Book of the Month – August 2022 : The Catalyst: How to Change Anyone’s Mind by Jonah Berger


“Jonah Berger is one of those rare thinkers who blends research-based insights with immensely practical guidance. I am grateful to be one of the many who have learned from this master teacher.”—Jim Collins, author Good to Great, coauthor Built to Last

Jonah Berger is a marketing professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and internationally bestselling author of ContagiousInvisible Influence, and The Catalyst. He’s a world-renowned expert on social influence, word of mouth, and why products, ideas, and behaviors catch on and has published over 50 papers in top-tier academic journals. He has consulted for a range of Fortune 500 companies, keynoted hundreds of events, and popular accounts of his work often appear in places like The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Harvard Business Review. His research has also been featured in the New York Times Magazine’s “Year in Ideas.”
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Everyone has something they want to change. Marketers want to change their customers’ minds and leaders want to change organizations. Start-ups want to change industries and nonprofits want to change the world. But change is hard. Often, we persuade and pressure and push, but nothing moves. Could there be a better way?

This book takes a different approach. Successful change agents know it’s not about pushing harder, or providing more information, it’s about being a catalyst. Catalysts remove roadblocks and reduce the barriers to change. Instead of asking, “How could I change someone’s mind?” they ask a different question: “Why haven’t they changed already? What’s stopping them?”

The Catalyst identifies the key barriers to change and how to mitigate them. You’ll learn how catalysts change minds in the toughest of situations: how hostage negotiators get people to come out with their hands up and how marketers get new products to catch on, how leaders transform organizational culture and how activists ignite social movements, how substance abuse counselors get addicts to realize they have a problem, and how political canvassers change deeply rooted political beliefs.

This book is designed for anyone who wants to catalyze change. It provides a powerful way of thinking and a range of techniques that can lead to extraordinary results. Whether you’re trying to change one person, transform an organization, or shift the way an entire industry does business, this book will teach you how to become a catalyst. 

( Recommended by Ashok M)

Human ego…..

Sufi Story – The Begging Bowl

A king was coming out of his palace for his morning walk when he met a beggar. He asked the beggar,

“What do you want?”

The beggar laughed and said,

“You are asking me as though you can fulfill my desire!”

The king was offended. He said,

“Of course I can fulfill your desire. What is it? Just tell me.”

And the beggar said, “ Okay if you insist but on one condition..so think twice before you promise anything.”

The emperor had seen many beggars – but beggars with conditions?

And this beggar was really strange, a very powerful man. He was a Sufi Mystic. He had charm, a charisma, his personality had an aura. Even the king felt a little jealous. And conditions?

The emperor said, ” What do you mean ? What is your condition?”

The beggar said, “It is a very simple one. You see this begging bowl?

I accept only if you can fill my begging bowl absolutely.”

It was a small begging bowl. The king said, “Of course. What do you think I am? I cannot fill this dirty small begging bowl ?”

The beggar said, “It is better to tell you before, because later you can get into trouble. If you think you can fill, then come start filling.”

The king called his vizier and told him to fill to fill it with precious stones, with diamonds, rubies and emralds. Let this beggar know with whom he is talking. But then comes the difficulty. The bowl was filled, but the king was surprised- as the stones fell into it, it would disappear. It was filled many times and each time it was again empty.

Now he was in a great rage, but told the vizier, “Even if the whole kingdom goes, if my all treasuries are emptied, let them be- but I cannot allow this beggar to defeat me.”

And all the treasures, it is said, disappeared. By and by the king became a beggar. It took months. And the beggar was there, king was there and the whole capital was there and everybody was wondering what was going to happen, what would happen in the end.

Everything was simply disappearing. Finally the king had to fall at the feet of the beggar and he said, ” Forgive me, but before you leave just tell me one thing. What is the secret of this begging bowl? All has disappeared in it “

The beggar started laughing. He said, “It is made of human ego, everything disappears in it, nothing ever fulfils it.”

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the importance of what you choose to emphasise

“To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. 

What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places—and there are so many—where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction. 

And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.”

Howard Zinn

If you want a good life…..

The story of two Farmers:

Once upon a time,.in a small village lived two poor farmers. They had small piece of land on which they worked hard to take care of their own and their family’s needs.

Suddenly, both of them died on the same day. Yamraj (God of Death) took both of them together to God.

God asked them, ‘What was missing in your life?’

One of the farmers said angrily, ‘You gave me nothing and I lived a very painful life. I had to work in the fields like a bull all my life & whatever I earned had to be spent on just feeding myself & my family. I couldn’t wear good clothes or feed my family good food & whenever I was able to make some extra income, someone would come & take away all. I had nothing left with me.’

After listening to him God again asked, ‘What do you want now? What should I make you in your next life?’

The farmer replied, “God, do something so that I never have to give anything to anyone. I only receive money and things from all sides.’

God said, ‘Ok. You can go now. I will give you the life you have asked for.’

He left.

Now, it was the turn of the other farmer. God asked him, ‘What was missing in your life?’

The farmer, with folded hands said ‘God, You have already given me everything. A good family, some land, plenty of food to eat. I and my family never slept hungry. 

There was only one shortcoming in my life which I regretted my whole life & still do today. Sometimes, hungry or thirsty people used to come to my door, to ask for food but I was not able to give them anything as I didn’t have enough to give & they had to return from my door, hungry.’

God asked him, ‘What do you want now? What do you want to be in your next life?’

The farmer pleaded with God, ‘God, do something so that no one will ever go away from my door, thirsty or hungry.’

God said, ‘Ok. You can leave now. You will be given what you asked for.’

Both the farmers were born in the same village on the same day. The farmer who asked only to recieve money from all sides but not give anything to anyone – he became a beggar in the village. Now he didn’t have to give anything to anyone. Anyone who passed by him, used to give him money & things.

Moral: It is often seen that, mostly people always like others’ things more & because of this they are not able to live their life well & are never happy. If you want to live a good life, think good. Do not count just the shortcomings of your life, rather be grateful & enjoy what God has given & serve others, you’ll never lack anything & will ways be happy.

On the other hand, the farmer who didn’t ask God for anything except that there would be never a day when anyone has to leave his house thirsty and hungry – became the richest man of that village.

-Osho

( contributed by Mr Balasunder)

Mentality of tolerance builds nations…

THE MAN WHO USED TO URINATE ON MY HEAD WHEN I WAS IN PRISON

Nelson Mandela: “After becoming president, I once asked some members of my close protection to walk with me around the city, to have lunch in one of its restaurants. 

We sat in one of the restaurants in the city centre and all asked for food.”

“After a while the waiter brought us our requests, I noticed that there is someone sitting in front of my table waiting for food”

I then said to one of the soldiers: go ask this person to join us with his food and eat with us. 

The soldier went to ask the man. The man brought his food and sat next to me while I asked him and started eating. 

His hands were constantly shaking until everyone finished their meal and the man left.

The soldier said to me: The man was apparently very ill. His hands were shaking while he ate!”

“No, not at all,” Mandela said.

“This man was the guard of the prison where I was imprisoned.
“Often, after the torture I suffered, I would scream and ask for some water.

“The same man would come every time and urinated on my head. “
“So I found him frightened, trembling, expecting me to reciprocate, at least in the same way, either by torturing him or by imprisoning him as I am now the President of the State of South Africa.”

“But that’s not my character or part of my ethic.”

“The mentality of reprisals destroys states, while the mentality of tolerance builds nations.”