Scott Adams, aka “the Dilbert guy,” has realized that the reality you experience is not really the reality that exists, and he thinks you should know. That’s why in 2013 he wrote one of the best self-help books ever written, How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big.
In How to Fail . . ., Adams focused on ways you can trick yourself into behaving smarter, failing in ways that will move you ahead, and developing a “talent stack” where each skill you learn creates a combination greater than the sum of its parts. And a huge focus on this was the concept of persuasion.
Adams is a trained hypnotist and well-versed in the art of persuasion. This is why when Donald Trump announced his campaign to run for President of the United States in the summer of 2015, Adams took notice and started blogging about politics.
What got Adams’ attention was Trump’s powers of persuasion. Far from seeing Trump as a buffoon randomly stumbling from gaffe to gaffe and succeeding by accident, Adams saw a deliberate set of moves designed to win the presidency. And Adams makes a compelling case.
Weathering the storm of being called a Nazi and a racist, the loss of friends, and his blacklisting from the lucrative speaking-tour circuit, Adams was one of the few pundits to predict that Trump would win. Mind you, Adams’ excellent blog was focused solely on Trump’s powers of persuasion.
And then a funny thing happened: Adams, a politically homeless man who generally leans pretty left on social issues, kind of started to like the guy.
In Win Bigly: Persuasion in a World where Facts Don’t Matter, Adams talks about Trump and his persuasion skills (he refers to Trump as a “Master Persuader”), walking you step-by-step through what Adams saw during the presidential campaign, how Trump out-persuaded his Republican rivals and the eventual Democrat nominee, Hillary Clinton . . . until Clinton got her own persuasion game in full swing.
Yes, Adams comes off as a Trump fanboy, despite his best efforts to appear as impartial as possible (he claims he does not vote in order to remain unbiased . . . he also has a chapter devoted to Trump’s mistakes). If even the thought of Donald Trump makes you want to puke, this book is not for you. Which is a shame, since Win Bigly is the mirror image of How to Fail . . . The latter book focuses on persuading yourself; Win BIgly focuses on persuading others. In fact, Part 4 of Win Bigly is called “How to Use Persuasion in Business and Politics.” Sounds useful, right?
Win Bigly is as much a persuasion-focused chronicle of the 2016 presidential election as it is a primer–albeit a brisk one–about how to use persuasion techniques, including those deployed by Trump, to make your own communications as persuasive as possible.
So “a world where facts don’t matter” . . . provocative, isn’t it? And I suppose that’s persuasion, too. But Adams has a point that’s pretty easily proven just by observing the world around you, watching cable news, or picking up a newspaper (if you’re one of the six people left in America who does that).
Human beings think that we operate and make decisions on 90% reason and logic and 10% emotion. But this ratio is really the other way around. As the Dunning-Kruger effect posits, we all think we’re smarter than we really are. And so we live in a world of illusion. Continue reading “Book Review: Win Bigly: Persuasion in a World Where Facts Don’t Matter by Scott Adams”