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Without persuasion there is no success

Why are market leaders, market leaders? There is fierce competition everywhere but what makes Apple stand out from all other tech companies or Nike dominate all sportswear? The subtle but defining difference is persuasion. The aforementioned companies didn’t think of anything different, they have competitors with similar great quality products, however, they have continually persuaded their target audiences to follow them, on their journey to something amazing and original.

Persuasion is the most important but often overlooked skill required of leaders. Every time you face a client you should be persuading them, why they should buy into you and nobody else.

In a very interesting interview for First Round Review product leader for Chrome at Google, Tyler Odean explains the science behind his persuasion techniques.

Mastering persuasion is understanding the biases and shortcuts to the human brain. Why are we so predisposed to bias? Because the brain needs them to make sense of the constant information the world throws at us.

Learning about the biases allows us to be more persuasive. Odean highlights five cognitive biases that are particularly relevant to the entrepreneur’s task of getting customers, investors and employees on board


We’re all more comfortable with the things we’ve seen a lot in our lives — including ideas.

Take Silicon Valley’s tendency to favor trends as an example. “The more everyone talks about blockchain, the more everyone believes in blockchain.”

This isn’t about emulation but about recognizing what already has credibility and building upon it.


When making decisions, the initial thing a person sees becomes a powerful reference point for them. The first number you throw out when you’re talking about pricing will always be the most important number you say. Be concrete with your facts, these reference points are hard to change and always referenced.


After any experience, humans create a representative memory. It’s not an accurate, nor comprehensive account of what they encountered. Many people, when in front of an important audience think they need to say it all. The audience is not interested in every detail. Keep it to the summary points and stick to a very short, simple message that you repeat in different ways again and again. This advice is gold! When there are fewer things to remember, your audience is more likely to remember what matters.


“People like familiarity. We want smart people to be smart. We want good people to be good,” says Odean. “The same goes for ideas.” Because we so badly want equilibrium and predictability in our lives, we’re pretty willing — eager even — to believe that things are more consistent than they actually are.

Remember it’s more difficult to persuade someone that they’re wrong than to persuade them that there’s new information that should change their way of thinking.

Any time you’re trying to persuade someone to change their way of thinking about a particular topic, always frame it as an opportunity to be right because of new information, that they previously did not have instead of an admission of past error.


Human beings are incapable of reasoning about the world in the absolute, so they default to the next best thing: comparative reasoning.

Make sure whatever you are offering is transferred without losing too much meaning – be aware that any information you put out will be seen through a comparative lens. Make your solution or plan easy to visualize and simple.