In this final part of the narrative, I will focus on the external factor, the supporting media in which you communicate with. The media formats that we typically use includes:

  • Paper to write on
  • Handouts (slides, graphs, data, etc)
  • Slide decks

The general value of supporting media is to reinforce/clarify the message you want your audience to get. To review whether you should use the media or not, ask yourselves:

  • Is my media distracting my audience’s attention away from me? – Don’t let your media be the main actor.
  • Can the media help me illustrate my point? – Don’t use media for the sake of using it. Have a clear goal on why you’re using it.

And don’t forget to also review what kind of media can be used in the venue of the presentation/discussion. For example, you won’t use a slide deck with videos for a discussion at Starbucks due to the noise around the area and lack of space to project.

Unless your goal is for that media to stand on its own, there’s no reason for you to have word-for-word explanations inside the media.

Paper & Handouts

Imagine if you’re illustrating an idea to your boss over coffee with a paper. You will not write everything you’re saying, but you will definitely write your calculations, graphs, keywords, design ideas, maybe flowcharts.

Handouts should also do the same thing. If your handouts includes research reports / long essays, you might as well give it to your counterparty beforehand and ask them to read it first. If you give it to them during your time with them, there’s a good chance they’ll just read it there and then. It’s a waste of time that could’ve been used to discuss the matter together.

The acceptable form of handouts should be graphs, charts, or tables that’s not chock full of writing.

Slide Decks

The same logic can also be applied to slide decks. On my first project with Accenture, the slide deck that we used was full of words and was intended to be able to stand on its’ own. Word-for-word quote from the client:

You are competing for my attention with your own slide deck.

This is the same thing that goes through my mind if I see a slide with 1,000 words in it, written like an essay. I don’t have enough mental capacity to both read and listen. So rather than focusing on the presenter, I focus on reading the slide.

You can see a lot of these slide deck issues in the Death by Powerpoint slideshare by Alexei Kapterev.

Some general guidelines that I use to develop a deck:

  • It has to be aesthetically pleasing, no compromises – if you can use image/graph/chart to illustrate, then do so. Don’t depend on written format. A slide just of 1 image in the background and 1 sentence in the foreground is much stronger than a slide of 4 bullet points with white background
  • 1 slide should have no more than 3 images (not counting logos or icons). If you mention company names, consider whether it makes sense to include their logo inside the slide
  • Use the highest possible resolution that you have for images, and use transparent background for logos
  • Maximum 4 sentences (or 50 words) in a slide
  • The presentation should finish within 20 minutes. To extend your audience’s attention span, consider this article from Forbes.
  • Only 1 point to be made per slide
  • Colours that are not too in your face, with contrasting colours between fonts and background/images
  • Have at maximum 3 key takeaways and reiterate it at the end of the presentation. Your audience is unlikely to remember anything else.
  • Practice delivering the presentation and time it before actually presenting it for real. Don’t be overconfident.

A sample of presentation that I made : 2016 Fintech Presentation

Takeways

These are what I hope you get from this series of writing:

  1. There are multiple factors that makes a great communicator/presenter, focusing on one and neglecting the others are not enough:
    1. Your story needs to be concise, clear, compelling, and convincing
    2. Be mindful of the meaning that can be inferred from your body language
    3. Your media must be the supporting character in your communication, not the main actor
  2. Practice is key and repetition helps you be better

The next part of the installment is your body language. Body language can convey just as much, or might be even more telling than your spoken message. Easy example, imagine someone who is saying to the audience, “I’m not nervous to stand before all of you here”, but his legs are stiff as board, his fingers fidgeting, his gaze looks upwards, and he’s sweating profusely. Yeah, fat chance you’re gonna believe he’s not nervous.

Fact is, a lot of these body languages are hard to control. That’s because the way your body and face reacts are mostly based on reflex. You can train yourself so you can control it better, but I won’t delve too much into it at this post as I myself is still practicing it in every instance I can.

This post will focus on the 4 big components of body (I’ll include face) language that’ll impact your message. This is NOT rocket science, and you should already be familiar with the concepts here, this just reiterates where you need to focus on.

Appearance

First and foremost, are your appearance consistent with your message? Say you’re trying to convey a message that you are young and hip like your target demographic, don’t go on stage/on camera wearing suits you can wear to funerals! That contradicts your message!

Appearance extends not only to the clothes that you wear, but includes your hair, such as whether you wear pomade/wax, whether it’s long or short, whether it’s messy or neat, your shave (mostly for the guys, this relates to how much beard/moustache you sport), your glasses and other accessories (shoes, belt, jewellery, watches, etc).

Try to think about what enhances your message, what kind of person will make the best impact in delivering that message, and tailor your appearance to it.

Posture & body movement

Then assume you have perfect clothes and stuff, now you need to be careful with what you do with your body during the interaction! For example, you are saying to your partner, “What you are saying is interesting to me! Please continue!”, but you bend your body backwards, cross your arms, look at the clock every few minutes. I’d be surprised if your partner doesn’t get mad. Your words say that you’re interested, but your body says that you’re out of the conversation.

Simple guidelines for this part should suffice:

  • Conversational purposes:
    • Crossing arms, eyes wandering around, and body bending backwards in a conversation signals disinterest
    • Looking at the clock signals that the person needs to go soon. Please do ask whether they need to go or not.
    • Lowering your head signals humility or shame
    • No eye contact signals no confidence. Excessive eye contact might signal lies though, so be careful.
    • Shrinking your body signals no confidence
    • Putting your hands on the table signals confidence (Please don’t put your feet on the table in an effort to be doubly confident)
  • Stage purposes
    • Occasional walking around the stage and hand gestures signals confidence. Too much of it signals nervousness
    • Open arms signals confidence and openness to audience
    • Eye contact with audience, switching people to lock eye contact with regularly signals confidence and truthfulness
    • Lowering your head signals humility or shame
    • Having your hands inside your pockets signals that you have something to hide or you are going to show something

This list is not exhaustive, but should be sufficient for a headstart.

Tone

This is simply the tone you use to deliver your message. Remember, the key is being consistent with your message. Typically your tone should match your message. If you’re angry, a high tone is appropriate. Or if you’re responding to an angry customer outburst and you should cheerful, that will just irk the customer more as they don’t feel you understand what they’re going through.

Be mindful of the tone that you use in your conversations and occasionally ask your good friends how do you come off as during your conversation.

Rather than thinking too much about this, exercise more, be mindful and stop during conversations to think about the tone that you’re using. Be personable, and often times this will come to you naturally.

One suggestion is to stop the “professional” tone, it makes you feel boring and impersonal. Have a variety of tones during the conversation/speech. Imagine if you’re listening a speech with a flat tone, no rise nor fall in between, you’ll get bored within 5 minutes, I guarantee you. But please don’t change your tone for the sake of changing your tone. Change your tone to adjust to your message!

Facial expressions

Last but not least, is the facial expressions you show. This, for me is the number one hardest part to improve on. It’s very hard to stop your reflex as you react to something. Some people are blessed with poker face ability to not reflexively show what they think on their face, but alas, I’m not one of those people.

For me, even if I got this down, oftentimes, my micro expressions will probably still betray me. Read more on micro expressions here.

As with the tone, this is not an easy hurdle, but you’ll get better with practice. Remember, consistency with message is number one.

These 4 should give you a headstart and help you in improving your conversations/public speaking. The last part about the supporting media will be up in July!

This article is part 2 of 4 on engaging communication.

The first component that I’ll cover is the storytelling. It’s how you pack your message, in such a way that it invokes the feelings that you want from your audience. This is not a new concept, Nancy Duarte of Harvard Business Review already did a piece on the topic in 2012, but it’s amazing how people treat storytelling as if it’s rocket science, it’s not.

In essence, the issue with most presenters are that people see the presentation with only a single point of view, theirs. I’m not saying that this is wrong, but this needs to be supplemented with the audience’s point of view.

Telling people that they should do something doesn’t work.

You need to build a narrative to bring them to the right state of mind, easing them to do what you want them to do.

Remember from my first article, our interactions on weekends and weekdays feels different. What makes your weekend stories more engaging than your weekdays? Check out this framework!

MessagePack2

To begin with, you should make it clear. Why should your audience care about your message? This can also be called a lede to your story. Merriam webster defined lede as

The introductory section of a news story that is intended to entice the reader to read the full story

Your lede should be short enough to not lose your audience in the middle, but long enough to make a clear point on why your audience should care.

On weekends this can be as simple as

  • “You’ll never believe what happened to me last week…”
  • “I heard you’re doing a coffee shop right? I just read a good research on it yesterday!”

These kinds of message starts with what the audience will get from our message, from our conversation. We can start applying this to our normal weekday interactions! Instead of “This is our agenda for today. I’m going to share with you about our Q3 performance” why not “Our Q3 results was not as good as we hoped. Let’s analyze how we can recover in Q4“.

Then you need to make it compelling to your audience. This means painting a vivid picture in your audience’s mind. This can be the picture of the situation, this can be the ideal version, the facts, or even the worst case. Here I give you a few samples on how you can make it compelling:

  • Examples
  • Research facts
  • Analogy
  • Metaphors
  • Personal experience story

A key word that I love to use during my presentation/speech is imagine. It is one of the most powerful word that I can use. By starting my presentation with an “imagine” scenario, I can ease the audience to step into another person’s shoes and to let them think in a different way.

For example, if you want to share about financial inclusion, you can start with something like this

Imagine you’re living in a world without banks. You don’t have debit cards, you don’t have credit cards, you don’t get corporate loans, you cannot transfer cash easily. This is the reality for 64% of people living in Indonesia.

After you are sure your audience can imagine your story, then you need to convince your audience of your credentials and the validity of your message. This is highly dependent on the context of the conversation and previously established credentials. If you’ve known the person well, this part should be minimal, maybe slight reiteration, but don’t dwell on it, otherwise you’re getting boring. For example, if you’re selling an IT solution, you should mention what other companies have used the solution, how it impacts them, what’s the measurable outcome, is there any ROI?

And your whole story must be concise. If part of it doesn’t support your overall point, you might as well not put that part in. This is harder than you would think. If you ask me to speak for an hour, I don’t need to prepare. If you ask me to speak for half an hour, give me one day to prepare. If you ask me to speak for 15 minutes, give me 3 days to prepare.

This framework can be applied to a myriad of situations. You can use it to talk with clients, you can use it to tell a  story to your friends, coworkers, whoever it is! Of course, even if you have crafted the best story in the world, there’s still 2 more components you need to watch out for, which will come in the next 2 articles!

Stay tuned!

This article is the introduction and will be part of a 4 article series on engaging communication.

Have you ever compared the interactions you have on weekends or night out with friends with the interactions you have with clients/coworkers? For me, the discussions, the interaction, the communication with friends are much more engaging. I believe the same goes for you, or everyone really. When I look at people’s eyes during the weekdays, I often see dead fish eyes, unenthusiastic and bored.

It doesn’t have to be that way. We can start improving our communication skills, our quality of interactions throughout the day, that we can bring our whole selves, that typically appear only on leisure time, to even business meetings and work!

That is the premise of this series, to be able to communicate effectively and engagingly. To bring your A-game, regardless of the circumstance.

We need to be reminded that as technology becomes more pervasive in our lives, there are more and more distractions available to take us away from being in the moment. Why does this matter in this series? Because with more distractions, people have more ways to ignore you.

Imagine 100 years ago, if you want to ignore someone talking, at most you have a book/paper or just leave the premise. Now? Whip out your phone ladies and gentlemen, because you have an imaginary text that you absolutely have to respond right this instant!

An interesting article by the Independent on British attention span lists these as the fastest ways to get people bored:

  • Listening to people moaning / gossiping about a stranger leads us to tune out after 6 minutes
  • In calls with clients/customers, employees gets bored after 7 minutes
  • While watching TV, an average adult loses concentration after 7 minutes
  • Listening to chatty colleagues gets boring after 9 minutes
  • Phone calls with family and loved ones gets boring after 9 minutes
  • Motorists loses focus and goes on ‘auto-pilot’ after 10 minutes
  • Finance related meetings or conversations loses people after 10 minutes
  • In meetings, people lose focus after 13 minutes

This paints a dire picture on how much time you have before you lose that person in front of you. But it’s not all bad, the article also mentioned that attention spans are longer in situations which involve friends or hobbies, such as:

  • 15 minutes for a good book
  • 24 minutes for a movie
  • 29 minutes for a social engagement such as going out with friends

As you can see from the list above, most of the things that makes people lose focus easily is related to work/office, while going out with friends tops the list on the things that makes people focused for a longer time. This relates back to the key point of this series mentioned in the beginning of this article, that there’s a great difference of result & quality of interaction between work related stuff and hobby/friends related stuff.

Therefore, we need to start improving our communication skills in order to improve our quality of interactions everyday.

I believe there are 3 key points in interactions, all equally powerful when properly used.

  • Message/Story Packaging
  • Body Gestures
  • Supporting Media

Each of these points warrants a following article and will be the next 3 parts of this series. Look out for the next parts!

 

Recently, I took up an interest in photography. It was spurred by the fascination of capturing moments and the ability to print it. I used to take pictures, but only with my phone. When I printed some of them last year, I was both happy and sad. Happy to see a lot of great results, but sad to see blurs, bad exposures, and grainy results. In the end, I procured a mirrorless camera that’s easy to use, that’s not expensive, and that has a lot of lens selection for the future.

I ended up choosing the Sony A6000 + Kit Lens + f1.8/35mm lens. This writing serves me as a reminder to the key basic learning points of photography that I learned within my first 6 months with the camera that helped me take better photos.

The image below perfectly captures the first thing I learned about camera, understanding all the damn newfangled numbers on the camera screen! A quick explanation on what these are:

  1. ISO – how sensitive the film/sensor is in capturing light. This setting impacts noise & sharpness. The lower the ISO, the less sensitive it is.
  2. Aperture (F-something) – how much light goes through the lens. It impacts amount of light & depth of field. The smaller the number, the larger the aperture. The depth of field effect can create the so-called “bokkeh”
  3. Shutter Speed – how long the light will be exposed to film/sensor. A low shutter speed freezes movement, while a high shutter speed gives a movement effect in the photo. The faster it is, the more light is required in the photo. The rule of thumb to avoid shaking is to use 1/Focal length. For example, if you use a 50mm lens, then use 1/50 shutter speed. The photograph I put as the featured image on this post is taken with a 30s shutter speed where you can see the coffee staff people’s movements.

Cheatcard_85x55_300dpi_RGB_web_en_CC-BY-ND

Of course, all 3 have impacts to one another, which is captured by the Exposure Triangle below. If one of the variable changes, at least one other should also change to maintain a good exposure. Source : PhotographyLife

triangle

The next important part is about photo composition. In photography, composition is used to guide the viewer’s eyes towards the most important elements of the photo. A few basic techniques includes:

  • Leading lines – A leading line paves an easy path for the eye to follow through different elements of a photo. Usually they start at the bottom of the frame and guide the eye upwards and inwards, from the foreground of the image to the background, typically leading toward the main subject. Sample that I’ve taken that utilizes this below.

Picture1

  • Depth of field – Bringing a 3 dimensional feel to a 2 dimensional media
  • Symmetry & patterns:
    • Symmetry – the creation of an image which can be separated into two equal parts (this can be horizontally or vertically). Both of the separate parts of the image should then look same, or if not the same should look similar. This can also be seen from the above picture that left and right elements are roughly the same.
    • Pattern – repetition of an element in a photograph. This element could refer to anything; whether it is natural or manmade. This is enhanced by the fact that thought-provoking Patterns can occur when solid graphical elements such as shapes, colours, tones, and forms or lines continue to repeat themselves.
  • Perspective/viewpoint – Changing elevation when you’re taking a picture such as by kneeling can change the feel and the sense you get from a picture. A great example in the article is if you were to photograph a young student being scolded at his desk, you would likely shoot the image from a higher viewpoint—from the vantage point of the dean or principal about to assign punishment—or you would chose the lower perspective from the student’s point of view with the towering power figure looming overhead.
  • Framing – Technique of drawing attention to the subject of your image by blocking other parts of the image with something in the scene
  • Rule of third – Mentally dividing up your image using 2 horizontal lines and 2 vertical lines, as shown below. You then position the important elements in your scene along those lines, or at the points where they meet. You can turn on the option to show these lines like below in a typical digital camera.

RuleofThird

As a buy recommendation for people who are interested to start on photography, I recommend to get a Mirrorless APS-C camera such as Sony A6000 or Fuji X-T20 and at least a tripod. After a few outings, I realized I needed a tripod to help capture movement with high shutter speed! So I procured a cheap one from Amazon to help.

Of course, with the advancement of cameras embedded in cell phones, we cannot discount the capability of phone cameras, there are a number of filters, pro mode, and apps to empower you to take great photos with your camera.

According to the Chartered Institute of Marketing, Marketing is the management process for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably[1]. Historically, the consideration for marketing includes 4Ps (Product, Price, Place, Promotion), and the instituted added another 3, which are People, Process, and Physical evidence.

With the advance of internet and telecommunication, marketing activities are getting more easily measurable. The term “Performance Marketing” refers to marketing and advertising programs where advertisers & marketing companies are paid when a specific action is completed; such as a sales, lead, or click[2]. An example of this is Google Ads, when Company A advertises with Google, Google shows Company A’s advertisement at Company B’s website. If this is a pay per click deal, when a user clicks on the advertisement, Company B and Google get paid by Company A. This way, “Performance Marketing” allows real time measurement of ROI, and advertisers only pay for successful actions by users, be it clicks, views, or even sales.

Promotion in marketing now occurs in 2 channels, offline and online. Performance Marketing is typically applied to online marketing where tracking is easy and there are a lot of companies offering the service such as Google AdSense and Criteo.

Offline channel can be treated as performance marketing. Although it is not as easy as online channel where there are various tools in measuring performance, there are ways offline marketing activities can be tracked and measured. The first case study will look at how attaching QR codes to offline marketing channels such as magazines can help track the performance of the campaign.

Case study 1 – Skiset, the European leader of ski and snowboard rentals[3]

Objective

  • Encourage Web2Store: Use mobile to generate internet reservations and consequently create in-store traffic
  • Increase brand awareness at international level: Run an international campaign across France, Germany and the UK.
  • Track the marketing campaign: Attribute a ROI on offline channels where performance is usually difficult to analyze, and expand knowledge of client base.

Channels

  • Back cover of the TGV magazine in France: 350,000 distributed copies
  • Back cover of EasyJet magazine in January and February on flights arriving from London: 300,000 distributed copies.
  • Inserts in several daily newspapers and week-end supplements in the UK (banners, half pages, etc.)
  • Bus back advertising in Germany: 50 buses carrying with the ad.

Solution

Use QR Codes to track the marketing campaign and the Eulerian Technologies suite to:

  • Generate and track QR-code scans and the discount associated
  • Distinguish the different acquisition sources
  • Gather data from different devices
  • Enhance client base knowledge

Result

  • Campaign run – more than a million units
  • Traffic generation – around 3,000 scanned QR-codes
  • Total scanning rate – 0.3%
  • Bounce rate – 20% lower
  • Revisit rate – 15% higher
  • Transformation rate – Increased twofold compared to Skiset’s average rate

The example above shown how online and offline interaction can support each other. Kotler coined the term as Marketing 4.0, where companies combine online and offline interaction to deliver value to customers[4].

Other than using QR Codes, discount codes, or multiple website links for promotions, there is also a rise in statistical analysis to attribute advertising campaigns and result. An example of this is Google Attribution 360.

The next case study will look at another approach of performance assessment, which is through assessing online activity data as TV advertisement is running.

Case study 2 – Nest Labs, Google’s subsidiary focusing on smart home[5]

Objective

Measure how TV ads impact activity relating to Nest online.

Solution

Use Google Attribution 360 to:

  • Assess minute by minute Google search queries and site visits
  • Track search and site visit spikes each time a Nest TV ad airs
  • Determine how much of the increased activity is attributable to the TV ad airing

Result

  • 2.5x lift in search volumes from the best performing cable channel categories
  • 5x more responses through mix of 4 channels
  • Continuity between media plan and offline has potential to improve awareness
  • Nest found additional ROI opportunities when segmenting by TV programming genre

From the 2 case studies above, we can see the approach is different from each other. The Skiset case study is an example of how we can directly track marketing activity result by attaching a specific attribute to the activity (in this case, QR Codes). Another possibility is using different discount codes, site links, etcetera for each marketing campaign. For example, having a discount code A only for advertisement released in Kompas newspaper, and having discount code B only for advertisement released in Tempo magazine.

The weakness of this method is the possible misinterpretation. For example, discount code A is only for advertisement released in Kompas newspaper, but because it got shared by people and got viral, we can misinterpret the effect that advertising in Kompas might have in the first place. There is a possibility that the direct impact from the Kompas advertising itself is less than the actual result.

While from the 2nd case study with Nest Labs, the analysis is inferred from online activities that happened. Companies boasted their ability to accurately track and measure these offline channel activities such as Convertro[6], and ConversionLogic[7]. The strength of this method is the capability to measure all campaigns without the effort of separating each of those activities with an attribute in the first place. The weakness is the possibility of mistaking correlation with causality. Events that are correlated with each other just mean that those events often happen together, but it doesn’t mean that one causes the other. Some of the ridiculous examples are compiled in the book Spurrious Correlation[8], one of the example shown below.

It can be confidently said that there is a correlation between the number of people who drowned by falling into a pool with films Nicolas Cage appeared in, but it doesn’t mean Nicolas Cage appearing in a film encourages people to fall into a pool and drown!

With that said, a combination of direct and inferred method would be prudent to analyze the performance of an offline channel marketing. Although both have strengths and weaknesses, utilizing both can offer different perspectives to the campaign and can provide a more complete view of the campaign result. It also needs to be noted that utilizing both at the same time can mean that the cost incurred is higher, so careful study before choosing a method is necessary.

As an additional note, a framework is useful to start with, Optilyz[9] provides a good framework:

  1. Define goals
  2. Leverage what you already know
  3. Figure out your targeting
  4. Use conversion-driven design
  5. Consider statistical significance
  6. Track everything
  7. Iterate & optimize

The framework above can be used for both online and offline marketing, and aims to optimize marketing campaign performance.

Sources

  1. Chartered Institute of Marketing, 2012. https://www.cim.co.uk/media/4772/7ps.pdf
  2. Performance Marketing Association. https://thepma.org/our-work/the-performance-marketing-industry/
  3. Eulerian Technologies, 2015. https://www.eulerian.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Skiset_Eulerian_EN.pdf
  4. Markeeters, 2017. http://marketeers.com/mengenal-marketing-4-0-dalam-konteks-ekonomi-digital/
  5. Google. http://services.google.com/fh/files/misc/infographic-nest-tv-attriution-case-study.pdf
  6. Convertro. https://www.convertro.com/television-attribution/
  7. ConversionLogic. http://www.conversionlogic.com/a-brief-overview-of-our-statistical-approach-to-tv-attribution/
  8. Tyler Vigen. http://www.tylervigen.com/spurious-correlations
  9. Optilyz https://www.optilyz.com/en/Resources/Blog/how-to-run-offline-performance-marketing

Gretchen Rubin is an author mainly focusing on the human psychology, with multiple bestsellers such as The Four Tendencies, Better Than Before, and The Happiness Project. On this occassion, I just finished reading The Happiness Project. I dare say this is the book that propelled Gretchen to fame as an author. First released in 2009, it has been reprinted multiple times, and spent 2 years on the bestseller list.

The book started off sharing who Gretchen is, The Happiness Project started when Gretchen was still working in the field of law, for Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. “What do you want to be when you grow up?”, “What do you want out of life?”. These questions are often posed to us, even as a kid. “What do you want to be when you grow up?”. And often times, we answer in terms of what job we want to have, what kind of social status we want to be, but rarely a simple “I want to be happy”. It’s a paradox that when you tie your happiness to something else entirely, you lose your sense of self and you rely on others to make you feel happy. In this book, Gretchen spent 1 year of her life thinking about happiness and taking action to maintain it.

A great friend of mine gave me this book and said “Chris, I saw your instagram stories are full of serious stuff like the HBR. Unwind a bit and read this book”. And I agree. This book is not a revelation. The content is not mindblowing. A lot of it gives you the sense of “Duh, an idiot knows that”. But it serves as a good reminder on the little things, on finding what’s important for you.

Gretchen shared her 12 commandments:
1. Be Gretchen.
2. Let it go.
3. Act the way I want to feel.
4. Do it now.
5. Be polite and be fair.
6. Enjoy the process.
7. Spend out. (This is probably the most enigmatic of my commandments.)
8. Identify the problem.
9. Lighten up.
10. Do what ought to be done.
11. No calculation.
12. There is only love.

Those are her guideline for the year, that she implements step by step in the book. Every month she picks up one of them and focuses on it, while still maintaining her previous months habit. Each chapter represents a month of the year, and it represents a commandment. While doing this, she also did a blog on The Happiness Project, and it sparked a lot of reactions from people around the world. It’s one of the things that I like about the book, she shared some of the comments from the blog, and you can see how her project can be implemented in different ways for different people.

What resonated with me really well is her first commandment to “Be Gretchen”. The idea that it’s okay for you to like what you like, and to not like what you not like, instead of what society deems good resonates with me so much, that I decided to make it one of my 5 resolutions of the year, seen on my previous post, which is to be honest with myself.

Read this book for a light read and slice of life kind of material. Don’t expect something revolutionary, and keep an open mind. Maybe in the course of reading this book, you’ll find stuff that resonates with you and can be applied to your own daily life to make yourself happy/ier.

In spite of that, I have to caution that this book is not for everyone, as proven by the lukewarm rating of 3.58 at Goodreads at the time of this writing. With 109,378 ratings, 44% rated it 3 and below, while 55% rated it 4 or 5. This book likely won’t resonate well with people that is still struggling with day to day expenses and people without leeway in their spending. It needs to be reiterated that Gretchen is from a well-off background, and this is not a research book that can be applied to everyone. This is a book that shares her experience in particular.