The Hidden Agenda: A book review by Bob Morris

The Hidden Agenda: A Proven Way to Win Business and Create a Following
Kevin Allen
bibliomotion (2012)

How and why to “get it”: the hidden agenda

Initially, I misunderstood this book’s title, incorrectly assuming that Kevin Allen – in the manner of someone who has planned a treasure hunt – would help his reader to locate something of substantial value. In a sense that is true. However, that “something” is essentially worthless unless and until (a) the person who uncovers it understands and appreciates it and (b) knows how to use it to best advantage. Case in point, vandals raiding the ancient library in Alexandria used copies of plays by Greek playwrights such as Aeschylus and Sophocles as fuel for their fires.

I selected the title of this review from a longer passage in the Introduction: “Get it? Get what? The ‘what’ is the hidden agenda, the emotional motivator behind all the statistics, the business jargon, and the other things that surround any key business issue. It is in fact how people make decisions, with their hearts.”

Allen is a veteran advertising executive and an accomplished “pitch man” but clearly agrees with John Hill, co-founder of Hill & Knowlton, that the best pitch is one that offers “truth well told.” He shares everything he has learned about how to prepare and then present such a pitch for the readers whom he characterizes as “you dreamers, strivers, fighters, doers, and itchy-feet people ‘growth aspirants.” Allen is convinced that, for them, their ability to pitch “is the very spearpoint and lifeblood of achieving these ambitions.”

The reader is provided with an abundance of information, insights, and counsel to help achieve strategic objectives such as these:

o  Locating the “hidden agenda”
o  Identifying the “conceptual target”
o  Connecting with the hidden agenda
o  Defining one’s “core”
o  Selecting and articulating one’s “credo”
o  Defining the characteristics of “real” ambition
o  Formulating one’s “win” strategy
o  Mastering the power of storytelling

Allen is a results-driven pragmatist, determined to understand what works, what doesn’t, and why so that he can then share with others what he has learned. Whether or not people realize it, they are making pitches every day and usually draw upon most (if not all) of these resources of rhetoric: exposition to explain with information, description to make vivid with compelling details, narration to tell a story or explain a sequence, and finally, argumentation to convince with logic and/or evidence.  If you want others to “get it” when you communicate with them, then you need to locate “it” and decide how best to present it. Kevin Allen offers practical advice whose value is incalculable.

Those who share my high regard for this book are urged to check out the selections in Kevin Allen’s ”Further Reading” section. Also, these: Robert B. Cialdini’s Influence: Science and Practice (4th Edition), Carmine Gallo ‘s The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How to Be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience, and The Story Factor (2nd Revised Edition) by Annette Simmons and Doug Lipman.

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