Book Review : Win Bigly - Scott Adams

I don’t know Trump. Let me rephrase this. As an Indian, my knowledge of the American President is rather limited. Primarily because since he is not my president I don’t need to necessarily stay informed about him. And whatever news about him that trickles down to me via media, mainstream or social, is not very positive towards him. It also does not help that I am a fan of Stephen Colbert and his disapproval of Trump is world famous. The point I am trying to make by all these words is that very little positive is known to me and people like me about Trump. This has always caused me to pause and wonder that it cannot be an accident that this man has become the leader of the free world without having any redeeming positive qualities. He has got to be good, and rather brilliantly, at something which helped him defeat someone like Hillary. Hillary, who everyone thought was the only “logical” choice of the two.

This exact curiosity led me to pick up “Win Bigly : Persuasion in a World Where Facts Don’t Matter“ by Scott Adams as the first book of 2018. Scott Adams is most popular as the creator of the famous Dilbert comic strip. What many of us might not know that he was one of the first public figures to predict Trump Presidency. Almost a year before the actual elections. He was able to do this because he, as a self-proclaimed master persuader, saw Trump as a genius persuader and someone whose persuasion skills Adams refers to be of “weapons grade”. In this book, Adams points out, identifies and explains every persuasion move Trump makes during his campaigns all the while highlighting similar persuasion mistakes that were made by Hillary. The book has been chapterized logically where Adams introduces a concept, explains what it means with examples and then highlights how it is applicable to the Trump campaign. He helps you realize that we, humans, are inherently irrational who only imagine being rational when making most of our life decisions. He introduces the concepts of Cognitive Dissonance and Confirmation Biases to help us see the irrationality in our behavior. Without going into detail I can comfortably say that Adams does a pretty good job of throwing light on the amazing world of master persuaders. (By the way, 2017 Nobel prize for Economics when to Richard H. Thaler for his similar but much more scientific work in Behavioral Economics. His work is also worth reading.)

I think I made the right decision by choosing this book. Behavioral sciences have always fascinated me and as an avid listener of books and podcasts related to these topics I was primed to like this book. I was aware of many of the concepts and tips mentioned in the book already but that in no way dampened my experience of the book. It was downright enlightening at some moments when Adams, in simple words, describes how masterfully Trump applied his persuasion skills to his advantage. It was the detail in smaller things like the nicknames he gave to his opponents, the way he speaks and more importantly the way he responds that fill you with awe once you learn to see the persuasion play behind these tactics. Throughout the book, it is clear that Adams is highly impressed by Trump and considers him one of the best persuaders in the world. Having said this, let me unequivocally make it clear - this is not a pro-Trump book. There is not a single instance where Adams praises or criticizes Trump based on his policy or campaign details. Throughout the book, Adams consistently stays on topic of persuasion and does not at a single moment diverts from that. This is what makes this book enjoyable to both people who like Trump as well as those who don’t like him that much. You don’t have to be a Trump fan to see how he is a world class persuader. This is undeniably one of the strongest reasons he won against Hillary. And this book is not all praises for Trump. Adams also highlights the mistakes that Trump made during his campaign as bad persuasion moves. The way Adams is able to strictly adhere to the topic throughout the book is one of the key things that keep you, the reader, continue enjoying it. Otherwise, it would be easy for the reader to question the validity of any and all claims made at the first sign of bias. While you are reading this book you will figure out how good a persuader you are and who are the people in your life who are good at persuasion. If you are an Indian you will realize how our PM Modi also uses a lot of these persuasion techniques himself.

Who should read this book? If you too are curious about what single personality trait of Donald Trump led him to be victorious in the 2016 elections, this is the book for you. If you are looking for political insights and policy details this might not work for you. The book single-mindedly talks about Trump’s persuasion techniques, how Adams categorizes them and how you can use them in real life. If you want to become a better persuader yourself, this book is highly recommended. It is actually the kind of book anyone can read irrespective of how they perceive Trump or politics.

Audiobook specific note: Scott Adams is an excellent narrator. The language and accent are easy to comprehend and maintain for long hours. Original narration speed is a little slow so you can speed up the audio by 1.25x as I did.

Buy the book here :

Image used belongs to Scott Adams and no copyright infringement is intended.

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