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The Impulse Factor: Why Some of Us Play It Safe and Others Risk It All Hardcover – October 7, 2008

33 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Corporate psychologist Tasler draws on years of research and the latest findings in genetics, neurology and management theory to explore the benefits and dangerous consequences of human impulsiveness. At the heart of the author's argument is his pioneering Impulse Factor Test, an online assessment that classifies people as risk managers or potential seekers. According to Tasler, potential seekers are quick to identify new opportunities and are comfortable making important decisions, but their tendency to shoot first and apologize later can lead to trouble if not tempered; conversely, risk managers favor careful nurturing of existing opportunities, providing the stability businesses need to survive, but they often miss opportunities for growth because they are inherently cautious. This intriguing and highly readable analysis demonstrates how both groups can enhance their decision making and is enlivened by dramatic stories of innovators from St. Francis to Bill Gates and scientific reports on impulsiveness in different species and in hyperactive children. Tasler's pragmatic advice on leveraging the talents of both the brash and the bashful make this rewarding reading for anyone in the business world. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

There is no better evidence that the nature-versus-nurture debate is still alive than in Tasler’s first book. Here, a group of psychological research consultants, buttressed by bioscientific studies from top institutions and intrigued by the genesis of decision making in U.S. corporations, devises a test to determine if executives/professionals are risk managers or risk takers. Yet, regardless of the test’s results, a lower level of the enzyme monoamine oxidase (MAO) is one indicator of the “impulsivity gene,” a condition that one-quarter of humans have—as do half of those diagnosed with ADHD/ADD. All is not lost, claims the author. Nature can be tamed by deliberately following a directionally correct path (a la Bill Gates, of Microsoft) and implementing decisions based on facts and analysis. Plenty of examples support his theory, from St. Francis of Assisi’s instinctual embrace of a leper (once thought to harbor a contagious disease) to Zach Johnson’s win over Tiger Woods in the 2007 Master’s Golf Tournament (he attributes his success to playing in the moment). Great ideas and counsel though obscured by too much academic hoo-ha. --Barbara Jacobs

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone; 1 edition (October 7, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416562346
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416562344
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 6.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,033,167 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I am basically a research nerd who loves telling stories, exploring ideas, and coming up with new solutions to people problems. Every now and then, I stumble on to ideas that--with a little tweaking--work surprisingly well for real people. So in addition to writing books and delivering talks, I have a company called Decision Pulse where most of the management consulting, data collection, and community-building happens.

When I was 28, the good folks at Simon & Schuster decided to publish my first book, The Impulse Factor which explored why some people have a pattern of making remarkably bold and risky choices in spite of being in the exact same situations as everyone else. It was a fun journey through genetics, history, political science, and psychology; and has now been published in a bunch of different languages all over the world (#HumbleBrag). A few years later, I wrote Why Quitters Win to help business leaders be more strategic and decisive in their everyday work. WQW is set to make its Asian debut in the next year or so. My newest book is called Domino: The Simplest Way to Inspire Change (Wiley, October 2015). As you probably guessed by the title, Domino offers helps team leaders adapt to change more quickly.

So who on earth is buying all these crazy ideas? Thought you'd never ask. I consider myself insanely lucky to have worked with so many interesting people and great companies like (Warning: Shameless name-dropping dead ahead) General Electric, Microsoft, Wells Fargo, the Royal Bank of Canada, Yale University, Symantec, ExxonMobil, BP Amoco, Cargill, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Coca-Cola, UnitedHealth Group, the American Cancer Society, and a bunch of others.

But of all the interesting people I've been lucky enough to meet, my favorites are my wife, my three sons, and my baby girl. Whenever I'm tempted to be greedy, narcissistic and selfish (which is pretty much everyday), they help remind me of the purpose behind my work. In my most deluded moments, I honestly believe I can make the world a significantly better place by helping people make better decisions. Therefore I have an obligation to do that. To paraphrase Spiderman's Uncle Ben, "with great luck comes great responsibility." I'm an awfully lucky guy so I have to get to work.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Mike VINE VOICE on October 25, 2008
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Nick Tasler has succeeded in entering the "what makes people tick" arena with a unique work that is built on common themes expressed in a distinct voice.

In the Introduction, Tasler writes "By knowing each of our specific decision-making tendencies, we can exercise control over them." The "two-part formula"...laying out the variables and then suggesting ways to manipulate them for greater achievement...is a tactic that was successfully employed in George W. Dudley and Shannon L. Goodson's classic work "The Psychology of Sales Call Reluctance." It is the tendency of most people to function on auto-pilot. It doesn't matter if the "learned behaviors" are constructive or destructive. Those who spend each day in focused, conscious, deliberate effort are in the minority. "The Impulse Factor" gives you the opportunity to learn about yourself, to understand your motivations, but only you can decide which (if any) changes you will implement.

Chapter 8, "Risk Managers: Conquering The Fear of Big Cats," presents an interesting challenge. Like the other chapters, it is broken down into components ("The Flip Side of Fear," "Focus On Targets," "Making Effective Decisions Quickly," "Learning Decisiveness Through Failure," "Embracing The Unknown," "Inside-The-Box Learning," "Evidence-Based Management," "Think, Analyze, and React," "Managing Risk Without Running From Opportunity"). The underlying theme expressed by Tasler is "Accept your fear and plan ahead to deal with it." Or, as Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, "Do the thing you fear, and the death of fear is certain." Fear is an emotion which can be intellectualized, but only by the willing.

That's the foundation of this book...any "driver," any emotion, anything that "makes you tick" can be analyzed and reconstructed for your benefit.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Bret Lee on October 13, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is the first time I've ever written one of these customer reviews because, as a reader, I rarely trust the opinions of random people on the internet. I felt compelled to write one for The Impulse Factor, though because this is not the kind of book I'd normally buy and wanted to let other people know of my happy accident.

One of the things Tasler does well in this book is take a series of pretty complicated psychological information and break it down in a way that makes the subject matter much cooler than a psych textbook from college. From dating to gambling to the NFL, the concrete examples and real-world applicability of the subject made this book as fun a read as I've had in awhile.

I've always hated it when someone's behaviour gets explained as "Well, he's just like that." That never really satisfied me, so I really like to read books that explain why people are the way they are. This book does that in ways that will not only help me understand people better, but also help me when I'm conducting a job interview or working with new people on a consulting project.

If I had to compare it with something else I've read, I guess I would compare it to Blink by Malcolm Gladwell. Both authors know what they're talking about when it comes to psychology, but do not talk down to you like a nerdy academic. Tasler's writing style and his grounding in real-life examples makes this something I'll be buying my co-workers for Christmas.
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24 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Samantha L. Sayre VINE VOICE on November 1, 2008
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This book goes about exploring with you what you are. Are you a risk manager or a potential seeker? There's no right or wrong answers. It is written by an employee of TalentSmart. I enjoyed some of the different sections of each chapter. I liked how Nick Tasler started each chapter differently from Zach Johnson who beat Tiger Woods to politicians to the rescuers who started an avanlanche. Usually one of the section would click with me but some of the others just left me wondering where he was going with it. I didn't like how about mid-point of the book Mr. Tasler starts focusing on TalentSmart's impulse factor test which is on the internet and what the different scores mean. I realize this is to help you figure out where you stand and also how you can give your company more using your impulse factor but I was getting more from his research than I did from him telling me about his test and his company. I didn't feel like after I found out my impulse personality that Mr. Tasler truly told me how I could make it work for me. I thought it was a lot of generalities that most people will be aware of. I wanted to love this book because of the topic. However, I found that it felt short of Mr. Tasler's stated goals in the book. I think it's interesting but definitely a bargain book not a full price buy.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Russ Emrick VINE VOICE on November 5, 2008
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I wish a book could be given 10 stars. "Impulse Factor" is an extraordinary read, probably the best 'C' level book I've read this year. Not only does it explore the very important question about why some people take more risks than other, but it explores ADHD, impulsivity, and personality traits of CEOs and drivers. "For far too long, we have been mystified by the process of our own decision making." If demystifying that for yourself and for others is important to you, then this is a must read book.

The book is not without its faults - I could have used less anecdotes and more getting to the point. However, in terms of empirical study and real solutions on how to manage risk, succeed if you are impulsive or have ADHD in the Boardroom, this book hits on all cylinders.

This book will definitely help anyone who has to understand why people make decisions, such as managers and salespeople. For example, "people think safety first, not best choice. Often decision is based on which is 'not worse.' One quarter of the population are risk takers (which includes the most successful business people and CEOs) who will defy norms. They have a deep focus on rewards and are much less concerned with risk.

People who take risks tend to be more successful, and according to the author has a genetic predisposition that has endured and prospered our species. "When people fail to observe boundaries, nothing stands in their way." However such impulsivity and risk taking also creates dramatic failures and disasters. Nick Tasler spends a good part of the book explaining how to overcome the downside of impulsivity while maximizing its benefits.

Read this book if you've ever been criticized for "thinking from the gut" as Jack Welch would say.
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