Book Review — How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

The classic HTWF&IP by Dale Carnegie was an interesting read. A lot of the suggestions are pretty timeless and obvious advice along the lines of, actually be interested in what the person you’re talking to is saying, offer compliments when appropriate, make sure to be sincere when doing so, do your best to be pleasant company. Like most self-improvement works, the author often relies on the wisdom of the ancients and you’ll come across quotes from western philosophers and a couple Lao Tzu references, along with a bevy of 19th & 20th century political and business giants.

There are a couple insightful psychological points when it comes to trying to change someone’s mind, like always try to get a couple ‘yeses’ from the person you’re trying to convince before your contentious point to increase the odds they’ll agree, and to make your presentation a little more dramatic since our minds are most accustomed to storytelling as a mode of understanding.

While a lot of the anecdotes feel dated and some of the social etiquette doesn’t seem to apply anymore in this, the age of post truth and the death of outrage, the book is still a good read if not a little long winded. Here are some of my favorite quotes along with the basic key points he makes throughout the book:

 

IN A NUSTHELL SIX WAYS TO MAKE PEOPLE LIKE YOU

  1. Become genuinely interested in other people.
  2. Smile.
  3. Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
  4. Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
  5. Talk in terms of the other person’s interests.
  6. Make the other person feel important—and do it sincerely.

IN A NUTSHELL WIN PEOPLE TO YOUR WAY OF THINKING

  1. The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.
  2. Show respect for the other person’s opinions. Never say, “You’re wrong.”
  3. If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.
  4. Begin in a friendly way.
  5. Get the other person saying “yes, yes” immediately.
  6. Let the other person do a great deal of the talking
  7. Let the other person feel that the idea is his or hers
  8. Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view.
  9. Be sympathetic with the other person’s ideas and desires.
  10. Appeal to the nobler motives.
  11. Dramatize your ideas.
  12. Throw down a challenge.

On understanding over condemnation:

Instead of condemning people, let’s try to understand them. Let’s try to figure out why they do what they do. That’s a lot more profitable and intriguing than criticism; and it breeds sympathy, tolerance and kindness. “To know all is to forgive all.”

Carnegie’s Tombstone:

Carnegie wanted to praise his assistants even on his tombstone. He wrote an epitaph for himself which read: “Here lies one who knew how to get around him men who were cleverer than himself.”

On the power of the mind:

Thought is supreme. Preserve a right mental attitude—the attitude of courage, frankness, and good cheer. To think rightly is to create.

On appeals to the logos:

Few people are logical. Most of us are prejudiced and biased. Most of us are blighted with preconceived notions, with jealousy, suspicion, fear, envy and pride. And most citizens don’t want to change their minds about their religion or their haircut or communism or their favorite movie star.

On treading softly:

The Chinese have a proverb pregnant with the age-old wisdom of the Orient: “He who treads softly goes far.”

On the importance of asking “why?”:

[…] before asking anyone to put out a fire or buy your product or contribute to your favorite charity, why not pause and close your eyes and try to think the whole thing through from another person’s point of view? Ask yourself: “Why should he or she want to do it?”

J. P. Morgan on motivation:

J. Pierpont Morgan observed, in one of his analytical interludes, that a person usually has two reasons for doing a thing: one that sounds good and a real one.

Book Review – Reinvent Yourself by James Altucher

This was a really enjoyable read. I was a little put off with the format at first, which is basically the author recounting various interviews he’s done for his podcast and a smattering of profiles on people he admires or has studied. After reading a few though, his analysis and commentary on the interviews became pretty compelling. James has started several businesses over his life and he makes it a point of studying the failures to see how he could improve from them. His interviews mostly summarize to do what you love, do it all the time, and do it to the best of your ability. Let everything else sort itself out. That, and always be kind. There’s no reason not to be.

Some of the quotes that resonated
On life in general:
I realized that I was an amateur. I had spent my life pretending to be something I wasn’t. I wanted to move beyond to that. TO:

  • Have humility. Learn from everyone you can. Even if it’s just one takeaway.
  • Be grateful for the many lessons you get, and realize that everything is a lesson.
  • Only be around people you love and who inspire you.
  • Life is a billion times smaller than the point of a needle. Don’t waste it doing things you were told to do. Do the things you love to do.
    Health is the most important thing, else your body today won’t let you enjoy tomorrow.
  • Every day, be creative. Creativity is a muscle. *You’re going to make mistakes, but 80% is always good enough. Keep learning the next thing.
  • Life will constantly hit you until you are senseless. Don’t forget these are lessons.

On always be improving:
You need to find well-being from within. And here is what it is: FREEDOM RELATIONSHIPS COMPETENCE Increase those every day and you will find well-being.

On Reinvention:
So reinvention is:

  • Defining freedom in different ways (reducing expectations, increasing sources of income so no one source controls you).
  • Improving relationships. Plus, minus, equal: Finding mentors to teach you. Finding the next generation to teach. Finding friends who build you up and challenge you. This is your “scene.” Everyone going through reinvention needs a scene.
  • Habits. It’s the 5×5 rule. You are not just the average of the five people around you. You’re the average of the five habits you do, the things you eat, the ideas you have, the content you consume, etc.

On the search for meaning:
“Find the thing you did where you lost all sense of time while you are doing it,” Chip told me. “Remember the equation from Victor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning. “Despair = Suffering – Meaning. Find the things that bring you meaning. Suffering is always there in this world. But if you have meaning, you will have less despair. You will find your calling.”

On not stagnating:
The third day at the job, I got up and walked out. I didn’t clean out my office. I left my jacket there. I took the elevator down 40 stories. I walked out into the sun. And I never went back.

They called repeatedly. Even a year later the main guy was still calling. My life is better than ever. I never looked back. I left the building and walked to Grand Central. I took the train 80 miles. I watched the leaves turning from green to red along the way across the Hudson River.

On learning aggressively:
There are two ways to learn: passively and aggressively.
Passively is when you study your mistakes, read the history of what you are learning, network, find your “tribe,” find a mentor, etc. Aggressively is right when you are in the middle of it. You’re neck deep and the ball is coming at you: what do you do? Passively is in your head. Aggressively is noticing RIGHT NOW and taking action. In your head is important. But ACTION is what creates heroes.

On cooperation:
It turns out that evolution is not about individual selection. We only survive as well as we function in terms of a group. When we are a strong part of a group, when we help the group, and when we use the group’s resources to become better as individuals, then we survive and even thrive.

Book Review – The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy

I just finished “The Compound Effect” by Darren Hardy and it was a great reminder that success is the sum of a lot of small actions. The author insist that the reader needs to put their nose to the grindstone for an extended period of time before they should expect to see results, although as the title suggests, the results of effort can become more than just cumulative giving an exponential boost to what we’re trying to accomplish. Darren is the mentee of Jim Rohn, a major self-improvement guru I wasn’t familiar with, but may check out.

Here are some of the notable quotes I took away. On tracking key performance indicators:
To help you become aware of your choices, I want you to track every action that relates to the area of your life you want to improve.

On paying attention to who we spend our time with:
I’ve got a neighbor who’s a three-minute friend. For three minutes, we have a great chit-chat, but we wouldn’t mesh for three hours. I can hang out with an old high-school friend for three hours, but he’s not a three-day guy. And, then there are some people I can hang around for a few days, but wouldn’t go on an extended vacation with. Take a look at your relationships and make sure you’re not spending three hours with a three-minute person.

On asking others to help improve ourselves:
I have a serious challenge for you if you’re up for it. Want real feedback? Find people who care enough about you to be brutally honest with you. Ask them these questions: “How do I show up to you? What do you think my strengths are? In what areas do you think I can improve? Where do you think I sabotage myself? What’s one thing I can stop doing that would benefit me the most? What’s the one thing I should start doing?”

On paying attention to whether our environment is supportive:
The dream in your heart may be bigger than the environment in which you find yourself. Sometimes you have to get out of that environment to see that dream fulfilled. It’s like planting an oak sapling in a pot. Once it becomes rootbound, its growth is limited. It needs a great space to become a mighty oak. So do you.