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Alchemy

The Surprising Power of Ideas That Don't Make Sense
Narrated by: Rory Sutherland
Length: 9 hrs and 38 mins
5 out of 5 stars (40 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Random House presents the audiobook edition of Alchemy: The Surprising Power of Ideas That Don't Make Sense, written by Rory Sutherland.

To be brilliant, you have to be irrational.

Why is Red Bull so popular - even though everyone hates the taste? Why do countdown boards on platforms take away the pain of train delays? And why do we prefer stripy toothpaste?

We think we are rational creatures. Economics and business rely on the assumption that we make logical decisions based on evidence.

But we aren’t, and we don’t.

In many crucial areas of our lives, reason plays a vanishingly small part. Instead we are driven by unconscious desires, which is why placebos are so powerful. We are drawn to the beautiful, the extravagant and the absurd - from lavish wedding invitations to tiny bottles of the latest fragrance. So if you want to influence people’s choices you have to bypass reason. The best ideas don’t make rational sense: they make you feel more than they make you think.

Rory Sutherland is the Ogilvy advertising legend whose TED Talks have been viewed nearly seven million times. In his first book he blends cutting-edge behavioural science, jaw-dropping stories and a touch of branding magic on his mission to turn us all into idea alchemists.

©2019 Rory Sutherland (P)2019 Random House Audiobooks

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Great Counterpoint to other Business Books

When I saw that Rory was reading this I was over the moon, his TED talk has to be one of my favorites. A great read and a very important message for all business thinkers.

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A phenomenal story on thinking

The book is incredibly well written, with numerous anecdotes to back up alternative views. I’m going to have re-listen to this again to gain a better understanding. Certainly eye opening though.

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Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant.

I think this is possibly the most interesting and thought provoking book for advertising types that exists today.

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Awesome book filled with wonder

So many intensely interesting ideas put forward in this title. With a generous splash of British humour 🤣

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    5 out of 5 stars

loved this book.

If you are in business or have a product or service you want to market for success this is a must read. A somewhat 'crusty' former advertising guru genius with a great sense of humor leads you through the realities and BS of modern marketing techniques and instead introduces the sensible quirk reality of the way people think when they are buying.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • meggy
  • 09-01-2020

no pdf accompanying the audio book

this is a really interesting book. Rory narrates it beautifully. however the audio book doesnt come with the accompanying pdf , so one cannot refer to the graph which is described with the 4 quadrants of things that dont make sense and work and things that work that do make sense. It really is a disservice to the listener.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 28-12-2019

The author’s reading brings life to a great book.

I’d recommend this book.

Many illuminating gems. I’ll even steal some!

I would if I had my “druthers” I would seek a small condensing of some of the chapters.

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  • Wes Oudshoorn
  • 18-12-2019

great listen, great ideas

After I've seen Rory talk at a small conference many years ago, I have been a fan of his way of thinking. As a digital product manager, some new ideas opened up to me; I feel inspired to try things that are more alchemy than science.

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  • Steve Podmore
  • 12-05-2019

Simply stunning - by the horse whisperers horse whisperer!

I first met Rory back in 2010, I think at the in house bar at Ogilvy Canary Wharf, when I’d been gifted the use of offices there to work on a project to create a sustainable development bank... Since then I have had the privilege to meet this giant of a thinker from time to time to discuss the merits and methods of changing the world using financial innovation and behavioural psychology. In Alchemy, Rory distills the thinking that many will have been wowed by in his highly successful Ted or other talks, and illuminates how the forces that drive our world and our lives are so rarely the result of chance - but rather the subtle nudges of those who have something in mind for us. Like the skilled shepherd whistling his dog, or the horse whisperer communicating in ways so subtle they are barely perceptible, Rory’s insights help one see what is behind the minds, tools and techniques of those pulling our strings - giving us mere mortals at least a chance of resisting or pulling a string or two of our own!!! Highly recommended.

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  • Chris Rawli
  • 14-05-2019

Solid gold

Best book I’ve read for a long time. Rory in his unique charming and witty way shares brilliant stories, insights, and ideas on how we can all solve problems and come up with better ideas if we just look at the world in a different way. Super smart, very entertaining and easy to read. Marvellous.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • soozoo
  • 13-09-2019

Flowers are just weeds with a larger advertising budget

This book is unexpectedly hilarious. If you like the psychology behind marketing strategies, you’ll love this. It’s easily digestible and doesn’t contain any waffle.

There’s an abundance of genuinely perspective changing ideas, and it’s peppered with humour that catches you off guard and makes you ugly laugh.


A few of my favourite parts:
* When caterpillars don’t use camouflage and instead are brightly coloured, it’s a power move, as it makes the predator question “if it’s not trying to hide, it’s probably for a reason. Probably shouldn’t eat it”

* Manual car drivers control the gearbox, but automatic car drivers seduce it. You can prevent an automatic car from shifting down gears on a hill by slowly releasing the accelerator, in the same way the only way to control your sleep is to lower the light in the room, minimise noise and lay down.

I keep doing unnecessary errands as an excuse to keep listening. So far I’ve, done all the washing, deep cleaned the fridge and reorganised the silverware drawer.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • MR SIMON DAVID LAMEY
  • 26-06-2019

Superb

If you’ve ever wondered why your ideas don’t work in business (or life even), this is likely to explain why. It gives hope for entrepreneurs to create their own magic without a boardroom killing their ideas – and it’s a challenge to fusty, rational corporates to change how they approach business problems.

I liked this book so much that I recommended it to a random stranger on the train this morning who coincidentally was reading a book on nudge theory. That’s quite an uncomfortable thing for a Brit to do in a public place, so hopefully, that shows you why it’s a worth a buy.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Harry Frost
  • 08-11-2019

Interesting but padded out

Well written and well read by the author, but there's a lot of padding to get a relatively simple message up to book length. the basic premises are all pretty standard behavioural economics, and perpetuates the fashion in that sub branch of economics of pretending indignance that 'classical economists' believe their models are literally true. They don't; they're not idiots, their models are only designed to model things at a high level of resolution. There's nothing special about suddenly taking psychological factors into consideration, except that the people who do so have a brief to do so, whereas others have that of positing a rule that's right more often than not.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Bill Carr
  • 16-11-2019

Plenty of food for thought

Enjoyable and stimulating topics throughout, delivered with an altogether dynamic variance of topics that will challenge rational and ubiquitous thinking.... its alchemy after all!

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  • robert elliott
  • 13-11-2019

Excellent book

An excellent book, great as a gift, great as a reference guide, great in all respects. The fact that it is narrated by the author makes you feel like you are having a private conversation where he is sharing the wisdom he has gained over his life and career. People sometimes say that you can’t teach people to think creatively - this book can.

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  • Miss D
  • 05-11-2019

hilariously insightful and entertaining

As an avid audio book listener. This is one of the most enjoyable books I've ever listened to. At times it's laugh out loud funny and the author's dry wit adds to the story, but it's also incredibly clever and thought provoking.

it challenges many commonly held beliefs and will have you questioning your programming.

I've recommended this to everyone I've spoken to and highly recommend it as a thoroughly enjoyable and insightful read.

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  • Ed Goodman
  • 18-10-2019

The Magic Wand to Economical Logic

This is a glorious listen, where Rory Sutherland takes the logic that has underpinned so many marketing, business and political decisions and, quite simply, challenges it with the understanding that we have to open to new ways of thought. It's an evocative and captivating listen, and I'm now off to buy the printed copy too.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 13-10-2019

A good collation of behavioural thinking

More than a tad long-winded but engagingly read by the author. Full of often intriguing illustration and anecdote but sometimes at the expense of pace and dynamism. I'd welcome a summary edition. In fact I'd be happy to write one if Random House wished it.

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  • Seb
  • 09-10-2019

Treeeemendous

Pithy, funny and thoughtful exploration as to why logical economic models and evolutionary reality might be so very different.