The Art of Signaling and How to Possibly Do What You Really Want to Do

June 14, 2010          Comments (5)


Along with envy comes the desire to stand out, and on the contrary not wanting to stand out (read: keeping up with the Joneses).

This leads to signaling and conspicuous spending which is a fascinating art.

Here’s the problem with stuff: when the people around you have stuff, you want more stuff. (We’ve learned that humans are wired to do this.)

However, if you look at charts of happiness by culture, we see that there’s no correlation between stuff and happiness.  In fact, there’s a reverse correlation because if lots of people in your culture have stuff, you might be unhappy because you don’t have as much stuff as they do.

I own therefore I am.

In the post-World War II era, when the suburbs were becoming both a place and a way of life, it was called “keeping up with the Joneses .” If one driveway on the street suddenly had a new station wagon on it, a fleet of station wagons was sure to follow.

If the most popular and perceived-as-sophisticated mom in the neighborhood wears x, drives x, enrolls her child in x and I do the same, I am as sophisticated as she. Ownership equals being. That’s what signaling and conspicuous spending is all about.

Rich people will always indulge the desire to stand out.

Although some women may find them to be “a work of art” if everyone else had the $1500 handbag they wanted, it wouldn’t be as appealing.  Many car lovers may find a Ferrari to be a gorgeous car; however, it’s even more attractive because they are rare.

Scarcity creates value and rich people want scarce things.

In every city there are expensive restaurants that aren’t all that good. The very act of paying extra to go there ensures that you’ll be surrounded by others just as interested in proving how wealthy they are.

Inconspicuous spending is about concealing your wealth. Conspicuous spending is about revealing it.

If you’re honest with yourself, one of the biggest reasons why you may want to make a lot of money is simply to display that you have a lot of money in order to prove that you’ve “made it big!”

The clothes you wear, the watch you have, the car you drive, the size of your house, all are all signals. The social power of a house is enormous. If you buy a mansion you are making a big statement.

But what happens if you don’t care about ‘stuff’ and proving how much of it you can buy?

It seems to me that many people are willing to do what they hate for a living, just so they can surround themselves with stuff – in order to prove to everyone else how ‘successful‘ they are. The reward is the stuff they have for doing what they hate.

Here’s a thought experiment: what if the reward was getting to do what you loved every day? Or doing something that you were really interested in or passionate about?

Let me be clear: I’m not saying I don’t like nice things or want nice things. It’s just fascinating to me what people are willing to do in order to be able to display their ‘wealth.’

[Some interesting comments over at]

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Relativity and How it Can Make You Unhappy

May 12, 2010          Comments (3)


Relativity helps us make decisions in life. But it can also make us unhappy.

Ever wonder why top executives and CEO’s of public companies make so much money?

In 1993 federal securities regulators forced companies, for the first time, to disclose details about the pay and perks of their top executives. The idea was that once pay was out in the open, boards would be hesitant to give executives ludicrous salaries and benefits. The purpose of this was to curb the rapid rise of executive compensation. Regulation, legislation, nor shareholder pressure had been able to stop it so they thought this was the perfect solution.

Check this: in 1976 the average CEO was paid 36 times as much as the average worker. By 1993, the average CEO was paid 131 times as much.

But guess what happened? Once salaries became public information, the media regularly ran stories ranking CEOs by pay. Rather than suppressing the perks, the publicity had the CEOs in America comparing their pay with that of other CEOs.

In response, executives’ salaries skyrocketed. The result?

Now the average CEO makes about 369 times as much as the average worker (about 3x the salary before executive compensation went public)!

It has been proven repeatedly that the link between amount of salary and happiness is not that strong. In fact, it’s rather weak. Yet, we keep pushing for more money and higher salaries. Much of that can be blamed on sheer envy.

John is happy making $1,000,000 a year as the CEO. But if he finds out Bill is making $1.1 million, he’ll be unhappy.

Pretty sad, indeed.

A study quoted in the book The Paradox of Choice gave participants hypothetical choices concerning status and asked for their preferences. For example, people were asked to choose between a) earning $50,000 a year with others earning $25,000 or b) earning twice as much, $100,000 a year but being surrounded by people earning $200,000. More than half the respondents chose the option that gave them the better relative position. That means earning $50,000 to $100,000 because they were, at $50,000 earning more than others, while at $100,000 they were earning less than others.

This means the guy buying the 911 Turbo Porsche may be doing so only because others at work have a Boxster.

Although we’re hard wired to compare, it’s who you compare yourself to that can make or break your happiness. Ideally, you wouldn’t compare yourself to anyone. Really!

But if you must compare your orange self, only compare yourself to other oranges. Are you completely self-made? Well, comparing yourself to those who aren’t is just silly.

A wise man once said, “Never compare your inside to someone else’s outside.”

Along with envy comes the desire to stand out, and on the contrary not wanting to stand out (read: keeping up with the Joneses).

This leads to signaling and conspicuous spending which is fascinating, and one that I’ll explore in my next post.

In the mean time, why not subscribe via email or by rss, so won’t miss a post.


I’ve become friends with some very cool people doing very cool things via my blog and company. One of them is Adam McFarland. His blog is a must-read if you’re an entrepreneur, and if you’re a sports fan check out his latest venture; – I think they’re onto something.

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The art of being self-made and how to find out what you’re really passionate about

April 21, 2010          Comments (2)


I’m always in search of litmus tests for varying aspects of life. For example, if you want to know what someone really cares about read this. Well, here’s my latest…

If you want to know what someone is really passionate about, ask them who they’d have lunch with if it could be anyone in the world besides their family or friends.

Growing up I dreamed of playing in the NBA. I honestly believed I was going to make it…until, I was in 8th grade or so.

I dedicated my life to it. I attended basketball camp all summer long from 8am to 4pm. I’d get home; quickly grab a snack and then train intensely on my own all afternoon into the evening. Ever hear of Jump Soles? Well, you’d find me running on the street, and in my driveway doing drills with them on.

By summers end (of my last devoted summer), my goal was to be able to dunk. Unfortunately for me: White Man Can’t Jump. (Although, I was easily able to touch the rim which was a huge accomplishment for me!)

(I still played JV/Varsity basketball but it was never the same once I realized I wasn’t good enough to make the NBA) I also remember watching sports all the time. Who could ever forget the good old Sundays of the NBA on NBC back when Jordan was playing?

Or, if I was watching college basketball 60 minutes would come on once the games were over. Ugh, 60 minutes? I’d turn it off and go finish (actually start) my homework that was due on Monday.

About 4 years ago, I realized 60 minutes was one of my favorite shows. It’s absolutely fascinating. Every story is interesting. No, this isn’t a promotion for 60 minutes but it’s certainly proof that our tastes evolve.

So back to my litmus test: When I was growing up, if you asked me who I’d have lunch with I would’ve said Michael Jordan in less than a heart beat. Sadly, I had many dreams of playing basketball with him in my driveway. The best dreams of him, though, were when he’d be in my kitchen having lunch and I’d have time to call my friends and invite them over. Those were some disappointing mornings, let me tell you.

Anyway, if you asked me who I’d have lunch with now it would absolutely be a self-made entrepreneur. There are not many more impressive things to me than someone who starts out with a little and ends with a lot. (A lot doesn’t have to be money, by the way. It could be power although often linked to money but influence, access, free time and impact to name a few.)

While my goal isn’t to become a billionaire like Mark Cuban, I’m still fascinated by him and many others.

There’s something to be said about creating your own way in this world. There’s something to be said about those who are completely self-made from scratch. People who work for what they have, instead of having things handed to them, are just so much more interesting. You can’t buy that perspective and depth it gives you. You can’t fake it nor can you successfully mask it.

While entrepreneurship makes me tick, it probably doesn’t make you tick. I’ve argued before against being an entrepreneur unless you’re practically possessed by your idea because you believe in it so much.

And I’d argue that if you’re dying to find out what your passion is or what you’re truly interested in – ask yourself, “Who would I have lunch with if it could be anyone in the world besides my family or friends?”

I think it’s a very telling question.


If you think you have too many passions, you might enjoy this post.

[Check out the comments over at]

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The Paradox of Dating Tremendously Successful People

April 9, 2010          Comments (3)


I’ve long questioned the definition of success so there’s no need to do that again. However, for this post, let’s say that we define success as Steve Jobs type success. You know, the billionaire next door type – except he’s never there.

It seems to me that many people are attracted to power. Power exudes confidence. Or, does confidence get you power? (If that’s what you’re after)

I’m not talking about women being attracted to men in uniform or students being attracted to their teachers. I’m talking about women who are only interested in dating very powerful men.

But here’s the paradox: Sometimes what attracts us to a person is the very same thing that turns us off.

Perfect example: Jon’s Corzine’s ex-wife described him as being, “tainted by ambition.” She must’ve known he was a very ambitious guy from the get go. You don’t lead Goldman Sachs and then become the Governor of New Jersey and then head back to Wall Street (a rare move) without being insanely ambitious.

It seems to me, so many women want to date a “successful” guy so they can live a rather comfortable lifestyle. Sure, why not. If you’re going to pick the same guy with or without money, why not take the guy with dinero?

A woman might argue that they’re just attracted to the qualities and characteristics of a very successful man.

But many of these same women get turned off by the fact their man is out working 15 hours a day. So, which is it?

It’s impossible to achieve that kind of “success” and all that it might afford you without being extremely focused and single-minded. I think women need to know what they want up front.

I’ve questioned the point of being insanely ambitious and successful to the nth degree. I think many people believe this is the key to happiness. I think most people are just chasing wind.

To my last post, I believe it’s really hard to achieve remarkable success without organizing your life around doing what you love. And it’s really hard to “obtain” power without putting in the hours.

As the brilliant Michael Lewis states:

A job will never satisfy you all by itself, but it will afford you security and the chance to pursue an exciting and fulfilling life outside of your work. A calling is an activity you find so compelling that you wind up organizing your entire self around it — often to the detriment of your life outside of it.

Another problem! Many people are attracted to people with callings or a deep passion for what they do. Typically, most tremendously successful people are pursuing their calling.

But Lewis’s definition, which I think is right on the money – proves the very point I’m trying to make.


[Check out the comments over at!]

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Hurt Locker – It hurts so much to love so much

March 25, 2010          Comments (2)


In the movie Hurt Locker, which just won 6 Academy Awards, the main character Staff Sergeant William James says to his little son, who is playing with a Jack-in-a-box:

You love playing with that. You love playing with all your stuffed animals. You love your Mommy, your Daddy. You love your pajamas. You love everything, don’t ya? Yea. But you know what, buddy? As you get older… some of the things you love might not seem so special anymore. Like your Jack-in-a-Box. Maybe you’ll realize it’s just a piece of tin and a stuffed animal. And then you forget the few things you really love. And by the time you get to my age, maybe it’s only one or two things. With me, I think it’s one.

I loved the movie but I loved that quote even more.

What do you really love?

It’s a scary thought, especially, when you take away all of the people in your life that you love.

Sergeant William James is an adrenaline junkie who is the leader of a U.S. Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal. He will do anything for the thrill of defusing a bomb that could vaporize him instantly. So much so that he left his family to do the one and only thing he really loves over and over again.

I wonder if this is the key to achieving remarkable success. To love what you do so much that you’re willing to forgo everything else in your life.

If you look at almost every insanely successful person, they’ve put their hours in. Malcolm Gladwell says it’s 10,000 hours. He argues that whether you’re Bill Gates or the Beatles you’ve put in 10,000 hours of practice to become extraordinary successful.

But if you have a life, that’s very hard to do. However, if your entire life is what you love, you have a huge advantage.

So the question then becomes what do you love? Because no matter how much you try to convince yourself that you enjoy the process of mastery, it’s going to be very hard to put in those hours, unless you love the subject you’re trying to master.

“How much do you love what you’re doing?” is a great question to gauge potential success. In fact, that’s how Warren Buffet chooses who he’s going to invest in. “I have to look them in the eye and decide whether they love the business or they love the money. It’s fine if they love the money, but they have to love the business more.” he says.

Whenever I meet a fellow entrepreneur, I’m always curious to know what drives them. What ultimately gets them out of bed every morning? What keeps them up at night? I always follow up with, “Would you sit on a beach for $1,000,000 per year from nine to five?” And I’ll keep raising it if they don’t budge, until they eventually do, because everyone has a price.

Jim Collins who wrote one of the bestselling business books of all time, Good to Great, has a great way to look at it. In the introduction he writes:

As I was finishing this manuscript, I went for a run and an odd question popped into my mind: How much would someone have to pay me not to publish Good to Great?

It was an interesting thought experiment, given that I’d just spent the previous five years working on the research project and writing this book. Not there isn’t some number that might entice me to bury it, but by the time I crossed the hundred-million-dollar threshold, it was time to head back down the trail. Even that much couldn’t convince me to abandon the project.

Don’t get me wrong. 1 million bucks per year is a ridiculous amount of money. You could do a lot of things with that. But if your number isn’t all that high, and you’d consider a cool million per year, I don’t think you’re in love with your business all that much (job, career) and there’s nothing wrong with that!

And if you don’t love what you do, you can at least love the life your work provides. I just think it’s very hard to achieve remarkable success.

Here’s what I love: Making a positive impact on people.

What do you love?

[Check out the comments over at Brazen!]

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What if you were supposed to be a heart surgeon?

March 10, 2010          Comments (3)

Heart Surgeon

Do you think your current job best suits you? I doubt it.

I think we sort of fall into our careers. I don’t know many people who deliberately set out to do what they do. At least those doing out of the ordinary things.

Imagine if you were born knowing you had the natural ability to be the world’s best heart surgeon, or lawyer, or mechanic.

On the flip side, maybe you thought you had more talent in some field than you do, and wasted a lot of time preparing for the wrong career.

How does a law or medical student even know if they would actually like being a lawyer or doctor?

Here’s the problem we all face: We delude ourselves every day. We’re also heavily influenced by our own passion, optimism and pessimism.

And we’re influenced by other people’s opinions of our abilities. If you were showing an aptitude for math early on people might have encouraged you to pursue finance or accounting. If you were excelling in biology then you might have been pushed to go to medical school.

Like to argue? “You should be a lawyer!” everyone says.

The problem is other people are just as clueless as you.

So, if you can’t trust your own opinions and the opinions of those around you, whose can you trust?

You need to focus on getting feedback from the right people. People who’ve been in the game you’re trying to play in long enough to recognize talent.

For example, the right people for MBT for me to really listen to are those that have tried everything under the sun. Many clients have told me that MBT is the most effective program they’ve ever come across.

This sounds like lip service. But I wouldn’t have invested (and continue to do so) as much time, effort and money as I did into MBT if I wasn’t getting feedback like this.

I have a client that’s written a NY Times Bestselling Diet book. She was even on Oprah. (One day I hope to introduce you to her.) Another client runs a world-renown weight loss clinic. (I hope to introduce you to her as well.)

And many clients have been on and off diets for years trying anything and everything.

Sure, I listen to the delighted client who lost 20 pounds.

However, it’s the clients that have been in the game for years that I really listen to because if they didn’t like my program, or believe in it, it would be time to close up shop.

Who are you listening to?

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Part 2 of my birthday celebration!

February 11, 2010          Comments (1)


Thank you very much for all the birthday wishes yesterday! I really appreciate it.

Many of you have taken advantage of my birthday offer which is great. I know you won’t regret it! The offer lasts until the 17th so be sure to email me, if you’re interested. Again, I hardly ever offer a discount so now is your chance. (The price I charge is already very reasonable!)

Now, let’s get to the second part of my birthday celebration. This is getting fun!

How would you like to have me in your bedroom?

Read on.

Obviously (or maybe not) I’m extremely passionate about what I do. I feel as if I’m doing what I was born to be doing. I love spreading my message. I love talking about my philosophy, and ultimately, what I’m most interested in is inflicting positive change on people.

The best way I know of to do this is by coaching. Nothing is more effective than one on one coaching (with a proven program and application) to make positive change happen. There’s certainly a direct correlation between how much interaction there is and how effective it is.

I think public speaking is another very powerful way to create the transfer of emotion that’s so necessary. And I don’t do enough of it.

So here’s your opportunity to have me in your bedroom or living room or wherever your computer is, FREE!

I’m planning on offering a 30 minute webinar for you and 9 of your friends. I send you a link. You log onto a website at a specific time and date (sometime in the evening) that we agree on and you watch me speak from the comfort of your own home. We’ll all chat together as well. It really is a lot of fun! And it’s with 9 of your friends/coworkers/family members/etc.

I will be talking about how to get the body you want.

We’ll cover:

-Exercise and diet myths that’ll surprise you

-Why 97% of people don’t stick to diets

-Why almost all diets don’t work

-Why diet books are constantly bestsellers

-The best way to prevent cravings

-The best way to stop overeating

-What emotional eating is and how to stop it

-The one question you should ask before starting anything new

-The easiest and most sustainable nutrition program you could ever ask for

-The secret to getting the body you want

-And lots more, plus we’ll open it up so you can ask me any questions you like

Promises: No hard selling, whatsoever. This is about you! My goal is for you to walk away from your desk and be crystal clear on what you need to do to get the body you want.

I’m very confident anyone who is a part of this will get a lot out of it (and have a lot of fun!). Way more than you’ll ever get out of any book, magazine or TV show about diet and exercise and it’s absolutely free.

This is a first come, first served. I’m going to limit this to 10 groups.

If you’d like to be a Champion for your group, here’s what you need to do:

Think of 9 other people that you think would benefit from this. It can be a combo of your friends/coworkers/family, etc. It doesn’t matter.

Email me at adam at mybodytutor dot com with the subject line “Webinar Promotion”. In the email, tell me your name and number so we can speak and include the first names of your guests and their email addresses. I respect your privacy! These email addresses will only be used to send your guests the link for the webinar once you and I agree on a date and time. As soon as the webinar happens, I’ll delete all of the email addresses.

Few important notes:

One: You must email me with the names and email addresses. Please don’t email me saying you’d love to do this without any names or email addresses. The idea is for you to act quickly by sending an email to your peoples, letting them know the deal. It shouldn’t be hard. It’s free!

Here’s a sample email I put together for you:

Hey guys!

So, I read this guy Adam Gilbert’s blog. He runs this company called and it looks pretty cool. It seems as though he’s helped hundreds of people and has really made a huge difference in a lot of people’s lives.

Anyway, on his blog he mentioned this webinar thing. Basically, I need to get 9 people together and he’ll do a live webinar for all of us, for free. Here check out the post (link to this post). He’s going to cover a lot of interesting topics about weight loss and health and fitness and help us get the body we want. What do we have to lose?

Let me know if you’re in asap.


-Your name here

Two: This is an experiment on my part. I guarantee fun, interesting conversation, tons of education, question and answers, and maybe even a few technical difficulties (but I hope not).

Three: It doesn’t matter if your group is all guys or girls. Age doesn’t matter, either. Finally, if you’re a current or former client, you can participate in this, too!

Four: There’s no deadline for this but I anticipate having all the groups done by Monday.

I hope to hear from you soon!

Remember: The deadline for my program offer is the 17th.

Thanks for making my birthday special.

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It’s my birthday! 2 exciting ways to celebrate with me that will absolutely, positively, impact YOU!

February 9, 2010          Comments (5)


I’m not one to make a big deal over my birthday. After all, it’s just a number. But, I’m breaking my own rule this year. I’ve come up with two ways, I’d like to share my day with you (it’s actually tomorrow, the 10th) – and one of them involves me being in your bedroom.

So, let’s get this out of the way. Yes, I want you to try MyBodyTutor. But, only because I know it’ll help you. Actually, I believe it’ll change your life for the better. (And if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be doing it.)

MBT isn’t for everyone though. If you’re in amazing shape, you do not need my services!

However, if you have trouble staying consistent with your diet and/or exercise, have intense cravings, overeat, binge, are obsessed with food, always say, “I’ll start tomorrow!”, constantly make excuses and justify poor choices, find it hard to stay motivated, or are sick of going to the gym and not seeing (or feeling) results MBT is for YOU!

You know when you have a friend who’s complaining about something – maybe her boyfriend -and you know exactly what she should do!?!

The only thing is, it doesn’t matter if you tell them or not. They won’t listen until they’re ready.

That’s how I feel with MBT. You’ve been reading my blog, maybe even my other blog. You know me. And I KNOW 100% that my program will help you get the body you want. I even back it up with a full money back guarantee!

Let’s take Ruth M, a client from the USA living in Thailand right now. (She’ll be a case study soon.) She signed up on November 10th. Just yesterday she sent me an email thanking me and in it she writes, “Your system is the most effective and efficient way I have ever seen to get fit and healthy.”

I have hundreds of emails like that. Again though, don’t take my word for it. Try my program. Absolutely risk free!

So…what’s stopping you?

Let’s explore 3 potential reasons:

One. “I already know what to do.” Um, so do the other 200 million Americans (for the most part) that are out of shape and unhappy with the way they look and feel. A lack of knowledge isn’t the problem. If anything, there’s too much information!

A lack of consistent action is the real problem.

No one said it was easy to take consistent action! Knowledge without action is worthless. And that’s exactly why I created MyBodyTutor: To help you take consistent action (doing the right things) to ensure we get the result you want.

Two. You don’t think it’s worth it. If you don’t think your health and fitness is worth it then you never will. At least, I certainly won’t convince you! Unfortunately, it’ll be your doctor, down the line.

Besides, I only want to work with people who value their health and fitness and view it as an investment in themselves. (Not an expense.) And for those that are very ROI focused – the dividends your fitness pays are off the charts in terms of happiness, quality of life, energy, focus, and confidence.

Compare MBT to a personal trainer. Although a personal trainer is very helpful, I know it’s what we do in between workouts that really makes the difference! Besides, I’m betting you don’t need someone to hold your hand in the gym. You just need someone to make sure you get to the gym. (Sure, we’ll tell you exactly what to do.)

The most effective long-lasting results will come from daily and personal accountability which will ensure you stay consistent with both diet and exercise in and out of the gym.

Three. You’re scared. And I totally understand that. It takes courage to start something new. It takes courage to even think about starting something new!

Deep down you really want to be healthy and fit and love the way you look and feel, but you also don’t want to put forth the effort. Welcome to the world of cognitive dissonance – which is an uncomfortable feeling caused by holding two contradictory ideas or wants.

To reduce the uncomfortable feeling (dissonance) these two opposing wants cause you to change your attitudes and beliefs. So, you’ll justify or rationalize. (I don’t really want to be healthy and fit.)

You’re scared because you know MBT will work. You know it’s exactly what you need. But because you’re scared, you’ll question the program. You’ll question the results. You’ll question the guarantee. You’ll question anything and everything until you can find something to latch onto to so you feel comfortable not taking action.

Here’s my question to you: If you’re truly honest with yourself, and base your future results on your past performance, where will you be in 6 months from today?

There you have it. 3 common reasons you might not try MBT.

But because it’s my birthday, and because I really want to give you the push to try MBT, I’d like to offer you $50 off if you take action and sign up by February 17th. Full money back guarantee still applies, of course.

Curious about having me in your bedroom? I’ll share the second way I plan on celebrating my birthday with you on Thursday (2/11).

Note: If you’re interested in taking me up on this rare opportunity (I hardly ever offer discounts) simply email me at adam at mybodytutor dot com with ‘Birthday Promotion’ in the subject headline and we’ll get you going!

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How To: Ski (or, mostly do anything for that matter)

January 28, 2010          Comments (0)


I have the ski bug.

I tried skiing for the first time at the end of last season. Before that, I had never put skis on.

In the morning, I took a group lesson with 15 other people who were very much beginners. First, we learned that if you want to go faster you need to put your skis in the shape of French fries (straight).  And if you want to stop you need to put your skis in the shape of a pizza (wedge). Apparently this is the way kids are taught. Hey, I’m all for simplicity!

Before we learned how to ski we had to learn how to put the boot into the ski though. Then we learned how to walk/slide with only one ski on. Next, we learned how to put the other boot into the other ski. Now I had two skis on!

Very quickly, I realized that skis go with gravity! Even though I was on a tiny hill, I started moving! “Quick! Make that pizza!” the instructor said. Whew. That was close.

The 3-hour lesson flew by. Oddly, we didn’t really learn how to ski at all.

It seemed as though the only way to learn how to ski is by actually skiing. And there in lies the challenge!

Let’s say you want to learn how to swim. You decide it’s finally time to overcome your fear of water.

So, you find a local gym or pool club. Maybe there’s even a public pool that you weren’t aware of.

Then you look online (or in the Yellow pages) to find a swim instructor. After plenty of wrong numbers, you find someone who’s really passionate and experienced.

Next, you need to get the gear! You look online and find a bathing suit. Ohh, there’s one you like. Eh, you don’t really like it, after all. You go to another website.

You find the bathing suit! Ugh, it’s not in stock! After spending 3 hours searching you finally find the one.

What about goggles? Can’t swim without goggles!

Finally, the big day comes. It’s the day of your first lesson.

But you realize that you don’t have any shoes to wear by the pool! Whoops! You can’t swim without any shoes to wear around the pool!

So you cancel and reschedule.

You’ve done everything you could possibly do BUT swim. Sometimes, no matter what, we just gotta jump in the pool!

Back to pizza and French fries.

Because the only way to learn how to ski is by actually skiing, it makes it very scary. You have to push yourself. You have to be willing to fall. At first, I was very timid. However, by the end of the afternoon, I was trying to fall. Because I knew if I wasn’t falling I wasn’t pushing myself.

This past New Year’s I was in Vermont. It was my second time skiing. By noon the first day, I felt very confident going down the mountain. (Ya know, the bunny slope.)

Then my friends encouraged me to get a full lift ticket for the afternoon and the following day (actually they made me). In the Gondola we went, up the enormous mountain. It felt like the longest 20+ minutes of my life. We were so high up, we were in the clouds.

Finally, we got out and it was a full on blizzard. The conditions were nothing like it was down below!

My confidence quickly faded as I began falling over and over again. My friends joked that I was break dancing down the mountain. Each time, I tried to figure out what I was doing wrong. I’d start to go very fast and lose control. But the only way to get control was to experience what it felt like to be out of control. Aha, I wasn’t turning enough!

By the end of second and final day skiing, I felt very confident. Of course, until next time, when I’ll be forced to go down double black diamonds.

If you want to learn how to ski you can’t be afraid of falling. Actually, you need to embrace falling!

It’s so hard to overcome that resistance. According to my instructor, many first time skiers don’t really ever ski because of that.

But whenever I was in doubt (which was most of the time), I’d look for a 3 year old whizzing by.

If they could do it (without any poles), I could do it!

They’re lucky. They’re AFF!

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Revealed VS Stated Preferences

January 7, 2010          Comments (6)


Why do we do certain things even though they are against our desires? Even though they are against what we said we’d do? Ah the human condition. How it never ceases to fascinate me.

Why do we continue to believe money is the key to happiness yet research proves relationships are?

(According to Harvard psychologist, Daniel Gilbert, it’s $40,000.Yet, most of us will continue to strive for more and more. We’d be better off working on teaching ourselves how to look at our money with a different eye.)

The “hedonic treadmill” describes our amazing ability to adapt quickly to changed circumstances.

The reason why the treadmill never ends is because our amazing ability to adapt also makes novelty wear off very quickly. If our circumstances improve, we soon become accustomed to those new comforts.

Let’s say you treat yourself to the plasma TV you’ve wanted for so long. Sure, it’ll be really cool once you get it, but not long after you do, it’ll be old news.

As Aldous Huxley said, “Habit converts luxurious enjoyments into dull and daily necessities.”

How about the “arrival fallacy”? The arrival fallacy is a fallacy because, though you may anticipate great happiness in arrival, arriving rarely makes you as happy as you anticipate.

By the time you’ve arrived at your goal (whatever it may be), you’re expecting to reach it, so it has already been incorporated into your happiness.

The trick is to learn to enjoy the process of reaching that destination. (Something I really work hard on with my clients. Because when the journey is the reward in itself, it’s a lot easier to stick with it.)

We’re incredibly good at rationalizing behaviors. We can justify any behavior we engage in; even if we feel bad afterward.

That’s why it’s so important to look at what people do. And not what they say. Or read. Or watch.

That’s why it’s so interesting to look at people’s revealed preferences versus their stated preferences.

I’m constantly asking my clients what they want.

However, many clients have said they wanted a feature and didn’t wind up using it during testing. Others have said they wouldn’t use a feature and wound up loving it.

Who do you listen to?

Here’s a perfect example of stated versus revealed preferences stated and revealed by a McDonald’s executive.

“Our customers want mediocre food cheap. Every time we release a higher priced but higher quality product, the people who said they would pay for it never do.

You say you want more fruits, salads, organic, all natural, etc. Well then start buying that stuff and stop buying double cheeseburgers. Our best selling stuff is always whatever we can make taste good, at rock bottom prices.

We’ve actually learned not to listen to our customers when it comes to a lot of things. Health nuts won’t come into McDonald’s to eat even when we give them what they want.”

The funny thing is I’ve always wondered why McDonald’s didn’t offer super nutritious foods at higher prices. “I’d go there! I’d pay for it” I used to think. But I don’t. And when I rarely do, it’s not for health food.

It always comes back to watching what people do.

Not what they say.


This goes hand in hand with my “How to tell what someone really cares about” post.

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