Class Takeaways — The Frinky Science of the Human Mind | Summary and Q&A

July 26, 2021
Stanford Graduate School of Business
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Class Takeaways — The Frinky Science of the Human Mind


To be an effective leader, focus on appealing to the emotional brain when shaping decisions, rather than relying solely on rational arguments.

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Key Insights

  • 🖐️ The emotional brain plays a significant role in decision-making, accounting for a majority of human decisions.
  • 🏛️ Building trust with others is essential for effective decision-shaping.
  • 💡 Seeking advice from stakeholders can increase their investment and commitment to an idea.
  • 🎁 Presenting rough prototypes can help stakeholders see the potential in an idea.
  • 💄 Making the right decision is subjective; it is about making a decision and then making it right.
  • 🫚 Conviction and confidence in decision-making are rooted in emotions.
  • 🥺 Positive anticipation and expectations can lead to actual success and happiness.


hi my name is baba shiv i'm a professor of marketing at the graduate school of business i've been teaching several courses over the years but my favorite course is the frinky signs of the human mind now as a current and or future organization leader you have to be effective at two things among others day in and day out you have to be effective at m... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: How can leaders effectively shape others' decisions?

Leaders can shape decisions by appealing to the emotional brain and focusing on creating a value proposition that brings comfort, reassurance, excitement, curiosity, and play to others. By understanding what emotions drive decision-making, leaders can influence others effectively.

Q: What is the role of trust in shaping decisions?

Trust is crucial in decision-making. Individuals trust themselves the most, so leaders need to build trust with others. By establishing trust, leaders can better shape decisions as individuals are more likely to listen and be influenced by someone they trust.

Q: Why should leaders seek advice from stakeholders?

Seeking advice from stakeholders helps them feel invested in an idea. When someone offers advice, their brain becomes invested in the idea, making it easier to get a buy-in from them. By seeking advice instead of directly asking for support, leaders can increase stakeholder commitment.

Q: Why should leaders present rough prototypes instead of polished ones?

Presenting rough prototypes allows stakeholders to see potential rather than flaws. When a polished prototype is presented, others may only focus on finding faults. By presenting a rough prototype, leaders can encourage stakeholders to envision possibilities and get them more excited about the idea.


In this video, Baba Shiv, a professor of marketing, discusses the importance of effective decision-making and shaping others' decisions as a leader. He emphasizes the significance of appealing to the emotional brain and weaving emotional elements into value propositions. Shiv also provides insights on how to gain trust, influence others, and make confident decisions. He highlights the importance of anticipating success and taking care of oneself to leave a lasting legacy and make a positive impact.

Questions & Answers

Q: What does being an effective organization leader entail?

Being an effective organization leader involves being adept at making decisions and shaping others' decisions.

Q: How does one effectively shape others' decisions?

To shape others' decisions, it is crucial to appeal to the emotional brain rather than solely relying on rational arguments. This can be achieved by incorporating elements that evoke feelings of comfort, reassurance, excitement, discovery, curiosity, and play into the value proposition.

Q: What percentage of human decisions are rational?

According to estimates, the rational brain accounts for only about five to ten percent of human decisions.

Q: Who does an individual trust the most when it comes to decision-making?

Individuals tend to trust themselves the most when it comes to decision-making.

Q: How can one get others invested in their idea or proposition?

By seeking advice from the stakeholder they are trying to influence, individuals can get them invested in their idea. The brain perceives making an investment in something when providing advice, leading to a sense of being invested in the idea or proposition.

Q: Why is it recommended to present a rough prototype rather than a polished one?

Presenting a rough prototype instead of a polished one allows others to see the potential rather than focus solely on flaws.

Q: How should one approach decision-making in the real world?

In the real world, it's important to understand that there is no such thing as making the right decision. Instead, individuals should make a decision and then work to make that decision right by having confidence and conviction in their chosen course of action.

Q: How can confidence in decision-making be cultivated?

Confidence in decision-making can be cultivated by invoking positive emotions and constructing a narrative that showcases a vision of total success.

Q: What should individuals be aware of to avoid being derailed in their decision-making process?

Individuals should be cognizant of deterrents that can potentially derail their decision-making process. By identifying and addressing these issues before they arise, individuals can better navigate challenges and stay on the right path.

Q: What mindset is necessary for experiencing the best that life has to offer?

In order to get the best out of life, individuals should expect the best out of life. Cultivating congruent beliefs and having faith that things will ultimately work out positively plays a significant role.

Q: What is the significance of anticipation in achieving success and happiness?

The anticipation of success is where success itself resides, just as the anticipation of happiness is where happiness itself resides. The placebo effect exemplifies how our expectations can turn into reality.


Effective leadership involves being skilled at decision-making and influencing others. To shape others' decisions, emotional appeals should be incorporated into value propositions. Trusting oneself as a decision-maker is essential. Seeking advice from stakeholders and presenting rough prototypes can help get others invested in one's ideas. In the real world, making the decision is more important than trying to make the right decision. Confidence is rooted in emotions and a narrative of total success. Awareness of potential deterrents can prevent derailment. Cultivating congruent beliefs and anticipating success are key to experiencing the best that life has to offer. Finally, to leave a legacy and make an impact, it is crucial to prioritize self-care and perform at one's peak.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Shaping decisions involves appealing to the emotional brain, as it accounts for a significant portion of human decision-making.

  • Seeking advice and investment from individuals can increase their investment and commitment to an idea.

  • Presenting rough prototypes instead of polished ones can help stakeholders see potential rather than flaws.

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