconies and it smelled terrible. We started hypothesizing what was happening including a flood, a nuisance neighbor, etc. At first, there was talk to go straight to the leasing office to lodge a complaint. However, we finally discussed walking up to the neighbor and ask if everything was alright. I accompanied the women in case there were any problems.
As we approached the neighbor’s door, one of the women still seemed perturbed while the other was coming from a place of empathy. After explaining to the man what was happening, the man apologized and explained how he was trying to clean and dilute his pet’s sickness. He was sympathetic and offered to clean the two women’s balconies. He was remorseful, and was tired explaining how his whole weekend had been spent cleaning. However, the dog was starting to feel better, so the situation would not continue too much longer.
The women felt more relieved to know that everything was temporary and empathized with the man’s predicament. In fact, the women who was the more annoyed early on had her own dog with her, so she understood the problem even better.  Everyone left the discussion with better understanding, feeling heard, and no doubt they will all be better neighbors from this.
It’s easy to jump to conclusions and accuse a neighbor of being rude and ignorant. However, approaching the situation with this perspective can create enemies. It’s far better, far more productive to approach from a place of curiosity and empathy.