Tag

Persuasion & Negotiation Archives - How to be Awesome at Your Job

613: Boosting your Influence with the Principles of PRE-Suasion with Brian Ahearn

By | Podcasts | No Comments

 

 

Brian Ahearn says: "Where we are mentally can make a huge difference in that willingness to say yes."

Influence expert Brian Ahearn discusses how to get more yeses using Dr. Cialdini’s principles of PRE-suasion.

You’ll Learn:

  1. How one question dramatically improves your chances of yes 
  2. The two ways to capture people’s attention
  3. Why we’re more persuasive when we talk less

About Brian

Brian Ahearn is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE. A dynamic international keynote speaker, he specializes in applying the science of influence in everyday situations. 

Brian is one of only 20 individuals in the world who currently holds the Cialdini Method Certified Trainer designation. This specialization was earned directly from Robert B. Cialdini, Ph.D. – the most cited living social psychologist on the science of ethical influence. 

Brian’s book, Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical, is an Amazon best-seller and his LinkedIn courses have been viewed by more than 75,000 people.

Resources mentioned in the show:

Brian Ahearn Interview Transcript

Pete Mockaitis
Brian, thanks so much for joining us again on the How to be Awesome at Your Job podcast.

Brian Ahearn
I’m excited to be back with you, Pete.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, I’m excited to dig into your wisdom. And so, I want to hear, so we’re going to talk about some pre-suasive principles from Bob Cialdini’s book, and it’s a funny story. I actually read that book when I was on my honeymoon with my wife in Hawaii, so that shows you how into this stuff I am. That’s a good beach read for me in social psychologist work. But you use some pre-suasive principles when you proposed marriage yourself. What’s the story here?

Brian Ahearn
Yes. So, in my first job, first day on the job, with traveler’s insurance, I’m in the HR training room, and I see Jane, and I think, “Wow, she’s beautiful!” And she said that she looked at me and thought, “What an egghead.” So, I stumbled out of the gate badly but I recovered quickly. And within a few weeks I was no longer going out with this longtime girlfriend, and Jane and I started dating, and we fell in love, and it was awesome. Until the old girlfriend called in the fall, and it really threw me for a loop, Pete, and all of a sudden, I didn’t know who I wanted to be with, and I couldn’t make up my mind for six months.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, my gosh. What were you doing during that period of time?

Brian Ahearn
I was back and forth, back and forth.

Pete Mockaitis
Do they know about each other? How do you work that?

Brian Ahearn
Yeah.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, wow. Okay.

Brian Ahearn
Funny. They both felt bad for me because I sincerely…

Pete Mockaitis
Sweet gals.

Brian Ahearn
Yeah. Well, I sincerely cared about both of them and I hated the thought of hurting either one. Anyway, I was in the state of indecision, and Jane and I still worked together, and this was in late April. I saw her in the breakroom one day and I asked how she’s doing, and she said she was doing fine, and that’s when she announced that she would never go out with me again, and nobody could blame her given my indecision. But I had really kind of settled things in my heart by that time, and I was actually thinking I want to marry her, crazy as that sounds. So, I knew I was going to need to do something big if I was going to make this happen. And getting to the pre-suasion, here’s what I did.

Her birthday was in mid-May, and so I sent her a couple dozen roses at work, and then I showed up at her apartment later, she agreed to go to dinner. I showed up at her apartment with another dozen roses and a bottle of wine. Now she’s thinking, “This is a pretty nice birthday.” We get ready to go to dinner. We go downstairs from her apartment, and I had rented a Rolls Royce and chauffeur to drive us to downtown Columbus. And then we went to a restaurant that was, at the time, the tallest building in Columbus. We rode this glass elevator up over 30 stories. It was really romantic and had dinner overlooking the skyline, and took the glass elevator back down. And then in the back of the Rolls, on the way home, I popped the question, and she said yes.

Pete Mockaitis
Hotdog. So, you weren’t even officially dating at the moment but it was a good birthday. You’re clearly romantic.

Brian Ahearn
Yeah. And she was pretty insistent only weeks before that she would never go out with me again. And what I know is this, Pete, if I would’ve just, in that breakroom that day, said, “Hey, Jane, I’m sorry. I love you and I want to marry you,” she would’ve been, like, “Go jump in the lake.”

Pete Mockaitis
“You know what, Brian, I’ve heard it before.”

Brian Ahearn
Yeah. And I think even if I had done it, probably any other way than I did, she still would’ve had reservations but, I don’t know, I pre-suaded her. I kind of made it fairytale-like, and it certainly made the yes come a lot easier. There was no hesitation when I finally popped the question.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, that is beautiful. And maybe, just to clarify, it made it easier to see this when it’s written. When you’re saying the word pre-suasion, as opposed to persuasion, so we’ve inverted the R and the E, implying that there’s some persuasion and something that’s happening before a request. And, in this instance, before you popped the question you were setting the stage with, “Oh, okay, this guy is pretty clearly committed, made up his mind, going big in investing in me.” So, that sets a tone there.

So, maybe, could you zoom out a bit, and give us kind of the full picture in terms of what’s the main idea behind pre-suasion?

Brian Ahearn
So, most people are focused on persuasion, that is, “What do we say or do in the moment? How do we communicate to make it easier for somebody to say yes?” But pre-suasion, and you used the term setting the stage, I like to use that term too, pre-suasion is, “How do we arrange that moments before so that somebody might be in the right frame of mind to make it even easier that when we go and we make that ask?”

I think a really good example that people could relate to is if I had three buckets of water in front me, a red bucket on my right with scalding hot water, a blue bucket on my left with icy cold, and in the middle was just room temperature.

Pete Mockaitis
Is it purple?

Brian Ahearn
We’ll call it purple.

Pete Mockaitis
Thank you. I’m so like a little kid.

Brian Ahearn
If I plunged my hand into that hot bucket and then put it into the lukewarm water, all of a sudden it would feel cold. I mean, people get that. It’s like getting out of a hot tub and getting into the pool. But if I took my other hand and put it into the icy cold, and then put it into the lukewarm, it feels hot. Now, if I do that at the same time, into the hot, into the cold, and then put them both into that middle bucket, one hand feels cold and one feels hot. But the reality is they’re experiencing the exact same temperature water. I’ve changed, though, how I experience that by what I did beforehand. And that’s a picture of pre-suasion, “What can I do beforehand to change how somebody will positively experience what I’m about to do next?”

Pete Mockaitis
Well, that is a nice visual and kinesthetic, I guess, at the same time, that sort of puts that into perspective. And so then, can you share with us some studies, some experiments, some research that reveals just how powerful this effect can be?

Brian Ahearn
Sure. Where we are mentally in the moments before we make a decision or are going to say yes or no to something, where we are mentally can make a huge difference in that willingness to say yes. And I think one study that really encapsulates this, a marketing firm was interacting with people at a grocery store as they would come in. So, imagine, Pete, you walk in, and somebody like me says, “Hi, I work for a marketing firm. We represent ABC Company. They’ve come out with a new type of pop or soda,” depending on where you live, “They’ve come out with a new type of pop, and we’re asking customers if you will give us your email address, we’ll send you an email with coupons for free samples. Would you be willing to share your email?” And in that scenario, 33% of people said, “Sure.”

Pete Mockaitis
All right. So, basically, cold, “Hey, you want some free pop/soda?” One-third said, “Yeah, I’ll give my email.”

Brian Ahearn
So, that’s kind of the control group. And then with another group though, 76% said yes to the exact same question. The difference was when you came in, that person would ask you a question first, and they would say, “Excuse me. Do you consider yourself to be adventurous, the kind of person who likes to try new things?” Well, as you can imagine, virtually everybody can think of a time where they have been adventurous, and we can all think of a time where we’ve tried new things. So, almost everybody said yes to that.

And then when they said, “Well, I work for a marketing firm, represent ABC Company, new type of pop. If you’re willing to give us your email address, we’ll send you a new email with free samples.” That change of mindset, getting you to think about the fact that you are adventurous and like to try new things, then, all of a sudden, it became much easier to say yes to the very same question.

Pete Mockaitis
You know, I love that example. And I don’t remember if it was in Influence, or Pre-suasion where they also had the instance of asking, “Do you consider yourself a helpful person?” and then survey responses went way up. And I actually used that once – hey, listeners – I used that once in an email asking for our survey, “Do you consider yourself a helpful person?” was the subject line. And, hey, many of you are. Thank you, listeners, for filling that out. That’s super helpful. It really does set the stage when you want to live up to…well, I guess there’s a few factors at work. You want to live up to that identity. Lay it on us, what’s going on there internally?

Brian Ahearn
Well, if you go all the way back to Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People, one of the tips that he had was give someone a fine reputation to live up to. Now, he didn’t know about the term pre-suasion, he wasn’t doing research and studies, but he understood that when you give that person a reputation to live up to, most people will want to do that.

And so, for your listeners thinking, “Well, how would I potentially use this?” Let’s say you need to go to a store, and you’re going to return something, and it’s past the 30-day mark. So, technically, they have every right to say, “You’re beyond 30 days, no.”

Pete Mockaitis
This is ringing true.

Brian Ahearn
But I think if you go up and you say to that person, you see their little nametag, and you say, “Alice, you guys have been really helpful in the past, and I hope you can help me now,” and then you begin to talk about what it is that you want to get accomplished. By giving her that helpful label because people at that store had been helpful in the past, she is more likely to try to live up to that just like your readers were.

So, when you give somebody that reputation to live up to, they usually will try to find a way to do that. And if she’s thinking of herself as helpful, she’s probably going to be a little more creative or a little more open to flexing the rules for you.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, I love that a lot. And this brings up, I guess, ethical questions, but our whole first interview, Brian, was about ethical persuasion influence. So, check that out, anybody, if you’re concerned about this stuff. And I think you put it very well in terms of, hey, it’s honest. It’s good for them. It’s good for you. And some of those principles really play out well here.

And that notion of giving someone a reputation to live up to, I’m thinking about my buddy Mohammed, who’s also on the show. And I remember he’s just a really super kind guy, just naturally being him. We started a business together and someone helped us out with some advice and some input, and he emailed her and said, “Thanks for being so generous with your time.” And I wrote him a whole email about how I loved that phrase because, one, we really do appreciate it. And, two, they really were being generous with their time. And so, that’s a message that ought to be conveyed, and, at the same time, in so conveying that, it does give them a fine reputation to live up to in terms of, “You know what, I am just kind of someone who is generous with their time.”

So, should we have a follow-up question, I think I don’t have the studies on this, but I imagine the science is in our favor that our odds of getting some follow-up questions answered, and some even more bits of advice and assistance have been elevated by thanking in that way.

Brian Ahearn
Oh, absolutely. I think any time you give somebody praise for something like that, they feel good. That plays into the principle we call liking when we’re talking about persuasion, and the more they like you, the more likely they are down the road to say yes if you ask them to do something.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay, that’s excellent. And then what I found intriguing was sometimes it’s not even verbal, right? I remember there were some studies associated with if a resume is on a heavy, weighty clipboard that some people can infer, like, “Oh, this is something with some gravitas, such to be taken more seriously,” or if we’re drinking some warm beverage. What’s sort of the stuff that’s there, like non-verbal at work?

Brian Ahearn
So, the beverage is a good example. If you invited somebody to your office, you would be better off offering them something like a cup of coffee because that coffee would be warm, and people who are feeling warm tend to have warmer feelings toward other people. Now, I’m not going to say that you want to give them a hot cup of coffee if you live in Arizona. It’s 115 degrees outside. They’ll still appreciate the kind act of a cold drink. But holding something warm tends to warm people and make them feel more warmth towards other people.

As you said, sometimes if you want somebody to really give a lot of thought to something, having it on heavier stock paper or putting it on a clipboard where it feels heavier, that heaviness psychologically gives people the sense that, “This is a heavier, more weighty issue, or something that really looks to be read.”

I bet a lot of people could relate to this. I see, as we record this, Pete, that you got a lot of books in the background there. We all feel a little different about a really skinny, like very light book versus a book that’s got substance. You just tend to think that book that has a lot more substance probably has a lot more detailed good information. That may not be the case, but I think, psychologically, many of us, when we pick up that heavy hardback book versus the very light, smaller paperback, we feel differently about those books.

Pete Mockaitis
It’s true. And, again, this isn’t a panacea, the most perfectly, elegantly, luxurious paper on the planet won’t make a resume of poor content, I’m sure, capture a hiring manager to say, “This guy, we got to hire them.” But it very well could be like, “Oh, I should take a look at this.”

How much of a difference do these pre-suasive elements make? I’m imagining that it can’t make up for poor content or not fundamentally having the goods. But what sort of an edge does it enable?

Brian Ahearn
Oh, I think if we go back to the example I shared earlier about the grocery store, they went from 33% to 76% just by asking a pre-suasive question beforehand. There’s another study that’s detailed in Cialdini’s book Pre-suasion, and it had to do with people’s willingness to buy French or German wine. When they would go into the wine store, they were either playing French music or German music. When they played French music, they sold more than three times more French wine as compared to the German. But when they played the German music, they sold 275% more German wine than they did the French.

And when people were asked as they exited the store, most didn’t even remember hearing the music. Those that did insisted it had nothing to do with their purchase decision, but it’s undeniable the difference between that, that once that music is playing, it’s impacting people’s thinking, and it impacted their behavior.

Pete Mockaitis
That is powerful. And that kind of drives towards, I guess, the distinction I was getting there. It’s like, if folks are not interested in drinking wine, that doesn’t matter. If they are not locked-in on, “By golly, it’s going to be Bota Box RedVolution,” one of my favorites, and if they’re not sort of already dead-set on a particular item, but they’re like, “Yeah, you know, what would be a good wine tonight?” “I don’t know. Let’s take a look,” and then, boom, they’re put right through that chute.

Brian Ahearn
But I think when somebody who walks into a wine store has an intention of buying wine, so then the question becomes, “What might you do to push certain brands, maybe have a newer brand, and it’s French, and you want people to be a little more enticed to try that?” If something as simple as music can get people into a frame of mind where French wine becomes an easier default choice, then that’s a really good thing. But, you’re right, if somebody doesn’t drink wine, it’s not going to impact them. But, again, they probably wouldn’t wander into the wine store to begin with.

Pete Mockaitis
They said they saw there was a Jimador in the back.

Brian Ahearn
Yes.

Pete Mockaitis
And so then, that just sort of sparks all kinds of interesting possibilities. Like, I don’t know, if you are a maker of German wine, maybe you want to be equipping your distributors with music systems on the condition that they played German music. I don’t know how practical that is, but it does show that there may very well be small investments that make a huge impact.

And I’m also thinking about, I’ve heard, as I go to this event Podcast Movement, full of podcasters and people in the podcast ecosystem, I’ve heard that sometimes there can be wildly compelling results from advertisements. Like, let’s say it’s a product about reducing risks, like insurance or something, in the context of a show that’s really scary, like about a murder, or a true crime thing that they can say, “Uh-oh, that could happen to me.” Like that kind of influences is huge. Can you speak more to that in terms of advertising/marketing realms?

Brian Ahearn
Well, if you are going to pay to be on some type of show, you probably want to consider, “What is that show? And what is going to be the mindset that most people are going to be in as they watch that show?” If people are watching something that really is scary, risk is scary. And so, by advertising something about risks, or maybe it’s insurance at that time, people might be more apt to pay attention to that because they’re in that fearful state.

If we had no fear at all, we wouldn’t probably buy any insurance. I mean, it’s not that you’re selling fear, but we know that bad things can happen and we want to mitigate that if possible. But we’re not thinking about bad things happening when we’re in certain mindsets, but we certainly are when we’re in a fearful mindset. So, strategically thinking about, “What is the show? What would be the mindset that people are going to be in?” is going to make a difference as to where you want to advertise.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Cool. And I want to maybe zoom out a little bit to the principle level. Within the book, we’ve got two commanders of attention: attractors and magnetizers. Can you sort of help us understand that distinction and give us some examples of each?

Brian Ahearn
Well, an attractor is going to be something that, as it says, it attracts you, and a magnetizer is going to be something that keeps your attention specifically on something. And when we talk about, as we teach about pre-suasion, one of the things that we talk about is, “Can we extend the time that we’re pre-suading?” The longer that somebody, for example, remains in the mindset that you want, the more opportunity you have if you are trying to persuade them.

So, an example of a magnetizer, keeping something there, if you we go back to the music, that would be a good example of a magnetizer because it’s continually playing while you’re there. It wasn’t as simple as the question that might’ve changed your thinking in the moment. But then, as you go through the store, that might not be impacting you any longer, but the music is continuing to do that. So, that would be, I think, a difference. Magnetizer is going to keep you there. The attractor is going to be something that might grab your attention immediately.

When they talk about something like, “Sex sells.” Sex is something that, quite often, will grab your attention right away. And that’s important because we have limited capacity for our attention. And so, if you can grab that attention, even momentarily, you’ve got a better chance of trying to influence somebody to do the thing that you need them to do. And in the context of what we’re talking about, it’s a purchase.

Pete Mockaitis
And then I suppose you got to have some congruence with the offer or, otherwise, you’re going to kind of lose out on some trust and such, like, “What? What does sex have to do with this?”

Brian Ahearn
Yeah. And I think there are times where celebrities are advertising things, and it’s not even close to being in their wheelhouse. And so, while it may attract your attention in a moment, but you’re not necessarily making a connection with what that product is that he or she is trying to sell, I think that things fall short there.

For example, if Tiger Woods is advertising things that revolve more around golf, that is certainly going to be more congruent for somebody to say, “Well, you know what, if he plays that kind of ball, if he uses those kinds of irons, then maybe I could play a little better if I use the same products.” But when he’s selling something that’s totally out of the realm of that, yes, he’s attracting the attention because we all know who Tiger Woods is, but, beyond that, I don’t know that I’m compelled to drive a Buick because he drives a Buick.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah, that makes sense in terms of there’s maybe not so much of a logical, rational connection. It’s maybe more just sort of brand good feels, like, “You know, I like Tiger Woods,” or sort of whatever he stands for in your own mind, and that could be good or bad, whatever he stands for, that sort of gets a bit imparted onto the brand and the feels associated with it, which is probably one of the reasons why when folks get themselves into hot water, brands cut bait real quick with them.

Brian Ahearn
Yes. Yes, they do.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. And then I’m also intrigued by just talking about how long you can sort of have that attention going. And there’s a bit of an approach associated with having some mystery and keeping that tension and mystery going for a bit of time. Can you walk us through that?

Brian Ahearn
Yeah. Human beings, we don’t like it when there’s not kind of some finality to things, when there’s not a bow on the package, so that we can kind of wrap it up and say, “Okay, we’re done with that.” You probably have had somebody who began to tell you a story, and then they got interrupted, maybe it was their phone or something, like, “Oh, I’m sorry. I got to go to this meeting.” You’re left hanging, and you’re like, “Wait a minute. I want to know what’s the end of this.”

And that is something that we can use to our advantage by sharing something that’s interesting and compelling, and then holding back a little bit. And then once that person is like, “Wait a minute. What’s the end of the story?” you have them even more focused on you and what you’re sharing than if you might’ve just gone all the way through and given them the answer.

It’s not unlike this, too, Pete. I’ve taught communications for a long time, and I know that people hate silence in conversation. So, sometimes just saying what you need to say and then being quiet, all of a sudden, they try to fill that space, and they’re the ones now who are engaged with you. Where people make a mistake a lot, is they just think they need to keep talking and basically throw everything except the kitchen sink at somebody, and that’s the exact opposite. Create a little mystery in your communication. Share a little bit and then just be quiet and see how people start responding.

Also, when you ask questions, people feel compelled to answer questions. So, those are a couple of just small things that everybody can do in their day-to-day communication.

Pete Mockaitis
And can you give us an example of how we might go about sort of leaving something out to provide some mystery for a little bit of time?

Brian Ahearn
Well, I write a blog, I could certainly write a blogpost and then leave it open-ended, and say, “Next week, we’re going to take a look at what actually happened.” I mean, that would be a perfect case of I share some detail and then I leave it hanging because you don’t want to write a book when you’re writing a blogpost. You want to keep them relatively short. So, maybe you put something out there with a, “And we’ll conclude on this next week.”

You see this sometimes in other advertising, too, where they’ll put something out, and say, “Go to this website to find out the conclusion of the story,” or something like that. But if it’s compelling enough, and that’s the thing though, it’s got to be somewhat compelling, because if somebody puts out something that’s of no interest to you at all, just like if you don’t drink wine, you’re not going to be in the wine store. If it’s not of interest to you, but if you know your audience and what sort of interest to them, and you leave them hanging a little bit, like, “Come back next week because I’m going to share the answer with you,” that’s going to get more people, I think, coming back the following week and clicking on what you want them to click on.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, yeah, that’s so good. Well, again, Podcast Movement is coming up. They did exactly this, and I was totally riveted in terms of they said, “You know, hey, with the pandemic, we shifted to a virtual format, and we went through many, many, many options for platforms and providers in order to figure out one that’s just going to be amazing. It’s not just going to be a bunch of Zoom.” And so, I was like, “Oh, what is it?” And they’re like, “We’ll tell you next week.” And I put it on my calendar, it’s like, “Go to the Podcast Movement blog, and figure out what platform they’re using.” It’s Swapcard. I haven’t used it but, apparently, it’s great. I trust those guys to pick a good one. And it did, it did for me because there was some mystery, and I had to wait, and I went ahead and went there to get the word.

Brian Ahearn
Well, the news does this too. How many times have we seen something, “There could be radon in your house. News at 11:00”?

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, yeah.

Brian Ahearn
Now you’re like, “I got to tune in at 11:00 o’clock to find out radon levels in homes in my area,” something like that, so it happens. But what we want people to do, as we teach about this, is to be more thoughtful about their communication, “How can I start taking this in without being a television advertiser or the news? How can I start using these simple and easy-to-implement ideas to have more people paying attention and, ultimately, doing the things that we need to do?” In a corporate environment, that’s a big deal.

Pete Mockaitis
And maybe to wrap it up, before we hear some of your favorite things, could you share what is post-suasion, and why is it necessary, and how do we do it?

Brian Ahearn
Post-suasion, like when I think about sales, and I usually work with salespeople, when you’ve made the sale, you would like to get referrals, and so I teach insurance agents this a lot. What I would never ever do with you, Pete, if I was an insurance agent, I would never ever say, “Hey, Pete, now that you’re moving your insurance to my agency, you must be happy. Who else do you know who would like to make the switch?” because mentally you’re not there. You’re just wondering, “If I’ve made the right choice,” you’re making the switch. It’s probably somewhat expensive if you’re insuring your home and auto, and all these other things. You are not thinking about, “How can I help Brian Ahearn?”

So, what I’ve always instructed agents to do is I would say to you, I’d say, “Pete, you’ve just made a big decision here, severing ties with your current agent, and moving your business here. I know that you’ve probably had people ask you for referrals at the end of the sale, and I’m not going to do that. But what I would like to ask you is this. If nine months from now you’re happy that you made the switch, that we have lived to everything that we said we would do, and you’re happy, would you be open to talking about referrals?” And most people are willing to put off into the future what they don’t want to do right now. You’re probably thinking, “Well, yeah. If I’m happy, why wouldn’t I be at least open to that?” I’ve not even fully asked for a commitment. I just said, “Would you be open to it?” And you’re going to probably come back and say, “Sure. That’s reasonable.”

Now, it’s on me in nine months to follow up with you, and I would do that. I’d call up, “Hey, Pete, how are you doing?” And we’d talk a little bit, and I’d say, “Do you remember when we wrote your insurance, and I asked if you were happy, would you be open to talking about referrals? It sounds like you’re happy. Would you be okay setting a time next week to talk about those referrals?” Now, I’m kind of into the pre-suasion again because I don’t want to just ask you right during that conversation because, again, you weren’t thinking about me and referrals. I just called you up. But once we set that time, you start thinking about, “Who can I refer to Brian?” And I’ll do little things to ensure that. I will send you a quick email with a meeting reminder and a thank you. In the day of, I will shoot you a text and say, “Pete, are we still good to talk about referrals this afternoon?” But the whole time now you’re starting to think about that.

So, the post-suasion started right after the sale, and now I’m pre-suading again, getting you into the mindset so that when I call and ask about referrals, you’re ready to give me good-quality referrals.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah, that’s intriguing how it’s bit by bit, you’re doing it at the right times, and, you know, it’s funny, maybe I’m just selfish, but I have a hard time imagining how I would ever make the time to provide some with insurance referrals, unless like you really hooked me up in terms of like, “Straight up, my house burned down, and you swooped into action and saved the day. Wow.” Or, you keep giving me other cool tips associated with saving money, reducing risks. Like if it’s a home, maybe it’s just sort of like, “Hey, do you know about HomeAdvisor? Now you can find out how much renovation should cost before you do it.” Like, “No, I didn’t. Thank you, Brian’s Insurance. That’s really cool of you.” So, I guess I also need a little bit of wow to do that personally.

Brian Ahearn
Well, that’s why I said that, “If we live up to what we said we’d do.” So, that was part of the buying process. You switched because maybe you were saving money, but maybe there were other things that I was saying we will do, and you’re thinking, “My current agent doesn’t do any of that.” So, that’s implied by me that that’s part of the sale. And in nine months, when we talk about it, you’re like, “Hey, the insurance advisor, and all the things you said you would do, which helped me make the switch, you’ve done, and I’m happy.” And that’s where I’ve got that opportunity then because you’ve said, “I’d be open to talking about referrals.” So, you’re right, there’s got to be part of that package of why you made the decision to move.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah. Well, this will be a whole another podcast as how to differentiate yourself in a crowded market, it’s like, “What would that be?” Maybe for home insurance once a year, you send a person over and spend half an hour looking at some stuff, and say, “Hey, man, you want to get some tuck point right there or you’re going to see some water damage within a couple of years.” It’s like, “Oh. Well, thanks for letting me know.” That would really be distinctive and make me really want to, I guess, the reciprocity, say, “Wow, that was so cool of you. I want to be cool to you right back, so, yeah, let’s see those referrals.”

Brian Ahearn
Yeah. And that’s, you’re right though, how do you stand out? Insurance is a somewhat generic product. The real differentiator becomes who that insurance agent is, and it’s all about what you value in a relationship with an insurance agent. Sometimes agents will say, “Well, because we’re local,” and I’ll challenge them, and I’ll say, “You know what, some people don’t care if you’re local because they can see you online anywhere in the world, so you need to understand if that’s part of the buying process for you.”

Pete Mockaitis
Right. Right. Well, Brian, tell me, anything else you want to make sure to mention before we shift gears and hear about some of your favorite things?

Brian Ahearn
I would just encourage people to pick up a copy of Cialdini’s book, one, it’s a fascinating read. I think they will be amazed at how things that they might not even consider can impact them at the conscious, but quite often, at the subconscious level, and really cause substantial change in behavior. It’s good because you want to understand what might be impacting you so you can make the most informed decisions possible. But if a large part of your success is getting people to say yes and do things, then really starting to think about, “How can I set the stage so that when I go and make my ask, it’s easier?” that will be extremely beneficial for you.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Thank you. Now, can you share a favorite quote, something you find inspiring?

Brian Ahearn
I think one of my favorite quotes, and I’m not going to get it word-for-word right, but one of the most impacting books I’ve ever read was Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning. And towards the end he said, “In the end, they can take away all of our human freedoms except for the last freedom, which is where we will place our thoughts.” He really said that the man or the woman who knew that nobody could make them think what they didn’t want to think was actually the freest person. And he said, “We were freer than some of the guards who maintained our captivity because we understood that.” And I think I read that such a long time ago, but I always go back to that, that the freedom of thought, nobody can take that away from me.

Pete Mockaitis
And how about a favorite study or experiment or bit of research?

Brian Ahearn
I would say probably research around highlighting loss, loss aversion with Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, because when I share any of that, and the research that I’m thinking specifically is University of California when they did energy audits and went back to people and gave them ideas to make their homes more energy-efficient. They either said, “If you do this, you will save $180 next year if you’re like the typical homeowner. Or if you don’t do this, you will lose $180 next year because you’re going to overpay.” It’s the same $180. But how it’s talked about makes a world of difference.

And in that particular case study, 150% more people who were told they would lose tended to implement the energy-saving ideas. That goes back to their work on loss aversion, that humans are anywhere from two to two and a half times more likely to say yes to the very same thing when they think they’ll lose as opposed to where they may gain. And there are so many opportunities for people to move something from a gain view into a loss frame. And not being a negative or a threatening or anything like that, but just by conversationally talking about what somebody might lose, and so there’s just a tremendous amount of opportunity for people to do that.

Pete Mockaitis
And a favorite book?

Brian Ahearn
Well, other than Influence: Science and Practice, my book, Influence PEOPLE. No, actually, I’ll give you two books because they really radically impacted how I make my presentations. One was Carmine Gallo’s The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs, and the other was Presentation Zen. Between the two of those books and changing how I format and the visuals that I use with audiences, and then thinking about Steve Jobs and how he interacted with people, it completely changed my stage presence, and it gets a tremendous feedback. So, those are two books that have had a big impact on me.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, Brian, maybe we have to have a third of this. We had Carmine on the show. But could you give us sort of one tidbit in terms of, “Before, I always did this. And now, I never do this,” or vice versa?

Brian Ahearn
Well, before, I did a lot of words and I would just do some bullet points as I go through things. And what I do now is almost entirely visual. I will usually have a keyword. Like, if I’m going to talk about a principle, you might see the word authority, and then I talk about it. And then maybe I click and it says research at the bottom or application. It was a little scary at first because you can’t look over your shoulder and hit a bullet point, but then there’s a freedom with it because nobody says, “Hey, you didn’t talk about the third bullet point.”

And what I started to sense was I could go in any direction I wanted with an audience. And when people would say, “Can I have your PowerPoint?” I’m like, “Why? It’s 24 pictures. You need me to interpret that for you.” So, that was a big change. The more comfortable I got with it, the more fun I would have when I was with audiences.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah. I’ve been down that road as well because I used to make slides, well, sometimes I do, based on the audience, like, as a strategy consultant, I mean, that was kind of the idea. And Nancy Duarte would call it a slide dock, it’s like, “This is not just a supplement while keynoting. It is going to be distributed amongst decision-makers and follow-up meetings as a piece of research tool to get work done.” So, that’s very different than, “I want to draw you into a good energy space, and augment my message when I’m keynoting on stage,” versus, “I need to persuade you that this is going to make you 16 million incremental dollars next year.”

Brian Ahearn
Yeah, you always have to think about who your audience is and what you want that takeaway to be. When I reference what I do, I’m thinking really of keynote presentations. And I’ve got Duarte’s book right down below, near my feet here, slide:ology, and I would say that’s a great book too. I just happened to read “Presentation Zen” many years ago before her book came out, and so that’s what started to impact me.

Pete Mockaitis
And how about a favorite tool, something you use to be awesome at your job?

Brian Ahearn
A favorite tool right now is an app called Voice Dream.

Pete Mockaitis
I have that one.

Brian Ahearn
Do you use it?

Pete Mockaitis
I’ve used it a couple times when I needed something read to me, and I couldn’t find a way to do it. Voice Dream was the way to do it. How do you use it?

Brian Ahearn
So, I use it for a lot of stuff. I have a personal mission statement, I download to it, and it takes about three minutes, but usually when I’m doing my coffee in the morning, I press it, and I hear the words of the mission statement, so every day I’m hearing that. I’m in the middle of writing my second book, and so I download it, and then I start listening to it to see, to find out how it sounds because my eyes can deceive me, I know what I want to see. But once I hear it, I’m like, “Oh, it should be the not they,” and you catch the little things like that.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, fascinating.

Brian Ahearn
I’ll bring a blogpost in, and I’ll quickly write the blogpost, clean it up. But then I’ll listen to it, I’ll go back and refine it. So, what I would say, Pete, is try and use it for some things you’re not right now, and I think you’re going to start going, “Wow, this is so beneficial,” that you’ll start pulling more things into it. You’ll just realize how important it is to hear what it is that you’re writing before you actually publish.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, that’s good. And you’re hearing it a bit differently than if you read it yourself out loud, and you’re saving the time of making a recording. So, that’s clever to surface errors and better ways to rephrase things in a different way. I like it. Thank you.

Brian Ahearn
You’re welcome.

Pete Mockaitis
And a favorite habit?

Brian Ahearn
My favorite remains working out. I’m up every day at 5:00 a.m., and by 5:30, I’m downstairs. I’ve got a really nice gym in my basement. I usually run in the morning, do three to five miles. A lot of times I’m on the treadmill because I like watching things on Netflix, and then I’ll spend time stretching. And then I’ll go back down in the afternoon and spend 30 to 45 minutes lifting weights. This became the routine during COVID because you couldn’t go anywhere. But then I started to realize I really like the routine, I like the aerobic activity to start the day, I like going down and working my muscles after I’ve been sitting for a while, and just the break from thinking to be able to do that. And then it’s usually dinnertime, and my wife and I are interacting after that, so that’s a daily seven-day a week routine.

Pete Mockaitis
And is there a particular nugget you share that really seems to connect and resonate with folks; they quote it back to you frequently?

Brian Ahearn
I think around the principle of liking. As I have really come to emphasize, it’s not about me getting you, Pete, to like me. It’s about me coming to like you. And that seems like it’s been revolutionary for a lot of people. They all know that if somebody likes them it’s easier for the people to say yes, but they’ve never really thought about, “Maybe if I spend more time coming to like other people, that would be the difference-maker.” Smart people, over the course of history, have known this. Abraham Lincoln said, “I don’t like that man very much. I need to get to know him better.” And I think if we all took that tact, that we would probably have much, much better relationships.

Pete Mockaitis
And if folks want to learn more or get in touch, where would you point them?

Brian Ahearn
I’d say my website, InfluecePeople.biz. From there, if you want to buy my book, you can buy the book. I’ve been blogging for a dozen years now. I’ve been on almost 80 podcasts. All of that stuff is there. It’s all free. The book is not free. You do have to buy that, but the podcasts, and I’ve got some videos, I’ve got the blog, all of that stuff. So, there’s a tremendous amount of information that’s out there. And the other thing I would say if you want to connect with me on LinkedIn, I’m always open to connecting with people.

Pete Mockaitis
And do you have a final challenge or call to action for folks looking to be awesome at their jobs?

Brian Ahearn
I would say really start giving some thought to persuasion and pre-suasion. That’s one of those things that we do throughout the course of our lifetime, and so we can almost take it for granted. But if we really pause and start thinking strategically about these principles of human behavior and how can we bring them into our communication, whether it’s oral or written, you will have more people saying yes to you. You’ll enjoy a lot more success at the office as a result of it.

Pete Mockaitis
Brian, this has been a treat. I wish you lots of luck in all the ways you’re being pre-suasive.

Brian Ahearn
Thank you. I appreciate it, Pete.

597: How to Turn No Into Yes: Powerful Negotiation Questions with Alex Carter

By | Podcasts | No Comments

 

 

Alex Carter says: "Silence is not an imposition. It's actually a gift to the other person. It gives them time to think and it prevents you from selling yourself short."

Columbia law professor Alex Carter shares why it pays to ask for more, both at work and in life.

You’ll Learn:

  1. The 4 questions that will help you negotiate better 
  2. How to boost your confidence going into a negotiation 
  3. How to increase your chances of getting a yes from your boss 

About Alex

Alex Carter is Director of the Mediation Clinic at Columbia Law School, where she is also an award-winning professor, and a world-renowned negotiation trainer for the United Nations. She also serves as Executive Director of Stand Up Girls, helping tween girls develop relationships for greater self-esteem and resilience. She has appeared on CBS This Morning, MSNBC’s LIVE Weekend and Hardball, Marketplace, and in The New York Times and Wall Street Journal. She lives in Maplewood, New Jersey, with her husband and daughter.

Resources mentioned in the show:

Thank you Sponsors!

Alex Carter Interview Transcript

Pete Mockaitis
Alex, thanks so much for joining us here on the How to be Awesome at Your Job podcast.

Alex Carter
Pete, thanks so much. I’m thrilled to be here.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, I’m excited to talk negotiation. And I’d love it if you could kick us off by sharing one of your coolest negotiating stories.

Alex Carter
Sure. Coolest negotiating stories. How about the first time I ever negotiated my own salary?

Pete Mockaitis
That sounds like a good one. Let’s go.

Alex Carter
So, yes. I’m one of these people who, and some of your listeners may relate, early on in my career, I worked at places that were all lock-step so I never had much to negotiate. Well, fast forward to the first moment in my 30s that I ever negotiated my salary. Went in, power suit on, ready for battle, and to my surprise, they came in slightly above what I was expecting. So, had just enough on the ball to keep my face neutral, said, “Thank you so much. I’ll get back to you.”

Went out and called a senior woman in my field, and I said, “I’m not sure what to do. They came in above.” And she said, “I’m going to tell you what to do, Alex. You’re going to go in there and you’re going to ask for more.” And I said, “I’m going to ask for more?” And she said, “Yes, because when you teach someone how to value you, you teach him how to value all of us, meaning women. And so, if you’re not going to do it for yourself, I want you to go in and do it for the woman who’s coming after you. Do it for the sisterhood.”

Pete Mockaitis
Okay.

Alex Carter
And so, that was the moment when I realized that asking for more and negotiating and claiming my value actually was not a selfish act, that in doing that, I could create more seats, not fewer, around the table for people to join me.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, that’s a beautiful reframe right there in terms of it’s not a zero-sum game. It is benefitting more persons than just you. It’s funny, I think sometimes when we hear about negotiation, we think about the tactics and the power phrases. I’m thinking about Michael Scott in “The Office.”

Alex Carter
Oh, God.

Pete Mockaitis
Trick number 31 or whatever, and it would sound like, “Okay, you did your research, you said you’re going to think about it, and then you just suggested a higher number,” and it sounds like, unless you skipped any juicy details, that there weren’t a lot of secret weapons you’re employing there.

Alex Carter
Well, it’s interesting, Pete, and I’m so glad you brought that up about people thinking it’s all about the secret weapon, the decision tree, or some complicated algorithm that’s going to get you the best result. The truth is, that Ask for More, is in part, it’s my book, it’s in part the story of a woman who learned how to ask for more, but it’s also about the power of questions.

Questions are actually the number one under-utilized weapon in negotiation. When you go into a negotiation and front load your questions, you’re not only going to get more information, you’re going to end up with better deals.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Well, that’s very tempting to dive right in. But, first, I want to touch base on in terms of maybe the why or what’s at stake with negotiating skills. So, I think naturally, if you think, “Hey, yeah, you can have some more money if you negotiate.” But what are maybe some of the other opportunities that we don’t even think about negotiating?

Alex Carter
Yeah, negotiation is about a lot more than money. You know, Pete, in fact, let’s zoom out a bit because a lot of times when people hear the word negotiation, they think of kind of what we started talking about at the beginning of this podcast where it’s a back and forth between two or more people over money. That’s actually not what I teach. I teach that negotiation is steering. It’s any conversation, not just the money conversations, not just the conversations where you’re battling over resources, but any conversation where you’re steering a relationship.

And so, it’s not just about money. It’s often about teaching people how to value you. It’s often about achieving the intangibles in life, those things that make our lives worth living – freedom, advancement, a sense of accomplishment, recognition. Negotiation is all of those. It’s how we create our own story.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. That sounds great. So, let’s see about these questions.

Alex Carter
You’re right. All right, let’s get back. So, in fact, the first question that people should be asking in negotiation is actually not when they sit down with somebody else. So, Pete, by the time you and I sit down to negotiate, half of the process is already done, and that’s the part of the process that starts at home with me. So, before I even sit down with somebody, I need to be asking myself questions. And the first question I tell people to ask in every scenario is this, “What’s the problem I want to solve?”

You know, Pete, I found that, whether you’re talking about it in corporate context or in a more entrepreneurial scenario, people want to jump immediately to solutions, “There’s budget allocation, and I’m the leader of my department, and I want to go in immediately and say, ‘This is where my department’s number should be.’ But wait a second, what’s the problem I want to solve?”

“Am I merely looking for X number of dollars here because I’m allocating it to certain projects? Or, in the process of this, am I also trying to raise awareness about what my team did last quarter? Am I also trying to communicate the importance of my department to the company’s overall mission?” Thinking about the problem you want to solve, not only shapes what you ask for but how you ask for it. It is the first stop in any negotiation.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. So, we’re thinking clearly about the problem that you want to solve and, in so doing, I think that probably reframes any number of things and opens up a lot of possibilities that maybe just weren’t even on top of mind before you went there, so that’s awesome. What’s next?

Alex Carter
Sure. Well, how many questions would you like to do?

Pete Mockaitis
Well, I understand you’ve got ten, so maybe let’s get the rundown preview listing and then dive deeper into a couple.

Alex Carter
Okay. All right. So, let’s talk next. So, you’ve thought about the problem you want to solve, I think the next stop is really thinking about what you need from this negotiation. And when I’m asking people to consider their needs, I ask them to put them into two buckets. So, the first bucket is kind of the low-hanging fruit in most negotiations. It’s what I call the tangibles, right? The things that you can touch, see or count, “So, I need this amount of money. I need this many people for headcount to grow my division.”

The intangibles, though, often complete the picture. Those are the values that we stand for and that really drive our negotiation. So, for example, if I’m the head of the department going in for resources, in addition to saying, “I need X, Y, and Z tangibles,” I might be thinking, “I need acknowledgement from my CEO for what we did for the bottom line last year.” And then that intangible can very often shape how I negotiate. The trick is, Pete, that when you have these intangibles, like, “I need some recognition,” you’ve got to look inward and ask yourself, “What would recognition look like for me here?” In other words, you’ve got to take that and make it concrete so that, then, it’s a basis for you to negotiate from.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah, excellent. And so, in terms of we start with a problem, and then, “What it is that I need?” and have that be clear in terms of, you’re right, acknowledgement can take many flavors and formats in terms of, “Is it public? Is it private? Is it just like, ‘Hey, great job,’ one-sentence email that’s good enough? But what do you need?”

Alex Carter
Pete, you joke but I swear to you. So, part of what I do at Columbia Law School is I help people negotiate their way out of large conflicts. So, recognition for one person looks like a seven-figure number. Recognition for somebody else looked like a certificate that he put on his wall, a certificate of appreciation. It truly looks different for every person, and you have to honor what that looks like for you. “Ask for More” is all about tuning out the noise of what other people think you should need, and tuning in to what things like recognition and freedom and respect look like for you.

Pete Mockaitis
You’re right. And I like that when you talk about freedom, I mean, if we think about sort of a salary compensation picture, it may very well be, it’s like, “Okay, we don’t have that in the budget. Fair enough. I would like some additional vacation days.” And so then, on a dollars per hour or day basis, you might still feel whole with regard to achieving what you wanted to achieve.

Alex Carter
A hundred percent. And you pointed out something really important, which is there’s almost never just one driver in a negotiation. Money is something you can negotiate for. It’s not the only thing you should negotiate for. And if you’ve gone in with a complete list of what you need, “I need freedom, I need appropriate compensation for what I’m doing,” then that gives you the basis to be able to say, “Okay. So, what can we do on the salary? What can we do on the work schedule? What can we do on vacation? And how about mentorship or training possibilities?” In this way, you’re not just myopically zoning in on the money. I want for you to get that and everything else that’s going to satisfy your needs.

Pete Mockaitis
Let’s talk a little bit about those emotions here. As I’m imagining, as I’m putting myself in the shoes of a listener that says, “Boy, there’s a context in which I’m starting to ask, I’m asking for more, I’m asking for a lot, for the money, for the work schedule I want, for the vacation I want.” I think this can give rise to some fear in terms of like, “Oh, am I being whiny, or needy, or hard to work with, or asking for too much too soon? Is this even appropriate?” How do we deal with that issue?

Alex Carter
Huge, huge issue. And can I say, Pete, I think this is even more of an issue right now than usual? All the time, people are having this conversation in our heads. It’s not just, “Am I whiny or am I needy?” For a lot of people, it’s “Am I worth it? Do I really believe that I am worth what I am asking for?” That is where negotiation starts. And I have to tell you that fear you were describing is so much more present now. Every day, I get a note from somebody I don’t know asking me, “Can I really negotiate even right now, even when I’m desperate for a job, even when I really need some money coming in the door?”  And the answer is that not only can you, you should.

I want to reframe that conversation in people’s heads. Yes, times are tough right now. On the other hand, isn’t now the time when every dollar of your company’s money should be spent on somebody who’s going to be able to achieve results, and shouldn’t that person be you? Why not you? Managing that internal emotional conversation is key to negotiation success.

And so, for that reason, I ask people to write down their feelings, what I call the F word, before they go in and they negotiate, because it’s in the process of airing those things out, recognizing that you’re feeling them, and persevering through anyway, that you’re going to get to the other side of that mountain.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah, I really like it. And I guess the what you’re worth piece, I think there’s a lot of bad places you can look for that, or suboptimal, shall I say, like, “Hey, what you were paid at the last place, or last year, may or may not be a reflective sensible answer to what you’re worth.” I imagine your market research in terms of, “Hey, supply and demand for this position and what they tend to get paid is worth it.” And then I think, for listeners of this show, it’s helpful to just think about, “How committed, motivated, ambitious, dedicated, skillful you are at your job relative to the other people in your office?”

And maybe you’re surrounded by higher performers but it’s often the case, people say, “Wow, a lot of people just aren’t really doing their job that many hours out of the day here. So, hotdog, I’m pretty diligent, so I might be worth two or three times what my peers are getting paid.”

Alex Carter
You know, I’ve counseled thousands of people, most people are underestimating themselves and not overestimating. Research tells people that when you ask for more, your ask should be optimistic, specific, and justifiable. A lot of times we remember that we need to justify our ask but we don’t remember the optimistic part. Take the best-case justifiable scenario and start from there, because, remember, it’s very rare that you’re going to get more than what you ask for.

Pete Mockaitis
Right.

Alex Carter
So, your ask sets the ceiling.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s excellent. So, it’s sort of like the most that’s not absurd, like, “Come on,” so just a bit below that, it’s like, “Well, hey, this is the 98th percentile for this role but, hey, I think I’m a top 10% performer so it just seems sensible that that’s what I want.”

Alex Carter
A 100%, that’s right.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, I like that a lot. And also, when they say, “Hey, can I ask now even amidst economic uncertainties and COVID and such?” I recall we had the folks from the Paychecks & Balances podcast, great guys, Rich and Marcus, who, on the show, and one of them said, “You know what? I have blanket approval to give a 10% raise to anybody who asks, and almost nobody asks.” It’s like, “Wow!” that was eye-opening. A lot of people making these decisions do have that leeway just built in, no higher authority approval even necessary. Has that been your observation?

Alex Carter
It has. In fact, just in the last two weeks, I’ve negotiated with two separate organizations that initially said, “We have no room to negotiate,” and I asked, and almost immediately got the 10%. Almost immediately. And so, it’s as though the form letter goes out saying, “This is the rate.” But it’s true, people, in fact, here’s the secret, people expect you to negotiate. That’s the truth. People expect you to negotiate even in a pandemic. And you know what’s great when you negotiate during a pandemic? In the process of advocating for yourself, you are showing the company how you will advocate for them. Always, always negotiate.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah, I like that a lot. Okay, so we talked about the fear piece. That’s great. So, being convinced that you’re worth it. And we talked about the first two questions. What’s after that?

Alex Carter
Actually, Pete, we talked about the first three because the third one is about emotions and we kind of got there. After we talk about feelings, the next thing I like for people to do, this is a really, really powerful question, I like people to ask themselves this, “How have I achieved this successfully in the past?”

And here’s the reason, because oftentimes we’re facing a scenario and we’re feeling a bit anxious about negotiating, we forget that we have handled things successfully before. If you’re about to negotiate for yourself, or raise your prices, or ask for a higher salary, remember the last time you advocated for yourself. Write down the strategies you used and see what might be utilized here to make you more successful.

The thing about this question, Pete, is “How have I handled this successfully in the past?” it has two powerful functions in negotiation. Number one, the mere fact of asking yourself this question, there is research to show that if you go in to negotiate, having thought about a prior success, you’re more likely to do better simply by having thought about it. But the second reason to think about a prior success is it’s a data generator. Very often the strategies we’ve used in the past to make ourselves successful will work again in the future.

Now, I want to answer, Pete, a question that I think your listeners may be thinking. Some of them are thinking, “This is great, Alex, if I have a prior success that’s right on point. But what if I’m trying to do something I’ve never done before?” Fine. I’ve never, for example, published a book and promoted a book during a pandemic. First time, okay? But I looked back and I thought, “Okay, what are the elements of this? What do I need to do? How can I boil this down?”

And I thought, “Okay, I need to get a lot of people on board. I need to communicate clearly and powerfully around the message, and create a massive team to support me. When have I done that before? Oh, I ran my husband’s campaign for local office five years ago.” Went back, looked at the strategies I used as his campaign manager, and applied them to my book-promotion campaign. It was incredibly successful.

Sometimes, even a seemingly unrelated prior success is going to be just the thing to give you some strategies to use in your negotiation.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s excellent in terms of there are all sorts of carryover in terms of it’s not the bullseye, okay, a book in a pandemic. Sure, that’s one of a kind. But, certainly, skills, experiences that have some relevance and some carryover, zero in on those. And that is great in terms of double barrel. You can bring that up if it comes up, and you feel all the more resolute and convicted about you being worth it for having gone there. So, that’s excellent.

Alex Carter
Yes. And if I can speak to that point, Pete, remember we talked about sort of psyching yourself out, almost giving yourself the no before anybody else can. If you are somebody who has difficulty advocating for yourself, my guess is, if you’re listening to this podcast, that you are great at negotiating on behalf of other people, your department, your friends, your kids. I want you to write down what makes you so successful when you negotiate for other people, and then use it for yourself. Over and over again, I have worked on this exercise with corporate leaders, and they tell me they find it unbelievably helpful in channeling those strengths to go in and ask for more.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, I love it because that just sort of cuts through all of the self-doubt stuff in terms of, “If I am negotiating for Pete Inc. as opposed to me,” then you’re operating a bit differently, so that’s great. I want to get your take on, this might be advanced, but I think it comes up. It’s come up for me and I don’t do a ton of negotiating. When is the right time to think about bringing in an agent or a lawyer? When should you do that versus not do that?

I remember when I was closing on my house, it seems like the lawyers kind of made things more intense and a little kind of harder to get into a win-win. I remember at one point they’re like, “Did they say it was a shakedown? For them to impugn our integrity that way…” it’s like, “Oh, no, that was just me summarizing.” We got some misunderstandings and some intensity, but, at the same time, lawyers and agents are professionals with the skill set that have their use. How do you think about that game?

Alex Carter
So interesting. You know, Pete, I’m a lawyer and yet I think we often get in the way, right? We have a way. And it goes down to how a lot of lawyers are trained. So, again, I have a J.D., I’m a practicing lawyer, but for my first two years of law school before I took the class that I’m now teaching, I basically was a hammer and all I saw were nails, and I was looking for how I could escalate a conflict at any turn.

The truth is, Pete, I do make, now, I do make use sometimes of lawyers and agents. I have literary agents, I have speaking agents, all sorts of people who work with me. The truth is that nobody is going to be a better messenger than you even if you have an agent. I work really hard to steer that relationship and to help use them for the things that they are great at. Some of the industry-specific knowledge, that might be an occasion when I would hire. This is very industry-specific, they’re going to be able to help me fill in all the things that we could negotiate for.

But how we prioritize, and that strategy, that has to come from you. That has to come from the client. And there is no substitute for that.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Understood. And it makes a lot of great sense in terms of if they’ve done many book deals or speaking gigs, it’s like, “Well, they kind of know what people are paying because it can vary wildly. A keynote might sell for 3,000 or might sell for 30,000. And what are the nuances that determine where you go within that massive range?”

Alex Carter
Absolutely. And I have the best in the business both on the literary and the speaking front, and still when I choose an agent, I choose somebody who wants me to partner with them, somebody who can come to the table with their expertise, and I can come to the table and say, “Might we prioritize it this way? Could we say it this way?” And this way, we are working together as partners on the ultimate result.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Well, I’d love to zoom in now in terms of, let’s say, there’s not a big high-stakes negotiation per se coming up for a professional, but this is sparking some things for people, like, “You know what? I would like to have more in my job maybe in terms of flexibility, or learning and development, or any number of things that’s kind of outside the big, I don’t know, promotion, raise, cycle, or new job opportunity.” You’re sort of, hey, you’ve been in a job for a while and there are some things you like, any pro tips on broaching that topic with your boss and leadership to maximize the odds they’ll say yes?

Alex Carter
Absolutely. So, this is advice I give normally but I think is especially apt during a pandemic. I would choose your timing carefully. And I mean that from two angles. First, I would consider what’s going on for the other person. What do they have coming down this week? Right now is a time, I think about myself, here it is we’re recording this mid-August, and I’m staring down the barrel at a fall semester. I’m not sure what’s happening with my teaching at Columbia. I think I’m virtual. Not sure what’s happening with my fourth grader.

If somebody came to me the moment that my school released its plan, and ask me for something, I’m not going to have the bandwidth to consider it properly. So, think about what’s going on for them, earnings, whatever it might be, time it from that perspective. I would also think about timing from your perspective. What’s going to be the best timing to increase your leverage? Did you just deliver on something early? Did you just achieve a great result? Your boss says, “Pete, this was an unbelievable job.” That could be a great moment to say, “Thanks so much. I enjoyed working on this. And while I have you, I’d love to get some time on your calendar to talk about my future at the company and where I would love to be in a few years.” So, taking that opportunity at the most propitious timing to setup the conversation.

I would also try to do something where you can see each other’s faces. We’re virtual, and so the temptation is “Do I do it email? Do I do it by phone?” If you’re having an important conversation, body language is data, and I want you to have as much data as possible about what the other person is thinking, so I would do that.

My last tip for asking, especially right now, is to frame it in a particular way. So, when I’m helping people to make their ask for the greatest success, I tell them to execute what I call an I-we. In other words, “Here’s what I’m requesting, and here’s how we all benefit.” In other words, when you have started your negotiation and steered your relationship with your manager, by asking questions, by getting to know them, you have now figured out how to frame what you need in a way that it’s also going to meet their needs, right? “So, if you put me on this project that I’ve been asking for, here’s how I’m going to be able to contribute toward your success,” that type of thing.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah, that’s excellent. You know, I’m reminded of Robert Cialdini’s book Pre-suasion there in terms of like the moment, like what happens just before the conversation starts can make a world of difference.

Alex Carter
Huge.

Pete Mockaitis
Absolutely. So, I know they’re not secret weapons. It’s not where the action is. Nonetheless, I would love it if you could share with us, what are a few maybe bits of verbiage or scripts, some do’s or don’ts in terms of, “Hey, I hear people say this. Don’t say that,” or, “I don’t hear people say this, and you should say that.”

Alex Carter
Okay. And that’s okay, Pete, I use my weapons for good. I do have a secret weapon, and it’s actually not about saying this or saying that. It’s about the opposite. It’s about shutting up.

Pete Mockaitis
All right.

Alex Carter
The importance of silence in negotiation. In my book, I teach people three words that I want them to commit to memory and use in every negotiation as a guiding principle. And the three words are “land the plane.” When you make your point, when you ask a question, when you deliver a proposal, deliver it and then land the plane, close your mouth.

Too often, I see people get nervous about the silence, and so they rush in to fill it with a bunch of words that leaves them bidding against themselves or assuming what the other person might say. So, in other words, Pete, what do you need to get this done here today? Would $10,000 do it? No, you don’t know what Pete needed, right? Maybe he needed five, and you overpaid. Maybe he needed mentorship or a path to advancement. In other words, say what you’re going to say and land the plane.

Silence is not an imposition. It’s actually a gift to the other person. It gives them time to think and it prevents you from selling yourself short. Sometimes the less you say the better.

Pete Mockaitis
Right. I imagine in terms of I’ve seen it both ways in terms of me saying more than I should, and others that I’m talking to like they share numbers, like, “You know, if that’s manageable…” they’re just sort of like weakens it after the fact. I mean, I know things are hard right now with the COVID, but as opposed to saying, “$200,000 sounds…” and then they can weigh in on that in terms of like, “Boy, that is just really way more than we have in mind. That’s going to be challenging for us to pull off,” versus, “Okay, I understand what’s at stakes and I’ll see what we can do.”

Alex Carter
And may I say, if they answered you and say, “That’s going to be challenging for us to pull off,” great job. That is great information for you to have. First of all, it means you didn’t sell yourself short. And, second, let’s say you get that, because I think, Pete, sometimes people talk and talk and talk because they’re afraid of getting the no, and so they’re trying to eat the silence up with their words at the negotiation table.

Don’t ever fear the no again because I’m going to give you four words that you can use when you get a no. Are you ready? Here are the words: “What are your concerns?” That’s it. When somebody says, “You know, I think this is going to be hard for us to pull off,” say, “Okay, thanks for letting me know. What are your concerns?” Because, frequently, if you hear somebody’s concerns, you’re going to find a way to address those.

So, have the courage to allow the silence, and know that on the other end of that, if somebody expresses a hesitation, you have a tool you can use in the moment, simply ask their concerns, play their concerns back, summarize them, and then, more often than not, you’re going to know where the target is that you need to hit, and turn that no into a yes.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah, you’re right, because concerns can be any number of things. Like, “That can be challenging,” might mean, “Well, hey, we’re paying someone else for doing almost the same thing 170K, so it seems a little disruptive or more about fairness to pay a new person significantly more to do the same thing.” And I don’t know if this is good or bad, but maybe a solution that could be, “Oh. Well, if it’d make you more comfortable, I’m happy to sign something indicating that I will not disclose my compensation to anybody.” Of course, that’s a whole another controversial issue in terms of information flows and how that impacts different populations. But that’s an example of a solution that might be way easier than you thought. Like, “Oh, it’s not so much that they’re broke, but it’s something completely different.”

Alex Carter
I got to tell you, Pete, marketing my book during a pandemic, I’ve become a specialist in turning no into a yes. When you think about it, one of the things that I lined up was dozens and dozens of in-person speaking engagements, and that was going to be a way for me to get the word out there and for people to buy the book. All of those canceled obviously. And over and over again, I heard people say, “Yeah, we’re canceling this event, and we’re not doing something virtual.”

Every single time I’ve called up and said, “What are your concerns?” And over and over again, people said things like, “Well, we’ve never done it before. We’re not sure how to do something that’s going to be productive over Zoom.” “Great. Would it be helpful if we jumped on and I showed you what I have in mind?” Or, “We’re not sure our employees are going to want it.” “Okay, how might you find that out?” They’re like, “All right, we can do a survey.” It turns out, they really want it.

Over and over again there are concerns that, when we met them, it wasn’t like me getting over on them, Pete. In every case, we produced something that was of mutual value and people actually thanked me afterward. The truth is that even with a no, you can ask people about their concerns, you can preserve the relationship, you can strengthen the relationship, and you can still get what you need out of the deal.

Pete Mockaitis
And the thing I love about that particular phraseology of the question “What are your concerns?” is it’s just very helpful. Like, you’re being of service as opposed to “What’s your problem? What’s the issue, man?” Like, those get after the same information but it doesn’t land nearly as productive as “What are your concerns? I’m trying to help.”

Alex Carter
Yeah, “What’s your problem?” has not gotten me the best results. Yeah, I mostly use that one at home, to be honest.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. Well, tell me, Alex, anything else you want to make sure to mention before we shift gears and hear about some of your favorite things?

Alex Carter
Yes, I would like people to know, if there’s anybody out there listening who thinks “Negotiation is not for me because I’m not the most aggressive person in the room,” or, “Maybe I’m an introvert,” or, “I’m somebody who prioritizes my relationships,” I want you to know that all of those things can make you a great negotiator. That, really, if you’re somebody who is a good listener, you’re somebody who gains people’s trust, and you’re somebody who prioritizes relationships, all you need are the right questions, and you’re going to be absolutely fantastic, I promise you.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. Well, now let’s some favorite things. Can you share a favorite quote, something you find inspiring?

Alex Carter
Yes. So, a few years ago I had a student who changed my life. He was a mid-career lawyer, my age, in his early 40s, who came over from India for a year of study at Columbia, and he told me that his life’s motto is “Only do what only you can do.” And I took that onboard. And at that time, Pete, I was supposed to write a textbook. I had gotten an offer from a really prestigious legal corporation to write a textbook, and I thought, “This is what I should do. I’m a law professor.”

But then I thought about that, “Is this what only I can do?” And I thought, “No, it’s not. There are lots of people who can write textbooks. What I think only I can do, what I think I’m called to do, and what I love doing, is taking negotiation concepts from law school and making them accessible to everyday people in their lives.” That is what only I can do. And when I leaned into that, that’s when I started writing what would become “Ask for More.”

Pete Mockaitis
Well, that quote also just sparks so many things, like “I should be outsourcing.”

Alex Carter
It is. It’s a way to think about managing your time. When I think about the range of tasks I could embark on in a day, is this what only I can do? And if it’s not, somebody else is better served to do it.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah, I’m thinking about how my email inbox has gotten out of control, and I think 90% of those messages can be handled by others. I’ve just been a little slow to let go. What about privacy? What about honesty and respect and integrity? But these are navigable issues. And if that’s your mantra, I would have solved this long ago.

Okay. And how about a favorite study or experiment or bit of research?

Alex Carter
Gosh. Well, I think my favorite bit of research is the study done by Professor Leigh Thompson out of the Kellogg School at Northwestern that found 93% of people are not asking the questions they need to get the most out of negotiations. I remember the day I read that study, it hit me and it accorded perfectly with what I see as a mediator and a negotiation trainer. And that was part of what gave me the impetus to go on and teach about the incredible power of open questions.

Pete Mockaitis
And how about a favorite book?

Alex Carter
I wouldn’t be an author if I weren’t totally in love with my own book, Ask for More: 10 Questions to Negotiate Anything. I would say, other than that, a book that I’ve been reading recently is The Memo: What Women of Color Need to Know to Claim Their Seat at the Table by Minda Harts. Minda is an incredibly powerful woman who speaks directly to women of color in the workplace. And I remember the day I heard her speak, I picked up the book, and it’s had incredible learnings for me even as a white person in the workplace, how I can work together with my sisters of color to create the kind of workplace that we all want to exist.

Pete Mockaitis
And how about a favorite tool, something you use to be awesome at your job?

Alex Carter
My favorite tool. My husband would probably say my iPhone. But my number one tool that I use, to be honest, is my eyes. I think you would think that negotiation is all about listening to the words. I find that most of the negotiation is me looking at people and taking in what their faces and their bodies are saying. Most of negotiation is what’s between the words in the things that people are holding back or are not giving themselves permission to say. And so, the more that I can see people, and really see them for who they are, the more effectively I can do my job and help get them to where they want to be.

Pete Mockaitis
Boy, there’s a whole another podcast episode in here, and we’ve done it once with agent Joe Navarro from the FBI on body language. But are there one or two indicators that you found are reliable and show up a lot, “Like, when they do this with their eyes, or their mouth, or their hands, that tends to mean this, and thus, it’s very informative”?

Alex Carter
So, Pete, the biggest tip I can give people is to get to know the person you’re negotiating with and observe what’s called their baseline. So, in other words, Pete, if your default is to kind of sit back in your chair, and then I say something, and, all of a sudden, you lean forward, I know that I’ve just had an impact on you. So, any kind of changes from the baseline are things that I notice.

The other big thing I see is people censor their emotions but it comes out in their body language. Most frequently, I see people telling me yes while they are shaking their head no.

Pete Mockaitis
We can do that for you, Alex.

Alex Carter
Right. People are like, “Yeah, that sounds great,” and you can’t see me, everyone, but I’m shaking my head vigorously back and forth. I see it a shocking number of times. And when I do, I simply say, “You know, Pete, your words are telling me yes, but your face is telling me no. So, let’s talk. What are your concerns?” And, usually, that…I treat everything, Pete, a shake of the head, people repeatedly touching a necklace or a piece of clothing, a tremor, I treat…What’s that?

Pete Mockaitis
The suprasternal notch below the neck.

Alex Carter
The suprasternal notch. The necklace is very often important. I’ve broken through negotiations just based on the necklace. All of that stuff tells you a story and I treat it like communication, and I raise it with people.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. And a favorite habit, something you do to be awesome at your job?

Alex Carter
I practice yoga for the sanity of myself and the sanity of those people around me. When I practice yoga, it’s a chance for me to be completely present in the moment, and I find that that presence, being there every moment and nowhere else is key to being successful at helping people in negotiation.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. And is there a particular nugget you share that really seems to connect and resonate with folks; they quote it back to you often?

Alex Carter
Yeah. So, a lot of times people will tell me they’re nervous to hold themselves out as an expert or to ask for more because they’re concerned about if they stand up as an expert, does that leave less for other people? And I want you to know that when you ask for more, you benefit other people. When you ask for more in your job, you make sure that your manager gets your best, most fired-up version every day at work. When you ask for more at home, and ask for what you need, your partner, your kids, your loved ones get the most present and fulfilled person possible. Ignoring who you are and ignoring your needs helps no one. And everybody benefits when you ask for more.

Pete Mockaitis
You know, I love that so much, and I just watched this movie, it’s been around for a while, but we got Paul Rudd and Reese Witherspoon in “How Do You Know?”

Alex Carter
I love Paul Rudd.

Pete Mockaitis
Everything he does is good. And she drops into, Tony Shalhoub plays a psychiatrist, and she’s like, “So, is there like generally anything that you generally tell people that generally works for everyone?” And he said, this is so wise from a movie, from a comedy, he said, “Figure out what you really want and learn how to ask for it.” It’s like, “Huh, that’s some real wisdom from this comedy. Right on.”

Alex Carter
It’s true. And that, in a nutshell, is what I teach. The first part of that is really figuring out what you want, not what somebody else wants for you, what you want, what’s going to make your life worthwhile, and then figuring out how to ask for that thing.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. And, Alex, if folks want to learn more or get in touch, where would you point them?

Alex Carter
Sure. So, I’d love for people to get in touch on my website which is AlexCarterAsks.com. You can also find me on Instagram @alexandrabcarter, on LinkedIn, and, very reluctantly, on Twitter.

Pete Mockaitis
And do you have a final challenge or call to action for folks looking to be awesome at their jobs?

Alex Carter
Yes. I want you to try to go out and get a no. I want you to strive for the no before the end of the year because, in doing so, I know you’re going to come back to me and tell me that you got more yeses than you could ever think possible.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. Alex, this has been a treat. I wish you all the best in all the ways you’re asking for more.

Alex Carter
Pete, it’s been a pleasure. Thanks so much.

553: How to Change Minds and Organizations with Jonah Berger

By | Podcasts | No Comments

 

 

Wharton professor Jonah Berger discusses the biggest obstacles to successful persuasion—and how to overcome them.

You’ll Learn:

  1. Why persuasive arguments don’t work—and what does
  2. A simple technique to win over stubborn naysayers
  3. How to introduce big changes with minimal resistance

About Jonah:

Jonah Berger is a marketing professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and internationally bestselling author of Contagious, Invisible Influence, and The Catalyst.

Dr. Berger is a world-renowned expert on change, word of mouth, influence, consumer behavior, and how products, ideas, and behaviors catch on. He has published over 50 articles in top‐tier academic journals, teaches Wharton’s highest rated online course, and popular outlets like The New York Times and Harvard Business Review often cover his work. He’s keynoted hundred of events, and often consults for organizations like Google, Apple, Nike, and the Gates Foundation.

Resources mentioned in the show:

Thank you Sponsors!

  • Pitney Bowes. Simplify your shipping while saving money. Get a free 30-day trial and 10-lb shipping scale at pb.com/AWESOME

Jonah Berger Interview Transcript

Pete Mockaitis
Jonah, thanks for joining us here on the How to be Awesome at Your Job podcast.

Jonah Berger
Thanks so much for having me.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, I’m really excited to dig into your wisdom. You’ve been on the list for a long time so it’s so good to have you here.

Jonah Berger
Oh, thanks. I appreciate that.

Pete Mockaitis
I’d love to just kick us off by so you’ve been doing a lot of research in influence and change. Can you maybe tell us what’s some of like the most common things that people want change that comes up again and again, it’s almost like trite for you by now?

Jonah Berger
I think everyone has something they want to change. Employees always seem to want to change their boss’ mind, leaders want to transform organizations, marketing and sales want to change the customer or the clients’ mind, startups want to change industries, nonprofits want to change the world. I think we all have something that we want to change. People talk about changing their spouse’s mind or their kids’ behavior, so I think these things come up again and again.

What I found most interesting is that we tend to take a particular approach that often doesn’t work. So, when we did some of our own research, for example, we asked people to write down, “What’s something you want to change? And what have you tried to do to change it?” Almost 100% of the time, 99% of the time, they write down some version of what I call pushing, and that is kind of adding more pressure, more reasons, more information.

If it’s the boss, “Oh, let me just send one more email.” If it’s the client, “Let me make one more phone call.” If it’s my spouse, “Let me just tell them one more time why I think what I’m suggesting is the right way to go.” And it’s clear why we think this is a good approach, right? In the physical world, if we want to move something, we push it, right? If you’re sitting in a room and there’s a chair, and you want the chair to go somewhere, you push the chair in the direction you want it to go.

But the problem with people is they aren’t physical objects. Unlike objects that move when we push them, when we push people, they push back. And so, the question, really, of this new book that I’ve been working on is, “Well, is there a different way? Is there a better way to change minds and organizations?”

Pete Mockaitis
Well, do tell, what is the better way?

Jonah Berger
Yeah, so I think there’s a need analogy to be made with chemistry. And so, in chemistry there’s sort of this special set of substances that make change happen faster and easier, they’re called catalysts, but they work in a very particular way. They don’t add temperature, they don’t add pressure, which is usually what things in chemistry do to change things, they remove the barriers to change. They basically make the same amount of change happen with less work.

And so, that’s really what I find quite interesting about the social world as well. Too often, we say, “What could I do to get someone to change?” rather than taking a very subtle but important shift, and saying, “Why hasn’t that person changed already? What’s preventing them? What are the barriers that are mitigating or hindering change,” that friction as you said, “and how can I remove those barriers?” And so, that’s what the book is really all about. It’s about finding those barriers, those things that are getting in the way and how to get rid of them.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Certainly. And so then, let’s hear in terms of frequent examples of resistance, friction, barriers, obstacles. What’s the kind of stuff that gets in the way for professionals looking to make a change at work, either in themselves, or with their boss, or colleague? What are some of those repeated obstacles?

Jonah Berger
Yeah. And I love to think about these obstacles as parking brakes. The reason why, when we get in our car, we often have this problem. We get in our car, we’re sitting on an incline, or whatever, we want to get it to go, we turn the key ignition, put our foot on the gas. If it doesn’t go, we think we need more gas. We, rarely though, until we think about it, end up checking that parking brake. So, sometimes it’s the parking brake that’s along the way. So, what are those parking brakes or obstacles?

And so, in the book I talk about five. I talk about reactance, endowment, distance, uncertainty, and corroborating evidence. Those, I found across my research, are some of the five most common benefits and they have the nice side benefit of when you put them in order, they actually spell a word, which is REDUCE.

Pete Mockaitis
It was no accident, Jonah, I’m sure.

Jonah Berger
Yeah, it was no accident. And, honestly, actually, if I could I’d change the order around. I’d end up with like the EURDC framework which doesn’t spell anything. So, it would just be confusing if we did it that way but I think it’s a nice way to organize that information, and that’s what catalysts do, right? They don’t push harder; they reduce those barriers. They figure out what those obstacles are and how to mitigate them.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, so let’s dig into each of them. Can you maybe define the five of them and then we’ll sort of dig into each one?

Jonah Berger
Yeah, let’s pick one to start. So, let’s say reactance, and I think this is something that everyone listening has experienced in one way, shape or form, whether it’s in their professional or personal life. And the idea here, very simply, is when we try to get people to do something, when we try to persuade, they push back.

A bunch of very nice research shows that people essentially have an ingrained anti-persuasion system, almost like an anti-missile defense system, or radar, that is going around, that says, “Hey, when I sense that someone is trying to convince me of something, someone’s trying to change my mind, my defense system goes up.”

Pete Mockaitis
Even if it’s for our good or it would be fun.

Jonah Berger
You’re exactly right, yeah. And I find this most funny with exactly what you said. Even if it’s something I already want to do, this happens a lot in our personal lives, right? Our spouse, for example, might say, “Well, I think we should do this,” and even if it’s something we already wanted to do, we have to stop ourselves from saying no because we want to feel like we made the choice.

And that’s exactly what reactance is about. We want to feel like we’re in control, we’re in the driver seat, and so if we don’t feel like we’re in control, or we don’t feel like we’re in the driver seat, we push back against that message. That radar goes up and we either avoid, or ignore something, or, even worse, we counterargue. And I think counterarguing is the worst because you don’t know when someone is counterarguing. Often, they’re sitting there, they’re listening to you but they’re not actually listening. They’re sitting there thinking about all the reasons why they don’t want to do what you suggested.

And so, in terms of how to solve this challenge, there are a few different ways but one I often like to talk about is to do something called providing a menu. And the notion, the intuition here is very simple. When we give people one thing that we’re recommending, they, as we just talked about, often sit there thinking about all the reasons why it’s a bad idea. So, if our spouse, for example, says, “Hey, why do you want to do this weekend?” And you say, “Oh, let’s go watch a movie.” They go, “Oh, but it’s such a nice day outside,” or, “Oh, we went to the movies last week,” or, “Oh,” whatever it is. They think about all the reasons why it’s a bad idea.

And so, what good consultants often do is they provide what’s called a menu, essentially multiple options rather than just one. And what that really cleverly does is that shifts the job of the listener. Let’s say a consultant is presenting a solution and they’re presenting it to a client. If they just present one option, the client sits there going, thinking about all the reasons why it won’t work, “It’ll be too expensive.” “It’ll be hard to implement.” “My staff won’t like it, blah, blah, blah, blah.” All the reasons why it won’t work.

If, instead, you present two options, at least two or three, maybe even a couple more, it shifts the role of the listener, because rather than thinking about all the reasons they don’t like what you’re suggesting, they’re instead sitting there thinking which of them they like the best. Which of these two options do they like the best? Which is going to lead them, not surprisingly, to be much more likely to pick one at the end of the day.

And so, I like calling it providing a menu because you’re not giving infinite choices, you’re giving a limited set, and you’re guiding that decision.

Pete Mockaitis
And it’s so funny because it takes so much work to go off the menu. I’m thinking, this is triggering all sorts of things. So, I’ve got a two-year old at home, and so sometimes he doesn’t want to put a shirt on after he wakes up, and so I was like, “Hey, do you want the blue one or the purple one.” And he says, “Purple.” Or I was at a hotel with a continental breakfast this weekend, and I just wasn’t thrilled with the options. So, I was hoping for those little egg things but they weren’t there. There’s about all carbs, no protein, but I had like six options. And so, I just sort of stood there displeased for like three minutes. The people are probably wondering what I was doing, I was like, “No, no, no,” and then I finally just said, “Okay, I guess I want to do this because I don’t want to truck it out in this snowy weather. I’ll eat what’s here.”

Jonah Berger
Yeah, but talking about kids, I mean, it’s the same idea. I have a young one at home myself and it’s the same thing. When you ask kids to do something, they go, “No.” “Put this away.” “No.” “Do you want to wear this?” “No.” They’re like so used to saying no, but if you give them two options, suddenly they got a chance to choose. And notice you’re not giving them 15 options. If you gave them 15 options, they wouldn’t make a choice. They’d feel overwhelmed, they’d go something else.

When you walk into a restaurant, so you go to a Chinese restaurant, they don’t say, “Okay, which of the 60 options of world cuisines would you like?” They say, no, “Here’s the small set of options that are available but you get to pick.” And I think that same thing is used for whether you’re trying to convince a client or whether you’re trying to convince a boss. If you want that boss to do something, don’t say, “Hey, boss, I think we should do this.” Say, “Hey, boss, I think these are two really great options for us. Which do you like better?” Now, the boss may not pick either, but because they felt like they’re in control, they’re more likely to pick one than they would’ve been otherwise.

Pete Mockaitis
And I think that’s particularly excellent when it’s sort of like the “Help me prioritize” conversation. Like, “You’ve made 40 requests of me and it’s, in fact, impossible for all of those things to happen within the timeline you’d like them to happen. So, what do you think of, on this list, is the most important?” And so, that goes across, I think, a lot better while on the receiving end of this than, “No, not going to do that,” or, “I can’t do that.” It’s like, “Well, what?” It’s like, “No, no, you pick which of these things?”

Jonah Berger
You pick, yeah. But, as you’re pointing out, and that’s actually another thing I talk about a little bit in this chapter, is what that does is it gets the boss to commit to the conclusion. When you make statements, if someone gets a sit, they’re going, “Okay, do I agree with that statement or not?” When you ask questions, suddenly, again, it shifts their role. They’re saying what they think is the most important. They’re saying which of the things you should prioritize. They’ve put a stake in the ground. And so, if you come back later and you do that thing, it’s hard for them to disagree.

Somebody was talking about this in the context of a startup they were working at where the boss wanted everyone to work the weekend. No one wants to work the weekend, right? So, instead, in the meeting, the boss said, “Okay, what kind of company do you want to be? Do you want to be a good company or a great company?” Now, we all know how everyone answers that question, they don’t say, “Oh, we want to be a good company.” They say, “We want to be a great company.” And after everyone says that, they put that stake in the ground, they’ve committed to the conclusion. Then the boss says, “Okay. Well, to be a great company, we got to put in some long hours.” But because people have committed to it, because you asked them a question rather than telling them what to do, they’re much more likely to do the work to reach that conclusion.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Lovely. So, then that covers the reactance, I guess, we automatically react to, “I don’t care to be persuaded but I do care to make some choices.” So, then how about the endowment?

Jonah Berger
Sure, yeah. I think endowment, the best way to talk about endowment is to share the common intuition we often have, which is we tend to become attached to things we’re already doing. So, unlike if you’re trying to get someone who’s never done something to do something, when you’re trying to get people to switch to go from one thing to something else, they’re not only about how much they value that new thing and how much they want to do it, but how reticent they are to give up the old one.

So, some research on home buying, for example, shows that the longer someone’s lived in a home, the more they value that place above market price. They’ve spent a long time in it, they have their memories attached to it, they’re unwilling to get rid of it. Same thing if you’re asking people to buy something. So, they do great research, for example, on what’s called the endowment effect, where the name of the chapter comes from, where they asked people, “Hey, imagine I give you this mug.” They’re checking out this mug, it can hold coffee or tea, “You like it, great. How much would you be willing to sell it for?”

And they asked another set of people, they say, “Hey, here’s this wonderful mug, it holds coffee and tea, etc. How much would you be willing to buy it from someone else for?” And those prices, those amounts should be exactly the same whether you’re buying that coffee mug or selling that coffee mug, the value of it should be the same. But people’s valuation of it changes based on whether they own it or not. If it’s your mug, if it’s yours, you’re less willing to let it go. You have two times, often, will have higher valuation than people that don’t have it already because it’s yours. Obviously, this is a problem because you’re not only asking people when you ask them to change to do something new, you’re asking them to give up something old that they probably value very highly.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, that’s good. This also reminds me of the cognitive bias, the IKEA effect in terms of, “I poured my time into assembling this piece of furniture therefore, if I were to sell it, it needs to fetch a hefty rate because I’m invested into that.” And to others, “No, it’s just kind of a cheap piece of furniture. You’re not going to get a hefty rate. It’s not world-class craftsmanship or anything.” Okay, so there we go. That’s endowment, it’s there. What do we do with it?

Jonah Berger
Yeah, and so I think the thing there, I found, is that we have to make people realize that doing nothing isn’t costless. So, I think we have this notion that, “What I’m doing already is free.” The cost of doing a new thing, the switching cost, which hopefully we’ll get to in a couple minutes, but we think the existing thing is, in some sense, free, “It’s not going to cost me anything to keep doing the same thing I’m doing.” But that often isn’t the case. There often are costs to doing something that we don’t realize.

So, there’s a nice study, for example, that talks about which hurts people more, which causes more pain, a minor injury or a major one. And everybody, when they think about it, will go, “Oh, of course, a major injury causes more pain.” So, if I break my elbow, it’s going to hurt me a lot more than a sprain. A headache is not going to hurt as much as a heart attack, for example. But what people don’t realize is when something really bad happens, we often take measures to fix that bad thing.

Something that’s terrible, when we break our arm, for example, we’re not just going to sit around. We’re going to go to the hospital, we’re going to get it set, we’re going to get it fixed. Whereas, for a minor sprain, we often don’t fix it. And so, we often don’t address those things and they end up causing more pain over the lifespan overall because they don’t go above our threshold.

And so, the challenge, that is for change agents, is make people realize it’s not costless, that doing what you’ve done before isn’t costless. There’s a great person from IT that I talk about, I talked to in the book, they did a version of what I call burning the ships. So, there’s this old famous story where an explorer wants to get his men to travel inland to do this dangerous thing in Mexico, they don’t want to go. So, what he does, he takes the old option off the table. He basically says, “Look, if the ships are still around, they can still go home so I’m going to burn the ships. Once the ships are gone, once the status quo has disappeared, they’ve got to go with me. They’ve got to change and do the new thing.”

And so, that may seem really drastic, burning the ships, but this IT guy did a version of it. He was trying to get everyone to upgrade, so upgrade to a new software version.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, you’ve got to. Those hackers are after you.

Jonah Berger
Oh, they do, right?

Pete Mockaitis
They’re after you.

Jonah Berger
Yeah, you’re still using Windows 7, or whatever it is, it’s dangerous for the network.

Pete Mockaitis
Can’t have that.

Jonah Berger
Or someone’s on that old version of their PC they don’t want to get rid of because they’ve got that status quo bias, it’s theirs. And so, what he did was interesting. So, rather than saying, “Hey, let me tell you how great the new thing is,” he surfaced the costs of inaction. He made people realize more that doing nothing isn’t free. He sent out this note to people who weren’t upgrading to a new system, so he sent out this note, he said, “Look, you don’t have to upgrade. But just so you know, we can’t support the old system anymore. It’s dangerous to the network. It takes too much time. You can keep using it but, after a certain point, if you have a problem, we’re not going to fix it.”

He didn’t say, “Hey, look, you have to switch,” but he didn’t allow that costs of inaction to remain dormant. He really surfaced it. He allowed people to see it. And so, in some sense, he didn’t take the old option off the table, he didn’t throw their PC out the window, he didn’t truly burn the ships. He just made people realize that sticking with those old way of doing things might be more costly than they might think, which encouraged them to be more willing to do something new.

Pete Mockaitis
You know, I really dig that, and I’ve recently applied that in terms of there’s all these little tasks that, you know, I’m big on outsourcing and I think I’ve gotten pretty good at it. But there are some like three-minute tasks that’s just like, “Ahh, it’s probably a lot of effort to train folks on how to do that so I’ll just keep doing that.” But then when I really hunker down, it’s like, “Okay, so what is this going to amount to over the next five years of doing these three minutes?” And I think about all those hours, and it’s like, “Okay, well, that’s a few vacation days, so maybe it’s worth taking an hour to share, ‘Hey, this is how you make invoices,’” or whatever the thing may be so that I can get that going, as you show that the cost of doing nothing is significant.

Jonah Berger
Yeah. And I love that example that you shared because the cost is significant over time but it’s not initially. Like, you’re sitting there, going, “But it’s only three minutes.” But, as you said, three minutes over time adds up to vacation days. But there’s always an initial cost of action. To train that person requires a couple hours, and if the cost seems bigger than the immediate benefit, we don’t do it. And so, really encouraging people to say, “Look, over time, that sprain, that elbow sprain is going to hurt a lot. You might want to go see a doctor and get it fixed.” Really adding it up over time forces people to realize that it’s not actually costless.

Pete Mockaitis
I dig it. Well, let’s keep it going. Tell us about distance. Tell us about distance, Jonah.

Jonah Berger
Sure. So, distance is the notion that if we ask for too much, if we ask for something or even give people information, it’s too far from where they are at the moment, they tend to ignore us or they tend to sort of push back against what we’re suggesting. And so, this might sound a little bit like reactance, but in reactance we’re really trying to persuade someone, even if we just give people information, sometimes they don’t listen.

And so, a great domain to think about this is politics.

Jonah Berger
It’s the new reality show, it’s called America – What’s Happening in Politics. But people don’t get along with the other side, and many people have talked about filter bubbles, and you get access to biased information, and all these different things. But one solution is, “Hey, if we just learned about the other side, if we just connected with people on the other side, then we’d be more moderate, we’d come around.”

And so, sociologists from Duke actually tested this, they said, “Look, I’m going to take people on Twitter, I’m going to pay them a little bit of money to follow a bot for a month, and that bot is going to be on the opposite side of the political spectrum as them.” It’s exactly what all the commentators and pundits have said, “Look, if we just reach across the aisle, just talk to a couple Republicans, if you’re a Democrat, vice versa if you’re a Republican, that’ll make everybody more moderate.” They said, “Look, if we just give people information, we’re not trying to convince anyone, just give them information about what the other side thinks, hopefully, that’ll make them more moderate.”

And you can think about this in a variety of other contexts as well, right? If I just give that boss more information about what I want, if I give the client more information, they should listen. And the hope was simply that information about the other side would move people to the middle but that’s not, unfortunately, what he found. It wasn’t that it moved people to the middle, and it wasn’t even that it had no effect. Giving people information about what the other side thought actually pushed them in the opposite direction. It backfired.

Pete Mockaitis
It’s like, “Those jerks,” villainized them more for how wrong they are.

Jonah Berger
In some sense, right, they made Republicans become more conservative, and the Liberals move in the opposite direction as well. And, essentially, why? It was too far from where people are at the moment. Research shows that we have a sort of a latitude acceptance or zone of acceptance around our beliefs or our attitudes. Sure, we believe a certain thing, but we’re willing to move a few yards in another direction.

Think about a football field, right, we move five or ten yards in one direction, maybe five or ten in another, but we won’t go completely on the other side of the field because on the other side of the field is that region of rejection. It’s that set of opinions, or information, or beliefs that we are unwilling even to consider. We’re unwilling to pay attention to them, and this is sort of ideas of the confirmation bias. And even when we do pay attention to them, we discount it or we don’t believe it because it’s too far from where we are.

And so, the question really is, “How can we shrink that distance, make it not seem so far away from where people are at the moment?”

Pete Mockaitis
Well, okay, so let’s get an example here. Boy, what’s something that people can really…hey, how about abortion, right? There is some distance. So, one side could say, “Hey, this is a human life and you’re murdering it or him or her, that’s not cool.” And the other side would say, “No, you’re enslaving women. You’re trying to bring them back to the dark ages in which they’re subservient to men. This is unjust.” Okay, so we got a whole lot of distance. I’m throwing you in the deep end, Jonah.

Jonah Berger
You are.

Pete Mockaitis
If one side or the other is trying to gain some ground, how might we present things to have less distance?

Jonah Berger
Yeah, so I’m going to cheat here. I’m going to take an easy out at the beginning and then we’ll work our way back around abortion.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, sure.

Jonah Berger
So, I would say a first place to start is to do what I call asking for less. And so, I think an easy way to think about this is a doctor that I was talking to. So, often, when we want people to change, we ask for too much. The information is too far away. In the abortion case, for example, we want someone to go from pro-choice to pro-life right away. We want people to switch sides, one to the other right away. We want big change to happen right away.

And the doctor was actually dealing with something similar. She had this truck driver she was working with that was morbidly obese, so he was like 100 pounds or more overweight, part of the reason why, he was drinking three liters of Mountain Dew a day.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, man.

Jonah Berger
He was drinking in that truck hub all day long. He’d buy Mountain Dew.

Pete Mockaitis
Got to stay awake.

Jonah Berger
Yeah, got to stay awake, got to have something to drink, so he was drinking three liters of Mountain Dew. And so, what’s our knee-jerk reaction in that situation?

Pete Mockaitis
“That’s disgusting. You have to stop that now.”

Jonah Berger
Yeah, “Don’t drink anymore Mountain Dew,” right? If we want someone to exercise, “You exercise every day.” We want someone to switch from one side of the field to the other, which is great for us but it’s probably not going to work for them. If you’re talking to a guy that’s drinking three liters of Mountain Dew a day, telling him to quit cold turkey is probably going to fail.

And so, she tried something else instead. Rather than asking him to quit cold turkey, she said, “Hey, you’re drinking three liters of Mountain Dew a day. You can keep drinking some Mountain Dew, but drink two instead of three, and take one of those empty bottles and fill it up with water.” He grumbled, he didn’t want to do it obviously, he wasn’t interested in moving at all, but he was willing to try. He lost a little weight. He came back next time. She said, “Okay, great. Now you’re at two, move to one.” Came back a few months later, had made it to one, then she said, “Great.” Eventually moved to zero.

And by using this sort of step-wise function, not asking for all at once, but asking for less and then asking for more, she was able to get him to change. And so, asking for less isn’t about saying, “Hey, I’m only going to ask for less,” it’s about starting with less and then asking for more. Moving people five yards down the field, and then moving them another five yards.

If you talk to product designers, they often call this something like stepping stones. If you’re introducing a new version of a product or a new version of a service, I, a few years ago, was working with Facebook to introduce a new hardware project, and they were dealing with exactly this. They’re saying, “Okay, we’re going to introduce something. It’s very different from what people are used to. How can we introduce this new thing? If it’s too different, they’re going to say no, they don’t want to do it.”

And so, what we ended up doing instead is rather than going for the full thing right away, asking people to move to a completely new thing, let’s pick something that’s just a little bit from where they are currently, introduce that version. Then, once people have gotten used to it, move to the next version, and move to the next one. And so, in some sense, it’s almost like called stepping stones because it’s like a river. When you ask someone to change, it’s like a big river, they don’t want to cross from one side to the other, “It’s to far. I’m going to get wet. I don’t want to do it.”

So, instead, you say, “Okay, well, just jump to this little stone, and then jump to this next stone, then jump to this next stone. And you jump a few times and you’re across to the other side.” And so, rather than asking for too much right away, start by asking for less, chunk that change and then ask for more.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, that’s handy. And so then, in the challenging example I threw your way with abortion, it might be just a matter of a stepping stone might be not so much changing your view but just accepting that the other side is not evil and trying to commit these atrocities against women or tiny babies, but rather that they are mistaken or they have a different perspective, and that’s some distance that you’ve reduced. You’re still quite a distance away but it’s something.

Jonah Berger
Yeah. There’s a great Heineken ad that does something exactly like what you’re suggesting where they take the people that completely disagree and they have them have a conversation. So, they take, for example, a feminist and someone who hates feminism. They take someone who hates transgender people and someone who is a transgender, and so on, people that really disagree. And what they do is they have them essentially build a bar. They get together, they go through a variety of activities, they build a bar, and at the end, they showed them a video of the other person, and the other person saying all the things that they believe.

So, the feminist says, “Oh, women are important,” and the feminist hater says, “Oh, women’s job is at the home,” and they see what the other person is, and then they say, “Okay, now that you know who this person is, do you still want to be friends with them?” And I think what that does, it’s slightly different than asking for less. What it does is it switches the field. Rather than starting with something like abortion where two sides are dug in on opposite sides of the field and they’re unlikely to agree and move, it switches the field to a dimension where they’re more similar in the first place.

Pete Mockaitis
We both like drinking beer.

Jonah Berger
We both like drinking beer, right? We both hang out. We both care about our families. We both care about America being a great country. Or in an organizational context, right? Sure, you might not want to do what I want but we both want the company to succeed. I think a good way to think about it, imagine you’re sitting in front of graph paper. You can draw that field on the X-axis, there’s one end zone, there’s another end zone, you can make the tick marks along the way. But at the 50-yard line, you draw a vertical line, there’s a Y-axis which is another dimension where you might actually have a lot in common, that even if you’re on different ends of the X-axis, you’re actually at the same point on the Y-axis, you’re exactly in the middle.

And so, by switching that field by starting with common ground, starting with something we have in common, a place where we don’t disagree, and using that to then eventually build around to that place where there’s more disagreement, we’re going to be more successful because now you humanized the person. You’re not just, “Oh, this faceless person who believes something I don’t believe. We have a little bit in common. We both care about our families. We realize we have emotional connections to the things we love. I’m going to see you more as a human. You’re going to see me more as a human. And then we’re more likely to be persuaded at the end of the day.”

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Well, I’m digging it. So, Jonah, let’s just keep it going. Uncertainty, lay it on.

Jonah Berger
So, we talked a little bit about switching costs before, but just to make that really concrete, if I’m asking an organization to change company culture, there’s some costs to doing that. There’s an incentive structure that was, and now there’s a new one. When I ask a customer to buy a new project, they have to spend money or time or energy to install that new thing or get that new thing. And those are costs that often prevent change from happening. The old thing seems cheap, the new thing seems costly.

But the other problem with new things is that they have more uncertainty associated with them. Think about a new phone, for example. Not only do you have to pay more money to get that new phone. But when do you have to pay the cost and when do you get the benefit? The costs are up front, pay the money for that phone. Now, I have to go to AT&T and Verizon and switch my thing, and do this, and do that, and get all my information switched over. So, the costs are now and the benefits are later. Yes, it might be faster and lighter and have a better camera but I’m not going to get those until later, and those benefits are also uncertain.

Sure, this new way of doing company culture might be better, sure, this new project you’re suggesting might make us more money, but I don’t know if it’s going to. And if I don’t know, why am I going to be willing to switch? And that’s what I call the cost-benefit timing gap. Costs are certain and they’re upfront. Benefits are uncertain and they’re later, and people don’t like uncertainty. Think about the last time you were wondering if you’re going to be late for a meeting, for example. So, your flight is late or you’re stuck in a car in traffic, and you’re worried about missing this meeting. You’re so anxious you don’t know what you’re going to do. You feel terrible. You hate this concern about missing the meeting.

What’s interesting is the worst thing that can happen is missing the meeting. And so, if you know that you’re going to miss that meeting, you should feel what? You should feel worse because that’s the worst thing that can happen. But often, notice what happens, we figure out we’re going to miss that meeting, and then what ends up happening?

Pete Mockaitis
You’re relieved.

Jonah Berger
You actually feel good. Relief. You feel better.

Pete Mockaitis
It’s like, “Okay, what am I going to do now? I’ll communicate something to somebody and make it up somehow.”

Jonah Berger
Yeah, now that I know, I’m going to solve it. And so, in some sense, it’s not just missing the meeting that’s bad, it’s that uncertainly. And so, in a product context, in a sales context, in organizational context, uncertainty often leads us to hit the pause button. We don’t know whether the new thing is going to be better or worse. And given we don’t know, it’s safest to do nothing, which is great for the status quo, which is great for what we’re doing already, but it’s terrible for new things. And so, to really then get people to overcome that uncertainty, that anxiety, we have to make it easier for them to experience the value of that new thing.

Pete Mockaitis
I’m with you. And I think this connects so much in terms of I’m thinking about how people try to sell me something, and it’s just like, “All I really need to know is that it’s really going to do the thing that you say it’s going to do. And so, maybe you can alleviate that with a demo or…” usually I want hard data that they can never give me in terms of, “Oh, you have a marketing service. Well, can you tell me the cost per acquired customer for a population of people who are selling something very similar to what I’m selling?” Like, “No, we can’t.”

So, anyways, maybe I’m jumping the gun. I think, “Hey, demos, data,” but you tell me, what are the best ways to address and reduce uncertainty?

Jonah Berger
Yeah, demos and data are close. And so, I think I love to start with an idea that many of us may have heard of before, and that is the notion of freemium. So, take a company like Dropbox, which many of your listeners are probably familiar with, a storage place for files and so on. When Dropbox came out, they had a great technology, but the challenge is people were scared of it. They didn’t know whether it would be better than what they’d done already. They were used to doing things a particular way. “Where is that cloud? Where are my files going to be? If I’ve worked hours on this Word document, I don’t want to lose it.” And so, they were unwilling to make the change.

And so, Dropbox could’ve done advertising, they could’ve bought Google search words, but what they did instead is they gave it away for free. And you might be sitting there going, “What do you mean? Give it away for free?” Any kid who’s ever run a lemonade stand, to the most seasoned business executive, knows that giving away something for free is not a way to build a business, yet Dropbox has built a billion-dollar business giving away things for free. How did they do that?

And so, what they did is they didn’t give away everything for free. They gave away a version for free and then created a premium version and encouraged people to upgrade to it. So, in Dropbox’s case, for example, they gave away 2GB, or something like that, of storage for free. They said, “Look, sure there’s switching costs, you have your files on your computer, it’s going to take time and effort to upload them, but let’s at least try to mitigate that monetary costs by making the upfront costs free.” So, you can put files on Dropbox until you get to 2GB. Once you get to 2GB though, you’re faced with a choice, “Do I upgrade to premium version or not? Do I want more space, more features or not?”

And what’s really nice about something like freemium is rather than Dropbox telling you how great it is, just like that marketing service that you were talking to, of course they’re going to say it’s great. No marketing service is going to say, “Oh, yeah, you know, well, we’re not so great.” So, you can’t really believe them. But in Dropbox’s case, you have to believe because you’re the one who’s been using it. You’re the one that’s uploaded all your files to it. And so, when they come around and they say, “Hey, can you throw us a couple bucks to get more space,” you say, “Well, I know it’s good. I’ve resolved that uncertainty myself. I’ve convinced myself.”

And so, there are dozens, if not hundreds of other businesses that have leveraged this notion of freemium, creating a free version of a product or service, and then encouraging people to upgrade to the premium. If you think about Pandora, there’s an ad-free version. If you think about Skype, there’s a premium version. Think about LinkedIn, there’s a premium version. And so, what all these things have done is they’ve lowered that upfront costs to allow people to experience whether something is good or not, and then if they like it, they encourage you to upgrade to the premium. So, you have to figure out the right way to leverage freemium, I think that’s at least one idea to lower that barrier of trial and reduce uncertainty.

Pete Mockaitis
You know, that does make a lot of sense to me. And anyway, I guess, you can give people a taste of things, like whether you make a good sketch, or a model, or a prototype, or a 3D world so they can put on the headset and see, “Oh, that’s what you mean,” so that uncertainty diminishes as it becomes more real and a part of something that they’ve experienced.

Jonah Berger
Yeah. I mean, think about test drives, for example. So, I often talk about freemium with clients of mine, and I’ll talk to somebody who’s an online software as a service company, they say, “Great. Freemium. I got it. Let’s do it.” But then I’ll talk to somebody that sells offline goods. So, maybe they’re a fleet management company, or maybe they’re a doctor, or maybe they’re a hospital and they say, “Freemium is great, but if I’m selling a physical thing, I can’t do freemium.” The idea of freemium though is a lot larger than freemium. The idea is, just as you said, “How can I make it easier for people to experience the offering?”

So, think about something like test drives for cars. There’s a not a free in a freemium. You get to test drive a car. It doesn’t make the price of the car any cheaper. The amount of money that’s going to cost to buy that Acura is still the same. All the test drive does, it allows you to figure out whether the value of it is actually worth paying the money. It allows you to experience some sense of what it’s like even though it’s not freemium.

And so, what that chapter talks all about is, “How can we lower the upfront costs by using things like test drives, or freemium, or other ways? How can we lower the backend costs, making things reversible?” Free returns, in the case of online buying. Lawyers often say, “Hey, we only get paid if you win,” so, again, reducing that uncertainty that it’s going to work, or even things like drive and discovery where you bring the trial to people so they experience it themselves even if they don’t think they’re interested, bringing it to them and allowing them to see how good it is.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah, that’s cool.

So, Jonah, if you could maybe give us an example that brings this all together, or maybe just even a few of the elements together in terms of there’s a professional, they’re looking to make a change, and they astutely utilized multiple levers in their appeal and made magic happen. Can you lay one on us?

Jonah Berger
There are many examples in the book that touch on individual aspects of this. I think, since we’re talking about uncertainty, I’ll just give one more about uncertainty specifically that I think is a fun one, and this is what I put under the sort of drive discovery bucket.

And that is sometimes people don’t know that they like what you’re offering. So, sometimes you’re trying to get them to do something but they don’t know you exist or they don’t think they like you, they’re going to be unwilling to change. So, if your boss, for example, has never heard of a certain thing, or you’re a challenger brand in the space, a client doesn’t know you exist, they’re going to be unlikely to change their mind, and so, I think this can be a great way to solve the problem.

There was this guy, his name was Jacek, he’s Polish, he works for Santander Bank, and, essentially, he wants to get his boss to buy into customer service or the customer experience. So, in the United States, we know all about surprise and delight. We have our best customers, we surprise them, we greet them by name. You check into our hotel; we give you your own pillow. You call customer service; we know it’s you. But it hasn’t been applied in banking as much and hadn’t made its way to Europe.

And so, Jacek would sit there going, “Look, this could be great in banking. Customers like us but they don’t love us. I’m sure we’re smiling at them when they walk in the door but we need to build that deeper connection. And so, he tells his boss, “Look, we got to do this,” and his boss says, “Ahh, no, thanks.” He says, “Look, boss, all these people are doing it.” And the boss says, “No, look, we’re banking. We’re not hotels, we’re not online retailers. People in banking care only about the rates.” So, Jacek brings a consultant, they make presentations after presentations, his boss still isn’t convinced.

So, he’s sitting there, going, “Okay, I can’t push my boss. If I tell my boss what to do, he’s not going to listen.” And so, he’s like, “Well, how can I help my boss experience the value of what I’m offering? How can I put him in the situation and the management team in the situation of what I’m trying to get them to do?” And so, he ends up doing slightly different. Rather than having another meeting where he talks about the value of customer experience, he instead collects a bunch of information from his boss and the management team. So, he finds out their birthday, their anniversary, how many days they’ve been with the company, when they’re going on trips, and so on.

And then what he does over the next couple months is he celebrates these things. So, if someone’s anniversary, he sends them a nice note. If it’s their two years of working with the company, they get a wonderful card signed by everyone saying how great it is that they’ve been with the organization. Someone goes hiking, somebody knits them a hat. Someone’s child gets in a car accident, they raise them money. And so, all these things are basically putting the management team in the shoes of what it’s like to be part of a customer experience initiative.

Then the next time they have a meeting, Jacek is sort of tentative to bring it up, but he says, “Hey, what do you guys think?” And nobody says, “Hey, I don’t think it’ll work,” because they’ve all experienced it. They all know what it’s like to be cared about as a customer because they’ve been sitting through it. And that’s an example of what I put under uncertainty of drive and discovery. Rather than forcing people to come to you and take that test drive, how can you bring the test drive to them? How can you put them in a situation of what you want them to do so they experience the value themselves and they can’t help but say yes because they’ve seen it for themselves and they’re the best ones to judge whether they’re going to like something or not?

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, I like that a lot. Thank you. So, I assume that they accepted his proposal after all of that.

Jonah Berger
Oh, yeah.

Pete Mockaitis
There you go.

Jonah Berger
You know, it’s funny they not only accepted his proposal, they’ve promoted him to be director of customer experience for a large number of banks, and it has lived on not only in that location but a number of others. He’s really helped bring that approach to a whole industry that hadn’t seen it before.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, that’s awesome. Well, Jonah, tell me, anything else you want to make sure to mention before we shift gears and hear about some of your favorite things?

Jonah Berger
I think that’s it. We covered many of the barriers in the book. I think, to me, the main takeaway in the book is really start to notice those roadblocks, those obstacles, figure out how to mitigate them, and then those five are at least a place to start for some of them.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. Well, now could you share with us a favorite quote, something you find inspiring?

Jonah Berger
“Do what you love and love what you do.” And I found it quite motivating to remember both that you want to love what you’re doing, but also sometimes it takes a little bit of work, and you’ve got to be willing to put that work in to love whatever it is that you’re doing.

Pete Mockaitis
And could you share a favorite study or experiment or bit of research?

Jonah Berger
I’ll tell you an example of a recent favorite. They looked at the visual similarity between paintings to figure out how novel and how influential certain paintings are, and to figure out how correlated those are with the value of painting.

So, they do things like looking at what someone paints, what style they paint, and how similar or different it is from prior folks, to look at what drives value. And so, a lot of the research I’m doing at the moment is really natural language, or image processing, pulling behavioral insight from textual image-based data. And I thought this study was just amazing.

Pete Mockaitis
Huh. And so, they found something, I imagine, or otherwise it wouldn’t be…

Jonah Berger
They did, yeah. They’re looking at sort of how novelty or similarity is related to value. We actually did something similar in songs. We looked at how similar songs are to their genres, to how similar a given song is to other songs. In that genre, we found that songs that are more atypical that sing about things that are more differentiated from their genre are more successful. So, country songs, not surprisingly, sing a lot about girls and cars, but country songs that sing about different themes than usual end up being higher on the Billboard Charts.

Pete Mockaitis
And how about a favorite book?

Jonah Berger
Oh, it would be a copout to say The Catalyst which is my new one, so I’ll say a different favorite book, which is a book called A Matter of Taste. It’s all about baby names and how we can use baby names to understand culture. It’s an amazing, not only a fun read, but just an interesting lens on the world itself.

Pete Mockaitis
And how about a favorite tool, something you use to be awesome at your job?

Jonah Berger
I would just say research. It’s a broad Swiss Army knife of a tool. But I would say no particular technology, just research in general, being curious about the world and trying to quantify it.

Pete Mockaitis
And how about a favorite habit, something you do that helps you to be awesome at your job?

Jonah Berger
God, I think, scheduling is so important. You talked to this a little bit earlier about sort of outsourcing things. To me, it’s really about finding time for the big stuff, making sure that you know when something is a pebble and a boulder, not only doing the pebbles first because they’re easy, but making sure you make time for the big things, otherwise they’ll never get done.

Pete Mockaitis
And is there a particular nugget you share that really seems to connect and resonate with folks; they repeat it back to you often?

Jonah Berger
I can’t say that that’s true. I would hope that something from one of the books, whether it’s word of mouth, only 7% of it is online, or hopefully some day soon, one thing from the book The Catalyst.

Pete Mockaitis
And if folks want to learn more or get in touch, where would you point them?

Jonah Berger
So, a great place to find me online is my website, just JonahBerger.com. I’m also on LinkedIn and on Twitter @j1berger.

Pete Mockaitis
And do you have a final challenge or call to action for folks looking to be awesome at their jobs?

Jonah Berger
Yeah, I think if I’ve learned anything from this new book, it’s that we are almost oblivious to these barriers. We’re blind to these obstacles. And so, I think my challenge would be to figure out why something hasn’t changed. Whatever it is you want to change, whether it’s a person, whether it’s an organization, whatever it might be, start looking for those obstacles. Don’t be blind to the barriers. Start to see them. And if not, ask about them, and use that to drive change. If you don’t understand why change is happening or not, if you can’t find the root, it’s going to be really hard to change minds in action.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, Jonah, this has been lots of fun. I wish you a bunch of luck with The Catalyst and all your adventures.

Jonah Berger
Thanks so much.

513: How to Persuade When Facts Don’t Seem to Matter with Lee Hartley Carter

By | Podcasts | No Comments

 

 

Lee Hartley Carter says: "It's not what you say that matters, it's what people hear."

Lee Hartley Carter discusses why facts alone won’t persuade others—and what does.

You’ll Learn:

  1. Why you need more than just facts
  2. The foundations of compelling persuasion
  3. How to craft your master narrative

About Lee

Lee Hartley Carter is president of maslansky + partners, a language strategy firm based on the single idea that “It’s not what you say, it’s what they hear.” As a television news personality and researcher, she doesn’t rely on traditional polling for her unique insights into U.S. politics; rather, she analyzes voters’ emotional responses to help understand and empathize with them on a more visceral level. The reaction matters, but the “why” behind it matters more. It was this approach that allowed her to accurately predict the results of the 2016 presidential election and primaries.

Resources mentioned in the show:

Thank you Sponsors!

Lee Hartley Carter Interview Transcript

Pete Mockaitis
Lee, thanks for joining us here on the How to be Awesome at Your Job podcast.

Lee Carter
I’m so happy to be here and excited about this conversation.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, me too. And one thing that we share is that we both auditioned for The Real World. But I understand you were actually a finalist. What’s the story here?

Lee Carter
Okay. So, I was a finalist and it was a long, long time ago. I was obviously an infant when I auditioned. But I was in London and I was studying there while I was in college, and I was walking down the street, somebody asked me if I wanted to interview for the show. I had never seen it before. And I got all the way to the finalist selection of it and I was super excited to be at MTV headquarters at the time. And I got the paperwork, and they said, “You’re going to be one of the final 28 finalists. They’re doing a special and you have to sign this contract.”

And what I realized was that my parents and my grandparents would have to know that I drank if I were in this television show. So, I didn’t go for it because I was afraid that they were going to find that out, which is so funny of all the things because the world is so different now. I am so thankful that I made that decision.

Pete Mockaitis
Tell me more. So, what would’ve been the negative ramifications of you having footage of yourself on The Real World fast-forwarding into the current year?

Lee Carter
I just don’t think at age, whatever I was, 18, that I would’ve portrayed myself in a way that I would want to be out there for all time because that becomes part of your story, right? And I’m not sure that who I was at 18 is what I want the whole world to see even though it is definitely part of my story that I like to talk about today. But it’s tough to be out there all the time for everybody to see.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, yeah, that’s a great perspective. I remember my audition was very short. We waited in line for a long, long time outside this club in Chicago, and then we each had an opportunity, just like introduce ourselves in a group for like 20 seconds, and then that was it. And then they tried to reassure us, saying something like, “Hey, you know, we cast so and so, and so and so, really quickly just because we know they have it.” It’s like, “Okay. Well, yeah, some magical powers, I don’t know who has it.” And I guess now you bring up some great points. Perhaps I can be grateful that that never came to pass in my life.

Lee Carter
Yeah, the unanswered prayers, conversation, sometimes, are the biggest gifts, right?

Pete Mockaitis
Well, I’m excited to talk about your wisdom. You talk about persuasion, How to Convince Others When Facts Don’t Seem to Matter. And, boy, what a juicy topic. So, could you tell us, what’s sort of the state of play right now with regard to humans and facts and the extent to which they do or don’t matter these days?

Lee Carter
So, we’re in a place, and everybody says to me all the time, my clients or people in conversation knowing about this book, “It’s frustrating, facts don’t seem to matter.” And my argument is actually that they never really did. And I hate to say that because it sounds extremely cynical, and I’m not a cynical person. But the truth of the matter is, if you’re trying to convince somebody who has a different opinion than you do, who holds different beliefs than you, facts alone aren’t going to be enough to change their mind.

And the reason for that is human beings have all kinds of biases that are inside of us. And there’s behavioral science and all kinds of theories of why this is true, but, basically, we recognize patterns and that’s how we survive in nature. And we pick up the things that reinforces that, what we believe or what we need, and we reject things that don’t serve us well. And that’s just the way we work.

And so, when you are predisposed to believe something, you’re going to pick up all of the facts and all of the information that reinforces your existing opinion and you’re going to reject those things that don’t, and you’re going to move on with your day. The difference between now and anytime before that is how we consume information and how much information we get.

So, it used to be that we had to wade through lots of information on both sides and you would pick out the information but there were different authorities that you trusted or different kinds of things and ways that you would get information. You would even go to the library or go to the encyclopedia. You’d have to read the news, you’d have to do all kinds of things that we don’t have to do now, and you’re exposed to lots of different opinions and ideas.

That doesn’t necessarily have to happen now because everybody can sort of sign up for who they believe, who they trust, and just get fed that same information over and over and over again without even really having to wade in and find out how do people feel that disagree with them.

And so, because we’re so inundated with information, because, on average, we’re getting 5,000 marketing messages at us a day, and because we’re insular in who believe in and trust, and we’re getting more and more tribal, it becomes harder and harder to break through with facts alone. We have to find a way that disrupts patterns that makes people stop and say, “Huh, I never thought about that that way before.” And that’s not just going to happen because of facts alone.

Pete Mockaitis
Intriguing and well-said, and I like that notion of patterns being disrupted, and, “Hmm, I never thought of it that way before,” because that’s some of my favorite information in terms of it just gets you going. I guess I think about sometimes it’s just like sort of groups that exist. Like, let’s see what’s a good one. Let’s say, well, how about we pick abortion. There’s a juicy one, huh?

Just like the existence of groups like Secular Pro-Life or Democrats for Life or something, it kind of gets people scratching their head a little bit, like, “Wait a minute. My perception of that belief system and those who hold it does not match just the name of your group.” And then that just sort of like gets people intrigued to dig in more. Or just whenever you hear a potential, I don’t know, contradiction, I guess, it’s a contradiction to your set of perceptions of things, well, I just find it very intriguing to learn, “Well, what’s this group all about? Do tell.”

Lee Carter
Totally. And that’s really the goal, right? That is, it’s not necessarily provocative but it’s just enough to give people a reason to pause and say, “Wow, I want to think about that differently.” And that sometimes won’t be enough to change our mind but it certainly can be enough to interrupt patterns and get things moving in the right direction.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. So, then let’s kind of dig into it then. If we want to be doing some persuasion and do some pattern interrupting, how do we pull it off?

Lee Carter
So, there’s a few things. In the book, I talk about this nine-step process that you need to go through, but there’s a few steps that I think are most important to really focus on and highlight. And the first is being really clear on what it is that you want to accomplish. And I don’t think we spend enough time about this. Sometimes we’re just saying, “I want to get the job,” or sometimes it’s just, “I want to get this done,” sometimes it’s, “I want more people to vote this way.”

But I think we got to slow down and say, “What is it that you’re trying to accomplish? And what do I need to have happen in order that, and what do I want people to do differently as a result of what I’m asking them?” I think you just really need to slow down on this vision and be really specific. I don’t think we give enough weight to that step in the process.

Pete Mockaitis
And so, could you maybe give us an example in terms of, “Hey, you might think that you have a clear idea at this level, but, no, no, a clear idea sounds more like this, more detailed articulation”?

Lee Carter
Yeah, one of my favorite stories that I use to illustrate this point comes from right after college. I went through a pretty bad breakup and I was really disappointed in how things had turned out. I was out with one of my friends. He was one of my best friends and still to this day, and he said to me, “So, Lee, in a few years, none of this is going to matter. I know right now you’re devastated. But let’s think about, what is your dream? What do you want your life to look like in 10 years?” And I said, “I don’t know. I guess I’d like to have a job that I like and maybe be married and have a couple kids, I guess.” And he said, “No, no, Lee. That is not a dream. That’s just lame. Let me tell you about a dream.”

He said, “In 10 years’ time, I want to be…it’s going to be sunset, and I want to be taking my boat, and I’m going to be coming back to shore, back to the marina. I’m going to have a great day fishing with my dad and my brother. We’re going to have caught a load of fish and I’m going to be playing Bob Seger’s ‘Hollywood Nights.’ The wind is going to be going through my hair and I’m going to be coming back to the marina where my wife and daughter are waiting for me. And I’m going to know in that moment that I’ve just made it, that I’ve got my marriage, I’ve got my kids, I’ve got my job, I’ve got my family, I’ve got everything just perfect. That’s my dream because, Lee, that is a dream.”

Pete Mockaitis
All right.

Lee Carter
And I was like, “You know what? You’re so right.” And so, when I tell people, when they’re entering in their persuasion, “Whether you’re trying to land your dream job, whether you’re trying to launch a new product, whether you’re trying to change someone’s political ideology, whether you’re trying to rebuild your reputation, I want you to be that specific. I want you to be that visual so that you know what exactly does it look like. What does success look like so that you can really spend time, visualize it. Not give shortcuts to say, ‘You know what? Here’s the three bullets of what I’m trying to accomplish.’ No, I want you to feel it.” That’s what I’m talking about.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. So, we get big, clear on that then. And what’s next?

Lee Carter
So, what’s next about that is getting real about what would keep you from doing that. So, a lot of times when we’re creating our master vision or our big what it is that we’re looking for, we’ll talk ourselves out of it before we can even get started. I don’t want anyone to do that. But what I do want them to do in the next step is start thinking about that. So, what are the things that are going to keep you from that? And this is about being really, really honest.

And so, I will say sometimes if you’re a business owner and you’re trying to get something, you’ll say, “I don’t have experience in that.” This is the time that you would try and say, “Okay, so I don’t have the right experience so I might need to reach out and get that kind of help, or I might even just need to lean into that. Legal might not allow me to say this or might not allow me to…” for whatever reason. The next step is about getting real about what might keep you from getting through your obstacles. Figure out how you can flip those on your heads.

Because one thing that I find often in persuasion is that we don’t address the problems that we have often enough in our messaging and in our language. So, if you’re a big company, you might be seen as greedy. If you’re a small company, you might seem as too small or you’re inexperienced. If don’t address all these things, they can really come back and bite you. But in effective persuasion, you address them.

So, sometimes, for example, if you think about President Trump, whether you like him or not, when he was running in 2015 and 2016, he knew that he wanted to be president, had a big clear picture, but his weakness was that he didn’t have the experience, that he was wealthy, and maybe many people thought he was out of touch, and there was a number of other weaknesses. But he flipped them on their heads. So, he used the fact he had no experience to his advantage, he said, “Look, I’m an outsider. I’m going to go in and drain the swamp. I’m a businessman, I’m going to make deals like you’ve never seen deals been made before.”

So, he took those things that would’ve been weaknesses and turned them into strengths. And so, I encourage people, when you’re trying to go out with your vision, figure out what it is that you want. If you’re going in and you’re interviewing for a job, and you don’t have experience in a particular category, say, “You know what, that’s to your advantage. I know I don’t have experience but I learn fast and my outside perspective, I can bring that inside the organization.” So, those kinds of things, I think, are really, really helpful and important to the process.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. And what’s next?

Lee Carter
The third step is all about what I call active empathy. And this is if people take nothing else away from this conversation, this is what I hope people really take away. And that is that in order to have successful persuasion, it isn’t enough to know what you want to say and what you want accomplished. It’s really about understanding where the other person comes from, deeply understanding and caring about that.

Now, one thing I get all the time from people is saying, “I can’t have empathy for someone who holds such a radically different position than I do.” And I want to be very clear. Empathy does not equal endorsement by any stretch. What it simply means is you have a deep understanding of the other. And I tell people that they need to understand three different parts of the other person they’re trying to talk to.

The first is their feelings, why do they feel the way they feel. The second is their values, why do they believe what they believe. The third is their behaviors, why do they do what they do. Once you understand those three things, then and only then can you start to create a persuasion strategy that’s going to work. Otherwise, you might end up just talking in the dark.

So, let met just give you an example of what I mean by this. One, you brought up abortion so I’ll bring up gun control. This is another very, very important issue to most Americans and one that’s highly contentious. So, if you are a Second Amendment supporter, the value that is most important to you is one that we call liberty versus suppression. And so, the thing that you would hold most dear is freedom above all else, and you would say, “The worst thing that could happen is government taking away my freedoms.” Right? So, that’s the argument and that’s what you’re embedded in. It’s all about that.

Now, if you’re a pro-gun control and you say that, you know, your most primary value is about harm versus care, the most important thing is that people are safe. Now, if you’re not understanding each other’s value there, you’re going to talk over each other’s heads. So, the person is going to say, “How could you possibly want to put children at risk, and you’re such a terrible person that you’re putting yourself first?” And they’re saying, “Government is never going to make me safer. I’m the one that needs to make myself safer.”

Until you start talking to each other, listening to each other, and understanding where the other person is coming from, you’re not going to be able to have compromise, you’re not going to be able to persuade, and you’re not going to be able to reach each other. Instead, what you’re going to end up doing is putting each other in defensive postures and nobody is going to get anywhere. And so, I think it’s really important that we slow down on this step. And this applies not just to those most super emotionally-charged issues but it applies to almost everything that you do.

Pete Mockaitis
And you listed some of those values out there, harm versus care and freedom. So, do you have sort of like a checklist rundown or menu of values that you think through?

Lee Carter
Yeah. So, in the book, I lay it out. This is all based on Jonathan Haidt with a book called The Righteous Mind.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, yeah.

Lee Carter
He has some things that he talks about, the moral foundations theory. These are all the moral foundations that make us sort of program us to do anything. They play out in everything we do. And even when you’re thinking about how the company taught handles crises, for example. These narratives and these values play into it. They put people versus profits, all of those kinds of things.

But, yeah, there is a checklist in the book. And I think that the interesting thing is in politics, and I know this isn’t just meant to be about politics, is that Democrats and Liberals mostly, their primary value that they mostly talk about is harm versus care that’s why so much on healthcare, on welfare, on a lot of those things that are traditionally left-leaning issues is all around harm versus care.

On the right and the Republicans, the primary value, most often they’re talking about is liberty versus suppression which is all about freedom and giving people opportunity. So, if you think about the language that’s used on both sides, you’ll find that. And once you understand that, you’re going to be more likely to have conversations across the aisle. But, again, these issues just aren’t political. This plays out in a number of different ways.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay, thank you. Well, so we got some steps here, so we got really clear on what you’re trying to accomplish. We figured out the roadblock, what would keep that from occurring. We’ve got active empathy and a deep understanding of their view. And what’s next?

Lee Carter
So, then, after we have all of that, you’ve got a really good understanding of what you’re trying to accomplish, what’s going to keep you from getting there, and what’s most important to the person you’re going to talk to. Now, the answer, what the challenge is how do you come up with your master narrative? What is the one thing that you want to be known for?

And it’s really important here that you find something that’s not just about what you’re trying to say but what’s important to your target audience. And, oftentimes, what I see people do is they don’t have a master narrative. They don’t have the one thing that they’re trying to be known for. They try to list proof points, or facts, or lots of different things. You want to have one umbrella idea that’s going to come back over and over again, because I say most decisions that are going to be made about you, your company, your product, your politics, your politician is going to happen when you’re not in the room.

People are going to be having conversations elsewhere, or people are going to be thinking about it, so you want to have that one thing that sticks in their mind that you want to be known for, and that they’re going to just remember. And that’s what the next step is, about getting really clear on what your one thing is going to be.

And, in politics, it becomes very clear. You’ll always remember the winning candidate’s master narrative. So, with Trump, it was “Make America Great Again.” Elizabeth Warren, right now, is a very interesting one where she’s talking about not just, “I’ve got a plan for that,” but she’s very much doing this whole thing about, “It’s a system that’s broken that doesn’t work for all of us, it works for the few,” and she wants to change that. So, that’s what she is all about.

We want to know what is the one that you’re all about? Nike is about bringing out the inner athlete in all of us. You know the master narrative when it works, and it has to be that sort of one organizing idea. It’s not necessarily the language around it, but what is that one idea that you want people to be left with when they’re thinking about you and when they’re thinking about your company or your brand?

Pete Mockaitis
All right. Understood. And then next?

Lee Carter
And then next, you’re going to have three things that are going to support that idea. That’s when you get to what I call pillars of the narrative. But others might just say, “Here’s three things that you need to know.” And they should never be more than three things. It’s the, “They’re the right person for the job because they’re scrappy. And how are they scrappy in three different ways? They work harder. They work tirelessly, and they work one other way.” Like, you’re going to get the three things that are going to come after that.

So, we have is one master narrative, that’s the umbrella idea, three things that support that. Now, none of this at this point is wordsmith so it has to be a big idea or has to be perfectly polished, rather it’s these are the concepts that you want to communicate. So, that is the next step in the process. So, if I were to give an example of a pharmaceutical company, so pharmaceutical companies right now are struggling because a lot of people are angry about pharmaceutical pricing.

One of the things that they have found out is that a lot of people don’t realize that pharmaceutical companies are the ones that are inventing a lot of cures, because most people think, and this is really fascinating, most people think that cures come from charities or comes from academic institutions. And that’s in large part because if you ever have anybody in your life that is fighting cancer or has another terminal illness or some kind of thing, the first thing you’ll do is sign up for a charity, a walk, a fundraiser, or something because you’re thinking the charity is going to help find the cure. You’re not thinking about the pharmaceutical companies.

And so, pharmaceutical companies had come to realize that, “We better talk about some of the things that we’re doing about where innovations come from.” So, the master narrative for a pharmaceutical company might be that they’re inventing cures that are going to help your life both in the big ways in cures, and in the short, have a better quality of life.

And then, underneath that, what are three things that you need to know about it? That they’re working to get people access, that they’re working on addressing some of the biggest customer needs, and that they’re innovating on the things that don’t have cures yet. That may be the three things that they’d want you to know. And that’s before you wordsmith anything, that’s really just about getting it on paper on how do you do that.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Got you.

Lee Carter
And then, once you’ve done that, then it’s all about wordsmithing and making it polished, and getting to the idea. And there’s two tools that I tell people that they should use in order to bring these kinds of things to life. The first is visuals and symbols. So, I often say it’s not enough just to say something. You want people to be able to visualize it. When I talk about the dream in the beginning, it’s so helpful to have that visual.

But if you think about some of the most successful campaigns or if you think about some of the most successful turns of phrases, it becomes visual language or you have a symbol. So, if you think about Howard Schultz, for example, when he came back to Starbucks a number of years ago, Starbucks had lost its way, they didn’t have a consistent experience at Starbucks anymore, and a lot of people are complaining about the quality of the coffee. And they could’ve come back and said, “I’m back as CEO. I took a few years off, but now I’m back and we’re going to have a renewed commitment to coffee.” And, fine.

But what did he do instead? He came back and said, “You know what, I know we lost our way. I’m back and I’m shutting the doors of every one of my stores for an afternoon so that every barista that works in Starbucks can be trained in the perfect cup of coffee.” Now, that symbolic gesture, that visual became more powerful than anything else. That was a symbolic gesture, a moment, that really changed people’s minds. It caused that pause that we’re talking about earlier.

So, what I encourage people to do is, once you have your master narrative and your three supporting points, what are visual representations of that? How can you bring that to life? Now, if you’re interviewing for a job, leave a visual or tell a story that’s going to give you that visual representations that are going to break through the clutter no matter how that might come across? And I think it’s really important that people do that.

The other tool that I say is very important for folks to do that is there’s the visuals and the symbols, and then there’s just storytelling. It’s one thing to say that you’re super scrappy, it’s another thing to tell a story about a time that you were super scrappy. It’s one thing to say that your product meets a need, it’s another thing to tell an anecdote about how it met a need in a very specific space.

So, for example, we worked with an insurance company, and the insurance company wanted to show that they go above and beyond for their customers. And their whole master narrative was, “We’re looking for more ways to say yes,” which was a very sort of provocative and unique place in insurance because most people think about insurance companies saying no to claims, not trying to say yes to their customers. But, again, it could be hard to believe for people.

So, the story that they told, or one of the stories that they told is, “We look for ways to say yes and we look for ways to do more so that our customers are in a better place.” So, for example, we had a client, he was facing wildfires in California. They had to leave their home. So, we sent a crew to their home and we had their home covered with a flame-retardant foam, and when the wildfire fires went through their community, they were the only home that was left intact because it was covered with this.

And that’s something that we did because we wanted to do more for them to protect their home not only just so that when they came back, they didn’t have to worry about the claims, but they came back, and their home was in place. And that’s us going above and beyond ensuring a customer has the kind of service they can expect from us. It was a true story. It was a real story, and that does something so much more than just saying, “We look for ways to do more for our clients.”

Pete Mockaitis
That’s good. And this reminded me of there’s any number sort of eye-popping demonstrations. I’m thinking about the FiberFix It commercial right now where they made a real cage for a vehicle and instead of welding the joints, they just used this, the FiberFix It tape. And so, then they showed a car going off of a cliff with this real cage which totally snapped apart because it’s tape. But, whoa, what do you know, that thing is intact, and it really makes the point much more so than saying, “Hey, it’s really strong, really, really strong. Here’s a number on how strong it is,” it was tensile or whatever strength rating.

Lee Carter
Exactly.

Pete Mockaitis
It leaves an impression. So, now, I’d love it if you could kind of walk us through maybe one or two or three demonstrations, top to bottom, from, “All right, I’m getting really clear on a particular goal, and then I walk through each of these steps, and I’ve executed a persuasive communication.”

Lee Carter
Sure. So, I’ll give you a couple of different examples that are in different categories. I have followed, professionally, I’ve been following election cycles since 2008. I did it for hobby before that, but professionally that’s one of the things I’ve been doing. So, you’ll always know who’s winning because they follow these steps and it becomes very clear. So, whether you’re talking about Barack Obama in 2008, or if you’re talking about President Trump in 2016, and likely you can follow who’s going to win in this time for the same reasons.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay, tell us who’s going to win, Lee. Let’s have some fun.

Lee Carter
I can’t tell you who’s going to win in the head-to-head but if I were to say right now who’s going to win the Democrat nominations, it’s going to be Elizabeth Warren.

Pete Mockaitis
And it’s because she’s doing a finer job of this persuasion beyond facts alone.

Lee Carter
Yes, she is. She is. So, I will walk you through from beginning to the end. So, the first thing is their big vision. You will always know why that person is running for President. You’ll always be able to answer this is part of their bigger story and part of their bigger vision. You will also always know that they have certain weaknesses that you’re willing to accept. So, with President Obama, remember he was a community organizer and he overcame that, right? He was able to do that. With President Trump, there were a number of obstacles before him. We talked about those.

The next thing that you’ll see is they always have a master narrative. President Obama had hope and change, and President Trump had Make America Great Again. And you’ll see that play out. Then you’ll always know they don’t have a laundry list of policies that they’re going to accomplish. They have a couple and you’ll remember what they are.

Barack Obama, you can still remember that he had Obamacare. He got a couple of others that he ran on. And President Trump ran on a few different policies. He ran on China Trade, he ran on jobs and the economy, he ran on the Wall, it was just a few. It wasn’t many. And that was something else that you’ll see over and over again.

The next step that you’ll see play out is that they will use visuals. And you can remember that Barack Obama always chose where he spoke very, very carefully. It was always symbolic and where it was. Where he gave his speech in Illinois, it was very carefully chosen where he launched his game. So, he understood the power of visuals as well.

President Trump, he didn’t just say he was getting tough on immigration, he said he was going to build a wall. That’s, again, the power of visuals. And then, anecdotes and storytelling, they both do it, right? So, you’ll see that throughout and that’s something that anybody, if you’re ever watching an election and trying to figure out who’s going to win, try and see and figure out if you can answer all those steps. You’ll probably going to see who’s winning, and Elizabeth Warren is the one who’s doing that right now. The rest of the candidates are not.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. So, there’s the political view. Let’s catch another lens.

Lee Carter
Okay. So, another lens that I will give you is for an auto company that I worked with a number of years ago. They were coming after some safety concerns, and people were concerned about their cars. They had always stood for safe cars and people wanted to make sure that they were safe. And they thought that their cars would speak for themselves but they couldn’t.

So, their whole thing was trying to figure out, “How do you communicate differently?”They’re so focused on cars that were extremely safe, quality, reliable, dependable, that you knew everything in them worked. And so, we talked about their master narrative being “Built for how you live.” So, that was just this idea of like it’s everything you do is just going to work for you. And that was going to play out in three different ways. It was going to work for today, tomorrow, and together.

So, everything that they did was about using it today. And you could think about it, their quality, other cars today, it was going to be usable, everything you could do. A step in the future, whether it was electronic vehicles, whether it was flying cars, whether it was all different kinds of things, it was going to be highly usable. It was going to be practical innovation. Cars you could use. And together. It was going to be stuff in the community that they could all do together, which was all about they didn’t just give back to communities.

What they did is they said, “We’re going to use our manufacturing know-how, all of the things that we know how to do so well to make improvements in quality and reliability, whether it’s in the local emergency room, whether it’s in a local soup kitchen, whether it’s disaster recovery, and they need to get people back in their homes faster. We’re going to use all of the things that we know about manufacturing cars in order to make things more efficient in other ways.” So, they had their three things, and they would just hit them over and over and over again.

So, that’s another one.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Well, yeah, let’s do a third.

Lee Carter
So, we were working with a financial services company who was selling a very complicated product. This product was a variable annuity and it was something that a lot of people did not understand. And so, a lot of people were talking about this variable annuity as guaranteed income for life, and that’s not something that was necessarily resonant with a lot of people out there. And the reason for that, I think, is really interesting because this goes back to the whole idea of active empathy, which is why a lot of people would say, “Well, I’m not looking for income in retirement. I’m going to stop getting income.”

And what we learned by talking to people is that they feel like in order to retire, in order to stop working, it’s not about generating more income, it’s about having a big enough pool of assets that they can live off of. So, they weren’t thinking about income in retirement, so it just wasn’t as resonant. What they needed to know is that they have protected growth. They wanted that pool of money to continue to grow while they’re in retirement, and they want to know that was protected so that they didn’t have any of the downsides that they might have otherwise.

So, we shift the master narrative, instead of being about guaranteed income for life to being about protected growth. Totally shifted the conversation and how we talked about it. The other thing that these companies were doing when they were talking about it, so you have the master narrative, was they’re often in what I would call an arms race, and I think a lot of folks do this as they try to sell, “Our debt benefit is better than your debt benefit. Our thing is better than yours.” And it’s just about listing a lot of features.

So, instead of telling them to just focus on a lot of features, we talked about starting to think about a few different things. So, let’s talk about three different categories that are underneath it or sometimes just two. In this case, it was just two – protection and growth. So, let’s talk about how your assets are protected, and here’s the different ways underneath it, rather than talking about all these different guaranteed minimum debt benefits and income benefits, and all these things that were confusing people.

There’s three ways that your money is protected, and there’s a number of different ways that it’s still going to grow because you’re still going to have access to the market through similar kinds of mutual funds than you will on the outside. And so, instead of having a lot of features underneath it, there was protection and there was growth, and there were the points to make underneath it.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Thank you. Well, so throughout these, I guess what I’m really wondering here, with the active empathy bit, how do you go about, in practical tactical terms, getting after knowing what are their feelings, what are their values, what are their behaviors? Are there some favorite questions you’d like to use in surveys or interviews? Or how do you collect that insight?

Lee Carter
I think the most important thing, right, is that you don’t just try to assume that you know what the other person is thinking or feeling, that you do ask the questions. So, whether you’re hiring a research firm, or you’re doing your own Google survey, or whether you’re just engaging in conversations, it’s really important that you ask people who are in your target audience, not people who aren’t. Like, you really want to get clear on who they are.

And so, I think that what you need to ask before you start developing your message is you need to ask some questions like, “What do you think about the issue, the product, or the company that we’re talking about?” And when you’re asking the questions yourself, you need to make sure that you take all judgment out of it. And, in the book, I talk a little bit with a coach who is someone who coaches professional athletes on how do you help people stay curious and not get overly emotional, because that’s the key here. You don’t want to start reaching judgments. You really want to stay curious. And in your brain, you cannot be both curious and emotional at the same time. It’s impossible because of where the emotion is processed at the same place.

So, the job is, when you’re trying to figure this out, is to stay curious and just ask questions, and not try to make judgments until after you’re done learning. So, I say that you really need to start big, big picture. What do you think about the issue? What do you think about the product? What do you think about the candidate? What do you think about the company? Whatever it is that you’re trying to accomplish.

Do you have any specific experience with the candidate, with anybody who supports the candidate, with the product, with the company, with whatever it is that you’re trying to do? And then you really want to dig in how they learned about it, where they get their information about it, how does it impact your daily life, how can it make it more personal, what matters most to you. But you just keep having that. It’s like you’re looking at it as an onion. How do you get underneath all of these questions until you’re actively listening? You don’t want to skim the surface here. You want to get really, really deep.

So, for example, I was working on a project once related to diabetes, and we were trying to understand why someone wouldn’t take their medication because it just seems so, like, “Why wouldn’t you? It’s so important. I mean, this is your health. Like, why wouldn’t you take your medicine, or take your injections, or do what you need to do in order to manage your diabetes?” And people don’t. And what we learned is that, by having a conversation, “So, why wouldn’t you take your medicine?” “Well, I’m busy,” or, “I forgot my needles.” And you keep asking the questions, and you get these surface-level things that you really couldn’t do anything with.

When you start asking more and more questions, more and more questions, getting underneath it, then you’ll suddenly find out there’s something underneath it. So, one of the things that we found by asking more and more questions, trying to understand why, “Tell me about that moment that you forgot, or tell me why you forgot. Where were you when you realized that you forgot?” “I was at my granddaughter’s birthday party, and I forgot. And I was sitting there, and I’m looking at her birthday cake, and I realized I can’t have her cake because I don’t have anything to manage my low-blood sugar afterwards.”

Then we asked some other people, we’re talking to them. It all came to these key moments that they weren’t able to experience the moment that was most important to them because they weren’t dealing with it in those moments. And so, what we found out is that empathetic insight, the under thing is like, “If you take your medication, you will be able to do the things that are most important to you. So, if you do this, you will also be able to eat cake. If you do this, you’ll also be able to enjoy your granddaughter’s birthday.” That became the empathetic insight not that they were too busy to remember, right? It’s just digging deeper and deeper in trying to uncover what’s really going on with them.

Pete Mockaitis
Right. So, in a way, they were too busy or they forgot kind of, I guess, points to a theme of it wasn’t enough of an emotional priority for them.

Lee Carter
That’s it.

Pete Mockaitis
Until they missed out on something that they regret.

Lee Carter
That’s right.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Well, Lee, tell me, anything else you want to make sure to mention before we shift gears and hear about some of your favorite things?

Lee Carter
I just think that the key to all of this, right, is slowing down enough because I think, so often, in persuasion, what people try to do is write out the list of all the things that they want to commit to somebody of. And I think the most important thing that you can do is take it and say, “What is most important to the person I’m trying to persuade?”

So, if you’re going in to try and land the perfect job, what is the most important to that employer? If you’re going in to your boss, and you’re trying to get more money for a budget that’s really important to an initiative you want, what’s most important to them about that? If you’re trying to get resources to get a new hire, what’s most important to the executive committee about all of this? Because once you understand what’s most important to them, then you can start crafting your message around what’s most important to them and figuring out how to put the pieces together, but not the other way around.

Because you’re trying to persuade, you’re the one that needs to be doing more of the work than the person you’re trying to persuade. You want the insight to land on them, and be like, “Huh, I never thought about that. The answer is yes,” right?

Pete Mockaitis
Perfect. Well, now, could you share a favorite quote, something you find inspiring?

Lee Carter
So, I think my favorite quote right now comes from Proverbs, and it’s Proverbs 18:2. It says, “The fool takes no pleasure in understanding but only in expressing personal opinion.” And there’s so much wisdom in that, and it’s such a timeless old, you know, Proverbs, there’s so much in there, but I think it’s so relevant for right now, it’s relevant for persuasion, but I think it’s relevant for society at large.

Pete Mockaitis
And how about a favorite study or experiment or piece of research?

Lee Carter
You know, I really, really love Jonathan Haidt’s Moral Foundations Theory. I find it helps me in so many different ways whether I’m trying to navigate political conversations, whether I’m trying to help clients for navigating corporate crises. It’s just trying to distill people’s beliefs down to the simplest terms in a way that helps you understand them so that you can speak to them more effectively. To me, that’s fascinating work.

Pete Mockaitis
And a favorite tool, something you use to be awesome at your job?

Lee Carter
PowerPoint, which I think is a really wildly unpopular thing, but I think it’s a very powerful tool because it forces you to be succinct and visual, and both of those things are really important to storytelling.

Pete Mockaitis
And a favorite habit?

Lee Carter
My favorite habit, frankly, is reading. I love to read whether it’s the news, or read books, or I start my day everyday reading, and I think it’s really an important habit.

Pete Mockaitis
And is there a particular nugget you share that you’re known for or is quoted back to you often?

Lee Carter
Well, what’s interesting, my company tagline is “It’s not what you say, it’s what people hear.” And that comes back to me all the time in good and bad ways. So, even in my marriage, it’s sometimes when my husband and I are having a disagreement, “You know, honey, it’s not what you say, it’s what people hear.” And that can be hilarious. But it also comes back. It just sticks with people and it’s so, so true. It’s not what you say that matters, it’s what people hear.

Pete Mockaitis
And if folks want to learn more or get in touch, where would you point them?

Lee Carter
You can reach me at LeeHartleyCarter.com, or if you want to reach my firm, we’re at maslansky.com.

Pete Mockaitis
And do you have a final challenge or call to action for folks looking to be awesome at their jobs?

Lee Carter
Yeah, you know, the thing that I think is most important in leadership and most important in doing a great job is having empathy. It’s really trying to understand, whether it’s your customers, whether it’s your colleagues, whether it’s the people you’re trying to manage, the people that you’re trying to lead, spend time understanding them and what’s most important to them, and will pay dividends whether it’s in how you’re communicating with them, how you’re managing them, how you’re showing up.

Pete Mockaitis
Lee, thank you. This has been fun. I wish you lots of luck in all your upcoming adventures.

Lee Carter
Thank you so much. I appreciate it.

502: How to Make Killer Pitches and Get What You Want with Oren Klaff

By | Podcasts | No Comments

Oren Klaff reveals the secret behind successful pitches—and how to persuade those around you.

You’ll Learn:

  1. What most people get wrong about persuasion
  2. How to communicate your worth
  3. The surefire way to convince anyone

About Oren:

Oren is Director of Capital Markets at investment bank Intersection Capital where he manages its capital raising platform (retail and wholesale distribution), business and product development. Oren co-developed and oversees Intersection Capital’s flagship product, Velocity™. 

From 2003-2008 as he applied his pioneering approaches to raising capital and incorporating neuroscience into the capital markets programs, Oren raised over $400 million of investor capital from high net-worth individuals and financial institutions.

Oren is a member of Geyser Holding’s investment committee where he has been a principal since 2006. During its growth he was responsible for sales, marketing, branding, product development, and business development. Previously, he was a venture analyst and partner at several mid-sized investment funds.

Resources mentioned in the show:

Thank you Sponsors!

  • Bench. Cross bookkeeping off your list forever! Get 20% off your first six months of professional bookkeeping at bench.co/awesome.
  • Simple Habit. This meditation app can help you gain greater control over your thoughts for better persuasion. Visit SimpleHabit.com/Awesome get 30% off premium subscriptions.
  • ZipRecruiter is the smartest way to hire. Try them for free at ZipRecruiter.com/htba

 

Oren Klaff Interview Transcript

Pete Mockaitis
Oren, thanks joining us here on the How to be Awesome at Your Job podcast.

Oren Klaff
Well, I appreciate that, Pete. What a great radio voice you have. I’m going to try and equal that with tone, tenor, bass, but I might lose it at some point. I tend to lose it when I get excited.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, I’m excited to be talking and I also hear you’re excited about fountain pens, you’ve got 17. What’s the story here?

Oren Klaff
Oh, I’m way up from that now. I actually have a safe which I have to keep my fountain pens in because I bought a couple that are super expensive and they have to be on lockdown. So, I have a five-year old. And I write him a note every night, so maybe when I die and maybe somebody will take it out and go, “Hey, Oren passed this way.”

So, I love the feeling of ink. It’s analog. Everything is so digital and that’s what I want to talk to you about today a little bit. Everything is so digital. People are losing the way of the sword, they’re losing the way of the pen, they’re losing the way of language, and I know nobody thinks that’s true but it is happening.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, I’m excited to dig into it. So, can you orient us quickly to Pitch Anything and your latest Flip the Script?

Oren Klaff
Yeah, Pitch Anything really started with the realization of this: people, especially in business, but in life in general, they want what they can’t have, they chase that which moves away from them, and they only value that which they pay for.

And so, Pitch Anything was really about this notion of how information gets into the human brain, what the brain does with it and it’s extremely counterintuitive. In fact, it works the opposite of how you might think, right? So, you go you want to get a raise, or you want to impress a client, and you do all these things that should be recognized but maybe it’s like a court of law in a murder trial. No good deed goes unpunished.

And so, Pitch Anything was really about how do we get things done in an upside down world where you go to a client and you say, “Hey, we’re going to try really hard, I’m going to work really hard, I’m going to give you a good price. We’ll be the best supplier that you’ve ever hard. You’ll be our most important customer. The customer is always right here. We’re excited to have you on board.” All things are true, transparent you’re passionate about, but none of that is persuasive.

And so, how do you walk that fine line of wanting something, wanting to perform a task or a job or an assignment, wanting to get paid for it, and wanting to commit to it, and show that you’re good at it, at the same time showing that you don’t want it and you don’t need it? So, ultimately, I think if you had to put a subtext or a subtitle on this, it’s this, “Neediness kills deals.” And that’s what Pitch Anything was all about, how to want something and not want it at the same time.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, that’s really intriguing and it really reminds me of sort of the notion of playing hard to get in the romantic courting world. And so, it sounds like you’re on board that’s a winning strategy.

Oren Klaff
Yeah, so in the romantic world is very narrow range of activities in terms of playing hard to get. When you go into business, playing hard to get is very nuanced, it can backfire, and especially when the stakes get higher.

And so, as the stakes go up and somebody needs to talk to you, then you need to understand what’s happening both inside you and in that situation. So, it’s a lot more complex and nuanced than playing hard to get.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. And so, before we dig into the particulars of how we walk this fine line and execute that well, I’d love it if you could frame things up a bit in terms of saying why is this skill super important. If you’re that career person who’s like, “You know what, I’m not going to march into a VC’s office and do a pitch, but I’d like to be more persuasive,” why is it so important for us and why are most of us not so great at it?

Oren Klaff
That’s a great question. I think I wrote Pitch Anything some years ago because basically I thought tens of thousands of people in my work just going in and supplicating to buyers, right?

Pete Mockaitis
Supplicating, what a word. It’s like we’re on our knees and, yeah.

Oren Klaff
Yeah. Supplicating is, maybe it rhymes with sucking up, but really if you unpack it, it’s confusion about who’s the prize in a business interaction, right? So, there’s a prize to be won, and we go in as an employee, or executive, or a salesperson, and this is why it’s important. We go in and the current framing in our economy, is that the boss, or the customer, is the prize.

Their signature, they’re giving us a raise, they’re giving us resources, they’re giving us a contract, they’re just giving us money, is the prize to be won so we have to perform at some level – performance. I do believe like we view our pitches as a performance. So, even though I’m against this framing, I still use it, that we have to perform for the prize of the money or the contract, right? Wouldn’t you agree that’s basically the standard framing in business today?

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, sure, I guess. And I’m thinking about all kinds of, you know, Glengarry Glen Ross or sort of big moments like the salesperson needs to wow with exceptional impressive persuasive power, like a rock star.

Oren Klaff
Yeah. So, we come in and even if we’re a rock star, we are trying to win the prize of the contract. So, Pitch Anything really made it important to understand that they’re not the prize. What can they give you? Money, some status, right? These are commodities. You can get status anywhere. You can get money anywhere. Sort of money is the ultimate commodity. You should not do things that are outside your value system, do things that you’re overreaching, you should not overextend yourself, you should not supplicate, which I think we decided was really a euphemism for sucking up, in order to win a commodity for yourself – money.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah. You know what, that just checks out in my gut, like, “All right. Yeah, right on, you know.”

Oren Klaff
Okay. Sounds good, Oren. But let’s go. So, if they’re not the prize, and the money isn’t the prize, and their signature, and their approval isn’t the prize, and that’s really the key word – approval. Most presentations are based on approval-seeking behavior. When you’re seeking approval from someone else, you’re supplicating to them, you’re needy, neediness kills deals. On their side, people want what they can’t have. You’re letting them know they can have you, and so it’s all wired backwards.

The thing that’s important is to wire it up correctly, which is that you are the prize that they need. And so how do you come in? And everybody has to decide this for themselves. I can give you a couple ways and give you a head start. But how do you come in and say, “Hey, look, I’m going to show you a couple things over the next 12-15 minutes, I’m going to pitch you the big idea. I’ll do that very quickly”?

“And it’s important for you to evaluate it and see if you’re going to get what you want and if our circles overlap, and if it makes sense, and if we’re aligned. But as much as you’re evaluating me, it’s important for you to know I’m also evaluating you. Lots of options. I don’t know if I’m smart or if I’m just busy or lucky this time of year, but there’s lots of things that are pulling at me, and lots of customers who want us to deliver. And so, I’m just in a good place to be choosy about what I work on, who I work with, and why I’m doing things. So, as much as you’re evaluating me, I’m evaluating you.”

Now, probably people listening to this right now, going, “Oh, my God. I would never say that to my boss or the board of directors.” I think when I get that reaction from people, they’re saying, “I would never say it in that tone.” Now the good news is I say it in that tone every day, but I’m experienced at it, right? And it’s within my value system, it’s within my personality, and it’s part of my performance.

Now you might not say that in those words. But you can communicate the same things very nicely, very subtly, in a nuanced way, but say the exact same thing. That is the problem, is coming in and letting the buyer, or the boss, or the peer, or the colleague, or the situation know that they have a higher status and more value than you do, and that you are willing to work exceedingly hard, need the deal, even though you don’t, you’re willing to demonstrate to them that they’re the prize that you’re trying to win.

And that is ultimately what makes deals fall apart, be hard to win, or go sideways. So, that’s really the challenges that are happening every day.

And you say, “Well, how can I be the most valuable person at the table? They have the money, they have the contract, they have the company.” I believe, for most people, again, the buyer just has a contract, the money, the corporation just has the job, the colleagues just have the ability to jump in with you.

What you have is the most important thing and people should be trying to win that. It’s your experience, your integrity, your ideas, your know-how, your relationships, your willingness to invest, your commitment, your thoroughness, your value system, your “I don’t stop when I’m tired” mentality, the joy and ease of working with you, you can’t buy that. There’s no amount of money you can pay for those intangibles. And if you have that, then you’re the most invaluable person in that relationship, in that meeting, on that call, in that deal.

Pete Mockaitis
And I think fundamental to that is that it’s true, like the core fundamental value that you’re bringing to the table is significant, and you really are not sort of a commodity in terms of if it’s either yourself as a professional in terms of your skillset and what you’re offering there, if you kind of don’t have much special sauce, and hopefully everyone does if you’re listening to the show, then I think that the starting point is having it in terms of you’ve got something special and you can feel good and secure and confident in that offer.

Oren Klaff
Yeah. And so how to do that is really, you know, the question that’s not off-putting, that’s not confusing, and that really moves into what Flip the Script was about. So, Pitch Anything showed you that these things were possible, that people were doing these in high-stakes situations. You know what’s funny, I say this word high stakes but I didn’t really have a…because high stakes is different for everybody. Like, Pete, what would be a high-stakes meeting or a high-stakes feel for you?

Pete Mockaitis
Well, I’m thinking more so for the listeners, high stakes might be, “I want the promotion. I want the raise.”

Oren Klaff
Yeah. And so, is it really high stakes? Because you’re going to ask for it, they’re not going to fire you for asking, right? So, it feels high stakes. And when I think about things feeling like we…By the way, what part of the country are you in?

Pete Mockaitis
Chicago.

Oren Klaff
Chicago. Okay, I’m in San Diego. Have you ever been to San Diego?

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah.

Oren Klaff
Yeah. So, I don’t know if you’ve ever been to Coronado but there’s this the Coronado Bridge, and it’s crazy. It’s not like normal bridge. It’s a span that like rises up into the clouds and it goes over the military base, and it goes over battleships. It’s huge. Two weeks ago, I was driving over it with my family in the car, a little boy and my wife, myself.

And I look out and there’s this pretty small retaining wall, concrete retaining wall. At least it looks small to me. I’m driving over this bridge seemingly like miles over the Pacific Ocean, like battleships look small beneath us like Lego toys, and I’m not going to hit the retaining wall, we’re driving 65 miles an hour. If they took that retaining wall away, then all of a sudden…yeah, I was never going to drive off the bridge in the first place or hit the retaining wall, or get anywhere near it. The stakes go way up, right, and I would slow down to three miles an hour or two miles an hour.

And so, when we get into situations and we feel like it’s so important to get this done, and we don’t have a blueprint or the path to follow, we revert to behaviors that are sort of the equivalent of slowing down to three miles an hour, being exceedingly cautious, being exceedingly tentative, being exceedingly careful, that’s what happens when the stakes go up. You don’t know what to do to maintain the language, and the framing, and the conversation, and the confidence, and the skills that you would have if the stakes were $3 and it didn’t matter. So, it’s not necessarily you don’t know how to do these things, it’s that you don’t know how to do these things when it really matters because your intuition is working against you.

I think the classic example is going to a meeting to talk about a raise or a project, and the guy you’re going to meet with is running late, right? This has to be something you’ve encountered. Everybody has encountered it.

Pete Mockaitis
Sure.

Oren Klaff
And so, he’s two minutes late, he’s four minutes late, he’s eight minutes late, you see the secretary comes in, or he texts you, “Hey, sorry, be there in a few.” And now he’s like 15 minutes late. What do you do?

Pete Mockaitis
Well, I mean, I’m not pleased. It’s not fun. I, hopefully, have something else that’s kind of productive and worthwhile I can do. At that point, I’m sort of starting to wonder if it’s going to encroach in the other stuff that I’ve got scheduled. So, I guess you either reschedule or you hang out. What do you do?

Oren Klaff
Yeah. Well, this is kind of a beta trap, right? It’s the equivalent of if you’re a salesman and you drive across town, or fly to another city, you go to a company for a 10:00 a.m. meeting. You’re going up to the counter, and you’re saying, “Hey, is John ready?” “Oh, he’ll be out in a few.” And it’s a beta trap, right, because there’s beta and alpha. Alphas don’t have these problems, right? The president of a company, the president of a bank, maybe they do it at a different level but people come to meetings on time.

So, you’re stuck in the beta position, which is a status position. One thing I can assure you from the low-status position, you can do hardly anything. People don’t listen to you, they don’t take you seriously, they see you with a very superficial way, and, more importantly, they have high risk-taking behaviors when they believe they’re higher status than you, and they’re the alpha and you’re the beta.

So, there’s not a wrong or right that’s eight minutes, 15 minutes, one minute, three minutes. It is that if you accept the beta position and leave them in the alpha position, they’ll have status over you and it is incredibly difficult to get their attention and be persuasive from the low-status position. So, you have to signal, “Hey, I’m a peer, we are colleagues, we’re the same status, and we need to be in alignment.” So, in those cases, I’ll always recommend you say, “Hey, look, I set aside about an hour for this, it looks like we’re chiseling down to 45, 40 minutes. Probably not enough time to accomplish what we want to accomplish. Let’s reset and find another time to do this. I’ve got some key projects that I need to focus on.”

The easiest way to take yourself out of the beta is using the moral authority frame. And moral authority is always about work. If it’s about work, and it’s about delivering, and it’s about taking care of your team, and about taking care of your customers, you’ll always be in the right.

So, for example, I work with a lot of guys that are very high status, very wealthy, running large companies, and they always come late. It’s not that they’re rude, or they’re malevolent, or they’re trying to get their alpha status over me, right? It’s just they’re running a 700-person company. Two weeks ago, I talked to a guy, hopefully be a client of ours, running a $750 million company. He comes to the call at 10:06, it’s a 10:00 o’clock call. First thing I’ll say is, “Hey, John, you’re here for the 10:06 call?” And it’s great.

They always laugh at it. And the first thing out of their mouth is, “Sorry.” Right? Like, they know because you’re calling them out on professional behavior in a fun light way, and they always say sorry. And usually they’ll say something like, “Hey, we had 72 containers stuck in Hong Kong because of the protest. I had to sign off on some extra expenses to get them out otherwise we wouldn’t deliver diapers to the area of the world where it’s really needed and it’s a charitable effort. So, really sorry about it.” “Yeah, no problem.” But at least they’re not saying, starting off, “Hey, Mr. CEO, hey, Mr. Big, no problem. You show up anytime you want. I’ll just sit here and wait. And whatever is good for you is good for me.”

So, I’m very lighthearted and I go, “Hey, you’re here for the 10:06 call?” And then I’ll say, “Hey, why don’t we get caught up? It seems like we still got a couple people joining. We’re recording the call. They can listen to the recording and catch up. Let’s get started. We’re super busy. I carved out like half an hour and we’re eating into it. Here’s what I suggest. We get started. I’ve prepared a presentation. It’s 12, 13 minutes. Let’s go through it.

So, I’ve said that and I’ve taught that to audiences. You can see I say that very naturally and I’ll always get somebody raise their hand, and they go, “I can never say that.” Especially, women raise their hand, like, “Oh, that’s good for you, alpha male. Women can’t talk like that.”

And I will say, “You’re listening to my tone. You’re not listening to the messaging, because you can say that so nicely.” “Oh, hey, John. Glad you can make it. I was almost thinking that we should reset this call. We’ve got maybe like 28 minutes left and a lot to do. If you guys are ready to roll, I think we should start now because I’ve got about a 15-minute presentation, and I want to give you some time to really make your case.

And so, it’s the same messaging in a totally different tonality, and pace, and level of floweriness, but it’s the same messaging. “My time is as important, maybe more important than yours because we’re solving this very-hard-to-solve problem for clients, and we’re busy doing it.” Yeah, I understand, some of your use cases are internal, but you have even more power internal, “Hey, I set about half an hour for this meeting. I want to discuss some of the recent projects. I’m running my team, they count on me, we’re delivering a huge project. Currently, we’re on time but if I’m missing from it, we could slip, and nobody likes to slip. I really want to prioritize the work I’m doing. If we get started now in the meeting, I think there’s enough time for me to cover why I came, and then you can reflect on how you think it ties into the expectations we set six months ago. And if we have five, or 10 minutes left, which I believe we will, I want to talk to you about some career things that are going on with me, and you should be able to give an easy yes, no, or maybe. So, if that sounds good, let’s kick that off.”

But what I wanted to say is, although people are afraid of saying things that direct, the reality is it signals you’re not needy, it signals that you are not a beta, that you have as much status as the buyer, or the other side of the meeting, so those are all critical, right? It signals you’re a professional. And when I start a meeting like that, people put their iPhones down, they close their laptops, and they go, “Aha! Finally, I’m in the hands of a professional that knows how to run a meeting. This thing is not going to go on for two hours. There is a clear agenda and it’s not called the agenda, it’s called ‘This is how I like to have meetings with my peers. Let’s rock and roll.’ I love this.”

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah, I dig that. And you’re right in terms of there’s many ways you can communicate that message to see what style and tone feels right to you but the core message is there that we are peers. And I’ve often recommended to folks I’m prepping for interviews that if the person who’s doing the interview isn’t really sort of paying attention to you, this does happen, like they are on their computer, they’re doing email, they’re on their phone, or they’re elsewhere, I’d say, “I think your best bet as the candidate there is to just pause or say, ‘Just let me know when you’re ready,’ or something to the effect of you convey the message that ‘I’m unwilling to be ignored and made sort of in the background as you do something else,’” you know? And you could say that kindly or in any number of ways.

Oren Klaff
Right. So, I think any number of ways except for a number of ways. So, I get this question a lot, like, “Hey, should I ask somebody to put their phone down or put their laptop down?” I can tell you, in the meetings that I go to and the presentations that I have, nobody is on their phone or on their laptop. What they are doing is engage in the presentation or in the meeting because there are stakes, there are things that are going to happen, and it’s clear, “Either I’m going to go away with my toys, my marbles, and go somewhere else, or they’re going to have the opportunity to use the things I know, the experience I have to solve their problems.” And that, the decision on go forwards or go away is going to be made today. And that decision has stakes and is meaningful. And when there’s high stakes, for the other side, not just for you, then the phones go away and the laptops close, and they pay attention, right?

One of the key tenets in Pitch Anything is that the span of human attention is 18 minutes. And that’s why we work really hard to get everything in to a compact period of time. Now I go to meetings where people spend 12 minutes trying to get rapport, talk about family and sports and weather. And this is all stuff that ultimately, you know, the fact that you like hockey and they like hockey is mildly helpful for alignment. But this is not 12 minutes of conversation for 18 minutes of attention, right?

Nobody increases your pay by 40%, nobody assigns you a million-dollar contract, nobody pushes you up to the board of directors for a presentation because you like hockey and they also like hockey. It is relatedness and it’s helpful. But this like old-world of like seeking rapport, it’s not the old boys network anymore where people do business because they like you and they’re affiliated with you through some organization. It is not the determinant. The determinant is what status are you, what value do you provide, are you an expert, have you solved this problem before, can you take pain away, and are the things you’re saying about the future, what’s going to happen in the future, really going to happen. That’s why people decide in your favor, not because you like hockey.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, so understood there. So, you’re coming in with something legit to start with. You got great fundamentals and then you are not apologetic and supplicative as you are entering, and you are conveying the message that, “We’re equal peers. I am a professional. I know how to run this meeting. And here’s how it’s going to go,” and sort of navigating to that 18 minutes. So, let’s talk about within that timeframe, what are the critical things you want to convey? And maybe you could even give us a demo in terms of someone who had a pitch that was floundering and then we turn it around to have 18 minutes of excellence.

Oren Klaff
Yeah, maybe I can. I think my new book Flip the Script is really about solving the next level of questions, once you get clarity that you’re a high status, in the dominance hierarchy of monkeys, you are an equivalent monkey, right? Sort of as simple as that. Then, how does somebody know that you’re an expert in either the project you’re proposing in the next level? Because people want to pay more for your job or give you a raise because you’re able to take on more responsibility and solve different more difficult problems. Are you a car guy, by the way, Pete?

Pete Mockaitis
I’ve not owned a car for 13 years.

Oren Klaff
Oh, my God. So, you are an ex-patriot car guy. Interesting.
So, you have to give people certainty that the things you’re saying will happen, really will happen in the future. And how do most people try and give certainty? They tell, right? They go, “These are the projects I’ve done. This is the commitment I have. This is the area I’m familiar with. I know lots of people with this problem. I’ve worked on it.” So, it’s telling, telling, telling. Before you turned in your car, what kind of car was it?

Pete Mockaitis
It was 1989 Chevrolet Celebrity.

Oren Klaff
Okay. Yes, you are officially the most not-car guy that I have ever talked to. But it’s good. It’s good for this example. So, that was not really a great car, right?

Pete Mockaitis
No, it shook when it went upwards of 70 miles per hour. I got a speeding ticket when I drove my mom’s car, and that excuse didn’t really hold with the police officer. I’m used to the car shaking when I’m going too fast.

Oren Klaff
It’s starting to shake, and you hear a noise, and so you go, “Oh, man, that’s unsafe.” So, you take it down to a local garage. You definitely don’t want to take it to the dealer, that’s something. So, you take it out to a local garage, and the guy looks at it, and he goes, “Yeah, you know, something is wrong here. Tell you what, leave it here, it’s $200. We’ll take a look at it. We’ll call you tomorrow and tell you what we think the problem is, and if you decide to get it repaired here, we’ll credit the $200 to the bill,” that’s the offer.

And you go, “Hmm, to me…” and then you go, “I’m not certain that my problem is going to be solved,” right? So, you go ahead. It sounds good. Nice and easy, and you move on down the road, and you to Eric Schmidt’s Repair Shop, and you go in and you pull in, and he comes out and he’s nicely-branded, and his nametag says Eric, and he’s got correct amount of tattoos up his left arm, and a hipster mustache. He comes out and he says, “Yeah, I don’t know. It’s shaking.” So, he goes press on the accelerator and go, it makes the noise and the squeak.

And he goes, “Listen, here’s the deal. This Chevrolet Celebrity, there was a fire at the GM factory in 1988 when this model was built so they had to move them over to Dearborn where they started manufacturing, which was fine and well, except they didn’t correctly put out the break throw-out bearing. This thing actually needs a 2740c throw-out bearing. You could see a little bit of oil leaking here. That’s a 27c oil leak. It’s not even the right oil in it. That’s going to serve a while but will be a $7,000 problem. But I can hear from the squeak they put the 17109-fan belt on it. The 171095c is the correct fan belt. We see so many of these, we keep about 50 of those fan belts in the back and the throw-out bearings. Leave it here, it’s 500 bucks, come pick up tomorrow morning at 9:00 o’clock. It’ll be ready.”

Pete Mockaitis
Much more compelling, absolutely. You’ve shared that you know what you’re doing.

Oren Klaff
I think it is, yeah, you have shown “I have solved this problem a million times before. This is boring for me. I can do this, no problem.” But, really, showing problem-solving, 501c fan belts, everything, it’s all about certainty. So, Flip the Script shows you those formulas or the scripts, getting away from the old scripts that no longer functioning, which is get rapport with someone, give them the features of the ideas, explain the benefits, suggest the stretch benefits or the pro forma, do a trial close, “So, what do you think? Is there something we can do? Go ahead with…” all the objections come out, try to overcome the objections, “Well, you know, we’re not really doing promotions this time of year. We usually do it in March. September is not a great time,” then trying to close and get stuck in, “Hey, send me a proposal.”

That old system, features, benefits, trial close, stretch benefits, objections, overcome the objections, close, is just no longer functioning. That was designed in the 1950s when buyers really had much fewer options and much less control of the process, or employers had many fewer options in terms of talent acquisition. So, those scripts are no longer credible.
How do you give people certainty that the things you say will happen in the future really will happen, and it’s worth paying me today for something that’s going to happen in the future?

And that is not a naturally-occurring skillset because when humans develop conversation, and not to into cavemen tech, but language was not designed to propose a pay raise in the supply chain management industry, right? Language was designed to communicate danger among humans in fast-moving situations.

And so, that’s very easy. You don’t need to study, or go to a course, or do any training on, “Hey, there’s a fire over there. Move in this way. Run or you’re going to die.” “Don’t eat those berries. The last people that ate them got sick and one of them died.” So, language is very effective. There are prewired pathways to communicate information about danger and risks and conflict. Information about supply chain management software is not prewired in the human mind. You have to think about it, and a lot of it can be counterintuitive.

Pete Mockaitis
And much of that is, you say, getting them to think it’s their own idea. How is that done?

Oren Klaff
Yeah. So, how it’s done is laid out in eight chapters in the book. So, it’s pretty sequential so I don’t want to read the book but I think, more importantly, is can it be done? Right? Can you put ideas in someone’s head, marinate them, percolate them, have them go around without you overtly saying, “So, what do you think?

And I’ll give you an example. This happens to us over and over. We had a client in over the weekend, that shows how high stakes it is, for me to come in on a Sunday, open up the business, we met for an hour and a half, and we sort of wrapped up and we’re packing ourselves up and our briefcases, and I say to the guy, the best close that I have.

Now, remember, I may be the number one sales trainer, and the best close I have is, “Hey, John, so what do we do to get this thing signed up?” because we use inception, we don’t rely on closing or we don’t argue with our clients on why they should do business with us. We put the ideas in their mind and we allow them to come through their own process to the notion that they want to work with us, right?

And so, I say, “What do we got to do to get this signed up or what the…?” I almost sound confused, which I’m not confused at all, but I’m not going to close the guy, trying to get him in a sales headlock. And he says, “Oh, I signed it an hour ago. It’s over there on the edge of…I signed the contract an hour ago. It’s over there on the edge of the conference table.” And so I go, “Oh, thanks.” And they leave.

But I can give you example after example after example of this happening over and over again, and that’s inception. When you correctly show someone that you’re a peer to them, you are not lower than them, you’re not less important, you’re not trying to win them, that what you have is invaluable, that they are fortunate to be able to have an option to convince you to provide your services to them, when you provide them certainty that the things you say will happen really will happen, when you show them that you have values that can’t be changed by their language, or the request for discounts, or their needs, that you stick to your guns, and you have unassailable values, when you show them how to buy from you, and when you authentically create time constraints in which you, well, just doesn’t work for you anymore, and you’re fatigued, then you’ll leave.

And so, when you put all those things together professionally at a high level in a way that’s not overtly visible to them and they just feel like they’re talking to some wonderful people who are very skilled, who are passionate about what they do, have real values, and have solved their kind of problem a million times before, they’re just going to, “Meh, this is awesome. How do we get going?” And that’s inception.

One power tool for regaining calm just before high stakes persuasion is Simple Habit! When I’m using Simple Habit, I feel like a have much greater mental capacity to think through the persuasive elements of my messages without distraction. Simple Habit is a meditation app that has hundreds of meditations available for free and thousands available for premium users.Simple Habit has convenient 5 minute meditations, with over 65,000 5-star reviews in the iOs and Android store. It won Google Play’s award for being a stand-out well-being app. You can get 30% off premium by visiting simplehabit.com/awesome. That’s simplehabit.com/awesome. To snag the 30% off, you’ll visit simplehabit.com/awesome…you can also tap that link in your podcast app by expanding this episode’s “details” and then “episode notes.”}

Pete Mockaitis
Lovely. Thank you. Well, now, could you share a favorite quote, something you find inspiring?

Oren Klaff
There’s a book I really like called Riveted by a guy named Jim Davies. And he’s an academic but is quite accessible so I like that.

Pete Mockaitis
And could you share a favorite study, or experiment, or bit of research?

Oren Klaff
Oh, boy. So, here’s the one that I love, that I think, and maybe everybody knows about it. In New York, they test it over and over again. They dress up a guy in very high-status business clothing, and over and over again, they line him up in a crosswalk. And when it’s red, this tall, handsome, well-manicured, in a beautiful suit that’s well-fitted, terrific shoes and a great smile, and in his 40s guy, starts walking across the road, and everybody else follows him. They do the same thing with the construction worker or somebody looks shabby, or somebody eating a falafel slobbingly, and people don’t as much follow.

It shows that people follow and respect and get behind people of high status in all kinds of situations. So, to me, that’s the number one thing that makes life easy for you in upgrading your work life and making more money for your family is establishing either appearance, or messaging, or positions, or framing, or morality around status and getting people to go your way much more easily than if you had to convince them using logic.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. And is there a particular nugget you share that really seems to connect and resonate with folks; they quote it back to you a lot?

Oren Klaff
The biggest thing that I have is when I say people only value that which they pay for. Most people have been in business for more than a day understand that lesson. No good deed goes unpunished. People only value that which they pay for. The more you try and give your service away, the less likely you are to close the deal.

Pete Mockaitis
And if folks want to learn more or get in touch, where would you point them?

Oren Klaff
Oh, that’s great. I’ll guide you to Amazon to buy Flip the Script.

But if you like the sound of what I’m saying, you can hop over to OrenKlaff.com and enter, I’m running a contest now to fly someone out to California, put them up on the beach here in a hotel for two nights, and then I’ll work with them on their business to use these principles to advance their own careers. So, that’s at OrenKlaff.com. And we didn’t really promote it that much, so I think my mom has entered and maybe two other people so your chances of winning are pretty high.

Pete Mockaitis
And do you have a final challenge or call to action for folks seeking to be awesome at their jobs?

Oren Klaff
A hundred percent, start using this statement, “Oh, so you’re here for the 10:05 meeting.” It’s fun, you’ll get a laugh but will establish you. The first time you’ll be afraid to use it, but when people smile and laugh and giggle, and give you credit, that’s my first challenge to you. Start using that and defend your value in the equation of the business meeting. You’re going to love using that.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. Oren, thanks so much and good luck in all your pitches.

Oren Klaff
Hey, Pete, I really appreciate that. Great questions. It’s been fun.