Strauss Zelnick is chief executive and chairman of the company that makes Grand Theft Auto, BioShock and other cutting-edge videogames. But he says the book that has most influenced him is Dale Carnegie’s 1936 bestseller, How to Win Friends and Influence People.
“The title is unfortunate because it sort of implies how to get over on people and how to be the most popular kid in the class,” Zelnick said in an interview at General Assembly in New York last week. “It’s not about that at all. It’s a guide to living a successful life, and a guide to salesmanship. And I’d argue that those things are not so dissimilar from one another.”
Zelnick says the book dramatically changed how he approached his interactions with people after he picked a copy up years ago at an airport and read it on a plane. His core takeaway from the book was to show a sincere interest in everyone around you—from your colleagues to the person taking your coffee order. Doing that deliberately and consistently opens up a multitude of opportunities for you over time, Zelnick says. “Basically following his principles has had a massive impact on my personal and professional life.”
In addition to leading publicly traded Take-Two Interactive Software, Zelnick manages the ZelnickMedia investment firm he founded in 2001. His previous jobs include CEO of BMG Entertainment and president and chief operating officer of 20th Century Fox. He says he keeps copies of How to Win Friends in his office to hand out to people who come to him for advice.
Here are some of the passages most highlighted in the book by Amazon Kindle users:
“So the only way on earth to influence other people is to talk about what they want and show them how to get it.”
“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”
“‘I consider my ability to arouse enthusiasm among my people,’ said Schwab, ‘the greatest asset I possess, and the way to develop the best that is in a person is by appreciation and encouragement.”
“When dealing with people, let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion, creatures bristling with prejudices and motivated by pride and vanity.”
‘The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.’
You can watch Zelnick’s comments about How to Win Friends and Influence People at 38:25 in the video below. (It’s the video of my full interview with Zelnick last week, which covers his views on technology trends, including the future of television and music.)