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TTL Natalie Nixon | Applied Creativity

Applied Creativity: How To Infuse Innovation Into Your Work With Natalie Nixon

Discover the power of applied creativity, where intentional curiosity sparks innovation and propels leadership. In this episode, our guest is the one and only creativity strategist Natalie Nixon, the founder of Figure 8 Thinking, and “the creativity whisperer to the C-Suite”. Together with host Diane Hamilton, they explore the intriguing world of creativity, curiosity, and innovation within the realm of leadership and business. Natalie uncovers the four factors that can hinder innovation and shares strategies to overcome them, fostering a culture that encourages out-of-the-box thinking. From embracing lateral thinking to draw insights from diverse industries to discovering the art of applied creativity, Natalie explores the true meaning of creativity and its intersection with leadership. As a bonus, she also teases an upcoming book about “invisible work” and redefining productivity! Listen now and learn how to infuse creativity and curiosity into your workplace journey.

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TTL Natalie Nixon | Applied Creativity


I am here with Dr. Natalie Nixon. She is known as the Creativity Whisperer to the C-Suite. She has been selected as one of the Top 50 Keynote Speakers in the world. She is the author of The Creativity Leap: Unleash Curiosity, Improvisation, and Intuition at Work. It’s so nice to have you here, Natalie.


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Applied Creativity: How To Infuse Innovation Into Your Work With Natalie Nixon

I’m happy to be here. Thank you.

I was looking forward to this because we got to share time on a recent panel that was part of something that Simon Brown, Garrick Jones, and Paul Ashcroft had created called Curiosity in Times of Disruption. It was a great event. I love their work and all the things they do. I was very impressed with everything. We were on the same panel, and I hope that you would show up on this show so we can talk some more about curiosity and creativity. Before we do, I want to get your backstory to learn a little bit more about how you got interested in all this and what led to you becoming this top keynote speaker.

I have a very diverse background. Sometimes I call it a loopy background. It’s grounded in cultural anthropology, fashion, design thinking, and a sixteen-year career in academia. I always say that my background in cultural anthropology equipped me with what I call the worm’s eye view of understanding society and how to frame questions. As qualitative researchers, anthropologists are interested in observational studies. Not so much the big data in the survey, which is the 30,000-foot level view, but what I call the worm’s eye view.

Fashion is something that I got into out of need in my twenties. I was living in New York City and couldn’t afford to buy any of the pretty frocks in all the boutiques. I went back to what I knew and started sewing a lot of my wardrobe. My friend said, “You should sell some of this.” I was like, “I can’t sell this. I’m just making it because I can’t afford anything.” Long story short, I convinced myself maybe I could do this. I started a small entrepreneurial venture called Nat’s Hats, where I designed and sold hats. Later, I worked in global fashion sourcing, which took me to live and work in Sri Lanka and Portugal, working for a division of limited brands.

Fashion was my foray into trends research, as well as understanding the value of beauty and aesthetics and the role of desire in compelling people to buy stuff. That’s a very important consumer insight that tech, food and bev, agriculture, transportation, and all sorts of industries could learn from. I then was a professor for sixteen years.

My company, Figure 8 Thinking, started after I gave a TEDx Philadelphia Talk around year thirteen or so of my professorial career, where I was proclaiming that the future of work is jazz. That catapulted me into getting invited into companies to help them become more improvisational. I started my business as a side hustle. I looked up a year later and realized I was having more fun with my side hustle. I have not looked back. I’m in year six of building out Figure 8 Thinking.

That’s quite a journey. We have a lot in common when you tell me all the stuff that you have done. I still teach a lot, and I have a lot of the same interests. I noticed you got your PhD in London. Is that where you ended up?


How did you end up there?

I was dragging my feet about getting a PhD. I was already an assistant professor in academia. I was an associate professor. I was a founding director of a program. My mentors kept saying, “You should think about earning a PhD.” I had a Master’s degree at the time, which was a terminal degree for my field. I wasn’t seeing any programs Stateside that were interesting enough for me to leave my full-time job and live off of a pretty measly stipend or fellowship for at least five years.

I was on my way over to London in 2006 or maybe 2005. Right before I left, a week before, a friend forwarded me an email about something called design management. He said, “This is totally you.” I thought, “What is this?” I killed it. It turned out it was huge in Europe and the UK among practitioners, but also as a degree that you could earn. I thought, “I wonder if you could get a PhD in this thing?” It turns out you could.

I ended up meeting with several university programs while I was over in London. I decided to earn my PhD in Design Management at the University of Westminster in London. That required me to go back and forth over a period of four years. They have a deadline. I had to finish within 3 to 4 years, or else the clock would start over, and I did it.

It’s interesting because I worked as a doctoral chair for a long time just to see the different types of dissertations. I did more quantitative than qualitative, but I did some mixed methods. I like to quantify things. Some of this stuff is hard to do when you’re talking about creativity, curiosity, and things that you and I talk about. I was anxious to talk to you because I know you give lots of different talks. You talk about creativity innovation in the future of work, for example. It is one of your keynotes.

Mine is curiosity innovation. It’s maybe not necessarily the future of work, but we have very similar types of titles to what we have. It’s interesting because innovation is an important topic right now. I would love to hear what it is that you share with people when you talk about creativity innovation in the future of work. A lot of people could benefit from that right now.

Thank you. I agree with you that innovation is particularly prescient right now, but in every time period, people believe innovation is the thing. We would definitely agree that probably about twenty years ago, innovation became this buzzword, and people started trying to figure out how to build cultures of innovation within their organizations. That intersected around the timing of my 2014 TEDx Talk. As I was getting invited into companies to help them build cultures of innovation, what I experienced is that a lot of people were throwing around the I-word. Sometimes that would result in what we call innovation theater. It became diminished into, “Those are the people who play with the Post-It notes all day,” which is pretty pejorative and not exactly what was happening.

TTL Natalie Nixon | Applied Creativity
Applied Creativity: In every time period, people believe innovation is the thing.


At the same time, I realized we needed more of a common understanding of what innovation is. I also was perceiving that we were starting in the wrong place. That landed me to understand innovation in the following way. I define innovation as an invention converted into scalable value. That value could be financial value, cultural value, or social value. How do you get from this one-off concept, which might be a cool invention to this scalable value, which is innovation? The conversion factor is creativity.

The challenge was that in the hallowed halls of Corporate America if I had started with, “We need to start with creativity,” they would look at me like I had three heads because they didn’t understand creativity in the ways that I was thinking about it. A lot of people think of creativity as only something that artists are great at. You’ll hear people muttering things like, “I’m not a creative type because I can’t sing, dance, act, paint, or draw.”

My perspective was that creativity was much broader than that. Artists are exceptional at wrestling with the ambiguity of the creative process. The best engineers, accountants, attorneys, scientists, coders, farmers, plumbers, and teachers are super creative when they are toggling between wonder and rigor to solve problems, produce novel value, and generate meaning.

This is the definition I land on through my research. That way of thinking about creativity has done a lot of traction because people then understand that we have to build our creative capacity as individuals, as teams, and as organizations in order to consistently innovate. My perspective is that creativity is not this esoteric add-on or this nice to have. It’s actually a must-have. It’s imperative.

[bctt tweet=”Creativity is not an esoteric add-on. It is an imperative.” username=””]

I love that. I’ve had a lot of creativity experts on the show. Larry Robertson comes to mind because he interviewed me for one of his books. I asked him, and I asked all of them, “What do you think comes first, curiosity or creativity?” I want to ask you that real quick and see what you think.

I have a different way of thinking. Curiosity is enmeshed in all creative work, but I’m thinking about the fundamental dimensions of creativity being wonder and rigor. Built into wonder, which is about awe, pausing, and audacity, is curiosity. I extend curiosity as part of my three-I model. I realized it wasn’t enough for me to tell people, “Go ahead, toggle between wonder and rigor to solve problems. You’ll be creative. Have fun.”

We get stuck. Life happens. There are shifts in the market. How do you consistently do that? By deploying the three I’s which are Inquiry, Improvisation, and Intuition. Inquiry is one of the drivers to be able to consistently create so that you can purposefully innovate. I look at curiosity embedded in the three I’s to help activate the creative process.

It’s so interesting to discuss the definitions of things. You were talking about how everybody thinks of innovation as this thing or that thing. I taught a class at a tech school here in Arizona. One of the questions I asked them was, “Give me an example of something that’s not technology.” You can’t think of anything. When you think of technology, everybody is thinking big computers or ChatGPT, whatever it is we’re thinking.

We have these ideas of what things mean, and everybody defines these things differently. A lot of times, when they ask me to define curiosity, it’s not just asking questions or giving ideas. To me, it’s mostly getting out of status quo thinking in the workplace. That’s what we’re trying to do by developing all this creativity, innovation, and all these things.

I see them all intertwined to some extent as well. I love that you talked about that because it was so interesting to me when I was studying curiosity to look at the stuff that dealt with creativity, like George Land’s work or Sir Ken Robinson’s. You look at how these kids have these great levels, and then they tank. I saw the same thing with curiosity. My research focused on the things that inhibit curiosity. What do you think inhibits creativity, curiosity, or the whole mesh that you talked about? What did you find?

Unfortunately, one of the things that inhibits creativity is one of the biggest gateways to adulthood and to socialization, which is our formal educational system. Sir Ken Robinson absolutely was connecting the dots between the way we teach and our cultures of learning. It’s the dimming of curiosity and the dimming of building a creative capacity. I experienced this firsthand in the three very different schools I grew up in.

TTL Natalie Nixon | Applied Creativity
Applied Creativity: One of the things that inhibits creativity, unfortunately, is one of the biggest gateways to adulthood and to socialization which is our formal education system. The dots between the way we teach in our cultures of learning, and the dimming of curiosity, the dimming of building a creative capacity.


I’m from Philly. I also live in Philadelphia now. I started out in urban Philly public schools from kindergarten through third grade. I then went to suburban public schools from fourth through sixth grade. I then finished out my high school years in a very elite Quaker prep school. I remember being around eighth grade because my grades plummeted when I got to this prep school. It’s an incredible school, and the culture of learning was so different.

I had gotten good at completing the worksheets and getting the gold stars. Checking the boxes, staying in my lane, and not drawing outside of the lines. I then got into a culture learning environment where it was about “Ask a better question. Ask for forgiveness, not permission.” I was like, “What is this place?” First of all, it was a campus, and you went not just from classroom to classroom but building to building. You call teachers by their first names. It was a lot to get used to.

That’s a lot different.

It was around eighth grade or maybe ninth grade when it occurred to me. I didn’t have the language I’m about to use now because I was fourteen years old. I realized my friends back on the block and my friends in public school, we had been trained, and we were being set up to be the doers, to stay in the lane, and to execute.

To be worker bees.

I was in an environment of people who were being set up to ask the questions, who were being set up to design the lanes, who were being set up and encouraged to figure out a different way. Why does that have to be an elite way to be educated and for learning? Our society would have 10,000X the amount of innovation if our cultures of learning were designed in a way where we were airing on the side of the process rather than solutions. Once we graduate from high school and college, there’s so much gray. The most successful people are figure-outers. That’s not a word. It’s an idea. They’re people who figure it out. They see the negative space and go, “Why can’t we do it that way? Why haven’t we tried this? I wonder what’s over here.” That’s one of the biggest inhibitors.

Also related to that, so many of us have been question-shamed, which dampens the creative process. We’re afraid to raise our hands. At some point in our education or work career, we were laughed at or we were ignored if we asked a question more than anyone else. We dim that part of ourselves down. Those are the two biggest drivers for dampening creative growth.

It crossed over. It’s very similar to what we saw with curiosity. I had the four factors of fear, assumptions or that voice in your head that can lead to fear, technology, which was over and under-utilization of it, and then environment, which is teaching and education on people and everybody with whom you’ve had interaction. It’s very similar to the things that we’ve seen on the two. It’s challenging. You use words like creativity or curiosity, and you go in there to get them to recognize what you’re trying to do, but you want them to draw outside the box. With a lot of companies, they look in their cubicle, silo, or industry, and they don’t look outside to try and reinvent the whole thing. How do you work with people to get them to do that?

I dig into both my background in culture anthropology and my work in the design thinking space. The first book I ever published is a book I edited called Strategic Design Thinking. The goal of that book was it was a collection from practitioners and academics to offer an accessible way for people to think about human-centered innovation, which values prototyping, story, and experimentation.

TTL Natalie Nixon | Applied Creativity
Strategic Design Thinking: Innovation in Products, Services, Experiences and Beyond

How do you go about helping people do that?

One of the big principles in design thinking is the idea of lateral thinking. It’s this notion of what we can learn from near and far adjacencies. The further out we get from sectors, companies, and organizations that play in our space, the more new ideas can be sparked. For example, if you are part of an orthodontics practice and you’re trying to figure out a new way to help people wear braces so that they feel confident and comfortable, you could talk to other orthodontists. You could stay within the dental sector. You could talk to Broadway makeup artists who also have to deal with the role of emotion and appearance and do a lot of facial work around the mouth and the teeth.

Understand what you can learn from that very far tangential space, but still has to deal with similar parts of the face, the body, and the person. That’s a far adjacency. One of the things I recommend that people do, if it’s in the budget and if the culture allows for it, is to not just invite but to incentivize people to go to one conference a year that is totally outside of your sector. If you work in agriculture, go to a conference in secondary education, fashion, or biotech to learn something new.

If you don’t have the budget for that, you can easily incentivize people to attend a webinar once a quarter in a totally different sector. Close the loop by having meetings where people share to show and tell what they learned, what an a-ha moment was, what they figure out that was similar to the way your team approaches things, and what was super different but could be integrated into the way that you work. Those are some accessible hacks to help practice that lateral thinking so that you can learn from people who are outside of your sector and may shine a nice light on problems you’ve been staring at for the past six months.

I was thinking of some of the things Simon Brown at Novartis had shared with me that they do there with some of their training. They incentivize people 100 hours a year and their employees give little mini-TED Talks. There’s no better way to learn something than to teach it.

That’s right.

You find something you’re passionate about. You share it with everybody else, and then you learn more about it. I love that they do that there. We need to see more of that. There are examples that I’ve shared with bicycle companies seeing how other people sell their products and finding out that they aren’t being broken as much as they were when they were shipping them, for example. The only difference between their product and the other product, which was a flatscreen TV, was that they had a flatscreen TV printed on the box. They printed a flatscreen TV on their hybrid bikes and their bikes break a lot less, and it costs them just a couple of pennies.

That’s so interesting. I love that example.

There are so many examples of going outside of your industry to do these things to get some insight. You talk about applying creativity. I’m curious if that’s something different than just being creative. In one of your talks, I noticed you say applied creativity and leadership. How is that different than creativity and leadership?

I use the word “applied” very intentionally so people understand that building a creative capacity has to be an intentional focus. It’s something that we can exercise. It is a competency. It’s not something that some people are just gifted from the skies above like, “I did not get that gene, and other people did.” Absolutely not. To be humanist, to be hardwired, and to be creative is a matter of whether or not you are being intentional about designing time and space to practice that wonder and rigor.

Applied creativity means that you’re redesigning meetings. You’re redesigning the ways that you think about engaging with clients at the onset and interim touchpoints. You’re rethinking who you hire. That could be another intervention point for lateral thinking. Hire an unusual suspect, even on a temporary basis. It could be on a quarterly rotational basis, but something to give you that fresh eyes and perspective to rejuvenate your thinking. These are all important ways to apply creativity. I use that word so people understand that it doesn’t happen through happenstance.

When people understand and accept the effort that it takes to be creative, it’s when they think back to maybe they’ve been athletic. Maybe they have had an artistic practice, learned an instrument when they were younger, and studied dance or actual art. They then understand the rigor that’s required in any creative effort. For me, it’s been dance. I studied dance since I was four years old. Now I take a lot of hip-hop dance classes and ballroom as well.

The Great American choreographer and dancer Twyla Tharp famously wrote in her book, The Creative Habit, “Before you can think out of the box, you must start with the box.” You must know the rules. You must be disciplined to practice incessantly and to have time on task for skill mastery. It’s only then that you can be a LeBron James. It’s only then that you can be a Beyonce, or you can be someone who is like Einstein. He knew the rules of physics that he could be so creative in his experimentation. The rigor is an important part that we can’t forsake.

That ties into my under and over-utilization of technology thing. I use Einstein sometimes as an example when I talk to people. If you just threw him the calculator and then never taught him the box, then he’s only the greatest calculator worker ever. We need to do both sides of that. So much of what you say ties into the same things that I found in all the research I had. When you were talking about getting close, getting far, and looking at it from different perspectives, Dr. Maja Zelihic and I wrote a book about perception. One of the things we talked about in that was how it’s IQ, EQ, CQ for Curiosity Quotient, and CQ for Cultural Quotients combined.

We’re all sitting in different places on this planet. If you’re looking at a piece of artwork, the closer you get, all you see are brush strokes. The farther back you get, you see the bigger picture. Knowing that sweet spot where you’re sitting, everybody is seeing something different. It is very hard at work. A lot of people will ask me, “What if you can’t get somebody or if leaders don’t let you build curiosity or, in your case, creativity at work?” What do you do then if they’re shutting you down?

First of all, I love their point about the need to zoom out. Sometimes that means having that cognitive diversity on a team so everyone brings in different perspectives, experiences, and skillsets. Some of it also means, “Get up and move. Get out of the building.” Literally, circle the issue from a number of different perspectives.

If you’re in a work environment where it feels a bit punitive to raise your hand to extend the typical way you think about things, there are two things that I remind people of. Number one, creativity loves constraints. To say, “We work in a highly regulated environment. We can’t be creative,” I don’t think that that’s an excuse for why you have to dampen your ability or your creative capacity and growth. It’s when we have limitations on budget, on time, and on people’s talent that creativity sparks. That’s not a good reason. The other piece to help us build a creative capacity in a highly regulated environment is to start engaging in more prototyping. Engage in building and on micro levels among 2 or 3 other people in the organization, and a bit of asking forgiveness, not permission.

[bctt tweet=”Creativity loves constraints.” username=””]

The reason why prototypes are effective is that they’re cheap. They are not intimidating. You build a shorter runway to fail and to learn. An example of a cheap and easy prototype is a doodle. You literally can doodle a possible interaction, a new type of service delivery, or a new type of technology that you want to try out with stick figures, squares, circles, equal signs, and arrows. You can take a photograph of that scribble scratch and share it with people and ask, “Does this make sense to you? This is what we’re trying to do.”

The whole goal of a prototype is to get clarifying questions. The goal of a prototype is not for people to say, “This is amazing. It’s the best thing since sliced bread.” The goal is for people to poke holes at it. Through their clarifying questions and through the holes that they poke, you’ll be able to understand how to tweak this thing so it gets closer to what people actually need. The goal is not to sell the stuff that we love. The goal is to sell the stuff that people need. It’s going to solve their problems.

Building a culture of prototyping can start in small sections of the organization. It doesn’t have to be a global effort or initiative. It doesn’t have to be a team-based initiative. It can be quite stealthy. Positivity is a contagion. When people begin to say, “This is interesting,” it energizes people and you’ll gradually get buy-in in that way.

You brought up so many good points. I’ve had conversations with Francesca Gino, Amy Edmondson, and people from Forbes that have done a lot of work in this area with teams of collaboration. I know Francesca’s work. A lot of leaders thought they encourage curiosity or probably creativity as well. The perception from employees is a little different than what leaders probably think they’re doing. I know you’ve interviewed 56 people for your book. Did you find that there was a disconnect between what leaders sought and what employees perceived? What was the most interesting thing you found from interviewing all those people?

There definitely is a gap analysis between what leaders think they’re relaying, and then what people actually can do. More of the data is as new as 2023 in terms of understanding the value of creativity from the perspective of managers, the statistic is something like 70% of managers believe that creativity is super important among their employees, but 76% of employees believe that they get minimal time to dive into creative work.

We say one thing but we actually don’t incentivize and allow the space and time for people to build that creative capacity, which is beyond picking up a paintbrush and going to a dance class. Although that’s amazing, I do that myself but as I share in my book, there are a lot of ways to do that. I’ll share two most interesting moments for me. One was when I interviewed Biplab Sarkar who is the CEO of Vectorworks, which is a tech software company. He has a PhD in Electrical Engineering.

In every interview in terms of the qualitative research process, I would always ask the same question so that I can begin to see the pattern that emerges from people’s answers. There was going to be a moment in our conversation when I would ask the following question, “Would you share a story about a time when you used your intuition to make a strategic decision?” As I got closer to knowing I was going to ask that question, I was getting a little nervous because I thought, “This is a tech company. This guy has a PhD in Electrical Engineering.”

My assumption, which happened to be wrong, is he’s very linear thinking and he has no time for intuition. I was so wrong. He waxes poetically about the ways that he listens to his intuition. He uses his intuition in conjunction with big data and Excel sheets. That was an interesting moment that challenged my own assumptions. It showed how people who are perceived to think in one way, at least my perception was they were perceived and trained to think in a very lockstep-only logical way, were very open to sometimes their rationality that presents itself when we have this intuitive nudge.

The other interesting interview was when I interviewed Celine Barel who is a Nose. She’s a perfumer at International Flavors & Fragrances. I was able to visit her on the job at work and spent a day with her. She described her work in the following way. She said, “My superpower is my ability to make real no longer exist. I thought, “That’s an amazing way to think about the role of scent.” If I smell a certain aftershave, I’m forgetting the name of it, but it’s something that my dad always wore. It reminds me of my father, who passed away.

Old Spice.

Thank you. Old Spice reminds me of my father. The other thing she said is, “The work that I do in designing scent for perfumes is I’m balancing chemistry and intuition,” which I thought was an interesting insight. There were so many cool people I was able to talk to in exploring the ways creativity shows up in their work.

That made me think of that movie. Did you see that movie? He was obsessed with her scent, and he created all these scents. I can’t remember it. That was a great movie. I’d have to think of it.

Let me know. I love perfume.

It’s an old movie, and it’s in the old time setting. It was an interesting movie. It’s fascinating to get a lot of different people’s perspectives on anything. That’s one of the reasons I do the show. I’ve had Daniel Goleman and some amazing people that you could find out because I wrote my dissertation on emotional intelligence. I was fascinated to hear his perspective on curiosity.

As we pursue different aspects of what other people can teach us, we never want to be the smartest person in the room. That’s why we’re here, so I could have somebody around me who’s smarter than I am in different areas. I love that because we all have areas in which we can grow. A lot of leaders and people, in general, are afraid of that. How can we get people to feel more confident about doing that kind of thing with mentorship?

I look at the mentorship happening outside of the job. It’s something I call becoming a clumsy student of anything. It should be something that sparks your interest, makes you smile, and makes something that you want or looking forward to. It could be learning to play chess or back-end, learning auto mechanics, or gardening. In my case, maybe it was the start of the pandemic or right before the pandemic started, I started diving into ballroom dance. One of the many things that I love about being a student of ballroom dance is that I am not the smartest person in the room. I’m constantly learning not only from my instructors but from my peers. We’re all at different levels. For some people, things come to them easily. Other people are struggling in the same way that I am.

[bctt tweet=”One way to view mentorship is something that is happening outside of the job and becoming a clumsy student of anything.” username=””]

Maybe if I can be helpful, I’m figuring out a different way. How do I understand? How am I doing this? How can I translate this? The people who have mastered certain aspects of the technique sharpen the three Is for me. It helps me to get a lot braver at asking questions and raising my hand. It helps me to be much more experimental and improvisational. It also requires me to follow my intuition.

I had a private lesson, and my instructor said, “Keep going. You’re thinking too much about it. You have to keep pushing through.” There are so many life lessons that I can apply to my daily work. From my perspective, work is increasingly becoming inside-out. The fact that both of us are in our home offices, we get a peek into the personal domains of our lives while we’re also talking about our profession and our expertise. Increasingly, the companies that are going to be attractive to people will be the ones that allow for that personal dimension of themselves to show up, and for managers and leaders to be curious about that.

Encouraging people to be clumsy students of something outside of the work at hand will tie back into productivity on the job. About a year into studying ballroom dance, I was on a call with a new client and they were throwing around all these acronyms. I thought, “I guess I should know what they’re talking about. I have no idea what they’re talking about.” Finally, I excused myself and said, “I have a clarifying question. What is the X, Y, Z, and the A, B, C?” One of them said, “What does that mean? We forgot what that meant.”

They don’t even know.

We can’t be afraid to ask the question. The world will not come to a screeching halt. Being a clumsy student in our personal lives builds those competencies in our work.

Most of the things we worry will happen won’t happen again. You’ve thrown in a word a few times about improvisation. One of the things I did to make myself a little more uncomfortable was to take an improv class. That was the most fun thing. I take tap dance and I do a lot of the things.

I’m horrible at tap dancing. Maybe I should try to do it.

I’m terrible at it but I love it. I rock climb. I do a lot of different things. I’m very bad at a lot of different things. I’d rather be bad at a lot. It’s like the book range. You get a little bit of range, but maybe learned a lot from this and maybe not so much from that, but it makes everything else better. A lot of people, especially in my generation, the Boomers did something for twenty years and they’re already at the top of their knowledge of what they should know. They don’t want to take that risk of starting over, not knowing everything and not looking like they know it all. That’s the biggest growth you can have. Break it and start all over again. Don’t you think?

Yes. To share about being bad at a lot of different things and the role of aging, I did something this summer that I have never done before in my life, and it stretched me. I learned so much about myself. I learned so much about the thing we were doing. What I tried was open-water swimming. I didn’t grow up competitively swimming, but I’ve always loved the water. I’m a good swimmer. A friend of mine did this program called Swim Trek one summer. When she came back, she told me, “You would love this. You got to try it.” Do you know how people who like to golf or bicycle organized cycling or golf trips? These people like to swim and have organized swimming trips around the world in the ocean, in the sea.

That’s the only problem I have with that. Are sharks involved?

I did not know. I did it in Greece.

I’m everything for that.

They’re going to dump us into the middle of the Mediterranean. I had no idea what to expect. One of my friends from my ballroom community joined me. First of all, it was marvelous. Second of all, on the first day, I was the slowest person when they were timing. I was a wreck because I thought I’m going to slow everybody down. Maybe I shouldn’t have done this. This is going to be hard. It was because I was comparing myself to others. I panicked in the water and I couldn’t catch my breath cadence.

The next day, I’m in the slower group, and I keep getting ahead with the other person. The guide is like, “Natalie, just slow down. This other person is behind you.” By the end of the day, they resorted the groups and they ended up putting me in the fast group. What happened to me on that day of getting acclimated was that it turns out that the way you swim open water is this long and slow extended strokes, so I got used to that. The oldest person in the group was 73 years old with a hearing aid. The youngest person was 28. The average age was 62. Just to bond with people who were interested in experiential tourism and to stretch ourselves in a beautiful environment, I learned so much.

I would love that. I was a competitive swimmer as a kid, and I would love it. I pushed myself with scuba diving because I’m not crazy about the beasts in the water thing and the 60 feet underwater when sharks were going by my face.

There were schools of tiny little fish.

Greece is a little different. I did that in Turks and Caicos. Elvis was the name of the Barracuda that hung there. He went by my face a few times, and we dove at a place called Trace Land. You got to try it to know you don’t like it. That’s how I was with ziplining. I did things that I thought, “This isn’t going to make me super happy, but I’m going to try it.” You have to keep doing it. You see what you like and pick and choose.

We tell ourselves that we’re not going to like things from our childhood that we tried and had bad experiences maybe with, or what our family said weren’t fun things to do or good things to do. We got to try it. I would love ballroom dancing. I would love all the things that you were saying. Rock climbing is one of my favorite things. I don’t love doing it outdoors because it’s a little more dangerous so I do more indoors. You could find the balance of the things that you like. You and I would have a lot of fun. You come here and tap. I’ll go there and swim.

Please try to ballroom. I’ll send you information about Swim Trek. You would love it.

That would be fun. I want to make sure before we go that we touched on everything that you’re working and doing right now that you’d like to share. What do you want everybody to know in our last couple of minutes? Do you have a website or something you’d like to share?

First of all, thank you for inviting me to share ideas with you. I loved our conversation. I would love people to check out my work at Figure8Thinking.com. What’s new on the horizon for me is over the next year, I’ll be working on my next book. My next book will be around something that’s tentatively titled Invisible Work. I wrote an article for Fast Company about this. It’s not the gendered feminist version of Invisible Work.

What I’m talking about is that in a time of ubiquitous tech, unprecedented burnout, and being able to work in hybrid ways, our most productive selves are not when we’re on the laptop, on Zoom, and the whiteboard. Our most productive selves are when we step away and when we engage in what I call MTR activities that relate to movement, deep thought, and rest.

My overarching what-if question is, “What if it turns out we can be as productive when we’re away from the office as when we’re at the office?” That’s the spark for the book. I’ll be interviewing a lot of different people about this idea, and digging into the neuroscience of things like the vagus nerve, interception, and perception. This is hopefully a provocation for a new metric for productivity, especially in a very changing time. That’s what I’m working on.

That’s fascinating. I was a pharmaceutical rep for a long time, so I love the science behind all that stuff. I can’t wait to read that. That will be terrific.

Thank you.

This was so much fun, Natalie. Thank you so much for joining me on the show. I hope everybody takes some time to check out your work.

Thank you, Diane. Appreciate it.

You’re welcome.


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About Natalie Nixon

TTL Natalie Nixon | Applied CreativityCreativity strategist Natalie Nixon is “the creativity whisperer to the C-Suite”. She’s been selected as one of the Top 50 Keynote Speakers in the World and is valued for her accessible expertise on creativity, the future of work and innovation. Natalie helps organizations reframe their futures by applying foresight, wonder and rigor to amplify growth and business value. Marketing guru Seth Godin has said that Natalie “helps you get unstuck and unlock the work you were born to do!”; and Jessi Hempel, host of LinkedIn’s “Hello Monday” podcast called Natalie “a personal trainer for your creativity muscle.”


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TTL Robert Cialdini | Pre-suasion

Influencing Minds, Transforming Lives: The Power Of Pre-suasion With Dr. Robert Cialdini

They say that to change the mind, the influencer must also change the ‘state of mind’. Pre-suasion may sound like a new term, but it could be the key to optimal persuasion. In this episode, Dr. Diane Hamilton sits down with Dr. Robert Cialdini, widely known as “The Godfather of Influence.” He is also the New York Times bestselling author of Pre-suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade. As the founder of the Cialdini Institute, Dr. Cialdini has made a profound impact on the fields of sales, emotional intelligence, curiosity, and perception. Today, he discusses his book and the differences between influence, persuasion, and pre-suasion, unraveling the nuances that set them apart. Dr. Cialdini explores the concept of influence itself, reflecting on who actually possesses influence and how to acquire it. As the conversation continues, Dr. Cialdini investigates the evolving nature of social influence and its remarkable role in capturing people’s attention. He also discusses the powerful art of promising and delivering value. The discussion takes many intriguing turns, ending with Dr. Cialdini’s various research works and a challenge to ponder the future of education. Tune in now and learn how to influence and persuade!


TTL Robert Cialdini | Pre-suasion


I’m so glad you joined us because my guest is Dr. Robert Cialdini. He is the New York Times bestselling author of Influence and Pre-Suasion. He’s a keynote speaker and the Founder of the Cialdini Institute. I am so excited to have you here. Welcome, Dr. Cialdini.


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Influencing Minds, Transforming Lives: The Power Of Pre-suasion With Dr. Robert Cialdini

Thank you, Diane. I’m looking forward to our interaction.

We talked a little before the show. Both my brother and sister had taken your class at ASU, and I’m so bummed I didn’t get to take that class. I took Meyers. I took all the other ones.

I’m sorry, too, because they were good students. I’m sure you would be as well.

My sister said you got her up on stage, and she was terrified, but you were really funny. She said everybody loved you in the class. My brother said you actually had him do an experiment on how much people would pick up trash at Legend City.

We did a study on what caused people to litter in public places and what we could do to prevent that. How could we reduce the likelihood that people would despoil the environment by littering into it? He was part of that.

That’s so interesting because I think that a lot of your work ties into a lot of things I’ve been interested in and studied. I’ve studied a lot to deal with sales, emotional intelligence, curiosity, and perception. A lot of what you deal with ties into that. I want to start out a little bit, going back to influence because that’s the big blockbuster that you got a lot of recognition for. What’s interesting to me is to define influence but also to compare. I’d like to know how it differs from persuasion and pre-suasion and how you define those.

Influence involves change. It means you can’t claim to have influenced anyone unless you can register a change. It could be in an attitude, a belief, or behavior. If you have arranged for people to move in a particular direction, and most likely your direction, you have influenced them. You can influence in a lot of different ways. You can order people to do something if you’re in charge of them. You can pay them to do it. If you have the resources, you can penalize them if they don’t do it. If you’re some regulatory agency, you can even trick people into doing something to cause them to change. For me, the key is persuasion, in which you don’t mobilize them into action by power. You do it by authority influence.

That shows them that what you have to offer is in their best interest. They believe you, they trust you, and that’s the case. You do that by being ethical about the process. Pre-suasion is the last thing that you mentioned. The book, Influence, was about what persuasive techniques you put into a message to move people in your direction to get them to agree with what you have to offer.

TTL Robert Cialdini | Pre-suasion
Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade by Robert B. Cialdini

Pre-Suasion is what you do immediately before you send your message to put them in a state of mind that’s receptive to the core features of your message, the things that are most beneficial for them in that message. It’s a piece of persuasive real estate that exists before we make our case. Most people don’t see that as a destination for influencing people. I wrote a book on how to do it.

It’s interesting to define those words because persuasion sometimes is what we consider contranym, people see it as maybe cajoling or seducing, and then other people see it as positive. You’re obviously talking in the positive realm.

I’m talking about informing people about the ascent and educating them on the right choice to make.

It’s been a while since I’ve read some of your work. You have it all updated, and it’s fun to see the updates that you’ve included. How do you look at social influence now? Do you take credit for any of that of how people have utilized what you studied to be so successful at getting people’s attention?

I don’t take credit for the psychological principles that lead people to move in the direction of a communicator. We did categorize them and give them labels and meanings that allowed people to recognize when they were in the situation available for use or when they were being used on us in ways that we might want to deflect or reject. In that sense, there are names that we’ve associated with them and meanings that we’ve attributed that I can take some responsibility for.

You had written that your initial thought was not to write a book to help people sell and market and all that. It was more about telling if you were influenced.

It was for the consumer how to recognize, resist, deflect, and so on. Undo or unwelcome influence attempts. The interesting thing was that no consumer group ever called the publication of my book, but my phone hasn’t stopped ringing with requests from marketers, advertisers, salespeople, or managers saying, “How do we harness this set of powerful principles of human behavior?”

It is very powerful. You cannot get on a webinar seminar. This is what we offer. This is what you would get if you bought it all. By the time you get to the end, it’s really a different price. That’s a lot of what you were researching of promising a lot.

What I did was not stay located in the academic community and the journals of our profession of persuasion science. I actually infiltrated, undercover, as many of the training programs as I could get access to from the professions whose business it is to get others to say yes to them. I entered sales, marketing, fundraising, public relations, training programs, and so on to see what they were saying worked for them. It’s to see what was effective outside of the laboratories in which academics were studying the persuasion process, what really worked in the influence wars that are being fought all around us every day.

Did you have a sales or marketing background at all? I know you taught Marketing. I know you’re professor emeritus for both Psychology and Marketing at ASU. Did you have that background prior to all of this research, in sales or marketing, or did you gain it later?

Here is my background. I was a sucker in my life for the appeals of various salespeople or fundraisers who would come to my door. I remember standing in unwanted possession of magazine subscriptions or having given contributions to causes and charities I’d never heard of. Saying to myself that I didn’t want that thing that I had just purchased because of its features. It must have been the way that the features were presented to me, the psychological hooks that were incorporated into the presentation, into the delivery of the thing that got me to move in that direction. Isn’t that interesting? That would be worth studying what those psychological hooks are.

You’ve obviously broken it down in a way that people can learn so much about how to market better and how to sell better, even though it wasn’t your initial intention to go that direction. Everybody bought into how important this is to get their message out. It’s important to go back, who has influence, or how can we get it? Let’s go back to the beginning of the basics of your book.

I think we all have the potential to be influential, although some of us make much more use of it than others.

[bctt tweet=”We all have the potential to be influential, although some of us make much more use of it than others.” username=””]

In my experience being in sales for decades, you’re raised a certain way. You’re around a certain style. You get a certain reward from doing certain things in your youth that you go, “That works.” I don’t see that other people had that same background experience. How much did you see or upbringing influencing their style and sales and all these training courses that you attended? Did you find out any more about your counterparts?

I’ll tell you what I learned about myself there. I was born into an entirely Italian family in a predominantly Polish neighborhood in a historically German city, Milwaukee, in an otherwise rural state. I realized that in each one of those settings, the rules were a little different about how you best communicate, how you best persuade, and how you make an argument that’s going to be successful. I realized that the proper way to approach every situation is not to have a favorite persuasive tactic or approach.

You have to take a look at the situation and what’s there available, honestly, for you to engage and then bring it to the surface, make it the core focus of your appeal based on what the people in that situation resonate to, historically or, perhaps as you say, because of some history that they have precedence that they might have had growing up.

I had Daniel Goleman on the show. We talked a lot about emotional intelligence and how it tied into curiosity since I studied curiosity. In a lot of my research, I found that your environment has a big influence on your curiosity. People with whom you’ve had contact as part of what I found of the four factors. It’s so fascinating in sales and when you’re marketing and all this because I think a lot of people want to do a canned approach of selling the way they would like to receive the message. That can be really problematic if you don’t get that empathy and that perspective. Don’t you think that emotional intelligence plays a big role?

That’s a great insight. People sometimes ask me. My clients will say, “What should I be looking for? What’s the one trait I should be looking for in a salesperson? My answer is empathy. Somebody who doesn’t judge what is the most appropriate or likely effective approach in this situation by self-reflection, looking inside themselves, but empathizing with the market. Who are the people that you’re speaking to? What are they likely to resonate with? What are they most likely to find congruent with the way they like to make their choices? It’s that ability to get out of yourself, put yourself into the shoes, into the head of the people that you’re trying to influence that makes you the superior persuasive communicator.

Does that require curiosity to build empathy so you know which questions to ask to get there?

It’s curiosity seasoned with self-interest. If you know the right questions to ask, you’re going to be more successful in that process.

How do you know the right questions to ask?

You know the right questions to ask by looking into the situation and seeing what’s available for you there in terms of the factors that are residing in that situation. I claim that there are seven universal principles of influence. One of them is authority. Another one is social proof. Another one is scarcity. When you look into the situation, are there true authorities whose opinion you can point to that support your position? Use that and bring that to prominence.

Is there true consensus or popularity associated with what it is that you are offering that’s essentially social proof? Bring that to the surface. Is there a genuine dwindling opportunity or uniqueness about that scarcity? Bring that to the surface. You never treat these people unethically. You are simply pointing to something in the situation that already exists.

You’re not counterfeiting it or manufacturing it in any way that is dishonest. Both sides benefit from knowing about true authority, knowing true popularity, seizing genuine, scarce opportunities, and so on. Who loses under those circumstances? I don’t think anybody loses. As a result, you have a long-term partner. Somebody’s likely to want to come back to you the next time they’re interested in some commercial exchange.

You mentioned the principles that you added the identity principle later.

It’s something we call unity.

What made you add that? Why wasn’t it there originally? I’m just curious about the background on that.

I always thought that it was an accelerant to the others. The unity principle is that people say yes to those. They see as one of them, those people who they would be able to use the term we to describe that they share a social identity. If you can honestly bring that to the surface that you are in that category, all influence and barriers come down. I always thought that if you could do that along with scarcity, you’d increase the effectiveness of each of the principles. I recognize that this one stands alone. It doesn’t need those other principles to work.

It can work by itself. I’ll give you an example. In a study that was done on a university campus where researchers asked a young woman who was of college age to dress like a college student, go on to a heavy traffic part of campus, and ask for donations to a good cause, the United Way. She was similar to them. One of the principles we talk about is liking.

You like people who are like you. She was getting some contributions, but if they asked her to add one sentence to her request to say before she made the request for a donation, “I’m a student here too.” Donations increased by 450%. It wasn’t just being similar to somebody. That person is of you and your group. She is one of you. That changes everything. It deserved a space in my new version of the book and a new chapter.

[bctt tweet=”You like people who are like you.” username=””]

We’re seeing a lot less of people feeling like they can relate sometimes with social media and the news and all this. I remember talking to my sister a little. She said she loved when you got into cognitive dissonance in class. She was curious about your opinion on how it relates to politics and what we’re seeing. Have you done anything in that realm?

We’ve done some research on the idea of unity and the extent to which people feel unity within their political parties, for example. We see it happening. Those individuals who are of the same party as some prominent politician excuse that person’s various faults and violations, and it doesn’t matter. It’s that he or she is one of us that drives the decision for how to vote or how to contribute and so on both sides.

What you’re seeing is something very common tendency to favor and follow those who share a category, a sense of togetherness or we-ness. There’s a small thing, for example, that I talk about these days that is possible to get people to feel that sense of we-ness with us when we’re asking for their support. Let’s say you’re at work and you have an idea for a new initiative, and if it’s successful and you move it up the ladder, your reputation will be burnished and advanced inside your organization.

To do so, you need the support of your colleagues, who will agree with you and go to bathe for you on this new initiative. What we typically do is to show them a summary, a draft, or an outline of our idea and try to get their support by saying, “Can you give me your opinion on this? I would really appreciate it.” Getting their support is exactly the right thing to do so that you can move it up the ladder. Asking for that person’s opinion is a mistake because when you ask for an opinion, you get a critic.

You get somebody who does the opposite of coming together with you. They take a half step back from you psychologically. They separate, and they go inside themselves and evaluate the pros and cons. They give you a critique. If you change one word and instead of asking for their opinion, you ask for their advice, you get a partner. You get someone who is a collaborator with you now on this project, on this idea.

The research is very clear. Not only do you get more support for your idea, but you also get better recommendations for how to modify or improve your idea because they’re of you. They’re now of the project. They’re not just evaluating it from a distance. With that one word, you have created somebody who is a collaborator and a cooperator with you on the project.

That’s important. It’s interesting to get other people’s input in the right way. I think of a situation where even going back to Daniel Goleman talking about it for emotional intelligence. He was saying that he thought you needed 360 evaluation to get a really good idea of your emotional intelligence level. I’ve talked to certain people in the business setting where they’ve done 360 evaluations where people all chime in. They all look at everybody’s evaluations and talk about it in a public forum. That would be the absolute worst scenario, wouldn’t it?

If you get a lot of divisiveness in there, a lot of differences of opinion, but you can change that by not asking for their opinion. The newest research shows their feedback. Asking for their feedback produces the same inferior result. They step away from you rather than with you. I’m trying to remember who it was who said this quote. I’m blanking on his name now, but he said, “When we ask for advice, we’re usually looking for an accomplice.”

That’s great. I love that quote.

I love it too. Here’s what the research shows. If you get the advice, you get that accomplice. You’ve got a group of people who are with you on this because they’ve become part of the proposal themselves by contributing their advice to it.

There are a lot of other aspects to what everybody’s trying to do in sales and reaching customers. I wrote a brand publishing course for Forbes many years ago. I remember the CMOs were all struggling with how to reach their customers with a personalized message at scale. That was the real challenge because it’s easy to do when it’s a small group. We have ChatGPT. We have all these new tools since your initial research on how we reach people.

I’m curious, how do you think this kind of technology is going to impact people? Can you use artificial intelligence to accomplish that at scale in any way, eventually? If not now, because you’ve got this artificial intelligence in there that can do different things based on if they recognize maybe it builds a false empathy or something. How does that relate to what you’ve seen, and what do you think of ChatGPT in that realm?

It’s already being done even before there was ChatGPT.

Is it any different now?

It’s going to be more efficient. It’s going to be easier to collect that information about any one individual. You can scrape the internet and get all kinds of information about people ahead of time to say what is likely to move that person in your direction. Craft a message that is aligned with that. It’s going to make that more efficient. It’s going to be able to do it quickly and with a press of a button sometimes. What worries me is the propensity for deception in there and the extent to which it’s possible to create fakes of one sort or another.

Deepfakes, for example. What we have to have online is a set of penalties for people who use that in the same way that we penalize deceptive advertising, for example. We should have a system that allows us to penalize fake misinformation that we receive so that those people are sanctioned for that. I don’t know what will happen to us. We’ll be without any moorings when we don’t know what’s true anymore. We have to have some guardrails in place to sting those people who would take advantage of this.

TTL Robert Cialdini | Pre-suasion
Pre-suasion: We should have a system that allows us to penalize fake misinformation that we receive.


It’s really hard. Those deepfakes are so real. It’s amazing what they could do. My daughter used to work for FetchBack, so I saw a lot of retargeting and all that when that first came out. I’ve seen behind the curtain a little bit in some of these companies what they were able to do in the past, but what it’s turned into, to me, is hard to fathom how they can catch some of this. I agree.

They do need to have some warnings about this. It’s a big deal because in universities now, you can write your whole entire paper. It’s harder for the teachers to catch this sometimes. I went to ASU, and I remember we relied more on assessments than papers at that time. I see more reliance on papers than assessments. Do you think that that’s going to flip-flop? What do you see in the education realm?

There’s always going to be a push and a pull. It’s like what’s happening with fake reviews, where companies that will purchase fake reviewers have their employees generate these things and so on. There are algorithms that the review sites are developing to catch those, which then causes the fakers to find other ways. It’s always going to be this push and pull. It’s regrettable, but it’s what we have to do. We have to be as much on the offensive as on the defensive to reduce this. For example, there’s an interesting study. You know the number of stars that you get for any product, service, or book that you have produced. One of the most interesting things, I wrote a new version of Influence.

Our finding was that having a five-star review is not optimal. People assume that you’ve cheated to get there. The best review number in terms of getting a conversion from a visitor to your site to a convert is the range between 4.3 and 4.7 stars. Below 4.3, people say, “Maybe not so hot.” Above 4.7, with a large number of reviewers, people say, “This looks fishy to me.” Where everybody’s on guard for that problem associated with fakes, we have to be able to evolve, catch them, and penalize them constantly.

That’s interesting because we become numb to these reviews in a way because we’ve seen so much of this happening. I’ve had people contact me when you write books. They’re like, “Do you want us to make this look good or that look good?” I love that you focus on Ethics. I taught a lot of Ethics courses in my day and thousands of business courses. Most of them touch on some form of Ethics. I noticed that in your book, you wrote about the Tylenol case, which comes up a lot in my courses. The one thing I didn’t know, and I forgot until I reread your book, was that everybody was playing the lottery numbers. I love that statistic. Can you tell that story?

Somebody went in and put poison capsules into Tylenol bottles on the shelves of various drug stores. When it became public that this was going on, the news media sent out the bin numbers of those bottles that had these poisonous capsules inserted in them. There were particular kinds of places where this happened and certain bin numbers associated with the bottles that were despoiled. Those numbers people started playing those numbers on the lottery because they were at the top of consciousness.

This idea that what is top of mind is the thing that guides behavior is essentially the logic of my book Pre-Suasion, where if you can, before you send your message, put the concept that is central to your message into the intellectual environment of that person, that potential buyer before they encounter your message, it will be top of mind and what is top of mind guides behavior without any necessary logical reason for it, except that it is salient.

[bctt tweet=”What is top of mind is the thing that guides behavior.” username=””]

It’s fascinating how we do that without even recognizing that. I know you train people to learn some of these techniques and how we think. I wanted to get to what you’re doing at the Cialdini Institute because I don’t know if a lot of people are familiar with this. I found it fascinating because I know it’s about learning programs for companies and universities, and of course, that’s right up my alley to learn about this stuff. I want to know. Certification programs are the new education these days instead of maybe as more so than degree programs growing and growing in terms of popularity. I’ve written certain certification programs as well. What do you do at the Cialdini Institute? Please give me a little background about what that is.

We have an online, on-demand program for employing ethical influence for business success. You can purchase that program and become a Cialdini Ethical Influence Practitioner at the end of that, with the knowledge of what the research says are the best ways to elevate your success while elevating the outcomes of the people who you convince to come in your direction. As a result, you can take that forward. We also have the ability to get involved in a coaching program. After you’ve taken the Practitioner’s Program, you can become a coach or engage a coach to help you every day or every week with the implementation and the application of what you learned in an ongoing way.

I saw some great reviews. I’m thinking the McDonald’s, you increased sales by 55%. I was looking at all the big company names of the percentage increases that you’ve helped. I love that Warren Buffett said, “Influence is one of the best books of all time.” You have some great reviews on your site, about your work and the site and all the things that you offer there. Is this where you spend most of your time, the institute, or what else do you have going on at the same time? Are you still writing books? Are you not teaching at ASU anymore?

I’m retired to do writing. I wrote the scripts for all of the recordings within that program. We’re doing that. I also engage in research with my fellow former graduate students who are on the faculty of other universities. We collaborate and continue to do research because I love it. You study curiosity. That’s one of my weaknesses. I’m a curious man to a fault. I’m still cranking the research machine.

Warren Buffett’s quote on research on curiosity was, “You need a lot of curiosity for a long time.” Everybody quotes Einstein and everybody else, but what I found interesting about curiosity is the lack of great research that you can get to tie it into engagement and innovation. I mean, the actual numbers, like you’re going to save X, Y, Z numbers. If you ask ChatGPT or any of those sites, they’ll say, “It’s intuitive.” A lot of companies want to see data. Have you ever done anything in that realm and studied data like that?

It’s not about curiosity but about each of the seven principles of influence. One of our pillars is that we only present recommendations that are based on scientifically grounded, properly controlled research. If those numbers aren’t there, we don’t make a claim for them. We don’t go on the basis of punches, speculations, or anecdotes. It’s got to be based on Science and grounded in proper research.

TTL Robert Cialdini | Pre-suasion
Pre-suasion: In each of the seven principles of influence, one of our pillars is that we only present recommendations that are based on scientifically grounded, properly controlled research.


It’s fun that you went in and did all that research as far as taking the courses at the sales reps. I bet that must have been fascinating and exhausting at the same time.

The most interesting research project of my life was being essentially a spy of sorts and going undercover into all of these training programs where people were telling me what worked for them. I’ll have to say there was an interesting feature of it because I was in all kinds of domains. If I was in, let’s say, a marketing program, they would say, “Marketing is not the same as sales.” If I went to an advertising training program, they say, “Advertising isn’t the same as marketing.”

If I went to public relations, they would say, “Public relations isn’t the same as advertising,” and for charities and solicitations, that’s not the same as these others. They were right. They were each different, but they were missing something crucial in focusing on the differences between them and their sister disciplines. They weren’t asking, “What’s the same?” That’s what I looked for. It turned out there were seven things that were the same that everybody was using whose business it is to get people to say yes to.

That’s so important. I worked for AstraZeneca for nearly twenty years. In the training programs, one thing I found interesting was that they had me do as a sales rep. They had me work with the marketing department to look at their visuals and take them out into the field and see it from a salesperson’s perspective. They were ahead of their time. In fact, they would rate us. This is 1980. At one point, they were rating us on our concern for the impact of how much we cared and how we came across to others. You didn’t see that back then.

All the stuff that has come out since then has been so fascinating. You were obviously behind so much of what everybody has come to learn of how to reach people the way they want to be reached and then to get the impact that we want to have and to have this great influence. I was very excited to have you on the show. I wanted to know if there’s anything that you want to talk about before we go. I know you’ve got a big webinar with the Cialdini Institute. I’m going to put this up on YouTube in case anybody wants to join that. Anything else that you want to share, any websites or anything?

Cialdini.com is the link to the website for the launch webinar, where they’ll be able to get access to what we have to offer and the rationale for why that might be in their interests. We’re excited about this. I don’t like to say we’re excited about this. Have you heard anybody who doesn’t say, “We’re very excited about this? This is something great.” Here’s what I’ll say, I’m enthusiastic about it.

This will be ongoing, but they can go anytime, right?

Yes, to that link Cialdini.com.

That’s awesome. Thank you so much, Dr. Cialdini. This was so interesting. I hope everybody checks out your books and your site. I loved it.

I enjoyed it, I have to say.


Important Links


About Dr. Robert Cialdini

TTL Robert Cialdini | Pre-suasionDr. Robert Cialdini is the New York Times Bestselling Author of Influence and Pre-Suasion, a Keynote Speaker, and the Founder of the Cialdini Institute. He is Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Marketing at Arizona State University.



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