The Catalyst: How to Change Anyone's Mind
March 30, 2020
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?
In an era of entrenched political beliefs, how do you change a voter’s mind? In a slow-to-adapt corporate environment, how do you change your boss’s mind? How do hostage negotiators convince perpetrators to surrender peacefully? Or parents get their children to modify their behavior? How do activists ignite social movements, and counselors get smokers and addicts to realize they need to change?
“Everyone has something they want to change,” writes Jonah Berger in The Catalyst: How to Change Anyone’s Mind. “Salespeople want to change their customers’ minds and marketers want to change purchase decisions. Employees want to change their bosses’ perspective and leaders want to change organizations. Parents want to change their children’s behavior. Start-ups want to change industries. Nonprofits want to change the world.”
But change is hard. When seeking to change minds, we tend to try to coax, convince, or push people in the direction we want them to go—providing more facts and statistics to support our case, offering more examples or a deeper explanation. And more often than not, this approach backfires. Our best efforts to push people one way often lead them to go in the exact opposite direction.
Berger, the New York Times bestselling author of Contagious: Why Things Catch On, and Invisible Influence: The Hidden Forces That Shape Behavior, offers a whole new approach to changing minds in The Catalyst. It’s not about pushing harder; it’s about identifying the key factors that cause resistance and overcoming them by eliminating obstacles, reducing friction, and removing roadblocks. “Rather than asking what might convince someone to change, catalysts start with a more basic question: Why hasn’t that person changed already? What is hindering or preventing them?” Berger writes. “That’s what this book is all about: how to overcome inertia, incite action, and change minds—not by being more persuasive, or pushing harder, but by being a catalyst. By removing barriers to change.”
Berger identifies five key barriers that hinder or inhibit change:
- Corroborating Evidence
Each chapter of The Catalyst focuses on one of these barriers, and how to reduce it, integrating research and case studies to illustrate the underlying science behind each barrier and the principles that individuals and organizations have used to mitigate it.
The Catalyst is 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.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jonah Berger is a marketing professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and internationally bestselling author of Contagious, Invisible Influence, and The Catalyst. He’s a world-renowned expert on social influence, word of mouth, and why products, ideas, and behaviors catch on and has published over 50 papers in top-tier academic journals. He has consulted for a range of Fortune 500 companies, keynoted hundreds of events, and popular accounts of his work often appear in places like The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Harvard Business Review. His research has also been featured in the New York Times Magazine’s “Year in Ideas.”
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