MasterClass Review

During the fall I saw advertisements for Master Class. It has quite the Rolodex of individuals ready to teach you. Steph Curry for basketball, Bob Iger for business, and Gary Kasparov for chess to name a few. A favorite of mine is Dan Pink. I’ve interviewed him and done reviews of his books before. He’s now on Master Class and its the basis for this review.

First Impressions: The list of teachers is long, impressive. The User Interface is clean and mostly easy to navigate. The main problem is there is a wealth of instructors to sort through and prioritize. Its like a buffet. So much looks appetizing.

Let’s start with Dan Pink.

Dan Pink Master Class

Lesson 1 – An introduction. They are mostly the same from one person to the next. Its a few minutes of the instructor introducing themself and what they plan to teach. This is Dan Pink.

Lesson 2 – Research shows 40% of a job is sales, sales in some form. When asked to visualize a person in sales its never a woman. Its typically a man with a suit. In the past a lot of sales were based on information asymmetry. The person selling the item knows more than the person buying it. Now, in the age of the internet and when information is plentiful, there is information parity. The person buying has close to or the same amount of information as the person selling.

Lesson 3 – Attunement. Taking someone else’s perspective. Draw an “E” on your forehead and how you draw it shows your perspective. The more powerful you feel the worse you are at perspective taking. Reduce your feeling of power to increase your perspective taking. Put an empty chair in the room to represent the “customer.” Empathy is about feelings, whereas perspective taking is about the mind. Use emotions from others as signals and to do your own “what if” on the person. Then ask them about your hypothesis.

A quick note: I tried changing the speed from 1x to 1.5x and it was too fast. But I like this feature for my podcast. I usually run them at 1.2x.

Lesson 4 – Serve your audience. Make it personal and make it purposeful. For making it personal put a face on it. For making it purposeful if the other person does what I want them to do will they be better off? Or will the world be better off? If yes to either then you’ve added purpose to your message.

Lesson 5 – Good persuaders are good observers of the context they are in. Dan teaches and demonstrates a tool to determine the context in a room i.e. who has power and who are you trying to influence. It is a discussion map. You draw a circle for each person. When that person speaks put an X next to their name and then an arrow to the circle of the person they are speaking to. Afterwards you can analyze the results.

Lesson 6 – Make your message count. Clarity by shinning a fresh light on the situation or by helping them see problems they didn’t realize they had. In the past if you had access to info you could use it to influence. Today, everybody has access. Now curating is more valuable. Making sense of it. Curating to sift through it, to finding what is meaningful. Make it coherent.

Now the value is from problem solving to problem finding. Dan talks about 5 Whys. Focus on the 1%, don’t get lost in the weeds. If you get bogged down, ask yourself what is the 1%?

Lesson 7 (or is it 6? starting to lose track) – Getting others to act. When people have their own reasons to act they are more likely to follow through. The best persuaders are not irritators. They are agitators. To be a good agitator, ask questions as to what they think or want to do. This makes them collaborators instead of being told what to do.

This is my favorite from the series. Ask two irrational questions. One is to get a response and the other is to get the person talking about their response in their terms. For instance, clean their room 1) On a scale of 1-10 how ready are you to clean your room. If its a 2 then you ask why weren’t you a 1? This then gets them to talk about the reasons they are ready in their terms. If they say 0, then you ask what can we do to get you to a 1? It may incite an action you can help with and satisfy a reason.

Lesson 8: Connecting through Mimicry. Step 1 – Watch. Pay attention to what they are doing. Step 2 – Wait. If they do something, wait 10 seconds then you do it too. Step 3 – Wane. Slide away from the behavior then come back to it and do it again. Also, use their phrases, don’t use lingo or your own way of speaking. Speak like they do.

Lesson 9: Bias and Frames. Potential Frame – People often overvalue potential compared to current. For example, in a job interview talk about experience and past performance, but really emphasize the potential you bring to the company and the future that will come. Sunk Cost Frame – If the money is already spent some are more apt to follow through on it simply because the money is spent. Anchoring Frame – The first thing, such as a number, will have greater weight on the rest simply because it was the first. This works similar to comparison frame.

Lesson 10: Pitching like a pro. Invite in as a collaborator. Have a conversation. Here are some pitch types:

  • The question pitch: Questions elicit a response. It makes the other person be involved and come up with their own reasons.
  • Rhyming the pitch makes it easier to process. The OJ example – if the glove don’t fit, you must acquit.
  • The Pixar pitch: Once a upon a time… because of that… because of that…
  • One word pitch – Obama – Hope, Forward.
  • Rough number – use granular numbers because it makes people think you’re more precise. Use the three – know, feel, do.
  • Write emails that people want to open. Two ways, make it transactional, it solves a problem for them. Make it incite curiosity. They’ll want to know more.

Lesson 11: Exercise – Asking for a raise. Make the ask about the person you’re asking. How does granting the ask benefit them? Reframe the problem, not a raise, but as a good thing for them.

Persuasion Mindset

Lesson 12: Buoyancy – Develop a resilient mindset. Self talk: interrogative self talk – ask yourself can you do this and if so, how? What this does is it makes you engage with yourself. You will likely say yes and then you’ll rehearse and prepare.

Change your explanation style: De-catastrophize the rejection. Don’t make it the 3 Ps: Personal, Pervasive, and/or Permanent.

  • Have Self Compassion.

Lesson 13: Introvert, Extrovert, Ambivert. Extroverts are more likely to go into sales, be hired for sales, and so on. But they are not necessarily the best performers. If you’re on the one end of the spectrum then you need to listen more. The best sales performers are often ambiverts, those in the middle. Dan is a mild introvert. To practice extroversion he does things like ask someone on the plane what they are reading.

Lesson 14: Persuade Yourself.

Make it easy on yourself. Use these tools for your own work.

  • Create off ramps or exits from the work e.g. just do 5 more. This will create an out while pushing momentum, often resulting in 15 being done instead of the intended 5.
  • Set interim goals. Allow yourself to make progress and not get overwhelmed by the distant or difficult goal. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
  • Make the commitment public. Peer pressure, even if imaginary, will motivate.
  • Take breaks. There is much research showing the value of breaks. Keep in mind, the vast majority of what the brain does is in the background. Thinking is only a small portion. Breaks allow it to work without supervision.
  • Employ deadlines but do so cautiously. Allow creativity to not be capped, but also push for something to get done.

Lesson 15: Using Timing to become a Better Persuader. What order do you want to be when pitching? When you aren’t the default choice you want to go first. Same when there are not a lot of candidates. Also, when the other candidates are strong. When to go last? When you are the default candidate. When you’re in a situation where later means better. If the requirements are not clear. Other timing items: Give bad news first. Schedule tough decisions after breaks. People tire.

Lesson 15: Beginnings, Middles, Endings. There are temporal milestones which help such as the 1st of the month or a Monday.

  • Premortems are good; imagine one year from now and play out a scenario. Then discuss the reasons for that outcome. If negative, plan to address the causes, the reasons, for it.
  • Recognize midpoints and plan accordingly. They can drag on you or they can drive you.
  • When you see the end, people get motivated. They see the light at the end of the tunnel.
  • People prefer sequences that are improving, going up, versus down. They remember the experience as better. Ending the experience on a positive encodes the whole experience as such.

To recap the lesson – Context Matters. Autonomy, Do the Right Thing. Things aren’t always zero sum. Be positive, win win, and collaborate.

Besides Dan Pink I also watched one session of Paul Krugman and it was alright. It had more visuals than a typical Dan Pink session. Others I watched was Bob Iger and it was ok. Chris Voss is awesome. And Joyce Carol Oates was good.

To wrap, lets revisit my preconceived notions (I wrote this before anything else).

Its a website with a bunch of celebrities who have recorded themselves. Each one is famous for something and that is what the class is about. It looks pretty slick. I’m not sure of the value. At $180 for an annual subscription it seems pretty high. I did get a deal and got the BOGO. My interest is because I’m a big Dan Pink fan. He joined Master Class. Perhaps that’s the model. Get fans of the celebrities to join.

I’d say my initial reaction is mostly true. The cost is a bit high and it is certainly good. I’d recommend it for the learners out there, but perhaps not for everyone.

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