Six Essential Skills Scholars Can Learn from Copywriters

Most people in academia learn a style of writing that is great for precision, but terrible for persuasion, and those habits are deadly when it comes time procure grants, fellowships and jobs.

Getting Things Done by Making Slacking Hurt

At a certain point this year I found myself frustrated and feeling like I wasn’t getting anywhere on several different projects, while at the same time feeling like I was working too much and not having enough fun. I needed motivation, and I needed priorities. I came up with something that helps me with both […]

Hitchiking Imitates Life

There’s no stupider way to hitchhike than to stand by the side of the road with your thumb out hoping someone will stop. And yet do you see people do it any other way? Which way are you living your life?

You Can Always Yell Later

My mom taught me as a child, it’s really hard to unyell once you’ve yelled. If you want to get what you want, start soft. You can always yell once that fails, but you once you’ve yelled, it’s too late for the soft approach.

Ice Cream For Dinner: A Graduation Speech

Most graduation speeches are full of clichés, claptrap and wicked insinuations. I have tried to adhere to that model as closely as possible.

Three Keys to Good Decisions

It’s hard to make good decisions, but here are three quick jedi mind tricks to avoid a lot of bad decisions:forget sunk costs, use absolute numbers rather than proportions, and be aware of confirmation bias.

Social Proof (Weapons of Influence, part 3 of 3)

We all know birds of a feather flock together, but we’re often unaware of how frequently we flock with birds of our feather. Even when we say we are uninfluenced, the opinion and action of the crowd often get us to behave in ways we do not expect and can be used against us to influence our actions through the principle of social proof. (part 3 of 3 in the series on Weapons of Influence).

Commitment and Consistency (Weapons of Influence, part 2 of 3)

Consistency and Commitment are usually good things, but what about when underhanded marketers or other persuaders get us to subtly commit ourselves before we know what they’re after and then play on our desire to be consistent with our commitments? This is used against us every day. (Part 2 of 3 in the series on Weapons of Influence).

Reciprocation (Weapons of Influence, part 1 of 3)

Robert Cialdini’s book Influence discusses several “Weapons of Inflence”. This first part examines the power of reciprocation — our need to give back to someone who has given something to us — and how this is used to influence us every day in our buying decisions and in other areas. Parts 2 and 3 will look at social proof and comment and consistency.

Are you my friend? Social norms versus market norms

We are motivated to do good, even great, things for friendship (social norms) and we expect to pay for commercial goods (market norms), but when we mix these, bad things happen in our social lives and for companies that get this wrong.