In the fall of 2016 I realized I was making a big mistake in life. For one reason or another I had come to believe that building a product was super creative and hard, and the “business stuff” was an annoying chore. I had an epiphany and decided that building a business was absolutely just as demanding and rewarding as dinking around in OmniGraffle, perhaps even more so. I then started asking my mentors for their book suggestions and have been working my way through a reading list that would make the Harvard MBA program proud. This first post is one of many on the books that you might consider reading if you want to get ahead. 

How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie

So let’s start with the obvious. This is the first book on everyone’s list. It’s easy to get through life feeling like you’ve read this just because it’s referenced so often. If you haven’t read it, or even if it’s been a while - you owe yourself the pleasure of reading it again. The original was written back in 1936, and the fact that it’s still so highly rated and relevant are a testimony to the quality of the advice in there. 

Dale Carnegie was born poor, sold his way up, and over time effectively invented the whole consultant/lecturer business self-help deal. His speaking engagements gave him the opportunity to meet and learn from the brightest minds in leadership of their day. 

A casual read of the books points (which I’ve helpfully summarized below) comes of as kinda smarmy/con-man-ish. The reality is, these techniques are really just great for any conversation. If you’re trying to get along with family, talk politics, or make just about anything happen with a group of people - you’d be a fool to not read this book and use these techniques. 

In a nutshell:


  • Never criticize, condemn, or complain. 
  • Give honest, sincere appreciation. 
  • Arouse in the other person, an eager want. 

How to make people like you:

  • Become genuinely interested in them.
  • Smile.
  • Remember their name is the sweetest sound to them. 
  • Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk.
  • Talk in terms of the other person’s interests.
  • Make the other person feel important, and do it sincerely.

How to get people to agree with you:

  • You can’t “win” an argument. Avoid argument.
  • Show respect for their opinions, never say “you’re wrong.”
  • If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.
  • Begin in a friendly way.
  • Get the other person saying “Yes, Yes” immediately.
  • Let the other person do most of the talking
  • Let the other person feel the idea is theirs.
  • Try, honestly, to see things from their point of view.
  • Be sympathetic to the other person’s ideas and desires.
  • Appeal to the nobler motives.
  • Dramatize your ideas.
  • Throw down a challenge.

Be a leader - how to change behavior:

  • Begin with praise and honest appreciation.
  • Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly. 
  • Talk about your own mistakes first. 
  • Ask questions instead of giving direct orders.
  • Let the other person save face.
  • Praise the slightest improvement, and praise every improvement.
  • Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to.
  • Use encouragement - make the fault seem easy to correct. 
  • Make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest. 

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