Tag Archives: human psychology

100 Tricks to Appear Smart in Meetings: How to Get By Without Even Trying – Sarah Cooper

2. Translate percentage metrics into fractions

If someone says “About 25% of all users click on this button,” quickly chime in with, “So about 1 in 4,” and make a note of it. Everyone will nod their head in agreement, secretly impressed and envious of your quick math skills.

3. Encourage everyone to “take a step back”

There comes a point in most meetings where everyone is chiming in, except you. Opinions and data and milestones are being thrown around and you don’t know your CTA from your OTA. This is a great point to go, “Guys, guys, guys, can we take a step back here?” Everyone will turn their heads toward you, amazed at your ability to silence the fray. Follow it up with a quick, “What problem are we really trying to solve?” and, boom! You’ve bought yourself another hour of looking smart.

The book presents a sarcastic view of how to act during meetings, including 100 advises of how to look smarter, while not having a clue of what the discussion is about. The funny thing is that it resembles so much the modern world.

Some of the advises include:

1. Draw a Venn diagram. …

2. Translate percentage metrics into fractions. …

3. Encourage everyone to “take a step back” …

4. Nod continuously while pretending to take notes. …

5. Repeat the last thing the engineer said, but very very slowly. …

6. Ask “Will this scale?” …

7. Pace around the room. …

8. Ask the presenter to go back a slide.

The author, Sarah Cooper, is a comedian that worked for companies like Yahoo! and Google and has a blog called The Cooper Review.

When I started reading the book, I genuinely thought that it is some self-development book. Well, it is mostly a humorous take of corporate meetings, but, as the motto says, “It is funny because it’s true!”.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen R. Covey

Habit 1: Be Proactive

Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind

Habit 3: Put First Things First

Habit 4: Think Win/Win

Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood

Habit 6: Synergize

Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw

This is a self-development book with a huge success since it was released in the 1989. Like many self-development books, you are right both if you think it works or of you think it doesn’t.

The author encourages the reader to divide its life into personal and public spheres and try to improve both by using the good habits he describes. There is no study or research behind the results, except the author’ personal experience and common sense. His Christian belief and principles, clearly confessed in a short paragraph at the end of the volume, is the basis of his philosophy.

While now synergize and proactive are overused, back in the day they were innovative concepts. Much in vogue in the business schools, the book was popular with managers and people who just want to improve.

There is nothing new or exceptional in the author’s advice, but just common sense for an active and fulfilling life. The relationship with family, kids, relationships at work are important. Being humble and organized are vital in Stephen Covey’s philosophical system.

At times, the book seems to force the reader into buying more; being too commercial and aggressive. The advice seems shallow sometimes, without research to back the statements. The arguments appear exaggerated in some circumstances.

The author passed away in 2014, after an accident, unfortunately.

Overall, an interesting book, useful for those who want to find their way in life or who are at cross roads.

 

The New Digital Age – Eric Schmidt, Jared Cohen

There are an untold number of cultural similarities that have never been fully explored because of the difficulty of communication; in a future revolutionary setting, seemingly random connections between distant populations or people will entail knowledge transfer, outsourcing certain types of duties and amplifying the movement’s message in a new and unexpected way.

The book is written by the former CEO of Google, Eric Schmidt, and Jared Cohen, former CEO of Google Ideas, and presents a vision of the future.

This future is largely dominated by digital, including in the medical field, in house appliances, with driverless cars, new ways of a state to govern, all interconnected.

There are information privacy concerns, a discussion on Assange’s Wikileaks motives and Navalny’s corruption exposures.

The media is in the era of instant information. Trust is important to determine the veracity of news. News become instant and losses quickly it’s value. As anyone can become a source of news, veracity becomes more important.

An important point made repeatedly by the book is that anything written online remains forever. There is no erase button. No privacy settings or even deleting emails can block that [the book was written in 2013, before the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation].

States are much interested in the use of data and a fragile equilibrium is set between security concerns and individual privacy.

The book is very forward-looking and opens a few delicate debates. However, while putting forward many interesting ideas, I felt that I am reading nothing new. I struggled since 2016 to finish the book.

The Numbers Game – Chris Anderson, David Sally

It is easy…to think of soccer as a game of superstars. They provide the glamour, the genius, the moments of inspiration. They sell the shirts and fill the seats. But they do not decide who wins games and who wins championships. That honour falls to the incompetents at the heart of the defense or the miscommunicating clowns in midfield. Soccer is a weak-link game. This has profound implications for how we see soccer, how clubs should be built and teams constructed, how sides should be run and substitutions made. It changes the very way we think about the game.

Did you know that making your worst players perform better gets you more points than getting your best players improve?

Did you know that the wage bill of a club is the best indicator for the club’s performance?

Did you know that most goals have about four passes before the final shot?

The book analyses football statistics to the bone, looking at all factors: goals, finance, training, transfers, etc. While a bit dry for non-mathematical minds, it shows great understanding and research into the details of the sport.

Inspired by the famous Moneyball book and movie, based on the real statistician who transformed baseball, this volume does the same to football.

Pioneering football analytics

It looks at everything related to the game, from before the match, on the pitch, management and finally after the match.

Each phase of the game is researched in great statistical detail, showing the analytics that are now norm in the professional game.

While filled with charts and statistics, the volume is easy to follow and good at explaining facts, despite the mathematical language often used. Goals are the main target of analysis and other factors are brilliantly explained in their relation to the game. The only part that is maybe missing is the marketing part

Overall, the volume from Chris Anderson and David Sally  is an absolute treasure for football’s cerebral fans.

The Great Acceleration: How the World is Getting Faster, Faster – Robert Colvile

The greatest impact will be felt in the east. Today, there are 28 cities with a population of more than ten million people. By 2030, the UN predicts there will be 41 – and more than half of them will be in Asia. In India, as ambition pulls and poverty pushes, urban populations will almost double over the next 20 years, with some 240 million people moving from country to city. China recently announced a plan to build another mega-city around Beijing, containing a third as many people as in the entire United States. In just a decade’s time, China will have 221 cities of more than a million people. There are only 35 such cities in the EU today.

The book discusses the changes in society, considering them increasingly fast. The author, Robert Colvile,  divides the book in several chapters that analyze separately the evolving human society: friendships and relationships, news, logistics, politics, culminating with environment.

Colvile argues that humans are more impatient, news are faster, sometimes lacking substance, logistics are incredibly well-timed, politics focus more on the news cycle rather than long-term strategies, cities are growing and become the nodal societal points, and we slowly damaging the environment.

The book is extremely entertaining, well-written, full of quoted studies and gems of wisdom. The arguments are purposely well-balanced, rather on the optimistic side of technology. It is generally highly recommended by readers of all tastes.

Robert Colvile is a journalist, writing for various US and UK newspapers, such as Politico, Financial times or The Wire. He was previously news director at BuzzFeed and comment editor at the Daily Telegraph.

Overall, it’s a good book, entertaining, well-written, exploring the current societal trends. A nice book to have in a train or on a beach.

The Game – Neil Strauss

In life, people tend to wait for good things to come to them. And by waiting, they miss out. Usually, what you wish for doesn’t fall in your lap; it falls somewhere nearby, and you have to recognize it, stand up, and put in the time and work it takes to get to it. This isn’t because the universe is cruel. It’s because the universe is smart. It has its own cat-string theory and knows we don’t appreciate things that fall into our laps.

This is not an average book. You either love it or leave it.

There are professionals for every service, and the one described in this book is professional seduction for average-looking guys. Neil Strauss writes his story of how he got involved into this world, gradually evolving from newbie to master, meeting celebrities and giving seminars, basically exposing it through his own experiences. The nice part is how he found at the end a lovely lady to stay with, leaving back all the one-night stands.

A rich man doesn’t need to tell you he’s rich.

Professional seducers are guys/girls who use psychological tricks to attract and allure women. While it sounds unethical and childish, there is a proven rate of success which is good food for thought. Those tricks are not lies or cheats, but studied methods tried and tested over many evenings, which sometimes work.

Of course, the method has several important limitations. First, it helps getting to talk with a lady and get her attention, but actually staying in a couple is a totally different matter. Secondly, those methods were developed for US women and because of cultural changes, they could backfire spectacularly in other countries. Thirdly, their vocabulary is kind of teenage-ish, with AFC (average frustrated chump), PUA (pick-up artist) and PUG (pick-up guru).

While all mysterious and Don Juan-esque, the advice given is quite common sense: attraction is not physical, but mainly psychological; look clean; social pressure matters (attract friends of the lady first, make her advice group like you); etc.

The book is, obviously, misogynist and offensive, but also a cautionary tale. Not all bling-bling is what it looks like. As always, do not confuse the presented ideas with the author’s system of beliefs. You can entertain an idea without agreeing with it. Also, this is not a book of how to sleep with women.

It is divided in three parts: first part, where he presents the nice part of this seduction world; second one, where biographies and stories of various seduction artists are presented; and third, where he shows that many professionals self-destruct, because chasing women without settling becomes a soulless, lonely existence.

There are many ways to interpret this book: a study of human mating rituals, a world of self-destructing late teenagers, a misogynist eulogy (but there are woman seducers as well), a way to better understand the traps of seduction world or just a help to get talking with a crush you have. It is for the reader to decide.

Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other – Sherry Turkle

Technology is seductive when what it offers meets our human vulnerabilities. And as it turns out, we are very vulnerable indeed. We are lonely but fearful of intimacy. Digital connections and the sociable robot may offer the illusion of companionship without the demands of friendship. Our networked life allows us to hide from each other, even as we are tethered to each other. We’d rather text than talk.

This is a very thought engaging book, looking how communication technology changes our social interconnections. It is more than social media, the book looks at how people text instead of talk, hide behind an avatar, interact in video games, comment anonymously, have virtual pets and number hundreds of online friends.

In the first part, the book focuses more on social robots and how they help people: the elderly, to deal with attachment, loss of friends and isolation, children being in other countries or cities; and the children, for whom social robots are virtual pets. In the second part, the book looks at social networks and how mobile communication technologies are affecting human communication today.

An insightful book on social robots and the effect of mobile communication technologies and social media on human communication

The book is a well-researched, well-reasoned account, much based on interviews, of the changes that communication technology brings on social level. Some things are well-known, such as the profundity of the communication diminishes with the distance and complexity. For example, text says less than a phone call, and both less than a video. But there is more to that: a letter takes time and thought, while a quick SMS, which is also a text, gives much less information to receiver.

The author, Sherry Turkle, is an MIT technology and society professor, specialized in the effects of these new communication technologies and social robots on humans. She writes in consecutive books on these topics and the results of her interviews. You can watch some of her ideas on TED Talks as well.

In a way, the author long anticipated the problems with fake news, cognitive bias and confirmation bias that we are confronting today. She looks systematically at what could be the root causes of these dangerous symptoms.

This is a book that I  really recommend reading for the insightful conclusions that her interviews show.

[Feature photo by Fraser Smith]