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I write about design, technology, and people. Sometimes I take photos of places I visit.

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10 behaviors for more influence

Influence is the ability to affect someone’s behavior. When I talk to people about influence, I often hear, “You’re just manipulating people.” It can be confusing, but there’s a distinction, at least in my mind. Let’s look at an example.

You want to go to a party, but it’s far away. Only your roommate has a car. Let’s consider two things you can do.

  1. You can persuade your roommate to give you a ride to the party. You also say that they can stay at the party with you and that you’ll ensure they have fun. If you come to the party and follow through on your promise, you influenced someone. You changed their behavior and got a better outcome for both.
  2. You start the same way, but when you get to the party, you disappear and leave your roommate alone, and later find someone else to drive you back home. You weren’t honest about your real intentions. You used your roommate as means for your ends.

You affected someone’s behavior in both cases, but with very different outcomes for people around you. The former is influence and the latter is manipulation. Even though the techniques are pretty much the same, outcomes and intentions make all the difference.

I want to influence my cross-functional peers—over which I have no formal authority—because my UX team has great ideas and can bring a lot of value to the broader team and the company. I want to push my team to be a part of the decision-making process for our products with product managers, engineers, and other roles.

Let’s start with behaviors. Read more

Paper or digital books?

I’ve been reading digital books for many, many years, but in the last few, I’ve switched almost entirely to paper. There are several reasons for that:

  • I’m looking at screens most of my waking time. Paper books are a way for me to rest my eyes a bit and detach from technology, especially before going to sleep.
  • Paper books don’t lock me into a platform. I buy digital books if they come with an open PDF or ePub that I can use the way I want, or if I want to consume them in an audio format. Also, a paper book can last a century.
  • I can lend paper books to others without a need to have particular devices or accounts. I do this a lot.
  • Having books arranged on a bookshelf makes it easier for me to look at them, think about ideas in them, and take them out and explore. I never do this with digital books because they’re not in plain sight. Also, bookshelves are neat.
  • The possibility to open several paper books at the same time is not critical, but comes in handy when researching and cross-referencing.

At the same time, I’m hoping that digital books will evolve in a way that would enable some of the current upsides of paper books. The combination would make digital books my primary choice.

LEGO pain

Two identical flat LEGO pieces pressed together.

As I’m rediscovering LEGO 25 years later with my kids, I remembered that stepping on LEGO is painful, but not even close to how painful and frustrating it is to separate two flat pieces.

Preparing a conference talk

  1. I have a brilliant idea for a talk.
  2. Talk accepted.
  3. Just realized that many other people have talked about my idea before. I’m an impostor.
  4. I don’t know where to start. Let me at least write down some initial notes.
  5. I have too much, where am I going to fit everything?
  6. [the night before the talk] OK, it’s manageable in the time I have.
  7. [minutes before] Why have I put myself in this position? If I survive, I’ll never do this again in my life.
  8. [just after the talk] Phew, it wasn’t terrible. I’m happy that it’s over.
  9. [months later] My last talk went great and I was brilliant. I have another idea …

If you want to read more, check out the archive.

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