A straightforward and often powerful self-help book.

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Consultant Fredricks, author of The Ask: For Business, For Philanthropy, For Everyday Living (2017), aims to show readers how to ask tough questions and receive satisfying answers.

This compact self-help book may be brief, but it’s bursting with hard truths, sage advice, and learned examples. In a forthright introduction, Fredricks promises to aid readers in the process of asking difficult queries of others and turning “those nos and maybes into yeses, yeses, and yeses.” She notes that the power to ask questions is one of the earliest powers that a human being has—think of a child and their candid, unfiltered curiosity. But past unpleasant experiences and the fear of rejection frequently stop adults from asking for things that they believe are “hard,” such as time, respect, money, and even love. In a clear, succinct manner, Fredricks offers advice in a compelling, digestible form, including scenarios from her own life and work, bullet points, tables, and takeaways that summarize each chapter. After taking a quiz to discover what sort of “asker” they are (“The Negotiator,” “The Empathizer,” “The Presenter,” or “The Charmer”), the reader is thrust into a world of confidence and poise—and a world of many rules, which offers a very direct approach. After learning “the three rules of asking” (“Be Prepared, Be Personal, and Be Present”) and “Laura’s Five Laws of Asking” (from “Know exactly what you want, with numbers and dates” to “Plan your next move at the end of the ask”) the reader will emerge with an in-depth understanding of the ins and outs of a big ask. Fredricks excels in approaching her readers with an understanding tone and practical tips that are applicable to a wide range of people’s lives. Whether one is a chief executive, like the author, or a student, an employee or an employer, an introvert or an extrovert, one will come away from the book with ways to tackle problems with the same confidence as a kid asking a question.

A straightforward and often powerful self-help book.

Pub Date: June 13, 2023

ISBN: 9781642257076

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Advantage Media Group

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2023



Perhaps not magic but appealing nonetheless.

Want to get ahead in business? Consult a dictionary.

By Wharton School professor Berger’s account, much of the art of persuasion lies in the art of choosing the right word. Want to jump ahead of others waiting in line to use a photocopy machine, even if they’re grizzled New Yorkers? Throw a because into the equation (“Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine, because I’m in a rush?”), and you’re likely to get your way. Want someone to do your copying for you? Then change your verbs to nouns: not “Can you help me?” but “Can you be a helper?” As Berger notes, there’s a subtle psychological shift at play when a person becomes not a mere instrument in helping but instead acquires an identity as a helper. It’s the little things, one supposes, and the author offers some interesting strategies that eager readers will want to try out. Instead of alienating a listener with the omniscient should, as in “You should do this,” try could instead: “Well, you could…” induces all concerned “to recognize that there might be other possibilities.” Berger’s counsel that one should use abstractions contradicts his admonition to use concrete language, and it doesn’t help matters to say that each is appropriate to a particular situation, while grammarians will wince at his suggestion that a nerve-calming exercise to “try talking to yourself in the third person (‘You can do it!’)” in fact invokes the second person. Still, there are plenty of useful insights, particularly for students of advertising and public speaking. It’s intriguing to note that appeals to God are less effective in securing a loan than a simple affirmative such as “I pay all bills…on time”), and it’s helpful to keep in mind that “the right words used at the right time can have immense power.”

Perhaps not magic but appealing nonetheless.

Pub Date: March 7, 2023

ISBN: 9780063204935

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Harper Business

Review Posted Online: March 23, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2023


Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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