“Tribes” audiobook free at Audible

Tribes, by Seth GodinSo someone over at Audible decided to offer Seth Godins‘ latest book, Tribes, for free. Not sure how long this promotion will go on for, so get it while it’s hot!

You’ll need an Audible.com account, which is free and doesn’t take too long to create.

“You have everything you need to build something far bigger than
yourself. The people around you notice this and they’re ready to follow if you’re ready to lead.” – Seth Godin

The little secret about experiences

NYTimes posted an interview with the social psychologist, Daniel Gilbert. The best part is this quote:

“Another thing we know from studies is that people tend to take more pleasure in experiences than in things. […] One reason for this is that experiences tend to be shared with other people and objects usually aren’t. […] People think a car will last and that’s why it will bring you happiness. But it doesn’t. It gets old and decays. But experiences don’t. You’ll “always have Paris” — and that’s exactly what Bogart meant when he said it to Ingrid Bergman. But will you always have a washing machine? No.

On a related note, It struck me recently how there are more and more companies selling experiences as gifts.

DSA Practical Driving Test search script

I’ve recently had to hastily pass my practical driving test as my theory test certificate was about to expire. It’s a little well known fact that some areas are well known for their long waiting periods. Hello Isleworth in London. There’s a 1-2 month waiting list as standard for that test center, which is just too long and would tip me over my theory expiration date.

So I decided to book any date (to have a failsafe, plus a booking reference is required to update a booking), and whip up a little script that logs into the DSA booking service, search for better dates in 2 areas (Ashford and Isleworth for me) and email me if anything good pops up.

The script is written in Python and uses the great BeautifulSoup library. It’s a little rough around the edges as I didn’t plan on releasing it, and I’m certain that the code is nowhere near its potential beauty and elegance. My apologies!

Download: dsa.py

I haven’t tested it on Windows (and doubt it would work on it without some tweaking), I’ve only tested it on Linux and Mac OS. If you need a hand at running it, leave a comment. I found and booked a test in Isleworth that was 10 days away on the 2nd day of running the script.

2 Great Quotes from Dali

Salvador DaliThere are some days when I think I’m going to die from an overdose of satisfaction.” – Salvador Dali

I’m in a permanent state of intellectual erection.” – Salvador Dali


Influence: Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. CialdiniI’ve read an interesting book called ‘Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion’ (Amazon: US | UK), by Robert B. Cialdini. It outlines 6 universal “weapons of influence” that are used to persuade people, and how to defend yourself against them:

  1. Reciprocation: The Old Give and Take… and Take
  2. Commitment and Consistency: Hobgoblins of the Mind
  3. Social Proof: Truths Are Us
  4. Liking: The Friendly Thief
  5. Authority: Directed Deference
  6. Scarcity: The Rule of the Few

A good example of this is the labelling technique, which falls under ‘Commitment and Consistency’. It involves assigning a trait, attitude, or belief to a person and then making a request of that person that’s consistent with that label. In practice, for example, this could translate to you telling someone that you consider them to be an above-average citizen that is likely to vote and participate in political events. They would then see themselves a bit differently, as a better citizen, maybe even one that votes!

A more useful example can be used when talking to customer service agents. Knowing that they can sometimes be less-than-helpful when you ask for a tough request, try telling them that Yes! 50 Secrets from the Science of Persuasion“you’re so happy with the service so far that you’re going to write a positive letter or email about your interaction to his or her supervisor as soon as you get off the phone”. If they’re human, they will be more likely to reciprocate the respect and try harder to help you with your request.

I’m currently reading the sequel, titled ‘Yes!: 50 secrets from the science of persuasion’ (Amazon: US | UK), where it basically lists 50 great examples of the 6 persuasive principals above. It’s like a goody bag, but in book form!

Ugly Design can secretly be Good Design

Mr BiyaniWith everyone working harder and harder in achieving “beautiful design” zen, it may be hard to believe that a design lacking in creative beauty may subconsciously attract more visitors/users. But it’s true!

If you’re a tech-head, consider Norton Ghost and its hard drive imaging application. Do you trust the windows desktop application version, or the DOS version? I prefer the latter — it just feels more stable and single-purposed.

If you’re not a tech-head, then consider Mr Kishore Biyani, an Indian retailer who revamped his shops to make them look cluttered and disorganised. His target market — lower middle-class customers — felt like the goods were fresh and felt more at home in the ‘mess’. “The shouting, the untidiness, the chaos is part of the design,” says Mr. Biyani.

Could your product or service benefit from a messy design?