This is a book review of Win Bigly: Persuasion in a World Where Facts Don’t Matter by Scott Adams. Win Bigly is a book for those who are interested in politics, psychology, marketing, and most of all, persuasion.
Note: Win Bigly is in audiobook format as well. You can get two free audiobooks (including Win Bigly) if you sign up for a free month with Audible. Cancel the subscription before the month is over and the audiobooks are still yours to keep. If you don’t cancel, it’s $14.95 a month for an Audiobook every month, which is a discount on most audiobook prices. Read my article on Audible here.
Scott Adams, most famously known for the Dilbert Comic strips, wrote Win Bigly to teach about how persuasion plays a crucial role in Donald Trump’s daily operations and political success.
And he is right; Trump is a master persuader. He knows how to command attention, establish a powerful frame, manipulate the media to his advantage, and put messages and themes inside your head that stick. Trump has made many mistakes throughout his candidacy and presidency, but he knows how to minimize the damage, survive, and adapt.
Scott Adams uses tons of examples and analysis throughout the book to describe why Trump’s so damn good at persuasion. He discusses the constant mistakes of Hillary’s campaign up until the point where they hired Robert Calidini, at which point you can start to learn from some of her campaign’s successes as well.
There’s a ton of commentary here on recent political events, particularly from a persuasion perspective. And there’s a ton of useful information here in general that will help you expand your knowledge about marketing, politics, and psychology.
And throughout the book, Scott Adams sprinkles in many persuasion tips. Here are some particularly good ones:
- People are likely to reciprocate favors. Do someone a favor now if you anticipate that they might help you in the future.
- Persuasion is effective even if people recognize the technique. They can rationally understand they are being persuaded, but if they allow you to continue to persuade them, effectively deployed techniques will still work.
- Display confidence (either real or faked) to improve your persuasiveness. You have to believe yourself, or at least appear as if you do, in order to get anyone else to believe.
- It is easy to fit completely different explanations to the observed facts. Don’t trust any interpretations of reality that aren’t able to predict.
All of this is great advice. I will let you purchase and read the book to read all Adams’ tidbits on persuasion.
Key Takeaways From Win Bigly
This book review will not give you all of the content of Win Bigly because there’s simply too much to cover. Instead, I will mention most of the information that I found most important.
One key point throughout the book is that we are not rational more than 10% of the time, and that rationality is mostly just a mirage. We think we’re more rational than this, but that’s because our egos stop us from imagining that we are more irrational than we actually are.
We are only rational with small decisions, such as when to leave the house to go to work. When it comes to our beliefs, perceptions, and actions, we are driven by “irrational” behavior. The divide between the rational and the irrational causes cognitive dissonance.
Adams gives a few “tells” for when someone is experiencing cognitive dissonance, such as a mocking word or acronym coupled with an absurd absolute, or a mocking word or acronym combined with a personal insult much more aggressive than the situation warrants. Plenty of examples are scattered throughout the book. When you help people realize they have no rational reason for their beliefs, they hit you with these type of responses. Exposing this is a key to winning an argument
Confirmation bias is an important concept as well, especially because everyone is guilty of it. Confirmation bias is basically when you automatically shut out any opposing information that doesn’t fit your worldview. Learning about confirmation bias helped me identify my own moments of it and greatly helped me see it in others. It’s important to understand this concept to escape your own echo chamber.
Another one of the more important concepts in this book is that of a “filter.” Filters are basically the lens in which we see the world. Scott Adams discusses how we view the world through different filters, and that we don’t need to logically understand the world to survive. We can do our best to define any filter into words; ie, a “racism filter,” a “persuasion filter,” etc, based on the defining traits of that filter.
This is an excellent takeaway point from this book, and a significant mindset shift on viewing and approaching human interaction. He makes the case that the filter we pick for reality should make us happy and predict the future well.
Another interesting takeaway is the thought that Trump intentionally misleads people in order to make a message stick. For instance, when he said that illegal aliens are “murders, rapists, and some I assume are good people,” the statement is directionally true, but the extent of which is up for a huge debate.
The triggered debate makes the message stick in people’s minds because they are tricked into believing the message must be important since it’s under constant debate. This is truly expert level persuasion and marketing advice right here.
There’s a lot more to learn from Win Bigly than just these takeaways. This book is loaded with wisdom, so fitting in too much would make this book review too long. I recommend you purchase and read the entire book to read the rest.
Favorite Quotes and Lessons:
As I’ve mentioned, Win Bigly is loaded with useful advice on persuasion. Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book:
“When you communicate, you are usually trying to persuade, even if you don’t see it that way.”
This is an excellent point, and it really highlights the case for learning persuasion. Every time you communicate with someone you are trying to persuade them of something, whether you realize it or not. It may be overt persuasion, such as trying to negotiate a deal with them, or it may be covert persuasion such as internalized actions convincing a girl that you are a high-value man worthy of sex.
“The first thing you hear about a new topic automatically becomes an anchor in your mind that biases your future opinions.”
I noticed this in the past but hadn’t quite put into words. Remember a person where the first thing you heard about them was negative. Whether you believed it or not, you compare everything you know about this person with what you first heard about them. That first bit of information was a significant component of your first impression of them, and either consciously or subconsciously, everything you learn about them gets compared to it.
“If you want to see the world more clearly, avoid joining a tribe. But if you are going to war, leave your clear thinking behind and join a tribe.”
This is some valuable insight into the tribal nature of humans. When you’re part of a group, you look for reasons to support that group, and thus, you tend to become intellectually dishonest. Stay independent and learn to recognize your cognitive biases to be as honest as possible. However, if you need to fight for a cause, you want to join a group to maximize your chances of success and survival.
“Attach a product or message to people’s aspirations to make it stick. People are attracted to energy.”
More high-level marketing and branding advice right here. This is one of the many reasons why “Make America Great Again” was an excellent campaign slogan. More reasons why are mentioned in the book.
Neutral Observations and Criticisms
Despite all the great advice contained within, no book is perfect. Let’s detail some neutral observations and criticisms of Win Bigly.
I personally question a lot of Scott Adams’ political viewpoints. He’s very liberal in some ways. I am personally not a liberal for countless reasons, namely because the ideology has been economically and ideologically dispelled, but that’s an argument for another day.
Scott Adams does not claim to be an expert in politics. He often oversimplifies some of the politics mentioned. For example, he says “even critics of Trump called the move measured” while referring to the Tomahawk strike on Syria. That’s definitely oversimplifying the criticism of the move; for instance, many people were calling Trump reckless and a war criminal, while the media was glad to see him take a neocon war-mongering approach.
At one point, Adams mentioned that Trump “looking like Hitler” began evaporating to many people after assuming office. I’d say this is wrong, because even though he became significantly less bombastic, the left intentionally polarizes everything and still finds any excuse to call him Hitler or a racist. That said, to a person who’s politically somewhere in the middle, he does seem much more measured than he did on the campaign trail.
However, there’s no need to focus on Adams’ politics, since the book doesn’t focus specifically on politics. It’s still worth mentioning them since his political viewpoints and analysis are sprinkled into the book. Again, he admits he’s no expert in politics.
Naturally, nothing is free of bias, and Scott Adams doesn’t pretend to be entirely unbiased. Once he put his viewpoint out that Trump had a 98% chance of winning, his ego (or at least his public persona) was invested into the outcome of the election. Throughout the book, you can see where his decision making was affected at times by this prediction.
A more neutral observation is that Adams writes like a nerdy cartoonist who is perhaps a little too obsessed with his ideas on persuasion. But again, this is more of an observation as opposed to a criticism. Like a good marketer, hearing his repetitive statements on persuasion helps drive home the points even further.
I think Adams could have gone into more detail about why exactly persuasion is not effective at times. He does touch upon the issue from time to time, just not in any significant detail that I can recall from the book.
Otherwise, I can’t think of many criticisms of Win Bigly. All of this stuff is very minor compared to the excellent value this book provides.
Final Thoughts on Win Bigly
Overall, if you have any interest in marketing, politics, psychology, and particularly persuasion, Win Bigly is an excellent read.
The book took me somewhere between 5-10 hours to read. Like any great book, for the amount of useful information you learn for a low financial and time investment, it is absolutely worth a purchase.
You can purchase Win Bigly here.
This book gets a lot of love from me for many reasons.
It explains persuasion concepts in an easily understandable manner. The book is fun, informative, and easy to read. Since all of the examples are about recent world events, the examples are fresh inside your brain. This gives you more background knowledge on what he’s talking about, which gives his insight the benefit of becoming even more valuable. It also gave me some facts on the election I wasn’t aware of.
And whether you like Trump or not (I’d imagine the majority of Western Mastery’s readership support him to a good extent), you would be a fool to write off his persuasive and marketing talents. I’ve always said that anyone on the left who writes off his actions as barbaric idiocy is foolish because they are truly underestimating their enemy.
And like any successful person, you can learn a hell of a lot by analyzing Trump. Every time you see Trump — which will probably be a hell of a lot — you can get even more insight and analysis into his excellent persuasive and marketing talents. And thus, you can learn a lot more from his positive sides that you can put into action in your own life. Reading Win Bigly will give you more insight into what he does and why.
Here’s an example from the other day (video here):
This was during the meeting on tax reform that Pelosi and Schumer skipped. The visual persuasion here is powerful and highlights the concepts of this book perfectly. The entire time while watching the meeting, you’re reminded of who didn’t show up.
Of course, the far left made many memes on it, such as editing Klansmen into the empty seats, but so what? They disregard everything Trump does anyway. Everyone else is reminded of who didn’t show up.
Anyway, long story short, you can see the lessons of this book everywhere in life. It will help you understand persuasion, marketing, branding, and politics in much more detail. That’s a lot for one book.
For all of these reasons, Win Bigly is absolutely worth the price.
Here are some more resources you will likely be interested in:
Influence: The Power of Persuasion by Robert Calidini. This is an excellent book that highlights the six most important aspects of persuasion with a lot of detail. I read this book over the summer and I can personally vouch for it.
Presuasion by Robert Calidini. I haven’t read this one yet, but it’s on my list. It discusses the components that prime a person to be persuaded. It has excellent reviews.
How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life by Scott Adams. I can’t personally vouch for this one either, but if you liked Win Bigly, this book is also very well received.
This is Scott Adams’ website which discusses many of the topics of the book and much more.
Here is a video by Charisma on Command on Trump’s persuasive talents. He was another person who called the election for Trump way before the election happened.
And lastly, here is an interview with Stephan Molyneux about many of the topics discussed in the book. I like to watch videos like this on books that I have read, whether it’s an interview with the author or just a book review. They put the information into perspective and help you solidify the book’s content in your brain.