Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

What You Really Need To Learn To Be Successful In Life - Part IV

What are the key skills to be learned to live a successful life? If schools as we know them, were not there, what would I consider top critical skills to be learned for my kids?

Photo credit: Boy playing by Shutterstock

In the previous parts of this guide I have expanded on Stephen Downes original 10 points included in his excellent guide "How To Be Successful", which I curated and republished (with his permission) in 2006.

In Part II and III I have looked at 15 additional skills, ranging from the social (collaboration, sharing, listening, being sociable), to the survival (grow your own food, wilderness, first aid, personal defense) and to the cognitive / intellectual ones (how to ask good questions, how to curate, how to focus, and more).

In Part IV I am looking at the following five additional life critical skills:

26. How to Get Buy-In
How to get other people to support you and your initiatives

27. How to Sell
How to sell things in exchange for money to other people

28. How to Be Reputable
How to leverage reputation without handicapping yourself uselessly?

29. How to Be Causative
How to effectively change things?

30. How To Be In The "Here and Now"
How to be fully in the present moment and why this is so important

Here all the details:

26. How to Get Buy-In



"Acceptance of and willingness to actively support and participate in something."

Source: Merriam-Webster

"Getting agreement, approval and support from others to do something."
"Getting advocates for your cause, proposal, idea."

Source: Robin Good

"The commitment of interested or affected parties to a decision (often called stakeholders) to 'buy into' the decision, that is, to agree to give it support, often by having been involved in its formulation."

Source: Wikipedia


Buy-in occurs when an individual sees clearly that all of his needs, interests, desires and fears have been fully taken into account.

Buy-in also occurs when a person feels integral part of the group and of the decision-making process where he is asked to provide support.

The tangible benefit of buy-in is the fact that whoever buys in will also feel responsible for whatever is being created or produced. People who have seriously bought-in into an idea will naturally brag about it, will share the idea with others and will try to find ways to make it better.
In other words people who buy-in into something will become natural evangelists for that idea / project.

Furthermore, a group of people who has bought in into a project or idea is generally excited about it and will do whatever in its capabilities to make it succeed, including being much more flexible and willing to adapt to the needs and requirements of the project. In practical terms these people will find extra time to go through the actual changes needed to achieve the goal they have bought in, even if these require them to learn new stuff, change habits and approach certain things in novel and unfamiliar ways.

Buy-in can happen as long as the people asked to contribute and support can clearly a see a tangible benefit in their lives for taking this course of action.

The key reasons why it is generally quite difficult to get others to buy-in into your project include feelings such as:

  • being excluded
  • not being valued properly
  • not having one's own interests taken seriously into account
  • fear of being exploited
  • lack of detailed information
  • not enough transparency
  • having one's opinion not seriously considered
  • inability to understand fully the plan / strategy
  • things moving too quickly
  • lack of affinity with other stakeholders
  • lack of clear motivations for proposed action
  • lack of clear benefits and rewards


Inviting teammates, stakeholders, readers or fans to provide feedback, criticize or contribute to your work can be very beneficial, as these people can see your project from different and complementary viewpoints, and this can help you refine and hone your approach while getting them to feel tangible ownership of the project.

To get buy-in from other people the first and foremost thing to do is to inform them in a clear fashion that allows them to identify, empathize and fully understand:

a) the issue at stake,

b) the consequences of not addressing it, and

c) the motives and benefits of working together to solve it.

The best course of action for anyone wanting to get more buy-in (active support) from others should include as many of the following action-points as possible:

  1. Reach out to, re-unite, get together all who are or may be affected.
  2. Ask about their feelings, fears, gather opinions and sensations on the issue at hand.
  3. Identify exactly what problems they have. Assess the current situation.
  4. Involve them in looking and suggesting possible alternative solutions.
  5. Highlight the real, tangible and personal consequences that the issue / problem at hand can have on them if not properly solved.
  6. Acknowledge and publicly describe all of the risks and issues that the project may run into.
  7. Anticipate all possible arguments, questions and skepticism and prepare high quality answers and fact-rich replies to address them.
  8. Address and answer all possible doubts, questions and prejudices.
  9. Clearly illustrate and explain why your solution / proposal is good.
  10. Clarify what's in it for you. Why you do it, what you are going to get out of it.
  11. Compare and confront your proposal / solution to what others have done before or to other possible approaches.
  12. Make your proposed solution feel as real as possible. If it doesn't feel real, it will not be easy to get buy-in.
  13. Help yourself by using analogies or storytelling to emotionally convey and share the story and motives behind your project / idea.
  14. Leverage the power of social media to reach and find more people interested in supporting and helping your idea / project grow.
  15. Explain clearly how everyone can get involved and how he will be rewarded.

Suggested Reading and Videos:

Video: How Great Leaders Inspire Action by Simon Sinek

Duration: 18':01"

Tools & Resources:

27. How to Sell



"The holistic business system required to effectively develop, manage, enable, and execute a mutually beneficial, interpersonal exchange of goods and/or services for equitable value."

Source: ASTD

"Selling is offering to exchange an item of value for a different item."

"a systematic process of repetitive and measurable milestones, by which a salesman relates his or her offering of a product or service in return enabling the buyer to achieve their goal in an economic way.."

Source: Wikipedia

"People don't buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe."

Source: Simone Sinek


Selling is a life critical skill because, everyone needs at some point or another in his life to be able to sell his idea, property or car to someone else.

Famous author, Robert Louis Stevenson, recognized this when he said, "Everyone lives by selling something".

Whatever is your profession, interest or passion in life, sales skills can be very valuable, as they allow you to:

  • Persuade others of the true value of something good you have/own
  • Raise money rapidly in case of need
  • Be able to face sudden economic downturns
  • Convince others of your ideas
  • Bail out of difficult situation by bargaining a way out of it
  • Sell to others what you want

Selling is a particularly vital activity when it comes to buy, exchange or barter assets or services you need.

Sales are important as they allow any individual, company or organization to obtain money or other goods in exchange for whatever they produce, create and offer for sale. This in turn allows the individual, company or organization to continue its activity, pay collaborators and contributors, invest in new possible directions and to improve its line of products / services.

Selling is a very close relative to "How to Get Buy In".


According to Wikipedia: "The personal selling process is an eight step approach that has been found to be beneficial in sales. The eight steps are: prospecting, preapproach, approach, need assessment, presentation, meeting objections, gaining commitment, and following up".

You can indeed use these eight references as reminders of what a classical salesman would likely do in the real physical world.

To sell effectively you must know very well the product that you are selling, and you must develop the communication skills required to illustrate and explain clearly its benefits and its relevance to your potential customers.

Key actions that significantly help the selling process are:

  1. Listening, or the ability to truly understand what the customer needs and wants.
  2. Sharing, informing in an empathic, simple and straightforward fashion.
  3. Identifying pain points, specific needs that your potential customer may have, often by
    asking specific questions.
  4. Handling objections or being prepared to answer, clarify and explain any kind of doubt, problem or issue presented by a potential buyer.

Suggested Reading and Videos:

Video: Why To Sell Is Human by Dan Pink interviewed by KnowledgeWharton

Duration: 20':28"

28. How to Be Reputable



"Having a good reputation; respected and trusted by most people."

Source: Robin Good


"Reputation is a perception of value or distinctiveness vis-a-vis peers and competitors"


"What others say about you and what level of esteem they have for what you do."

Source: Robin Good

"The collective mental construct everyone but you shares about you, a construct based partially on your own actions but also on the perceptions others have about others' perceptions of your actions."

Source: Alex Lickerman

"The beliefs or opinions that are generally held about someone or something."

Source: Merriam Webster


"Some may think reputation doesn't matter or shouldn't matter, that we should all focus on doing our best, on being our best, and let others think what they may. Certainly, I agree we should never seek to manipulate what others think about us (it never works in the long run anyway), but to ignore the practical importance of a good reputation cheats us of many opportunities we might otherwise enjoy.

Caring about our reputation doesn't mean we need others to like us. It means recognizing that as human beings we often can't help judging a book by its cover and that as long as the book itself is good there's nothing wrong with caring about having an attractive cover around it."

"A good reputation shouldn't be an end in itself but rather a natural outgrowth of your striving to be the person you most want to be."

Source: The Value Of A Good Reputation by Alex Lickerman, April 2010 - PsychologyToday

Contrary to popular opinion, reputation is OK, but it should not be attributed extraordinary powers it does not really possess.

"Our reputation represents the way others look at us and as such is at once critically important and utterly trivial.

Utterly trivial because if we have a healthy self-esteem we won't need others to think well of us (though many of course do struggle with this and often find their sense of value vulnerable to the opinions of others--especially their perception of the collective opinions of others).

Critically important, however, because even those of us with resilient self-esteem live in a great social network and need a good reputation for practical purposes--friendship and income chief among them. It's hard to have friends if people think you're mean-spirited and hard to make a living in any capacity if people think you're lazy, unreliable, or dishonest.
Our reputation is a tool, then--not, hopefully, for creating or maintaining our self-esteem but for practical navigation through daily life...

Source: The Value Of A Good Reputation by Alex Lickerman, April 2010 - PsychologyToday

Reputation can greatly help (especially in the online world), where there is a large need to:

a) rapidly assess the value, reliability and trustworthiness of a person / company / service, or to

b) distinguish yourself from others, by providing potential clients and customers with additional information clues about your credibility, and

c) improve the perceived value and attractiveness of your persona or of whatever product or service you sell.

But as you may have already heard: It may take a lifetime to build a good reputation for oneself, but only a few seconds to lose it all.

All it takes to lose one's own reputation is to suddenly fail to match even one of the ethical, moral or social principles around which you have built your credibility or to fall victim of other people's decision to discredit you and your reputation by spreading false and misleading information.

A person's reputation can be easily destroyed, influenced or heavily manipulated by outsiders and therefore it cannot be considered, per se, a reliable and absolute indicator of trustworthiness and reliability of anyone.

For this reason, overly worrying about reputation is not a good idea as it may force a person to act and behave not always in his best interest, but in the interest of the image of himself that he wants people to hold or believe in.

Being too fanatical about one's own reputation can also limit a man's potential to experiment, explore or try out different routes to achieve his objectives as he may be afraid to lose his reputation by doing so.

An individual should also be capable of taking, when needed, unorthodox, unpopular and unusual actions to achieve his goals without having to worry about his reputation being handicapped by this choice.

 Robin Good -
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posted by Viviana Brun on Tuesday, May 20 2014, updated on Saturday, June 14 2014

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