Book reviews

Book Review–Enchantment: the Art of Changing Hearts, Minds and Actions

Having read some excellent posts from Guy Kawasaki and noting how ubiquitous his name is in marketing circles,  I bought this book with high expectations. It did not meet my expectations.

The book reminded me of one of those food sampler baskets you get at Christmas. A few items are very nice, most are palatable but forgettable, and some are kind of funky, to put it kindly. Let’s call them the good, the average, and the ugly.

The Good

Guy Kawasaki obviously is witty and well-read, which is one of the reasons he’s so influential. His book had some sparkles in them, although most of them were derived from other sources.

I liked his description of the “Dopeler Effect”, which is “the tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.” A lot of speakers seem to rely on this as their main tactic.

One quote which I will definitely use in my sales training was, “when you buy something cheap and bad, the best you’re going to feel about it is when you buy it. When you buy something expensive and good, the worst you’re going to feel about it is when you buy it.”

I also liked the story of the car wash that changed its offer of,  “Buy eight washes, get one free,” to buy ten washes, get one free, and we’ve already given you credit for the first two.”

There are a lot of little nuggets like these in the book, and sometimes one is all it takes to make the book worth it.

The Average

If you haven’t read any books on influence or persuasion before, there is a wide range of ideas here that you will find helpful. Like a sampler, you get a small taste of ideas from some very good books, including Made to Stick (Heath and Heath), Influence (Cialdini), and Drive (Pink). I’ve placed the links to the sources here because you’ll get far more out of them.

For those of you who get value out of listening to the flight attendant’s instructions on how to fasten your seat belt, you will definitely learn a lot from the section that tells you how to shake hands.

Overall, the impression I got from reading the book is that it was a series of recycled blog posts strung together. Each one had some merit and some value, but generally only skimmed the surface of a lot of the ideas. If you’re starting out in learning about persuasion, read the book and use it as a starting point to find other books like those mentioned above.

The Ugly

There were a few sections in the book that I found rather bizarre, if not distasteful. For instance, the book spends several pages touting the virtues of swearing as a way of being more influential, presumably by showing you’re a real person.  If by real, you mean coarse and unprofessional, then by all means go for it, although I can’t quite figure out why he forgot to include belching or passing gas.

He also includes stories from his fans at the end of each chapter, and I was a bit creeped out by the testimonial from the Hungarian who has watched Guy’s video hundreds of times (I’d be really nervous about that one).

I think Kawasaki mailed this one in. I was not enchanted.

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