How to Motivate People to do What YOU Want 4

By Chris Simmons

As the Collections Chief for NATO’s intelligence battalion, I ran the alliance’s “Human Intelligence” efforts, gathering information from people throughout Bosnia and Croatia. It was a target-rich environment and on a daily basis, we received information on local obstruction of the Dayton Peace Accords, refugee issues, war criminals, and terrorists.

“Bosnia” actually consisted of three distinct governments: a weak state-level institution (i.e., Bosnia) with two highly autonomous parts, the Croat-Bosniak Federation and the Serb-majority Republika Srpska (RS). Each entity had its own government, parliament and presidency. The redundancies were mind-numbing and hardliners made a game of finding new and creative ways to subvert the 1995 peace treaty which ended the three and a half-year war.

In one area, the local power company was led by Bosnian-Croat militants. These hardliners decided to upgrade the power to their faction’s neighborhoods and install power grids into newly-established Croat communities. Not surprisingly, this action was undertaken to the detriment of the local Serb and Bosniak enclaves.

Clearly, the NATO-led Stabilization Force (SFOR) had to respond or risk having hardliners from all three factions mimic this new form of obstruction. We could have used our authority to simply order the offending power company to cease and desist, but opted against it. The likelihood of success was low and would have required lots of manpower and daily supervision. Instead, we came up with our own highly-creative countermeasure.

Local support for the power company’s misconduct was minimal. The Bosnian-Croats wanted to move forward with the peace process, as did the other ethnic groups. We also knew that getting the local citizenry involved in ending the bad behavior would be more effective than any unilateral action SFOR could take. As such, we can up with a plan which would teach all three factions an important lesson.

We understood far too well the truth of the old adage, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men do nothing.” Local support wasn’t sufficient – we needed the citizenry to take action on the beliefs they held so strongly. So we offered an incentive. As co-authors Steven Levitt & Stephen Dubner would later point out in their best-selling book Freakonomics, there are three forms of incentives:

–        Moral: People don’t want to do something they believe to be wrong;

–        Social: People don’t want to be seen doing something wrong;

–        Economic:  People want to avoid financial and property penalties.

We also knew the most successful behavior modification campaigns often involved all three incentive styles. As such, we went to the remaining local utility companies, which were run by the other factions, and had them suspend service to the Bosnian-Croat communities. We then spread the word throughout the area, encouraging everyone (not just the Bosnian-Croats) to contact the power company and its employees and ask them to comply with the peace accord. The overlapping incentives achieved immediate results. Additionally, as word spread throughout the country about our new community-based tactic, its success dissuaded all three ethnic groups from ever again attempting to use utilities as a weapon against one another.

Influencing people to do what you want is easier than one might imagine. This is especially true in scenarios like the one above, where the belief system of the targeted audience already overlapped with the message sender, i.e., SFOR. When starting from a point of shared interest, modest incentives are often sufficient to achieve the desired results.

France’s Revolution: An Orgy Of Symbolism And Spectacle Reply

By Monica Showalter, Investor’s Business Daily, July 12, 2013

On Sunday, the people of France marked the 224th anniversary of freedom fighters’ storming the Bastille, the medieval fortress-prison in Paris that had served as the symbol of royal tyranny and the struggle against it.

In reality, the moldering old castle wasn’t what it was portrayed. It wasn’t much of a prison, for one thing. The few prisoners “liberated” by the mob were mostly noblemen put there by their families for misbehavior. Nor was it a source of power or iron rule for the French king, who was planning to tear the fort down. On the day the Bastille was taken down, he scribbled “nothing” in his diary.

But due largely to the art of propaganda, the Bastille was transformed into a symbol of the French Revolution — legitimizing it, institutionalizing it and making it part of the popular culture. Modern propaganda, as we know it, was essentially invented by the French during this era.

So what is propaganda? The word derives from “propaganda fides” — the propagation of the faith that the Catholic Church called its missionary work during the 17th century. Political propaganda, like that first developed in France, was the spread of a political faith intended to replace the religious and royal order in the minds of the masses.

Based on what we know now, the actual details of the French Revolution are repugnant. The revolution included regicide, show trials, mass murder, an attack of the family unit, the repression of religion, the cult of personality and the birth of modern dictatorship. Still, France’s revolution is still considered as a heroic and historic event worthy of celebration — because of propaganda.

As for the Bastille, the building itself and France’s first revolutionary symbol, it ended up literally dissolved into propaganda, dismantled by a contractor with 1,000 masons in his employ. Pieces of the fortress were chopped up and sold as tourist tchotchkes, according to a riveting account of the fort’s demise in Simon Schama’s “Citizens: A Chronicle of The French Revolution.” The contractor, Pierre-Francois Palloy, was a successful businessman with a better-mousetrap idea. But he also worked closely with authorities who wanted to provide “souvenirs” that would give everyone a stake in the revolution to display in their homes.

Souvenirs were just one method of institutionalizing the movement. The use of billboards and placards and slogans also took off during this time. Political clubs — proto-meet-ups, actually — were used as well, spreading the message of revolution across the country. And mass media were co-opted to distribute pamphlets even in small towns.

Most of all, the revolution understood the uses of pop culture. Playing cards were imprinted with revolutionary messages and tea cups were engraved with guillotines, all to make the revolution, as opposed to the royal regime, seem the norm. Propaganda also adopted a slogan — “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity” — invented for the first time on a mass scale in a bid to get the word out and make the message as simple as possible.

Perhaps the most effective propaganda technique developed and utilized during this period was the mass spectacle — in which everyone participated as if the revolution was a religion. It began with the Bastille — where Palloy came up with the idea of creating an “altar” of cannon balls, chains and manacles taken from the old fortress.

“On the following day, after a religious ceremony at the Church of Saint-Louis, seven hundred workers all swore loyalty to the constitution, and through a mechanical contraption of great ingenuity, the punitive ironmongery self-destructed to reveal a huge array of flowers (artificial, given the season),” wrote Schama. “After this stage miracle, the seven hundred made their way in procession to the Hotel de Ville carrying a model of the Bastille that they had fashioned from its stones.”

Such ceremonies of mass spectacle and symbolism were repeated throughout the revolution that followed, culminating in Reign of Terror leader Maxmilien de Robespierre’s strange “Festival of the Supreme Being” intended to replace religion itself as a quasi-Roman worship of “reason” by 1793. At heart, historians say, the spectacles were a means of transforming one society into another. The aim was not merely to replace the new regime with the old, but to create a sense of brotherhood. With everyone participating in the same act of worship at the same time, fears dissipated and people were more willing to die in battle.

Such techniques have since been used the world over — sometimes to largely benign ends, as in France, but frequently for purposes far worse, as the events of the 20th century show.

What You Promised Isn’t What You Delivered 3

How a sales & marketing guru convinced me to never to do business with him or his company

By Chris Simmons

I recently read a business book on the importance of building relationships. The stunning part was, the deeper I got into the book, the more I realized how little the author knew about effective communication. Even worse, he mistakenly believed gimmickry made him more memorable. It did — but not in the way he intended.

I was struck by the book’s lack of recommendations from business notables. Additionally, there was no introduction or bio to explain why I or anyone else should read and trust anything he wrote. He seemed to explain this absence with a story wherein he insisted that if you have to introduce yourself, you’re clearly an unknown – a nobody. As proof, he noted how Frank Sinatra never went onstage and identified himself as a singer. I later found the author’s bio buried on page 198 of his book. Was he known within his niche? Probably. Was he an internationally known celebrity like Sinatra? Not even close.

Then things got worse. He loved lists – every chapter had at least one. The problem was – for me at least – every list had a decimal point. “The top 6.5 reasons to do x,” read one. “Build rapport faster with these 4.5 secrets” said another. After a hundred pages, I was beyond annoyed with his shtick. Then he told a story about how he created a business card for one of his pets and began giving them out to clients and prospects.

The author wrote extensively about the need to provide value to your customers. Then he totally undermined his message with internet gimmickry to build his mailing list. Every chapter or sub-topic had a “for more on this subject, register with my website and enter the keyword “x.” While he may have thought he was providing value via his website, it provoked two negative responses from me. First, his book was only 200 pages, 50% shorter than normal. This led me to wonder if he cut content from the book solely to drive traffic to his website. Secondly, the numerous website offerings further diluted his value by making me work to get what should have already been mine. Where is the value in checking two separate locations (i.e., the book and his website) any time I need to refresh my memory on a specific topic?

Did the author achieve his goal of being memorable? Absolutely, and most of it was negative. Did he provide value, that is, did I learn anything from his book? A little: about 25 pages had ideas I will use in my business (but in fairness, a few of the ideas were sheer genius). The remainder of the book was so devoid of value it was hard for me to believe it was written by a credible marketing maverick. He failed to clearly and concisely communicate his message. As a result, what he promised wasn’t what he delivered.

On a positive note, I would have been more disappointed had I purchased the book rather than receiving it as a gift….

The Effect of Color Reply

 By PBS | Off Book

Color is one of the fundamental elements of our existence, and defines our world in such deep ways that its effects are nearly imperceptible. It intersects the worlds of art, psychology, culture, and more, creating meaning and influencing behavior every step of the way. Most fascinating are the choices we make, both subconsciously and consciously, to use color to impact each other and reflect our internal states. Whether in the micro-sense with the choice of an article of clothing, or the macro-sense where cultures on the whole embrace color trends at the scale of decades, color is a signifier of our motives and deepest feelings.