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Summary and book reviews of The Catalyst by Jonah Berger

The Catalyst

How to Change Anyone's Mind

by Jonah Berger

The Catalyst by Jonah Berger X
The Catalyst by Jonah Berger
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  • Published:
    Mar 2020, 288 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Ian Muehlenhaus
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About this Book

Book Summary

From the author of New York Times bestsellers Contagious and Invisible Influence comes a revolutionary approach to changing anyone's mind.

Everyone has something they want to change. Marketers want to change their customers' minds and leaders want to change organizations. Start-ups want to change industries and nonprofits want to change the world. But change is hard. Often, we persuade and pressure and push, but nothing moves. Could there be a better way?

This book takes a different approach. Successful change agents know it's not about pushing harder, or providing more information, it's about being a catalyst. Catalysts remove roadblocks and reduce the barriers to change. Instead of asking, "How could I change someone's mind?" they ask a different question: "Why haven't they changed already? What's stopping them?"

The Catalyst identifies the key barriers to change and how to mitigate them. You'll learn how catalysts change minds in the toughest of situations: how hostage negotiators get people to come out with their hands up and how marketers get new products to catch on, how leaders transform organizational culture and how activists ignite social movements, how substance abuse counselors get addicts to realize they have a problem, and how political canvassers change deeply rooted political beliefs.

This book is designed for anyone who wants to catalyze change. It provides a powerful way of thinking and a range of techniques that can lead to extraordinary results. Whether you're trying to change one person, transform an organization, or shift the way an entire industry does business, this book will teach you how to become a catalyst.

CASE STUDY
How to Change the Boss's Mind

To see easing uncertainty in action, it helps to visit a place where even the best new ideas are often stymied by the barriers to change. And that is the office.

* * *

The new project seemed doomed. As Jacek Nowak walked out of the meeting, his colleagues' voices kept ringing in his ears. "Why does this matter?" one said. "This is a waste of time," barked another. Even if they did all the work to implement the program, there was no guarantee that customers would care. That clients would actually appreciate the effort they went through. Things were generally going well, so why change?

Jacek had worked in banking for more than a decade. He started in customer service, supporting administrative processes in a bank branch, and worked his way up from there. He had conducted workshops, coordinated training programs, and helped shape recruitment processes. Eventually, rather than training new hires himself, he was responsible for managing a team of ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

The Catalyst suffers from the fact that it was written by a business professor, not a science journalist. It is lively and full of anecdotes, but lacks the depth of research and interviews that Gladwell typically brings to a book. Scholarly rigor aside, it's a book that will stick with you. Its concepts are difficult to shake and continually pertinent in everyday life, and it will likely enlighten how you approach arguments and discussions in a positive way...continued

Full Review Members Only (956 words).

(Reviewed by Ian Muehlenhaus).

Media Reviews

The San Francisco Review of Books
The Catalyst is a mixed bag: an eyeroller as well as an inspiration.

Publishers Weekly
This broadly appealing guide will convince general readers, but will be of particular interest to sales and marketing professionals.

Kirkus Reviews
A well-written guide that can be useful in both business and personal life.

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Beyond the Book

Could COVID-19 Spark Lasting Change?

Setting people on a path to change is difficult. And when you're talking about millions of people, it often takes decades to see a mass evolution in behavior. Sometimes, however, a cataclysmic event will act as a catalyst that forces society as a whole to step off the precipice. Such events (e.g., the Great Depression, World War II, Chernobyl) dramatically shift people's frame of thought to such an extent that change is inevitable. In essence, cataclysmic events remove the five hurdles that prevent change, according to Jonah Berger: reactance, endowment, distance, uncertainty, and lack of corroborating evidence.

The current COVID-19 pandemic is cataclysmic. It will be the defining event of many of our lifetimes—at least, we can ...

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