A massive update to one of my all-time favorite and formative books, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Dr. Robert Cialdini spurred a return visit to Remarkable People. At the time I recorded, he was the only return guest but then Dr. Jane Goodall snuck in for Earth Month. If you’re into marketing, influencers, evangelism, sales, or influencing people, don’t miss this episode!
Bob is the Regents’ Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Marketing at Arizona State University. I think of him as the “godfather of influence,” friend, and inspiration.
In this episode, we discuss the tactical and practical aspects of:
How digitization has affected the principles of persuasion
The implications of a new principle of persuasion: unity
Why three data points are far more effective than one or two
Rediscover why people say “Yes!” as Dr. Cialdini— 3-time New York Times bestselling author of INFLUENCE and the seminal expert in the fields of influence & persuasion—explains the psychology behind it and shows you how to apply these insights ethically.
Listen to Dr. Robert Cialdini on Remarkable People:
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AI transcript of Guy Kawasaki’s Remarkable People podcast with Dr. Robert Cialdini
This is an automated transcript. It is sometimes incomplete and inaccurate because of the limitations of transcription services. However, we wanted to provide it for people who have hearing issues or prefer to read the interview.
Guy Kawasaki: Hello, I’m Guy Kawasaki, and this is Remarkable People. Think of this podcast as NPR without the pledge drive.
Today’s remarkable guest is Bob Cialdini. Bob is the only guest who has had two episodes of remarkable people. That’s because Bob is the godfather of influence. I also think of him as a friend, a colleague, and an inspiration.
We are celebrating the massive update of one of my favorite informative books, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. Bob is the Regent’s Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Marketing at Arizona State University.
In this episode, we discuss the tactical and practical aspects of, how digitization has affected the principles of persuasion, the implications of a new principle of persuasion, unity, and why three data points are far more effective than one or two.
I’m Guy Kawasaki, this is Remarkable People. And now, here’s the remarkable Bob Cialdini. Part two.
Guy Kawasaki: So you’re excited about the new book?
Robert Cialdini: I am, I’m looking forward to seeing what happens with it because it’s a revision, so you don’t expect the same sort of splash associated with it. On the other hand, I’ve added two hundred and twenty pages, so it’s almost another book.
Guy Kawasaki: So is it now about four hundred pages long?
Robert Cialdini: Five hundred and three.
Guy Kawasaki: Oh my God, it’s the War and Peace of Influence.
Robert Cialdini: Yeah, yeah. Some of that, a significant percentage, is references and end belts. I, I was once talking to somebody who was a marketer and she was saying, “Why do you have so many references in your book? We believe you. We believe that you’re an..”And I said, “Well, there are people who want to see it, and I want to be sure as just said that I can be checked.” And she’s looking at me, is there a very public, puzzling? And then I said, “But it’s my brand.” And she said, “Oh, okay. All right. Okay. It’s the brand depiction that you are solidifying there,” which is not why I do it, but okay.
Guy Kawasaki: So ethics and morality wasn’t good enough for her. It had to be branding.
Robert Cialdini: It had to be, yeah, it would be brand congruent to ring her bell.
Guy Kawasaki: I have a simple tactical question. So you see this document that I’m holding here? So this document, it’s the Word document printed out of the sixty-six new tips and findings. I want to know, whose idea was it to come up with this document and provide it to reviewers?
Can I tell you like, no bullshit? I have received hundreds of books, hundreds of books. Yours is a revision as you pointed out, so maybe you had to do this because you need to show the delta between version one and version two? But I have never had something like this, so convenient and so easy in order to review a book, prepare for a podcast, anything like this. So this just another piece of evidence, Bob, that you are the fricking master of influence and persuasion.
Robert Cialdini: This warms my heart to hear that, Guy, because I got some pushback from the people at, they say, “Oh no, no, that’s too much information.” That my public relations person and, “Too much, you don’t want to overcome. You want them to be natural and just ask…” No, no, no. You want to intrigue them and inform them so that they’re partners with you.
Guy Kawasaki: I know, whoever told you that was wrong. I think it does two things. One, it makes my life a lot easier, but two, just the, the gravitas of the list, the length of the list, there is now no question in my mind that this is not just Version 1.1. This is Version two. It’s not just that it doubled in length. It’s like, wow, there’s a lot of new stuff here. So, you tell your publicist to just stick to publicity, leave the influence and persuasion to you. Okay.
Robert Cialdini: Okay.
Guy Kawasaki: Okay.
Robert Cialdini: That’ll be easy to do because I’ve been telling her that.
Guy Kawasaki: I would really like to know about the ramifications that you have figured out on the six principles of version one. So how has digitalization, social media, et cetera, change reciprocity, consistency, social proof, authority, liking, and scarcity?
Robert Cialdini: Here’s what’s happened that I’ve learned in spending a lot of time on, the new platforms. Those principles stil, make a big difference. In fact, what has happened is that there’s been a migration to those platforms, but they still work on those platforms because it’s about human behavior.
At the end of the day, we’re still asking people to move in our direction, and those principles are part of the human condition. They’re the sorts of things that are primal, that have developed either through the process of evolution or through the process of socialization to spur people to say yes when one or another of those principles is encountered. And whether they’re encountered on E platforms or face to face or print advertisement, if these are the, the cues people use to determine when to say yes, they will still be the case.
I’ll give you an example because there was a study done of ecommerce sites and AB tests on those sites. And they looked at which were the tests which were the features in those tests that produced the biggest conversion from prospect to purchaser.
And, they were the six principles of influence. It wasn’t various technological features of the site, it was the six principles, even to the point that the top one was scarcity, but it was a particular form of scarcity. It was limited availability, limited number of products, or services, or opportunities, which the research in face-to-face interactions shows, works better than limited time offers, which was the same thing they found on the E platforms.
So not only do you get scarcity winning the day–there was a supermarket examination of all the various signage and promotions that they had used over the years, this supermarket chain. And what did they find? They found that the top one was scarcity. And within that, within the scarcity appeals, it was scarcity of number rather than scarcity of time. Right.
That differentiated. So what we’re finding is, these online platforms are using the same triggers of influence that we’ve always used, but they’re using them–giving people more access to them.
So if I would say there was one principle of influence that has been elevated by the electronic media, it is social proof. That’s the one that has risen the most, because now we have access to a greater number of individuals from all over the world; who are giving us their impressions, their experiences, their opinions — in chat groups, in user communities and so on, we can get access to social proof like never before, and that principle has taken the biggest leap forward, I think, since the initiation of electronic marketing.
Guy Kawasaki: It has taken the biggest leap, but just to be sure, you’re saying that it’s still second to scarcity.
Robert Cialdini: You’re exactly right. Social proof came in as second. The first was scarcity of number — access to products or opportunities. The second was social proof and the third was scarcity of time — limited time promotions were third.
Guy Kawasaki: I understand if I’m an e-commerce retailer and I’m saying, “There’s only so many of these cast iron frying pans, or there’s only so many of this limited-edition Nike shoe, but how do you create scarcity for an app, or a service or something digital?”
Robert Cialdini: So this is a great question. And I think there is an answer to it. Say what is unique about your offer, about your product or service that people can’t get unless they go to you. So, without having to limit the numbers that are available, you can say, honestly, “This is something that differentiates us from our competitor. You can’t get it anywhere else, but here,” and that’s formal fear of missing out, which is just essentially scarcity.
Guy Kawasaki: So I’m going to tell people that my podcast is the only place you can get Bob Cialdini talking about Version two of his book in…
Robert Cialdini: This is correct. This is correct. And you strung the right string.
Guy Kawasaki: Now, it seems to me that many people believe that vaccination is a scarce resource. So why hasn’t scarcity worked or maybe it has, it’s just my perception. Why does it not seem to work on about thirty or 40 percent of the population?
Robert Cialdini: That’s an interesting question, but the first thing you said is correct. It has worked. If you’ve ever seen these newscasts where somebody tries to cut ahead in line, and you lose your place compared to this person, people go nuts. They want to rip that person’s, shirt off and throw them to the back of this, so, scarcity does work.
The fact that so many people are clamoring for it, and there are limited availability–that certainly works. So does social proof in the same sense, right? But here’s the one thing that supercharges social proof that communicators haven’t been using properly in the realm of getting your vaccination. And that is, it used to be the case that a particular percentage of people thought they wanted to get vaccinated.
Let’s say it was 47 percent. Now, it’s up to 67 percent. Giving the number 67 percent is a big mistake. That’s a statistic. If you give the number 47 percent, now it’s 67 percent, that’s a difference. So now you have two data points. One data point is a statistic. Two data points, that’s a difference.
But if you were to say, it used to be 47 percent, then it became 57 percent, and now it’s 67 percent, three points are a trend. And we have done research to show that if people see a trend, they project it into the future so that they expect that soon it will be 27 percent.
And now you have not just existing social proof working for you, you have future social proof in your corner, working for you. That’s the mistake that they’re making, they fail to fill in that third data point in between what it used to be and what it is now.
Guy Kawasaki: So, have you called the CDC up and said, “Listen, let me tell you, I am the godfather of influence. Let me tell you what you should be doing.”
Robert Cialdini: I didn’t call them up, but they called me, and I’ve told them.
Guy Kawasaki: They called you?
Robert Cialdini: Yeah, yeah because in senior centers, it was only 37 percent of the staff intended to get a vaccination, but that jumped up after about two months. And then it jumped up again after another two months. So now it’s over 57 percent, okay, so, what I told them to do is fill in that number, fill in that trend. That’s going to give you the most traction in causing people to believe they need to get on board with this because that’s the future.
Guy Kawasaki: And so, if I were Fox, I would be saying, “Only 67 percent of the people want vaccination.” Can you believe that one third of the people don’t want the vaccination? Give them one data point?
Robert Cialdini: Yeah, so that, that would be, right, a mistake.
Guy Kawasaki: But if Fox might want that–they’re anti-vax.
Robert Cialdini: It, it would be mistake for the rest of us, who want herd immunity.
Guy Kawasaki: So now I understand the ramifications on scarcity and social proof. What has social media and digitalization meant for authority? Is it the number of follows is a legitimate measure of authority?
Robert Cialdini: No, because it can be false, it can be faked. That’s the problem. And we’re losing trust in those kinds of metrics, including, for example, star ratings. Do you know that the most effective star rating on a review site, at online review site is not, not all fives? It’s between 4.2 and 4.7. If you get below that, people think, “Oh, this isn’t so hot.” If you get above 4.7, people think fake. They’ve lost trust because of all these counterfeiters, who are buying reviews or fabricating reviews.
Guy Kawasaki: How do you make an assertion like that? How did you do research, or whoever did the research, how do they come up with such an interesting finding like that?
Robert Cialdini: It was a group of researchers. They did a series of studies where they projected these kinds of star ratings and looked at people’s willingness to buy and found that there was this sweet spot that was between 4.2 and 4.7. They also found to this same theme, if there was one negative review on the site, it increased purchases significantly.
Guy Kawasaki: Why?
Robert Cialdini: Because it said the site is genuine. These people are informing up the data.
Guy Kawasaki: Well, Bob, I just went through the Apple podcast app, and I looked up my cumulative average review, and it’s 4.5.
Robert Cialdini: You’re a winner, man. And you deserve it.
Guy Kawasaki: I knew I was a winner, but okay. Rumor has it, there’s a seventh principle. What is it?
Robert Cialdini: Yeah, it is called unity. And as an influence principle, it goes as follows: if a communicator can convince his or her audience that they share a meaningful social identity, everything becomes easier within the influence process.
If I can say to my fellow group members, not Guy is like us, if I can say Guy is one of us, it changes everything. Guy is of us. Because when people see someone else as within the boundaries of we, who they will describe as we, they trust that person more. They believe that person more, they cooperate with that person more, and they say yes to that person more.
There was a nice little study done on a college campus, researchers took a young woman, put her on a college walkway, and had her ask college students passing by to donate to the United Way. And she was, she was carrying a United Way can, a canister. She got some contributions. If she proceeded the request with one sentence, “I’m a student here too,” she more than doubled contributions. I’m one of you. I’m of you. And everybody down came the barriers to compliance. So we can do that to the extent that that’s possible. This becomes something that is in the toolbox that can be used.
Guy Kawasaki: But, hypothetically speaking, Bob, how can a white billionaire convince poor white people that he’s one of them?
Robert Cialdini: Yeah, he has the same fundamental attitudes as they do.
Guy Kawasaki: So the net worth is not inconsequential, but it, it, that doesn’t matter. It’s other parameters where they’re one of them.
Robert Cialdini: Right.
Guy Kawasaki: Okay.
Robert Cialdini: Yep.
Guy Kawasaki: Okay.
Robert Cialdini: Yep.
Guy Kawasaki: Another question about the modern times here, how are you doing your research? Is it different?
Robert Cialdini: Yes. Functionally, it’s different because I’m retired, so I don’t, I no longer have graduate students, I no longer have a laboratory space, I no longer have access to the university computer system and so on, equipment.
But I have former students who have university positions around the country, and I hook up with them and we think of studies to do together. And it’s been very successful in that regard, the study on trends, for example. There are other people who’ve done studies on trends, but we did a study once where, and this is with former graduate students, we show people an article that says that saving water in the home is important. So that’s the control group.
Then people get some people get an article that says only 30 percent of people do conserve water in the home. A third group learns that two years ago, it was 20 percent, last year it was twenty-five, and this year it’s 30 percent now.
We say, “Okay, that’s the end of that experiment. And we wanted you to read that, that information and tell us what you thought of the article. But now we’ve got a consumer product study for you. It’s it has to do with a, a new brand of toothpaste.” So we give them a toothbrush with some of the toothpaste on it, and we say, “Go ahead and brush your teeth here in the lab, on this sink here, and then fill out the consumer reaction survey.”
And in secret we measure how much water they use, in brushing their teeth. Those who were told 30 percent of people conserve water in the home, they use now more water than the control group because they can do the math, Guy. They know that if thirty, it means 70 percent don’t care about saving water, that’s social proof.
But those who got a trend to 30 percent, now use the least water of any of them. Significantly less because they can see the trend. They can see that this is the one the way it’s going. So that’s one of the examples of how I’m doing research, but I’m also more concerned than ever. And this is a good example, with the environment, examining how people can be, informed into yes, and be persuaded to be more protective and promotive of the environment.
Guy Kawasaki: I want to ask some tactical questions. We touched on this briefly already, but, the Bob Cialdini, how would you increase the willingness of people to get vaccinated?
Robert Cialdini: There are different kinds of people, but I think you’re talking about the resistant, the resistors, the people who are saying, “Hey, that’s just not for me. I don’t want to do this.” And for whatever reasons they feel that they’re worried about the safety of it or that they might be, guinea pigs or that it, it’s against their, political, for instance…
There’s a technique in persuasion science called the convert communicator that works on these sorts of resisting audiences. It’s somebody from not just their demographic category, but it’s somebody who used to believe what they believed but then has some new information that convinced them to go the other way. It’s worked with other kinds of vaccinations.
For example, if you say to somebody who wouldn’t let their kids have a measles shot, you say, and you have convert communicators, “That that’s what I believe. And then my daughter got the measles, she’s deaf now, and I feel so bad about that,” that person convinces those individuals who were like this person now.
So you can’t reject this person out of hand, a convert communicator. He or she is of you. You can’t just reject that proposal, “That’s not like me, that person doesn’t understand.” No, this person gets it and has a new piece of information that you don’t have that has changed their mind and has now conveyed that new piece of information to you.
Guy Kawasaki: So if we were to transfer that lesson to racial tension and prejudice, the extreme example would be someone from the Ku Klux Klan saying “I used to…”
Robert Cialdini: There are such people
Guy Kawasaki: Yes, yes.
Robert Cialdini: Who do that, and you know, they’re very powerful communicators, so powerful that you won’t get those groups to ever invite those people to the–because they’re afraid of how powerful they will be.
Guy Kawasaki: I meet with many entrepreneurs and they’re creating some kind of Android or iOS app, and they have no concept of how hard it is to get someone to download and install and use an app. So if someone asks Bob, “Bob, how do I get someone to download and install an app?” What do you say?
Robert Cialdini: I don’t know that there’s a study on that in particular, but there’s research on something very similar. So you, you have an online, service, maybe a subscription service, you want people to register for your, your site. But you want personal information about them that you want to be able to use.
The problem is people stop when the amount of information that’s being requested or the amount of time involved gets too honorous, right? So they bail out. So they, there turns out to be a strategy that web designers have found that reduces this tendency to bail out. And it, it depends on the principle of commitment and consistency that once people feel committed to something, and have got some sunk costs into it, they want to stay, they want to be consistent with what they’ve already done.
The trick is to reduce the number of data fields on the first page of the registration document, so that you can quickly get through the first page, and you’re now onto the second page. Which means, “Oh, I’ve made a commitment to this. I’m already into the second page.” And one study found that if you reduce the number of fields on the first page from four to three, you increase registration by 50 percent.
Guy Kawasaki: Really, just that?
Robert Cialdini: Because you get people moving. You get people on board. They’ve, they’ve completed the first page. They feel like they’re in the swing of it. They’ve made a commitment to it by turning the first page.
Guy Kawasaki: I love talking to you ’cause I just love that kind of tactical stuff.
Robert Cialdini: See, we’re alike in this, Guy, what we like is those tactical things that are costless. They require a small change, but that hook into a big psychological principle that guides behavior. And so the power isn’t in that little change we’ve made, it’s in its connection to a big principle, like commitment and consistency.
Guy Kawasaki: So how does one become more influential and persuasive on Zoom? Because so much of our interactions are now Zoom, or some kind of virtual conference.
Robert Cialdini: I think you have to be more interactive. You have to draw attention to yourself. You need to be in that chat stream. You need to raise your hand. There’s that, that option that allows you to raise your hand, so people are focusing on you, and we have research that shows that when people focus on a person or a thing, they assume that that person or thing is worth the attention.
Daniel Kahneman, once was asked, “What’s the single psychological phenomenon that you think would most improve our understanding of how we work as human beings?” And he didn’t, he didn’t nominate, prospect theory, which won him the Nobel Prize in economics that losses, the prospect of losing something, is more psychologically motivating than the prospect of gaining that same thing.
Here’s what he said, “In life there’s nothing as important as you think it is while you are thinking about it.” That is, focusing on something causes you to elevate your estimation of its importance.
So anybody who brings attention to themselves, and it’s through these devices, being interactive, asking questions, raising their hands, and so on, not in a pestering way, but in a meaningful way, so I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had questions in some sort of Zoom call, I mean, legitimate questions, and I just don’t raise them. I don’t put them in the chat stream. That’s a mistake. It’s a mistake. As long as it’s a valid question and I’ve drawn attention to myself, having a valid question, that elevates my import in the eyes of the rest of the group.
Guy Kawasaki: That’s probably very pertinent to Zoom in a classroom. That’s great advice for students too, to be taken seriously by their peers and the teacher.
Robert Cialdini: I hadn’t even thought about that. And that’s, it’s, that’s right. You’re right. You’re right.
Guy Kawasaki: I’m going to tell my son that right after we hang up.
Robert Cialdini: Yeah.
Guy Kawasaki: A little bit of nostalgia here. Looking back, you and I we’re kind of old guys at this point, what’s the proudest thing you’ve done in your career?
Robert Cialdini: The proudest? So that’s really a question nobody’s asked me before, but I would say it’s deciding to write my book Influence before I had tenure.
Guy Kawasaki: Why? What?
Robert Cialdini: Yeah, because what you’re supposed to do in an academic environment is accumulate a lot of articles, professional articles, research, empirical contributions. A book is seen as something different, and you want to make your case, you, you want to plant your flag in terms of a particular research area that you’ve contributed to, otherwise you don’t get tenure.
I just needed to write this book. I needed it. I needed to get it out of me. If you look at my, my resume and the number of publications I have. I have a big hole for about two, two and a half of years while I was writing this book, where I publish nothing. But it seemed to be worth it– to take a full swing, instead of just chipping away with a punch single here through the infield, I wanted to go for the fences.
Guy Kawasaki: Now, when you say worth it, you don’t mean financially. You mean for the big picture, right?
Robert Cialdini: For the big picture. Not only has it been good for me in terms of my academic standing, but I’ve contributed something beyond that small group of inbred professionals who were only talking to one another.
And it just seemed to me that I needed to talk to the people beyond the academic community about the research that they had paid for. Let’s be honest. The research in academic circles is paid for by people outside of the academic community, with their taxes or with their contributions to research universities and so on. They’re entitled to know what we found out about them with their money.
Guy Kawasaki: If you put it that way, yeah.
Robert Cialdini: There’s an implicit contract. Okay, we’ll fund this research, but then you tell us how that research allows us to comport ourselves more successfully or with more understanding as a result. And we always, we’re thinking failing at that as a, as, as a profession academia.
If I can speak to my own discipline, social psychology. If social psychology had been a business, it would be known for having great research and development units, and no shipping department.
Guy Kawasaki: Sounds like Xerox PARC.
Robert Cialdini: We didn’t ship to anybody except one another. We, we didn’t have a way to get this stuff out. And then along came this genre of popular behavioral science or popular academic science, right?
As for books, for the trade audience, for the average person, who’s interested in ideas, and now we are communicating, but back then we were afraid to do it. And I’ll tell you why. There’s a guy named James Boyle, a British legal scholar who said, “You’ve never heard condescension until you’ve heard an academic pronounced the word popularizer.”
And we used to be afraid of that, that we would be seen as popularizers rather than the real McCoy. So I’m proud of saying to myself, hell with that. The people who paid for this research are entitled to know what we found out.
Guy Kawasaki: Do you think that you’re still an outlier or has the world come around to your view of getting knowledge?
Robert Cialdini: My home discipline of social psychology now has a number of people, including young people, who have written really valuable books for the trade audience for the, the non-academic audience. So I, I don’t know, I’m not going to assign myself first mover status in this, but I remember worrying about it.
I remember worrying about, being depicted, being perceived as a popularizer, and, and somehow less worthy of academic standing as a result. But it didn’t happen with Influence. And I think I know why it didn’t happen — because I didn’t try to promote my research in the book, I talk about behavioral science and persuasion science in general.
Well, if, if that’s what I was promoting, then all my behavioral science and persuasion science colleagues were benefited by the success of that book. And I’ve always liked a particular saying that I think applies here, “People don’t sink the boats they’re riding in.” And I arranged for these folks to be riding in my boat.
Guy Kawasaki: And, and in a sense, that brings us back to where we started about why there’s a 550-page book with a lot of it being citations, that’s where they’re sitting in your boat with you.
Robert Cialdini: Yeah. That’s the other thing about it. I, because that those citations were there, they knew that if they were going to take issue with what I had to say, they were going to deal with somebody who read the literature. They were dealing with somebody who had to gotten smart on this stuff in the process of writing the book. It wasn’t going to be a cream puff that they were going to do, do battle with.
Guy Kawasaki: So when you mentioned these young people, are you referring to people like Katy Milkman, Angela Duckworth, those kinds of people?
Robert Cialdini: Well, Angela is, compared to me, she’s young, but she’s prominent, eminent, and so on, but people like Katy who’s a shooting star. Exactly. Yeah.
Guy Kawasaki: I talked to her about vaccination. I am going to do an episode with just her, and I found her quite remarkable. She’s like, I told her that she is the next Bob Cialdini, and I think that that made her year, much less day.
Robert Cialdini: If she believes that and by the end of her career, I’ll be able to bask in her reflected glory.
Guy Kawasaki: Amen. Amen. Is there anything that you look back and you say “I absolutely blew that?”
Robert Cialdini: I’ll tell you what it was. I could have written that, my book five years earlier.
Guy Kawasaki: Really?
Robert Cialdini: And I didn’t.
Guy Kawasaki: Because you were afraid of?
Robert Cialdini: I was afraid. I was too young to really withstand the slings and arrows that may have come from that, but I had the knowledge, I had the experience, and the perspective, I think. Maybe not five years, but three or four years earlier, I could have been, I could have been out there already helping people understand some of this stuff.
Guy Kawasaki: Here comes to part of the podcast about our sponsor, the reMarkable Tablet Company.
Guy Kawasaki: And one last question. I can’t remember, did I send you a remarkable tablet? I know I offered it to you. Do you know what I’m talking about?
Robert Cialdini: I didn’t get one. No.
Guy Kawasaki: I think we sent an email to all the prior guests, so reMarkable Tablet, it looks like this. And you use it only for taking notes, and it feels like you’re writing on paper, unlike an iPad, would it feels like you’re writing on glass.
Guy Kawasaki: So first of all, I’m going to catch up and send you one.
Robert Cialdini: Yeah, I would love that.
Guy Kawasaki: Okay.
Robert Cialdini: I love the idea of it.
Guy Kawasaki: The reason I bring that up is because, reMarkable Tablet is single purpose. It’s for note-taking; you can’t check your email and social media and all that, you need to be focused on taking notes and writing. Which leads me to my last question for you, which is how does Bob Cialdini godfather of influence, do his best and deepest thinking?
Robert Cialdini: I do it in the morning. I find that I’m sharper then. And what you just said is right. When I can do this, I defer all email and all calls until I’m finished with the task that I have set for myself.
I had a graduate student who was remarkable in her ability to get things done. She was very bright, but no brighter than the other graduate students that, but she had a motor, she just could put things into production. And I asked her how she did it. She said, “I don’t check my email until three thirty.”
Guy Kawasaki: I love that. So, is that what you do?
Robert Cialdini: Well, see, I’m drawn by the siren song of email very often. So, but when I have a task to perform that I really need to get accomplished, then I’ll do that. I won’t allow myself to, check in until the task is finished.
There’s one other thing I do, it’s not so much to think deeply, but it’s to reward myself properly for having completed something. This was, this was really much easier when I was on sabbatical writing my book. If I had a morning where I thought I had accomplished my goals, I allowed myself to go to a restaurant for lunch that I had never visited before. And get into the anticipation of what that might be. And it was, it was great. But I had to be a stern taskmaster not to allow myself of any, leniency in that rule.
Guy Kawasaki: Now, what did you do when, in the pandemic when all the restaurants were closed, what was your little treat?
Robert Cialdini: Then I allow myself a particular dessert that I love, after lunch, because I normally don’t have dessert with lunch, but if I did a good job and I need to reinforce that I need to acknowledge that. And so sure, this is a good way to do it. And I’ll, I’ll dawdle over it with, a strong espresso.
Guy Kawasaki: A dessert generically or is it you’ve got a specific. Apple pie à la mode?
Robert Cialdini: I, I have a weakness for lemon bars and blondies, the opposite of a brownie.
Guy Kawasaki: Yeah. That’s good to know. I hope that life brings you many blondies because it means you’re accomplishing a lot. So, Bob, that’s all I got for you. Thank you. In my career, as I look back, getting to know you has truly been an honor and a privilege. And, there are times I say, “God damn it, Guy, you know, Bob Cialdini. How do you like that?”
Robert Cialdini: I wish we had more time to spend in and, you know, before the pandemic, we were in Bucharest together, remember?
Guy Kawasaki: Yes, of all places.
Robert Cialdini: That was great.
Guy Kawasaki: Alrighty. Thank you so much, and I am going to convince people that my podcast is scarce and is rated four and a half stars.
Robert Cialdini: You’re right. No phonies in there.
Guy Kawasaki: No phonies in there.
Robert Cialdini: That’s all authentic.
Guy Kawasaki: No phonies in there.
One of Bob’s principles of persuasion is reciprocation. The concept of paying people back. Bob once told me power tip about reciprocation.. He says that you should tell people how they can pay you back.
This is good for both of you, because this facilitates people paying you back and clearing the decks, and then you can do more with each other. I hope you’ve enjoyed this episode, and really every episode of Remarkable People.
And now here’s the pitch. I have a way for you to pay me back. How about sending an email or a text message to someone who would enjoy Remarkable People? Suggest they check it out at Remarkablepeople.com.
Thank you very much for doing that. I’m Guy Kawasaki, and this is Remarkable People. My thanks and reciprocation to Jeff Sieh and Peg Fitzpatrick for helping produce another remarkable episode of Remarkable People. Mahalo and aloha.
Guy Kawasaki is the chief evangelist of Canva, an online graphic design tool. Formerly, he was an advisor to the Motorola business unit of Google and chief evangelist of Apple. He is also the author of The Art of Social Media, The Art of the Start, APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur, Enchantment, and nine other books. Kawasaki has a BA from Stanford University and an MBA from UCLA as well as an honorary doctorate from Babson College.