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Likeonomics: The Unexpected Truth Behind Earning Trust, Influencing Behavior, and Inspiring Action

ISBN: 978-1-118-13753-6
184 pages
May 2012
Likeonomics: The Unexpected Truth Behind Earning Trust, Influencing Behavior, and Inspiring Action (1118137531) cover image


How to become a trusted resource for consumers in a society of constant manipulation

People decide who to trust, what advice to heed, and which individuals to forge personal or transactional relationships with based on a simple metric of believability. Success, in turn, comes from understanding one basic principle: how to be more trusted. Likeonomics offers a new vision of a world beyond Facebook where personal relationships, likeability, brutal honesty, extreme simplicity, and basic humanity are behind everything from multi-million dollar mergers to record-breaking product sales. There is a real ROI to likeability, and exactly how big it is will amaze you.

Likeonomics provides real-world case studies of brands and individuals that have used these principles to become wildly successful, including:

  • An iconic technology brand that awakened a revolution among their employees by standing for something bigger than their products
  • A Portuguese singer who used YouTube to rack up more than 30 million views and launch her professional career. A regional team of financial advisors that went from being last in the nation among 176 branches to first, and stayed there for 13 of the next 15 years
  • A tiny professional sports talent agent who achieved the impossible by landing the #1 drafted player in the NFL draft as a client through the power of relationships
  • Author Rohit Bhargava is a founding member of the world's largest group of social media strategists at Ogilvy, where he has led marketing strategy for clients including Intel, Pepsi, Lenovo, Seiko, Unilever, and dozens of other large companies

With Likeonomics as a guide, readers will get unconventional advice on how to stand out in a good way, avoid the hype and strategic traps of social media, and appeal to customers in a way that secures your company as a trusted and believable resource.

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Table of Contents

Warning: Unexpected Honesty. . . xiii

Prologue: How a Lard Salesman, an NFL Agent, and a YouTube Star Explain Likeonomics xv

Introduction: Likeability, Rogue Economists, and the Lovable Fool xxv

Author’s Note: Why I Don’t Write about Synergy and Paradigm Shifts xxxix

PART I The Crisis and the Solution 1

Chapter 1 Inside the Modern Believability Crisis: How Rockefeller’s Dimes, War Propaganda, and the Marlboro Man Ruined the World 3

The Birth of Modern PR 5

#occupywallstreet 6

The Propaganda of Revolutions 7

When Advertising Ruled the World 9

The Mass Perception Principle 10

Marketing as the Bad Guy 12

Living in the Society of Distrust 14

What Is the Believability Crisis? 15

Solving the Believability Crisis 16

Chapter 2 Navigating the Likeability Gap: What Rwanda, Golf Courses, and Ocean’s Eleven Can Teach Us about the Decisions We Make 19

The Movie Man 21

What Business Are You In? 23

The Engagement Problem 24

The Reinvention of Rwanda 26

Humility Wanted 27

The Likeability Gap 29

The Toilet Business 31

Understanding Weak Ties 32

Golf and the Likeability Gap 33

Why Relationships Are Not about Networking 34

Getting Julia Roberts 36

The Age of Equivalence 37

How Originality Died—and How We Can Get It Back 39

The Differentiation Ideal 40

The Likeability Gap and the World 42

Chapter 3 The ROI of Likeability: Why Spreadsheets Need to Die, Websites Stink, and Likeable Politicians Always Win 45

The New Stupid 46

The Sexiness of Analytics 47

Data Overload, Insight Underload 48

Four Ways Data Becomes Meaningless 49

Rethinking ROI 50

The Flip Side of Data 51

Why Context Matters (and Your ‘‘Sticky’’ Website Actually Stinks) 52

The Real Reason Likeable Politicians Always Win 53

Why Results Matter More than Data 54

The Five Principles of Likeonomics 55

PART II The Five Principles of Likeonomics 57

Chapter 4 Truth 59

Oprah’s Secret 60

Are You Building on a Sinkhole? 61

The Lie Doctor and the Dalai Lama 61

Empowerment versus the Anti-Truth Policy 63

Embracing Your Inconvenient Truth 64

Selling Cardboard 66

Why Being Truthful Is So Hard 67

The Three Elements of Truth 68

Chapter 5 Relevance 73

The Relevance Challenge 75

Canada’s Favorite Storyteller 76

Handshakes in Kazakhstan 78

The Renaissance Banker 80

Making the Bank Relevant Again 81

Everyone Who Matters Knows You 81

Why Is Relevance So Hard? 83

The Three Elements of Relevance 84

Chapter 6 Unselfishness 89

Creating an Ideal World 90

The Ethical Warehouse 93

What about the Selfish Gene? 94

Wikinomics and the Rise of Collaboration 95

Finding the Altruism Gene 96

Do Doctors Need to Be Competent and Kind? 97

Why People Don’t Sue Likeable Doctors 99

How the Unselfish and Compassionate Will Rule the World 101

How Japanese Citizens Responded to Disaster with Unselfishness 102

The Customer Service Revolution Will Be Twitterized 105

Why We Are Selfish 106

The Three Elements of Unselfishness 108

Chapter 7 Simplicity 111

Desperately Seeking Simplicity 113

The Plain Language Movement 114

The Myth of Good Complexity 115

Gadget Confusion 116

Flipping the Video Camera Market 118

Winning on Simplicity 119

How Simplicity Inspires Trust 121

How Orange Got People Saving Again 122

Hypnotizing Chickens 123

How Napkins Can Explain Health Care 124

Why Simplicity Gets So Complicated 126

The Three Elements of Simplicity 127

Chapter 8 Timing 131

The Most Creative Lunch in History 133

Timing Is Everything 135

How Sweetening Changed Television History 136

Our Time-Shifted Culture 137

Gilt and Luxury with an Expiration 137

The Rise of Shopper Marketing 138

Google ZMOT 139

Why Timing Is So Tough 141

The Three Elements of Timing 142

Conclusion 145

Living in the Era of Likeonomics 146

Likeonomics on Mulberry Street 147

PART III The StoryBook 149

Introduction: How the StoryBook Works 151

Bhutan: The Real Happiest Place on Earth 153

Green Bay Packers: Why Cheeseheads Rule the NFL 155

Khan Academy: Flipping the Rules of Education 157

Maverick Adventures: Kitesurfing with Richard Branson 159

Anupy Singla: The Fast Rise of Slow Cooking 161

The Backstory: The Making of Likeonomics 165

Special Thanks 167

Notes: Further Reading and Research 169

About the Author 173

Index 175

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Author Information

ROHIT BHARGAVA is a marketing expert focused on helping to bring more humanity back to business. He advises some of the world's largest global brands on communications strategy through his role as a member of the Strategy & Planning group at Ogilvy. His thinking has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, the Guardian, Fast Company, NPR, and MarketingChina, and his first book, Personality Not Included, was translated into nine languages. Outside of his writing and consulting, Rohit is Adjunct Professor of Marketing at Georgetown University in Washington, DC, where he lives with his wife and two sons.

Rohit is a popular "non-boring" keynote speaker who has spoken at TEDx, in Davos, and at hundreds of other events around the world.

To inquire about booking Rohit to speak, contact likeonomics@gmail.com

For free online resources, visual chapters,and exclusive content, visit www.likeonomics.com

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Press Release

May 08, 2012
Likeability Has Become Today's New Currency

A candidate loses an election to someone with less experience, a shopper buys a more expensive brand, a job seeker loses a job to someone less qualified, an underdog company beats out big competitors on a deal. Why?

More than logic, the mysterious force of likeability determines our decisions from who we vote for, to who we hire, to what companies we do business with whether it’s Wal-Mart or Apple.

In LIKEONOMICS: The Unexpected Truth Behind Earning Trust, Influencing Behavior, and Inspiring Action, Rohit Bhargava argues that likeability has become today’s new currency, and he shows how any individual or organization can harness its power to build relationships, influence and win.

From Rockefeller’s 1915 image transformation from detached billionaire to legendary philanthropist, to Costco’s growth strategy based on unselfishness, Bhargava uncovers scores of entertaining stories of both likeable leaders (Oprah, Nelson Mandela) and leaders who succeed despite seeming to appear unlikeable (Steve Jobs, Larry Ellison).

Scouring studies from behavioral economics and psychology, Bhargava explores such fascinating topics as:

  • Why unexpected honesty about an inconvenient truth may be the strategy that will win this year’s election
  • How Occupy Wall Street is just one example of today’s Believability crisis
  • Why today’s new challenge is how to inspire or motivate people to believe
  • Why so many million dollar deals start on the golf course
  • What gets people to trust some organizations and individuals over others
  • Why faking likeability to sell junk won’t work
  • Why research proves we all need to be liked even if we say we don’t need to.
  • Why being likeable isn’t the same thing as being liked or being nice
  • Why networking has little to do with relationships
  • The story of why the term ROI was created in the 1970s and why likeability changes how we should measure and think about value (without a spreadsheet)

What explains these diverse phenomena are Truth, Relevance, Unselfishness, Simplicity and Timing (TRUST). With these 5 key principles that determine likeability, we can better understand why people behave the way they do so we can earn trust, inspire action and wield influence.

Spanning geopolitics to economics, and from the halls of power to our own everyday lives, LIKEONOMICS identifies today’s new currency and its power to change our fortunes.


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