Who would have thought that some guys (well, I really shouldn’t be talking of Stephen D.Levitt and Stephen J Dubneras “some guys”) could build a brand using the word ‘freak’? I don’t know if it’s a long tail thing, but behaving like a freak (ie, doing things a little bit different to the norm) is now something we should strive for.
(For more literature around the word “freak”, see also )
I loved Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything. I read it around the time I discovered Malcolm Gladwell (thanks, David for the introduction!) and many other pop psychology books. These books make me question my thought patterns and look at things from a slightly different angle. The storytelling is wonderful too, so there’s much to learn there from a writer’s point of view as well as the pure joy of being entertained.
So when Think Like a Freak dropped its price on my Amazon wish list, I pressed Buy-with-one-click and it landed on my Kindle.
Sharing is learning.
Something I’ve realised is that, no matter how much I enjoy a book, no matter how incredibly insightful it is, a few weeks later I barely remember much of what I’ve read. I think this is because I read about so much different stuff that my brain can’t cope with all the new facts, stories, characters etc. If I don’t use what I’ve learnt within a short period of time, it’s just stored away in some deep part of my brain, only to be retrieved the next time I’m reading a book and it starts to sound familiar. (This tends to happen more with fiction books, when around page 50, I get to experience déjà vu.)
So I thought that a nice way of “consolidating my learning” (you see, sometimes I use L & D industry-speak) would be to share some of the passages and ideas I found interesting. Here they are, in chronological order.
Freaks say ‘I don’t know’.
I’ve never had a problem with this one. Sometimes I might hide it as “I’m not sure…” but I tend to say “I don’t know” when, well, when I don’t know something. Sometimes it’s a bit embarrassing, especially if someone is asking me how they could get to work better with their boss, or their reports, or some team member living many miles away. But sometimes I just don’t have enough information, or my experience is limited, or my logic does not extend that far. I’ve learnt to be honest and not embarrassed by those three little words.
(And here, as if to highlight this feeling of powerless, my Kindle froze and I had to restart it, something I rarely have to do and which made me very nervous… Panic’s over, everything seems fine now…)
When thinking of incentives, forget about yourself.
I admit it. I am my first point of reference. When I come up with incentives that would nudge people towards buying my books/working with me/sharing tweets, you name it, I often come up with incentives that would work on myself. But, “it’s easy to envision how you’d change the behaviour of people who think just like you do, but the people whose behaviour you’re trying to change often don’t think like you – and therefore, don’t respond as you might expect.”
Luckily, all is not lost in the realm of influencing and I breathed with a sigh of relief when I got to: “The best way to get what you want is to treat other people with decency. Decency can push almost any interaction into the cooperative frame.” Phew.
At some point I completely forgot about what game theory was and was glad for this simple reminder: “The art of beating your opponent by anticipating his next move.”
(Ok, but when you do this, remember the previous point. Not everyone thinks in the same way as you do.)
Failure is OK.
Yes, I know this one deep down, but I do need reminding that when you’re trying out so many things, plenty of them are not going to work. One of my favourite stories in the book has to be that of scientist Geoff Deane, who held a wake to put a project to rest. Sometimes it’s not enough to let go, you have to bang the last nail in the coffin. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist this one…)