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Similarly to Peter Thiel’s key question in Zero to One, Influence revolves around a list of seven: the seven heuristics our System 1 has accepted as a sign that we can agree to something automatically — what Robert Cialdini calls the Click, run response. Actors both nefarious and benign may use them to get wat they want from us. But of course, it works both ways: we can’t learn defense against the dark arts without picking up some of those dark arts ourselves.

As chance would have it, my finishing the book coincided with a family trip to Las Vegas where all of the principles were tried on us in an attempt to sell us a time share scheme. We got our initial hotel room stays at a well-known and renowned hotel chain (authority) at a discount (reciprocity); the sellers wanted to ingratiate with us with a wink here and a compliment there (liking), citing that she, too, was bilingual and raising a bilingual child (unity); we were taken to a room fool of other potential buyers and witnessed one occasion of a 14,000 point plan being sold (social proof); we had only that day to decide on whether we should buy into this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity (scarcity), and we kept being reminded how much we spent on vacations anyway (commitment and consistency).

They were good, but the book was better: we thanked them for the offer and graciously declined. It was a $15 investment that saved us tens of thousands of dollars in frivolous expenses. Well worth an ocassional re-read.

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