Somehow, I persuaded the publisher to change the cover of this book, and that new
cover hit the streets today. The book is the same as before, but there's a
new foreword. Here it is, so you don't have to buy a second copy. (Old cover is on the left, new cover is on the right).
More than almost any book I've written, this is the one that comes up in conversation when I talk to people about getting their ideas out into the world.
This book is about worldviews—the biases and expectations and
shortcuts we use to get through the world. Here's a punchline: when you
try to change someone's worldview forcibly, they get a headache. People
become defensive in the face of a frontal assault on their worldview.
Cunning is far more effective. And of course, I ignored my own advice
by challenging the worldview of my reader right there in the title.
You believe things that aren’t true.
Let me say that a different way: many things that are true are true because you believe them.
The ideas in this book have elected a president, grown non-profit
causes, created billionaires and fueled movements. They’ve also led to
great jobs, fun dates and more than a few interactions that mattered.
I’ve seen this book in campaign headquarters and carried around at
evangelical conferences. I’ve also gotten email from people who have
used it in Japan and the UK and yes, Akron, Ohio. The ideas here work,
because they are simple tools to understand what human beings do when
they encounter you and your organization.
Here’s the first half of the simple summary: We believe what we want to
believe, and once we believe something, it becomes a self-fulfilling
truth. (Jump ahead a few paragraphs to read the critical second part of
If you think that (more expensive) wine is better, then it is. If you
think your new boss is going to be more effective, then she will be. If
you love the way a car handles, then you’re going to enjoy driving it.
That sounds so obvious, but if it is, why is it so ignored? Ignored by
marketers, ignored by ordinarily rational consumers and ignored by our
Once we move beyond the simple satisfaction of needs, we move into the
complex satisfaction of wants. And wants are hard to measure and
difficult to understand. Which makes marketing the fascinating exercise
Here’s the second part of the summary: When you are busy telling
stories to people who want to hear them, you’ll be tempted to tell
stories that just don’t hold up. Lies. Deceptions.
This sort of storytelling used to work pretty well. Joe McCarthy became
famous while lying about the “Communist threat.” Bottled water
companies made billions while lying about the purity of their product
compared to tap water in the developed world.
The thing is, lying doesn’t pay off any more. That’s because when you
fabricate a story that just doesn’t hold up to scrutiny, you get
So, it’s tempting to put up a demagogue for Vice President, but it
doesn’t take long for the reality to catch up with the story. It’s
tempting to spin a tall tale about a piece of technology or a customer
service policy, but once we see it in the wild, we talk about it and
you whither away.
That’s why I think this book is one of the most important I’ve ever
written. It talks about two sides of a universal truth, one that has
built every successful brand, organization and candidate, and one that
we rarely have the words to describe.
Here are the questions I hope you’ll ask (your boss, your colleagues, your clients) after you’ve read this book:
“What’s your story?”
“Will the people who need to hear this story believe it?”
“Is it true?”
Every day, we see mammoth technology brands fail because they failed to
ask and answer these questions. We see worthy candidates gain little
attention, and flawed ones bite the dust. There are small businesses
that are so focused on what they do that they forget to take the time
to describe the story of why they do it. And on and on.
If what you’re doing matters, really matters, then I hope you’ll take
the time to tell a story. A story that resonates and a story that can
The irony is that I did a lousy job of telling a story about this book.
The original cover seemed to be about lying and seemed to imply that my
readers (marketers) were bad people. For people who bothered to read
the book, they could see that this wasn’t true, but by the time they
opened the cover, it was too late. A story was already told. I had
You don’t get a second chance in publishing very often, and I’m
thrilled that my publisher let me try a new cover, and triply thrilled
that it worked. After all, you’re reading this.
So, go tell a story. If it doesn’t resonate, tell a different one. When
you find a story that works, live that story, make it true, authentic
and subject to scrutiny. All marketers are storytellers, only the
losers are liars.