The Art of People by Dave Kerpen book summary and pdf

The Art of People by Dave Kerpen [Book Summary & PDF]

The Art of People is a guide written by Dave Kerpen on how to manage some of the most important people and relationships in your life. Kerne emphasises that people matter. They matter more than anything, in managing your job, career, life and relationships. People can make all the difference between an average life and a great life. This book has 11 handy tips on how to understand people, build better relationships and get the most out of relationships.





Self-awareness is the fundamental building block of the art of people. You can’t understand and influence others until you fully understand yourself at a deep level.

Take steps in better getting to know yourself, tests such as the Enneagram and the People Strength Quiz (available at are great starting points. Find out if you are a People-Pleaser? A People-Leader? People-Guru? Or a People-Persuader? Whichever category you’re in, we all know we have lots of room for improvement when it comes to dealing with and influencing people.

The better you understand yourself—your unconscious motivations, what gets you up and what gets you down, what makes you tick, and how you best interact with others—the better off you’ll be at understanding other people and getting them to do things for you.

How to ‘get' anyone (even if you don't like them)

  1. Write down the names of three people in your life whom you’re struggling to get. You may not like them or enjoy their company.
  2. Commit to asking one to have coffee with you.
  3. Walk into the coffee meeting determined to get this person, aim to understand them better.

You may not walk away understanding the person completely or even liking him any better. But you’ll have a fighting chance to build a more productive and beneficial relationship from then on.

How to understand someone better than you do your friends

There are lots of questions you can ask early in a first encounter with someone to better understand that person and his or her worldview. Here are ten questions for your consideration:

  1. What is the most exciting thing in your professional life right now?
  2. And what is the most exciting thing in your personal life right now?
  3. If you had enough money to retire, what would you be doing today?
  4. What’s one thing you would like to be doing or would like to have five years from now?
  5. Which is your favorite charity organization to support and why?
  6. If you weren’t doing what you do today, what would you be doing and why?
  7. Other than a member of your family, tell me about your role model.
  8. Who’s been the most important influence on you?
  9. How would your favorite teacher describe you?
  10. If you could choose to do anything for a day, what would it be and why?

These questions not only break the ice, they quickly get people talking about the things that really matter, the things that will reveal their true personalities: their values, their likes, their hopes, and their passions.

Be interested instead of interesting

We humans love to talk. Just about all of us would rather talk about ourselves than listen in any one-on-one social situation. There’s nothing wrong with that; it just is what it is .

Since humans love to talk about themselves, if you can focus on listening, truly listening, attentively to the person you’re with, that person will appreciate you, like you, or even adore you.

As simple as this may sound, it’s true; although you can’t passively listen – you can’t do what many of us do when we think we’re listening, which is sit there waiting to talk. You have to actively listen and authentically care about the person who is talking to you. And you have to genuinely focus. But if you can do this (and it takes practice), it will help you strengthen relationships with people every single time.

Remember that people care more about themselves than they care about you. People want to talk about themselves. Listening and letting people talk is key to winning them over in life, in business, and in all human relationships.

Most people are lonely, help them feel connected

Listen to understand, authentically try to connect deeply with people, help them feel less lonely, and you will find yourself far more able to influence them.

The key to this lesson, as in many of the lessons in this book, is to do this authentically. This means not helping people feel less lonely in order to influence them but because it’s the right thing to do.

'Listen to understand, authentically try to connect deeply with people.'Click To Tweet


Theres a simple key to networking that nobody talks about. Standing out from the crowd, you want to be noticed. In a room full of people trying to get noticed, you need a point of difference.

Try an accessory or item of clothing that will help you do this, it has to be attention-grabbing and hopefully even a conversation starter. A bright orange pair of shoes, or a flamboyantly patterned scarf, statement earrings. Just something.

Some people may dismiss this idea as silly. Some may not want to stand out like a sore thumb in a crowd. To them I say the following: why not gain any edge you can over everyone else in the room?

How to meet just about anyone

LinkedIn is the world's most important social network. You can connect with just about anyone. Here are the steps to take on how to connect with the right people.

  1. Create a full profile, with attention given to every school you’ve been to, organization you’ve worked at, and professional group you’ve been in. The more you put in your profile, the more you’ll potentially have in common with the people you want to connect with.
  2. Connect with all of the people you went to school with and have worked with. This will optimize the number of second-degree connections you have on the network.
  3. Any time you want to meet someone, look that person up on LinkedIn, find a mutual connection, and write to the mutual connection asking for an introduction. If you don’t share a first-degree connection, you probably share a second-degree connection; that makes this process a bit more difficult but still quite possible.
  4. Once you get connected, set up a meeting with your new connection.

Create your own advisory board

Write down two or three goals for what an advisory board could help you with over time. Brainstorm a list of seven to eleven people who could serve on your advisory board and help you with those goals. At least half of them should be people you’ve met, and at least two should be people you’ve never met but could perhaps meet through connections. Determine your preferred meeting format, structure, frequency, and location as well as the compensation you plan to offer, if any. Start contacting people and invite them to be on your advisory board.

Hire slow and fire fast – at work and in life

Recall two or three people who are no longer in your life whom you perhaps hired too quickly and kept in your life too long.

Evaluate your current employees, partners, and relationships. Are there any people you’ve met who you know in your gut are not right for you or your organization? If so, begin to make a plan now to fire them as needed.

As you think about people you meet, always remember the motto “hire slow, fire fast.” Take your time letting them into your inner circle, but don’t be afraid to toss them out the second it stops feeling right.

Blow off the right people

It can be easy to blow people off. You’re too busy, and if you’re not sure how valuable a person will be, why bother giving him any of your time at all? But it can be even easier to give away your precious time to people who ask for it and then want and take more and more.

We all want to be seen as nice people, and we all want to be liked. But remember, every minute you spend with someone who isn’t going to help you get what you want is a minute spent away from someone who may help you get what you want.


The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines listening as “hearing something with thoughtful attention: giving consideration.” In other words, listening is clearly more than just hearing. It is the act of consciously paying attention to someone else in an attempt to understand, to consider. Really listening is the process of thinking about what is important to someone else rather than what may be important to you. It is the act at any given moment of caring more about what someone else has to say than anything else in the world. Listening is hard—a lot harder than you might think.

Words mean little, listen with your eyes not your ears

Here is a brief guide to the nonverbal signals and cues that people use and what they communicate. In general, the more you practice reading people for understanding, the better you’ll get at it.

  • Facial Expressions – Look closely at people’s facial expressions as they speak.
  • Body Movements & Posture – Does the person you’re speaking with look comfortable or uncomfortable in her posture?
  • Gestures – We wave, point, beckon, and use our hands when we’re arguing or speaking animatedly, expressing ourselves with gestures often without thinking about it.
  • Eye Contact – Eye contact is important in maintaining the flow of conversation and gauging the other person’s response.
  • Touch – Pay attention to how you’re touched at the beginning of a conversation.
  • Space – You can use physical space to communicate many different nonverbal messages, including signals of intimacy and affection, aggression, or dominance.
  • Voice – It's not just what you say, it's HOW you say it.

Bluffing is only for poker

Practice reading people to determine whether they’re bluffing. It’s great to have a partner to do this with and even a deck of cards. Obviously, poker is one way to practice, but even if you don’t play poker, simply have your partner hold up a card so that you can’t see it, tell you what that card is, and have you predict whether she’s telling the truth. Over time, you’ll get better at reading your partner’s tells and body language and get more accurate at calling bluffs.

The one trick that seems ridiculous but works every time

Mirroring is a massively powerful concept that allows you to connect deeply to people. It’s easier said than done, however. Simply repeating back what you’re hearing can help you forge a bond with other people and win their trust, but it also can be interpreted as insincere and inauthentic. There’s only one very simple solution to this: You have to actually care about what you’re mirroring.

People in general don’t want advice even when they ask for it. They just want to feel heard. As you practice and get good at mirroring, you will help people feel heard, and they will love you for it.


Validation is the single most powerful way of connecting with other people. Sure, it can be difficult to validate if you don’t agree with the person you’re validating or if you feel differently. But remember, validation is not agreement; it’s not giving in, giving up, or admitting you’re wrong. It’s just showing the other person that you understand where she’s coming from and genuinely care.

The most important question you'll ever ask in a first meeting

There are two possibilities for what can happen when you ask, “How can I help you?”:

  1. The person will tell you, giving you an opportunity to help, after which he will feel indebted to you, connected to you, and appreciative of you, and will eventually feel compelled to return the favor and help you one day.
  2. Or, the person will decline politely, probably because she doesn’t know how you can help her, but will feel that you care and feel connected to you and be much more emotionally invested in helping you eventually, even if you never have to lift a finger for her.

Who you are online is who you are in your life

As you develop your online persona, be sure to convey your in-real-life self in your digital presence. Rather than trying to create boundaries between personal and professional and online and offline, learn to harmonize them. Find and share your authentic voice.

Crying is for winners

Though we’re all told early and often not to cry, as it turns out, sincerely powerful emotions—especially those powerful enough to cause tears—are quite influential in connecting with other people. If you can get yourself to experience a level of vulnerability with someone to the point where you’re moved to tears, you will be able to relate to that person—and he or she can relate to you—on a much deeper level.

The platinum rule always trumps the golden rule

We all grow up learning about the simplicity and power of the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would want done to you.

It’s a splendid concept except for one thing: Everyone is different, and the truth is that in many cases what you’d want done to you is different from what your partner, employee, customer, investor, wife, or child would want done to him or her.

With that in mind, enter, the Platinum Rule: Do unto others as they would want done to them.

'The Platinum Rule: Do unto others as they would want done to them.'Click To Tweet

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The key is to help people come up with YOUR idea:
1. Never say, “I have an idea” – take the pronoun out of the equation.
2. Instead, paint a picture of the broad brushstrokes of your idea or the results of that idea. Let the person you’re trying to influence color within the lines and visualize the rest herself.
3. Alternatively, paint a picture of the converse of your idea. What are the negative implications of not embracing it? The other person will envision the downside of not adopting your idea and then come up with a solution to prevent it from happening.
4. When the other person says anything close to your idea, fully embrace it and enthusiastically praise her for her idea.
5. If what she’s proposing is not quite what you want, subtly suggest additions or deletions to her idea, reminding her along the way that she has such a great idea and this might make it even better.

Passion is nothing without persistence

Persistence isn’t trying things twice or three times or even four times. It is trying until you get what you want or go down swinging. Persistence is continuing until you are certain beyond a shadow of a doubt that it’s time to move on and collect the lessons from the failure.  Trying until you drop. Persistence is thirty-seven phone calls.

'Persistence is trying until you get what you want or go down swinging.' Click To Tweet

Don't sell it, storytell it

Nobody likes to be sold to, but everybody likes a good story. Storytelling persuades, storytelling compels, and storytelling conveys emotion to people in a way that nothing else can.
Storytelling is a much better communication tool than selling.
Storytelling actually sells products, services, and ideas better than selling can.

The paradox of persuasion: shut up

The point is that to influence others, you have to know when to shut up and listen.

No matter what you have to say, offer, sell, or convince someone of, it is always more effective to demonstrate genuine, authentic interest in the other person by listening and asking questions than it is to talk at that person. Of course, eventually you have to talk to share your idea or product or otherwise make your case, but if you’ve laid the groundwork by listening, that part is actually surprisingly easy.

You never get what you don't ask for

If you don’t actually ask for what you want. Guess what? You probably won’t get what you want unless you ask for it.

Many people are so afraid to get a “no” that they don’t ask for a “yes.” The ironic thing here is that they’re virtually guaranteeing getting a “no” by not asking for a “yes.”
Embrace the fear of “no.” Then ask for the “yes”.

'You probably won’t get what you want unless you ask for it.'Click To Tweet


It’s much easier to state your case and then change your own mindset—to choose happiness—and let the other party sit with the situation until she comes around to your position on her own.
To win influence, don’t change the other person’s mind. Just change your own mindset.

Always manage up

Managing up doesn’t mean kissing butt or being a yes man. It means having a very solid understanding of what’s important to your boss and the leaders at your organization and then paying attention to delivering on what’s specifically important to them. Think of managing up as the “Platinum Rule” for organizations: Think like your manager and you will reap the benefits of getting your way when you need it most.

Go beyond the humble brag

Be unafraid but as authentic (non contrived) as possible in sharing accomplishments on social media. You’re going to be judged by people no matter what, so just be your authentic self and stand behind that authenticity no matter what people may say.

Heap lots of authentic praise on others via social media as well. Authentic praise and compliments make people feel good, help them feel more comfortable in sharing their accomplishments, and, most important, show the world that you’re not all about yourself and are just as apt to sing another person’s praises as your own.

Make time your friend

  1. Take a look at your weekly online or offline calendar for the last three weeks (seven days, four hours a day). When you analyze the time you spent with each person and doing each activity, are you happy with how you’re prioritizing your time?
  2. Develop a system to limit or curb the less important tasks and conversations in your life and increase the time you spend on the more important ones. Check in with the people you want to spend more time with and let them know what you’re doing.
  3. One month from now, review how well your new system is going. Check in with the people you wanted to spend more time with and ask them what they think. Recheck your calendar and note any differences in the way you’re prioritizing your time with people.


No matter who your students are, there is an enormous difference between telling them how to do something and showing them how to do it.

Patience is the key here. The best teachers are often the most patient ones. By modeling each step along the way and simplifying every part of a task, you can teach just about anything to just about anyone. Just imagine that your student is a first-grader.

Soar with your strengths, and theirs

Understand your strengths and then use them to teach others. Furthermore, the idea help others identify their strengths and teach and manage to those strengths as well

Remember, you can’t fit a square peg in a round hole. All people can learn and be successful at something as long as they soar with their strengths.

Don't be a teacher (or a manager), be a coach (and a student)

  1. If you’re a manager, make a list of the people who report directly to you. If you are not, consider which people you influence as a teacher (kids, friends, colleagues) and write down at least three names.
  2. Write down the names of three of your favorite and best schoolteachers from your youth. How did their ability to coach you and/or their willingness to learn from you affect your performance and your choice to listen to them?
  3. Reflect on and write down how you can become a better manager and/or teacher at work or at home by better embracing your role as coach or student the way your favorite teachers did.

Don't hold yourself accountable

Whether you are a manager or not, teaching people about the power of goals and accountability partners, finding accountability partners for them, and helping facilitate the coaching and reporting process will have an enormous dual effect.

The three keys to making this work are as follows:
1. Assigning accountability partners who trust and respect each other
2. Setting SMART goals together
3. Checking in at least once a week, ideally twice a week, with one another

If you can teach this process to yourself and others, you will find that everyone will get more things done faster.


'There's no I in team, but there is an I in leadership.'Click To Tweet

Very few people take leadership classes in school, yet so many are called on to become leaders. There are three things on which great leaders have to focus:
1. Setting and communicating the overall vision for your team.
2. Making sure you have the right people in the right seats on the team.
3. Making sure you have enough resources and money to help the team succeed.

How to get everyone to want to be around you

Words have power, and the word fantastic is contagious and has positive energy.

As it turns out, most times people ask “How are you?” they’re expecting either the word fine or a similarly lukewarm response. When people hear “I’m fantastic!” instead, heads turn.

It’s amazing how one simple word can draw people in and get them pumped to be around you.

Always be the one to give bad news

Transparency is vital.
1. Do an inventory of how transparent you are with your direct reports and colleagues at work and your family at home.
2. Write down three brutal facts that you can share with your team or family in the spirit of transparency to help engender trust.
3. Deliver the transparent truth, but remain positive and steadfast in your determination to accomplish your vision.

Everybody wants to be a leader

These days, anyone can be a leader, whether the group you’re leading is your company, your team, your department, or your family. You can be a leader even if you have no official leadership role and are simply setting a good example for the people around you.And you can develop many leaders on your team as well.


Your attitude toward resolving a conflict, whether it’s a conflict between you and someone else or a conflict between two other people, makes all the difference. Going in looking to help people puts both parties at ease to the greatest extent possible. It also sets up a journey toward an outcome that everyone can live with: In any conflict, all we want is to feel heard and be helped and have the issue resolved.

Remember, if you're there to help, you're there to win.

Let cooler heads prevail

As tempting as it might be to resolve things as soon as possible, it simply won’t work until both parties are calm, cool, and collected. Don’t waste any time and energy on the situation if you can see that the other person’s emotions are still red hot. Instead, take a deep breath, give the other person space, and resolve the conflict later.

Let go to get what you want

Sometimes you can resolve conflicts with people easily. And sometimes it takes work, but through time and effort, through listening and mirroring and validation—along with a dose of patience—you can get to a good place with someone. But sometimes conflicts simply can’t be solved.

In those instances, the best way, really the only way, to resolve a conflict with another person is to decide to let go. Resolve to surrender what you can’t control and to control what you always can: taking great care of your mind, body, and heart.


Remember, it's not all about you. Whether you’re speaking to an audience of three thousand, three hundred, thirty, or three, if your hope is to inspire them, your material and delivery have to be about them and how they can grow, not about you.

It’s easy to get caught in the trap of thinking it’s about you or your product. If you’re a salesperson or an entrepreneur or a leader of any kind, the spotlight is often on you and/or the product you sell. But no matter how much the spotlight is on you, it’s essential to stay humble and keep the conversation about the other person or people in the room, not about you.

For instance, if you’re doing a sales presentation, the slides should remind your audience what their problem is and how your solution will alleviate it. It should help them imagine and even envision life without that problem.

Be unoriginal: part 1

People love a little inspiration whether it’s morning, noon, or night. If you can find a quote from someone else who says what you’re thinking or feeling succinctly and powerfully, by all means consider sharing that quote (with credit) with your team and with the world.

Homelessness: the instant cure for any bad word

A random act of kindness is an instant cure for any bad mood. You don’t have to give $20 to a man on the street. Pick up litter. You can call your grandma. Or hold the door for the next ten people to come and go from your office building. Retweet a bunch of random people trying to promote something.

You can do anything that takes you out of yourself and, if only for a moment, focuses your time and attention completely on someone needier than you in one way or another.

Don't let one unkind word destroy years of praise

The reality is that sometimes people need constructive criticism to improve. Sometimes people can truly benefit from feedback from you, but it’s important to remember that nobody likes to be criticized. Even people who say they’re good at accepting feedback surely would rather be praised than criticized.

  1. Never give out criticism in front of other people. It never works. (It only leads to shame and fear.)
  2. Instead, have a one-on-one private discussion.
  3. Offer up a “praise sandwich”.
  4. Make sure to offer positive solutions to the issues at hand and get alignment on the solution of choice.
  5. Don’t dwell on the negative, and look for future opportunities to publicly praise the positive about the person as soon and as much as you can.


Make a list of five creative ways you can surprise your employees, colleagues, clients, or family. Then, experiment with creative ways to offer those surprises, and delight your people either directly because of something awesome they’ve done or, better yet, “just because.” Try to surprise and delight people every day, even in little ways: Praise, kind words, and the little things often go as far as the big things.

Go back in time and write a thank you card

Thank you cards will help you build loyalty, pride, and, yes, influence among your team members and with your customers, partners, friends, and family. But no matter what, it still feels darn good to write and send them. The amazing thing about gratefulness and unselfishness is this: Whether or not there’s an immediate return on investment in terms of business value, there’s always an immediate result in terms of your happiness.

An intro a day goes a long way

At its heart, an introduction does two things. First, it endorses the two people you’re introducing. It tells each of them that the other is worth connecting with. Second, it provides information on why the two people should connect.
If you’ve done an intro well, both parties can benefit. Better yet, you, too, will benefit, as both parties will appreciate you for having thought of them and connecting them. Best yet, it doesn’t take long to make an introduction.

Buy him a bonsai

The point is that for those people you want to keep happy and influence positively, it is generally worth it to purchase and send a thoughtful gift. A bonsai is the perfect gift for venture capitalists and other investors because it grows, as they want their investments to do, and because it’s thoughtful and even classy without being too expensive.



Be unoriginal: part 2

  1. If you’re not already on LinkedIn or Twitter, join one of those key social networks for building your personal brand.
  2. Spend thirty minutes looking for educational, entertaining, and inspiring (EEI) content. Keep a master list and begin to share and schedule the content for your social networks.
  3. Find content appropriate for five key individuals in your network and send it to them privately through Snapchat or WhatsApp or in a text message.
  4. Make a habit of finding and sharing EEI content on a regular basis. At a minimum, you can do this by scheduling thirty minutes a week for the process of curation.

This summary is not intended as a replacement for the original book and all quotes are credited to the above mentioned author and publisher.



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