Awakening the Balrog of human desire

There’s a scene in the first Lord of the Rings movie where the Fellowship is passing through the Mines of Moria.

It’s a dark maze of caves inside of a spooky mountain, and there are only evil things around.

First, Frodo and company get attacked by hundreds of orcs, and then by a giant cave troll.

These enemies are strong and dangerous, but the good guys manage to fight them off.

However, there’s a bigger, more evil, and more powerful thing lurking in the darkness.


The Hare Krishna and Gary Halbert on the fundamentals of persuasion

In the 1970s, the Hare Krishna learned a powerful lesson in persuasion.

They were seeking to raise donations to support their organization.

At first, they would stand around street corners and ask passersby for money. But most people considered them strange and unlikeable, and the donations were slow in coming.

Then the Hare Krishna hit upon a great idea. They would first press a gift — a copy of the Bhagavad Gita, a magazine, a flower — into the hands of a potential donor.

Even if the person didn’t want the gift, which happened often, the Hare Krishna would refuse to take it back.

“It’s our gift to you,” they’d say. “However, you can help us out by making a small donation to support our activities.”

Donations, altough unwilling, started pouring in.


You get what you pay for

At the start of his book Influence, persuasion expert Robert Cialdini tells the story of a friend who ran a jewelry store.

The friend was trying to get rid of some turquoise stones, which weren’t selling.

And after many failed attempts at promoting the the unmoving turquoise, Cialdini’s friend finally decided to slash the price.

“This price x %,” she wrote on a note to her assistant before leaving town for two weeks.

When she got back, the turquoise had indeed sold. The only catch was, it didn’t sell because the price had been reduced some x%.

The assistant misread the note as “This price x 2” and doubled the prices.