It finally happened. I couldn’t put it off any longer. Yesterday, I ordered my first pair of reading glasses. It’s a clear signal. I’m getting older. When I handed the Optician my prescription, she congratulated me.

It caught me off guard. Is she congratulating me for getting old?

We then went through the process of picking out frames. I enjoyed trying on glasses. I found a pair that made me look good. If not good, at least smarter.

By the time I left the store, I felt good about getting my first pair of glasses.

This optician guided me on a process of bringing me from dejected to happy.

Of course, as a student of persuasion, I had to know. How did she do it?

The Amateur Mindset

I always approach a learning situation with the mindset of an amateur. I’m open to all ideas from those who know more than I do.

The woman who helped me has been dealing with people like me for thirty-two years.

She goes through a similar routine with all first-time adults. She has similar routines for other scenarios.

For people like me, getting your first pair of reading glasses can be a bit emotional. It’s a sign you’re aging.

Turning My Emotions Around

What brought me from distressed to content?

One of the first things we did was look at frames. After a quick evaluation of my face (size and shape) she picked out a few frames.

When I put on my second pair, I smiled.

“Wow. I kind of like these,” I said to her.

agreed. She said it was a perfect look for me. Was she being honest? Was she just flattering me? I don’t know.

What flipped that switch in my head?

Here’s her secret.

It wasn’t her words that turned my emotion around. It was one of the seven deadly sins.


Seeing myself in the mirror with a cool pair of glasses reversed my negative emotion in an instant. This is why we picked out frames before we looked up insurance coverage or went through the technical steps.

With her thirty-two years experience, she knows the power of vanity to reset our emotions. Taken to an extreme, vanity impaires our decision making. That leads to unpleasant side effects.

That natural pride in our appearance, in moderate doses, injects some pleasure into our psyche.

Here’s The Tricky Part

Playing to someone’s vanity feels fake. Telling someone they should feel proud of their abilities, appearance or qualities means little. They need to come to that conclusion on their own

How did the optician do it? Simple. A demonstration. I put on the glasses and looked in the mirror. That’s all it took. She didn’t need to say a word.

Persuasion without saying a word. She schooled me.


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There’s nothing better than coming home to a spotless house. Yesterday, the cleaning crew came for their weekly visit. The house was spotless. I walked into my office and noticed the books I had removed were placed neatly on the shelves – and on the ledge I’m using as a shelf.

I took a quick look and grabbed the ones I needed. It got me thinking. Of all the books I own, which are the really great ones? And, how do I even define great?

I define a great book this way:

Any book that I’ve read at least twice.

That’s a simplistic definition. Sure. But consider this. You would never read a book more than once unless it really blew your mind.

Plus, I find that to get the most out of a great book, you need to read it several times. The information doesn’t stick after just one reading.

My interests lie in marketing, writing, persuasion, personal growth and creativity. Keep that bias in mind as you browse the list.

The Ten Books I’ve Read (At Least) Twice

Resonate by Nancy Duarte

This is a book on creating powerful presentations. If that’s all you use it for you’ll gain immense value. The concepts she teaches go far beyond the realm of presentations. I’ve applied the concepts in this book to copywriting and marketing. Every time I open up this book I learn something new. It’s impossible to extract all the value from a single reading.

Tested Advertising Methods (4th Edition) by John Caples

Everyone wants the latest and greatest tools and tricks to sell with words. One “trick” remains king of them all. Ground yourself in the basics. Learn the building blocks of copywriting and persuasion. I’ve read this book several times.  It’s my number one go-to source for correcting bad habits I pick up.

Tip: Buy the 4th edition. It’s out of print. Buy a used copy for about $20. Avoid the current edition. It includes “updates” that detract from the value.

Made To Stick by Chip and Dan Heath

What makes a message stick? Dan and Chip lay it all out. I never intended to read this more than once.  I keep going back to it. They explain the concepts in such concrete and simple terms.  Hint – concreteness and simplicity are two of their secrets.

Wired For Story by Lisa Cron

Do you know how to write a good story? Lisa breaks it down into simple, easy to follow steps. I know everyone raves about Stephen King’s On Writing. I keep going back to Wired For Story because of the simplicity and the easy to follow examples she provides.

Thinking Fast And Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Although intended as a self-help book, it serves as a valuable primer for learning what makes humans tick. In fact, my interest in persuasion stems from this book. Like Resonate, you need to read this book several times to glean the full value.

Tools Of Critical Thinking by David Levy

Ask ten people to define critical thinking. You’ll get ten different answers. Everyone preaches its importance. Nobody can really say what it means. Levy breaks it down into thirty metathoughts with clear examples. Besides the personal benefits from applying these lessons, it lays a foundation for studying why we do what we do.

Writing Tools by Roy Peter Clark

I debated whether I should include this. It’s more of a resource than a typical non-fiction book. It’s such a great source of writing wisdom I felt compelled to include it. Like Wired For Story, he includes real examples to go along with theory. Every writer needs this on their desk.

Mindset by Carol Dweck

Mindset plays such an important role in everything we do. The first time you read this book it blows your mind. Read it a second and third time to reinforce the lessons.

Influence – They Psychology Of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini

I first read this fifteen years ago. A former mentor recommended it to me.  I went ten years before reading it again. The lessons are timeless. Many in the sales and marketing world refer to it as the bible.

A Technique For Producing Ideas by James Webb Young

This book is seventy-seven years old. It’s only twenty-five pages. The simplicity makes it the best book on creativity I’ve ever read.

Plus, Half Of This Book

Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor Frankl

Think you got problems? Read the first half of this book. Your problems won’t seem so big. It’s the graphic story of Viktor Frank’ls experience in a Nazi concentration camp.  I recommend half of a book because only the first half of the book is worthwhile. The second half is about his approach to psychology.

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The 5 Elements Of Positioning Yourself As An Authority

A double-parked police car with flashing lights sat outside a convenience store. I noticed it as I crossed the street.

“Curious. I wonder what’s going on,”  I said to myself.

I spotted the policeman inside the store. He was shopping for an afternoon snack. I shop here a few times a week. There’s always a different vibe when there’s an officer inside.

The teenagers behave more like adults.

The adults go out of their way to show their appreciation and defer to his authority. Today, there was a line at the checkout. Two people offered to let the officer cut in front of them. The officer declined but thanked the two men.

This common occurrence shows us the power of authority. When you hold authority, people listen – often without question.

You might think being an expert in warrants recognition as an authority.

Being an authority is not the same as being an expert.

Many experts fail to command authority. Many who hold authority lack expertise.

Where Authority Comes From

What can you do to command authority for your area of expertise?


First, never convince people you’re an expert who deserves authority. When you convince, you sound needy and desperate.

The right question is:

How will others conclude on their own that I am an authority?

You have four techniques at your disposal to build your authority. Evil doers exploit these tactics for nefarious purposes. History proves that.  Purpose and intent determine whether usage is good or evil.


Who do you think is a better source of medical advice? A woman in a business suit or a woman wearing a white lab coat? The white lab coat is an authority symbol. A police uniform is an authority symbol. Awards from an organization are symbols. When someone sees these symbols they make the leap and assume authority.


The power of labels comes from context. Politics is a prime example. Once someone becomes a Senator, Governor or CEO, they inherit the power associated with that label. They don’t have to do anything to demand that power. It comes with the label. Labeling is a powerful tool. It takes abstract ideas and gives them substance.

Higher Authority

Sometimes we lack the knowledge ourselves to claim authority. But, we have access to a higher authority who does have the answers. A religious leader may not have the answers, but he claims to have access to god. An investment advisor may lack experience. What if he dined with Warren Buffet once a week to talk stocks?


Use hindsight to explain a result or outcome. Provide a lesson learned. Political, business and social pundits exploit this tactic. Let’s pretend the stock market drops two-hundred points. A pundit gets on television and explains why it happened. He uses hindsight bias to arrive at a conclusion. The act of explaining the cause of an outcome makes you look like an authority to people seeking an answer.

Warning. Now that you know this, you may never trust another “pundit” again.


When others tout you as an authority people listen. They often accept the label without seeking any other proof. This is where social proof, testimonials and recommendations come into play.

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