Book reviewRequired reading/listening/viewing

Book Review: The Power of Habit

By December 11, 2012 No Comments

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg

Sales Trailer:

Habits can be changed, if we undertand how they work.

3 Clear Points:

  1. New habits are created by putting together a cue, routine, and a reward, and then cultivating a craving that drives the loop.
  2. Changing a habit requires changing the routine, but maintaining the same cue and reward.
  3. Companies and societies that understand how habits are formed and changed can prevent crises from happening (societies) or encourage economic growth (companies).


Reading this book is kind of like someone telling you to “stop thinking _____”–you instantly start thinking whatever that ‘thing’ is. It’s just the same with our habits. Charles Duhigg makes such a compelling case for habit formation and the ‘ethics’ behind changing habits that I couldn’t help but think about my own personal habits in life and in business.

The book reads like a novel, as Duhigg weaves stories that align with the presented research through each chapter. You come away with an understanding that changing habits seems tough, but it is not as difficult as you would think, once you know how they are formed and changed on either an individual or societal level. Duhigg begins by explaining how habits emerge in individuals’ lives by using examples from P&G’s marketing team, Alcoholics Anonymous, and Tony Dungy’s coaching tactics to turn around the Colts. The book becomes especially helpful to the reader as a sales manager or leader when he discusses how successful companies and organizations use habits and the process of changing habits to either prevent a mistake or provide employees with a “sense of agency” in their work. The last section of the book looks at the habits of societies and how individual habits manifest when groups are involved in a movement.

It’s clear why The Power of Habit was chosen by Fast Company as one of the top business books of 2012. Reading it was a meditation on my own personal patterns of behavior and what I can to ‘fine tune’ these habits to ultimately be more productive.

Application to Sales:

Sales managers and leaders will find The Power of Habit helpful in many situations. Management is the critical link to a powerful sales engine and we know that bringing about change can be difficult. But if you can use the concepts from the book to understand what habits have been formed (and why!) and what you can do to change them across your team, change will not be as difficult. For example, if you understand why a top salesperson has become competitive and “protective” of their personal accounts, you might be able to identify what routines and rewards need to be instilled so that the team begins to work together. In this way, you will be able to inherently motivate them to, say, sell as a team. The alternative is merely telling them to change.

Update: As an intro to the book, view this short clip of author Charles Duhigg explaining how habits work:

Jenny is the Director of Sales and Digital Marketing for Sales Engine. You can find her on .


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