- The Sale: the Number One Strategy to Build Trust and Create Success by Jon Gordon (4/26)
- A New Way to Think: Your Guide to Superior Management Effectiveness by Roger Martin (5/3)
- After Steve: How Apple Became a Trillion-Dollar Company and Lost Its Soul by Tripp Mickle (5/3)
- Build: An Unorthodox Guide to Making Things Worth Making by Tony Fadell (5/3)
- The Culture Playbook: 60 Highly Effective Actions to Help Your Group Succeed by Daniel Coyle (5/3)
- The China Dream: How the Aspirations of Government, Business, and People Are Driving the Greatest Transformation In History by Jonathan Krane (5/3)
- Disrupting the Game: From the Bronx to the Top of Nintendo by Reggie Fils-Aimé (5/3)
- The Earned Life: Lose Regret, Choose Fulfillment by Marshall Goldsmith (5/3)
- Experience, Inc.: Why Companies That Uncover Purpose, Create Connection, and Celebrate Their People Will Triumph by Jill Popelka (5/3)
- The No Club: Putting a Stop to Women’s Dead-End Work by by Linda Babcock, Brenda Peyser, Lise Vesterlund, and Laurie Weingart ( 5/3)
- Don’t Trust Your Gut: Using Data to Get What You Really Want in Life by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz (5/10)
- Hearts Touched With Fire: How Great Leaders Are Made by David Gergen (5/10)
- Impact the World: Live Your Values and Drive Change As a Citizen Statesperson by Carrie Rich (5/10)
- The Locker Room: How Great Teams Heal Hurt, Overcome Adversity, and Build Unity by Damon West and Stephen West (5/10)
- Plays Well with Others: The Surprising Science Behind Why Everything You Know About Relationships Is (Mostly) Wrong by Eric Barker (5/10)
- Fans First: Change The Game, Break the Rules & Create an Unforgettable Experience by Jesse Cole (5/13)
- Business is Personal: The Truth About What it Takes to Be Successful While Staying True to Yourself by Bethenny Frankel (5/17)
- Endure: How to Work Hard, Outlast, and Keep Hammering by Cameron Haines (5/17)
- How the Future Works: Leading Flexible Teams To Do The Best Work of Their Lives by by Brian Elliott, Sheela Subramanian, and Helen Kupp (5/17)
- Talent: How to Identify Energizers, Creatives, and Winners Around the World by Tyler Cowen and Daniel Gross (5/17)
Psychology of Money:
Timeless lessons on wealth, greed, and happiness
by Morgan Housel
Published by Harriman House on September 8, 2020
In the fall of 2020, several people around me were all reading the same new book. None of those people knew each other, but they had all found their way to Morgan Housel’s Psychology of Money.
I understand why people like the book. Housel’s writing is clever. His stories remind me of the kind that Michael Mauboussin told twenty years ago. Both writers share insights at the intersection of decision-making, scientific discovery, and investing. Psychology of Money is a book that makes people feel smart about money.
When the book was released, it had a strong start, selling almost 60,000 copies in the last four months of 2020. The book was originally released in paperback, to aid in as wide of distribution as possible. After repeated requests from the author’s fanbase, Harriman House released a second hardcover edition of the book in early 2021.
The reason I am writing about the book this month is the chart below:
2021, its second calendar year in the market, was also a good one for Psychology of Money. You can see consistent sales for most of the year. The book had a great holiday season moving almost 30,000 copies. Coming out of the holidays and into 2022, the book has established a new higher weekly sales volume in 2022, adding over 1000 copies of additional sales a week. That is an unusual pattern to see sales velocity increasing in the third year of a book’s lifecycle.
If you are wondering how they did it, I don’t have a magic answer that you might apply to the next book launch. There is an ocean of felt need around books about money. And as I said, this is a book that makes people feel smart about money. I think this book reached a tipping point of awareness and its sales will benefit for the next few years.
Good Habits, Bad Habits:
The Science of Making Positive Changes That Stick
by Wendy Wood
Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux on October 1, 2019
“[W]e can do something once and it’s a decision, but if we do it many times in the same way, it becomes something totally different.”
That “something totally different” is what has taken several decades to understand. Competing areas of psychology fought for years around what was a habit, what created habits, and whether habits really mattered. At a low point in the 1980’s goals and evaluations gained favor in psychology circles and research moved away from looking more deeply at the complexity of habits. Wendy Wood was one of the researchers who stuck with habits and, as a reader, you get a front row seat in watching how our understanding of habits has evolved. There is a way she describes habits that give them greater context.
A set of steps repeated over and over get stored in procedural memory, a part of the brain that operates separately from other neurological systems. This separation means we can’t think our way into new habits when the encoding process that governs them is structurally hidden from our consciousness (p46). This gives our habits the benefit of long retention not easily overwritten and gives us the opportunity to use our mental energies on more challenging problems. This insight informs other findings around research that we wouldn’t traditionally connect with habits.
We have a perception that self-control is an active practice of determination. We envision someone biting their lip or, white knuckled grabbing their chair resisting to reach for a sugary treat. The common wisdom defines self-control by the resistance that one experiences. The research indicates something different with people who exhibit high levels of self-control—they seldom report resisting, less often is there a mismatch between a goal and a desire. Further research has shown that individuals with high self-control perform better on habitual, automatic tasks. Wood quotes those who did the study, saying “self-control may in general operate more by forming and breaking habits.”
The best part of Good Habits, Bad Habits is Wood’s skillful intertwining of how habit based thinking intersects with all parts of our life. Wood highlights Gary Klein’s work with firefighters and how important intuition (or habitual decision making) in all lines of work. She discusses the benefits of combining intrinsic, extrinsic, and even uncertain rewards working to change behavior. She even brings out how habits can take away, saying “repetition strengthens our tendency to act, but it also weakens our sensation of that act.
If there is anything we can learn from the researchers like Wendy Wood, it’s how reliably habits can form given the natural circuitry seated deep inside the brain. We also now know that our habits are easily overlooked by our conscious selves. I am both reassured and a little disappointed by those findings. Habits are not about motivation or willpower. Those two both require repeated prefrontal cortex decision-making and we only have a limited supply of that brain function in a given day. Leaning into our routine friendly subsystems, we can be much more effective in creating new habits.
Three More Pieces of Advice from Wood:
- Consider your environment. For every four additional liquor stores per square mile, men drink 32% more beer and women drink 16% more wine.
- Multi-step rituals (in Brazil called simpatias) reduce anxiety, lower heart rate and give people a sense of control in times of high uncertainty.
- Given stress, tiredness, distraction, or lack of ability, the balance tips toward the importance of habits. Make sure you have good ones.