Influencers from Around the World – Thinking Hurts!

This month’s guest blogger in the Influencers from Around the World series is Cathrine Moestue. Cathrine emailed me her article all the way from Norway! She one of the 27 Cialdini Method Certified Trainers (CMCT) in the world today! If you’d like to connect with Cathrine you can do so on FacebookLinkedIn and Twitter. I know you’ll enjoy “Thinking Hurts!”

Brian, CMCT
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.
Thinking Hurts!
Remember the love song from the Scottish rock band Nazareth called ”Love Hurts” from 1975?  Well it turns out more good things in life hurt too, like thinking. Daniel Kahneman, a Nobel  Prize winner in economics, in his latest book Thinking Fast and Slow, explains why thinking hurts – we have two systems in our brains. He calls them rather simplisticly ”system one” and ”system two.” System one is fast, intuitive, and emotional whereas System 2 is slower, more deliberate, and more logical.
Kahneman exposes the extraordinary capabilities – and also the faults and biases – of fast thinking, and reveals the pervasive influence of intuitive impressions on our thoughts and behavior. We are not rational decision makers but highly influenced not only by external stimuli but by our very own way of thinking.
Our biases become evident when we are overconfident about our corporate strategies. We are greatly affected by loss aversion, and our cognitive biases have a profound effect when we invest in the stock market. However, even more importantly they explain why we are faced with challenges of properly framing risks we encounter at work and even when it comes to our national security!
Recently  Norwegians were presented with evidence of how painful our cognitive biases can be. Last week an offical report stated the Norwegian police could have prevented the bombing of central Oslo and caught mass killer Anders Breivik faster than they did. Presenting the almost 500-page report, the inquiry team questioned why the street outside the prime minister’s office, Grubbegata, was not closed to traffic as had been recommended seven years before.
Even our prime minister knew it was a security risk but somehow he couldn’t make a descion to do anything about it. Something else must have been seen as more important, or maybe he thought someone else took responsibility for it. Either way it seems like a classic example of system one thinking, where self-defense prevails, and in reality not much thinking is actually being done at all. Our prime minister is only human and this issue concerns us all. We are blind to our own blindness about our how we think.
The report also notes that a two-man local police team reached the lake shore at Utvika first, but chose to wait for better-trained colleagues rather than find a boat and cross to Utoeya themselves. This waiting cost many lives, and the “Clint Eastwood” mentality was nowhere to be seen, unfortunatley.
When the consequences are not just loss of money, but the loss of lives, young lives at that, the knowledge of influence and decision making becomes rather more urgent, rather more pressing.
The good news is that raising our awareness of the  principles of influence (the shortcuts we use while making desicions) combined with understanding the process of thinking  (system one and two) we have a powerful new tool. A tool that we can use to become more effective in any organization.
Even though the report mentioned here can be seen as a national humiliation there is one Norwegian company that really glows in the dark; the architectural firm Snøhetta (named after one of Norway’s tallest mountains). Fast Company ranked them on its list of the worlds most innovative companies in 2011 and the company has won culturally significant, emotionally powerful commissions such as the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, in Egypt, the new 9/11 museum pavilion at New York’s Ground Zero; and the redesign of Times Square. This Oslo and New York based company has really taken seriously that thinking hurts.


If you are the most innovative architectural company in the world you do not have a choice, you have to get out of your mentally lazy state, out of the comfort zone, out of the box thinking and into system two where creativity lies.

Snøhetta has created a method of putting itself in other people’s shoes; it fools its system one by approaching any new project with a change in roles.

The architect must think like the artist, the artist must think like the architect, the economist must think like the sociologist and vice versa. When you hire Snøhetta, in other words, you don’t purchase a signature building (though you’ll probably get one in the end). You buy into a line of thinking, and a process that aims to place equal emphasis on architecture, landscape and social engagement. It is this flexibility of thought and of cooperation between departments we all have something to learn from.


Thinking, Fast and Slow is not only a unique book but also part of an intellectual revolution in which social psychological ideas have a profound influence on politics and economists, at least in some countries. Robert Cialdini’s seminal book Influence Science and Practice has been credited for being the key mover of this thought revolution. Indeed, Cialdini, along with a team of behavioral economists including Dan Ariely, Cal Sunstein and Daniel Kahneman, was called on by Barack Obama to help him win the presidency in 2008. I only wish our government had been as foresighted. Thinking hurts but if we want to improve we better get into the habit. The “No Pain – No Gain” slogan seems to be true for sport, business and politics.

Cathrine Moestue, CMCT


Influencers from Around the World – Could Shakespeare give Women Career Advice?

This month’s guest blogger in the Influencers from Around the World series is Cathrine Moestue. Cathrine hails from Norway and is one of only 27 Cialdini Method Certified Trainers (CMCT) in the world! In addition to her intelligence and business savvy Cathrine is a lot of fun to engage with. If you’d like to connect with her she’s on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. I know you’ll enjoy “Could Shakespeare give Women Career Advice?”

Brian, CMCT
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.
Could Shakespeare give Women Career Advice?

“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: They have their exits and their entrances; and one woman in her time plays many parts.” William Shakespeare, As You Like It.

This quotation has several meanings. First, and most simply, it means we all have roles to play. We like to think we are independent, and that we choose how we act, but in reality we have many unconscious habits that can jeopardize our true authority in the workplace. It is not just about doing a good job it is also about both looking and sounding the part.

As a corporate trainer and business coach, my success depends upon my clients reaching their goals after having worked together. In this blog post I want to share some insights and tips from the science of influence along with my experience coaching women in their careers.

Recently I have encountered a problem with competent business women  dressing in a way that makes me perceive them more like “girls,” rather than looking the part their professional roles would dictate.

They all shared with me that they were passed over for career opportunities they wanted and were qualified for. Not all of them to the same degree or even in the same way, but this was a shared experience. Could this be because of the way they looked? I think so.

I have always been fascinated with the phrase “perception is reality” because it challenges us to take a mental step back and do a reality check on our automatic reactions in any given situation. It is true – there is no reality, only people’s perception.

If you want to be more empowered and increase your influence skills, it is wise to do a “reality check” on your beliefs and spend time learning what behaviors increase your effectiveness. The best place to look is the science of influence.

Robert Cialdini, PhD, writes in Influence: Science and Practice, that our authority is communicated through cues, which include all your nonverbal cues, the way you look and the sound of your voice are more important than you might think. These are the small things that make the big differences.

One study found people were 350% more likely to follow a 31-year old jaywalker into traffic when he was wearing a suit compared to when he wore trousers and a work shirt. Our clothing provides an efficient, effective shortcut, useful for both simple and complicated decisions. Clothing is one thing, but your tone of voice is just as important, and together they can be more important than what you actually say.

What “cues” do you wear that might increase or decrease the perception of you as an authority in your work environment? If you don’t want to miss the next chance for a promotion or you just want to be taken more seriously, make sure you don’t make any of the following mistakes.

Career bungling #1 Believing the best and the smartest are always rewarded accordingly.

Wrong. Those who are competent and look and sound professional are those who smoothly maneuver themselves up the corporate ladder. Competence is not enough although you most certainly need it. It will only serve you to get your foot in the door but will not move you forward. If you accept this and take responsibility to play your role professionally you have already increased your chances of reaching your goals sooner. Luckily, how you look is one of the easiest things you can address on your way to become a more effective agent of influence.

Career bungling #2 Dressing inappropriately.

Informal fashion has made it more difficult to find the right job outfit but you can follow this rule: dress for the job you want and not for the one you have. Short skirts, seductive styles, and high heels that are too high will not get you were you want to go – at least not in the business world. Like it or not, people notice both the quality and the style of your dress and make mental notes about you. There are exceptions to this rule and you can find successful women who break them, but their attire is overlooked because they’re probably geniuses in their fields. Remember, they are the exception, not the rule.

Career bungling #3 Grooming in public.

When was the last time you saw a man check his hair after lunch? Or file his nails in management meeting? Just the thought of it is ridiculous. Even if you are discreet, this behavior will get noticed and it will not enhance your credibility. Long hair is back in fashion but be prepared to lose the “Alice in Wonderland” look if you want to be taken more seriously.

Don’t make the mistake of judging the apparent simplicity of these errors, because small things really do make big differences when it comes to others’ perception of us.

Imaginary but new coaching advice from Shakespeare

Make yourself aware of your business role, accept it and learn the difference between the private you and the corporate you.

  • Dress like your clients or colleagues +1.
  • Do your grooming in the bathroom, not in the board room.
  • Look at successful women and notice what they’re wearing. Also pay attention to women in positions you aspire to because that’s how you should dress.


The most effective authority is the credible authority – a woman with both expertise and trustworthiness. Meryl Streep wins Oscars because she both looks and sounds the part. I know you aren’t an actor but it’s not about the acting profession. What I’m talking about is understanding the psychological principle behind being perceived as an authority – being competent and looking the part. Don’t forget, hearing “yes” to a job promotion for many of us is like winning an Oscar in our everyday lives.If you’re viewing this by email and want to leave a comment click here.

Cathrine Moestue
Empowering Women to hear YES

Influencers from Around the World: The Reality of Lord Voldermort and the Gift of Global Friends

This month’s Influencers from Around the World article is from Cathrine Moestue. Cathrine is writing this month about the recent tragedy in Norway where more than 70 young people were murdered. I know you’ll find her insights on this tragedy enlightening. I encourage you to reach out to Cathrine on Facebook and LinkedIn and Twitter. Brian, CMCT
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.The Reality of Lord Voldermort and the Gift of Global Friends

As a citizen of Oslo I would like to thank all of you great influencers out there for reaching out with your support after the attacks on July 22. My friends from the United States, Canada, and Europe were the first to email and phone me before I even had spoken to my closest family. I was very touched by this and it demonstrated to me the power of global friends and how small acts of kindness can make a huge difference. I have never felt more a part of our global community; never have I felt so clearly that we share the same problems, and never has it been more self-evident to me that we are here to help each other. We are here to help each other, not only to get through hard times, but also to understand and protect ourselves against unethical influencers. We need to share our knowledge of influence, good or bad. Here is my influence tip: keep giving those small but relevant, unexpected and personal gifts to people you care about because they work. The principle of reciprocity tells us that we give back to others who have given to us. And this is what I want to give back – some personal reflection on how we as a global community best can defend ourselves against people who try to unethically influence. I hope you find it useful. Not a single day has gone by since the massacre and bombing in Oslo, that my friends and I, and perhaps the rest of Norway, haven’t mourned and discussed different aspects of this tragedy. Just like in the movie Harry Potter, where Lord Voldemort is the name that cannot be spoken, we seem to be unable to mention the perpetrators name in our conversations. Your calls reached me around 17.00 (5 p.m. EST) that Friday afternoon while I was in a mountain cabin far from Oslo. This was just after the bomb had exploded, at a time when everyone thought international terrorism had reached Norway because of our involvement in Afghanistan or Libya. Our minds were filled with images of those who had hijacked the airplanes on another terrible day, that of 9/11, but when the news broke about the massacre at Utoya, our perceptions changed. As it turned out, the terrorist was Norwegian, a 32-year-old male who grew up where I did. He even went to the same schools as I did! His image in the newspaper, a blond Scandinavian, lone killer, stands in sharp contrast to what was initially on everyone’s mind. The horrific events that took place have not changed but our understanding of these events has completely changed. And thus it gives us an important lesson on influence. There is a principle in human perception, the contrast phenomenon, which affects the way we see the difference between things that are presented one after the other. Simply put, if the second item is fairly different from the first, we tend to see it as more different than it actually is. As shocking as it was, the news of the perpetrator was a relief to many. Before it was known, some young Muslims in Oslo were attacked on that Friday but left alone on Saturday. Drawing up the wrong contrast can literally be deadly. Luckily none of them actually died but it was a close call. Influence tip: The same is true for us when we seek to influence others, if we fail to detect and correct our audience’s stereotypes, then they will compare what you say to the wrong contrast and your message will be dead. To be both an ethical and effective influence agent, we must take a mental step back from the situation and make sure that we have given our message all the available evidence. Never forget to ask yourself this question: Compared to what? In the aftermath of events like these we want to make sure that our analysis includes understanding of the contrast phenomenon, so that we all can learn how we might protect ourselves in the future. By now, we’ve all been exposed to varied analyses of the highly publicized attacks on Oslo, which Anders Behring Breivik is charged with orchestrating. Some analysts have focused on certain aspects of the killings such as how many he managed to kill in how little time and drawing the conclusion that he is one of the world’s worst mass murderers with a hand held gun; even publishing some kind of ranking list! Others have focused on the content of his manifesto, comparing him to the Unabomber and calling for surveillance of right-wing extremist movements. Still others again speak out about the danger of playing computer games. I’ve been concerned by another feature: the level of systematic manipulation and deception that the perpetrator was capable of. Reading his manifesto we learn that he has been deceiving his friends and family for years about who he is and what he is doing. That he thinks of himself as some kind of “God,” hero, and martyr. It is also evident that he had an apocalyptic view of the world. At Utoya he put on a fake police uniform and lured young children into his trappings, shooting them in cold blood. Even his manifesto is a lie because he has stolen most of the writings from others, among them the Unabomber. Therefore it’s easy to find similarities to the Unabomber but I fear that we might miss the point if we only compare him to one person. It is like telling people only to be careful of red cars. I find his mindset and level of deception a more interesting point for comparisons because it shows us both how easily we get fooled and how little we know about our human vulnerabilities. It also shows us that we are not up against some unique monster that is difficult to understand, but that these kinds of crimes happen everywhere in the world and are in fact rather common. Only when we take this into account, that we don’t have to be fools to get fooled, can we truly learn to protect ourselves and understand the realities in which we live. To give another example, I’d like to quote Woody Allen from the movie Hannah and Her Sisters. The elderly professor, played by Max von Sydow, is discussing the Nazis crimes with Hannah and he says, “Everyone asks why these terrible crimes happen? But this is the wrong question. The right question is why doesn’t it happen more often, given what some human beings are? And of course it does happen, only in more subtle forms.” What if we compare Breivik to others who lie and deceive and use people as the means to their end? What if we compare him to those individuals who have the same kind of deceptive and unethical approach, thinking of themselves as God? Those who have no empathy or remorse for what they have done? Do you know any? I can think of a few but one sticks out in my mind, and that is Jim Jones, who is responsible for 900 deaths in just a few hours. He did this in the name of socialism, and while he didn’t shoot them himself, he caused their deaths by his deception, apocalyptic thinking, and believing himself to be God. A comparison like that would at least take Breivik down from the odd pedestal that media creates of him being the biggest or the worst the world has ever seen. Those stereotypes are only useful for the perpetrator not for us. It would also allow for a comparison with people like Bernard Madoff who didn’t kill anyone directly but his deception caused havoc to his victims in the aftermath. An even more familiar example to some, would be the Narcissistic Manager. True, not every liar or manipulator can or will become killers but before they cause destruction we better learn to understand their game. Because understanding the similarities between individuals that systematically lie and deceive, and how we get fooled by them, would open up our minds to the real issue. Then we could get together and discuss what to do about it. My first suggestion is to start with reading Dr. Robert Cialdini’s excellent book, Influence Science and Practice, if you haven’t already done so. The second suggestion is making sure we are ethical ourselves when we influence others. My final thought is to help all shy and isolated children with socialization. If you see one on your way in life, reach out and do your best to integrate them in your social world. I know there are no guarantees but it is worth a try. Greetings from Oslo

Influencers from Around the World – The Happiness Hypothesis

This month’s Influencers from Around the World article is from Cathrine Moestue. I introduced you to Cathrine last month along with Anthony McLean as new members of my Influencers from Around the World group. I know you’ll enjoy Cathrine’s exploration of reciprocity, especially those of you who are fans of The Godfather. I encourage you to reach out to Cathrine on Facebook and LinkedIn and Twitter.Brian, CMCT
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.The Happiness HypothesisI don’t know if you have read The Happiness Hypothesis but if you haven’t, then I recommend it. It is an extraordinary book on the human condition and writing about such you cannot miss out on the work of Robert Cialdini, PhD. Dr. Cialdini is the most cited living social psychologist in the world today and famous for his book Influence Science and Practice, where he enlightens readers on the six principles of influence.In The Happiness Hypothesis, Jonathan Haidt dedicates the whole of chapter three to one of the principles; the principle of reciprocity. He opens up the chapter and our understanding of reciprocity with a scene from The Godfather that I thought would give us a vivid understanding of reciprocity. Even though the scene is about “reciprocity with a vengeance” it is extraordinary how easy it is for us to understand this complex interaction in an alien subculture. The opening scene of The Godfather is an exquisite portrayal of reciprocity in action. It is the wedding day of the daughter of the Godfather, Don Corleone. The Italian immigrant Bonasera, an undertaker, has come to ask for a favor; he wants to avenge an assault upon the honor and body of his daughter, who was beaten by her boyfriend and another young man.Bonasera describes the assault, the arrest, and the trial of the two boys. The judge gave them a suspended sentence and let them go free that very day. Bonasera is furious and feels humiliated; he has come to Don Corleone to ask that justice be done. Corleone asks what exactly he wants. Bonasera whispers something into his ear, which we can safely assume is “Kill them.” Corleone refuses, and points out that Bonasera has not been much of a friend until now. Bonasera admits he was afraid of getting into “trouble.” The dialogue continues:CORLEONE: I understand. You found paradise in America; you had a good trade, made a good living. The police protected you and there were courts of law. And you didn’t need a friend like me. But now you come to me and say, “Don Corleone, give me justice.” But you don’t ask with respect. You don’t offer friendship. You don’t even call me Godfather. Instead you come into my house on the day that my daughter is to be married, and ask me to do murder for money.BONASERA: I ask for justice.CORLEONE: That is not justice; your daughter is still alive.BONASERA: Let them suffer then, as she suffers. (pause) How much shall I pay you?CORLEONE: Bonesera…Bonesera…What have I ever done to make you treat me so disrespectfully? If you had come to me in friendship, then this scum that ruined your daughter would be suffering this very day. And if by chance an honest man like yourself should make enemies, then they would be my enemies. And then they would fear you.BONASERA: Be my friend. (bows) Godfather? (kisses Corleone’s hand)CORLEONE: Good. (pause) Someday and that day may never come, I will call upon you to do a service for me. But until that day…accept this justice as a gift on my daughter’s wedding day.We intuitively understand why Bonasera wants the boys killed, and why Corleone refuses to do it. We understand that in accepting a “gift” from a mafia don, a chain, not just a string, is attached. We understand all of this effortlessly because we see the world through the lens of reciprocity. Reciprocity is a deep instinct; it is the basic currency of social life.Bonasera uses it to buy revenge and Corleone to manipulate Bonasera into joining his extended family, the consequences of both will be detrimental. But we can learn how to use the principle of reciprocity wisely by first understanding it and second to practice becoming more of a “detective” of influence, not just a bungler or a smuggler. The extraordinary truth is that if we learn to use the principle ethically and understand how to properly invest in others, we will also be more effective in life.Sounds interesting? I recommend attending a “Principle of Persuasion” workshop, or reading Cialdini’s book on Influence Science and Practice.Zigong asked: “Is there any single word that could guide one’s entire life? The master said: “Should it not be reciprocity? What you do not wish for yourself, do not do unto others.”
– Analects of ConfuciusCathrine Moestue, CMCT
Organizational Psychologist

Influencers from Around the World – New Guest Bloggers

I’m very excited to introduce readers to a couple of new guest bloggers for the Influencers from Around the World series that’s featured on the first Monday of every month.
Anthony McLean hails from “Down Under” and has the distinction of being Australia’s only Cialdini Method Certified Trainer (CMCT). His background is unique, having spent more than a dozen years as a police sergeant and an intelligence officer, he now uses the skills he learned on the job in his study of behavioral intelligence, the role of emotions and most importantly, influence and the science of persuasion. He’s currently the Executive Director of New Intelligence.
Dr. Cialdini had the following to say about Anthony, “In front of a group, Anthony McLean is positively magnetic, drawing from his audience’s levels of attention, comprehension, and insight that are remarkable. What a competitive advantage it is to have him as a teammate!”
Referring to the Principles of Persuasion (POP) workshop in Australia, Anthony said, “There are those in the marketplace who currently deliver Dr. Cialdini’s work as experts, albeit from an Influence: Science and Practice book bought from Amazon. Once I experienced the POP for myself, I thought it important that the Australian market be provided the opportunity to see what the Cialdini Method Certified Training is all about; and it’s important to communicate to clients that it’s beyond the book, and it brings the science to life in a process that will guide participants far beyond their persuasion endeavors. Not only do we offer access to the most comprehensive science in the field, we also have a network of like minded trainers, authors and practitioners, drawn from different cultures and localities which provide an Influence network to our clients that are not available to others.”
In addition to his CMCT certification, Anthony is one of only two accredited trainers in the southern hemisphere with the Paul Ekman Group in the field of emotion and micro expressions. Paul Ekman is the inspiration for the character Cal Lightman on Fox’s hit television show Lie to Me.

I’ve read the newsletter Anthony shares with his POP graduates and was so impressed I asked if he would share some of his wisdom from Down Under with all of us. If you’d like to learn more about Anthony you can find him on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Cathrine Moestue is an organizational psychologist who lives in Oslo, Norway. She too is a Cialdini Method Certified Trainer (CMCT) and like Anthony she is unique because she is the only person in Scandinavia to have received this certification from Dr. Cialdini.

Dr. Robert Cialdini says this about Cathrine, “She has the rare ability to deliver seminar material in a way that is both hard (because she obviously knows the facts) and soft (because of her graceful presentational style). As a result, audiences respond eagerly to her message.”

Cathrine worked many years in the advertising industry as a creative consultant then as a manager before earning her psychology degree at the University of Oslo. She has taught classes in the Psychology of Perception at Westerdals School of Communication and held seminars at the University of Oslo on conflict management, work psychology, stress and health in organizations.
Today she owns her own company, Moestue Consulting, and delivers seminars and coaching on her favorite topic – Ethical Influence – to both individuals and large international companies such as Telenor and Siemens.

As is the case with the other guest bloggers, you can also connect with Cathrine on Facebook and LinkedIn.
With the addition of our new friends you now get to hear perspectives on persuasion from Australia (Anthony McLean), Ireland (Sean Patrick), Italy (Marco Germani), Scandinavia (Cathrine Moestue), South Korea (Hoh Kim) and Spain (Yago de Marta). I know you’re going to enjoy reading what Anthony and Cathrine have to share about ethical influence from their unique vantage points in the world. Look for Cathrine’s first article on March 7th.
Brian, CMCT
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.