Freelancedom Book Club Discussion: The It Factor

When I chose The It Factor last month as our first book club book, I didn’t really expect to be so put off by it. The Amazon reviews were, for the most part, overwhelmingly positive, and its subject matter was one that — as an introvert with social anxiety — I couldn’t get enough of.

But the book  made me angry. Why? The author seemed to have little respect for the readers he was trying to help, blaming their inability to connect with other people on arrogance and laziness.

Is it just me? Is my resentment warranted? Am I just not the intended audience for this book?

Either way, I still felt as if the book contained a lot that was worth discussing. So without further adieu…

1. The author seems to believe that those reading his book suffer from an abundance or arrogance and laziness. He thinks we have a voice in our heads, telling us that what we have to say is worth its weight in gold. But I feel as if the opposite is true. I’m an introvert who loses energy quickly in social settings. I have social anxiety, which makes me feel awkward and self-conscious. And while I have no problem asking people about themselves, I have problems talking myself up, because I fear coming across as a sleazy self-promoter. I also worry about being boring. What do you struggle with when it comes to finding your own It Factor?

2. Wiskup writes that we should talk about the “why” (why does what I’m saying matter to the listener?) early and often, and this I agree with. In fact, I believe that knowing your “why” is the key to creating marketing copy that sells. Have you effectively pinned down your own “why”? How?

3. In Chapter 4, Wiskup writes about painting pictures with your words. I myself have found that using personal anecdotes, and peppering them with personal details, can help an audience connect to you and your message. How have you used storytelling for your freelance business? Do you hesitate to use personal anecdotes when it comes to your networking and copywriting? If so, why?

4. In Chapter 7, Wiskup gives step-by-step instructions for creating your own elevator pitch, and reminds us that “not every pitch is right for every elevator.” His instructions are useful, demystifying the process of putting together a good elevator pitch, and his advice to prepare many different pitches is spot-on. Using his instructions, put together at least one pitch of your own, and share it in the comments section below.

5. I was intrigued by Wiskup’s steps to successful small talk in Chapter 9. I know of many introverts who hate small talk, partly because it makes them uncomfortable, and partly because it feels so phone. But, as Wiskup writes, the best networkers know that small talk is “just a step in the connection process.” Do you feel comfortable with small talk? What did you think of Wiskup’s small talk technique? What has helped you become better at small talk?

And is there anything else that leaped out at you while reading this book? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.

Related: Freelancedom Book Club: The It Factor


  1. Sarah Nagel says:

    I felt the same way about the book. The author had a lot to live up to as someone writing a book about how to “be the one people like and listen to.” And all in all, I didn’t really like him that much! I think he spent too much time talking about his personal communication pet peeves, rather than describing better options. I thought Dale Carnegie’s book How to Win Friends and Influence People did a much better job at explaining how to connect with people. But there was some solid advice in this book. The elevator pitch stuff was most helpful for me, because I always feel awkward explaining my work to other people.

    Painting pictures with words also seems like a good idea. When I worked for Vail Resorts as a customer service agent (helping people book ski vacations), our sales managers trained us to use this strategy as well. It seems like an accepted sales practice these days. I never really thought about using this skill in everyday conversations as a way to be memorable and convincing. I’ll have to keep it in mind.

    Thanks for leading the way with this book club. I love this kind of stuff, and it’s great to read your take on the book 🙂

    • Oh, I loooved How to Win Friends and Influence People. Which is funny, because put off reading it for so long. I suppose there’s a reason it’s considered a classic.

      But YES! You said it so well. The author here is supposed to teach us how to be likable, but he’s not very likable himself. I thought it was so odd of him to be so antagonistic to his readers.

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