Welcome to the latest edition of our irregular and irreverent newsletter. Let’s get started.
6 NEW BOOKS, 12 GREAT TAKEAWAYS
Summer is time for reading. But if you’re like me, you’re probably haunted by that stack of books you haven’t touched since May.
So to help you decide what to read before summer goes slip-sliding away, I recruited 6 authors of 6 new nonfiction books to create a tasting menu of their work. I asked each of them to describe —in 50 words or fewer — one key idea takeaway from the book and one useful action-oriented takeaway.
Here are their entries, presented in alphabetical order by author:
IDEA: Peers are a powerful motivating force. Trying to push yourself to achieve something? Or encourage others to hit an important goal? Comparison to others, particularly those slightly ahead, increases motivation and performance. Even others’ mere presence can make us work faster and harder. Never exercise alone.
ACTION: Want to have more influence? Next time you’re trying to persuade someone, be a chameleon. Subtly mimicking others—their body language, mannerisms, and accents—increases liking and trust and facilitates interactions. It makes negotiators 5 times more successful and nets wait staff 70% higher tips. So don’t just listen, emulate.
IDEA: Great skill in any area, from playing the piano to brain surgery, depends upon highly developed mental representations and (in fields with a physical component) extensive physiological adaptations — both of which require many years of purposeful practice to acquire. There is no free lunch.
ACTION: It is a waste of time to try this and that, looking for something you are “good at.” Find something you can commit yourself to, seek out a good teacher, and practice. You will become good at it, and the experience will teach you how to approach developing other skills in the future.
IDEA: Economists have moved beyond studying markets to helping to shape them. Their insights help make sense of many of the markets and market-like mechanisms that we encounter with ever-greater frequency – from the business model behind the iPhone to Amazon to kidney exchange and school choice.
ACTION: Become a “multi-homer”: The next time you summon a ride from Uber, or buy a book on Amazon, think about how it affects the parties to your transaction – and the market itself. Are you unwittingly handing too much market power or information to the market-maker, and in the process leaving too little for everyone else? Do the calculus before you make the purchase.
IDEA: We are rapidly cognifying — adding intelligence — to everything that bits touch. We can’t stop this trend. In fact, it is only by engaging it, by using this technology, do we have any hope of steering it.
ACTION: Imagine what you might do with 500 very simple minds working for you for next to nothing but 24/7/365 over the cloud. Describe what you’d sell.
IDEA: Never force someone to choose between doing what’s smart and doing what helps them save face. It’s not always enough that your proposal was fair or generous. Ask yourself: How will they say ‘Yes’ to what I’m proposing and still be able to declare victory to their constituents (or to themselves)?
ACTION: The one essential trait of a great negotiator is empathy. Lots of people talk too much in negotiations, but almost no one asks enough questions. In your next negotiation, conflict, or disagreement, come up with 3-5 additional questions to ask that might help you better understand the other side’s interests, constraints, and perspective.
IDEA: As adults—in the workplace and elsewhere—when we have to do something we’ve never done before, or feel stuck in a role we don’t like, or need to grow beyond our current capabilities, we can tap into what we naturally did as children, and perform our way to who we’re becoming.
ACTION: You can have performance breakthroughs as a listener. Pick two meetings and a one-on-one conversation and make listening your priority performance: Don’t assume you know what’s coming. Pause longer than normal before you speak. Ask questions. Improvise and perform interest and curiosity. Let yourself be impacted by what you hear.
PINK’S META-TAKEAWAY: Note that three of these writers are recommending something similar. Stop. Listen. Really listen. Ask questions. Empathize. That’s wise advice for any season of the year.
5 NEW VIDEOS, 4.5 GREAT TAKEAWAYS
This summer, I’m supposed to be writing a new book — which, of course, means I’ve suddenly become enormously productive . . . in creating videos. Below are five short videos you might enjoy and find useful — the three most popular recent Pinkcasts, a commencement speech to Georgetown graduates, and a TV commentary that generated a pile of hate mail.
1. Pinkcast 1.2. A Simple Trick for Getting the Right Stuff Done (79 seconds)
2. Pinkcast 1.4. This Chart Will Make You Rethink Parenting and Leading (133 seconds)
3. Pinkcast 1.6. How to Anticipate (and Prevent) Big Mistakes (153 seconds)
4. Georgetown University commencement speech about the biggest mistake smart people make. Bonus: Includes a live science experiment and a Hamilton reference. (16 minutes)
5. PBS NewsHour commentary on a nerdy issue close to my heart. Bonus: Includes one of my elementary school photographs and my 6th grade report card. (3 minutes)
That’s all for this edition. As always, thanks for reading our humble newsletter.