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Carson Design Associates Book Review: Compelling People

AUTHOR: Carson Design Associates - Indy   POST DATE:


“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” — Dr. Seuss

At the beginning of 2016, the Carson Design Associates Indy office launched our own Business Book Club with the hope of broadening our business acumen, gaining some keen insights into the way we operate internally, and enhancing our company culture through shared experiences.

Most recently, we explored Compelling People: The Hidden Qualities That Make Us Influential by John Neffinger and Matthew Kohut, promising to draw on cutting-edge social science research-as well as their own work with Fortune 500 executives, members of Congress, TED Talk speakers, and Nobel Prize winners-and reveal how we size each other up and how we can win the admiration, respect, and affection we desire from others.

Following are the unadulterated thoughts that eight of us from the Carson Design Associates Indy team shared in our quarterly book club meeting, while sipping wine at Cooper’s Hawk restaurant.

Visit and Compelling People gets high grades, with four out of five stars and reviews that include such glowing remarks as “must read,” “change your life,” and “blow your mind.”

Around Carson Design, though, the book was less than compelling for our people.

Tara Schneider opened the discussion: “I really wanted to get through it. But every time I started to read, I literally fell asleep. Although the concept had a lot of potential to be helpful and insightful, the authors chose not to delve too deep into any one subject. Instead, they treated every section like an intro chapter to a new book.”

To which Liz Sutton replied, “There were many assumptions in the book, and it seemed to perpetuate a lot of stereotypes, making it somewhat offensive and turning me off from the beginning. Also, it implies that, in order to be influential, you need to be both strong and warm. But that’s dependent on how you look and how others judge you. I thought the book would teach me how to be more compelling, but I think it’s more for psychological theories on gender and race stereotypes.”

Jen Scherr concurred: “I think we all read ‘strength’ and ‘warmth’ far too many times. To me, the book was an attempt at a how-to, but failed to effectively explain how any of it can be changed or how you can work on this or that. None of it was really ‘new’ information to me, as I’ve gathered most of it from school and life and through media stereotypes and labels.”

Linda Jordan added: “While Compelling People had a few interesting points, the book lacked in substance. The same two ideas-warmth vs. strength-were reiterated time and time again. However, the book included too many contradictory statements to take it seriously.”

Susan Szydlowski shelved this book title with a final thought: “Despite our struggles to get through the pages of Compelling People, we all can still bond over our shared dislike. And I’m feeling pretty fortunate to be part of a team that tosses aside stereotypes and appreciates individual authenticity.”

Next up, Carson Design Associates breaks the binding on Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull, co-founder (with Steve Jobs and John Lasseter) of Pixar Animation Studios.

How about you? Have you read Compelling People? Do you share our sentiments or lean toward the Amazon reviews? We’d love to hear your thoughts!

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