35 Minutes

•August 30, 2010 • 4 Comments

The lines etch across her face. Pigmentation marks and old acne scars. A tiny lump of skin rests high above her cheekbone. Annoying, my eyes are drawn there and I cannot look away. It’s ugly but captivating. The Lord Jesus is present. The face crinkled and faint on the hand of an old lady. Is God on the other I wonder?

Old and weary, deep lines tell a million stories. Is that an old scar from a husband, a former lover, a fall down a staircase? She likes the drink. I can tell. A bird nests itself on the corner of each eye. Five lines bury into lips. She likes the cigarettes too.

The boy, drinking a can of coke at 8.45am. I see a bottle in the bag. Save for later. I think he must enjoy it warm. What will he have for lunch I wonder?  I bet there is no apple in that bag he carries. Bad parents.

A cigarette smoker sits behind me. Fresh from a smoke, the smell draws over me. I want to hurl. I look around at the jaundice fingernails. A smoker since 12, I guess.

I see a pile of fat, taking three seats. Eyes flitter, unsure of where to rest. Pretending not to hear the snores and notice the dribble down his mouth, people keep their distance. Has he ever been laid I wonder? Has his manhood ever been touched by a woman? I have visions. I stop.

The girl in the uniform. A purple bruise on her cheek. Is that from her mum or dad? A bully at school? A leg is shaking, she looks like she’s about to pee. Is she really going to? She gets off. No puddle on the floor.

Young lovers in the corner. Locking lips, marks on their neck. Is that love? They look 14.

A woman standing announces to her friend she is pregnant. I see a bump now. I would offer her a seat but I’m too lazy. I want to read my book.

A man seated next to me reading the newspaper. Words catch my eye. He turns the page. Damn it. I liked reading about the boy with “Werewolf” Syndrome.

Next stop. I get off.

Eight hours later.

I get on. A new journey commences…..

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Playing on instinct – the leap from mediocrity to exceptional

•August 2, 2010 • 10 Comments

Many years ago I wanted to be a professional tennis player; the Aussie version of Martina Navratilova – tall, vein popping, muscle ripping arms; taut waist but minus the lesbian tendencies and fat thighs. I was once a serious tennis player. I had lessons from an early age, I was selected and played in the McDonalds tennis squad, I played local junior and senior competition tennis every Saturday and I once tried out for the Victorian Country Squad. My parents used to drive me all across the state to play in various tournaments; I used to practise every night after school, and I had coaching twice a week. When I had no one to practise with, I used to bring a bucket of balls down to the local tennis courts and just work on my serve. Good thing the tennis courts were just down the road from mum and dad’s.

I was once a dedicated student of the game. I used to watch every Grand Slam tournament and I remember staying up in the wee hours of the morning watching Pat Cash beat Ivan Lendl in the 1987 Wimbledon final. I was a member of Cash’s fan club for a number of years and, hell I used to even wear that ugly black and white checkered headband. I was obsessed with tennis and I wanted to be the next Australian Women’s Wimbledon Champion. God knows we needed another female tennis player on the international circuit that would actually win games. I was going to be that person. I was going to be the next big thing!

But then, from the age of 14, something happened. I became a regular girl who started taking an interest in boys and listening to lots of music. I became lazy and then I simply lost interest. The dream evaporated and before I knew it, I was just another average teenage girl with no exceptional talents or skills. I was conventional; I was regular – I became a sheep.

While I had dreams of becoming the next Navratilova, I never really believed I was going to be. While I was dedicated and practised the game regularly, I lacked confidence – a severe lack of confidence. Of course I did not realise this at the time. I was just a naïve 14 year old who barely knew the difference between a polecat and a ferret. It was this lack of belief that a simple girl from a country town called Traralgon would ever be a Wimbledon champion. Who was I kidding? Me, a tennis champion? That only happens to very special people and I did not think I was anything special – far from it!

So I let the dream slip away and went back to being your average teenage high school student. If I could talk to that little girl now I would tell her to do things very differently. I would tell her to possess one thing and one thing only. I would tell her to possess self-belief.

Self-belief is what separates the good from the great; the leader from the follower and the wannabe from the entrepreneur.  It is self-belief that determines what type of life each of us is presently living and the perceived success or lack of it that exists in our lives.

At aged 22, fashion designer Premal Patel; fed up with dealing with an overbearing boss; decided to start his own men’s fashion label – from the boot of his parents’ Volvo.

In those early days he’d jump into the rusted old car at 6:30am, not returning until late at night. Store by store, Patel, who had quit as an assistant at another fashion label, would collect business cards, and then approach the owners, imploring them to give him an opportunity to showcase his range.

His biggest challenge was one that rings true for many business owners: cash flow – or rather, a lack of it. Trying to come up with the money to fund future production while chasing outstanding monies to pay for past production created nightmares that were difficult to overcome.

Those tough beginnings paid off. His label, Premonition, has experienced growth in each of its eight years, even during the dreaded financial crisis that had many fashion designers doing more worrying than designing.

Today, Premonition can be found in over 100 Australian retail stores, and Patel has two concept stores of his own in Sydney, with one more opening soon in Melbourne (The Age).

Moral of the story: he never gave up!

Take Rory. He is in a band called THUNDERHAWKS (that is Rory on the far left). They are a Canadian band that is starting to make a name for themselves. Rory, a distant cousin of mine whom I met briefly six years ago, is in his second year at college. His mother and I correspond regularly via email and she explained to me that she was quite upset when; after a rough period of Rory starving, broke and almost homeless; quit a part-time job he just received, to go on tour with his band for one whole week because the employer wouldn’t grant him the time off.

Now many people, particularly those of an older generation, may shake their heads in disbelief at such flippant behaviour. Daryl Kerrigan may say his dreaming but at least Rory is taking action to make his dream a reality.

Some may view Rory as just some punk kid with an attitude displaying behaviour that appears to be typical of his age group – lazy, self-indulgent and doing anything to not work. I wholeheartedly disagree. When Rory’s mother emailed me the story, I smiled and I thought this kid knows what he wants.

Rory is playing on instinct and simply following his intuition. Most of all, he has passion for his music. Some would suggest that Rory should stick out the job because the chances of ‘getting discovered’ and making rock and roll history is slim. That may well be true and while I have no knowledge of the inner workings of the music industry, I suspect that Rory has great belief in himself and in his music that he knows that some day, perhaps very soon, he and his band mates will receive rock glory such as a Grammy Award nomination or inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Rory has a passion and ultimately it’s this passion that will drive him to succeed. Many people are too practical; too logical in their thought processes that I suspect anyone else would have succumbed to their employer’s demands. That is what struck me about Rory when his mother first told me about his situation– a kid that was starving, had no money and living in a basement with five other guys – was prepared to put up with further hardship with the hope and ambition that he will follow through with what he really wants to do with his life. That is, to be a professional musician and I say good on him!

Why else would he be prepared to put up with this hardship if he didn’t believe in what he was doing? Rory has a self-belief that is to be admired not discouraged.

Now his mother possessed the normal fear that any other mother would have in these circumstances. She explained to me that after a few head-bashing sessions with her son, she came to accept Rory’s decision because she knew how important music was to him, and in the end, breathed a sigh of relief. I told her to chill out and to let things unfold naturally, and to most of all have faith in her son’s decision. The worse thing that can happen is for the son to take on his mother’s negative energy.

Self-belief is following your intuition. Self-belief is why the likes of Tom Cruise, Donald Trump, Richard Branson, Barack Obama and Bob Dylan receive the highest accolades in their respective professions.

Australians will recall Jessica Watson, the 16 year old who, this year, became the youngest person ever to sail solo around the world unassisted. The Australian Prime Minister said at her reception that she was a true hero but what was significant for me was her response. She said that she did not see herself as a hero but an ordinary teenager with a dream and the belief to make it come true.

If people start telling the story they want to create as opposed to telling the story of what is, then I guarantee they would manifest and create the life they truly want to live. None of us have to put up with mediocrity in our lives. The reason some people do is because of the thoughts they think and the lack of belief they have in themselves to have the power to change it.

Every single person on this planet is personally responsibly for the way their lives develop and the circumstances that unfold.

The good news is we can all escape mediocrity if we are willing to remodel our thinking. We can all live an above average life.

There’s no greater feeling than feeling inspired. I love nothing better than hearing a story of how one started out with absolutely nothing to conquering and achieving the impossible.

Phil Collins knows exactly what I am on about here when he sang Against All Odds.

Perhaps you have achieved something in your life you never thought possible. Do you know of a story or person who faced impossible odds to achieve the success they desired? I would love for you to share your stories or experiences.

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Julia Gillard’s done a ‘Steven Bradbury’

•June 28, 2010 • 7 Comments

I saw that headline today and laughed. I didn’t laugh at this though:

…”What do Australia and McDonalds have in common?….They are both run by a red headed clown.”

Lame I know. And I also I know I am venturing into dangerous territory here writing about Australian politics especially when I confess that I do not have intimate knowledge of the inner workings of political parties.  However the unelected appointment of Welsh-born Julia Gillard as the first ever Australian female Prime Minister has left a sour taste in my mouth and I’m not laughing.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard

This isn’t about starting a political debate or firing pot shots at anyone for holding certain political beliefs. A wonderful attribute of this great country like many great countries such as the UK and Canada is our democratic right to vote, believe and express whatever we choose. Except we, the Australian public have not been given the right to vote in this new Prime Minister. Whether we liked it or not, Kevin Rudd was voted in as Australia’s Prime Minister at the last election and this past week’s events has simply proven that not even the Australian public’s vote has any say, power or control over who decides to govern this country. In my humble opinion, this has been a blatant disrespect and attack on Australian voter’s rights and I’m not sure why then voting is compulsory in this country.

I was never a fan of Kevin Rudd or the Australian Labour Party for that matter but the way the former Australian PM was treated has been nothing short of despicable. While watching his farewell speech, to my utter amazement I actually found myself feeling sorry for this smarmy, smug, little man who’s bruised and battered ego has been magnified across the globe.

Yes it is wonderful for the women’s movement to finally see an Australian female politician rise to the top job. God knows the executive board rooms of many Australian organisations are still occupied by an overwhelming majority of men and hell we are still getting paid less than them. But what sort of example does this set when our new leader cannot be trusted? My trust in Julia Gillard has fallen to new lows after the way she rose to the top job. For our first female PM, I would like to have seen a more honourable and dignified way to receive the right to govern our country.

Julia Gillard has proven she is ruthlessly ambitious and untrustworthy and even more so the power and hold the big unions have on this country has never been more evident. When the dust settles, the significance of yesterday’s events will be even more shocking. Rudd was a toxic bore, but he was denied the opportunity to complete even his first term as Prime Minister. Stabbed in the back by his trusted deputy, and tossed out by his own party, who are driven by poll anxiety and nothing else. The Australian people were denied an opportunity to judge this Government after a term. These were momentous events that say an awful lot about the Australian Labour Party. At least Gillard got one thing right. She has not been elected to office by the Australian people and therefore she should call an election immediately.

Yes it was swift and bloodless and it didn’t draw out to a long conclusion. Kevin Rudd had the carpet swept from underneath him so quickly, he is just feeling the sting of the fall now. Whether you voted for Rudd or not this is tantamount to a coup. The people who voted for Rudd DID NOT vote for a change of leader. They did not vote for Gillard. They did not ask Arbib and the other factional powerbrokers to dethrone the PM.

What a way for Australia to have its first female PM. I would have been very happy to have VOTED in a female PM.

DO YOU CARE? HAVE YOUR SAY!!

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It’s all about teamwork… or is it?

•June 16, 2010 • 2 Comments

Recently I completed the OXFAM Trailwalker and it was a damn tough feat. I have never completed an endurance event of this kind before and let me tell you it seemed easy however it was anything but. I started at 7am on Friday morning and I did not stop until 3pm the next day. At the finish, my feet looked like they had been cooked on coals and my head was somewhere between Warburton and Timbuktu. But the end result was good. No the end result was great. No it was better than that. The end result was that I had just walked 100km in 31 hours!

Now some of you might be asking why the hell I would even contemplate such an arduous challenge to begin with. To be honest I don’t really know but I do know that it was definitely my first and last time. At the time of enrolment it seemed like a good idea, a physical challenge but it was a challenge I significantly underestimated. It was all starting to come to a head at 3am Saturday morning however a phone call from England really spurred me on and provided some much needed motivation. Thank you Fran!

It wasn’t so much physically draining as it was mentally draining. Once the fatigue kicked in I knew then it wasn’t going to get easier. I was in for a tough ride. We stopped at checkpoints along the way to recuperate, have a massage and have our feet checked. But as the day and night wore on it was difficult to sustain our energy levels and the longer I rested the harder it was on my body to keep going. My muscles were seizing up and my feet were just burning.

But it wasn’t the physical pain that bothered me. It was the lack of teamwork. We were not a team and unbeknownst to many we did not finish as a team. One team-mate had to pull out at the 32 kilometre mark, the other pulled out at 72 kilometres and I very nearly followed his lead. For one brief second I honestly thought I could not go on and was almost going to announce calling it a day but the voice inside my head said otherwise. It was pure mental torture but the voice was telling me that I wasn’t coming back next year to attempt it again. I was stronger than that. This was it! This was most definitely my first and last time. I went on and the rest is history.

Two months on I reflect back on this achievement. Yes I am proud of myself but the lack of team work still bothers me or I should say lack of leadership. It was our team captain’s (let’s call her The Captain) third attempt to finish 100 kilometres after forces beyond her control in previous years prevented her from completing the event. I should have picked up the warning signals early on. She was much fitter than the rest of us because she had more time to train and as soon as we set out that Friday morning she took off like Godzilla. When we arrived at checkpoint one she was already waiting for us and she shoved a banana in our hand and shuffled us on to commence the next leg without a rest. It was a condition that teams had to check out together.

Fast track to Saturday afternoon at 1pm and it was hot – 31 degrees. I arrived at checkpoint six on my own after a 20 kilometre leg. I was in pain and absolutely spent.  After phoning The Captain to tell her I had arrived she comes over to me and tells me she is checking out with another team. I am too slow for her and I am prolonging her pain, she tells me. I could not believe what I was hearing and I had never felt so alone like I did right then. She was abandoning me! There was only seven kilometres left of the journey and she does this to me now. After resting, eating and licking my wounds, I found another team to check out with. All four of them were still intact – still together and I notice immediately the rapport between them. I walked with this team most of the way but towards the end I said I wanted to finish it on my own because I didn’t feel comfortable finishing with the team. That was the truth – I was alone because I had no team and I didn’t want to take away any glory from the other team. I walked through the finish line at 3.00pm and although I smiled for the camera, there was an undercurrent of bitter disappointment and sadness already brewing. 

Overall, I was disappointed with the efforts of our “team” to work together as one. I have no regrets about doing this but one can never underestimate the value of teamwork. I learnt a good lesson.

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An inconvenient truth!

•June 12, 2010 • 3 Comments

Is it an inconvenient truth? Is happily ever after really happily ever after anymore? Has the words ‘until death do us part’ just become a standard line said without any conviction or substance? Do couples really mean it when it is their turn to proclaim their vows? I’m not so sure anymore. After hearing the news that Al Gore and his wife Tipper have separated after 40 years of marriage I think it is about time I stop kidding myself and finally admit that fairy tales don’t really exist and to come out from under my rock.

It’s already on Wikipedia: Al and Tipper Gore are separating after 40 years of marriage.

At first I was like ‘nooooooooo’ and ‘what’s the point?’ I mean Al Gore is 62, Tipper is 61 and after spending over half their lives with each other, I  thought why bother?  Here’s a couple who met in high school, married young—she was 21, he 22. They have four children and three grandchildren. And 40 years! What happened? You can’t help but leap to “Affair!” “A dirty awful secret!” But by all accounts so far, the reason may be far less exciting: The inconvenient truth, it seems, is that they simply grew apart—a side effect of his traveling for climate change, spending less and less time together.

I am a tragic romantic. And probably a very naive one at that. I hate hearing news of couples breaking up. Especially celebrity couples. I was saddened to learn that Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins had parted ways after 23 years and even more shocked to learn, after reading Patrick Swayze’s autobiography, that he and his wife had separated for a year. They did get back together but not long before he found he had pancreatic cancer. But to hear supposedly fairytale marriages suddenly end without any rhyme or reason, I can’t fathom it. Marriage is meant to be forever; couples know this when they make that decision to walk down the aisle, exchange rings and say ‘I do’. Damn it, they are meant to put in the hard yards and make an effort? That’s what they signed up for right? So where does it all go wrong?

Here’s a theory. According to psychotherapist, Tina Tessina, PhD, author of Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting about the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage, growing apart is a top reason for the dissolution of long-term marriages.  “Couples who have been married for decades often start to take the relationship for granted, and focus elsewhere—on career or children, for example—and either neglect the relationship, or build up resentment over time because they don’t do the work to clear it out,” she says. “It’s also possible that couples who don’t stay in intimate contact can grow apart without realizing it, and then find they’re focused on completely different things.”

Statistics have been gathered that among women who marry between ages 20 and 24, as Tipper did, after 10 years, 29 percent are divorced. And after 20 years, the number rises to 41 percent. And don’t assume it was Al who initiated the parting. Two thirds of divorces are filed by women, according to a paper in the American Law and Economics Review.

When you consider that 150 years ago or so, people’s life-spans were only 40 years, I wonder, is it natural for couples to be together for such long periods of time? My romantic, whimsical ideologies wants to dismiss this thought but now I can’t help but wonder.

Another particular celebrity was asked recently what the secret is to sustaining her 24 year marriage. She said “the key is distance. I can’t have somebody breathing down my neck 24 hours a day. We have our own interests. We have our own things going on, and we come together and we have a great time. Its not conventional I know, but I’ve never been conventional.”

Perhaps my ideals are too conventional for my own good!

Care to share your views?

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Don’t ever be duped again. How to counter attack those manipulative sales people

•April 5, 2010 • 2 Comments

Have you ever been into a department store and come out spending more than you planned? Or perhaps you have been stopped in the middle of the street to “answer a few questions” only to discover you have bought into an entertainment membership program? Perhaps you have unwanted magazine subscriptions or you signed up to Foxtel while all the time declaring you will never do it?

Don’t despair. These are examples of just some of the tactics used by professional salespeople to manipulate you into complying with their requests.  And it’s no surprise to learn that car sales people are the worst. But even Tupperware are guilty culprits too.

I have just finished reading a fantastic book called Influence – The Psychology of Persuasion by Dr. Robert Cialdini. This is a book that has been mentioned by far too many people and in various publications to ignore. I work in the field of marketing and communications and I read a lot of business and personal development books. Dr Cialdini’s book has been recommended again and again so I finally bought myself a copy and I have not regretted it.

You see, as I was reading the book I was constantly nodding in agreement and amazement as to how, over the years, I have been manipulated and fallen prey to manipulative sales tactics without ever knowing I had been. We all have. It’s nothing to be ashamed of but I guarantee after reading this book, you will reassess how you are approached by the next salesperson you encounter when you buy your next major purchase, whether that is a suit, car or fridge.

Depending on your purpose and motives, the book can be read for one of two reasons. One is to learn how to exploit human nature hot buttons for profitable gain. The second reason is to learn how to protect yourself from their exploitation. The book explains the psychology of why people say yes through six universal principles, how to use them to become a skilled persuader and how to defend yourself against them.

Dr. Cialdini believes that influence is a science more than an art.  He introduces you to six principles of ethical persuasion: reciprocity, scarcity, liking, authority, social proof, and commitment/consistency. A chapter is devoted to each and you quickly see why Cialdini looks at influence as a science. Each principle is backed by social scientific testing and retesting. Each chapter is also filled with interesting examples that help you see how each principle can be applied.

The human brain is on automatic pilot for most situations. A great example of this was when Cialdini explained that a friend of his who owns an Indian jewelry store rang him with some interesting information.  She was having trouble selling a certain allotment of turquoise jewelry at the peak of the tourist season. The turquoise jewelry was of good quality for the prices she was asking but they still would not sell. The friend attempted to shift them from their current location to a more central display area but with no luck. She also told her sales staff to “push” the items hard but still with no success.

The night before the friend left on an out-of-town buying trip, she scribbled a note to her head saleswoman, “Everything in this display case, price X ½” hoping to get rid of the items, even at a loss. When the friend returned a few days later she was shocked to discover that, because the employee had read “1/2” as a “2”, the entire allotment had sold out at twice the original price.

Why is it that after relocating and discounting stock, it could not be sold? But only once the stock was mistakenly increased in price, it was completely sold out? Cialdini says the customers were using a standard stereotype to guide their buying: expensive = good. The customers that wanted good jewelry saw the turquoise pieces as more valuable and desirable when nothing about them was enhanced except the price. Price alone had become a trigger feature for quality. Cialdini also explains that most of us are brought up on the rule that “you get what you pay for”. The customers had translated the rule to mean expensive = good.

Humans have a tendency to let automatic pilot thinking take over. At to the delight of switched on marketers and profiteers, this has been our downfall.

A classic example of a technique that Dr. Cialdini shares is using a gift to obligate someone. If we receive a gift, we are socially obligated to return the favor. Followers of the Hare Krishna movement used this technique to exploit this social response by giving flowers and books to people in airports and then asking for a donation. This proved to be an almost irresistible approach. The people would try to refuse the gift to not be obligated, but the Krisha followers wouldn’t let them.

Given that we are easily manipulated by our desire to be and to appear to be consistent with our past actions and statements, swayed by what the crowd is doing and various other mechanisms, the only way we can be armed against unscrupulous marketing is to be as aware of these factors as are the marketers. Here are some examples that were outlined in the book:

RECIPROCATION – Cialdini meets a boy scout selling $5 tickets to their annual party. He says “No thanks” and the scout counters with “O.K. Well at least buy some of our big chocolate bars, they’re only $1.” He buys two chocolate bars he doesn’t want. Cialdini says, “The second request doesn’t have to be small; it only has to be smaller than the initial request.”

CONSISTENCY – What those around us think is true of us is enormously important in determining what we ourselves think is true. New Haven housewives gave much more money to a canvasser from the Multiple Sclerosis Association. He points out that, “Apparently the mere knowledge that someone viewed them as charitable caused these women to make their actions consistent with another’s perception of them.”

SOCIAL PROOF – If you want a six year old to do something let him discover another six year old doing it. What peer groups are doing is what matters. He quotes Cavett Roberts advice to sales trainees, “Since 95% of people are imitators and only 5% initiators, people are persuaded more by the actions of others than by any proof we can offer.”

LIKING – The Guinness Book of Records has Joe Girard as the world’s greatest car salesman. He was General Motors best salesman 12 years in a row. Girard says that he offers a fair price and someone that they like to buy from (i.e. good looking/ good presentation/ flattery/ same as them/ on their side).

AUTHORITY – Cialdini meets Vincent the super waiter. This is how he does it: 1) He is friendly 2) “I’m afraid that (whatever is ordered) is not as good tonight as it usually is. Might I recommend instead the …….” (a cheaper dish). 3) He seems to them to be friendly, knowledgeable, honest and on their side. 4) “Would you like me to suggest a wine to go with your meals” (excellent but costly and always followed by a similar dessert). 5) They say yes = bigger bill and bigger tip.

SCARCITY – Stephen Worchel did a cookie experiment and found that cookies with a few in the jar were rated as more desirable than cookies with plenty in the jar. The testers admitted that they tasted the same. As Cialdini explains, “The joy is not in experiencing a scarce commodity but in possessing it. It is important that we do not confuse the two.”

I accompanied my sister to Harvey Norman recently because my sister wanted to buy a new mattress. She found a mattress that she liked. The advertised price was $949. She was happy with this price so she approached a salesperson. He came over to us and he said he will see what price he can do and walked off. I thought this odd at the time considering we knew what the advertised price was although my sister was going to attempt to bargain him down. He came back to us and said she can have it for $649. That is $300 off the advertised price. We both thought gee this is easy, no bargaining required. She was happy with this and accepted it.

While my sister felt satisfied with this purchase because she expected to pay the advertised price, as I thought about this later, it occurred to me that Harvey Norman had no intention of selling it for $949 but for the price that my sister accepted. In hindsight, she should have still bargained for a cheaper price.

After reading Cialdini’s book, I believe Harvey Norman utilised the contrast principle. According to Cialdini, the contrast principle affects the way we see the difference between the two things that are presented one after another. It is a weapon of influence because not only does it work, it is also virtually undetectable. It is commonly used by retail clothiers. For example, suppose a man enters a fashionable men’s clothing store to purchase a three-piece suit and a sweater. The salespeople are instructed to sell the most expensive item first because when it comes time to look at sweaters, even expensive ones, their prices will not seem as high in comparison.

So in our Harvey Norman scenario, we were “presented” with the advertised price of $949 but when the salesman came back to us with a different price, our perception of the new price was that is was “cheaper”. And while it was cheaper than the advertised price, I believe we were fooled into a common sales tactic used by many of the large retailers. As I stated above, the tactic is virtually undetectable.

This book is as applicable to the professional sales manager as it is to stay-at-home mum. The principles Cialdini teaches you can help you influence the most resistant of all audiences – your children.

Care to share any of your experiences? Which side of the fence do you sit on?

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An introvert living in an extroverted world

•March 15, 2010 • 12 Comments

I often think I am not cut out for this cut-throat world we live in. It goes by too fast and there are far too many big personalities in it for my liking. I do not think my personality is suited to the world as it stands today. The world seems to want and accept only loud, strong personalities with big egos, none of which I have. OK, maybe not the ego part because all humans are born with an ego but you get my drift.

I find myself often getting swallowed up in day to day life and I feel invisible. I do know that we create our own existence so perhaps I am to blame for allowing myself not be heard, my voice not raised loud enough so you can hear it echo from the cliff tops of Dover. Introduced to a new people, it is easy for them not to remember me – I don’t exactly stand out from the crowd. In fact I am fairly unmemorable. I’m certainly not cool or trendy and I cannot cure the world of cancer. It would be good to be Italian – they are naturally gifted at being loud without having to try (I love Italians by the way). Oh but for me I have to try to make the effort for you to even remember my name. However having an unusual name does help with that.

But I am not here to beat myself up about being unforgettable. I can accept that. But what I have a problem with is the world not accepting personalities like my own; the quiet achiever who goes about their business efficiently without the need to show off or name drop or exaggerate stories or situations so people will think they’re interesting, yet always feel the pressure to conform to be something or someone they are not. I am an introvert living in this materialistic, extroverted world created by and for extroverts and I also happen to be working in an extroverted field – marketing and communications. Yes that is my choice but it was my writing skills – not my sales skills – that got me working in this field. Unfortunately the majority of people who work in this space are predominantly extroverted buffoons with huge, huge egos. I worked in the corporate arena once and I hated it. I hated the pretence of people who believed they were so important but lacked the morals their parents never instilled in them. I am not suggesting all extroverted people and those that work in the corporate world are terrible people, but not everybody is extroverted and we introverts let our actions do the talking for us, not our mouth.

What exactly is an introvert you may be wondering? Well to put it simply, we are the opposite of an extrovert. Extroverts tend to draw their energy from interacting with people and come alive at gatherings and parties with lots of people. Extroverts thrive on change and new experiences. They truly adore the hustle and bustle of modern life. They should, after all they created it.

Now as for us introverts, well that is a different story altogether. We tend to be the quiet, unassuming folks you see blending into the background. We tend to draw our energy from within ourselves and too much outside stimulation tends to drain us. That doesn’t mean that we introverts do not like people or enjoy their company. It’s just that we prefer to limit our exposure to smaller groups of people for shorter periods of time. However, introverts are not your average wallflower. We are not all shy or antisocial by any means. We tend to have a very active inner life and we create our energy from such activities as reading, writing, and just about any other solitary venture. (Surprise, surprise).

Before I go further, it must be stated that introverts are not better than extroverts or vise-versa. Both are merely personality types, with extroverts making up approximately 75 per cent of the population, and introverts just 25 per cent. Extroverts might be aptly classified as the doers and introverts as the thinkers. Thats not to imply that extroverts do not think or that introverts do not do. Both types just have different temperaments. It pretty much boils down to how each type generates their unique energy.

I started a course last week and it consists mainly of people from corporate backgrounds with years of experience in traditional marketing.  10 per cent of the course grade must be earned through class participation. That means having to ask lots of questions and actively participate in class discussions every week. That may seem reasonable to some of you but it struck me that this course does not cater to us quiet type of characters. There are a lot of strong personalities in the class, many of which have strong egos and for good reason I suppose. On the train home after the course, an overwhelming sense of loneliness came over me.

To me, it just seems to get ahead in today’s world you have to have a big personality of which I do not have.  I have never been one to generally ask a lot of questions in a class environment because I learn more effectively by observing and absorbing all of the information. As a result, those of us that have a quite nature are made to suffer the consequences i.e. I am a risk of not earning 10 per cent of the course grade due to my personality type. Now I think, how is that fair? If I choose to observe and listen in class why should I be penalised for that? I consider that to be participatory.  Now I will be going to class every week for the next three months with my anxiety levels so high that I may not be able to learn and absorb everything that is being taught due to the pressure of now having to conform and actively participate in a way I am not comfortable to do. I thought adult learning was meant to feel like we are not at school?

Us modest, quiet types can be just as ambitious and goal driven as the rest of them and dare I say, entrepreneurial. We just don’t have the need to tell everyone about it. We are capable of creating as much success as we desire. Did you know that Lucille Ball and Tom Hanks were all shy at one time in their lives?  Lucille Ball, the woman we watched stuffing chocolates in her mouth from a conveyor belt with sidekick Ethel Mertz on I Love Lucy. Perceived as shy by teachers at her drama school and discouraged from pursuing a career in show business, Lucille Ball did not give up.  The rest is history.

For personal growth reasons, this course is probably ideal. It will challenge me to interact with people I do not normally interact with and get me out of my comfort zone, which is the core issue. I understand this and I do understand we have to do things in life we do not always want to do and enjoy. Suck it up sister I can hear you say. Well, that maybe so and I will suck it up for the next three months for your information. I would like to see a world where people accept and are tolerant of all personality types that co-exist together. Not all of us interested in becoming the next Zig Ziglar but there are some of us that would like to become the next Jane Austen.

Any introverts or (extroverts) out there that would like to share their experiences?

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