Ex Post Facto no. 16: Humans, Furniture, and How to Cultivate Influence

We’re back for another Ex Post Facto, the email with 3 things you’ll wish you’d known earlier—just in time for the weekend. Thanks for joining! –Shane

There are a few things I really don’t miss from The Before Times. Public sneezes. Going through TSA and getting on a plane just to go to a 1-hour meeting. And also networking.

That word still gives me a mildly slimy feeling. How about you?

Too often, what it takes to get what we want in our careers is knowing someone. I hate that fact, but I show up to the cocktail hour at the conference anyway. Because meeting people is important.

But this week, I’ve been thinking a lot about a new book by a friend of mine that has completely shifted the way I think about the idea of networking and replaced it with a much more interesting, useful, and I’d dare say reassuring idea—one that I think is much better suited to our modern soon-to-be-post-pandemic world.

The idea is that instead of networking our way into the path of people we “need,” we ought to focus on a more helpful and more effective goal: cultivating influence.

That’s the premise of the book You’re Invited: The Art & Science of Cultivating Influence by Jon Levy, and it’s such a powerful one that I’ve decided to dedicate this week’s EX POST FACTO to it.

So without further ado, here are three influence-related things you’ll be glad to know in time for the weekend:

One EXcellent bit of wisdom

The fundamental element that defines the quality of our lives is the people we surround ourselves with, and the conversations we have with them.

  • I love this quote in juxtaposition with my crappy attitude about networking. What if when we met strangers—whether at a work setting or not, virtual or in-person—our primary goal was to have a great conversation? Even if nothing comes of the relationship, a great conversation is fun.

  • And I suspect (well, in Jon’s book he lays out some psychology proving this) that giving others the gift of a great conversation is a lot more effective for building relationships anyway. (That’s the core premise of good content marketing, as my co-author Joe Lazauskas will tell you in his newsletter The Storytelling Edge, which just hit 100,000 subscribers and you should definitely check out!)

  • But think about it. What do you do with the people you love spending time with? I’ve been to a lot of different places in my life with friends. And somehow, no matter where we are and how gorgeous the scenery, we always end up sitting around a table talking. How great is that?

One POST you won’t want to miss:

One FACT Of great interest:

  • Did you know that people over-value IKEA furniture, not because of the price or the design—but because of the effort it takes to get it set up? Shopping at IKEA is a mission in itself, and assembling your own furniture itself is such a project that by the time your couch is installed you’re likely to value it more than it’s worth. Because you put effort into it.

  • Social scientists call this the IKEA effect. It’s why even if your kid is primarily a pain, you still love them—because you’ve put so much work into them. (You can learn more about this effect and how it comes into play at work in Chapter 4 of You’re Invited.)

As someone who’s a bit of a pain, I’m personally grateful for the IKEA effect. Cheers to the science that keeps us pulling together.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Much love,


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