Grow Your Influence After You Read “The Small Big”


A guide for anyone who wants to change the behaviors or beliefs of others effectively, efficiently and ethically, in order to achieve their goals


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Do you want to be influential?  Of course you do.  To be influential means that you have the ability to have an effect on how others think, feel and act.  So, whether you are a business owner, manager, worker, parent or even a child, influence is something you’re interested in if you are committed to an outcome or result.

The only problem is that being influential doesn’t come naturally.  In fact, you’ve probably had more than your share of experiences that started out as an attempt at being influential that quickly devolved into manipulation and yielded nothing but a bad taste in everyone’s mouth; to say nothing of not getting the desired result.

Wouldn’t it be great if there were a book that had a list of common desired outcomes? And then showed you the secret little tweaks you can make in your message and presentation that would literally blow the roof off of your results?

Well, good news – there is. I’ve just received a review copy of The Small BIG: Small Changes that Spark Big Influence by Steve J. Martin, Noah J. Goldstein and Robert B. Cialdini.  This is a persuasion-expert powerhouse of authors who have come together to share a collection of fifty two small influence strategies that can make a BIG difference in your results.

52 Tips in 52 Short Chapters

Unlike previous books about persuasion and influence, this one doesn’t get into long explanations.  The authors have worked hard to pare down just the most important elements of each strategy into tight and concise chapters that you can read in about ten minutes or so.

Each chapter is written as a question that starts with “What Small BIG…”  and then it gets into a detail.  Let me list a few so that you can see what I mean. And then you tell me what you think:

  • What Small BIG could help you lead more productive meetings?
  • What Small BIG can persuade people to go against the crowd?
  • What Small BIG can help you to become wiser with experience?
  • What Small BIG can help your influence attempts win over and over?

There are fifty two of these kinds of titles. While I have to admit, this made me curious to want to read each one – it felt sort of unnerving to me.  The table of contents literally hurt my brain because each chapter started with What Small BIG. And then came this twisty, turny sentence that was sometimes clear and interesting and sometimes not so clear. Personally, I found this distracting.  I would have much rather seen these listed as common influence and pervasive scenarios that small business owners face such as:

  • Become a more effective negotiator.
  • Lead more effective, productive meetings.
  • Help find the perfect gift.
  • Become a more persuasive person at work and at home.
  • Stay motivated to complete tasks and achieve goals.

Each chapter builds on the previous one. So while you can certainly hop around from chapter to chapter based on your interest, there is a benefit to reading from start to finish.

The chapters also follow a similar pattern. A situation is introduced, a scientific study, it’s methods and outcomes are referenced, and finally at the end some tips and strategies on how to implement the strategy for yourself.

A Trifecta of Persuasion Champions

Martin (@scienceofyes), Goldstein and Cialdini (@RobertCialdini) are the reigning champions of persuasion.  Martin is director of INFLUENCE AT WORK in the UK and his work has been featured in the New York TImes and Wired Magazine.  His regular business columns are read by over 2.5 million people each month.

Goldstein is a professor at UCLA Anderson School of Management.  His previous book, Yes!, co-authored with Martin and CIaldini, is a New York Times bestseller and translated into 25 languages.

Robert Cialdini is Regents’ Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Marketing at Arizona State University.  He is the most cited living social psychologist in the study of influence.  His book Influencer: The Psychology of Persuasion was named as one of the top marketing books of all time by Inc. Magazine.

The Small BIG Scratches the Surface and Leaves You Wanting More

There is a reason some people are more persuasive and influential than others. They don’t only understand what drives influence, they are able to apply it in a natural and authentic way that leaves the “influencee” feeling better off for the interaction or transaction.

After reading The Small BIG you’ll notice that you’ve come close to being influential in a lot of these examples. But then you’ll also see where you might have fallen short.  And as the book proclaims, it’s these little seemingly unimportant details that make all the difference.

The Small BIG is a fun, educational and entertaining read.  You’ll experience some brain bending in the process, you’ll pick up some tips and strategies and ultimately, grow your influence muscle to a point where your results will shine.

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Ivana Taylor Ivana Taylor is the Book Editor for Small Business Trends. She is responsible for directing the site’s book review program and manages the team of professional book reviewers. She also spearheads the annual Small Business Book Awards. Ivana publishes DIYMarketers, where she shares daily do-it-yourself marketing tips, and is co-author of "Excel for Marketing Managers."