The Personal MBA

Master the Art of Business

A world-class business education in a single volume. Learn the universal principles behind every successful business, then use these ideas to make more money, get more done, and have more fun in your life and work.

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What Are 'Social Signals'?

Social Signals are tangible indicators of some intangible quality that increases a person's social status or group affiliation.

Social Signals have real Economic Value, so build them into your offer if you can.

To build offers with signaling value, you need to understand what people want to signal to others. Connect your offer to one of the Core Human Drives, and people will want what you have.

Josh Kaufman Explains 'Social Signals'

A Rolex doesn't tell time any better than a Timex. That's not the point.

A Gucci handbag doesn't carry items any better than a Jansport backpack, and a Porsche 911 won't (legally) get you from point A to point B any faster than a Honda Civic.

"Luxury" items can cost many times more than their more functional counterparts, but function is not the purpose. The benefit lies in sending a message to other people.

Social Signals are tangible indicators of some intangible quality that increases a person's social status or group affiliation. People will expend huge amounts of money and energy to send Social Signals.

People don't wear sports jerseys because they're stylish-they're ugly by any aesthetic measure. People wear them because they want to clearly affiliate themselves with their favorite team-it's a statement of identity.

Signals sometimes have little or nothing to do with the reality of what the signal is supposed to communicate.

In The Millionaire Next Door, Thomas Stanley and William Danko describe the lives and habits of people who have a net worth of over $1 million. More often than not, they live in modest houses, drive used cars, and buy inexpensive clothing.

If you think about it, that makes sense-the best way to build wealth is to earn a lot of money without spending it.

People who want to signal they're well off, on the other hand, tend to spend their money on items that communicate wealth and status-large houses, luxury cars, designer clothing, expensive vacations. These purchases are often financed with debt-if you look at the bank statements of the seemingly well-to-do, you'll often find that their financial position is precarious.

Social Signals are important and valuable, so it pays to build them into your offer if you can.

Part of building a signaling value into something is understanding what people want to signal to others. Since signals go back to the Core Human Drives (acquisition, bonding, learning, defending, and feeling) people want to signal that they're wealthy, attractive, intelligent, high- status, interesting, and confident.

Connecting your offer to one of these qualities via Association is a surefire way to make people Desire your offer more strongly.

Use Social Signals to your advantage, and you'll make people want what you have to offer.

Questions About 'Social Signals'


"The only rule is don't be boring and dress cute wherever you go. Life is too short to blend in."

Paris Hilton, socialite


From Chapter 8:

Working With Others


https://personalmba.com/social-signals/



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The Personal MBA

Master the Art of Business

A world-class business education in a single volume. Learn the universal principles behind every successful business, then use these ideas to make more money, get more done, and have more fun in your life and work.

Buy the book:


About Josh Kaufman

Josh Kaufman is an acclaimed business, learning, and skill acquisition expert. He is the author of two international bestsellers: The Personal MBA and The First 20 Hours. Josh's research and writing have helped millions of people worldwide learn the fundamentals of modern business.

More about Josh Kaufman →