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  • Writer's pictureAJ Auld

Books that will Make You Smarter - in Business, Negotiation and Life!

Updated: Aug 27, 2019

Why do people act the way that they do? What motivations, belief systems or other factors drive human behavior? These books have helped me gain an entirely new perspective on why people think and act how they do. We'll start with my favorite from a former FBI hostage negotiator...

Never Split the Difference

When you're negotiating for people's lives, you can't just split the difference and let half of the hostages die. This is easily one of my favorite books of all time. I have read this book from cover-to-cover at least three times and I pick up something new with each read. Mirrors, calibrated questions, emotional intelligence, empathy, late-night DJ voice and more. Never Split the Difference grabs you right away with details of real-life high-stakes negotiations and doesn't let you go until you have turned the final page.


After reading this book, you will likely view many of your previous personal and professional life experiences in a new light. Dr. Cialdini outlines the six principles of influence: reciprocity, commitment/consistency, social proof, liking, authority and scarcity and provides specific examples of how they are used to influence human behavior. Have you ever wondered why or how people can be convinced to do things that a rational person would never consider? Or why certain people are so good a persuading others? Influence is a must-read.

Win Bigly

If you love Trump, you should read this book. If you hate Trump, you should read this book. Love him or hate him, after reading this book, you will walk away with an entirely new understanding of what happened in the 2016 election. You'll see how Hillary's team absolutely botched their messaging and responses. Admittedly, I walked away with a much greater appreciation for Trump's "weapons-grade influencer" skills. After reading Win Bigly, you may view Trump's tweets and actions differently. Is it genius or insanity? I'm still on the fence, myself.

Atomic Habits

If you or a loved one struggles with addiction or bad habits, this is a must-read or must-give. Atomic Habits provides a framework for why and how people develop habits, and how habits can be changed or developed with incremental (but compounding) changes. I have recommended this book to friends who suffer from addiction and they tell me that the lessons are even more profound than I had described. For me, Atomic Habits gave more shape to lessons I used to teach as a coach - "it's all about the details."

Barking Up the Wrong Tree

Barking up the Wrong Tree cuts through the BS that we have been told (or that we have convinced ourselves of) and explains what really drives success. The author dives into a number of topics including the civility and organization of pirates, why nice guys finish first or last (but rarely in between), why good looking people experience a disproportionate amount of success, why some people never quit and more. Barking Up the Wrong Tree is a fun, educational book that is sure to entertain.

Side note - I'm a terrible reader. I haven't been diagnosed with a specific reading disorder, but I have never been able to slow my mind down enough to read books. I have to really concentrate when I read, which slows me down to a snail's pace. Instead, I listen to books via Audible. I wish this would have been possible when I was growing up!

#neversplitthedifference #influence #psychology #winbigly #atomichabits #barkingupthewrongtree #books #getsmarter #chrisvoss #robertcialdini #scottadams #jamesclear #ericbarker

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