To Sell is Human. Or, Consider the Alternative…

Daniel Pink wrote a book called ‘To sell is human’.

Quite how I see things, and it’s a view I can totally recommend.

Not so that everything becomes ‘a business’ – there are things that are free and should stay free.

When I lived in Seattle, way back when, my girlfriend made a beautiful notebook for me, of luxury paper and hand bound in leather.

Her mother saw it and instantly said: “That’s great, you should make a product out of it and sell it!”

It felt seedy, that something so lovingly crafted had to instantly be commercialised.


But if you really think about it, ‘Everybody is always selling something’.

And that’s a quote from Robert Louis Stevenson, author of Treasure Island.

And he’s right: At this moment, I’m trying to sell you on reading the next line.

When you talk to your kids, you’re selling them on cleaning up their room.

When someone is arguing with you, you’re trying to sell her on calming down and having a normal, unheated conversation.

Not convinced?


Alright then: call it an exchange: Everything is always an exchange. Values, ideas, attention, products, opinions – you give one thing, you get another back.

You try to persuade a person to simply listen – right there you’re ‘selling’ your opinion. The price they pay is a bit of attention.

I like Dan Pink. He’s got real clear views on things. Common sense, but smart.


So I wrote him an email:

“Dan, I love your podcast Office Hours. I have one question:

“If you’d have only one shot at it, what’s the one thing you’d tell a person to get them to accept sales as a part of life?”

He writes back:

“Consider the alternative…”

I’ll leave you to ponder that one today.

When you’re done, and you’ve come to terms with this fundamental aspect of being human, and you’re ready to start selling more in ethical and effective ways, here’s where you can make the leap:



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