“This is Marketing” By Seth Godin – Book Review: People Like Us Don’t Do Things Like Them

Book Reviewed by Cory Davis

This Is Marketing: You Can't Be Seen Until You Learn to See: Godin, Seth:  9780525540830: Books - Amazon.ca
This is Marketing By Seth Godin – Cover

This is a book review of Seth Godin’s This is Marketing: You Can’t Be Seen Until You Learn to See (2018), published by Portfolio/Penguin, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC, New York, USA.


This is Marketing does an effective job of addressing cultural challenges the marketing industry has faced for decades. It is a refreshing perspective that attempts to put the humanity back into marketing.

About the Author

Seth Godin image from Joi Ito, image retrieved from Wiki Commons and modified.

Seth Godin is a marketing guru who made the Guerrilla Marketing Hall of Fame, Direct Marketing Hall of Fame and the Marketing Hall of Fame. He has written 19 best-selling books and has given five TED Talks. He is the founder of the podcast Akimbo, and altMBA, a 30-day marketing workshop. In 1996, Godin and Mark Hurst founded Yoyodyne, which was purchased by Yahoo for $30 million dollars two years later. Godin then became Yahoo’s vice president of Direct Marketing. In 2006, he went on to found Squidoo, which within two years became one of the top 500 websites visited globally.

About the Book

“This is Marketing” attempts to change the culture of marketing and shift public perception about what marketers do. We have all had poor experiences with marketing. We have been victims of shady marketing tactics, bought items that were not as advertised, and have been bombarded with untrustworthy marketing content, especially online. This book guides marketers away from the crooked hype train of hacks, and get rich quick schemes enshrouded in false hope. “This is Marketing” is an organic approach that helps marketers leverage their operation’s core competencies to the smallest viable market who could benefit from them the most. This book is about creating change, serving people, and honest work. When you see that YouTube ad of a so-called self-made millionaire who claims to have the one trick that could make you, or anyone rich with the click of a few buttons, you know they did not read this book.

What It Promises The Reader

This book promises to give readers direction by working with you to help spread your ideas and innovations to create change in the world that you want to see.

How It Delivers On Its Promise

The book is broken down into 23 small, easy digestible chapters that provide high level overviews on topics such as identifying your target market (those who you intend to serve), how to engage them, and how to position yourself in the market with respect to your competition.

In the second chapter, he gives five steps to marketing. However this is not a step by step guide, just intended to provide direction.

Five steps of Marketing:

  1. Invest something that is worth producing. Invest in something meaningful to people, something that will help them. Have a powerful story, something that communicates why it is important, and why people should care. Have a contribution that is worth communicating as well. Do something for that cause and tell people about it.
  2. Design and build it out in such a way that a few people will benefit immensely from, that they will really care about. In other words, tailor your product to a very narrow audience. The more narrow the audience, the more personalized your product or service will be. The more personalized it is, the more effective it will be at addressing their unique problems. The broader the audience, the less effective it will be at addressing their unique problems.
  3. Build a story that aligns with the narrative of the tiniest group of people, the “smallest viable market”. Align your story to that narrowest of audiences. Don’t try to make it for everyone, because the more it is for everyone, the more is it personal to no one.
  4. Communicate to people about your product. Engage with your audience. You must put yourself out there, risk rejection, and use rejection to make a better product. You need the feedback to continually improve. Rejection is not a bad thing, it orientates you.
  5. Be present very regularly and be active to see the change you are trying to make, lead people and build confidence. You not only need to market your product, you need to market yourself. Engage with others and be a leader. To market yourself effectively, you need to be honest, authentic and genuine. You need to genuinely want to see the change you are trying to produce in this world, not just in your pockets. If your motives are sideways, hidden, or greedy, people will find out.

Favourite Part of the Book

My favourite part of the book is the author’s perspective. People like Seth do things like this because they want to create change. People like us do not do things like them. By them, I mean the people behind that YouTube advertisement trying to sell you a get-rich-quick scheme, or that this one ingredient will make you thin in no time. Rather than being driven by get-rich scheming, this book helps marketers stay grounded, by reassuring them that better business is done by a genuine desire to serve others and create a change for the better. It humbles us by reminding you that better is not always what you think it should be, but rather by what better means to your audience.

This is Marketing does an effective job of addressing cultural challenges the marketing industry has faced for decades. It is a refreshing perspective that attempts to put the humanity back into marketing. In the first chapter, Seth articulates this message.  He says that shameless marketers have hurt the rest of us by generating a stereotype in the public sphere through scamming, spamming, hustling and shady tactics such as fake reviews, and giving consumers unrealistic expectations of what their products can offer. Marketers today should not follow suite. Effective marketing requires you to understand the needs of consumers intimately and providing them with solutions. Don’t make consumers your victims, rather make them volunteers.

People like us do things this way, because we are genuinely trying to make the world a better place and doing our part to get there. People like us don’t do things like them, because those people are driven by greed, or other ulterior motives that are not in their audience’s best interest.

Some Favourite Quotes:

“The marketing that has suffused our entire lives is not the marketing that you want to do. The shortcuts using money to buy attention to sell average stuff to average people are an artifact of another time…”

“Marketers make change happen: from the smallest viable market, and by delivering anticipated, personal, and relevant messages that people actually want to get.”

“Empathy is at the heart of marketing”.

“When you know what you stand for, you don’t need to compete”. That if all you do is try to fill a gap in the market, you are “nothing but a commodity in the making”.

“Marketers don’t make average stuff for average people. Marketers make change. And they do it by normalizing new behaviours.”

“Advertising is unearned media. It is bought and paid for. And the people you are trying to reach know it. They’re suspicious. They’re inundated. They’re exhausted. You didn’t pay the recipient to run that ad, and yet you want the recipient to pay you with their attention. So you’re ignored”.

Pricing is a marketing tool, not simply a way to get money.”

“Cheap is another way to say scared”.

“Treating people with respect is the best way to earn their attention”.

“What really matters is the quality of their story and the depth of their empathy and generosity”.

“Permission, attention, and enrollment drive commerce.”

“Everyone is famous to 1500 people”

“Just because you can market something doesn’t mean that you should”

Least favourite part of the book

There were areas of this book where I thought it was vague, or too high level to get enough direction from the message. For example, I really appreciate the sections that highlight the need to create and relieve tension in the market, however I did not immediately understand how to apply that concept. There were sections that were also too detailed, such as walking you through how to position yourself on a positioning map, which is very basic marketing curriculum.

Another criticism I have is that it sometimes feels more geared toward physical products rather than services. Since I am more interested in delivering services, it did not connect with me as deeply as I anticipated after reading the first couple chapters. Maybe this book is not for me, I thought. However, the book does incorporate services into it on occation and much of the theory could apply to both services and products. On the other hand, many case studies and examples were about products and the takeaways were product oriented. With some creativity, you can apply them to services.


I really enjoyed reading this book and recommend it to anyone interested to learn more about marketing, entrepreneurship, or those wanting create change in this world. If you are adverse to marketing, like I am, maybe it will help you open yourself to some marketers, those behind causes you believe in and create community around it.

Thank you so much for reading my review of This is Marketing by Seth Godin. I found this book very interesting. But, I am more interested to hear your thoughts and opinions. If you have any thoughts about marketing and this book, please share them in the comment section below. I always appreciate it when you do.

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Bringing Out the Best in People (1985) By Alan Loy McGinnis Book Review

This is a book review of Alan Loy McGinnis’ “Bringing Out the Best in People: How to Enjoy Helping Others Excel” published in 1985 by Augsburg Publishing House.


“…a lighthearted look into the principles behind motivating others.”

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About the Author

The late Alan Loy McGinnis was a psychotherapist and the founder and director of the Valley Counselling Centre in Glendale, California. He is the author of several books, including The Friendship Factor (1979), The Power of Optimism (1993) and Confidence (1987).

He received degrees in theology, psychology and counselling from Wheaton College, Princeton Theology Seminary, Fuller Theological Seminary, and Columbia University.

About the Book

This book resulted from a seminar given by Alan Loy McGinnis titled “How to Bring the Best Out of People”. It turned out to be very popular as there was a growing recognition that managers and leaders need good interpersonal skills.

What “Bringing Out the Best in People” Promises the Reader

This book promises to deliver 12 principles to help you do well. The author promises that if you incorporate these principles into your daily life, you will get ahead and people around you will be grateful. What I got out of the book was good advice and tips to practice that will hopefully allow me to motivate others more effectively.

This book is really for those who want to become more effective motivators. It helps you realize that there is a vast amount of unutilized potential in people waiting to be tapped. Good leaders are able to capitalize on that potential through motivation and inspire people to give it their best.

How “Bringing Out the Best in People” Delivers on its Promise

The book is structured in an easily accessible way. It espouses 12 principles to bring out the best in people, each given its own chapter. Each chapter provides some theory, story-telling and quotes from influential people. If you crave leadership techniques, then this book is for you.

The 12 principles are as follows:

  1. Expect the best from people you lead
  2. Make a thorough study of the other person’s needs
  3. Establish high standards for excellence
  4. Create an environment where failure is not fatal
  5. If they are going anywhere near where you want to go, climb on other people’s bandwagons
  6. Employ models to encourage success
  7. Recognize and applaud achievement
  8. Employ a mixture of positive and negative reinforcement
  9. Appeal sparingly to the competitive urge
  10. Place a premium on collaboration
  11. Build into the group an allowance for storms
  12. Take steps to keep your own motivation

There are 14 chapters. The two additional chapters provide context. The first chapter discusses the psychology of motivation. Don’t expect an academic, in-depth explanation about the psychology of motivation. It is broken down with very plain, easy to understand language. The last chapter highlights the joy of motivating others for the motivator. You help people, achieve great things and bring a lot of positivity into your life.

My Favourite Part of the Book

This book helps you develop legitimate power as a leader by helping people. I love this philosophy. This is as opposed to the “me-first” philosophy which encourages you to gain power at the expense of other people. The “me-first” philosophy grossly undermines the power found in good relationships. Like Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People”, this book conveys its message through a combination of story-telling and theory which I thoroughly enjoyed.

My favourite part of this book is its light-hearted demeaner and its effort to bring the best out of the reader – you, the motivator. It emphasizes the importance of being kind, reasonable, and helping other people. As the famous poet Goethe once noted that “the greatest genius will not be worth much if he pretends to draw exclusively from his own resources”.

There were also so many fantastic, inspiring, and motivational quotes.

Favorite Quotes

“History shows that in almost every arena there is a vacuum waiting to be filled by some person who can impart vision and steer people’s energies into the best endeavours.”

“You are a motivator when you find goals that will be good for both sides, then weld together a high-achieving, high morale partnership to achieve them”

“If people expect good things from them, they will in most cases go to great lengths to live up to our expectations”

“The people who like people and who believe that those they lead have the best intentions will get the best from them”

“We can choose whether to build on their strengths or become obsessed with their weaknesses”

“You need the ability to fail. I’m amazed at the number of organizations that set up an environment where they do not permit their people to be wrong. You cannot innovate unless you are willing to make mistakes” – Charles Knight

“…the art of motivation is the heightening of emotion. It is appealing to the unconscious more than the conscious, to the right side of the brain than the left.”

“The best motivators know that one reason to recognize achievement is to help people concentrate on images of themselves succeeding, and that such mental exercises have an undeniable effect on performance.”

“Competition is always a factor for highly motivated people. The trick is to know how to use it in balance”

My Least Favourite Part of the Book

Although I thoroughly enjoyed the book, there are parts where I disagree, it is sometimes cryptic, and not always inclusive to the reader.

The book is framed from a Christian perspective. It is not as inclusive as it could be to other belief systems. He said early on that you need to study the people you are trying to motivate to find out their beliefs. So, for a book like this intended for motivators – not necessarily Christian motivators, I would have liked it to be more neutral without prescribing to any one political or religious stance. Earlier on in the book, he used an example of a man who became agnostic. As a therapist, he found success in his treatment by getting him to identify values and beliefs that he knows to be true. But when describing the result, he stated that the patient “even” came back to the church, to demonstrate how successful it was. I don’t know why that would add to the success of a therapy session unless the reader is assumed to have the same Christian value system. Many of the stories shared were biblical. I can find inspiration in biblical myths too, I love them. The bible is a great read full of ideas and stories that show insight into human nature over time. There is great wisdom to be realized in bible. However, the biblical stories chosen here were not the most powerful to me.

McGinnis goes on to say this: “…the longer I have sat in my counselling room and listened to people tell how they’re in over their heads and sometimes feel as if they’re going down for the third time, the more I’ve realized that no one can ignore tragedy even when they try, and that everyone needs some place to go once a week where they are picked up, given the long view, and strengthened with renewed hope.” This is an argument concluding that everyone should to go to church. I like church sometimes, there is always community there. However, I cannot help but feel this is out of place in a book like this.

Even if you are not a Christian, I still recommend this book. The Christian perspectives espoused are not too enforcing, and the content is still accessible and insightful.


Chapter 4 highlights principle #3, commit to excellence by establishing high standards for those you are trying to motivate. For the most part, it does an excellent job. However, in a discussion about reprimanding others it says to show your anger, annoyance, and frustration. I agree in a sense, but to what degree do you show these emotions? I struggle to understand why a motivator would want to sacrifice morale in the workplace for the sake of being angry. The best leaders are able to control their emotions (which is encouraged later in the book). But here the author explicitly tells the reader to be angry – which if not done tactfully could contradict your effort to create a positive culture. I assume the advice he gives here is not to be angry in a dramatic way, but to show others that their actions are impactful, even to you – the leader.

He goes on to cite Dan Rather who said, “The dream begins with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you on to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called the truth”. But I struggle to understand why the truth has to be a sharp stick in the first place. Getting negative criticism at work for me is often a blessing. It is a chance for someone to show me how I can be better. So rather than making the truth hurt, teach people how to absorb negative feedback in a positive way then teach them how to do things better. So why can’t the truth be encouraging, rather than a stab? If you both believe in their potential, the truth is a tool to help them achieve it. As Bob Chartier (author of “Handcrafted Leadership”) would say, this requires a shift in your mental model of criticism.

Dale Carnegie in “How to Win Friends and Influence People” gives a number of good tips on how to criticize others while still being liked. This is opposed to Alan Loy McGinnis’ view that you should expect others to be unhappy with you after they have been reprimanded. Yes, you will never be always liked by everyone. But I think there are diplomatic and strategic ways to reduce the unpleasantries of criticism and reprimands resulting in a less damaging experience. It is true, some of the worst leaders are those who have a desperate need to be loved by everyone and thus bend rules for some in an effort to appease them. Others will see that you treated them differently, counter to the rules or standards an organization upholds to ensure excellence. By bending those rules, you are harming the organization as a whole and everyone in it. In other words, by bending the rules for some, you are not acting in the best interest of the organization. So, McGinnis makes a good point here.

The author goes on to advise not to set people up for failure by setting expectations too high for someone to achieve. This enters a dangerous territory where you don’t want to cut someone short either. Don’t undermine their potential by setting your expectations lower than what they are capable of. McGinnis warns not to tell the “bottle washer” that she will be president. But maybe she could be. I would suggest talking with the other person. See what their expectations of themselves are. They will often undermine their own potential, at which point you can raise that expectation with encouragement. Many successful people started at the level of a “bottle washer”, then go on to do great things. The comment not to tell the bottle washer that they will be president troubles me because it forces the motivator to put a cap on someone’s potential. Is potential static? I think that potential can fluctuate and there is potential to increase someone’s potential. McGinnis uses an example about setting realistic expectations. If your child gets a D on an assignment say “I bet you will get a C next time”. Yes, maybe moving from a D to an A+ is unrealistic, so you do need to set the expectation somewhere more appropriate. What McGinnis does not say here is that you could set expectations up incrementally. Expect a C next time, but then expect a C+, then a B, then that A+. But that does not mean the child couldn’t get an A+ right away. People can be much more nuanced than on the surface of things. You need to ask why the child got a D. Maybe she was not challenged, or the teacher did not set good expectations of her, maybe she is being bullied or simply finds the subject matter boring. So, I get it – don’t set someone up for failure. It is good advice. However, I would say this needs to be done strategically, incrementally building up expectations.

Chapter 5 highlights principle #4, to create an environment where failure is not fatal. I love this rule, it establishes that failure is a good learning opportunity. However, this is highly centred on the employee, that they will learn from those mistakes. What it does not highlight is how the motivator or leader should also learn from their mistakes. They could be learning opportunities for the entire organization. This chapter is all about when someone makes a mistake, help that person learn from it. This is a narrow view in my opinion. Mistakes should be documented with lessons learned that can be shared. Why let a mistake one person made, be made time and time again by others, each one learning discretely. Imagine if we handled safety in this way. Every time a worker gets a concussion, they learn to wear a helmet. How many concussions will occur before everyone wears the  helmet? The motivator should not act like he or she cannot learn from someone else’s mistakes either. Mistakes that keep occurring may stem from processes, procedures or changes in external factors that have not yet been accommodated by the system. Mistakes made require lessons learned, not just on the individual level, but in a broader, systems thinking point of view.

Chapter 6 highlights principle #5, if they are going anywhere near where you want to go, jump on their bandwagon. Here McGinnis states not to let people think that they are failures just because they failed. This is an impactful statement. However, I found he missed the mark. I agree with the comment, but it still assumes that one’s failure in an organization are their own. It may be the case. But too often there are flaws in the system, the management, motivators, leaders, processes, procedures, standards, values, etc. Leaders should be able to learn from others’ mistakes too and assess those learnings through the lens of systems thinking. Sometimes a mistake is one’s own. I don’t want to diminish that possibility. However, what could you have done as a manager, or leader to have reduced those errors? How could you apply that to new employees, processes, leadership, etc. Take responsibility for those errors too if you can. Acknowledge the failure as a success if it results in better procedures, standards, or learnings for the organization. This takes humility, something discussed in the book, but not explicitly emphasized yet.

Chapter 7 highlights principle #6, to employ models that encourage success. He does this by emphasizing the power of story-telling, that “the best way to appeal to emotions is by talking about people, their struggles and their triumphs”. I think there is power in stories, however they must be used strategically and tactfully. Don’t give success stories about people with whom your audience cannot relate to. Don’t tell a democrat the success story of Donald Trump to motivate them. In business school they always use the filthy-rich as examples in their stories of success. I was never motivated by that. But even if I was, I think money as a motivator has limited use. Don’t appeal to the lowest common denominator – money. Use examples based on merit, principles and values that align with your organization, family or team. You want to have superior standards and values. You want your staff to be motivated by your company’s mission and values. Or do you want them to be motivated by wealth? What will the cost to your values and standards be, if trumped by wealth? This can lead you to a shady area, were corruption is accommodated. You cannot blame employees for prioritizing wealth over values if that is how you motivated them.

McGinnis goes on to say that these stories symbolize the human capacity to achieve greatness and to tell your staff that they can achieve greatness too if they work hard enough. But some organizations overwork their employees, who then become burned out. If someone was worked to the bone with core work-load resulting in minimal time to accomplish side-of-the desk projects and innovate, I could see them get slightly offended if a manager said, “you could be great if you worked harder”. They could fire back, “Am I not working hard as hell now? Maybe I could achieve greatness if you didn’t bog down each waking workday with mundane tasks.” Saying that you could be great if you work harder insinuates something about the other persons character – that they are not working hard enough now. That may or may not be true. It is also how and what you work, not just how hard you work. The farmer who works 12 hours a day doing hard labour is certainly working “harder” than the office manager on an 8-hour shift. So, McGinnis’ notion of creating a roadmap or pathway to success resonates with me. Not simply saying “he did, so can you, so do it. You’re not successful like that legend, so you are obviously not putting in the effort.” No. As a leader you need to steer their effort in the right direction to achieve that success. If you cannot steer them to the type of success you said they can reach in your story-telling – then how can you as a leader tell them that they can?

Chapter 8 highlights rule #7, to recognize and applaud achievement. I had a problem with an example he used here. He gives several suggestions to master the art of the compliment. The first one is to hand out commendations in public as one-on-one kudos are not as effective. McGinnis played sports in high-school. One game he played very well and wondered if the coach noticed. The coach did notice and said it in front of the whole team. This made Alan feel good, like he was somebody. However, he also notes that the coach chewed out a few other players, saying that they were nothing like Alan. So, do we also chew people out when we give commendations? It seems like a bizarre fact to throw in for no reason. So, we give praise to one person then single out two others to “chew out”. I don’t think that public commendations should go along with public reprimands at work. You don’t give an achievement award to someone followed by bringing up two underachievers to humiliate in front of everybody. I doubt he intended the reader to interpret it this way, but the example clearly implies it.

Chapter 12 highlights principle #11, to build into the group an allowance for storms. This is brilliant, there should be a pathway for negative behaviour to be accommodated. It will inevitably happen. There is always a storming phase in teams and there needs to be a way to manage that – it should be expected and prepared for. Here McGinnis gives you seven techniques to deal with troublemakers. The third technique is to identify “how destructive the person is”. But to me, a person is not destructive – their behaviour is. Do not frame it like this in your mind by degrading who a person is as a whole to some negative connotation. Behaviours can be destructive, and we want to nail down the why, how, and severity of those actions. Separate the people from the problem, not just in your communication with others, but how you think about others as well. McGinnis gives the advice himself when he says to see the best in people and assume that they have good intentions.


This book is a lighthearted look into the principles behind motivating others. I thoroughly enjoyed it and learned a lot. In the near future, I will write a post giving you the highlights and best tips on motivation that I found.

I found this material interesting. But I am more interested to hear what your thoughts are. If you have any comments, questions or criticisms about my post, or this book, please share them in the comment section below.

If you enjoyed this post, please give it a like and subscribe, I always appreciate it when you do. Or follow me on Twitter @interestpeaks.

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie Book Review

By Cory Davis

This is a review of the Special Anniversary Edition, published by Pocket Books, 1982.

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“It is a vibrant, engaging read full of story-telling”

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This book immediately caught my attention by providing instructions on how to read it. It does this with nine techniques. The first is to approach the book deeply motivated to improve your human relations skills. Therefore, Carnegie urges us to read this book purposefully. If you are like me, on a journey to improve your communications and relations skills, this book may be for you.

Why would you want to win friends and influence people in the first place?

Some may gawk at this question. I am one of you. However, my best friend messaged me the other day. He noted his lack of interest in this book. Some people, he asserted, don’t really care about other people’s opinion of them and lack any drive or motive to influence others.

Fair enough. This book may not be for everyone. However, if you are one of those people who lacks a desire to influence others or win friends, consider this. Regardless of the fabric of your relationship to society, the advice covered in this book (and other related titles) will make your life easier.

It will make your life easier by reducing unnecessary conflict, as you will now have tools to avoid it, and better yet, capitalize on them. It will reduce friction between yourself and other people, making interactions more smooth, less energy intensive and emotionally draining. It helps you get what you fairly want from others. If you are a customer, legitimately dissatisfied with a service or product, use these skills to get the compensation you deserve. If you are about to enter an argument with your partner, learn to avoid it and improve your family relationships.

For those who want their lives to be easier, more fruitful, brimming with opportunity, then read this book.  It provides advice, fables, stories, and quotes that you won’t forget.

The stories, fables and quotes will give you ammunition for self-improvement and words of wisdom to share with others. There is power in story-telling. So load your guns with meaningful stories to share with your friends, family and foes.

What does the book promise?

This book promises the reader a guide for interpersonal communications to win friends and influence people. It does not promise that you will become an expert communicator after reading the book. It merely serves as a reference to use in practice, to assist in your personal development as a leader in business, community, or your personal network.

How does it deliver on its promise?

It delivers on its promise by splitting the book up into four parts, each with several principles to follow. Each principle is demonstrated through stories, fables, quotes and gems of wisdom, which keeps the readers interest.

  1. Fundamental Techniques on Handling People

The first part of the book provides three techniques – (1) don’t criticize, condemn, or complain, (2) give honest and sincere appreciation, and (3) arouse in the other person an eager want. This part of the book was gripping. Especially the first principle – Don’t criticize, condemn, or complain. On Twitter, I see constant criticism counter to the goals of the person criticizing. I am guilty of this as well. It gave me a good opportunity to reflect on my past behaviour and ask how I could do things differently next time. Perhaps my favourite aspect of this first part is the powerful quotes it provides. For example, one impactful quote is:

“There you are; human nature in action, wrongdoers, blaming everyone but themselves. We are all like that… Let’s realize that criticisms are like homing pigeons. They always return home. Let’s realize that the person we are trying to correct and condemn will probably justify himself or herself and condemn us in return.”

2. Six Ways to Make People Like You

The second part of the book is also impactful. It provides six ways to make people to like you. It may seem egotistical, but being liked can be a tool for influence, efficiency and effectiveness in business and your day to day life. They are simple things that we all likely know somewhere in our subconscious. Some principles to get people to like you are as simple as smiling, remembering names, and showing genuine interest in others. It showcases these principles through story telling. The author gives several short examples demonstrating the positive impact using them can have. Although the book is old, the examples still seem relevant and effective.

It seems funny that that some of us need to be told to be an attentive listener, to be one. I always thought of myself as a good listener. However, after reading how Dale Carnegie articulated what a good listener is, and demonstrating how and why it works, I know exactly where I need to improve. Many people think they are good communicators. Most business students state that it is a highlight of their skillset. I see it in almost every cover letter. Many do not realize that it is a real skill that takes time and attention to develop, a field of study that needs to be taken seriously. But if you don’t know how to articulate how and why you are a good communicator, with examples and results, then re-examining your own behaviour against advice from books like these may be of real benefit.

3. 12 Ways to Win People Over to Your Thinking

The third part of the book gives 12 principles to win people over to your thinking. Keep in mind that if your way of thinking is wrong, the content of this book will help you identify this as a safety mechanism to save face. The last thing we want is to win someone to your way of thinking when your way of thinking is wrong. All the principles provided here resonate with me. One highlight was the Socrates method of getting people to say yes, yes at the beginning. Give them some things that both of you can agree on, so the other person can say yes, that’s right, yes. This triggers a psychological process that lowers barriers to affirmation. Whereas if you start with points of disagreement, and the other person says no, it starts a psychological process that reaffirms their initial position and makes them more disagreeable. These initial moments in a conversation can set the foundation for the rest of the dialogue to build.

Another highlight for me was a reminder to let the other person do a great deal of talking. Don’t interrupt, unless they pause for a response, in which you should encourage them to speak more. It shows interest in the other person. Some people try to persuade others by talking too much, however, there is power in giving others a friendly, considerate, and attentive ear to speak.

4. Nine Principles to be a Good Leader

The fourth part of the book gives you nine principles to be a good leader. This section was again insightul. Some highlights for me were “How to criticize without being hated”, and “Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to”. How to criticize without being hated is something we all struggle with. The advice here is to provide criticism indirectly, giving many examples as tools to put this into practice. Giving the other person a fine reputation to live up to also makes sense. Would you be encouraged if your boss introduced you as an expert in some area? Would that motivate you to live up to that reputation? It would work for me.

Favourite Quotes:

“There you are; human nature in action, wrongdoers, blaming everyone but themselves. We are all like that… Let’s realize that criticisms are like homing pigeons. They always return home. Let’s realize that the person we are trying to correct and condemn will probably justify himself or herself and condemn us in return.” – Dale Carnegie

“Judge not, that ye be not judged” – Abraham Lincoln

“Don’t criticize them. They are just what we would be under similar circumstances” – Abraham Lincoln

“Don’t complain about the snow on your neighbour’s roof, when you own doorstep is unclean” – Confucius

“Your bad manners are exceeded only by your bad manners.” Richard Harding Davis to Dale Carnegie

“Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain – and most fools do. But it takes character and control to be understanding and forgiving.” – Dale Carnegie

“A great man shows his greatness, by the way he treats little men” – Carlyle

“Instead of condemning people, let’s try to understand them. Let’s try to figure out why they do what they do. That’s a lot more profitable than criticism; and breeds sympathy, tolerance, and kindness” – Dale Carnegie

“If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from that person’s angle as well as from your own” – Henry Ford

“The world is full of people who are grabbing and self-seeking”. So, the rare individual who unselfishly tries to serve others has an enormous advantage. He (she) has little competition” – Dale Carnegie

The unvarnished truth is that almost all the people you meet feel themselves superior to you in some way, a sure way into their hearts is to let them realize in some subtle way that you recognize their importance, and recognize it sincerely” – Dale Carnegie

“…the expression one wears on one’s face is far more important than the clothes one wears on one’s back” – Dale Carnegie

“Men must be taught as if you taught them not. And things unknown proposed as things forgot” – Alexander Pope

“You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him find it within himself” – Galileo

“Be wiser than other people if you can, but do not tell him so” – Lord Chesterfield said to his son

“One thing only I know, and that is that I know nothing” – Socrates “Well, I can’t hope to be any smarter than Socrates, so I have quit telling people they are wrong. And I find that it pays.” – Dale Carnegie

“If you argue and rankle and contradict, you may achieve victory sometimes; but it will be an empty victory because you will never get your opponent’s good will” – Ben Franklin

“So figure it out for yourself. Which would you rather have, an academic, theatrical victory or a person’s good will? You can seldom have both.” – Dale Carnegie

“Hatred is never ended by hatred, but by love” – Buddha

“A misunderstanding is never ended by an argument, but by tact, diplomacy, conciliation, and a sympathetic desire to see the other person’s point of view.” Dale Carnegie

“Cooperativeness in conversation is achieved when you show that you consider the other person’s ideas and feelings as important as your own. Starting your conversation by giving the other person the purpose or direction of your conversation, governing what you say by that you would want to hear if you were the listener, and accepting his or her viewpoint will encourage the listener to have an open mind to your ideas.” – Dr. Gerald S. Nirenberg

“I don’t blame you one iota for feeling as you do. If I were you, I would undoubtedly feel just as you do.” – Dale Carnegie

“ Praise is like sunlight to the warm human spirit; we cannot flower and grow without it. And yet, while most of us are only ready to apply to others the cold wind of criticism, we are somehow reluctant to give our fellow the warm sunshine of praise.” Jess Lair, Psychologist

“Abilities wither with criticism; they blossom under encouragement” – Dale Carnegie


This book resonated with me in several ways. First, it articulated things I felt but lacked the experience and wisdom think. Now that it is within my sphere of thought, I will become more cognizant of my own behaviour. Second, the fables, stories and quotes really hit home. I have already cited some of these to family and friends in conversation, with great results! Third, it was fun to read. The book is not a bland outline of how to win friends and influence people. It is a vibrant, engaging read full of story-telling.

For anyone who wants to improve their interpersonal skills, give it a try!

Thank you so much for reading this review, I deeply appreciate it. If you liked this review, please subscribe to my blog, give it a like and follow me on Twitter @interestpeaks. I would love to hear your thoughts, opinions, or questions down in the comments.