‘There Must Be A Pony In Here Somewhere!’

Bookmark and Share

If you’re old enough to remember simpler times, you’ll recall this title as the punch-line to one of President Reagan’s favorite jokes. The gag revealed not only Reagan’s engaging sense of humor, but also a lot about his political philosophy and his outlook on life.

The essence of the story goes something like this. It’s Christmas morning and two young brothers hurriedly amble towards the Christmas tree to discover their gifts. On one side lay piles of wonderful toys for one of the boys. He looked at it and sorrowfully said, “They’ll all be broken in a day or two.” The other boy’s gift, on the other side of the tree, was nothing but a pile of manure. He quickly grabbed a shovel and began to dig, joyfully telling his dour sibling, “There’s must be a pony in here somewhere!”

It’s the age-old tale of the wonders of optimism contrasted with the annoyance of Continue Reading “‘There Must Be A Pony In Here Somewhere!’”

How Divide and Conquer Works (And How To Avoid Falling Prey To It)

Bookmark and Share

While getting his MBA from Duke, a college classmate of mine was asked by a visiting speaker why my classmate thought he (the speaker) preferred hiring ex-athletes?

Now, my classmate was the perfect person to ask this question to. He’s played hockey from his youth to well into his adult years. He is the ultimate athlete, the ultimate team player, and the ultimate performer. I don’t know if the speaker knew his background prior to asking the question, but he could sure guess it once my friend offered his answer. This is how the young MBA candidate responded:

“You prefer to hire ex-athletes because of the following traits: alignment toward a common goal, teamwork, communication, trying to perform your best, etc.”

The speaker said that was all good, but it wasn’t the biggest reason he hired former Continue Reading “How Divide and Conquer Works (And How To Avoid Falling Prey To It)”

Why 7-15-60 is the Winning Combination of Every Group that Wants Lasting Influence

Bookmark and Share

Civic associations represent the backbone of a vibrant democracy. They have fueled American Exceptionalism since the very beginning of our country. But don’t take my word. Read what one of history’s most quoted experts had to say on this very subject.

“Among democratic nations, on the contrary, all the citizens are independent and feeble; they can do hardly anything by themselves, and none of them can oblige his fellow men to lend him their assistance. They all, therefore, become powerless if they do not learn voluntarily to help one another. …if they never acquired the habit of forming associations in ordinary life, civilization itself would be endangered.”

“Americans of all ages, all conditions, and all dispositions constantly form associations… The Americans make associations to give entertainments, to found seminaries, to build inns, to construct churches, to diffuse books, to send missionaries to the antipodes; in this manner they found hospitals, prisons, and schools… Wherever at the head of some new undertaking you see the government in France, or a man of rank in England, in the United States you will be sure to find an association.”

Continue Reading “Why 7-15-60 is the Winning Combination of Every Group that Wants Lasting Influence”

5 Tactics of a Winning Little League Coach

Bookmark and Share

I never asked to be a baseball coach. As you might recall (see “A New Beginning,” Mendon-Honeoye Falls-Lima Sentinel, April 27, 2017), baseball and I have had a strange – and sometimes strained – relationship. You could understand my reluctance to agree to play the part of assistant coach for my son’s T-Ball team. Still, it was only T-Ball (how hard could that be) and it was my neighbor who was the head coach. He needed help, so, as any good neighbor would, I readily assented to assist. But, then, the unexpected happened.Continue Reading “5 Tactics of a Winning Little League Coach”

How to Protect Yourself From Being Hypnotized Without Knowing It

Bookmark and Share

Have you ever been mesmerized? It happens all the time. To everyone. It’s like when you look at one of those pictures with all these tantalizing shapes. They dazzle your eyes, preventing you from seeing the real picture hidden within. That’s what being mesmerized is like. And you don’t even know it’s happening.

Several years ago I found myself in San Antonio to make a presentation about how research in behavioral finance identifies useful techniques to help people save for their retirement. A fellow came up to me. He had read my book 401(k) Fiduciary Solutions and told me he felt every professional should read it. Then he asked the question no author ever wants to answer: “So, how is your book selling?”

I didn’t know the best way to respond, so all I said was the coy, “I’d like sales to be better.”

Then he told me something fascinating, something I had never heard before. He revealed Continue Reading “How to Protect Yourself From Being Hypnotized Without Knowing It”

You’re Never Too Old to Learn

Bookmark and Share

duck-with-ducklings-1543709For some reason, I never felt part of my high school peers. Actually, I know the reason. I never fully accepted moving from the comfort of the community where I was born to this strange new place. Mind you, the non-acceptance didn’t start with me. It was quite mutual. But that’s another story.

This story is about psychology. I can’t remember what interested me in the subject, but it had to be something very early in my life. By ninth grade, I had psycho-analyzed the entire high school population, separating them into nine distinct demographic groups based on their psychological profile as determined by their observed behavior. I never showed it to anyone, but I’m pretty sure I Continue Reading “You’re Never Too Old to Learn”

Trump, Truth, and Confirmation Bias

Bookmark and Share

rorschach-fantasy-1617886_660x395I’ve been retired from active politics for more than two decades. In that time, I’ve focused on my primary business – picking winning stocks and avoiding losing stocks. It’s almost impossible to bat a thousand doing this, but I believe (and hope I’ve demonstrated) there’s a way to increase your odds.

Shortly after I left the political realm, I began in earnest to take on the financial industry establishment. (Truth be told, as readers of my initial run as publisher of The Sentinel know, I actually started this years before.) As a new firm, I had to find a position that differentiated our services from our competitors. Taking on the establishment wasn’t a rebel yell, it was a marketing imperative. Quite simply, no new business can survive if it Continue Reading “Trump, Truth, and Confirmation Bias”

The Dark Side: A Review of Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive by Robert B. Cialdini et al

Bookmark and Share

Yes_50_Scientifically_Proven_Ways_to_Be_Persuasive_300

Luke: …Is the Dark Side stronger?
Yoda: No, no, no. Quicker, easier, more seductive.
Luke: But how am I to know the good side from the bad?
Yoda: You will know… when you are calm, at peace, passive. A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense, never for attack.

In his first book, Robert Cialdini, psychology-professor-turned-marketing-guru wrote of his desire to learn “How to Say No” to itinerant marketers, aggressive solicitors and various other ne’er-do-wells. As a result, (and as I explain in my review of Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion), Cialdini goes out of his way to show readers why we say “yes” when we don’t want to and how to say “no” when we should. Furthermore, in his follow-up book (see my review of Influence: Science and Practice) Cialdini extends his discussion of the six principles of persuasion to specifically include Continue Reading “The Dark Side: A Review of Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive by Robert B. Cialdini et al”

Don’t Be a Patsy! A Review of Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini

Bookmark and Share

Influence_The_Psychology_of_Persuasion_300Whether it was actually said by P.T. Barnum or about P.T. Barnum, few would discount the adage “There’s a sucker born every minute.” Truth be told, if you asked Robert Cialdini, a well-respected Regents Professor Emeritus of psychology and marketing at Arizona State University who many consider the guru of the science of persuasion, he would freely admit he was born during one of those minutes. Indeed, in his introduction to Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, this favorite author of marketers around the globe states in no uncertain terms, “All my life I’ve been a patsy.”

Cialdini attributes his long standing disposition as a sucker inspired his interest in the study of compliance. “Study of compliance?” you might ask. To the scholarly Cialdini, who cut his bones with a series of seminal academic papers on social psychology in the 1970’s, that phrase means “the psychology of persuasion” as in “how does one get another Continue Reading “Don’t Be a Patsy! A Review of Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini”

A Book Cover to Judge: A Review of Influence: Science and Practice by Robert B. Cialdini

Bookmark and Share

Influence_Science_and_Practice_300Towards the end of Influence: Science and Practice, author Robert Cialdini tells a story of a rather nasty TV talk show host who regularly berated his publicity-seeking celebrity guests, often immediately after he introduced them. Many felt the host’s venom stemmed from a leg amputation suffered earlier in his life. Cialdini writes of the time in the 1960s when a long-haired Frank Zappa came on as a guest. The host introduced Zappa with this zinger: “I guess your long hair makes you a girl.”

Without hesitation, Zappa shot back: “I guess your wooden leg makes a table.”

This story reflects the motif of Continue Reading “A Book Cover to Judge: A Review of Influence: Science and Practice by Robert B. Cialdini”