Practical Advice from ‘Why Business People Speak Like Idiots’ by Brian Fugere (An Actionable Books summary)

“Bull has become the language of business.”

Why Business People Speak Like Idiots, page 2

Every single one of us can tell the difference between human communication and business communication—when we’re reading. For some reason, when we’re writing, we lose our minds.

The best books on change are written, not by folks who never had to learn, but by those who’ve “been there” and wish they hadn’t done that. Brian Fugere, Chelsea Hardaway and Jon Warshawsky – authors of Why Business People Speak Like Idiots – all worked at Deloitte Consulting, committing the very crimes outlined in this book when one day they woke up and smelled the, er, aroma of what they were saying in their professional writing. After creating software (called Bullfighter) to help them monitor their own writing, they gathered what they learned, verified their thinking with a little informal research, and identified the four main reasons business people speak like idiots—and how not to.

Fugere and company describe four “traps” that business people can fall into with their writing. In each case, they speak to how someone falls into the trap, give examples, and offer clear advice on how to avoid the trap in the future. In case the title of the book doesn’t make this obvious, every lesson is delivered with humour in clear, simple language.

Why business people speak like idiots is a fun read; educational without being too dense.

Here’s what you’ll learn: … more … “Practical Advice from ‘Why Business People Speak Like Idiots’ by Brian Fugere (An Actionable Books summary)”

Practical Advice from ‘Turning Pro’ by Steven Pressfield (An Actionable Books summary)

“Turning pro is not for everyone. We have to be a little crazy to do it, or even to want to. In many ways the passage chooses us; we don’t choose it. We simply have no alternative.”

Turning Pro, page 5

Steven Pressfield knows more about suffering than I do. If you’ve ever tried to create something, you know what that means, but I’ll spell it out for anyone who’s confused.

Everything worth doing is art. The obvious stuff – writing, painting, sculpting – is art, certainly.

There’s another kind of art though, and it exists in your business, in your life.

If you’re trying to do something with real meaning, something not quite orthodox, you have felt what traditional artists feel every day: Resistance.

In Pressfield’s earlier book, The War of Art, he detailed what Resistance is, and how to combat it. It was originally titled The Writer’s Life so it’s no surprise that it’s slanted toward those who share Pressfield’s profession. But as a man of broad vision, he knows that we all face Resistance, what Seth Godin calls the lizard brain. When we try to do something important, the voice in the back of our head tries to stop us.

In many cases, it wins. Even those of us who’ve read and re-read The War of Art until it’s worn have succumbed to Resistance.

We needed more than awareness. We needed a tool, a path, a flashlight.

Turning Pro is a flashlight on the path.

Here’s what you’ll learn: … more … “Practical Advice from ‘Turning Pro’ by Steven Pressfield (An Actionable Books summary)”

Practical Advice from ‘Thinking Fast and Slow’ by Daniel Kahneman (An Actionable Books summary)

“Every significant choice we make in life carries with it some uncertainty.”

Thinking Fast and Slow, page 270

It would be difficult to exaggerate the influence and impact Daniel Kahneman has had on today’s thinkers. His TED profile says, in part, “Widely regarded as the world’s most influential living psychologist, Daniel Kahneman won the Nobel in Economics for his pioneering work in behavioral economics — exploring the irrational ways we make decisions about risk.” The list of books which are a direct or nearly direct result of his writing would be enormous. Even a partial list of his literary children and grandchildren here at Actionable Books is impressive: Drive, Freakonomics, How We Decide, The Luck Factor, Now, Discover Your Strengths, Outliers, Predictably Irrational, Uncertainty, The War of Art, Who Moved My Cheese?, A Whole New Mind.

Kahneman’s work, alone or with longtime collaborator Amos Tversky, is foundational to our understanding of ourselves. Credited with creating behavioural economics, the science of why we don’t make sense when we think about money, he won the Nobel Prize in 2002. The prize is not awarded posthumously, so Tversky is not officially listed as a recipient, yet Kahneman considers it a joint prize shared with his friend Amos. His love and admiration for his collaborator and friend is evident throughout the book. I suspect it prompted the book’s premise, our Golden Egg.

Here’s what you’ll learn: … more … “Practical Advice from ‘Thinking Fast and Slow’ by Daniel Kahneman (An Actionable Books summary)”

Practical Advice from ‘The Progress Principle’ by Teresa Amabile (An Actionable Books summary)

“When we surveyed hundreds of managers around the world…95 percent of these leaders fundamentally misunderstood the most important source of motivation…the conventional rules miss the fundamental act of good management: managing for progress.”

The Progress Principle, pages 3 & 10

The husband-and-wife team of Amabile and Kramer have studied creativity for more than 35 years. Along the way, they have challenged some long-held assumptions about how we work, how we create.

During a year-long study involving over 120,000 work events reported as they happened, they noticed a pattern: what mattered most in any work environment, no matter the worker’s basic personality or position in the company, progress, however small, was the greatest indicator of their happiness and performance.

Here’s what you’ll learn: … more … “Practical Advice from ‘The Progress Principle’ by Teresa Amabile (An Actionable Books summary)”

Practical Advice from ‘The Woman Who Changed Her Brain’ by Barbara Arrowsmith-Young (An Actionable Books summary)

“[J]ust as our brains shape us, we can shape our brains.”

The Woman Who Changed Her Brain, page 8

For as long as I’ve known him, my friend T has had an odd mannerism. When I’d walk up to him in a group, he’d give me a blank glance and say nothing. When I’d join the conversation, he’d suddenly blurt, “Joel! Hey, how are you?” as if he’d just seen me.

In reality, that was when he’d first recognized me.

T can’t tell the difference between two faces any more than you can tell the difference between two sheets of paper. Until he identifies people by some other means, he doesn’t know, can’t know, who they are.

This creates challenges. When T goes to the airport to pick his wife up after visiting her mother, he has to ensure that he’s “picking up” the right woman, because he can’t recognize her. After a certain incident involving a woman wearing a coat exactly like one his wife owns, he’s learned to be circumspect when approaching women at airports.

Prosopagnosia is the fancy name for face-blindness. It’s one of many neurological conditions which Barbara Arrowsmith-Young has learned can be addressed with carefully crafted mental exercises which literally change the brain.

When T finally thought to mention this to me just over a year ago, I was floored. I have seen him accomplish amazing feats of recognition due entirely to amazing coping strategies. He spent his entire childhood learning how to recognize people. He was 18 before he realized that most people have a system in their brain which makes it the most natural thing in the world.

The two halves of that story, T’s coping strategies and my failure to recognize his condition, are the two GEMs below. Each side of the coin has a lesson.

Here’s what you’ll learn: … more … “Practical Advice from ‘The Woman Who Changed Her Brain’ by Barbara Arrowsmith-Young (An Actionable Books summary)”

Practical Advice from ‘Priceless’ by William Poundstone (An Actionable Books summary)

“The same psychological tricks apply whether you’re setting a price for text messages or toilet paper or airline tickets.”

Priceless, page 7

This is not a book about coming up with prices, it’s about understanding them. More accurately, it’s about our fundamental misunderstanding of what prices even mean.

Poundstone frequently references Dan Ariely, Kahneman and Tversky, Richard Thaler, and others who will be familiar to those of you who like to read about how our brains work – and how they often don’t.

A series of short (2-5 page) treatises which build and focus as you move through the book, he begins with our cluelessness about prices, gives us some psychological grounding, shows us good and bad pricing in action, and gives us greater awareness of our limitations and how to shore them up.

Here’s what you’ll learn: … more … “Practical Advice from ‘Priceless’ by William Poundstone (An Actionable Books summary)”

Practical Advice from ‘Smart Trust’ by Stephen M. R. Covey (An Actionable Books summary)

“In today’s networked world, trust has become the new currency.”

Smart Trust, page xxiii

Would you loan me $20?

Unless you know me personally, probably not.

When you buy a book at Amazon.com, do you take the great deal offered by BrandNewSeller#37 and get a “like new” used copy for half price, or do you pay full price to get it from Amazon?

Take a look at Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index. Chart the gross domestic product of each nation, and note the near-perfect correlation between trust to prosperity, worldwide.

From individuals to companies to entire nations, trust affects not only how we do business, but how much business we do. If we are perceived to be trustworthy, business is streamlined. There’s less muss and fuss when both players trust. Warren Buffett has closed multimillion dollar deals on, literally, a handshake, because there was trust on both sides.

Introduced in his first book The Speed of Trust, Covey’s concept of “smart trust” aims to help us find a human and rational balance between our innate desire to trust and our learned fear of being taken for a ride and then asked to pay the fare.

Here’s what you’ll learn: … more … “Practical Advice from ‘Smart Trust’ by Stephen M. R. Covey (An Actionable Books summary)”

Practical Advice from ‘Imagine’ by Jonah Lehrer (An Actionable Books summary)

“[B]ecause we finally understand what creativity is, we can begin to construct a taxonomy of it, outlining the conditions under which each particular mental strategy is ideal.”

Imagine, page XVIII

How does creativity work? The very question is audacious.

We see two types of problem-solving: inch by inch, gaining ground on a solution, or the flash of insight, unforeseen. All arts, all acts of human creation are prone to this division.

Understanding that creativity is not centered in one portion of our brain, in a single specialized process, but a variety of sometimes unrelated processes, is vital to unlocking its keys.

Here’s what you’ll learn: … more … “Practical Advice from ‘Imagine’ by Jonah Lehrer (An Actionable Books summary)”

Practical Advice from ‘Make Your Idea Matter’ by Bernadette Jiwa (An Actionable Books summary)

“Ideas are formed in the mind but triumph in the heart.”

Make Your Idea Matter, page 7

Ever since I read Seth Godin’s All Marketers Are Liars I’ve been looking for practical advice on how to tell my story better in business.

I learned more in a 20-minute chat with Bernadette Jiwa than the rest of last year. Now, you can get an entire hour of Bernadette, three to five minutes at a time.

While each bit of Make Your Idea Matter stands alone, they add up to a clear vision of personal connection as your best marketing strategy.

Here’s what you’ll learn: … more … “Practical Advice from ‘Make Your Idea Matter’ by Bernadette Jiwa (An Actionable Books summary)”

Practical Advice from ‘The Luck Factor’ by Dr. Richard Wiseman (An Actionable Books summary)

“Luck is not a magical ability or a gift from the gods. Instead,
it is a state of mind―a way of thinking and behaving.”

The Luck Factor, page 165

We all know someone whose card is always drawn in the raffle, who gets tickets to the hot show, whose car never breaks down and whose marriage is bliss.

And we know their opposites, too.

Whether superstitious or not, most folks believe that luck is a mysterious force of the universe. Either mostly good things happen to you as you go through life, or mostly bad things happen. That’s true, as far as it goes.

But most of us believe there’s nothing we can do about it. And Dr. Richard Wiseman is here to tell you that’s wrong.

Luck, it turns out, can be changed. It can be controlled. Luck is a skill you can learn and a tool you can apply in business, in life.

Here’s what you’ll learn: … more … “Practical Advice from ‘The Luck Factor’ by Dr. Richard Wiseman (An Actionable Books summary)”

Practical Advice from ‘How We Decide’ by Jonah Lehrer (An Actionable Books summary)

“The first step to making better decisions is to . . . honestly assess our flaws and talents, our strengths and shortcomings.”

How We Decide, page 259

We’d all love to think that logic and reason are the foundation of our choices. Gotta keep those emotions in check when we’re making life’s big choices. After all, when we’re buying a house or car, choosing a life partner, deciding what to eat or whether or not to have children, we want to make the best choice possible. Pure logic, we assume, leads to the best choices.

We’re wrong.

How We Decide uses the latest scientific research to explain brand new understanding about how our brain works. This information is vital to better decision making.

Here’s what you’ll learn: … more … “Practical Advice from ‘How We Decide’ by Jonah Lehrer (An Actionable Books summary)”

Practical Advice from ‘Likeonomics’ by Rohit Bhargava (An Actionable Books summary)

“How can any person, organization, or idea become more trusted and more believable?”

Likeonomics, page xxiii

You don’t need to be told there’s a believability crisis. Whether you’re stuck buying a used car or listening to political ads, you know you have a hard time believing what these folks are saying. And you know why: for far too long, businesses of all kinds have focused on profit over good behavior. Rohit Bhargava, author of Likeonomics: The Unexpected Truth Behind Earning Trust, Influencing Behavior, and Inspiring Action, would probably love it if everyone were altruistic enough to be likeable just because it’s the right thing to do. He’s sharp enough to know that we’ll take more notice if he points out one of the inevitable side-benefits of likeability: a more profitable, less stressful business. Here’s what you’ll learn: … more … “Practical Advice from ‘Likeonomics’ by Rohit Bhargava (An Actionable Books summary)”

Book Launch Friday 27 July: You Don’t Want a Job

You Don't Want A JobThis Friday I launch my 10th book, You Don’t Want a Job: Why Self-Employment Reduces Your Risks & Increases Your Rewards.

Go read about it just a couple pages over.

And buy a copy. Buy more than one. If you’d like to buy an autographed 10-pack or something, I want you to have them. I want to spread this message.

If you love the idea and truly don’t have even $10, email me and tell my why you want the digital version.

I want you to read this book.