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HOW DOES MAGIC HAPPEN? The Ogilvy advertising legend—“one of the leading minds in the world of branding” (NPR)—explores the art and science of conjuring irresistible products and ideas. "A breakthrough book. Wonderfully applicable to about everything in life." —Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of The Black Swan “Veins of wisdom emerge regularly and brilliantly from these pa HOW DOES MAGIC HAPPEN? The Ogilvy advertising legend—“one of the leading minds in the world of branding” (NPR)—explores the art and science of conjuring irresistible products and ideas. "A breakthrough book. Wonderfully applicable to about everything in life." —Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of The Black Swan “Veins of wisdom emerge regularly and brilliantly from these pages. Don't miss this book.”  —Robert B. Cialdini, author of Influence Why is Red Bull so popular, though everyone—everyone!—hates the taste? Humans are, in a word, irrational, basing decisions as much on subtle external signals (that little blue can) as on objective qualities (flavor, price, quality). The surrounding world, meanwhile, is irreducibly complex and random. This means future success can’t be projected on any accounting spreadsheet. To strike gold, you must master the dark art and curious science of conjuring irresistible ideas: alchemy. Based on thirty years of field work inside the largest experiment in human behavior ever conceived—the forever-unfolding pageant of consumer capitalism—Alchemy, the revolutionary book by Ogilvy advertising legend Rory Sutherland, whose TED talks have been viewed nearly seven million times, decodes human behavior, blending leading-edge scientific research, absurdly entertaining storytelling, deep psychological insight, and practical case studies from his storied career working on campaigns for AmEx, Microsoft, and others. Heralded as “one of the leading minds in the world of branding” by NPR and "the don of modern advertising" by The Times, Sutherland is a unique thought leader, as comfortable exchanging ideas with Nobel Prize winners Daniel Kahneman and Richard Thaler (both interviewed in these pages) as he is crafting the next product launch. His unconventional and relentlessly curious approach has led him to discover that the most compelling secrets to human decision-making can be found in surprising places: What can honey bees teach us about creating a sustainable business? How could budget airlines show us how to market a healthcare system? Why is it better to be vaguely right than precisely wrong? What might soccer penalty kicks teach us about the dangers of risk-aversion? Better “branding,” Sutherland reveals, can also be employed not just to sell products, but to promote a variety of social aims, like getting people to pay taxes, improving public health outcomes, or encouraging more women to pursue careers in tech. Equally startling and profound, Sutherland’s journey through the strange world of decision making is filled with astonishing lessons for all aspects of life and business.  


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HOW DOES MAGIC HAPPEN? The Ogilvy advertising legend—“one of the leading minds in the world of branding” (NPR)—explores the art and science of conjuring irresistible products and ideas. "A breakthrough book. Wonderfully applicable to about everything in life." —Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of The Black Swan “Veins of wisdom emerge regularly and brilliantly from these pa HOW DOES MAGIC HAPPEN? The Ogilvy advertising legend—“one of the leading minds in the world of branding” (NPR)—explores the art and science of conjuring irresistible products and ideas. "A breakthrough book. Wonderfully applicable to about everything in life." —Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of The Black Swan “Veins of wisdom emerge regularly and brilliantly from these pages. Don't miss this book.”  —Robert B. Cialdini, author of Influence Why is Red Bull so popular, though everyone—everyone!—hates the taste? Humans are, in a word, irrational, basing decisions as much on subtle external signals (that little blue can) as on objective qualities (flavor, price, quality). The surrounding world, meanwhile, is irreducibly complex and random. This means future success can’t be projected on any accounting spreadsheet. To strike gold, you must master the dark art and curious science of conjuring irresistible ideas: alchemy. Based on thirty years of field work inside the largest experiment in human behavior ever conceived—the forever-unfolding pageant of consumer capitalism—Alchemy, the revolutionary book by Ogilvy advertising legend Rory Sutherland, whose TED talks have been viewed nearly seven million times, decodes human behavior, blending leading-edge scientific research, absurdly entertaining storytelling, deep psychological insight, and practical case studies from his storied career working on campaigns for AmEx, Microsoft, and others. Heralded as “one of the leading minds in the world of branding” by NPR and "the don of modern advertising" by The Times, Sutherland is a unique thought leader, as comfortable exchanging ideas with Nobel Prize winners Daniel Kahneman and Richard Thaler (both interviewed in these pages) as he is crafting the next product launch. His unconventional and relentlessly curious approach has led him to discover that the most compelling secrets to human decision-making can be found in surprising places: What can honey bees teach us about creating a sustainable business? How could budget airlines show us how to market a healthcare system? Why is it better to be vaguely right than precisely wrong? What might soccer penalty kicks teach us about the dangers of risk-aversion? Better “branding,” Sutherland reveals, can also be employed not just to sell products, but to promote a variety of social aims, like getting people to pay taxes, improving public health outcomes, or encouraging more women to pursue careers in tech. Equally startling and profound, Sutherland’s journey through the strange world of decision making is filled with astonishing lessons for all aspects of life and business.  

30 review for Alchemy: The Dark Art and Curious Science of Creating Magic in Brands, Business, and Life

  1. 4 out of 5

    K.J. Charles

    The premise of this book by an ad man is that sometimes you have to use non-obvious or seemingly irrational ways to sell things to people because we don't all behave with strict rationality. ('Ideas' in the title refers almost exclusively to making and selling products, and occasionally to selling behaviour changes.) This is potentially very interesting and does have some very good insights about framing choices and changing minds, if you sift through the chaff. Unfortunately there is a lot of c The premise of this book by an ad man is that sometimes you have to use non-obvious or seemingly irrational ways to sell things to people because we don't all behave with strict rationality. ('Ideas' in the title refers almost exclusively to making and selling products, and occasionally to selling behaviour changes.) This is potentially very interesting and does have some very good insights about framing choices and changing minds, if you sift through the chaff. Unfortunately there is a lot of chaff, and most of it is shed by the massive Worzel Gummidge army of strawmen the author assembles to support his arguments. For example, the author explains that US companies give terrible holiday to workers because it's considered to dent productivity. He says: "There is an abundance of supporting evidence" for the fact that giving workers generous holiday doesn't hinder and probably helps productivity, but nevertheless "in the left-brain logical model of the world, productivity is proportional to hours worked, and a doubling of holiday time must lead to a corresponding 4% fall in salary." This is absolute garbage. It is not a "logical" response to ignore something for which there is abundant evidence: it's very stupid. The author again and again sets up a 'logical' position that is nothing of the sort to prove his thesis that it's clever to appeal to people's irrational instincts and gut feelings. But he never stops to note that eg "I will get more work out of people if I never give them time off" is just as much a gut-feeling irrational instinct as "I will buy this if the packet is long and thin". It's full of this sort of spurious crap. He claims that the idea of increasing sales by putting prices up is "to an economist, entirely illogical", which...I mean, the shelves are literally full of economist books about this stuff. He says that an economist would answer the question "Why do people go to restaurants?" with "Because they are hungry" and would not think about any other reasons, just as an economist would design a chair only to support weight and not to be comfortable, because economists apparently don't want either to sell chairs or to sit in them. He says that miso soup is popular only because "we" (Westerners) see Japanese people drinking it and assume it must be good--not because anyone likes it. There is no explanation of how come Japanese people like it (Japanese people aren't 'we'), or acknowledgement that maybe he just personally doesn't like miso soup: no, miso soup is a scam and you, a Western person, have bought into the scam because you've been suckered. Basically it's full of statements that don't stand up to critical thought. He notes sarcastically that women spend two trillion dollars a year on makeup and are "let off rather lightly for this level of extravagance. If men spent two trillion dollars a year on something totally irrational--building model train sets, say--they would be excoriated for it." I'm not even going to bother unpicking the layers of sexism, privilege-blindness, nonsense, and outright untruth in this ridiculous paragraph, but it's fascinating that this jerk has spent his entire career as well as this entire book finding ways to sell stuff that isn't a rational necessity to people, then condemns women for buying it. AND WHILE I AM HERE: there's a chapter on the placebo effect which says perfectly sensible things about exploiting the effect for everyone's benefit (eg why not colour aspirin red, because it feels more dramatic to take red pills) and then suggests that for the same reason we should encourage the use of homeopathy. That just sums this book up--Mr. Too Clever For Logic apparently can't see any difference between better marketing of an effective product and selling something as medicine when we know for a fact it doesn't work. There is a point where marketing becomes active dishonesty and this careers over it. *And* it's shoddy, with a bunch of text errors. "There are five main reasons" for X behaviour he says, and lists four. He says a website does X clever thing in 'a single sentence' and then gives the quote, which is several sentences. It appears Penguin didn't bother to have this edited, and I can't really blame them as the temptation would be to put a red pen through so much of it. There are some genuinely good ideas in here which serve as useful tips on working out exactly how a company is trying to sell you stuff, but I can't recommend ploughing through the waffle, nonsense, strawmen, and self-satisfaction to reach them. Bah.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Phil Deutsch

    A whirlwind of hot air Rory Sutherland really wants you to know how smart he is. Not only that, but he also wants you to know how stupid everyone else is. Consultants, accountants, economists, stock market analysts: all idiots. According to Mr. Sutherland, only creative people like him who don't succumb to blindly following reason, logic and science will be successful. The book reminds me of that friend who keeps bragging about their fantastic stock market picks - always neglecting to mention when A whirlwind of hot air Rory Sutherland really wants you to know how smart he is. Not only that, but he also wants you to know how stupid everyone else is. Consultants, accountants, economists, stock market analysts: all idiots. According to Mr. Sutherland, only creative people like him who don't succumb to blindly following reason, logic and science will be successful. The book reminds me of that friend who keeps bragging about their fantastic stock market picks - always neglecting to mention when an investment was a dud. It is full of just-so stories and ad-hoc rationalisations of that one time where a price increase boosted sales or when reducing costs led profits to fall. There is no underlying theory or falsifiable claim in the whole book, and in fact the author often claims that "the opposite of a good idea is also a good idea", making the whole exercise pretty pointless. He completely ignores the whole field of behavioural economics and writes about how sometimes people behave rationally, but makes no attempt to try to specify when, how or why that happens, or where this insight can be reliably applied. In between, he explains why he is pro Trump (because the fact that his actions are impossible to predict makes him a good negotiator), why quotas for women are not useful (we just need to make STEM more attractive to women) and why racism isn't really about the colour of people's skin but about the strance accents of POCs. It's only redeeming quality is that the book is at stretches quite enjoyable to read, and Sutherland knows how to sell himself and tell a story. Overall though it is hard to recommend a book that's so clearly lacking any real insight or substance.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Rishabh Srivastava

    Delightful read. Breezy and irreverent. The author talks about scenarios where a purely "logical" approach can lead to worse outcomes for business. Had some thought-provoking points. But wasn't particularly well structured. My key takeaways were: 1. Economic theory is an insufficient way to identify value proposition - both in B2B and B2C scenarios. Loss avoidance and personal status gains are a much stronger motivators than prospects for economic gains 2. The way a question is phrased can influence Delightful read. Breezy and irreverent. The author talks about scenarios where a purely "logical" approach can lead to worse outcomes for business. Had some thought-provoking points. But wasn't particularly well structured. My key takeaways were: 1. Economic theory is an insufficient way to identify value proposition - both in B2B and B2C scenarios. Loss avoidance and personal status gains are a much stronger motivators than prospects for economic gains 2. The way a question is phrased can influence the decision. For instance, if a waiter asks “Sparkling” or “Bottled” before serving you water at a restaurant, you’re unlikely to say “Tap” 3. A Management Consultant would define something narrowly, automate or streamline it, and then regard the savings as profit -- regardless of it's downside consequences. Be wary of narrowly defined problems 4. Value is in the hearts and minds of the valuer. You don’t need to tinker with atomic structure to turn lead into gold. You can appeal to human psychology to change perceptions 5. Always remember to scent the soap. Don’t just sell utility, sell the experience. Why people use things, and what thing is meant for, are not necessarily the same things

  4. 4 out of 5

    Susan (aka Just My Op)

    I was given an advance readers copy of this book. While ostensibly a book for advertisers and marketers, I wanted to read this because I wondered why Red Bull is so popular, why some of the ads that seem so awful to me are nevertheless successful. But mostly, I wanted another glimpse into how our minds work. This book did not disappoint. It was both insightful and humorous. “The advertisements which bees find useful are flowers – and if you think about it, a flower is simply a weed with an advert I was given an advance readers copy of this book. While ostensibly a book for advertisers and marketers, I wanted to read this because I wondered why Red Bull is so popular, why some of the ads that seem so awful to me are nevertheless successful. But mostly, I wanted another glimpse into how our minds work. This book did not disappoint. It was both insightful and humorous. “The advertisements which bees find useful are flowers – and if you think about it, a flower is simply a weed with an advertising budget.” And the forthright honesty of a Porsche ad was a bit crude but quite attention getting, before, as the author noted, “...I imagine the Porsche dealership stripped it of its franchise.” This book has pages of footnotes, generally quite entertaining footnotes. Although I have zero interest in becoming a a marketer of any sort, I do think this book is good for anyone who wants to be entertained and likes knowing a bit of psychological behind decisions. Again, not being in advertising, I don't know if this has new information for such people or not, but for me, it was mostly enjoyable. I did lose a bit of interest in the last few pages about how to brand my non-existent product, but overall, it kept my interest.

  5. 5 out of 5

    jasmine sun

    3x longer than it needs to be, and nothing new if you’ve read any pop/business psychology before (or have a humanistic background). the tips are better for life hackers and marketers than attempts to improve the world, so i’d disregard his comments on social/governance issues, which he comes off as pretty ignorant about. i will say that the anecdotes and short chapters make it easy and enjoyable to read. and if you haven’t read similar books, it might introduce new information on why psychologic 3x longer than it needs to be, and nothing new if you’ve read any pop/business psychology before (or have a humanistic background). the tips are better for life hackers and marketers than attempts to improve the world, so i’d disregard his comments on social/governance issues, which he comes off as pretty ignorant about. i will say that the anecdotes and short chapters make it easy and enjoyable to read. and if you haven’t read similar books, it might introduce new information on why psychological tweaks are often more effective than material or technological ones.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Piinhuann Chew

    To be honest my rating is 4.5 stars but the Goodreads' system doesn't allow rating "1/2 star". This book first flipped my brain upside down, then it mashed my brain vigorously and I found that my brain became very pulpy and mushy after finished reading this book. The author successfully proved that conventional logic and wisdom fails more than what people think through many real life examples in the book. The central message of the book is that "No one knows anything!". Even Physicists who are Nob To be honest my rating is 4.5 stars but the Goodreads' system doesn't allow rating "1/2 star". This book first flipped my brain upside down, then it mashed my brain vigorously and I found that my brain became very pulpy and mushy after finished reading this book. The author successfully proved that conventional logic and wisdom fails more than what people think through many real life examples in the book. The central message of the book is that "No one knows anything!". Even Physicists who are Nobel Laureates managed to invent/proved their work through a large element of serendipity and accidents. However, the author also cautioned the readers and the world that innovation is very expensive and very hard mainly because every single human has the tendency to focus on "not doing wrong" instead of "doing great". Humans have the tendency to be defensive than to be offensive. Hence innovation is a tall order unless everyone is open to it. The word "Alchemy" in the book title is more of a metaphor of saying "magic", like how the alchemists in the old days intended to turn low cheap metal (lead) into great metal (gold). Although the alchemists failed to do so in chemistry, the author believes we can still make alchemy happens in other areas (eg: business, policy making, human interactions etc) by using very cheap techniques but making great products/services. After reading this book, I have to allow my brain to enter the fridge for a long time so that it can be frozen and switched back to the original solid form....though it will never be as same as the original unmashed form.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Aylla

    This book should come with a warning for its display of sexism and white, wealthy middle-aged eurocentric male views. If you can get past that, you might find some of the ideas interesting. The acknowledges his children for their help on political correctness. Well, either his children did not do a good enough job, or he did not listen to them.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jim Razinha

    I had a difficult time getting into this book, an uncorrected proof received for review from the publisher through LibraryThing. Barely forty pages over a miss and miss (as opposed to hit or miss) month and a half. As the illogic would have it, 3.5 hours spent waiting for the chance to be told the documents I brought to renew my driver license were insufficient (grrr) gave me an extended window to dig in, and dig in I did. Lots of margin notes and sticky note flags. Sifting them for review relev I had a difficult time getting into this book, an uncorrected proof received for review from the publisher through LibraryThing. Barely forty pages over a miss and miss (as opposed to hit or miss) month and a half. As the illogic would have it, 3.5 hours spent waiting for the chance to be told the documents I brought to renew my driver license were insufficient (grrr) gave me an extended window to dig in, and dig in I did. Lots of margin notes and sticky note flags. Sifting them for review relevance is yet another challenge! [For the publisher, there are some editorial comments at the end.] First, I requested a review because the subtitle presented ("The Dark Art and Curious Science of Creating Magic in Brands, Business, and Life") caught my attention and I'd hoped to glean some tidbits for my wife's business. It was a curiosity that another subtitle...and a different title were associated with the ISBN! Another subtitle: "The Surprising Power of Ideas That Don't Make Sense." The other title: "The Thing Which Has No Name". Huh. I knew that this was previously published in some form in the UK, but normally I can find a match for what was on the available list. (I did find a TEDTalk of a similar name to the "The Thing" version.) Sutherland is in advertising, hence the subtitle of my edition. Second, footnotes have become a rarity in the nonfictions I've read in the past 10 plus years. Endnotes also seem to be going out of vogue. David McCullough maddeningly doesn't include any notes!, but I think the most heinous trick is what I can't find the term for, so I've taken to calling "un-noted endnotes" (those notes you stumble upon after you've finished, and it takes nearly a complete re-read to figure out where they came from and how they apply.) Anyway, Sutherland uses footnotes. And typographical signs. Those aren't as friendly as enumeration, in my opinion. In the Introduction, Sutherland claims the "alchemy of the book's title is the science of knowing what economists are wrong about." I don't quite agree with that...oh, he does cite science here and there, but I think his thesis is more empirical in nature. He sees T as the irrational entity he is, and cites his irrational approach to trade as being more effective than a logical Hillary because "[i]rrational people are much more powerful than rational people because their threats are so much more convincing." Probably true...but no reason to ever put an irrational person in charge of anything. In my opinion. Sutherland says Being slightly bonkers can be a good negotiating strategy: being rational means you are predictable, and being predictable makes you weak. Hillary thinks like an economists, while Donald is a game theorist, and is able to achieve with one tweet what would take Clinton four years of congressional infighting. That's alchemy; you may hate it, but it works. So Alchemy is chaotic lunacy. And I don't know that "it works"...despite the rest of the book. On the surface, and the whole, so many of the successes illustrated seem like accidents. (That quote was painful to type. T as a "theorist"?! And no rational adult can ever not feel immature using that term to twit something - guess that pegs me, right? But you might be wrong...) More from the Introduction - and why I was wondering if I'd ever get out of it - Sutherland has a subsection of a subsection where he warns "Be careful before calling something nonsense." Ordinarily, ,that might be good advice, but he explains with an example of a "1996 survey on the place of religion in public life in America [he's British]" by the Heritage Institute that found 1. Churchgoers are more likely to be married, less likely to be divorced or single and more likely to manifest high levels of satisfaction in their marriage. 2. Church attendance is the most important predictor of marital stability and happiness. 3. The regular practice of religion helps poor people move out of poverty. Regular church attendance, for example, is particularly instrumental in helping young people escape the poverty of inner-city life. 4. Regular religious practice generally inoculates individuals against a host of social problems, including suicide, drug abuse, out-of-wedlock births, crime and divorce. 5. The regular practice of religion also encourages such beneficial effects on mental health as less depression, higher self-esteem and greater family and marital happiness. 6. In repairing damage caused by alcoholism, drug addiction and marital breakdown, religious belief and practice are a major source of recovery. [And...wait for it...] 7. Regular practice of religion is good for personal physical health: It increases longevity, improves one's chances of recovery from illness and lessens the incidence of many killer diseases. Well, I did say he was British. Here's where the rational reader steps in: the Heritage Institute is a profoundly right-wing entity with an agenda and would it surprise anyone to know that the questions might be skewed to achieve the results desired? Sutherland says "Religion feels incompatible with modern life because it seems [my emphasis] to involve delusional beliefs, but if the above results [again, know the source before citing] came from a trial of a new drug, we would want to add it to tap water. Just because we don't know why it works, we should not be blind to the fact that it does." He used one of those typographical footnotes to say "Take that, Dawkins!" Mind you, I'm 22 pages into this book and thinking "what a pile of woo he's peddling!" I suspect Sutherland does not know of the 2006 STEP Project ("Study of the Therapeutic Effects of Intercessory Prayer") that found no difference between prayer and placebo in coronary artery bypass surgery patient recovery...except that there was a slight increase... in complications ... in patients who knew they were being prayed for! Okay...it did get better, if a little more than scattered in doing so. In his Part 1, On the Uses and Abuses of Reason, bold title of a subsection states "How You Ask the Question Affects the Answer". Spot on - see the studies of Elizabeth Loftus. (And substantiate my point about the Heritage Institute survey. Wisdom in hiring for diversity - ten people hiring one person each does not result in more diversity than one person hiring 10 people. He notes correctly that one person choosing a group will instinctively use a broader variance than one person hiring one person.The reason for this is that with one person we look for conformity, but with ten people we look for complementarity.Good stuff, and puts into words something already in my mental toolbox that was yet unnamed. He does talk about accidents being a part of discovery: "for all we obsess about scientific methodology, [Andre] Geim [discoverer of graphene] knows it is far more common for a mixture of luck, experimentation and instinctive guesswork to provide the decisive breakthrough; reason only comes into play afterwards." Isaac Asimov is credited with saying "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not "Eureka!" (I found it!) but "That's funny ..."" But oddly, in the same section, he talks about businesses and politics becoming more boring and sensible than they needs to be. And we "approve reasonable things too quickly, while counterintuitive ideas are frequently treated with suspicion." And on the next page, he observes "We should test counterintuitive things - because no one else will." The lesson is that the disruptive one will get attention, whether good or bad, and sometimes the disruption works. Good quote from Cedric Villani, mathematician and winner of a Fields Medal: "There are key two steps a mathematician uses. He uses intuition to guess the right problem and the right solution and then logic to prove it." In Part 2: An Alchemist's Tale (or Why Magic Really Still Exists), Sutherland shares one question on a test an ad agency used for prospective copywriters: Here are two identical 25 cent coins. Sell me the one on the right. One candidate answered he would take the coin, dip it in Marilyn Monroe's bag and then say, "I'll sell you a genuine 25-cent coin as owned by Marilyn Monroe." (I'm quoting. Perhaps "quarter" is an unfamiliar term?) The lesson? "We don't value things; we value their meaning." I remember my older sons wanting a Pokemon Charizard card in the early 1990s. It was "rare". Despite there being hundreds of thousands printed, there was a perception of rarity because so many more of the other cards were out there in the market. For them, there was value applied. Another way to attribute value is to massage the semantics of a product, situation, activity. His example, "downsizing" as a voluntary move from a no longer needed larger home into a smaller one can be perceived (or communicated) as a decision of preference rather than a settlement of financial need. Sutherland says, Create a name, and you've created a norm. Part 3: Signalling, Sutherland talks of signalling expenditure in different ways to engender trust. One of the reasons why customer service is such a strong indicator of how we judge a company is because we are aware that it costs money and time to provide. A company which is willing to spend time after you have bought and paid for a product to make sure you are not disappointed with it is more likely to be trustworthy and decent than the one which loses all interest in you as soon as the cheque has cleared.And it's often the small touches that signal perceived cost. My wife includes little gift bags with her customers' orders. They cost her fractions, and the varying contents are often things the customer would never look twice at in a store, but those customers treasure the thought...and cost...and care that goes into including those trinkets. As Sutherland says, "costliness carries meaning". So, Part 4 (Subconscious Hacking: Signalling to Ourselves) had my mind screaming "NO!!" a bit. I should confide that Sutherland mentions Jonathan Haidt a few times and quotes from Haidt's book The Righteous Mind; I thought Haidt's research, approach and conclusions flawed terribly in that book. But I did liek this reminder from Haidt: "The conscious mind thinks it's the Oval Office, when in reality it's the press office." (We're rationalizing after the fact.) Sutherland appears to be a fan/proponent of placebos and those probably do work for his target audiences (recall, he's in advertising...he wants to sell and advertising prey on the weak minded and easily influenced - my assessment, not explicitly his.) In one section he says "To recalibrate our immune response to levels appropriate to the more benign conditions we experience in everyday modern life, it may be necessary to deploy some benign bullshit." The footnote tacked to this was...and I cringe as I type this..."If that means homeopathy, so be it." NOOOOO!!!!! Homeopathy, in addition to being a ridiculous scam, is far from benign! People ignorant of the nonsense (note I do not use his "non-sense") can suffer and even hurt/infect others if their malady is untreated. His opening example (that I'm only first referencing here instead at the top of this review) of Red Bull as a successful commercial placebo - he says hacking the unconscious; people buy it even though it tastes bad, comes in a smaller than normal size, and is expensive - might prompt and unconscious inference of small size implying higher potency. Those of us who are resistant to most advertising think rather "that's an expensive gimmick you're hawking there". From his Part 6: Psychophysics (his term), sometimes small space consideration trick the mind - a Boeing 787 has no more room than a 777, but the brilliant designers (one of which is a psychologist) created a slightly larger space in the entrance creates an "impression of airiness". And this line "Even giving a tax a different name can have a colossal effect on whether people are willing to pay it." One name comes to my mind: "lottery". Here's a good quote: "Behaviour comes first; attitude changes to keep up." That flies in the face of convention that attitudes drive behavior. Give people recycling bins and require them to separate...they probably become more environmentally aware. He says "Give people a reason and they may not supply the behaviour; but give people a behaviour and they'll have no problem supplying the reason themselves. So...despite the raw beginning, and plenty of quibbling points, there are nuggets of value here. They just take work to find...which may quite be intentional, but I don't know. Stir things up, take risks, definitely question "we've always done it this way" (that's my reduction...he dances around similar concepts), always question anyway (mine again, but like art, it's what I took away. And I got another jumping off point, a book to find : Nassim Taleb's Antifragile. ------------------- Notes to editor, which may have already been caught or are too late to correct: Page 10 of my proof copy, Introduction, "Some Things Are Dishwasher-proof..." section, paragraph says "In theory, you can't be too logical, but in practice you can. Yet we ever seem to believe that it is possible for logical solutions..." should read never. (Quibbling? No, accuracy...and it caught my eye...I probably missed dozens of other ...suggested ... edits!) Page 37, section heading "THE FOUR S-ES", Sutherland says immediately underneath "There are five main reasons why we ..." But he lists only four (yes, one is technically only pronounced as an "s". Page 160, section heading "Psycho-logical Design:...", second full paragraph, "by removing the recording function from Walkmans, Sony produced a that which had a lower range of functionality..." Something needs to be between "a" and "that'; I suspect it should read "a product that" Page 349, footnote "As John Lennon observed, 'Time spent doping nothing is rarely wasted'..." John Lennon didn't say that and the attribution didn't start showing up until long after his death.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sean Goh

    Should be required reading for all the technocrats weaned at the altar of Logos. Question assumptions, ask silly questions, and remember that people (mostly) aren't Homo Econominus. ___ The economy is not a machine. It is a highly complex system. Machines don't allow for magic, complex systems do. Engineering does not allow for magic. Psychology does. If we allow the world to be run by logical people, we will only discover logical things. But in real life, most things aren't logical - they are psyc Should be required reading for all the technocrats weaned at the altar of Logos. Question assumptions, ask silly questions, and remember that people (mostly) aren't Homo Econominus. ___ The economy is not a machine. It is a highly complex system. Machines don't allow for magic, complex systems do. Engineering does not allow for magic. Psychology does. If we allow the world to be run by logical people, we will only discover logical things. But in real life, most things aren't logical - they are psycho-logical (i.e. involve emotion with post-hoc rationalisation). This book is not an attack on the many healthy uses of logic and reason, but it is an attack on a dangerous kind of logical overreach, which demands that every solution should have a convincing rationale before it can even be considered or attempted. Give yourself the permission to suggest slightly silly things, or ask silly questions. Irrational people are much more powerful than rational people, because their threats are so much more convincing. Being slightly bonkers can be a good negotiating strategy: being rational means you are predictable, and being predictable makes you weak. My problem with Marxism is that it makes too much sense. Once you accept that there may be a purpose to things that are hard to justify, you will come to another conclusion: it is perfectly possible to be both rational and wrong. Logical ideas often fail because logic demands universally applicable laws but humans, unlike atoms, are not consistent enough. Two amounts one is prepared to spend in a store : "zero" or "a lot". Purchasing expensive treats or finding bargains both have a dopamine rush. In solving political disputes "rationally" we assume that people interact with all other people in the same way, independent of context, but we don't. Economic exchanges are heavily affected by context, and attempts to shoehorn human behaviour into a one size fits all straitjacket are flawed from the outset - they are driven by our love of certainty. This can only come from theory, which by its very universal nature is free from context. You can never be fired for being logical. If your reasoning is sound and unimaginative, even if you fail, it is unlikely you will take much blame. It is much easier to be fired for being illogical than unimaginative. The reason we do not ask basic questions is because once our brain provides a sound answer, we stop looking for better ones; with a little alchemy, better answers can be found. Loss of power and control can create far stronger feelings of annoyance than loss of punctuality. However we cannot distinguish between the two causes, and are more likely to say "I'm angry cuz my bloody plane's late" rather than "I'm angry because inadequate information has left me powerless". Problem solving is a strangely status conscious job: there are high-status approaches and low-status approaches (think consulting/coding vs design). Science seems to fall short of its ideals whenever the theoretical elegance of the solution or the intellectual credentials of the solver are valued above the practicality of an idea. Perhaps advertising agencies are valuable simply because they create a culture in which it is acceptable to ask daft questions and make foolish suggestions. If you want a simple life, unladen by weird decisions, do not marry anyone who has worked in the creative department of an advertising agency. For good and ill, the job instills a paranoid fear of the obvious and fosters the urge to question every orthodoxy and to rail against every consensus. When I ask an economist, the answer always boils down to bribing people. Reasoning is a priceless tool for evaluating solutions, and essential if you wish to defend them, but it doesn't always do a good job of finding those solutions in the first place. Amazon can be a very big business selling one thing to 47 people, but if it can't sell 47 things to one person, there's a limit to how big it can be. There is a difference between 10% of the time for 10 people, and 100% of the time for 1 person. A person doing recruitment may think they want to hire the best person for the job, but subconsciously they want to avoid hiring someone who is bad. Low variance will be as appealing as high average performance. Hiring a group of people makes for less conventional candidates. There is much potential to increase the level of diversity in employment, education or politics without imposing quotas. "Find one or two things your boss is rubbish at and be quite good at them". Complementary talent is far more valuable than conformist talent. The prejudice we apply to a lone black or female candidate might also apply to a lone "anything" candidate. Test counterintuitive things, because no one else will. The model of reason as evolved to defend decisions makes reason not the brain's science / R&D function, but the PR and legal department. We don't value things, we value their meaning. What they are is determined by the laws of physics, but what they mean is determined by the laws of psychology. The nature of our attention affects the nature of our experience. Creating a name for a behaviour implicitly creates a norm for it. Even when designing for the able-bodied, it is a good principle to assume that the user is operating under constraints (e.g. injured, hands fulls etc). By removing the record function from the Walkman, Sony clarified what the device was for. Technical design term for this is "affordance". Lower range of functionality, far greater potential to change behaviour. You might think that people instinctively want to make the best decision, but there is a stronger force that animates business decision-making: the desire to not get fired or blamed. The best insurance against blame is to use conventional logic in every decision. In nature it is often necessary for something that can't be faked. Information is free, sincerity is not. Without a distinctive brand identity, there is no incentive to improve your product - and no way for customers to choose well, or to reward the best manufacturer. (brand equity, goodwill) Without the feedback loop made possible by distinctive and distinguishable petals (for flowers) or brands, nothing can improve. One problem (among many) of Soviet-style command economies is that they only work if people know what they want and need, and can define and express that preference adequately. But that is impossible, because not only do people not know what they want, they don't even know why they like the things they buy. In some ways, we need markets because prices are the only reliable means of getting consumers to tell the truth about what they want. The mammalian brain has a deep-set preference for control and certainty. The single best investment made by the London Underground for increasing passenger satisfaction was adding dot matrix displays to inform travellers of the time outstanding before the next train arrived. Big data carries with it the promise of certainty, but in truth it usually provides a huge amount of information about a narrow field of knowledge. People do not choose brand A over brand B because they think brand A is better, but because they are more certain it is good. (minimising variance) Habit, which can often appear irrational, is perfectly sensible if your purpose is to avoid unpleasant surprises. Blame, unlike credit, always finds a home. Defensive decision-making: not to maximise overall welfare, but minimise damage to the decision maker in event of a negative outcome. The job of a designer is hence that of a translator. To play with the source material of objective reality in order to create the right perceptual and emotional outcome. Compared to Brits, Americans mostly speak the same language, but tend to interpret it more literally. If you put "low in fat" or any other health indicators on the packaging, you'll make the contents taste worse. The old advertising belief in having a unique selling proposition also exploits the focusing illusion. Products are easier to sell if they offer one quality that others do not. Even if this feature is slightly gratuitous, by highlighting a unique attribute, you amplify the sense of loss a buyer might feel if they buy a competing product. One way a business can reduce their environmental footprint is to sell a product in concentrated form, which reduces packaging and distribution costs, and can also reduce the volume of chemicals used. It is only the behaviour that matters, not the reason for adopting it. Give people a reason and they may not supply the behaviour, but give them a behaviour and they'll have no problem supplying the reason themselves. Soap was sold on its ability to increase your attractiveness more than on its hygienic powers, and while it contained many chemicals to improve hygiene, it was also scented to make it attractive - supporting the unconscious promise of the advertising rather than the rational value of the product. The scent was not to make it effective, but to make it attractive to consumers. If we are in denial about unconscious motivation, we forget to scent the soap. Highways are high on optimality but low on optionality. Meetings without food (e.g. biscuits) take on a slightly unpleasant timbre by violating the most basic principles of hospitality. It is widely known in the training community that the biggest gain from a company's investment in training comes in the form of employee loyalty.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Tom Ausra

    Mind blowing

  11. 4 out of 5

    Eric Waschak

    This was quite fun to read and helped tie together more of the concepts I’ve been mulling over from Cialdini’s Influence and The Undoing Project (a bio of Tversky and Kahneman).

  12. 4 out of 5

    Anurag Dahal

    By the means of unconventional logic and for some irrational reasons, I give this book five stars. Lol

  13. 5 out of 5

    Brew Schmuck

    An average book that could’ve been so much more had Sutherland been more patient and his editor willing to work with it. It suffers horribly from the “Nassim Taleb syndrome” of repeating the same sentence over and over hoping no one will say anything. Well I’ll say something. It’s okay if the total amount of material you got amounts to like 50 printed pages. You don’t need to play with giant empty white spaces and repetitions to get it to 300. In short the book starts off well and I honestly beli An average book that could’ve been so much more had Sutherland been more patient and his editor willing to work with it. It suffers horribly from the “Nassim Taleb syndrome” of repeating the same sentence over and over hoping no one will say anything. Well I’ll say something. It’s okay if the total amount of material you got amounts to like 50 printed pages. You don’t need to play with giant empty white spaces and repetitions to get it to 300. In short the book starts off well and I honestly believed I’m in for a five star one, a rarity nowadays. Then it goes to the notion of signalling where for some reason Sutherland had nothing to say so he just said the same thing, but for 50 pages. Naturally the quality dips severely from there on. The few ideas in this brick of a book if we consider page to unique content ratio, really come off as a ball of spaghetti which the author keeps throwing at the wall. Like really throwing over and over and over in some mad routine in hope for something to stick, but the spaghetti is like 3 kilos pasta and half a meatball with no parmesan or tomato sauce so nothing really can stick. Overall a sad time waste.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Andrus

    If you need to improve public transport service, the rational option is to invest in new roads, tracks, vehicles, stations -and this will set you back tens/hundreds of millions. The alternative is to invest a couple of hundred grand into better displays that tell you exactly when the next train/bus is due. Less anxiety > increased perception of quality for a fraction of cost. Rory Sutherland calls this lateral problem solving "alchemy", and the book is full of related anecdotes and examples. And If you need to improve public transport service, the rational option is to invest in new roads, tracks, vehicles, stations -and this will set you back tens/hundreds of millions. The alternative is to invest a couple of hundred grand into better displays that tell you exactly when the next train/bus is due. Less anxiety > increased perception of quality for a fraction of cost. Rory Sutherland calls this lateral problem solving "alchemy", and the book is full of related anecdotes and examples. And Rory is not just some branding guru telling you to be "creative" but a direct response guy who has decades of results and case studies to back his claim up. What this book doesn't have is a linear flow or process to follow, but then again it'd be strange if there unquestionable logic or a precise recipe for alchemy. 6 stars for the main idea and style of storytelling (I listened to an audiobook), 4 stars for the writing and editing (I personally would have cut 10% or so of the book), a solid 5* all in all.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Varun

    Tough to appreciate for us math types It would be tremendously difficult to appreciate this book if you, like me, are from a background in mathematics and/ot data science. Many conclusions, theories and thought experiments in this book will appear outright ridiculous, impossible or even outrageous. But there are golden Nuggets of knowledge where you won't only agree with what the author is saying but also would feel you've experienced the same phenomena. Author tries clubbing several human behavi Tough to appreciate for us math types It would be tremendously difficult to appreciate this book if you, like me, are from a background in mathematics and/ot data science. Many conclusions, theories and thought experiments in this book will appear outright ridiculous, impossible or even outrageous. But there are golden Nuggets of knowledge where you won't only agree with what the author is saying but also would feel you've experienced the same phenomena. Author tries clubbing several human behaviors under this umbrella term call "alchemy", which seems like a stretch at times. My recommendation is even if first ten percent of book seems little less palatable do read it till the end because at times it's fun to read an opposing point of view. If nothing else I found the book entertaining and small chapters enabled quick reading. P.S. I read this book because I had watched Rory Sutherland's Ted Talk, some time back, which was fairly impressive. You may want to look him up on YouTube.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Alex Zakharov

    Sutherland beautifully follows Schopenhauer's maxim to "use common words to say uncommon things, rather than the opposite". "Alchemy" is a profound meditation on human behavior dressed in historical anecdotes, jokes, and marketing stories. The tone is light and chapters are short, but the book is brimming with ideas that are counterintuitive and deep. To me personally three themes particularly stood out. First, the Girardian nature of the book - Sutherland's thoughts on when to avoid what amount Sutherland beautifully follows Schopenhauer's maxim to "use common words to say uncommon things, rather than the opposite". "Alchemy" is a profound meditation on human behavior dressed in historical anecdotes, jokes, and marketing stories. The tone is light and chapters are short, but the book is brimming with ideas that are counterintuitive and deep. To me personally three themes particularly stood out. First, the Girardian nature of the book - Sutherland's thoughts on when to avoid what amounts to mimetic rivalry and when to harness it constitute a rare practical application of Girardian theory. Second, there is a fair amount of overlap between Taleb and Sutherland, but in comparison to the former, Sutherland's explanations and illustrations of concepts like scientism, ergodicity and bounded rationality are noticeably clearer, and certainly less petulant. Finally, "Alchemy" did a surprising job of nudging me away from an analytic approach that I tend to default to, and boy, after reading the book I've realized how much I needed that nudge.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Warwick Cairns

    A really thought-provoking book that makes a powerful case for why we should realise that the emotional and psychological aspects of why we do the things we do should be treated with as much seriousness as the logical aspects. Some reviewers have jumped to unwarranted conclusions about Sutherland's case. I've seen it said that he rejects logic and science, that he's anti-truth or post-truth. So I thought I'd finish with a quote from the book itself, to make things perfectly clear: "I’m not asking A really thought-provoking book that makes a powerful case for why we should realise that the emotional and psychological aspects of why we do the things we do should be treated with as much seriousness as the logical aspects. Some reviewers have jumped to unwarranted conclusions about Sutherland's case. I've seen it said that he rejects logic and science, that he's anti-truth or post-truth. So I thought I'd finish with a quote from the book itself, to make things perfectly clear: "I’m not asking people to completely overhaul all decision-making, to ignore data or to reject facts. But, whether in the bar or the boardroom, I would like just 20 per cent of conversational time to be reserved for the consideration of alternative explanations, acknowledging the possibility that the real ‘why’ differs from the official ‘why’, and that our evolved rationality is very different from the economic idea of rationality. "

  18. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

    Excellent. Absolutely excellent. Not too many books have an insight--a major insight--on every page. This one does. Sutherland has a great gift for explaining things by often hilarious analogy, and it makes the book a genuine pleasure to read (in the author's language, he "scents the soap"), while it shows readers the benefits of pursuing the seemingly illogical, the non-obvious, the counter-intuitive... or at the least, doing something that's never been tried before. "After all, if it worked and Excellent. Absolutely excellent. Not too many books have an insight--a major insight--on every page. This one does. Sutherland has a great gift for explaining things by often hilarious analogy, and it makes the book a genuine pleasure to read (in the author's language, he "scents the soap"), while it shows readers the benefits of pursuing the seemingly illogical, the non-obvious, the counter-intuitive... or at the least, doing something that's never been tried before. "After all, if it worked and made sense, someone would have done it already." Many things, actions and behaviors we consider irrational--or worse, things that experts, elites and behavioral economists tell us are irrational--actually aren't. Not by a long shot. Instead, they are examples of "second-order social intelligence applied to an uncertain world." A type of evolved rationality, and not irrational at all.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Angela Magic Art

    The beginning of this book, probably the first third, 5 stars! Super thought provoking and interesting. Will probably reread the beginning again at some point! The other two thirds, kind of redundant, and a little dull. The very end was mostly just politics, which I didn’t find that helpful. As with a lot of business/self help books. I think it was too long.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Mikhail Kalashnikov

    The best business book I’ve ever read. Made at least a hundred notes while reading, extremely thought-provoking.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Eskil

    An insightful and very surprising book about marketing and how not everything can be solved with logic. Rory gets his points across with an abundance of real life examples that makes things easy to grasp and then he backs it up with scientific studies. He also adds a healthy dose of humor, which certainly doesn't hurt. I think everybody should read this book, one doesn't have to be in a marketing profession to get something out of it. An insightful and very surprising book about marketing and how not everything can be solved with logic. Rory gets his points across with an abundance of real life examples that makes things easy to grasp and then he backs it up with scientific studies. He also adds a healthy dose of humor, which certainly doesn't hurt. I think everybody should read this book, one doesn't have to be in a marketing profession to get something out of it.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Sairam Krishnan

    Entertaining and insightful. Rory Sutherland's Alchemy is a book that goes straight on to the pile of marketing tomes I keep on my desk for easy access and reference. This stack includes Seth Godin's This is Marketing, another great title, and which I was continuously reminded of as I read Alchemy - maybe they should be read together. Sutherland is a practitioner, which makes his examples and stories so much more credible - this is no intellectual preaching at us from arm's length. And his plea t Entertaining and insightful. Rory Sutherland's Alchemy is a book that goes straight on to the pile of marketing tomes I keep on my desk for easy access and reference. This stack includes Seth Godin's This is Marketing, another great title, and which I was continuously reminded of as I read Alchemy - maybe they should be read together. Sutherland is a practitioner, which makes his examples and stories so much more credible - this is no intellectual preaching at us from arm's length. And his plea to include at least a bit of alchemy with the logic and reasoning that we deploy on a daily basis rings true. It explains so much of how the world really works, and gives us marketers permission to spend more time on the things that we know make sense but can't find the apt representation on presentations for. Or as he puts it, we should allow more space for 'instinct, imagination, and luck'. Highly recommended. I will read it again.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jaak Ennuste

    There are things that make sense and work, and things that don't make sense and work. Life largely revolves around the former, rarely around the latter. Nonetheless the category of things which do not make rational sense, yet work (Alchemy, in other words), can produce great results. The difficulty is not getting fired or not looking extremely dumb when trying out stuff that is hard to justify rationally. We should be more open minded about asking very basic questions and digging deep into seemi There are things that make sense and work, and things that don't make sense and work. Life largely revolves around the former, rarely around the latter. Nonetheless the category of things which do not make rational sense, yet work (Alchemy, in other words), can produce great results. The difficulty is not getting fired or not looking extremely dumb when trying out stuff that is hard to justify rationally. We should be more open minded about asking very basic questions and digging deep into seemingly obvious answers. If we create a culture at work or home where asking questions is fine and testing out irrational solutions if we feel it can work, we could potentially solve numerous problems that were deemed unsolvable previously.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Raghu Vinay

    Rory is the most engaging speaker/author on behavioral science. His examples are from our daily usage, connects so easily and at the same time insightful and valuable to any marketer. A couple of them 1. "Soap was sold on its ability to increase your attractiveness more than on its hygenic powers" 2. How RedBull gained foothold in the dominated soft drinks industry by introducing a drink which tastes worse than Coke and Pepsi but priced 8-9 times more Frankly, I have enjoyed Rory's talks more than Rory is the most engaging speaker/author on behavioral science. His examples are from our daily usage, connects so easily and at the same time insightful and valuable to any marketer. A couple of them 1. "Soap was sold on its ability to increase your attractiveness more than on its hygenic powers" 2. How RedBull gained foothold in the dominated soft drinks industry by introducing a drink which tastes worse than Coke and Pepsi but priced 8-9 times more Frankly, I have enjoyed Rory's talks more than this book. Those who are yet to read, should try the audio book which was narrated by Rory himself.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Trung Nguyen Dang

    The book is a witty and easy read by an expert in the world of advertising. It is full of anecdotes and examples of human's irrationality in the ad world. While I would prefer the scientific rigors of the books on irrationality by the psychology professors (eg Dan Ariely, Robert Caldini), many of the anecdotes attributed success to some of the irrational design but there may be other factors at work which we do not know about as there is no control group in real life. The book is a witty and easy read by an expert in the world of advertising. It is full of anecdotes and examples of human's irrationality in the ad world. While I would prefer the scientific rigors of the books on irrationality by the psychology professors (eg Dan Ariely, Robert Caldini), many of the anecdotes attributed success to some of the irrational design but there may be other factors at work which we do not know about as there is no control group in real life.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Niklas Laninge

    This book provides an interesting new narrative to the application of behavioral economics and psychology. It really shows that this is the compilation of a long career and the book could easily be spilt into two book. It loses its stringency in the end but the fun an Nobel rifting makes up for that. Recommend!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Fabian

    This book is much in line with the work of Nassim Taleb who brought be to this book in fact and I am glad he did because it’s fantastic!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Scott

    Great cover; content was just meh.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sam

    A fascinating discussion of human decision making and how the mind does not run on logic. Sunderland wittily argues for the intermittent abandon of logic and to question the assumption that because it is reliable in the physical sciences, it is applicable everywhere else. If we were logical in our thinking and decision making then economists would be able to reliably predict our behaviour and yet they cannot. It seems counter intuitive to us that if we give employees more vacation time that they A fascinating discussion of human decision making and how the mind does not run on logic. Sunderland wittily argues for the intermittent abandon of logic and to question the assumption that because it is reliable in the physical sciences, it is applicable everywhere else. If we were logical in our thinking and decision making then economists would be able to reliably predict our behaviour and yet they cannot. It seems counter intuitive to us that if we give employees more vacation time that they will in fact be more productive at work, that charity donations are increased by the quality and orientation of the envelope provided, people would rather enter a prize draw for a penguin light than for money, that people would vote for Brexit and Trump etc. Nonsensical behaviour in defiance of logic is explained by our emotional response, for example there is more emotional reward in a penguin light if you have a child. Sunderland explains that adverts with animals are more profitable, decorated shop shutters reduce crime, Miso soup and various alcohol is popular but only due to context and signalling, for example Hendrick’s choice of cucumber proved popular in America as it is reminiscent of British cucumber sandwiches and opulence. People question the logic of going to church, due to dogmatic and delusional beliefs, yet it works to reduce social problems such as poverty, mental health issues, loneliness, suicide, substance abuse and improves marital satisfaction; thus supporting an alchemy where we accept illogic for the greater outcome. GPS that does not account for variance and behaves in a logical way but not one that helps us in reality. It has been found that taking road markings off intersections has actually reduced traffic accidents. Sunderland shows that what people say they want and what they actually want are two different things. The human mind dislikes uncertainty and this is why we hate waiting for engineers and trains; digital display boards that inform us we have to wait for 8 minutes feels better than simply waiting for 8 minutes. Sunderland encourages a psychological way of viewing behaviour to help make improvements such as these, as people would have said they didn’t like waiting, when in reality it was the unconscious uncertainty. Sunderland suggests reframing is another way to influence people’s decision making; naming it student loans sounds much better than graduate tax or giving a breakdown of where your council tax goes, e.g. 50p a day for your rubbish to be removed, doesn’t sound as unreasonable. Sunderland explains that our perception drives our illogical choices such as a pain medication that targets back pain and is coloured and more expensive must be more effective, a wedding invitation on expensive paper rather than email will be a better experience, chairs outside a café mean the coffee will taste good, and when you clean your car or fill up with petrol it drives better. Sunderland also suggests we should be more illogical in recruitment as identical criteria to everyone such as a 2:1 or above will recruit identical people and a more innovative way is to view applicants blind in response to tasks. Sunderland posits that context is more important as an individual that is a champion in backgammon will have more qualities than someone who has all the right qualifications.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Adam

    Stunning book. I picked it up thinking it may help broaden my thinking, and it absolutely has. I'm not even going to try to pull out the best quotes, because I highlighted about 1/4 of it (including some of the footnotes). Really smart, really clear. Must read for marketers, communicators, influencers (professionals, not prolific social posters). Just a couple of key ideas that stuck with me: * If you want to change behavior, don't focus on convincing people to share your reasons, especially if th Stunning book. I picked it up thinking it may help broaden my thinking, and it absolutely has. I'm not even going to try to pull out the best quotes, because I highlighted about 1/4 of it (including some of the footnotes). Really smart, really clear. Must read for marketers, communicators, influencers (professionals, not prolific social posters). Just a couple of key ideas that stuck with me: * If you want to change behavior, don't focus on convincing people to share your reasons, especially if they're pure facts. Just find a way to get them to move. * Data is one tool, but we too often decide it is the ONLY tool, and we ignore that data can be narrow, flawed or simply asking the wrong questions * Related point is people will often follow the data because it's safe. Nobody gets fired for saying, "Well, it didn't work, but we here's why we thought it would." But you might for taking a risk that doesn't pay off based on psycho-logic. * Revealed preferences of consumers are much more important than stated preferences. (Something I've read several other places; I've always understood it, but only grokked the term a couple of years ago). * Be sure to ask the questions nobody is asking. WHY do people hate standing on a train? WHY does being late matter? Often, those questions which seem self-evident have deeper answers which can show the way to positive changes. Seriously... I'll probably buy a copy just so I can mark it up. I'm not sure this will make concrete changes in how I work, but I hope it will change how I think.

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