Archive for the ‘Business Books’ Category

How do you make sticky ideas?

An extra book post this week! Huzzah!

Did you hear about the lady in Cincinnati who found a rat in her bucket of fried chicken? She brought it home to feed her family and when they got to the bottom of the bucket there was a deep fried rat laying there.  It was breaded and deep fried just like a piece of chicken and nobody realized it was a rat – a whole rat – until her five year old son bit into it. The company settled with her for four million dollars due to her emotional distress. This is why they changed the name of the company from Kentucky Fried Chicken to KFC, because they can’t legally call it “chicken” anymore.

Or have you ever heard about intermittent fasting? The 1945 study by Carlson and Hoelzel. . . . found that the apparent life span of rats in the study was increased by intermittent fasting. Tests in which a group of thirty-three rats were allowed the same food ad libitum and groups of thirty-seven, thirty-seven and thirty rats were fasted 1 day in 4, 3 and 2, respectively, after the age of 42 days, showed that the optimum amount of fasting appeared to be fasting 1 day in 3 and this increased the life span of littermate males about 20% and littermate females about 15%. However, the pre-experimental condition of the individual rats was also found to be an important factor determining the life spans.

Okay, now go get a glass of water and then come back to read below the fold.



“I refuse to let a college education get in the way of my learning.” – LX Van Drie

Seriously, read this book

So I’ve been blogging for three months now. I’ve frequently intended to in the past, but this is the longest I’ve stuck with it. And I’ll continue with it this time. So what made the difference? It was this post titled 8 Steps to Getting What You Want …. Without Formal Credentials from It’s a quick extraction of the basics from The Education of Millionaires by Michael Ellsburg. Sometimes you read something and it’s just the slap in the face and kick in the ass you need.

In this case, the article was about something I’ve intuitively felt for a long time, but needed some guidance to really take advantage of it. Learning is not the same thing as the educational system or getting credentialed. Why do people like Bill Gates excel even after having dropped out of the formal educational system? Because they never stop learning, and just as importantly, they never stop reaching out to people they can connect with.


We’re coming to the end of the series on Fascinate: Your 7 Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation. Future books won’t take me a week and a half to get through, but I couldn’t resist looking at this one in depth. Sally Hogshead has really broken down what it is about brands, messages, and people that capture our attention. I highly recommend taking a brief detour to her site to take the questionnaire that will reveal your F-Score, what triggers you naturally use to make people fascinated with you.


Power overwhelming

But today we come to a close with the final trigger for fascination: Power. Machiavelli, volcanoes, Batman . . . power compels us to pay attention. It can be an overwhelming force or a subtle suggestion. Power is about control. The potential to control others or the freedom to have complete control of yourself.


Red Alert 3 loading screen

There are at least three things in this picture that might cause me alarm

Nancy Grace, CSPI, Fox News, CNN, Tea Partiers, and Occupiers of Wall Street – they all have one thing in common that keeps us talking about them. They raise Alarm. Get someone panicking about something and he will listen to your message. On April 14th dry and boring tax forms become absolutely riveting. When people think their well-being or livelihood is at stake, you have their attention.

We’ve been talking about triggers for fascination that attract us, but not everything holds our attention does so for positive reason. Fascination is not always about what makes us feel good. There’s a reason we describe something horrible we can’t turn away from as a “train wreck.” Alarm isn’t inherently bad, there are people who invoke it as a trigger for fascination quite deliberately (MADD, DARE, Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth, etc)


I bet that got your attention.

Lara Croft Wallpaper
“I know, we’ll sell them on her winning personality.”

There’s a story about how Lara Croft got her notable attributes (and obviously I’m not talking about her guns). When increasing the size of her bustline Toby Gard, her artist, intended to give her a “modest” 50% increase. Except he misclicked and increased the proportions of her breasts by 150%. After a good laugh was had by the design team, the mistake stayed and a marketing strategy was quickly decided on.

 Sex sells. Everything from beer commercials to non-profit drives to save sea turtles has used (ahem) titillation to get us to buy into their product. PETA makes a big to-do every year about how their sexy vegetarian ads are banned for being too hot. Coke bottles have got their shape because the designers took inspiration from the curvy female form.


Mystique & RogueExcellent cosplaying, ladies.

Look at that lovely blue lady on the left, she’s one of the most appropriately named characters in the Marvel canon. For those who aren’t comic book fans, allow me to introduce Mystique. And true to her name, it is her mystique that makes her such a compelling character. For every question she deigns or is forced to answer, she leaves behind three that remain a mystery. She’s got her shape-changing, blue fingers in nearly every conspiracy the X-men universe has hosted. When she declares love, friendship, or even mutual interest, there’s no telling if she’s genuine. The pieces of the story we do know show unplumbed depths of heartbreak, passion, and hatred. Our mutant friend takes things a little far, being so secretive that  you never know if you can trust her (probably you shouldn’t), but the same properties that make readers sit up and take notice when she appears on the page can be used to hook someone’s interest in your message.

Obviously I don’t you mean you should be untrustworthy; Mystique (the property, not the character) is about getting people eager to learn more.  What’s in the Tiffany blue box? Why does Rolling Rock have a “33” stamped on the bottle? Are there really only two guys who know the secret formula for Coke? What happened to D.B. Cooper and who was Jack the Ripper?

(December 30, 2011 edit: See that little “read more” just below this paragraph. That’s Mystique. If I’ve done a good job above the fold, you’ll want to read more about what’s below.)


Prestige (Business Class)

Are you elite enough?

What’s your XBox Gamerscore? (Mine is three times higher than my husband’s). How many achievement points do you have in World of Warcraft? (My husband has double mine, but I have more PvP honor points.) Do you still have your original NES? How many games do you have in your Steam library? Have you ever beaten a Korean at Starcraft?  What’s your ladder ranking? What edition of D&D do you play? Do you have the vanity pet that only came with the special edition of the game? (4|\|  ‘/0|_| r33|)  1337  5p33|<  |\|00|3? (Can you read leet speek, n00b?) Do you even understand the questions I’m asking?

What all these have in common is Prestige. They are markers that you are getting further within the concentric rings of what’s important to your tribe. If we were talking about music I might ask you how many concert ticket stubs you had. If we were talking about hunting I’d admire the twelve-point buck mounted on your wall. The sartorial might admire either haute coture gowns, or the awesomely retro t-shirt found at a thrift store. But they almost certainly wouldn’t be impressed by the twelve point buck.