Inconsistent stories

Storytelling is a wonderful skill when it comes to communication and helping others retain information. It is also capable of influencing behaviours to a large extent. And so it has to be used and received carefully.

Stories that are attractive can be inconsistent. Just the other day, I came across this person who decided to be a career coach because he realised he had put so much time and energy into his work he neglected other important things in life. Having been a top performer at work, he now wants to work with individuals to help them perform well at work. Coaching allows his life to be more flexible and to “help” others.

Somehow, it was hard for me to receive that story. Not that I suspect it isn’t true but the difficulty is the fact that he is now teaching others strategies to progress and do well at work which had landed him outside the corporate ladder in the first place. It would seem like there is some paradox here. Surely, one would not want to lead more of others into the regret of neglecting family and life due to work having experienced the full force of that oneself?

I think it’s great more people are becoming entrepreneurs and creating value as freelancers or solopreneurs. A lot of the work to attract and market involves storytelling and positioning yourself well. At the same time, the story you tell serves as a way to align yourself and the work. An inconsistent story breaks that.

Groupthink

Sheeps
A Dip seems fun...

Clive Thompson from Wired wrote a great piece on Groupthink; the main question is whether you can persuade people to like something by convincing them that others also like it?

And the experiments cited in the article gave interesting results that leaves us somehow worrying if our ‘destinies’ are determined by pure luck. It appears that for the very best and very worst, evolutionary forces would more or less elevate or eliminate them in long run but for most of the ones in the middle, their fate could be a matter of chance.

The article seem to imply there’s little way out of the problem of groupthink of such grand scale; it is suggested that the use of social cues for many decision-making is wired into our nature.

Another Week

Another Week Mail
Another Week Mail

The weeks seems to be passing faster as the entries on ERPZ becomes more frequent. The one-entry-per-day rate now is not exactly very sustainable without additional support from guest writers and contributors so I’m once again calling out for interested parties to leave a comment with your emails so I might be able to contact you and get your contribution up.

This week’s reading delves into some less-read areas, namely consumer choice. Knowledge@Wharton recently ran an article about How Assortment Size Influences Healthy Consumer Choices. Earlier, they discussed how environmental cues influence consumer choice too.

The linked article mentioned about the ‘paradox of choice’, which is the topic of Barry Schwartz’s talk on TED.com. He explains the disadvantages of being offered too many choices and the problems associated with the implications of having too many choices in the first place on the psyche of the person after making the decision, citing Dan Gilbert’s presentation in the same TED conference.

Barry is another great speaker, mixing humour consistently throughout his talk with a steady flow of cartoons. The point he makes in our escalating expectations is very real and worth pondering over for anyone who wants to exert discipline on their thinking to keep their mind healthy. He claims he wrote the book, The Paradox of Choice to explain to himself why he felt worst when he got a better jeans than he previously did.

Mail in the Mailbox

More Mails!
More Mails!

This week’s package has arrived! It’s pretty heavy so I’m cutting down on the quantity of reads. As always, we begin with a talk from the wonderful conference, TED; by Physicist David Deutsch that attempts to explain the sudden explosive development in our ability to explain the world. Deutsch speaks slowly and refers to his notes frequently but his explanations and knowledge of reality is brilliant. The anecdotes and examples he gave are both apt and interesting enough to compensate for his lack of speaking prowess. In the lecture, Deutsch introduced the Royal Society‘s motto, “Nullius in Verba” (Latin for “take nobody’s word for it”) which I found immensely intriguing.

For those interested to know about economics in the world today can listen to the interview with 2005 Nobel Economics Laureate Joseph Stiglitz. It’s a pity there’s no subtitles available for the interview as well as the TED.com lecture linked above.

Finally, plunge into the long read by Peter York from moreIntelligentLife, How Marketing has got under our skin explores the history, trends and current state of the issue of self-branding or personal branding.