10 books that helped me understand why I don’t know the answers yet

Entrepreneurs know that everything boils down to human interactions.

Every decision we make and every action we take is a reaction to some stimulus, internal or external. In order to understand what is the driving force behind human psychology and at the same time, how to increase my marketing skills, I began reading psychology books. It was also the question of managing my own emotions. I was curious about the ways I could improve my self-motivation, my energy level, and the way I would be able to focus on the positive, instead of giving in into stressful situations.

Why do we do the things that we do? What is the motivation behind our actions? Every time someone decides to buy something for the first time, can be considered a change in his or her behaviour — what was the process that drove him or her to the conclusion this was the best decision to make?

A particular consideration in my research was given to human interactions, especially when working together in a team or in a partnership with someone. How do you manage your expectations? How do you compromise? How do you reach a balance between your needs and others’ ?

Here is a list of the books that have influenced me the most in this journey of self-discovery:

The first book was probably How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie. In my opinion, this one was way too long for the content it provided, but I have learned an important lesson from it: the way I see the world is different from the way others see it. When you realize everybody plays the good-guy character in their own story, a lot of things become easier.

Rip It Up and 59 Seconds, both by Richard Wiseman. Rip it Up presents a radical new insight into your body and brain: actions are the quickest, easiest and most powerful way to instantly change how you think and feel. Using actions to change emotions is far easier to do than the converse — trying to change our emotions so that we then act differently. Many of the ideas presented are applicable to daily life, so can be used without difficulty. If you want to feel like as if you are in a certain context, you should start by acting AS IF you were in that particular situation. For example, the simple act of smiling even when you don’t really feel like doing it, will trigger a chemical response in your body as if you were indeed in a situation that makes you smile.

What Do You Say After You Say Hello? by Eric Berne — this is a book everybody should read at least once. It won’t give you the answer to this particular question, instead you will find a guide for finding the answer to ”What do you say after you say hello?”. I think it doesn’t matter how many times you read it, because you will always find an answer to a particular question from a certain period of your life. Another interesting fact that I learned from it is that no matter your background, your city, your life experience or the interactions between us — we all keep living the same stories, over and over again.

The next two books are about sales, but they also taught me about psychology and human interaction. The first one is The New Strategic Selling by Robert B. Miller. It describes the way people behave when buying a strategic service or product, based on their basic activity, responsibilities, and the level of power they have in a certain environment.

The other one is Spin Selling by Neil Rackham. It started out as a poll, in which the author analysed the performance of highly successful salespersons and found out they all shared a distinctive characteristic: they weren’t selling anything. The process that he defined as SPIN Selling is trying to find out and to define the needs and the wants of your client by addressing strategic questions. In fact, this is applicable in every other aspect of someone’s life, as a job interview, or even a relationship.

Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey Moore has given me an interesting insight into the customers’ psychology. It follows a product’s life from the concept until the moment it becomes mainstream. One interesting aspect is the motivation for buying, for different personas. Innovators, early adopters, and mainstream buyers are driven by different motivations; therefore each has to be approached in a different manner if the product is to have a fighting chance in the market.

Another book that I’m reading at the moment is Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert. It’s about living in the moment. You can’t make a prediction about the way you will feel at a certain moment in future, because it’s depending on too many unknown factors. If you tend to postpone your moments of happiness and think that you will get them somewhere in the future, you will most likely be disappointed.

And there is Pitch Anything, by Oren Klaff. The author applies the latest findings in the field of neuroeconomics in order to create a framework for pitching. The book is divided into two parts, the first one is about how to produce and deliver a presentation that will keep the public alert and in the moment, by appealing to their instincts in a way that determines reactions, no matter if good or bad. The second part is about context. How to identify it and how to eventually control it.

The last two I haven’t read yet, but they are on my reading list for the near future. I loved the feedback they received and the promises the authors made: The Comic Toolbox: How to Be Funny Even If You’re Not, by John Vorhaus and Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions, by Dan Ariely.

Every book I ever read has helped me discover new interesting facts about myself, or the world we are living in. There are no bad books, only books that are not suitable for you at a particular moment in your life. And there are books that you can read at any point. So if you think the titles I gave you will be a good addition to your knowledge, enjoy your reading, if not, it’s probably a good idea you make your own list. Either way, it is an interesting journey I am on, and I definitely recommend you to take it together with me.

Welcome aboard!