The Freelancers' Show 127 - Book Club: To Sell is Human with Daniel Pink

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Daniel Pink joins the show to talk about his book, To Sell is Human.


DANIEL: Rock and roll![This episode is sponsored by LessAccounting. Are you looking for a system that makes it easy to track all your expenses, income and your budget? Is QuickBooks too much of a pain for you? It was, for me, and I switched to LessAccounting and I love it. It makes things really easy to keep track of and it gives me a lot of charts and graphs to make it easy for me to look at and just know where I'm at with my expenses and everything else. One of the owners, Allan Branch, and his son have written a book for entrepreneurs’ children that talks about what entrepreneurs do and why they're important. If you're interested in that, you can go to]**[This episode is brought to you by Audible. Audible is the first place I go to keep my business skills sharp. They offer over 150,000 books on business, finance, planning and much more. They also have a great selection of fiction that keeps me entertained when I'm just not up for some serious content. I love it because I can buy a book, download it to my iPhone, and listen while running errands or at the gym. Get your free trial at]** [This episode is brought to you by Code School. Code School offers interactive online courses in Ruby, JavaScript, HTML, CSS and iOS. Their courses are fun and interesting and include exercises for the student. To level up your development skills, go to]** [This episode is brought to you by ProXPN. If you are out and about on public Wi-Fi, you never know who might be listening. With ProXPN, you no longer have to worry. ProXPN is a VPN solution which sends all of your traffic over a secure connection to one of their servers around the world. To sign up, go to and use the promo code tmtcs (short for teach me to code screencasts) to get 10% off for life] **CHUCK: Hey everybody and welcome to episode 127 of the Freelancers’ Show. This week on our panel we have Eric Davis. ERIC: Hello. CHUCK: Curtis McHale. CURTIS: Good day! CHUCK: Reuven Lerner. REUVEN: Hey, everyone! CHUCK: I'm Charles Max Wood from, and this week we have a special guest, Daniel Pink. Do you want to introduce yourself, Daniel? [Crosstalk] DANIEL: Well, thanks for having me, yeah. My name is Daniel Pink. I live in Washington, DC. I'm a writer; I've written five books – all of them about business, behavioral science and the world of work. I'm glad to be with you guys talking about freelancing because I've been self-employed for 17 years. CHUCK: Awesome. So I had a lot of people recommend your To Sell Is Human to me and so I went and picked it up, and then I started telling everybody else that they had to read it. DANIEL: Thanks! CHUCK: [Chuckles] You're welcome! It’s a terrific book. The thing that it answered for me, and I'm kinda curious to see what your take on it is. I have a lot of people ask me about freelancing and when I get talking to them, they basically say, “Yeah, but I just can’t sell.” DANIEL: Yeah. Well, I guess I can give you a kind and polite answer, or an honest answer. Honestly, the answer would be, “Get over it,” but the kind and polite answer would be that it’s an essential part of any job right now. The idea that if you have traditional employment, that is, you're a W-2 worker at some large organization, and that you yourself in that kind of role don’t have to sell influence, persuade, convince, cajole – you're fooling yourself. I mean, it’s an integral part of every kind of work and for people who are self-employed, it’s just a little bit more prominent, a little bit more above the surface than below the surface. Now, as I continue the kind answer, I think there's some good news in all of this. Number one is that the way that the world of selling anything – an idea, a concept, a business, a product, a service, some kind of professional offering – the way that world works right now is very different from our stereotype of salespeople, as slimy and sleazy and duplicitous. Today, to be effective in this world of selling, you can actually be a little bit more like a human being. You don’t have to be a sleazebag that doesn’t require a certain kind of slick, extraverted personality, and so it’s much more at people’s fingertips than many of them, at least, ever imagined. CHUCK: That’s really interesting, and it’s really true. I mean, I talked to several people who work for consulting firms or different things like that and I'm just like, “Why don’t you just go out on your own?” and they're like, “Well, I can’t sell.” Usually, I'm telling them something like that where it’s, “You do client proposals, right?” DANIEL: Yeah, exactly. CHUCK: And you do all of these other things, and effectively, the only part of the sales process you're not doing is, “And here’s the number.” You know? DANIEL: Right, right. And also, when you think about sales –. This is one of the core ideas in the book, is that if you look at how people actually spend their time at work – again, whether they're working for themselves or whether they're more traditionally employed – if you look at how people actually spend their time, they spend an enormous portion of it persuading, influencing, convincing other people. Now, it’s not always, “Will you buy my widget?” or “Will you engage my design firm?” You are trying to get colleagues to see things your way; you're trying to get someone to work on your team rather than another team; you are pitching an idea at a meeting, and so it’s so intricately woven into the world of work today that it becomes, in its own way, unavoidable. We don’t necessarily have to go jumping up and down with joy about that, but I think if you’ve really unpacked what it takes to sell, persuade, convince effectively today, people are often reassured because you don’t have to be Herb Tarlek from WKRP in Cincinnati; you don’t have to be a slimy, used-car salesperson. You can actually be more transparent, more normal, more human. ERIC: Yeah, and even this morning – I do software development and I was talking with another software developer about a project we’re working on and I proposed solution A, he proposed solution be. I used some sales stuff that I know to say, “Okay, B would work, but A is better because of these reasons” and walked him through that. By the end of it, he’s like, “Yeah, actually A is better. Let’s do A,” so it was a little bit of persuasion. It’s software developer to software developer – I mean, you can’t get much more introverted and non-typical sales-y. DANIEL: Right, right. I totally agree with you guys, which is why my initial [inaudible] kind of answer is probably more efficient, which is to tell people “Get over it” and then try to give them some guidance, some tools to do it effectively. CHUCK: Yup. REUVEN: I found that many with whom I speak and talk to about private practice and freelancing, they're not necessarily scared of the – or interested in the sales part, but when they have then to assign a dollar value to it, that’s when they sort of get a little nervous. It’s one thing to say to someone, “I think I can do a good job” and it’s another thing to say, “I think I can do a good job; so good, in fact, that you should pay me money for it” or at least people seem to see a threshold there. DANIEL: I think that’s a really good point, and some of that comes with experience. There's an initial discomfort. There are a couple of ways – I’ll tell you what I've seen over the years. Keep in mind that my very first book written way back – it came out in 2001. It was a book called Free Agent Nation – about the rise of people working for themselves. To report that book, I traveled around the US interviewing hundreds and hundreds of people who were freelancing, who were self-employed, and who were doing these kinds of things. I noticed one interesting phenomenon and then one solution – the interesting phenomenon was that I think that people get into a bad habit of under-pricing their talents. I think that in many cases, a lot of really talented professionals don’t charge enough. The challenge there is that if you start out in a relationship with a client or a set of clients that is too low, then at some level, you're kind of sort of locked into it for a long time. That’s the problem. What I have seen out there among freelancers and self-employed people isn’t the problem that’s, “Oh, they're charging too much.” In many cases, I think they're charging too little. The second thing is, the way around that is actually they would team up with other people and get some advice from others about what you should charge. If you hear other people saying you should charge x rather than x-20%, that might embolden you to charge what you're worth. Freelancing, in general, takes some steely nerves on a number of different dimensions, and one of them is – and this is just, I think, a cardinal principle of negotiation of anything, and I say this having learned it at some level, the hard way – anytime you go in to negotiate something, you have to be willing to let the deal crater. If you're not willing to walk away, then you're going to get a raw deal, and that’s sometimes really, really hard to do. But because you fear, “Oh, my God! I'm never going to get an opportunity again” – but the more people are seasoned and the more they talk to seasoned people, the more they realize that the deals you walk away from are sometimes the smartest moves you make in your working life. CURTIS: I think one of the reasons a lot of people are scared to say no is that they haven't backed their whole business on a solved# set of savings or something, so they can’t say no. DANIEL: That’s a good point too, yeah. CURTIS: They came in as a technician, they can technically do their job, but it’s a whole different thing as a business owner. DANIEL: Yeah, and I think early on, that’s a very, very good point too. That’s another hugely, hugely important insight that I'm sure you guys have explored, which is that there is something that wearing the hat of the skilled graphic designer or the skilled programmer is different from wearing the hat of the owner of the design business or owner of the coding business; I think that’s a good point. But the other thing is how much a lot of this stuff goes away with experience; it really does, and the first one is hardest to carry out, and then you get a little bit more emboldened and a little bit more emboldened. At the same time, I think there's also – if I can contradict myself in the phase of a 30-second period – I think that there's also to be said early on if you're just starting out, for basically saying ‘yes’ to everything you can say yes to just to build up the experience, to build up your contacts. CHUCK: Mm-hm. Yeah, you learn the things that you want to do and don’t want to do, right? DANIEL: Yeah, exactly. REUVEN: I got that advice when I first started freelancing; someone said to me, “Look, you don’t want to [inaudible] want to say yes to things.” I sort of [inaudible] that a little too long and a little too far, and I actually [inaudible] now which is, “say yes at the beginning so you can get some experience and understand what's going on.” Then at a certain point, it’s important to say no [inaudible] walk away. DANIEL: Yeah. How did you figure out – I think that’s right. I look at the arc of my own stuff where I would say yes to everything at the beginning and now, I actually think that it’s smarter business, in many cases for me, to say no a lot of the time. But how did you figure out when you turned that corner from ‘yes’ as a default answer, to ‘no’ as a default answer? CURTIS: I think part of it is just taking that leap and being bold, right? CHUCK: Yeah, and I also think that it comes down to when you feel like you can say no. In a lot of cases, you get to that point where you have the money in the bank, you have enough work, you have whatever-whatever-whatever, you’ve been able to vet the job to the point where you'd go, “Yeah, I'm going to hate myself if I say yes.” DANIEL: Right. ERIC: For me, I actually didn’t have a choice. I was so busy that I couldn’t take anything else on, and I made a choice to not hire or do a lot of subcontracting stuff, so I literally had people coming to me and I'm like, “I can’t work with you.” Then I missed out on one that looked really promising, and I kicked myself for not having the flexibility or the free time to take that project now, and so now I'm actually stricter and do ‘no’ earlier on so I have that flexibility if that kind of opportunity comes back around. CHUCK: That’s really interesting. I do want to ask a few questions about the book. The first one is, where did this come from? What made you want to write this book? DANIEL: Well, it was a couple of things; one of them was just looking at how I spent my own time. I went back and looked at something like two weeks’ worth of calendar entries just to see what the hell I was doing for the last two weeks; I felt like I wasn’t getting anything done. I found that when you unpacked and looked at it, unpack what I was actually doing, and looked at it through a slightly different lens, a big portion of what I was doing every single day was selling, and it wasn’t necessarily saying, “Hey, buy my book! Buy my book!” It was talking to an editor and trying to say, “Wow, that’s a really bad idea for an article of it. How can I talk you out of that?” It was trying to get my kids to do certain kinds of things, trying to get a gate agent at an airline to move me to an aisle seat, etc, etc. And one of my principles as a writer is fairly well-known journalistic adage, which is to always extrapolate from your own experience. You're not that special. We tend to think we’re much more special and unique than what we really are, so I figured that if I was doing this, then a lot of other people were doing it. The other impetus for it was a previous book that I wrote that was a book called Drive, and that looked at about 50 years of behavioral science on human motivation. The core idea of that book is if you look at the science – forget about our intuitions – if you look at this really rich body of half century of behavioral science, what it shows is that certain kinds of motivators, what I call if/then motivators – if you do this, then you get that – if/then motivators are extremely effective for simple routine kinds of tasks, but they're not very effective at all for more complex, creative tasks because they narrow your focus when you should be widening it. In response to that book, people said to me, “Well, what about sales? How do we compensate salespeople, people who have a formal, discreet function in selling stuff?” We give them commissions. If you sell, then you make money; if you don’t sell, then you hit the bricks. I thought it was an interesting question. I've been writing about business for almost 20 years; I've never written anything about sales. I started hearing from companies that had done really interesting things. Several companies – they emailed me and they would say, “Hey, this is really interesting because it explains this funky thing that we did that we didn’t have an explanation for, but now we actually have a better understanding of why it worked. You see, we eliminated commissions for our salespeople, and sales went up!” That’s kind of weird, and so that got me into it, and I realized – forgive this long answer here – as I was exploring this that I was selling and persuading all the time. A lot of the salespeople whom I've met over the years were not like the stereotyped, slick, sleazy, used-car salesman, and it was something that all of us were doing and I just felt like it was a topic that certainly in business books in the popular press hadn’t been taken seriously enough. So I decided to write a book about sales for people who might not ever read a book about sales. CHUCK: I have a couple of other questions. One is, toward the beginning of the book you mentioned that the extravert isn’t necessarily the best salesman. DANIEL: Right. Well, let’s talk about that because this book, To Sell Is Human, like a couple of my previous books, a lot of it is very much rooted in some really, really great recent research in behavioral science. It isn’t, “Here’s my intuition about what will work, here’s my guess about what will work, here’s my philosophy about what will work,” but really, “What does the evidence tell us about what works and what doesn’t?” and so the extraversion/introversion thing is a great example. The conventional view very, very widely held is that the best salespeople are extraverts, and some of the evidence bears this out. Extroverts are more likely to go into sales; extraverts are more likely to get hired in sales jobs; extraverts are more likely to get promoted in sales jobs. But when you look at the evidence, the trait of extraversion, the correlation between the trait of extraversion and sales performance – not who gets hired or promoted, but who sells stuff – that correlation is almost zero. That’s kinda weird, right? Does this mean that introverts are better sellers than introverts? This would be pretty remarkable! Well, it turns out, that’s not the case either; it’s much more nuance than that. Here’s what the research shows: strong introverts are terrible salespeople – they're too quiet, they don’t assert, they're uncomfortable in social situations – not a big surprise. Strong extraverts, though – here’s the bigger surprise – they're also terrible! In fact, they're almost as bad if you look – this is research from Adam Grant at the University of Pennsylvania –. Strong extraverts are –. REUVEN: They're the sleazy [inaudible] salespeople we [inaudible]? DANIEL: Sure! That’s part of it; it’s partly sleaze –. Forget about duplicity here for a moment – what does the strong extravert not do very well? CHUCK: Listen? DANIEL: Bingo! That’s exactly it! Alright. And so listening ends up being this – it’s extraordinarily important in sales! They don’t listen! They come onto you strong, etc, etc. And here’s where it gets, I think, interesting and because it nuance: strong introverts are terrible salespeople; strong extraverts – here’s the surprise – they stink too. So who does the best? Well, the people who do the best are what are called ambiverts – A-M-B-I-V-E-R-T-S, like in ambidextrous, ambiverts. Here’s the thing that I'm frustrated about, is that I think we often have these two black and white binary ways of describing who people are, how they work, what makes them tick, etc. Ambivert is a term that has been in the literature since the 1920s, and it describes people who are somewhat extraverted, somewhat introverted; they're not strongly one way or the other. And it turns out, according to this research from Adam Grant at Penn, published in the leading behavioral science journal in the world, that ambiverts make the best salespeople. The people in the middle are, by far, the best salespeople. Now, that makes sense; it makes sense if you just go to the prefix, ambi-. Where else have we heard this? Ambidextrous, right? They can go left, they can go right. Ambiverts – know when to speak up, know when to shut up; know when to push, know when to hold pack; know when to assert, know when to respond. They're much more versatile, and the best news of all of this – and it goes very much to your very, very first question – is that most of us are ambiverts. If you look at the population, the distribution of introversion and extraversion in the population, here’s what it looks like: a few of us are very strong introverts, a few of us are very strong extraverts, but most of us are kinda in the middle. Most of us are ambiverts, which means that, again, going back to our initial part of the conversation, that the way to be better at sales is to just a little bit more like yourself. Don’t try to ape# the strong extravert or the extra-strongly extraverted guy, the back-slapping, grinning kind of fool – they're not very good at it. You just want to be a better version of yourself. And you want to be calibrated; you want to be able to listen and talk; you want to be able to push, you want to be able to hold back. The good news is, most of us are ambiverts, which means that most of us have these native capacities. CHUCK: Wow. That’s really cool! DANIEL: It ought to be reassuring for all of us. I mean, I'm someone who is much more introverted than extraverted, so if you were to plot – if there was a way to plot introversion/extraversion on a seven-point scale –. So one through seven – one is extremely introverted, seven is extremely extraverted; one is a super strong introvert, seven is a super strong extravert. You test me and I'm maybe a 2.5. It turns out that 2.5 is not a strong introvert; it’s introvert, but not a strong one. It’s much more ambiverted. You can’t change your inner nature, but if I can go from a 2.5 and learn some of the techniques of extraverts and be a 3 on that seven-point scale, that's really good! And so someone who is a 6, say, someone’s a 5.5 is more extraverted than introverted, they're never going to do what I do, which is sit in my office by myself all day long and stare at their computer; they would go crazy doing that. They can maybe learn from their introverted friends and maybe go from a 5.5 to a 5 on that seven-point scale – that’s very, very good! That’s where all the action is. And so it’s ought to reassure us that to be effective in sales, persuasion and influence, we don’t have to be a certain way. Indeed, we’re – in most cases, not all – in most cases we’re better off just trying to be a sharper version of ourselves. ERIC: Yeah, and in some cases like – it’s not faking it, but I'm very introverted. I just got off a sales call a few minutes ago and before the sales call, I prepped, I did all my research – typical, technical introverted stuff – and kind of built myself up enough so that I was more confident going into the call than I normally am. I kind of pulled from some extravert stuff, what some of the very extraverted sales techniques are, picked the ones that worked, and then when I was on the call I found that the other people on the call were more on the introvert side, so I was able to back off; it wasn’t as aggressive. I think just having that flexibility, having a toolkit where I have different techniques I can do actually helps me out when I'm doing any kind of sales thing. DANIEL: That’s a much better, much more sharp, vivid and much shorter version of what I was trying to say. I mean, that’s exactly the point. Again, let’s go back to the research; there's some really good research showing that people who have those – I mean, it sounds derogatory, but people who have those abilities to chameleon, to sort of shift like that, are the ones who are most effective, and the truth is that’s within most of our repertoires. CHUCK: I'm going to tell my brother he’s an ambivert, and then he’s going to swear at me and say, “Well you're a –.” DANIEL: You're a what? CHUCK: I don’t know. Something obscene. Anyway –. DANIEL: You're a vegan or something like that? CHUCK: Yeah, there you go. I have another question for you, and this is – you had kind of a replacement idea for the elevator pitch? I'm really curious why you think the elevator pitch isn’t as effective as it used to be. DANIEL: Well, there are a couple of reasons why. I'm not saying we throw the elevator pitch into the trash heap just yet, but there are a couple of reasons why. Number one is that, there are other kinds of pitches that we know from behavioral science we have a way of verifying their persuasive power in a way that we often don’t with typical elevator pitches – that’s one thing. The second thing is that, essentially everybody now has an elevator pitch, so it’s hard to differentiate yourself. What I want to suggest is that we widen our repertoires with other kinds of pitches, and there are some really, really excellent research that gives us some clues about how to do it better. I'm happy to talk more about that if you want. CHUCK: Sure, unless somebody else has a question. ERIC: Yeah, I think it’s important for people to be able to convey what they do to clients; that’s something I see a lot of freelancers struggle with. DANIEL: Yeah, well, let’s go back to first principles here. There's a great piece of research from scholars at the University of California – Davis and Stanford that changed my view of pitching. What these researchers did is they went to, for several years, they went around with screenwriters who were pitching movie ideas to producers. They were in the room, they were recording these conversations – they did this for several years. I mean, it was incredibly rich, exhaustive, qualitative research; this is a paper that won one of the big awards in their field. What they found – and again, this is what reshaped my view of pitching is this – is that the very best pitchers were not –. We tend to think of pitching as a way to convert. I pitch something to you; I do a little song and dance, a little soft shoe routine, pa-para-pa-pa-pa-pa, and then you say, “Yes, that’s brilliant.” That's not how the most effective pitchers work. Instead, they crafted their pitches with really more invitations to collaborate, and the best predictor of success in pitching was how much you welcomed in the other side as a collaborator and even co-creator. And so we can think of pitching as a way to – it’s like a lightning bolt that we send out to try to convert people. We have to think of it as an invitation to a conversation. Now, once we get past that, there's a lot of really, really good evidence for different ways to pitch. Let me give you a couple of examples of it. One of my favorites is this: there's some research – I’ll give you the research because I think it’s pretty interesting – some research out of LaFayette College in Pennsylvania and here’s what the researchers did. They had two groups of participants; they gave group one a list of proverbs. These proverbs rhyme – things like, “Woes unite foes,” “Caution and measure will win you treasure.” They give a second group proverbs; these proverbs were identical in their sentiment but they didn’t rhyme. Instead of “Woes unite foes,” “Woes unite enemies”; instead of “Caution and measure will win you treasure,” “Caution and measure will win you riches.” Obviously, the participants didn’t know what was being measured, and so what the researchers said is, “What we want you to do is to evaluate whether these proverbs are accurate depictions of the human condition.” Here’s what happened: they had the same set of proverbs, basically – just that one rhymed and one didn’t. The people with the rhyming proverbs were much more likely to say, “Oh yeah, this is a very, very astute and accurate depiction of the human condition,” than the people who got the exact same proverbs in a way that didn’t rhyme. Then they went back to that first group and said, “Well did the fact that it rhymed made any difference to you?” and they said, “No, no, no, no, no – not at all!” And this is what we see over and over again. Here’s the key point: rhymes increase what linguists, cognate scientists call “processing fluency” – they go down easier. This is arguably why little kids learn to read with nursery rhymes and Dr. Seuss and those kinds of things. Rhymes increase processing fluency; they go down easier, and so when things go down easier, people are more likely to let them sink in and more likely to take them seriously. It might sounds a little bit cheesy, but pitching with rhymes is enormously effective and people don’t do it enough; that’s just one very small, little tidbit from this research. CHUCK: Very interesting. It’s funny, just all of these different tools you can use to get people’s attention and make something stick. DANIEL: Yeah, there's all kinds of these stuff. Another one that I think freelancers use enough is questions when we pitch. Again, there's some good research there. There's research out of Ohio State and here’s what it shows pretty clearly – let’s go back to the principle: Questions by their very nature elicit an active response. If I make a statement to you, you might listen to it, but it would more likely just wash over you. When I ask a question, you have to engage just a little bit; your wheels turn just a little bit more, and that’s the power of questions. What the research shows is that when the facts are clearly on your side, pitching with questions is actually pretty effective. Here’s what it does: it gets people to think about what you're proposing and engage with them a little bit more deeply, and then, possibly, come to your conclusion for their own reasons. This is axiomatic. When people have their own reasons to do something, they're more likely to do it, and so when the facts are clearly on your side, pitching with questions is very, very effective. We don’t do it enough. What pitching with questions does when the facts are very much on your side is that it allows people to engage, reason through, think through the issue, and then reach the conclusion on their own. This is true in the science of motivation as well; one of the great scholars of the science of motivation said to me – and I quoted him in one of my previous books – “We got to get past this idea that motivation is something that one person does to another and understand that it’s something that people do for themselves. And the same thing is true very much with persuasion, that you're more persuasive when you basically create the conditions for people to reach your conclusion rather than you're trying to turn a switch and turn a dial in them. CHUCK: I'm going to have to try that [chuckles]. DANIEL: Do you think you should try it? CHUCK: Oh, I definitely think I should try it. DANIEL: There you go. A great example of it – there's a great example in American political history, which is in 1980, when Ronald Reagan was a challenger and running against incumbent president Jimmy Carter. Reagan’s argument was that Carter had screwed up the economy and that he needed to be kicked out of the White House. What Reagan did was, instead of saying, “Your economic situation has deteriorated over the last 48 months,” he asked a question. He said very famously, “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?” and that worked shockingly well, and we now have some of the scientific evidence for why that was the case. What happened is that people said, “Oh, let me see. Am I better off than I was four years ago? Let me see here: 1976, things we’re not so bad; 1980, oh my God! Things are terrible! I'm much worse off than I was before!” Again, they come to your conclusion on their own, which is always more persuasive. ERIC: They also have more information about it. I mean, if you beat people over the head with facts, that’s only the facts you know. But if you give them a question and they think about it, they can draw from their own, personal experiences, their own history, their own facts – they know that you might not know, and they might actually use those facts to help persuade themselves and believe in you. DANIEL: Bingo, exactly! ERIC: It’s kind of you're getting out of your own way at that point. DANIEL: Nicely put. That’s exactly what it is. CHUCK: Anyone else have other questions? Because I've got questions, but I don’t want to monopolize the whole show. ERIC: I think one of the big things that I took away in this was how you talked about serving a lot. You talked about anytime you tend to up-sell someone else, stop. DANIEL: Yeah. ERIC: Stop doing that and up-serve them instead. I haven't called it serving, but that is what I have been trying to do for a long time. Why do you think that’s hard for some people to even think of or to start doing? Because the people I talked to, they don’t even think of it like that. DANIEL: Yeah, yeah. I just think it’s bad habits. I mean, nobody – I have not met a single human being who likes to be “up-sold.” CHUCK: [Chuckles] DANIEL: Basically, it’s a form of duplicity; it’s a form of fleecing, and it really, really drives me nuts. I remember – I told this story in the book very, very briefly – using one of the domain registrations services to write a third domain. So I registered a domain, and I just wanted to get the domain and get out, and then it gives me a page of eight zillion other things that I should be spending my money on, and the URL of the page is www. – I don’t want to say the name of the vendor because that wouldn’t be fair to – And I just abandoned the whole transaction there because it was so offensive. One of the things going on right now in the world of sales, in general, is analogous to something that went on in the world of leadership about 40 years ago. Way back then, there was a management writer named Robert Greenleaf, and he came up with the idea of what he called “servant leadership.” It was a really radical idea at the time, and it was this – we got to turn the pyramid upside-down. Leaders aren't at the top, they're at the bottom. The way that leaders gain the legitimacy, the lead, is by serving first and leading next. Now this is a radical idea that became, ever so slowly, embraced. I think we’re in this era of servant selling – that the best way to sell is just to serve, and I mean serve in a transcendent sense, not just good customer service although that’s important. But basically say, when you're dealing with a client or a customer, “What can I do to make this person’s life better?” Now, it doesn’t mean that you're going to get immediate financial returns to that on every encounter, but that kind of ethic – what can I do to make this person’s life better – is the way you build a reputation. It’s the way that you get people to recommend you; it’s a way that you build loyalty. At some level, one of the great advantages of working for yourself is that you don’t have to do all the things that large companies do. You're not always chasing, trying to boost your numbers by x percent for a particular quarter, so you can play a little bit more – not all of it – but you can play a little bit more of a long game. I can’t imagine anybody going wrong as a freelancer if they have the ethic of serving first and selling next. It doesn’t mean that you give away all your work or anything like that, but what it means is that you look at your encounter no matter what you're doing, again, whether you are a management consultant or whether you're a freelance editor, or whether you are an industrial designer, or whether you are a software architect. You look at your encounters and say, “What can I do to make this other side’s life better off?” Over time, there is a huge payoff to that. The other thing that’s advantageous goes to something else – can’t remember which of you said it – which is that you can sleep at night. CHUCK: Well, one thing that I want to just add to this is that you're talking about serving and then selling, and there's a list for an open source project – they actually have a commercial product that they open sourced a good portion of it – called Canvas, and it’s done by a company here in Utah called Instructure, and I've been actively participating on their list for a few years, and I just help people solve their problems with the open source version. What that has turned into is, I don’t even have to do the selling because they come to me and say, “We know you can help us and we want to pay you to help us.” It does, and it kinda greases all those wheels and makes it really easy for you to have that conversation, because they already know that you're willing to help, and that you have the expertise to do it. DANIEL: Yup, exactly. CHUCK: I think we have time for one more question before we get to the picks. I want to make sure that we get done in time for Dan to go do his stuff. Anyone? Alright, I'm going to ask my question then. How do you tell people to get over their fear or aversion to selling? I mean, what advice do you have for them? Because it’s one thing to say, “Get over it,” and it’s another thing to say – you kind of already do it, but –. Are there specific things that people can do? DANIEL: I actually think that instead of telling people they already do it, I would show them that they already do it. Ask them how they spent the last day, what they did in the last day or the last week, and chances are you can find something in there that we’re selling and that it was probably pretty effective. The other thing that I would do is I would – I'm a big believer in slow, steady progress and starting small, so if you're averse to selling, don’t go and pitch a huge client. Maybe take an existing client and pitch a new idea, that is, do something smaller as a way to build up your muscles for doing something larger. CHUCK: Does it change when you're pitching somebody larger? DANIEL: Well, when you're pitching a larger enterprise, yeah. Yes, and no. I think the underlying principles are the same, that is, you want your pitch to be an invitation; you want to be really, really well-prepared; you want to see it from their perspective and all that. I think that the big difference is that it’s harder to figure out sometimes who the actual decision makers are, and so you have to do a little bit of due diligence before hand to figure that out and also a little bit of reading of the room during an encounter to figure out who is really making the decisions here. CHUCK: Yeah, makes sense. Alright! Well, let’s go ahead and do the picks. Curtis, start us off with the picks. CURTIS: I'm going to pick a book called Getting Naked, which is about being honest in serving your customers, really. It’s a fable about consultants and how to operate your consulting business, which I enjoyed. It’s just a fun read and there's lot of good information for you there to do business better. CHUCK: Awesome. Eric, what are your picks? ERIC: My pick today is a book called Free Agent Nation. I don’t remember the author –. CHUCK: Some guy. ERIC: Yeah. But actually, I read this in 2007 right before I started consulting, and a couple of months ago, I was talking with someone and I referred back to ideas in this book about how the industry as a whole as changed and all that. If you're doing or thinking about freelancing, this book is a really great big picture of how stuff works. I guess, [inaudible] I think I bought it like three or four times already and given copies away. I have a paper one but I want a digital version. It’s a very good book. DANIEL: Thanks so much! I owe you like $7 in royalties now. CHUCK: [Laughs] Awesome. Reuven, what are your picks? REUVEN: I'm in Beijing, and so I've been enjoying – hahaha – what's known as the Great Firewall of China, which blocks out such small Internet companies as Google. One day, they get big and then the Chinese will, I'm sure, regret their decision. In any event, so what everyone here does is they use a VPN, and it becomes a bit of a cat and mouse game which VPN is blocked and which is available. I've been using for my two weeks here ExpressVPN, which seems to be working pretty well as well as any of them can be, so I definitely pick that for those of you traveling to China in the –. CHUCK: Oh, the Great Firewall got him. DANIEL: [Laughs] REUVEN: Kids. We usually got a Windows machine for my kids and we needed to really restrict how much time they were spending on the computer, so we found this program called TimesUpKidz, and you can assign each user a limit as to how long they can stay on, and then, well, they're not allowed on the computer anymore. Mac people, of course, might laugh at this because it’s built into the system, but if you have a Windows machine at home – and I've been told vicious rumors that there are such people in the world – then that’s a good choice. Anyway, just a quick third pick is I recently discovered the show Numb3rs, which went off air a few years ago but is now on Netflix, and I've definitely been enjoying that. Anyway, those are my picks for this week. CHUCK: Yeah, that's a good show. Alright, I'm going to pick a few books. These are books that I've read recently that I really enjoyed. I got them off of the – they're the required reading for Dave Ramsey’s employees, and so I’ll pick them kind of in the order that I really liked them. The first one is QBQ! The Question Behind the Question, and it’s about personal responsibility. Instead of asking, “Why is this happening to me?” you ask, “What can I do to make it better?” He walked through the whole process of how you formulate those questions so that they are productive questions. Another book that he also recommends is the go-getter, and it’s kind of a fable or story that’s fictional, and it kinda demonstrates what a go-getter is and the kind of people that you want to have around. As I'm looking at hiring more subcontractors, this is something that really kinda helped me solidify some of the things that I'm looking for in those folks. The last one, I have to say that they took the metaphor a little bit too far, but I like the underlying principle, is the Rhinoceros Success. The whole premise is that you choose something that you want to charge down, something that you really want, and you focus on it and chase it until you get it. Like I said, the metaphor they take a little too far; it’s a little bit hokey, but overall I think it was just awesome. I'm definitely going to pick that as well. Last, we all kind of picked it I guess, is the book club book – To Sell Is Human is one of those books that I tell everybody that is looking at going freelance to go pick up, because it really does outline for you that you can sell, it’s a normal thing, it’s not this terrible, sleazy or bad thing, and that you can really understand the principles behind it. It’s not this mysterious thing either. Anyway, those are my picks. Dan, what are your picks? DANIEL: I've got a few. I want to recommend two books: one of them is – I know it’s a book that I think has been recommended before in the show, but my recommendation might only reinforce that. It’s a book called The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, which is about how to overcome resistance and get stuff done – that's one book. CHUCK: So good. DANIEL: Yeah, it’s a wonderful book. I even have a little card on my desk that says, “Beat the resistance.” There's another book called The Little Book of Talent by a guy named Daniel Coyle, and it’s a really, really good, super short distillation of some of the best research in high performance. Really, really short; really, really punchy about what kind of practice matters, what kind of mindset matters and so forth. Very science-based, but totally accessible. So those are two books. Let me give you two tools, one of which is fairly commonplace, the other I think is less so. Anybody and their brother might use this now, but I don’t know what I would do without Dropbox. Dropbox is my co-pilot. Dropbox is – if someone took away my Dropbox, I would find a gun and go after that person, and I don’t even have a gun, and I don’t even love guns. But I would go, I would find, I would get guns to go after anybody who took away my Dropbox, because it’s such an essential tool for what I do right now. The second tool is, I know people have recommended Moleskin notebooks way too much – I don’t think Moleskin is the best notebook out there! I think people are missing the boat! The best notebook out there is a notebook called Field Notes. Check it out at –, a small operation in Chicago that has the best pocket notebooks there are. CHUCK: Awesome. We have a couple minutes left, do you want to briefly tell us about the other books that you’ve written? DANIEL: Sure. Let’s see – so we already talked about Free Agent Nation. I also wrote a book – the second book was a book called A Whole New Mind, and the subtitle of that is Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future. It is a book that makes the argument that certain kinds of abilities, really SAT spreadsheet abilities, are becoming less important because they're easy to outsource and easy to automate, and that a different kind of ability, artistry, empathy, inventiveness, big-picture thinking is becoming more important. The third books is a book called The Adventures of Johnny Bunko: The Last Career Guide You’ll Ever Need, which is a career guide in the form of Japanese comics – Japanese manga; a fun little book. Then I wrote a book called Drive about the science of motivation, and the latest book, as we have been talking about and as you just recommended is a book called To Sell Is Human. CHUCK: You have another one in the works? DANIEL: Not that I know of! CHUCK: [Chuckles] DANIEL: I'm actually taking a little bit of a break right now, taking a little bit of a mini sabbatical to think through some new projects. CHUCK: Cool. Well thanks for coming. We really appreciate you taking the time and hopefully this helps some people figure out what they want to do and the way of selling. DANIEL: Awesome! I hope so. Thanks for having me on the program![Work and learn from designers at Amazon and Quora, developers at SoundCloud and Heroku, and entrepreneurs like Patrick Ambron from BrandYourself. You can level up your design, dev and promotion skills at Level Up Con, taking place on October 8th and 9th in downtown Saratoga Springs, New York. Only two hours by train from New York City, this is the perfect place to enjoy early fall at Octoberfest, while you mingle with industry pioneers, in a resort town in upstate New York. Get your tickets today at The space is extremely limited for this premium conference experience. Don’t delay! Check out now]**[This episode is sponsored by MadGlory. You've been building software for a long time and sometimes it gets a little overwhelming. Work piles up, hiring sucks and it's hard to get projects out the door. Check out MadGlory. They're a small shop with experience shipping big products. They're smart, dedicated, will augment your team and work as hard as you do. Find them online at or on Twitter @MadGlory.]**[Hosting and bandwidth provided by the Blue Box Group. 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