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Book Summaries

Pitch Anything by Oren Klaff: Book Summary

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In this book summary of Pitch Anything by Oren Klaff, you’ll find my notes, valuable lessons, and important action steps.

Pitch Anything Summary

People pitch from the smart part of the brain, but their ideas are received through the crocodile part of the brain that doesn’t care about complex ideas. The crocodile brain cares only about things that are dangerous, new, and interesting.

Your most important job when pitching is to get their attention and make sure your simple, concise message gets through to them. If that doesn’t happen, it’s game over no matter what you say.

Make the prospect chase you because of your skills, experience, or lack of time. Humans are naturally intrigued to things that don’t submit to them, so don’t submit, don’t be polite, and act like you don’t need the deal from them because there are plenty of other options.

Elevate your social and situational status to be the alpha of the conversation and convince the beta to follow your wishes. The way you do that is through controlling the frame.

The audience’s brain doesn’t have a long attention span. You need to be concise and quick. The way you pitch the big idea is:

  1. Introduce yourself and the big idea: 5 minutes.
  2. Explain the budget and secret sauce: 10 minutes.
  3. Offer the deal: 2 minutes.
  4. Stack frames for hot cognition: 3 minutes.

“Deciding you like something before you fully understand it—that’s a hot cognition.” The hot cognitions are intrigue (something the client wants but can’t have right now), prizing (positioning yourself as the most important part of the deal), time frame (adding a deadline reduces decision quality), and moral authority (clients prefer to get the evaluation they want since it’s happening regardless).

Use hot cognitions to persuade the clients that your deal is what they want by stacking these frames. If you master hot cognitions then you’ll be unstoppable. 

A key to successful pitching: Never be needy! That’s the worst frame you can have in any deal.

Ways to not show you’re needy (weak) include: want nothing, focus only on things you do well, and announce your intention to leave the social encounter. Since people want what they can’t have, all three of these work like magic.

“Humor, fun, and lightheartedness are crucial components of every pitch.” Because this shows you’re so confident during the pitch you can joke around a little.

The best way to master frame control is through experience. Start small and then work your way up. Reading can’t give you as many lessons as trial and error.

Mini Summary

Your pitch has to speak to your audience’s croc brain, which only cares about things that are new, interesting, or threatening. Keep it concise and simple to make sure you have their attention and your pitch is heard. Don’t talk complex ideas and numbers.

The most convincing thing you can do to win business is to act like you’re the prize and that you’re not at all needy to win the business. Most sales people do the opposite and chase the prospect. Instead make the prospect desire to work with you because of your expertise and uniqueness.

When you control the conversation frame and get your audience to only see your perspective, you can persuade them to make decisions in your favor. The way you do this is by using multiple frames to enforce your will over them—often without them knowing it happened.

Three Favorite Quotes

“As you share your story, there has to be some suspense to it because you are going to create intrigue in the telling of the story by telling only part of the story. That’s right, you break the analyst frame by capturing audience attention with a provocative story of something that happened to you, and then you keep their attention by not telling them how it ends until you are ready.”

“Every social interaction is a collision of frames, and the stronger frame always wins. Frame collisions are primal. They freeze out the neocortex and bring the crocodile brain in to make decisions and determine actions.”

“It doesn’t matter how well you argue, the way your points are crafted, or how elegant your flow and logic. If you do not have high status, you will not command the attention necessary to make your pitch heard. You will not persuade, and you will not easily get a deal done.”

Action Steps For You

While this is definitely a sales book, and sales reps should put this on their must-read list, this book applies to people in all walks of life.

Because everyone is in some type of sales whether they recognize it or not. That’s just a fact—unless you live by yourself in a cave then you’re not in sales, congrats.

For example, a student presenting a class project can use it to get an A.

A single woman struggling to find a husband can use it to get a ring by spring.

A lawyer can use it in his closing statement to persuade the jurors that his client is innocent and doesn’t deserve an unjust murder charge.

A politician can use it to win a debate and then an election.

And a business owner can use these principles to land a million dollar deal.

This book and its teachings on the brain is priceless knowledge that, if mastered, will get people behind you to go where you desire. That’s insanely powerful if you think about all of the applications.

I’m certainly glad I read it.

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Napoleon by Vincent Cronin: Book Summary

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In this book summary of Napoleon by Vincent Cronin, you’ll find my notes, valuable lessons, and important action steps.

Napoleon Summary

Napoleon felt strongly in favor of the oppressed and against any form of tyranny.  Napoleon Bonaparte believed personal happiness came from acting on behalf of your community to better their lives.

After losing his first siege, Napoleon learned the power of quick decision making, seizing the moment, and striking when there’s a favorable advantage.

Napoleon aimed to be a true man of the people by not declaring his personal religion on them, but instead he gained insight to understand the majority desires of the French people—Catholicism—and then made that the decree.

While most generals would send a part of their army one by one in war, Napoleon outsmarted them by sending his footmen, cavalry, and guns all at one faction and destroying it, then moving onto another faction. Opposing generals didn’t know what hit them until they lost the battle.

If you’re outnumbered, you need to win based on strategy and skill because you won’t win in a normal attack. Napoleon thrived at winning when undermanned.

Deciding it best for France, Napoleon crowned himself Emperor and it worked because he had the support of the entire French army.

Using friends of all classes and nobility, France ruled the French Empire significantly well given its large responsibility. He improved French streets, architecture, finances, and the pride of the people.

Napoleon’s impatience in his 1812 invasion of Russia cost his army big. If he waited until after the nasty winter, he would have most likely destroyed Russia and agreed to a favorable peace treaty with them.

Napoleon’s philosophy is if you risk nothing, you win nothing. (I love this!)

Presenting yourself with confidence inspires confidence in your organization and others. It’s a powerful skill to master. Napoleon used this after his Russian defeat to stay in control of the government.

“Napoleon’s inflexibility could have never stemmed from so feeble a thing as personal ambition; it was rooted in the principles of the Revolution. The conclusion is that Napoleon not, more than most men, ambitious for himself; but he was very ambitious for France an he embodied the ambitions of thirty million Frenchmen.”

Napoleon put France’s honor above France’s interests and went to war against the continental powers of Russia, Prussia, and Austria. This united opponent caused his military downfall.

One of Napoleon’s fatal flaws was that he didn’t understand human nature. It’s this reason his sister lands defected to his enemy, the Parisians when it came time to defend Paris, and his most important general during treaty talks.

There’s often a favorable moment in war where the fate of each side can be determined. Act decisively and win it, or wait too long that the battle becomes a tie or loss.

You can’t win forever and all good things come to an end. After two captures, Napoleon finally dies as a prisoner in the English territory of St. Helena at 51 years old.

Mini Summary

Napoleon sought power not for his personal ambition, but to protect France’s republic and right to liberty, equality, and fraternity. Those were the motivations for his foreign and domestic decisions. And this truth led him to unmatched bravery and iron willpower as he ruled the battlefield and government.

Napoleon goes down in history as one of the best military generals ever based on his operational army formations, quick decision-making, using strengths against opposing army weaknesses, and having individual factions of his army work together in unison. He used his innovative military strategy to expand France into one of the greatest empires Europe had seen in that time and a beautiful country.

Napoleon changed the landscape of Europe forever based on his accomplishments, wars with nearly every European country, military style, and his improvements to cities. After coming from a middle class family, he made the most of his life and his legacy lives on to prove it.

Three Favorite Quotes

“The Maddalena affair left a lasting impression on Napoleon. It taught him, as only failure could, the difficulty of combined operations. It taught him the importance of speed, of the ‘favorable moment’ when men are tensed for action, and the enemy surprised. It taught him the vital importance of firmness in a commander, and of discipline in the ranks.”

“At dinner Napoleon talked of his campaigns, and confided the secret of success: ‘the essential thing is to be afraid last’.”

“I have a good job, ruling the Empire. I could be in Paris, enjoying myself, lazing about… Instead, here I am with you, camping out; and in action like anyone else I can be hit by a bullet… I’m trying to rise above myself. Everyone in his own station must do the same. That’s what greatness means.”

Action Steps For You

Napoleon was a man of strong-willed convictions. He genuinely would die for France, his honor, and his family. That’s what drove his career choice and eventual success.

What irrefutable truth do you hold? What’s your why? What’s your northern star that will propel you forward during the victories and also trials?

Knowing who you are and your central truth is going to help you reverse engineer what it is you want out of life. By discovering your mission, you’ll have a strong foundation to rest on instead of weak desires.

And secondly, how can you use that to build yourself an accomplished career that you’re forever proud of? If it’s not clear, this route is the opposite of taking a soul-sucking-job solely for the money.

It’s aligning your passion to become the best version of yourself. It’s denying yourself in the short-term to build yourself a happy future. It’s looking back on your life with proud honor, not poor man’s disgrace.

Napoleon did it. I’m working towards. Why don’t you start today?

P.S. It wouldn’t hurt to read this book to get a clearer idea of his personal convictions and how they empowered him to be France’s all-time greatest leader.

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The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli: Book Summary

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In this book summary of The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli, you’ll find my notes, valuable lessons, and important action steps.

The Prince Summary

When you know that trouble is looming, you can easily and effectively deal with it. But if you wait until it surprises you then you’ll react too slow and the result is finished, you won’t be able to do anything about it.

A key principle of politics is to not let others grow too powerful or you will be the one who sets up your own downfall.

Things that come quickly and grow fast are often the first to go when a storm hits since they don’t have any roots, structure, or foundation to rely on.

To stay in power, you either need to win over people or destroy them to the point where they can’t retaliate. If you slightly damage them, they’ll come back with revenge and threaten your power.

Never underestimate the power of public support. It’s easy to be swayed, won, and lost, but you need it if you’re to get or remain in a powerful position in most cases.

The nobles want to oppress people and the people’s desire is to escape oppression. You’ll be stronger and safer if the people elect you king compared to the noble’s electing you king. Winning public support is huge to stay in power.

If you don’t have enough resources or money to defend yourself, and you rely on others, you’ll always have a weakness when things go wrong. Powerful states can rely on their own resources to defend a long attack.

Don’t hire mercenaries because they are cowards in times of war and paying them a salary isn’t enough to get them to have the loyalty to die for you. Reaching a deal to get another ruler’s army to fight for you (auxiliary armies) are always useless because you lose, or win and are at their mercy.

“In fact, the thing most likely to bring about a ruler’s downfall is his neglect of the art of war; the thing most likely to win him power is becoming an expert in it.”

A wise leader will work hard during peacetime to strategically prepare for every possible outcome so when tough times come, they’re ready to execute.

Machiavelli argues rulers it’s beyond the realm of possibility to be both loved and feared. Rulers should seek to be feared than for this better ensures their power and safety.

Successful rulers are both wise like the fox and ferocious like the lion. They can channel both their mental acuity and dangerous side to get the job done.

The absolute best way for a ruler to win respect is from major military victories (achievements) and incredible personal qualities.

Choose your ministers wisely, because they can loyally support you if their needs are met but if they have selfish ambitions then they’ll turn on you at their best chance to.

Mini Summary

A ruler must establish their power on solid foundations or they’re bound to fail and lose power, their position, and sometimes their life. Solid foundations include good laws and a strong army, but it all starts with a strong army.

It’s far greater for a ruler to be feared than loved. For if he’s loved and things get dangerous, people will turn their back on him. But if he’s feared, people will fear the consequences of turning their back on him and thus remain loyal. (A ruler can’t have his people hate him though, that’s dangerous.)

A ruler is in trouble when his subjects (army, nobles, or people) feel hatred or contempt against him. It’s seemingly impossible to hold power at this point. To avoid this, don’t show extreme cruelty or weakness.

Three Favorite Quotes

“The first method for estimating the intelligence of a ruler is to look at the men he has around him.”

“Men in general judge more by the sense of sight than by the sense of touch, because everyone can see but few can test by feeling. Everyone sees what you seem to be, few know what you really are; and those few do not dare take a stand against the general opinion.”

“The lion cannot protect himself from traps, and the fox cannot defend himself from wolves. One must therefore be a fox to recognize traps, and a lion to frighten wolves.”

Action Steps For You

I could have gone 100 different ways in recommending an action step from The Prince. That’s why you should read the short novel yourself—it’s a unique read.

But let’s focus on Machiavelli’s thought that wise rulers who want to remain in power must surround themselves with helpful counsel.

This is crucial since you’re going to need other people if you’re going to succeed in life on a large scale.

So look around your life. In your job and even with your friends, are you surrounded by people that positively influence your life or ones that are all self-ambitious and look out for only themselves?

Do the people around you give you solid advice or does doing what they say come back to blow up in your face?

Do you 100% trust those you work with and your friends?

How do your coworkers and friends respond when you’re personally in times of trouble? Is it a helping hand or do they laugh and say, “Good luck with that.”

If you lost your job this second, who would support you and who would distance themselves?

Those are the questions you need to ask yourself if you want to avoid being burned down the road.

Machiavelli, and I would agree, that you need to surround yourself with solid counsel. Find wise coworkers. Meet real friends who enjoy your success, not fake friends who are entertained when you fail.

Because most often, you’re only as prosperous as the counsel you keep around you. A ruler, a janitor, and everyone in between could heed this action step just as well.

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The Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich: Book Summary

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In this book summary of The Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich, you’ll find my notes, valuable lessons, and important action steps.

The Accidental Billionaires Summary

Luck can play a significant role in how successful or rich people become. Eduardo Saverin was lucky to meet and befriend Mark Zuckerberg of all people he could have met at Harvard.

The phrase “it pays to be in the right place at the right time” couldn’t be truer when it comes to the cofounders of Facebook. All it took is missing a meeting, living in a different hall, or living in a different dorm and the odds are they don’t join Mark with Facebook.

Many hackers and computer nerds think differently about justice and fairness than traditional organizations do. In Zuckerberg’s mind, he was doing less than shoplifting by borrowing pictures of Harvard classmates from the school’s databases.

It’s a 10x, 100x, or 1,000x advantage to be the first adopter of something (in this case a social network exclusive to Harvard students). Everyone else will always be playing catch up to the company or individual who makes the first big land grab and gets popular for it. Speed kills!

If you enter a business agreement with someone, no matter how early in the process, make sure the expectations are clear and legally binding. Too much to lose by being lazy or relaxed about it.

Mark Zuckerberg is a great entrepreneur because he has incredible focus where he can ignore any distraction (including sleep) to stay on task. He was a workhorse on the computer in the early days of Facebook.

A business that knows how to manufacture virality by getting their customers family and friends to join them is going places. Facebook added users like it was nobody’s business, virality is a main reason why.

It’s wild that after Facebook took off, Mark Zuckerberg seemed more famous than Bill Gates during Gates’ speech that Mark attended.

Unless you’re ok with losing control, it’s a huge mistake to live in a location different from where all the other founders and employees are working on the company. (Bad move by Eduardo to be alone in New York while the rest of the team is in California.)

Your ownership of the company should come down to how much you produce in value to benefit the company.

Often people who have it good (like being students at Harvard) turn out successful, but they don’t become revolutionaries in their industry. Seems like a risk-taker who has the mindset he has nothing to lose has the opportunity to think riskier and take bigger chances. Zuckerberg wasn’t the average college student afraid to risk really good for something unbelievable.

Choosing to please your parents instead of following your intuition can leave you unhappy, less successful, and feeling miserable with regret.

Sean Parker was the reason Mark Zuckerberg met Peter Thiel, Facebook received $500,000 in seed money, and stayed afloat until it became a money-making machine. Your connections or lack of them can make you or break you in business.

When you feel you’re wronged in business with your intellectual property being stolen, the first option is to get it back. The second and least attractive option is to sue.

As companies with friends grow to become massive, the friendship is tested to the point where it often breaks. There’s something about money and power that can destroy relationships. Trust is also harder to come by with more on the line.

Even if they helped your business grow rapidly, employees who threaten the company can’t stick around. It’s too much of a liability for operations and company culture.

Mini Summary

Brilliant results come when you have the ingredients of genius innovation, brilliant mentorship from the people around you, and a tireless work-ethic. Facebook was built from the blood, sweat, and tears of Zuckerberg and his team.

To build a monster company like Facebook, it takes 100% commitment, ruthless decision making, and you’re going to piss a few (or a lot) of people off. There’s no way to play nice with everyone and build a company to that magnitude.

Though it all started from the humble grounds of a dorm room, Facebook is now one of the world’s most unimaginably successful companies. It goes to show that innovation can happen anywhere at anytime, so keep your eyes open.

Three Favorite Quotes

“To guys like Mark, time was another weapon of the establishment, like alphabetical order. The great engineers, hackers – they didn’t function under the same time constraints as everyone else.”

“That was the thing about VC money. It was awesome—until it wasn’t.”

“Having been a part of two major companies—and witnessed many more successes and failures—he knew that the most important aspect of a start-up was the energy and ambition of the founding players. If you were going to do something like this—really do it, really succeed—you had to live and breathe the project. Every minute of every day.”

Action Steps For You

Admittedly this book is harder to give you action steps since it’s not a traditional personal development book. Though there are a few key takeaways you can implement in your life to reach your dreams.

First, it all starts with drive. Zuckerberg’s hunger to not only build Facebook, but make it such a great user experience that college students would share it with their friends was second to none.

This guy is an animal who put Facebook above eating, social life, and sleeping.

Now I would question, and possible discourage Mark Zuckerberg’s unhealthy sleeping habit, but the fact he stayed hungry to his mission above all else is commendable.

How committed are you to your cause? Does it come before your social life, peer pressure commitments, weekly comforts, and relax time? If you have big aspirations, you need to put your mission ahead of things that people with less ambition spend their time on.

Second, look who Zuckerberg had around him to build Facebook to what it is today. I’m talking power players like Sean Parker (started two billion dollar startups), Steve Chen (later founded YouTube), Peter Thiel (cofounded PayPal), Matt Cohler (later cofounded LinkedIn), Dustin Moskovitz (later founded Asana), and Adam D’Angelo (later founded Quora).

Mark is a stud and had brilliant people around him. Those two forces combined makes for an insanely successful company, aka Facebook.

Who are the people you hang around? Are they helping you move closer to your dreams or are they holding you back?

The truth is in your results right now. So if you’re not making progress, find better friends. Your entire perspective and results will change once you’re around people who support you.

If you don’t like Zuckerberg or these action steps, this book is extremely interesting from the controversial plot alone. You can learn more about it below.

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