Some of the most successful people I've met have possessed certain talents and abilities so out of the ordinary that they seem almost superhuman.
For example, I had a boss who was a human lie detector. We'd go to a meeting where we didn't know anybody or much about the circumstances and afterward, when we discussed together, he'd say "so-and-so was lying." Sure enough, he was always right.
I used to do a radio program with a guy who could walk into a roomful of people and an hour later emerge having made 25 friends. Not business contacts. Friends. It was absolutely uncanny.
I've also known salespeople who can instantly recall the name, title, company, background, and even the birthday of hundreds of customers. That skill seems incredible to me because while I remember faces for decades, I'm horrible at remembering people's names.
In an earlier post, I listed seven books that train your brain to overachieve. The books below build on that concept with step-by-step instructions for mental feats that will seem like almost like superpowers to your customers, colleagues, and co-workers.
1. Spy the Lie
Subtitle: Former CIA Officers Teach You How to Detect Deception
Authors: Philip Houston, Michael Floyd, Susan Carnicero, and Don Tennant
Superpower: Your innate ability to be a human lie detector. This is incredibly useful when conducting negotiations, hiring people, and deciding who to trust and when.
Quick Quote: "You, like everyone else, routinely have questions, answers to which have a meaningful impact on your life. Is your boss being completely upfront about those projections for the next two quarters and why it behooves everybody to stick around rather than bolt to a competitor? Is your significant other being straight with you about having done nothing more last night than hook up with a couple of friends for a drink? Is your child being honest when he assures you that he's never experimented with drugs? Other questions may be less personally consequential, but you still want the answers: Does that quarterback mean it this time when he says he's not coming back next season? Is that politician being truthful when she says she's not going to run for president?"
2. What Every BODY is Saying
Subtitle: An Ex-FBI Agent's Gide to Speed-Reading People
Authors: Joe Navarro and Marvin Karlins
Superpower: Your ability to read body language. This allows you to assess the mood of a room of people and sense their mental processes and reactions, so you can adapt your approach to achieve your goals.
Quick Quote: "Nonverbal communication, often referred to as nonverbal behavior or body language, is a means of transmitting information--just like the spoken word-except it is achieved through facial expressions, gestures, touching (haptics), physical movements (kinesics), posture, body adornment (close, jewelry, hair style, tattoos, etc.), and even the tone, timbre, and volume of an individual voice (rather than the spoken content)."
3. Break-Through Rapid Reading
Author: Peter Kump
Superpower: The ability to read and absorb large amounts of information. Since the brain is the most powerful computer in the world, it's capable of mastering the content of a hundreds of documents and emails within a day or even a few hours.
Quick Quote: "People often say they need a course in rapid reading but they don't have time to take it because the great amount of reading they already have to do. From the morning newspaper, to combing through endless e-mails, many of us are drowning in information. If too much reading is keeping you from becoming a rapid reader, then maybe you should reconsider. Although initial practice may entail extra time in the first or second week, within two weeks you should be reading fast enough to practice not only rapid reading but to read or study your required materials as well. So if you don't have time to do both, now is the time to learn this time-saving skill."
4. It's Not All About Me
Subtitle: The Top 10 Techniques for Building Quick Rapport With Anyone
Author: Robin Dreeke
Superpower: The ability to empathize and build trust. As a general rule, people only do business with people they trust. The ability to build rapport helps connect two people and put them on the same wavelength, thereby generating trust.
Quick Quote: "It is important to remember that not one technique can guarantee success. Even perfect execution of all techniques cannot guarantee success. The proper execution of as many techniques as possible will greatly enhance your probability of success and ensure you will have better conversations and more meaningful rapport than you would have otherwise."
5. The Memory Book
Subtitle: The Classic Guide to Improving Your Memory at Work, at School, and at Play
Authors: Harry Lorayne and Jerry Lucas
Superpower: The ability to remember important facts and figures. While the most common application of the skill is remembering customer information, it's also useful in finance or any technical field where mastery of detail is essential.
Quick Quote: "There's nothing really new about trained memory techniques. Unfortunately, the techniques fell into disuse for centuries. Some people who didn't practice them were actually regarded as witches. It's true that memory systems remained in use as a source of entertainment for others -- vaudeville players used memory systems to perform "mental tricks" on stage -- but they were seldom if ever used for practical purposes or serious learning. It is our pleasure to bring the art of trained memory back into the foreground -- not only by teaching memory systems, but by bringing them to a level that the ancient (and not so ancient) thinkers would have never conceived as being within the realm of possibility."
6. Secrets of Mental Math
Subtitle: The Mathemagician's Guide to Lightning Calculation and Amazing Math Tricks
Authors: Arthur Benjamin and Michael Shermer
Superpower: Your hidden ability to do rapid calculations. This allows you to fact-check data and statistics in real-time, like during a meeting. You can also use this ability to quickly estimate and assess the "reasonableness" of presentation graphics.
Quick Quote: "Too often, math is taught as a set of rigid rules, leaving little room for creative thinking, but there are often and several ways to solve the same problem. Large problems can be broken down into smaller more manageable components. We look for special features to make our problems easier to solve. These strike me as being valuable life lessons that we can use in approaching all kinds of problems, mathematical and otherwise."