Shira Abel Gives Us Endorphins and Explains Persuasion

Shira Abel walks onto the stage and tells us, “I like to talk with you, not at you.” She encourages us to jump in with questions at any time during her talk. What a great way to begin!

As the last speaker before lunch, she says she wants to begin with an exercise, or a Brain Hack as she calls it. She has everyone stand up and raise our arms over our heads for two minutes. She tells us this cuts off our body’s production of cortisol, the chemical that creates stress. She recommends doing this whenever you are feeling the pressure of the workday or need to reboot.


But who is Shira Abel? In a nutshell, she helps companies develop mindshare – brand, design, PR, and awareness. She is the CEO at Hunter & Bard and is a mentor at 500 Startups. Adding to her repertoire, she helps underdeveloped nations build their entrepreneurship.

Today, she talked with us about the chemicals and endorphins in our bodies: how they work and how they affect us.

  • Endorphins help us push forward and reach a happier mental state. In digital, we can give endorphins by writing copy that is funny that will make people laugh.
  • Serotonin maintains mood balance and contributes to overall well being.
  • Oxytocin is the chemical released when you connect with people. This is the feeling you get after truly communicating and working with someone. If you do it right, your brand can make people feel like they are a part of your brand as a whole and release this chemical.
  • Dopamine is all about motivation and reward. Many of us understand the addiction to that feeling of dopamine. We get this feeling every time we check our phones and receive a like on a photo, or a rewarding email you weren’t expecting.
  • Norepinephrine is a chemical that is released when you are nervous.
  • Cortisol is a stress hormone, and something you don’t want a lot of in your body! This chemical makes you not think clearly.

Abel goes on to explain how important the ask is when you are wanting someone to take an action. Here are some tactics she discussed.

  • Foot in the door
    • She provides the example of someone first asking you to take a small action, and then each time making a bigger and bigger ask, if you said yes. This way, you are primed to say yes each time, and will say yes when they get around to a bigger ask.
  • Big Ask/Small Ask
    • This style is where you start your ask with something big, knowing they likely will say no.  Once someone says no, you can make a smaller ask that they will likely feel more compelled to say yes to.
  • Reciprocity
    • She explains importance of helping people, and how they will then be happier with helping you. “Play nice. It gets you so much more.”
  • Anchoring
    • Present your numbers in the right way. It’s all about perception and how you present yourself. For example, on your pricing page, start with the big number. If you see a large number first, other numbers look tiny and they are more likely to buy.
  • Framing
    • Frame your ask in the proper way, and give the other person what they need. Change your pitch to give people what they need – make it easy to understand.
  • Loss Aversion
    • Make people feel like time is limited to act, create a scarcity. People always care about not missing out. #FOMO.
  • Analysis Paralysis
    • Don’t give people too many options – it can cause confusion.

We were energized and ready to practice our newfound persuasion skills as she left the podium.