Blake Snow

content advisor, recognized journalist, bodacious writer-for-hire

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Tagged stupid human tricks

Attention, humans: How to influence more and be persuaded less

influence-the-psychology-of-persuasionHumans are usually influenced in one of six ways, argues Robert Cialdini in Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. I suspect there are a lot more subtle and intricate ways to influence, but I think Cialdini certainly covered the highlights in his popular book published in 1984. They are as follows:

  1. Reciprocity. Humans feel obligated to return favors and gifts, even unwelcome ones—which partially explains why their are so many free samples in life. Hence, giving away something for free is an effective way to influence. You can avoid this influence by distinguishing uninvited gifts from welcome ones. For example, “I didn’t want this free food sample to being with, so I won’t feel obligated in giving you anything in return if I take it. Another thing to beware of are unwelcome concessions; say a door-to-door salesman that asks you to donate a large sum to a cause you aren’t interested in, only to lower the donation amount in the hopes you’ll donate something. The takeaway: Don’t donate unless you want to, not because someone is seemingly compromising.  Continue reading…

When “economic development” goes wrong

seinfeld umbrella salesman

Seinfeld

In a market economy, I believe state run economic development can sometimes be a good thing. But I suspect it’s usually a bad thing. Here’s why, in which a Rhode Island state treasurer cautioned against backing a celebrity owned company that would ultimately become a $75 million bath for taxpayers:

“In general, I would proceed very carefully on this.  [The company] is in the Boston area where there are 200 venture capital firms, and it is in a very hot area of gaming so if it were in fact a compelling investment I would have to think it would be well funded already by venture capitalist; the fact that many have looked at it and passed is a red flag.”  Continue reading…

Hearing academics speak obnoxious English makes my ears hurt

unfortunate-brothersMy wife and I went to a screening of Unfortunate Brothers last night. It’s an affecting documentary by Dodge Billingsley about the political, economic, and cultural divide of North and South Korea.

The film is touching, insightful, and kept me engaged for 55 minutes. It also made me sympathize with the plight of North Koreans.

The only problem: The movie was screened to a group of eggheads at BYU, my alma mater, and all the academic and naive student types that congregate there. And not just any kind of academics—the “international relations” kind that like to talk political theory, solve other country’s problems from afar, and use big words to make themselves feel like they’re contributing to society.

For example: After the screening, an expert panel of three pleasant fellows including the filmmaker fielded questions from about 80-100 attendees. The second “question” came from an assumed student that liked to hear himself talk. He talked about how the movie “moved” him. In between lengthy pontifications, he said, “I guess my question is” three times. He talked a lot. He was the opposite of concise. Continue reading…

This advice doesn’t apply to you

Hey, you. Yeah, you—the one reading this. The one that says ignorant things like “I’ll sleep when I’m dead,” “I’m busier than you,” or “I only require 3-4 hours of sleep.”

This research by Harvard obviously doesn’t apply to you, because you’re the exception in life. You’re superhuman.

For the rest of us, the study is a convincing reminder of mortality. Not only convincing, but alarming.

Continue reading…

I lost respect for the museum curator who hung this

7ILw1

I’m tired of seeing art like this in museums. Last year at my local MOA, someone staged an entire room with nothing but lighting and black pebbles on the floor against an undecorated wall.

My take: Mediocre art like this doesn’t deserve to be in museums. It’s a clunky, cliche, and thoughtless attempt to challenge the definition of art.

We get it. Art can be anything. Pollack and Warhol said so decades ago. Many others before them did the same.

Now stop displaying gimmicky art, museum curators. You’re keeping wall space from more talented and original art.

Snob rant, over and out.

Don’t blame “information overload” for your tiny attention span, blame yourself

Screen shot 2012-01-06 at 3.46.40 PMSince the dawn of the web, humans have become increasingly distracted. Our attention spans are crap now.

But it’s not because of information overload (which is bunk), argues Clay Shirky. It’s because most people don’t know how to filter useful information from noise. Or worse, they have no self discipline and are incapable of saying “no,” “this isn’t or no longer is helping me,” “when,” or “enough is enough.”

As Shirky calls it, “filter failure.”

So the next time you hear someone blaming “information overload” for their lack of focus, remind them to grow and pair and prioritize their life to the point of quitting useless or excessive behavior.

Next!

I yawn at “built from the ground up”

built-from-the-ground-upI’ve purchased a lot of product in my life. And if there’s one selling point that gets me more than anything else, it’s something that’s “built from the ground up.”

Whenever I read this, all my consumer concerns melt away. I hate nothing more than buying something that’s built from the ceiling down — or worse, built upon or added to something that already has a sound foundation.

Now I realize some people may glaze over this cliche. Not me. It’s irreversibly tied to the action of me removing my wallet and reaching for plastic. Hook, line, and sinker.

Want to write gooder? Use “back in” more

stephen_colbert_finger_wagIf there’s one writing habit I simply adore, it’s seeing a writer use “back in” when referencing previous years or months.

For example: “Back in 1845…” or “Back in December.” In such instances, the leading “back in” solidifies my otherwise horrible sense of time. Without that “back in,” I’d be completely lost.

Just today, reading a cryptic “In 1997” left me utterly confused. Since I have no concept of past, present, or future tense verb usage, I wasn’t 100% certain the writer was referencing history.

Worse is when a concise writer references a previous month without the oh-so-enlightening “back in.” After all, it’s not like the reader can assume you’re talking about a previous month, especially since you didn’t also reference a year. Case in point: Is “In July” talking about past July or next July? It’s ambiguous. I mean, next we’ll be asking writers to say “next” when referencing the future. It’s unheard of.

So remember writers: Never assume a reader understands chronology. As such, always say “back in” when referring to the past. It’s not wordy or presumptuous at all.

Report: Area man not taking meals “because he’s so busy”

PROVO, Ut.—The legendary Smooth Harold and his adorable offspring were enjoying a delicious J Dawg last weekend, when they overheard two insecure women bragging about how “busy” their respective husbands were.

“My husband is soooo busy,” said the first obnoxious woman, in a desperate attempt to show how important and needed she was, merely by association. “Oh, I know,” countered the other. “My husband is beyond busy. He wakes at five, skips breakfast, works through lunch, then returns home exhausted. After wolfing down dinner, he studies all night. At this rate, he’ll probably die early. It’s great.”

When asked to confirm the account, an innocent bystander said, “It was the most riveting conversation I’ve ever eavesdropped. Certainly not something you hear often, so it was totally a discussion worth having, not to mention repeating.”

Following the news, competing one-uppers scrambled to rehearse their dull, predictable, and one-dimensional chronologies planned for upcoming family events, weekend gatherings, and chance encounters. “We’re expecting another busy week,” city officials said.

The secret to life is working to death, experts say

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons

PROVO, Ut. — Want to get ahead in this world? Work lots of extra hours — even nights and weekends — experts say, and it will all be worth your while.

“It’s easy to forget what’s most important in life,” says Bill Loney, a certified life coach who hasn’t quite made it in life yet. “Family, friends, and social activities that can often inspire and enrich the life of an individual… these are all distractions in getting more work done,” he adds.

Emma Royds, who hasn’t stopped looking at her smartphone every five minutes for three straight years, councils that most people actually die wishing they had spent more time — not less — working. “People never regret working too much,” she says. “My neighbor opted to do adventurous, social, and fitness-related activities with family and friends in his spare time.

“Now 80, he told me recently he really wishes he would have spent more time on TPS cover sheets, obsessively trying to turn his company into the next big thing, and reading email during every waking hour of his life. It’s kind of sad, really.” Continue reading…

Now reading: I.O.U.

iou book

Fascinating book. To the point and practical.

For example, the best way to describe a retail bank is to call it a piggy bank. The best way to describe an investment bank is to call is a casino, which is precisely what each are.

Who knew a book about high finance, banking, and The Great Recession could be such a fun read?

Is this really such a good idea?

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Mixing camping with must-see TV?

Honestly, how much could this fan be “enjoying” a game of football on a three inch screen while camping, especially since he probably has 50″ HDTV at home? Grow a pair and pick one: Get away from it all in the great outdoors or stay home to watch a game you’re really interested in. Or if you must, DVR.

Seriously, what kind of sick society are we turning into? The equation is simple.

See also:

Think your clients are unreasonable? Imagine dealing with this on a daily basis

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My brother-in-law works in a Manhattan commercial music studio, producing jingles and licensing original music for use in advertising. Apparently, he deals with this regularly. Favorite line: “That is insulting. We would go out of business if we agreed to terms like that.”

More proof that unrealistic buyers are everywhere. (Although I still think there is value in licensing consumer music in advertising, which this video seems to discredit in an effort to sell more commercial music. What’s more, if demand is this high for “rip off” commercial music, I imagine a supplying studio could really clean up.)

See also: I’m sorry we can’t make a deal. Please don’t heckle me.

Proof that clever marketing can glam up dumb ideas

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Because sitting through a two-hour moving on a single sofa is so hard these days. Or waiting for popcorn to pop while a movie is paused is excruciatingly slow.

DirecTV’s response: “We better make it easy for people to pause dramatic movie scenes between kitchen, living room, bathroom, and bedroom TVs. It’s not like they’re going to want to stay engaged in said scenes anyway. Who are we to deny people continuous movies during potty breaks? Now let’s go sell this dumb idea! There’s a sucker born every minute!”

Multi-room viewing is retarded use of technology.

DISCLOSURE: I don’t subscribe to any TV service. (Over-air HD and Internet TV only).

20 business cliches that make you sound stupid

facepalmI went to lunch today with an old business school buddy. We always have a good time making fun of brainless ideas while trying to make a honest buck. Today, we ridiculed some of the following business cliches, which are beyond stale and should never be used; otherwise you’ll sound like everyone else and influence few:
Continue reading…