A thoughtful and enthusiastic high-concept assessment of how top companies succeed.

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A look at how examples from politics can transform brand marketing.

In this debut business book, Bernard argues that the most successful companies, haven’t found success through traditional branding practices, but by treating their businesses like political campaigns. Companies such as Amazon, Tesla, and Uber—the “Transcenders” of the book’s subtitle—set own their agendas, according to this book’s framing, instead of responding only to competitors’ actions. They distill their core messages into concise, memorable slogans that help to turn customers into true believers. Bernard opens by analyzing several political campaigns, including those of Barack Obama and Donald Trump, to highlight elements of his framework, such as those mentioned above; in subsequent chapters, he uses these concepts to analyze the actions of booming companies. For example, he looks at how Starbucks presents itself as a “third place” that isn’t one’s home or work, and how skincare company Glossier went from covering makeup trends to setting them. The final chapter offers a few recommendations for readers looking to apply similar models to their own businesses. Bernard’s prose style, with its distracting abundance of capitalized terms (“As a Transcender leader, [Apple co-founder Steve] Jobs recognized that he needed two things: a winning Campaign Agenda and winning product candidates”) that may not appeal to all readers. However, like the companies he profiles, he knows how to make a convincing case, and he does a good job of presenting and supporting his arguments. The book is at its strongest when it highlights key elements of successful campaigns, as when Bernard recommends replacing the classic “elevator pitch” with something briefer that one can present when elevator doors are closing: “if you can only communicate four words to your customer on an elevator, it should be the Campaign Agenda, since it is far more important to Communicate the Agendathan it is to promote the brand.” The chapter offering tips to readers on applying the framework to their own businesses, however, is mostly quite general, focusing more on concepts than actionable steps.

A thoughtful and enthusiastic high-concept assessment of how top companies succeed.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5445-2232-6

Page Count: 276

Publisher: Lioncrest Publishing

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2022



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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