Summary: Mindset by Dr. Carol S. Dweck

1. This growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts, your strategies, and help from others. Although people may differ in every which way—in their initial talents and aptitudes, interests, or temperaments—everyone can change and grow through application and experience.

2. The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset. This is the mindset that allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives.

3. The fixed mindset makes you concerned with how you’ll be judged; the growth mindset makes you concerned with improving.

4. Not long ago I was interested to read about Marina Semyonova, a great Russian dancer and teacher, who devised a novel way of selecting her students. It was a clever test for mindset. As a former student tells it, “Her students first have to survive a trial period while she watches to see how you react to praise and to correction. Those more responsive to the correction are deemed worthy.”

5. Is there another way to judge potential? NASA thought so. When they were soliciting applications for astronauts, they rejected people with pure histories of success and instead selected people who had had significant failures and bounced back from them.

6. As a New York Times article points out, failure has been transformed from an action (I failed) to an identity (I am a failure). This is especially true in the fixed mindset.

7. Even in the growth mindset, failure can be a painful experience. But it doesn’t define you. It’s a problem to be faced, dealt with, and learned from.

8. John Wooden, the legendary basketball coach, says you aren’t a failure until you start to blame. What he means is that you can still be in the process of learning from your mistakes until you deny them.

9. People with the fixed mindset tell us, “If you have to work at something, you must not be good at it.” They add, “Things come easily to people who are true geniuses.”

10. It’s also important to realize that even if people have a fixed mindset, they’re not always in that mindset. In fact, in many of our studies, we put people into a growth mindset. We tell them that an ability can be learned and that the task will give them a chance to do that.

11. These experiences make our research participants into growth-minded thinkers, at least for the moment—and they act like growth-minded thinkers, too.

12. Since this was a kind of IQ test, you might say that praising ability lowered the students’ IQs. And that praising their effort raised them.

13. Andrew Carnegie once said, “I wish to have as my epitaph: ‘Here lies a man who was wise enough to bring into his service men who knew more than he.’ ”

14. Jack Welch, Lou Gerstner, and Anne Mulcahy are also fascinating because they transformed their companies. They did this by rooting out the fixed mindset and putting a culture of growth and teamwork in its place.

15. First, it means that our best bet is not simply to hire the most talented managers we can find and turn them loose, but to look for managers who also embody a growth mindset: a zest for teaching and learning, an openness to giving and receiving feedback, and an ability to confront and surmount obstacles.

16. One problem is that people with the fixed mindset expect everything good to happen automatically.

17. Remember the fixed-mindset idea that if you have ability, you shouldn’t have to work hard? This is the same belief applied to relationships: If you’re compatible, everything should just come naturally.

18. When people with a fixed mindset talk about their conflicts, they assign blame. Sometimes they blame themselves, but often they blame their partner. And they assign blame to a trait—a character flaw.

19. Many educators think that lowering their standards will give students success experiences, boost their self-esteem, and raise their achievement. It comes from the same philosophy as the overpraising of students’ intelligence. Well, it doesn’t work. Lowering standards just leads to poorly educated students who feel entitled to easy work and lavish praise.

20. He didn’t ask for mistake-free games. He didn’t demand that his players never lose. He asked for full preparation and full effort from them. “Did I win? Did I lose? Those are the wrong questions. The correct question is: Did I make my best effort?” If so, he says, “You may be outscored but you will never lose.”

21. A growth mindset is about believing people can develop their abilities.

22. These concrete plans—plans you can visualize—about when, where, and how you are going to do something lead to really high levels of follow-through, which, of course, ups the chances of success. So the idea is not only to make a growth-mindset plan, but also to visualize, in a concrete way, how you’re going to carry it out.

Summary : Don't make me think(revisited) - Steve Krug

1. If something requires a large investment of time—or looks like it will—it’s less likely to be used.

2. If something is usable—whether it’s a Web site, a remote control, or a revolving door—it means that A person of average (or even below average) ability and experience can figure out how to use the thing to accomplish something without it being more trouble than it’s worth.

3. As far as is humanly possible, when I look at a Web page it should be self-evident. Obvious. Self-explanatory. Don't make me think.

4. All kinds of things on a Web page can make us stop and think unnecessarily. Take names, for example. Typical culprits are cute or clever names, marketing-induced names, company-specific names, and unfamiliar technical names.

5. FACT OF LIFE #1: We don’t read pages. We scan them. One of the very few well-documented facts about Web use is that people tend to spend very little time reading most Web pages. Instead, we scan (or skim) them, looking for words or phrases that catch our eye.

6. FACT OF LIFE #2: We don’t make optimal choices. We satisfice. In reality, though, most of the time we don’t choose the best option—we choose the first reasonable option, a strategy known as satisficing.

7. FACT OF LIFE #3: We don’t figure out how things work. We muddle through. Faced with any sort of technology, very few people take the time to read instructions. Instead, we forge ahead and muddle through, making up our own vaguely plausible stories about what we’re doing and why it works.

8. Design for scanning :

  • Take advantage of conventions  - One of the best ways to make almost anything easier to grasp in a hurry is to follow the existing conventions 
  • Create effective visual hierarchies  - A good visual hierarchy saves us work by preprocessing the page for us, organizing and prioritizing its contents in a way that we can grasp almost instantly.
  • Break pages up into clearly defined areas  - Dividing the page into clearly defined areas is important because it allows users to decide quickly which areas of the page to focus on and which areas they can safely ignore.
  • Make it obvious what’s clickable  
  • Eliminate distractions  
  • Format content to support scanning - Use plenty of headings. Keep paragraphs short. Use bulleted lists.  Highlight key terms.

9. Don’t make me think! KRUG’S FIRST LAW OF USABILITY

10. It doesn’t matter how many times I have to click, as long as each click is a mindless, unambiguous choice. —KRUG’S SECOND LAW OF USABILITY

11. Get rid of half the words on each page, then get rid of half of what’s left. —KRUG’S THIRD LAW OF USABILITY

12. The one thing you can’t afford to lose in the shuffle—and the thing that most often gets lost—is conveying the big picture. As quickly and clearly as possible, the Home page needs to answer the four questions I have in my head when I enter a new site for the first time:

  • What is this?
  • What do they have here?
  • What can I do here?
  • Why should I be here and not somewhere else?

13. Nothing beats a good tagline!™ A tagline is a pithy phrase that characterizes the whole enterprise, summing up what it is and what makes it great.

14. Usability tests are about watching one person at a time try to use something (whether it’s a Web site, a prototype, or some sketches of a new design) to do typical tasks so you can detect and fix the things that confuse or frustrate them.

15. Do-It-Yourself Testing:

  • Primary purpose is to identify the most serious issues. You can find more problems in half a day than you can fix in a month.
  • One morning a month includes testing, debriefing and deciding what to fix 
  • Three participants - And three users are very likely to encounter many of the most significant problems related to the tasks that you’re testing.
  • Recruit loosely, if necessary. Doing frequent testing is more important than testing actual users
  • A 1-2 page summarising decisions made during team's debriefing.

16. After each test session, list the three most serious usability problems you noticed.

17. What happens during a typical one-hour testing:

  • Welcome (4 mins) - You begin by explaining how the test work so the participants knows what to expect.
  • The questions (2 mins). Next you ask the participant a few questions about themselves. This helps put them at ease and gives an idea of how computer-savvy they are.
  • The Home page tour (3 mins). Then you open the Home page of the site you’re testing and ask the participant to look around and tell you what they make of it. This will give you an idea of how easy it is to understand your Home page and how much the participant already knows your domain.
  • The tasks (35 mins). This is the heart of the test: watching the participant try to perform a series of tasks (or in some cases, just one long task). Again, your job is to make sure the participant stays focused on the tasks and keeps thinking aloud. If the participant stops saying what they’re thinking, prompt them by saying—wait for it—“What are you thinking?” (For variety, you can also say things like “What are you looking at?” and “What are you doing now?”)
  • Probing (5 mins). After the tasks, you can ask the participant questions
  • Wrapping up (5 mins). Finally, you thank them for their help, pay them, and show them to the door.

Summary : Altered Traits by Daniel Goleman and Richard J. Davidson

1. We aim to shift the conversation with a radical reinterpretation of what the actual benefits of meditation are—and are not—and what the true aim of practice has always been

2. We had a big idea: beyond the pleasant states meditation can produce, the real payoffs are the lasting traits that can result. An altered trait—a new characteristic that arises from a meditation practice —endures apart from meditation itself. Altered traits shape how we behave in our daily lives, not just during or immediately after we meditate

3. Meditation is a catch-all word for myriad varieties of contemplative practice, just as sports refers to a wide range of athletic activities. For both sports and meditation, the end results vary depending on what you actually do.

4. Some practical advice: for those about to start a meditation practice, or who have been grazing among several, keep in mind that as with gaining skill in a given sport, finding a meditation practice that appeals to you and sticking with it will have the greatest benefits. Just find one to try, decide on the amount of time each day you can realistically practice daily—even as short as a few minutes— try it for a month, and see how you feel after those thirty days.

5. Just as regular workouts give you better physical fitness, most any type of meditation will enhance mental fitness to some degree.

6. We offer a clear-eyed view based on hard science, sifting out results that are not nearly as compelling as the claims made for them.

7. With mindfulness, the meditator simply notes without reactivity whatever comes into mind, such as thoughts or sensory impressions like sounds—and lets them go. The operative word here is go. If we think much of anything about what just arose, or let it trigger any reactivity at all, we have lost our mindful stance—unless that reaction or thought in turn becomes the object of mindfulness.

8. Neuroplasticity, he explained, shows that repeated experience can change the brain, shaping it. We don’t have to choose between nature or nurture. They interact, each molding the other.

9. Try this. Look straight ahead and hold up a finger with your arm outstretched. Still looking straight ahead, slowly shift that finger until it is about two feet to the right of your nose. When you move your finger far to the right, but stay focused straight ahead, it lands in your peripheral vision, the outer edge of what your visual system takes in.  

10.Most people lose sight of their finger as it moves to the far right or left of their nose. But one group does not: people who are deaf. While this unusual visual advantage in the deaf has long been known, the brain basis has only recently been shown. And the mechanism is, again, neuroplasticity.

11. The chunk of neural real estate that usually operates as the primary auditory cortex (known as Heschl’s gyrus) receives no sensory inputs in deaf people. The brains of deaf people, Neville discovered, had morphed so that what is ordinarily a part of the auditory system was now working with the visual circuitry.

12. Such findings illustrate how radically the brain can rewire itself in response to repeated experiences.

13. Altered traits map along a spectrum starting at the negative end, with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a case in point. The amygdala acts as the neural radar for threat. Overwhelming trauma resets to a hair trigger the amygdala’s threshold for hijacking the rest of the brain to respond to what it perceives as an emergency.

14. Moving along the trait spectrum toward the positive range, there are the beneficial neural impacts of being a secure child, whose brain gets molded by empathic, concerned, and nurturing parenting. This childhood brain shaping builds in adulthood, for example, into being able to calm down well when upset.

15. Our interest in altered traits looks beyond the merely healthy spectrum to an.even more beneficial range, wholesome traits of being. These extremely positive altered traits, like equanimity and compassion, are a goal of mind training in contemplative traditions. We use the term altered trait as shorthand for this highly positive range.

16. Viktor Frankl has written about how a sense of meaning and purpose allowed him and select others to survive years in a Nazi concentration camp while thousands were dying around them. For Frankl, continuing his work as a psychotherapist with other prisoners in the camp lent purpose to his life; for another man there, it was having a child who was on the outside; yet another found purpose in the book he wanted to write.

17. Frankl’s sentiment resonates with a finding that after a three-month meditation retreat (about 540 hours total), those practitioners who had strengthened a sense of purpose in life during that time also showed a simultaneous increase in the activity of telomerase in their immune cells, even five months later. 24 This enzyme protects the length of telomeres, the caps at the ends of DNA strands that reflect how long a cell will live.

18. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, Germany, had novices practice daily for a few months three different types of meditation: focusing on breathing; generating loving-kindness; and monitoring thoughts without getting swept away by them. 

19. Breath focus, they found, was calming—seeming to confirm a widespread assumption about meditation’s usefulness as a means to relax. But in contradiction to that stereotype, neither the loving-kindness practice nor monitoring thoughts made the body more relaxed, apparently because each demands mental effort:

20. The loving-kindness practice, where you wish yourself and others well, understandably created a positive mood, while the other two methods did not.

21. So, differing types of meditation produce unique results—a fact that should make it a routine move to identify the specific type being studied.

22. In sum, “meditation” is not a single activity but a wide range of practices, all acting in their own particular ways in the mind and brain.

23. As we will see, there sometimes is a dose-response relationship when it comes to the brain and behavioral benefits from meditation: the more you do it, the better the payoff.

24. Richie and his colleagues developed a Health Enhancement Program (HEP) as a comparison condition for studies of mindfulness-based stress reduction. HEP consists of music therapy with relaxation; nutritional education; and movement exercises like posture improvement, balance, core strengthening, stretching, and walking or jogging.

25. In the labs’ studies, the instructors who taught HEP believed it would help, just as much as did those who taught meditation. Such an “active control” can neutralize factors like enthusiasm, and so better identify the unique benefits of any intervention—in this case, meditation—to see what it adds over and above the Hawthorne edge.

26. Richie’s group randomly assigned volunteers to either HEP or mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR) and then before and after the training had them fill out questionnaires that in earlier research had reflected improvements from meditation. But in this study, both groups reported comparable improvement on these subjective measures of general distress, anxiety, and medical symptoms. 

27. This led Richie’s group to conclude that much of the stress relief improvements beginners credit to meditation do not seem to be that unique.  Moreover, on a questionnaire that was specifically developed to measure mindfulness, absolutely no difference was found in the level of improvement from MBSR or HEP.

28. This led Richie’s lab to conclude that for this variety of mindfulness, and likely for any other meditation, many of the reported benefits in the early stages of practice can be chalked up to expectation, social bonding in the group, instructor enthusiasm, or other “demand characteristics.” Rather than being from meditation per se, any reported benefits may simply be signs that people have positive hopes and expectations. 

29. Such data are a warning to anyone looking for a meditation practice to be wary of exaggerated claims about its benefits. 

30. As these stressful thoughts were presented, the patients used either of two different attentional stances: mindful awareness of their breath or distraction by doing mental arithmetic. Only mindfulness of their breath both lowered activity in the amygdala—mainly via a faster recovery—and strengthened it in the brain’s attentional networks, while the patients reported less stress reactivity. The same beneficial pattern emerged when the patients who had done MBSR were compared with some who had trained in aerobics.

31. About the same time as Alan’s findings that mindfulness calms the amygdala, other researchers had volunteers who had never meditated before practice mindfulness for just twenty minutes a day over one week, and then have an fMRI scan. During the scan they saw images ranging from gruesome burn victims to cute bunnies. They watched these images in their everyday state of mind, and then while practicing mindfulness. 

32. During mindful attention their amygdala response was significantly lower (compared to nonmeditators) to all the images. This sign of being less disturbed, tellingly, was greatest in the amygdala on the brain’s right side (there are amygdalae in both right and left hemispheres), which often has a stronger response to whatever upsets us than the one on the left.

33. If you give the back of your hand a hard pinch, different brain systems mobilize, some for the pure sensation of pain and others for our dislike of that pain. The brain unifies them into a visceral, instant Ouch! But that unity falls apart when we practice mindfulness of the body, spending hours noticing our bodily sensations in great detail. As we sustain this focus, our awareness morphs.

34. What had been a painful pinch transforms, breaking down into its constituents: the intensity of the pinch and the painful sensation, and the emotional feeling tone—we don’t want the pain; we urgently want the pain to stop.

35. The more experienced among the Zen students not only were able to bear more pain than could controls, they also displayed little activity in executive, evaluative, and emotion areas during the pain—all regions that ordinarily flare into activity when we are under such intense stress.

36. In short, the Zen meditators seemed to respond to pain as though it was a more neutral sensation. In more technical language, their brains showed a “functional decoupling” of the higher and lower brain regions that register pain —while their sensory circuitry felt the pain, their thoughts and emotions did not react to it.

37. The ability to manage distress (which depends upon the connectivity between the prefrontal cortex and amygdala) will be greater in long-term meditators compared to those who have only done the MBSR training.

38. Technically, “loving-kindness” refers to wishing that other people be happy; its near cousin “compassion” entails the wish that people be relieved of suffering.

39. In the format for loving-kindness that Sharon helped bring to the West, you silently repeat phrases like “May I be safe,” “May I be healthy,” and “May my life unfold with ease,” first wishing this for yourself, then for people you love, then for neutral people, and finally for all beings—even those whom you find difficult or who have harmed you. In one version or another, this has become the most well-studied format of compassion meditation.

40. How soon? Maybe in mere minutes—at least when it comes to mood. One study found that just seven minutes of loving-kindness practice boosts a person’s good feelings and sense of social connection, if only temporarily.

41. And the Davidson group had found that after eight or so hours of training in loving kindness, volunteers showed strong echoes of those brain patterns found in more experienced meditators.

42. These various mind training methods drive the brain in different ways. During compassion practice, the amygdala is turned up in volume, while in focused attention on something like the breath, the amygdala is turned down. focused attention on something like the breath, the amygdala is turned down. Meditators are learning how to change their relationship to their emotions with different practices.

43. The neural changes from loving-kindness practice (the emerging signs of which are found even among beginners) align with those found in the brains of the super-Samaritan kidney donors.

44. Whatever specific form it takes, most every kind of meditation entails retraining attention.

45. Science now tells us the concept refers not just to one ability but to many. Among them: 

  • Selective attention, the capacity to focus on one element and ignore others. 
  • Vigilance, maintaining a constant level of attention as time goes on. 
  • Allocating attention so we notice small or rapid shifts in what we experience. 
  • Goal focus, or “cognitive control,” keeping a specific goal or task in mind despite distractions.
  •  Meta-awareness, being able to track the quality of one’s own awareness—for example, noticing when your mind wanders or you’ve made a mistake.

46. A strengthening of selective attention was found in vipassana meditators at the Insight Meditation Society who were tested before and after a three-month retreat.  After three months the retreatants’ selective attention was markedly more accurate, showing more than a 20 percent gain.

47. A surprise: mindfulness also improved working memory—the holding in mind of information so it can transfer into long-term memory. Attention is crucial for working memory; if we aren’t paying attention, those digits won’t register in the first place. This training in mindfulness occurred while the students in the study were still in school. 

48. The boost to their attention and working memory may help account for the even bigger surprise: mindfulness upped their scores by more than 30 percent on the GRE, the entrance exam for grad school. 

49. About ten hours of mindfulness over a two-week period strengthened attention and working memory—and led to substantial improved scores on the graduate school entrance exam. While meditation boosts many aspects of attention, these are short-term gains; more lasting benefits no doubt require ongoing practice.

50. The brain, it seems, stays just as busy when we are relaxed as when we are under some mental strain.

51. Raichle identified a swath of areas, mainly the mPFC (short for midline of the prefrontal cortex) and the PCC (postcingulate cortex), a node connecting to the limbic system. He dubbed this circuitry the brain’s “default mode network.”

52. While the brain engages in an active task, whether math or meditating, the default areas calm down as those essential for that task gear up, and ramp up again when that mental task finishes. This solved the problem of how the brain could maintain its activity level while “nothing” was going on

53. The default mode turns on while we chill out, not doing anything that requires focus and effort; it blossoms during the mind’s downtime. Conversely, as we focus on some challenge, like grappling with what’s happened to your Wi-Fi signal, the default mode quiets.

54. With nothing much else to capture our attention, our mind wanders, very often to what’s troubling us—a root cause of everyday angst. “A wandering mind is an unhappy mind.”

55. One of the great appeals of high-risk sports like rock climbing seems to be just that— the danger of the sport demands a full focus on where to put your hand or foot next. More mundane worries take backstage in the mind. 

56. The same applies to “flow,” the state where people perform at their best. Paying full attention to what’s at hand, flow research tells us, rates high on the list of what puts us into—and sustains—a joyous state. The self, in its form as mind-wandering, becomes a distraction, suppressed for the time being.

57. A basic instruction in almost all forms of meditation urges us to notice when our mind has wandered and then return our focus to the chosen target, say, a mantra or our breathing. This moment has universal familiarity on contemplative paths. 

58. This simple mental move has a neural correlate: activating the connection between the dorsolateral PFC and the default mode—a connection found to be stronger in long-term meditators than in beginners. The stronger this connection, the more likely regulatory circuits in the prefrontal cortex inhibit the default areas, quieting the monkey mind—the incessant self-focused chatter that so often fills our minds when nothing else is pressing.

59. Those who engaged in their MBSR practices for thirty-five minutes or more at home daily, compared to those doing HEP, showed a greater decrease in pro-inflammatory cytokines, the proteins that trigger the red patch. 

60. This, intriguingly, supports an early finding by Jon Kabat-Zinn and some skin specialists that MBSR can help speed healing from psoriasis, a condition worsened by inflammatory cytokines (but some thirty years on, this remains a study not yet replicated by dermatology researchers).

61. To get a better idea of how meditation practice might heal such inflammatory conditions, Richie’s lab repeated the stress study using highly experienced (around 9,000 lifetime hours of practice) vipassana meditators. Result: the meditators not only found the dreaded Trier test less stressful than did a matched cohort of novices (as we saw in chapter five), but they also had smaller patches of inflammation afterward. Most significant, their levels of the stress hormone cortisol were 13 percent lower than in the controls, a substantial difference that is likely clinically meaningful. Important: these seasoned practitioners were not meditating when these measures were taken—this was a trait effect.

62. Take, for example, a well-designed study of African American men, who are at particularly high risk for hypertension, cardiac and kidney disease. Just fourteen minutes of mindfulness practice in a group who already suffered from kidney disease lowered the metabolic patterns that, if sustained year after year, lead to these diseases.

63.  After genetic scientists mapped the entire human genome, they realized it wasn’t enough to just know if we had a given gene or not. The real questions: Is that gene expressed? Is it manufacturing the protein for which it is designed? And how much? Where is the “volume control” on the gene set?

64. This meant there was another important step: finding what turns our genes on or off. If we’ve inherited a gene that gives us a susceptibility to a disease like diabetes, we may never develop the malady if, for example, we have a lifelong habit of getting regular exercise and not eating sugar.

65. Sugar turns on the genes for diabetes; exercise turns them off. Sugar and exercise are “epigenetic” influencers, among the many, many factors that control whether or not a gene expresses itself.

66. And Richie thought meditation just might have epigenetic impacts, “down-regulating” the genes responsible for the inflammatory response. As we’ve seen, meditation seems to do this—but the genetic mechanism for the effect was a complete mystery.

67. Undeterred by the skeptics, his lab went ahead, assaying changes in the expression of key genes before and after a day of meditation in a group of long-term vipassana practitioners (average of about 6,000 lifetime hours). They followed a fixed eight-hour schedule of practice sessions throughout the day, and listened to tapes of some inspiring talks and guided practices by Joseph Goldstein.

68. After the day of practice the meditators had a marked “down-regulation” of inflammatory genes—something that had never been seen before in response to inflammatory genes—something that had never been seen before in response to a purely mental practice. Such a drop, if sustained over a lifetime, might help combat diseases with onsets marked by chronic low-grade inflammation. As we’ve said, these include many of the world’s major health problems, ranging from cardiovascular disorders, arthritis, and diabetes to cancer.

69. Though these were pilot studies, an epigenetic boost was found in research with two other meditation methods. One is Herb Benson’s “relaxation response,” which has a person silently repeat a chosen word like peace as if it were a mantra. 16 The other is “yogic meditation,” where the meditator recites a Sanskrit mantra, at first aloud and then in a whisper, and finally silently, ending with a short deep-breathing relaxation technique

70. The sounder studies, we found, focus on lessening our psychological distress rather than on curing medical syndromes or looking for underlying biological mechanisms. So, when it comes to a better quality of life for those with chronic diseases, yes to meditation. Such palliative care gets ignored too often in medicine, but it matters enormously to patients.

71. All the yogis had elevated gamma oscillations, not just during the meditation practice periods for open presence and compassion but also during the very first measurement, before any meditation was performed. This electrifying pattern was in the EEG frequency known as “high-amplitude” gamma, the strongest, most intense form. These waves lasted the full minute of the baseline measurement before they started the meditation

72. Gamma, the very fastest brain wave, occurs during moments when differing brain regions fire in harmony, like moments of insight when different elements of a mental puzzle “click” together. 

73.To get a sense of this “click,” try this: What single word can turn each of these into a compound word: sauce, pine, crab?*

74. The instant your mind comes up with the answer, your brain signal momentarily produces that distinctive gamma flare. 

75. In the yogis, gamma oscillations are a far more prominent feature of their brain activity than in other people. Our usual gamma waves are not nearly as strong as that seen by Richie’s team in yogis like Mingyur. The contrast between the yogis and controls in the intensity of gamma was immense: on average the yogis had twenty-five times greater amplitude gamma oscillations during baseline compared with the control group.

76. But there’s another surprise here: the yogis’ remarkable talent at entering a specific meditative state on cue, within a second or two, itself signals an altered trait. This mental feat stands in stark contrast to most of us meditators who, relative to the yogis, are more like beginners: when we meditate, it takes us a while to settle our minds, let go of distracting thoughts that overwhelm our focus, and get some momentum in our meditation.

77. In contemplative science, an “altered state” refers to changes that occur only during meditation. An altered trait indicates that the practice of meditation transformed the brain and biology so that meditation-induced changes are seen before beginning to meditate.

78. Among meditators with the greatest amount of lifetime practice hours—an average of 44,000 lifetime hours (the equivalent of twelve hours a day for ten years) the amygdala hardly responded to the emotional sounds. But for those with less practice, (though still a high number—19,000 hours) the amygdala also showed a robust response. There was a staggering 400 percent difference in the size of the amygdala response between these groups!

79. What’s more, this means traits continue to alter even at the highest level of practice. The dose-response relationship does not seem to end even up to 50,000 hours of practice.

80. The studies of beginners typically look at the impacts from under 100 total hours of practice—and as few as 7. The long-term group, mainly vipassana meditators, had a mean of 9,000 lifetime hours (the range ran from 1,000 to 10,000 hours and more). And the yogis studied in Richie’s lab, had all done at least one Tibetan-style three-year retreat, with lifetime hours up to Mingyur’s 62,000. Yogis, on average had three times more lifetime hours than did long-term meditators—9,000 hours versus 27,000

81. Compassion meditation shows stronger benefits from the get-go; as few as seven total hours over the course of two weeks leads to increased connectivity in circuits important for empathy and positive feelings, strong enough to show up outside the meditation state per se.

82. Beginners also find improvements in attention very early on, including less mind-wandering after just eight minutes of mindfulness practice—a short-lived benefit, to be sure. But even as little as two weeks of practice is sufficient to produce less mind-wandering and better focus and working memory, enough for a significant boost in scores on the GRE, the entrance exam for graduate school.

83. Loving-kindness and compassion practice over the long term(1000hrs -10,000hrs) enhance neural resonance with another person’s suffering, along with concern and a greater likelihood of actually helping. Attention, too, strengthens in many aspects with long-term practice: selective attention sharpens, the attentional blink diminishes, sustained attention becomes easier, and an alert readiness to respond increases

84. Shifts in very basic biological processes, such as a slower breath rate, occur only after several thousand hours of practice. Some of these impacts seem more strongly enhanced by intensive practice on retreat than by daily practice.

85. At this world-class level (roughly 12,000 to 62,000 lifetime hours of practice, including many years in deep retreat), truly remarkable effects emerge. Practice in part revolves around converting meditative states to traits—the Tibetan term for this translates as “getting familiar” with the meditative mind-set. Meditation states merge with daily activities, as altered states stabilize into altered traits and become enduring characteristic.

86.  Perhaps the strongest evidence comes from the yogis’ response to physical pain during simple mindfulness-type practice: a sharp “inverted V,” with little brain activity during anticipation of the pain, an intense but very short peak during the pain, followed by very rapid recovery

87. Several labs—including Richie’s and Judson Brewer’s—have noticed that more advanced meditators can show a brain pattern while merely resting that resembles that of a meditative state like mindfulness or loving-kindness, while beginners do not. 2 That comparison of the expert meditator’s baseline with someone new to practice stands as a hallmark of the way altered traits show up in research, though it offers just a snapshot.

88. For now, as the Brewer group conjectured, meditation seems to transform the resting state—the brain’s default mode—to resemble the meditative state.

*Answer : apple 

Summary : "No: The Only Negotiating System You Need for Work and Home" by Jim Camp

1. I teach and preach the system based on “no,” which in a negotiation simply means maintaining the status quo.

2. My “No” system is a set of clear principles and practices that you follow step by step by step. My system is for Mom, Dad, the kids, the entrepreneur, the professional corporate negotiator, the CEO, the teacher, the realtor, the banker, the politician, the carpenter, and the diplomat.

3. As adults, however, we’ve been conditioned and trained to fear the word, so with audiences and clients I slowly and carefully go about proving that the practice of politely saying no, calmly hearing no, and just inviting no has a beneficial impact on any negotiation. In fact, the invitation for the other side to say no has an amazing power to bring down barriers and allow for solid beneficial communication.

4. I want to be very clear: The “no” principle is not about intransigence. Just the opposite. It’s about openness and honesty. The invitation to “no” tells everyone at the table that we’re all adults here, so let’s talk rationally. Let’s slow things down. Let’s take away the fear of failure. “No” allows everyone involved to put away the need to be right, to be the smartest, to be the strongest, or to be the toughest. It prevents you from making weak—and worse, bad—decisions because of your need to feel safe and secure and liked by the other side.

5. The “No” system also makes you understand the dangers of neediness. Simply put, you do not need this deal, because neediness leads inexorably to unnecessary compromise.

6. I still use checklists in negotiations just as diligently as I did as a pilot.

7. Negotiation is a complex beast. There’s a lot going on. Checklists keep it all under control. They give us such a tremendous advantage, such ease of mind. I will use them throughout this book, and I will teach you how to use them in your negotiations. 

8. You must learn to progress from raw, unexamined emotions, which never produce good agreements, to the careful decisions that eventually do.

9. But it’s hard not to get trapped in the emotional realm, especially because of one particular emotion that dominates all others in negotiations: neediness.

10. Like it or not, we are predators by nature, and the first instinct of predators is to take advantage of the fear-racked, the distressed, the vulnerable—in one word, the needy. We humans, at least, are also capable of wonderful altruism, but we don’t see much altruism in the world of business and negotiation, despite all the sweet talk of cagey practitioners.

11.  Every time you leave a long-winded message on an answering machine providing all kinds of information, you put yourself at a disadvantage. How? You’re too anxious and therefore seem needy. Each time you answer a question with much more information than is really called for, you are showing neediness and putting yourself at risk.

12. By cutting your price without being asked to and then explaining why you felt it important to cut the price, you are showing neediness and reinforcing a bad habit.

13. Many business negotiators are expert in creating neediness by feeding the hopes and expectations of the other side.

14. When you slip and allow yourself to appear needy you are in danger and your negotiation is in big trouble.

15. Test Drive Take ten minutes at the end of the day and assess your actions and your conversations, looking for signs of neediness.

16. Honest appraisal will uncover it. Did you talk too much or too fast in a conversation, negotiation, or interview, maybe to make just the right impression? Jot this neediness down.

  • Did you leave long-winded messages? Jot it down.
  • Did you make the direct statement “I need this or that”? Jot it down.
  • Did you get excited and start looking ahead at the thought of some success, great or small? Jot it down.
  • When you’re finished making your list, think carefully about the real motivation behind each item—not the apparent motivation or the rationalized motivation, motivation, but the real one. See if you can identify the neediness.

17. In negotiation, neediness is a killer. People who understand this—who see the big ways and little ways people express neediness—use this understanding to great advantage.

18. Test Drive After you have identified your own signs of neediness on a given day, look around your world and find the signs in others: the people who talked too much in an effort to please you, who needed to be right all the time, who needed to win at all costs, who needed to be the center of attention. If you look, you’ll find the neediness.

19. The next time you watch one of the predator-prey nature shows on public television or one of the wildlife channels, watch the chase scenes carefully. There are always one or two in which the lion or the cheetah is not successful, and each time the scenario is the same: The predator gets closer to the antelope…closer…closer, then slips back slightly—and immediately gives up. On the spot. When the distance to the prey begins to widen, the hunter quits. She will never waste energy on what’s shaping up as a losing cause. She saunters off, because it doesn’t matter. There are other wildebeest, other gazelles.

20. The rule could not be simpler: If there is any need in this negotiation, it has to be theirs, not yours.

21. Talking is often an overt showing of need. Therefore this rule: No talking.

22. I exaggerate, of course, in order to make the point that talking and neediness often go hand in hand. Many people have an apparently insatiable desire to make sure their voice is heard.

23. Why? In the very worst business environment, if you can successfully cold-call, you can always get a job. More important, however—more basic—is that cold-calling is a great training ground for negotiation, period, and it can be surprisingly effective because your neediness is under control. You have no great expectations, that’s for sure, and your discipline is keen.

24. The high-pitched voice is a sure sign of need. The rushed delivery is another sure sign. While needy negotiators raise their voices, negotiators under control lower their voices. So lower your voice in times of inner turmoil. Take it easy. You do not need this deal.

25. Many people live in fear of rejection, and what is this fear, bottom line? It’s the need to be liked. If you don’t need to be liked, you have no fear of rejection. If you have no fear of rejection, you can say no when it’s called for. When you negotiate, it is imperative to understand just what rejection is and who can reject you—and who cannot.

26. The people on the other side of the table cannot reject you. Why not? Because you don’t need anything from them.

27. You must understand that you cannot go out into the world spending emotional energy in the effort to be liked, to be smart, or to be important. This is all just wasteful and dangerous neediness, often enough because of a fear of being rejected.

28. As a negotiator aspiring to excellence, you must, at all costs, avoid showing need. In order to avoid showing need, you must never feel it. I cannot say this enough: You do not need this deal.

29. You only want this deal. “Need” is death; “want” is life. Believe me, this different attitude will make all the difference in your negotiating life. It will be instantly perceived and sensed by the folks on the other side of the table. Confidence and trust go up across the board. Control and discipline go up for you.

30. Sometimes, however, the need is real. Usually it is exaggerated, but not always. Quite often, the best strategy may be to reveal this neediness to the other party. That’s right. Put it on an agenda to be discussed.

31. Turning the situation around, have you noticed how we humans tend to feel okay when we see someone who’s not-okay? You feel okay when you see someone who doesn’t quite measure up in some way.

32. Remember the old TV series Columbo? He always presents himself as a little less competent than whomever he is interviewing and a little less than perfect—or, usually, a lot less than perfect. He could get his witnesses and even suspects to talk to him because he made them feel superior and therefore comfortable. And it was all an act on his part.

33. The wise negotiator knows that only one person in a negotiation absolutely must feel okay. That person is not you.

34. Let me repeat that point: I am not suggesting that you appear unprofessional. I’m simply asking you not to be afraid of honesty—not to be afraid of being less than perfect. Do you enjoy being around the perfect person? Most of us don’t.

35. Letting other people help you is an excellent way to help them feel more okay. It also says to them, “What you see is what you get.”

36. If you want to be a successful negotiator in any field—the most successful salesperson you can be—you must not set quantitative targets, quotas, numbers, or percentages. No such “performance goals” whatsoever. None of that. Never! Those are results over which you have absolutely no final control.

37. Goals to improve your actions and behavior are the only valid goals, because they are the only ones you can control, and achieving those goals will see you through any negotiation and lead to all the “results” you desire. But concentrating on the numerical results as your goal is a terrible waste of time and energy. Think behavior. Forget results.

38. One of the characteristics of really successful negotiators is how swiftly and efficiently they shift from nonpayside activity to payside activity when the opportunity presents itself.

39. When you have the habit of setting as a goal only activity that you can accomplish and that is genuinely productive, you’ve taken an enormous step in your career.

40. Beware the seductions of nonpayside activity.

41. In the real world, the negotiation does not end when the papers are signed. In fact, tough corporate negotiators work under the presumption that contracts are easily broken, that this is just part of business.

42. I ask my students to make a commitment to daily, active self-examination and assessment and to monitor their behavior and emotions as they affect the negotiating process.

43. A negotiation is simply the effort to bring about agreement between two or more parties, with all parties having the right to veto.

44. In negotiation, “maybe” will bury you with wasted time, energy, money, and, the real killer, emotion.

45. The “yes” doesn’t really mean anything. It’s not written in blood. It’s just another word to deploy at the right time.

46. The quick “yes” may be designed by the other party to set you up, to build your neediness, to undermine your decision-making. Then it’s followed by the subtle “if,” “but,” “however,” “when,” or some other dangerous qualifier.

47. Offering an early “yes” is a reliable “tiger trick,” as I call it, used by polished negotiators taking advantage of weak win-win negotiators. It traps you in their cage. Shrewd negotiators use the “yes” trick all the time.

48. “Sure, Frank, we’re on board. We want to place the biggest order ever with Acme—50, 000 widgets.”

49. Then, one or two calls later, “I didn’t even bring it up, Frank. It seemed unnecessary. I’m assuming about a twenty percent discount at that volume. Is that what you have in mind?” Never fall for the quick “yes.” Assume nothing. Avoid the emotional roller coaster. Don’t get needy. Don’t “chase the results” that seem to be shimmering so invitingly right in front of your eyes.

50. Never take responsibility for the other side’s decisions. Never “save the relationship.”

51. The classic compromise mindset dilemma is this one: What can I give in order to gain or maintain this friendly relationship?

52. The impulse to think and act in any such save-the-relationship fashion is wrongheaded not only because it’s bad negotiating but also because the people across the table do not want to be your friend. They could not care less. They have not even thought about it.

53. For businesspeople and negotiators in any field, much more important than friendliness are effectiveness and respect. Nothing more.

54. Have you ever wondered how the jerks of the world get along? How some even get ahead? How more than a few even get to the very top? These people don’t get away with their boorish, offensive behavior for any good reason. They get away with it because they’re effective in their work and bring benefit to their business relationships, in one way or another.

55. What does friendship have to do with making good business and negotiation decisions? Not a thing.

56. Another reason people are afraid to say no is that they fear making the wrong decision. This fear of the wrong decision is one of the most debilitating emotions of all, burrowing deep beneath all aspects of decisionmaking, because it strikes a chord with our fear of failing.

57. How do you get rid of this fear? I’ll answer this question with another one: What really happens when you make a bad decision? There is a common saying among pilots: “Flying is a continuous string of decisions, most of them bad ones that must be corrected.” In training, pilots are told to just keep making decisions and pretty soon they will get it right.

58. To be effective decision-makers we must simply make the next decision, and then the next one, and then the next one. A negotiation is a series of decisions.

59.  Embrace “no” at every opportunity in a negotiation. Don’t fear the word— invite it. You do not take it as a personal rejection, because you are not needy. You understand that every “no” is reversible.

60. In any negotiation, your mission and purpose must be rooted in the world of the other side.

61. If you’re a salesperson, your mission and purpose is not about selling 10, 000 widgets and making $5 million. That’s in your world. It doesn’t benefit your customers at all. It’s also just chasing results.

62. In the broadest terms, a valid MP(mission and purpose) will effectively guide your decisions. It might well be about providing your customers with a dependable widget (if not the best widget in the world) that can sustain their company’s profitability well into the future, assuring their staying power and market share.

63. See the difference? The perspective in this statement is their world. You’re not chasing the results of your world, results you can’t even control, but you do have total control over the quality of your widget. You do have control over its pricing. You do have control over your mission and purpose. It belongs to you. It is yours to change as you see fit.

64. The process of building your own mission and purpose is straightforward. It requires dedication, but it is not rocket science. The key throughout the process is to think creatively, clearly, and completely about your business and your negotiation.

65. Pull out a sheet of paper or open a new document on your computerand list the features of what your company, your product, or your service does—or what you do. If you sell widgets, you will list their salient features regarding quality, durability, serviceability, industry reputation, and the like. Be creative. List anything and everything. If you’re the buyer of the widget, you are broadening the supplier’s market, increasing its sales, perhaps helping it unload inventory at certain times of the year. Keep going.

66. Take your time with this process. Work on your list for a while, put it down, and come back another day. When you’re reasonably confident that the list of features is complete, proceed.

67. Across from every feature on your list, write down the benefits of that feature for the other party.

68. The key here is to see clearly what you provide. What benefits are you offering that solve their problems and empower them for the future?

69. Every negotiation has more going on than immediately meets the eye. The idea here is to end up with a complete description and vision of the value for the other party that you’re bringing to the table.

70. Prioritize your list of features and benefits. What benefits do you see are most important for the other party in this negotiation? Again, immerse yourself in their world.

71. Now you’re ready to write your MP from the features and benefits on your final, prioritized list. Think in terms of your continuing task or responsibility (what you’re going to do, provide, supply, or create for the benefit of the other side) and your long-term aim (what you’re going to be, develop, or grow into long-term for the benefit of the other side).

72. My mission and purpose for this book is to provide you the opportunity to discover that if you engage in training and coaching of the “No” system, you can elevate your success in negotiation to very high levels. This will be accomplished by means of clear, concise writing that is easy to read and thought-provoking. The key word here is opportunity. My purpose is not to elevate your success regardless. That would be a performance goal over which I do not have control. I can’t be certain you’ll think about the principles in my system and apply them diligently, or that you will embrace training and coaching. I can only provide you with the opportunity to do so.

73. As you develop your own mission-and-purpose statement, keep in mind that all good MP statements are concise. All must be written.

74. In complicated, high-stakes negotiations, my clients write an MP for almost every phone call to anyone on the other side. No kidding.

75. Your mission and purpose can and perhaps should change. At first blush, this may sound completely contradictory to every previous point here, but features and benefits change, markets change, customers change, and when they do, your mission and purpose should change accordingly.

76. Perhaps the most powerful product of a mission and a purpose is the insulation it provides from debilitating emotions, especially neediness.

77. As a coach, I see people waste a great deal of energy and time on issues and questions that just don’t matter. “Did I get as much as I could?”

“Should I have done better?”

“How much did I leave on the table?”

“I hope I wasn’t too strong.”

“I hope I wasn’t too easy.”

78. Could that 18 percent discount have been 19 percent? As the buyer, you’ll drive yourself crazy thinking like that. Seventeen percent? As the seller, you’ll drive yourself crazy thinking like that. All you want to know is that the 18 percent, given or received, satisfies your mission and purpose.

79. The people on the other side are negotiating for their benefit, not for yours. This is self-evident but often overlooked, and it’s the reason your mission and purpose must be rooted in the world of the other side and bring benefits that solve their problems.

80.Mission and purpose creates, guides, and enhances vision. The vision of the other side drives the effective decision-making that leads to agreements.

81. In fact, vision drives just about everything you do. Before you decide to buy anything, sell anything, or sign anything, you have to have a vision. No vision, no decision.

82. Make no mistake about it. The most gullible shopaholics won’t buy a tencent trinket without some kind of vision of themselves or their children playing with this trinket, wearing this trinket, using this trinket, or appearing to be special because of this trinket.

83. No vision, no action. No vision, no decision. No vision, no agreement.

84. A VISION OF WHAT? In negotiations, you must have a vision of a current or future problem to be solved. It’s just that simple.

85. In every negotiation, the vision of the problem and the solution is what brings the negotiators to agreements.

86. Many people make the fatal mistake of thinking they can use their gift of gab or their nifty PowerPoint presentation or both to convince the other party with facts and figures to make the rational decision.

87. The intellectual information just throws a wet blanket on vision. It puts people into an analytical mode. You would be better off not talking at all than pounding away with all your facts and figures.

88. There is a crucial difference between seeing and understanding, and seeing must come first. We must see in a visceral way before we can understand in a rational way.

89. Since that day, Roger has understood completely the power of asking questions as a way of painting the vision for the other side, helping them see the issues for themselves.

90. You have to paint the picture that builds a vision that the other side can clearly see. A key way to do this—the simplest, safest way to do this—is to ask good questions.

91. The clearer the vision of the problem, the easier the decision-making process.

92. Plenty of healthy young people simply cannot be seduced into seeing their need for health insurance—it might be time to offer a friendly handshake and say farewell. Vision is that important. If you just can’t build it, you’re wasting your time in the negotiation.

93. Asking questions is a science and an art. The science is found in how you construct your question. The art is found in your tone of voice, your body language, and your remarks before asking your questions.

94. The good ones are led by an interrogative, not by a verb. “Who,” “what,” “when,” “where,” “why,” “how,” and “which”: These famous interrogatives are the safest questions in a negotiation.

95. The interrogative-led questions will paint vision that will move the negotiation forward without the pitfalls of verb-led questions. They don’t challenge the other party. They don’t put them on the defensive. They elicit information and build vision.

96. Consider the following set of verb-led questions juxtaposed with a corresponding set of interrogative-led questions. In every case, which is better?

  • “Is this the biggest issue we face?” versus “What is the biggest issue we face?”
  • “Is this proposal tight enough for you?” versus “How can I tighten this proposal for you?”
  • “Can we work on delivery dates tomorrow?” versus “When can we work on delivery dates?” or “How important are delivery dates?” or “Where do delivery dates fit in?”
  • “Do you think we should bring Mary into the loop now?” versus “Where does Mary fit in?” or “When should we bring Mary into the loop?” or “How does Mary fit into the picture?” “Is there anything else you need?” versus “What else do you need?”
  • “Do you like what you see?” versus “What are your thoughts?”
  • “Does it fit into your needs?” versus “How do you see it? How does it fit for you?”
  • “Can you stay competitive without this machine?” versus “How can you stay competitive without this machine?”

97. Keep your questions short. Anytime a question has more than eight or nine words, you risk complication.

98. Another key is to ask one question at a time. Simple question by simple question, answer by answer, you will help the other side build their own picture of the issue.

99. “3+”(or “three-plus”), another important tool of the trade, is the ability to remain with a question until it is answered at least three times, or to repeat a statement at least three times. This is not an original idea. Anyone who’s ever taken a speech class knows the old rule: Tell them what you’re going to tell them, then tell them, and then tell them what you told them. One, two, three times. I first heard the equivalent of this rule many years ago from a friend in sales and quickly learned that his advice was good.

100. The pendulum needs to be near the middle—not too positive, not too negative. This is where the good agreements are found.

101. When the excitement builds, consider tapping the brake with a positive strip line. It can only help.

102.  When a negative mood sets in, consider acknowledging the fact with a negative strip line. Join the negativity and thereby invite the other party to join you, step back, and take a second look.

103. Be a blank slate. Work with the best possible facts and information, not with assumptions and expectations that are so often dead wrong.

104. If there is one classic maneuver played by many companies and shrewd negotiators in many businesses, this is it: Build positive expectations with pie-in-the-sky numbers, then start in with the ifs, ands, and buts. This gambit is extraordinarily effective when the customer is a big company and the supplier a smaller one.

105. Neither positive nor negative expectations have any place in your work. You blank-slate and you negotiate, that’s all.

106. Take great notes. In seminars, meetings, and negotiations, I can quickly identify the most successful people around the table. They are the ones listening closely and taking notes, effectively silencing their own thoughts and learning as much as they can about everyone else.

107. One of your best ways to blank-slate and control your own emotions, first, and then perhaps influence their emotions, by your example, is with the simple tool of taking notes. 

108. Throughout this book you’ve seen how negotiators use hints of big purchases, permanent alliances, and the like to set up naïve negotiators with neediness and positive expectations.

109. The failure to find the decision-maker is a mistake I have seen committed umpteen times in all sorts of negotiations. At best, it means a waste of time, energy, and money. At worst, it means a failed negotiation, perhaps unnecessarily.

110. You can get around your basic blocker in several ways. One way is simply to start at the top. What happens if you start at the top? The top boots you down the ladder to a blocker, but this is fine, because, presumably, you’ve been introduced into the blocker’s territory with a stamp of approval.

111. Start at the top and you will be in a position to report to the top.

112. Each and every communication in a negotiation requires an agenda—and not just meetings where you’re sitting across the table from the other side.

113. You have some kind of purpose for every phone call and e-mail to anyone on the other side, right? I hope so. Well, what is it? The agenda makes this clear. The preparation of each agenda helps you see the negotiation clearly and assign

114. A good agenda will tell what to do next, how to keep your negotiation on track, how to continue making effective decisions, and how to keep your emotions at a calm, normal level.

115. A valid agenda has the following five basic categories.

• Problems - For purposes of agenda, a problem is anything you believe needs addressing —anything you see that is holding you back or blocking you from a successful conclusion.

• Our baggage - My guess is you’ve never made an agenda that included baggage, the collected life experiences and observations that all of us carry around in our lives and that may affect a given negotiation. Your Baggage Your baggage is some attitude you carry around that plays on your emotions and disrupts your decision-making. Say your company has recently acquired a reputation within the field, or within the community, for spotty bad service. This is nasty baggage. It must be addressed in an early agenda. That’s right. You bring it up, with two instant benefits. First, they’ll be surprised and impressed that you haven’t tried to hide the fact. Second, if unaddressed, that baggage puts you on the defensive for the entire negotiation.

• Their baggage - Their baggage is an educated guess on your part. You’ll be making an assumption dealing with baggage, and this is the only time an assumption is warranted. Maybe you’re wrong, but past history gives you good reason to bring it up.

• What we want - Too often people go into meetings not sure exactly what they want out of them. Your agenda solves that problem for you, because every agenda for every meeting, every phone call, every e-mail must have at least one “want.” No exceptions. The “want” requirement for every agenda requires you to think clearly about the whole negotiation—where it stands and what you want to happen next in order to move things along.

• What happens next - You must learn very quickly to take care of business by carefully negotiating “what happens next.” It protects you against assumptions. It’s a leg up on the next agenda. It’s simply mandatory.

116. Of all the issues in the negotiation that should be placed on an agenda but often are not, “wants” are supreme.

117. In the “No” system, the budget is much more than your normal itemization of projected financial costs, because the real price and the real costs in any negotiation go way beyond dollars and cents. Money is certainly part of the equation, but your budget must also take into account expenditures of time, energy, and emotion.

118. Along with money, they are the elements of a comprehensive budget that becomes another powerful tool for maintaining control and making good decisions in negotiation.

119. Here is the formula: “Time” has a value of 1x, “energy” 2x, “money” 3x, and “emotion” 4x. As important as time is, it is not as important as energy in negotiation, which is less important than money, which is less important than emotion.

120. As you monitor your own budget expenditure, you also monitor the expenditures of the other side. You want to keep your own budgets as low as possible while reaping the benefit of higher budgets on the other side.

121. Practically speaking, how do you drive up the other side’s budget and guard yours? Some budget-building ploys are transparent. The greater the investment in budget—time, energy, money, and emotion—the greater the commitment to stay the course and salvage something.

122. Protecting your time while pushing theirs can be in acts as mundane as adhering to a schedule that fits your calendar and not theirs.

123. In negotiation, the physically stronger, more energetic side definitely has the advantage. It’s a fact of life in this world. Know your own endurance level and conserve your energy.

124. Budget is yet another way for you to maintain control in negotiation. If your budget gets out of control, you cannot blame the other side.

125. A rock-solid faith in mission and purpose will be required in order to hold the line, but even then you simply may not have the budget to back you up in this negotiation. Know your actual dollars-and-cents budget, and have at least some sense of theirs. If you don’t have enough cash reserves for the long haul, your negotiation is, for all intents and purposes, over with before it even gets going, and you’ll lose not only the money but the time, energy, and emotion you have invested in a doomed cause. So don’t even get going. Seek your deals elsewhere. Say no right now.

126. If I were reading this book for the first time, I’d be asking one question right now: How do I bring together the principles of the “No” system? The answer is Checklists and Logs.

127. You prepare a Checklist before any meeting in any negotiation, any significant phone call, and any significant e-mail. After that meeting, phone call, or exchange of e-mails, you record all the significant information in your Log. You then use that Log to prepare for the next Checklist before the next encounter.

128. The basic Checklist for any negotiation includes:

  • Your mission and purpose for the negotiation  
  • Your agenda items for the specific meeting
  • Your behavior goals
  • Your activity goals
  • Any critical research that needs to be done

129. The Log prepared after any negotiation includes:

  • Statement of the problem from the other side’s point of view 
  • Estimate of the other side’s budget (time, energy, money, and emotion)
  • Identification of the decision-makers and assessment of when their decision will be reached
  • Negotiation summary

130. With the Checklist before the meeting, you set up the structure with which to build vision on the other side. With the Log after the meeting, you gather together the vision that exists at the end of the meeting, lay everything out, look at it, and find ways to build more vision and move ahead.

Summary : The Rise of Superman by Steven Kotler

1. Or, to put it another way: flow is the telephone booth where Clark Kent changes clothes, the place from where Superman emerges.

2.In fact, when Csikszentmihalyi dove deeper into the data, he discovered that the happiest people on earth, the ones who felt their lives had the most meaning, were those who had the most peak experiences.

3. They didn’t just have the most peak experiences, they had devoted their lives to having these experiences, often, as Csikszentmihalyi explained in his 1996 book Creativity, going to extreme lengths to seek them out.

4. In his interviews, to describe these optimal states of performance, flow was a term his subjects kept using.

5. He defined the state as “being so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost.”

6. A ten-year study done by McKinsey found top executives reported being up to five times more productive when in flow. Creativity and cooperation are so amplified that Greylock partner venture capitalist James Slavet, in a recent article for, called “flow state percentage” — defined as the amount of time employees spend in flow — the “most important management metric for building great innovation teams.”

7. Flow, on the other hand, is always a positive experience. No one ever has a bad time in a flow state.

8. Csikszentmihalyi was able to sift through the data and isolate ten core components which demarcate the state. Here’s his list:

  • Clear goals: Expectations and rules are discernible and goals are attainable and align appropriately with one’s skill set and abilities. Moreover, the challenge level and skill level should both be high.
  • Concentration: A high degree of concentration on a limited field of attention.
  • A loss of the feeling of self-consciousness: The merging of action and awareness.
  • Distorted sense of time: One’s subjective experience of time is altered.
  • Direct and immediate feedback: Successes and failures are apparent, so behavior can be adjusted as needed.
  • Balance between ability level and challenge: The activity is neither too easy nor too difficult.
  • A sense of personal control over the situation.
  • The activity is intrinsically rewarding, so action is effortlessness.
  • A lack of awareness of bodily needs.
  • Absorption: narrowing of awareness down to the activity itself.

9. There are five major brain-wave types, each correlating to a different state of consciousness. 

  • “Delta,” the slowest brain wave (meaning the one with the longest pauses between bursts of electricity), is found between 1 Hz and 3.9 Hz. When someone is in a deep, dreamless sleep, they’re in delta. 
  • Next up, between 4 Hz and 7.9 Hz, is “theta,” which correlates to REM sleep, meditation, insight, and (as is often necessary for insight) the processing of novel incoming stimuli. 
  • Between 8 Hz and 13.9 Hz hovers “alpha,” the brain’s basic resting state. People in alpha are relaxed, calm, and lucid, but not really thinking. 
  • Beta sits between 14 Hz and 30 Hz, and signifies learning and concentration at the low end, fear and stress at the high. 
  • Above 30 Hz there’s a fast-moving wave known as “gamma,” which only shows up during “binding,” when different parts of the brain are combining disparate thoughts into a single idea.

10. Creativity has a brain wave signature as well: alpha waves pulsing out of the brain’s right hemisphere.

11. Exactly thirty milliseconds before the breakthrough intuition arrives, EEG shows a burst of gamma waves. These ultrafast brain waves appear when a bunch of widely distributed cells — i.e., novel stimuli, random thoughts, and obscure memories — bind themselves together into a brand-new network. It is the brainwave signature of the “Aha!” moment.

12. “But the interesting thing about a gamma spike,” explains Leslie Sherlin, “is that it always happens inside of theta oscillations. The two waves are coupled.

13. This is where athletes in flow have a huge edge — their brain is already in alpha/theta. They’re holding themselves in the only state that can produce that gamma spike.”

14. This means flow packs a double punch: it doesn’t just increase our decisionmaking abilities — it increases our creative decision-making abilities.

15. According to research done by Harvard Business School professor Teresa Amabile, not only are creative insights consistently consistently associated with flow states, but that amplified creativity outlasts the zone. People report feeling extraordinarily creative the day after a flow state, suggesting that time spent in the zone trains the brain to consistently think outside the box.

16. A runner’s high [now considered a lowgrade flow state]

17. In 2006, for example, a team of Israeli scientists discovered that when people lose themselves in a task — be it playing cards or having sex or climbing a mountain — a part of the brain called the superior frontal gyrus starts to deactivate.

18. Flow changes this entire dynamic. For starters, in the zone, the brain releases a number of powerful painkillers that deaden us to the damage being done and allow us to push our maximal strength closer to its absolute boundary (more on this in the next chapter).

19. “Because flow deactivates large parts of the neocortex,” says Eagleman, “a number of these areas are offline — thus distorting our ability to compute time.”

20. Psychologists describe flow as “autotelic,” from the Greek auto (self) and telos (goal). When something is autotelic — i.e., produces the flow high — it is its own reward. No one has to drag a surfer out of bed for overhead tubes. No one has to motivate a snowboarder on a powder day. These activities are intrinsically motivating, autotelic experiences done for their own sake. The high to end all highs.

21. While other hedonic pleasures — drugs, sex, gambling — make us feel good on their own, flow only shows up when we’re pushing ourselves to higher and higher levels of performance. “Because flow involves meeting challenges and developing skills,” explains Csikszentmihalyi in Good Business, “it leads to growth. It is an escape forward from current reality, whereas stimulants like drugs lead backward.”

22. In 2011, neuroscientists with the United States’ Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) found that military snipers trained in flow decreased the time it took to acquire their targets by a factor of 2.3. Similar research run with amateur (i.e., nonmilitary) snipers found that flow cut the time it took to teach novices to shoot like experts by 50 percent. This means that flow doesn’t just provide a joyful, self-directed path toward mastery — it literally shortens the path.

23. Take external triggers, our starting point. These are qualities in the environment that drive people deeper into the zone. One tamer example comes from office design. In recent years, as the production of flow has been deemed critical to the success of organizations, organizations have reacted by trying to design environments that produce more flow. As flow requires focus, one of the first changes suggested by experts was the removal of cubicle farms, those open office plans that permit constant interruption. “These interruptions … move us out of ‘flow’ and increase research-and-design cycle times and costs dramatically,”

24. “Studies have shown that each time a flow state is disrupted it takes fifteen minutes to get back into flow, if you can get back at all.”

25. He was also depending on two other external triggers — “rich environment” and “deep embodiment” — to keep him in the state.

26. A “rich environment” is a combination platter of novelty, unpredictability, and complexity — three elements that catch and hold our attention much like risk.

27. Novelty means both danger and opportunity. To our forbearers, a strange scent in the wind could be prey or predator, but either way it paid to pay attention.

28. The last external flow trigger, “deep embodiment,” is a kind of fullbody awareness. Humans have sensory inputs all over the place; 50 percent of our nerve endings are in our hands, feet, and face. Deep embodiment means paying attention to all of these sensory inputs at once.

29. Just as flow states have external triggers, conditions in the outer environment that create more flow, they also have internal triggers, conditions in our inner environment that create more flow.

30. Internal triggers are psychological strategies that drive attention into the now. Back in the 1970s, Csikszentmihalyi identified “clear goals,” “immediate feedback,” and “the challenge/skill ratio” as the three most critical. Let’s take a closer look.

31. In 2003, Simons showed a short film of basketball players passing a ball around a court to his students, and asked them to count the passes. When the film was over, he had one question: “How many people saw the gorilla?” As it happened, midway through the clip, a guy in a gorilla costume walked to the middle of the circle of basketball players, beat his chest a few times, then walked off. As it happened, most of the students didn’t see the gorilla.

32. Simon’s “invisible gorilla experiment” has since been repeated dozens of times — most recently with radiologists looking at radiological screens and a cartoon gorilla — and always with the same result. Not many people see the gorilla. In the radiologist’s version (a 2012 study run at Brigham and Woman’s Hospital in Boston), 83 percent of doctors tested failed to spot the animal. 

33. The point is this: when the brain is charged with a clear goal, focus narrows considerably, the unimportant is disregarded, and the now is all that’s left.

34. If creating more flow is our aim, then the emphasis falls on “clear” and not “goals.” Clarity gives us certainty. We know what to do and we know where to focus our attention while doing it. When goals are clear, metacognition is replaced by in-the-moment cognition, and the self stays out of the picture.

35. “When I dive constant ballast,” says Mandy-Rae Cruickshank, “I don’t think about breaking a record, I can’t ever think about the whole dive. It’s too overwhelming. I have to chunk it down, create tiny, clear goals. I go through kick cycles. The Voice (the voice of intuition) keeps count. I want to pay attention through one cycle, then the next, then the next. Keep the count, that’s my only goal. If I keep the count, I can stay in flow the whole dive.”

36. Applying this idea in our daily life means breaking tasks into bite-size chunks and setting goals accordingly. A writer, for example, is better off trying to pen three great paragraphs at a time — the equivalent of moving through Mandy-Rae’s kick cycles — rather than attempting one great chapter. Think challenging, yet manageable — just enough stimulation to shortcut attention into the now, not enough stress to pull you back out again.

37. Immediate feedback, our next internal trigger, is another shortcut into the now. The term refers to a direct, in-the-moment coupling between cause and effect. The smaller the gap between input and output, the more we know how we’re doing and how to do it better. If we can’t course correct in real time, we start looking for clues to better performance — things we did in the past, things we’ve seen other people do, things that can pull us out of the moment.

38. Surgeons, by contrast, are the only class of physician that improve the longer they’re out of medical school. Why? Mess up on the table and someone dies. That’s immediate feedback.

39. And that brings us to the “challenge/skill ratio,” the last of our internal flow triggers, and arguably the most important. The idea behind this trigger is that attention is most engaged (i.e., in the now) when there’s a very specific relationship between the difficulty of a task and our ability to perform that task.

40. If the challenge is too great, fear swamps the system. If the challenge is too easy, we stop paying attention. Flow appears near the emotional midpoint between boredom and anxiety, in what scientists call the flow channel — the spot where the task is hard enough to make us stretch but not hard enough to make us snap.

41. How hard is that? Answers vary, but the general thinking is about 4 percent. That’s it. That’s the sweet spot. If you want to trigger flow, the challenge should be 4 percent greater than the skills.

42. “When performance peaks in groups,” he says, “this isn’t just about individuals in flow — it’s the group entering the state together, a collective merger of action and awareness, a ‘group flow.’”

43. And wherever group flow shows up, it leaves its mark. The same pleasure chemicals behind individual flow also arrive with the group variation — only we seem to like them more. In comparison studies run by St. Bonaventure University psychologist Charles Walker, “solitary flow” (what Doug Ammons experienced on the Stikine) was measured against “coactive flow” (this comes from individual activities done in groups, like surfers sharing a break) was measured against “interactive flow” (where interaction is inherent to the activity, like rock climbing with a partner). Walker discovered that the more social an activity, the higher “flow enjoyment” — the level of joy experienced in flow — was for participants.

44. Flow is an alternative path toward mastery, but, like any path, not without its pitfalls. There’s a serious dark side to flow.

45.I read Sebastian Jungers’s War and I learned something: The guys coming home are all screwed up, not because they saw people die as much as they missed the rush. I would never put myself in the same category as those fighting men, but it can be hard to get excited again. Ever. And that feeling sucks.

46. There is an extremely tight link between our visual system and our physiology: once we can actually see ourselves doing the impossible, our chances of pulling it off increase significantly.” 

47. It was Harvard physiologist Edmund Jacobson who first discovered this link. Back in the 1930s, Jacobson found that imagining oneself lifting an object triggered triggered corresponding electrical activity in the muscles involved in the lift. Between then and now dozens and dozens of studies have born this out, repeatedly finding strong correlations between mental rehearsal — i.e., visualization — and better performance. Everything from giving a speech to running a business meeting to spinning a 1080 are all significantly enhanced by the practice.

48. In 2004, for example, Cleveland Clinic physiologist Guang Yue wanted to know if merely thinking about lifting weights was enough to increase strength. Study subjects were divided into four groups. One group tried to strengthen their finger muscles with physical exercise; one tried to strengthen their finger muscles by only visualizing the exercise; another tried to increase arm strength through visualization; while the last group did nothing at all. The trial lasted twelve weeks. When it was over, those who did nothing saw no gains. The group that relied on physical training saw the greatest increase in strength — at 53 percent. But it’s the mental groups where things got curious. Folks who did no physical training but merely imagined their fingers going through precise exercise motions saw a 35 percent increase in strength, while the ones who visualized arm exercises saw a 13.5 percent increase in strength. How tightly are imagination and physiology coupled? Strength is among the most baseline of all performance measures and we humans can get stronger simply by thinking hard about it.

49. Probably the biggest insight arrived a few years before Yue’s experiment, when neuroscientists found no difference between performing an action and merely imagining oneself performing that action — the same neuronal circuits fire in either case. This means that visualization impacts a slew of cognitive processes — motor control, memory, attention, perception, planning — essentially accelerating chunking by shortening the time it takes us to learn new patterns.

50. Visualization is an essential flow hack: it shortens struggle. Visualization also firms up aims and objectives, further amplifying flow. 

51. “I’m certain we can’t answer that question,” says Michael Gervais. “At the world-class level, where talent differences are marginal, we estimate that 90 percent of success for elite performers is mental — yet this is the one measurement milestone we haven’t hit.

Summary : Dopamine Nation by Dr. Anna Lembke

1.In Dopamine Nation, Dr Anna Lembke, psychiatrist and author, explores the exciting new scientific discoveries that explain why the relentless pursuit of pleasure leads to pain . . . and what to do about it.

2. Scientists rely on dopamine as a kind of universal currency for measuring the addictive potential of any experience. The more dopamine in the brain’s reward pathway, the more addictive the experience.

3. In addition to the discovery of dopamine, one of the most remarkable neuroscientific findings in the past century is that the brain processes pleasure and pain in the same place.

4. One of the biggest risk factors for getting addicted to any drug is easy access to that drug. When it’s easier to get a drug, we’re more likely to try it. In trying it, we’re more likely to get addicted to it.

5. Prohibition led to a sharp decrease in the number of Americans consuming and becoming addicted to alcohol. Rates of public drunkenness and alcohol-related liver disease decreased by half during this period in the absence of new remedies to treat addiction.

6. The question is: Why, in a time of unprecedented wealth, freedom, technological progress, and medical advancement, do we appear to be unhappier and in more pain than ever? The reason we’re all so miserable may be because we’re working so hard to avoid being miserable.

7. Neuroscientific advances in the last fifty to one hundred years, including advances in biochemistry, new imaging techniques, and the emergence of computational biology, shed light on fundamental reward processes. By better understanding the mechanisms that govern pain and pleasure, we can gain new insight into why and how too much pleasure leads to pain.

8. Dopamine is not the only neurotransmitter involved in reward processing, but most neuroscientists agree it is among the most important. Dopamine may play a bigger role in the motivation to get a reward than the pleasure of the reward itself. Wanting more than liking. Genetically engineered mice unable to make dopamine will not seek out food, and will starve to death even when food is placed just inches from their mouth. Yet if food is put directly into their mouth, they will chew and eat the food, and seem to enjoy it.

9. For a rat in a box, chocolate increases the basal output of dopamine in the brain by 55 percent, sex by 100 percent, nicotine by 150 percent, and cocaine by 225 percent. Amphetamine, the active ingredient in the street drugs “speed,” “ice,” and “shabu” as well as in medications like Adderall that are used to treat attention deficit disorder, increases the release of dopamine by 1,000 percent. By this accounting, one hit off a meth pipe is equal to ten orgasms.

10. In addition to the discovery of dopamine, neuroscientists have determined that pleasure and pain are processed in overlapping brain regions and work via an opponent-process mechanism. Another way to say this is that pleasure and pain work like a balance.

11. Imagine our brains contain a balance—a scale with a fulcrum in the center. When nothing is on the balance, it’s level with the ground. When we experience pleasure, dopamine is released in our reward pathway and the balance tips to the side of pleasure. The more our balance tips, and the faster it tips, the more pleasure we feel.

12. But here’s the important thing about the balance: It wants to remain level, that is, in equilibrium. It does not want to be tipped for very long to one side or another. Hence, every time the balance tips toward pleasure, powerful self-regulating mechanisms kick into action to bring it level again. These self-regulating mechanisms do not require conscious thought or an act of will. They just happen, like a reflex.

13. Once the balance is level, it keeps going, tipping an equal and opposite amount to the side of pain.

14. In the 1970s, social scientists Richard Solomon and John Corbit called this reciprocal relationship between pleasure and pain the opponent-process theory: “Any prolonged or repeated departures from hedonic or affective neutrality . . . have a cost.”

15. With repeated exposure to the same or similar pleasure stimulus, the initial deviation to the side of pleasure gets weaker and shorter and the after-response to the side of pain gets stronger and longer, a process scientists call neuroadaptation. That is, with repetition, our gremlins get bigger, faster, and more numerous, and we need more of our drug of choice to get the same effect.

16. With prolonged, heavy drug use, the pleasure-pain balance eventually gets weighted to the side of pain. Our hedonic (pleasure) set point changes as our capacity to experience pleasure goes down and our vulnerability to pain goes up.

17. Neuroscientist Nora Volkow and colleagues have shown that heavy, prolonged consumption of high-dopamine substances eventually leads to a dopamine deficit state.

18. As Dr. Volkow and her colleagues wrote, “The decreases in DA D2 receptors in the drug abusers, coupled to the decreases in DA release, would result in a decreased sensitivity of reward circuits to stimulation by natural rewards.” Once this happens, nothing feels good anymore.

19. Here’s the good news. If we wait long enough, our brains (usually) readapt to the absence of the drug and we reestablish our baseline homeostasis: a level balance. Once our balance is level, we are again able to take pleasure in everyday, simple rewards. Going for a walk. Watching the sun rise. Enjoying a meal with friends.

20. A month is usually the minimum amount of time it takes to reset the brain’s reward pathway.

21. Abstinence is necessary to restore homeostasis, and with it our ability to get pleasure from less potent rewards, as well as see the true cause and effect between our substance use and the way we’re feeling. To put it in terms of the pleasure-pain balance, fasting from dopamine allows sufficient time for the gremlins to hop off the balance and for the balance to go back to the level position.

22. Marc Schuckit and his colleagues studied a group of men who were drinking alcohol daily in large quantities and also met criteria for clinical depression, or what is called major depressive disorder.

23. The depressed men in Schuckit’s study went into the hospital for four weeks, during which time they received no treatment for depression, other than stopping alcohol. After one month of not drinking, 80 percent no longer met criteria for clinical depression. This finding implies that for the majority, clinical depression was the result of heavy drinking and not a co-occurring depressive disorder.

24. Which brings us to an important caveat: I never suggest a dopamine fast to individuals who might be at risk to suffer life-threatening withdrawal if they were to quit all of a sudden, as in cases of severe alcohol, benzodiazepine (Xanax, Valium, or Klonopin), or opioid dependence and withdrawal. For those patients, medically monitored tapering is necessary. 

25. A minority of patients (about 20 percent) don’t feel better after the dopamine fast. That’s important data too, because it tells me that the drug wasn’t the main driver of the psychiatric symptom and that the patient likely has a co-occurring psychiatric disorder that will require its own treatment.

26. The key to creating effective self-binding is first to acknowledge the loss of voluntariness we experience when under the spell of a powerful compulsion, and to bind ourselves while we still possess the capacity for voluntary choice.

27. If we wait until we feel the compulsion to use, the reflexive pull of seeking pleasure and/or avoiding pain is nearly impossible to resist. In the throes of desire, there’s no deciding. 

28. But by creating tangible barriers between ourselves and our drug of choice, we press the pause button between desire and action.

29. Self-binding can be organized into three broad categories: physical strategies (space), chronological strategies (time), and categorical strategies (meaning).

30. Self-binding is not fail-safe, particularly for those with severe addictions. It too can fall prey to self-deception, bad faith, and faulty science. But it is a good and necessary place to start.

31. As this famous Greek myth illustrates, one form of self-binding is to create literal physical barriers and/or geographical distance between ourselves and our drug of choice. Here are some examples my patients have told me about: “I unplugged my TV and put it in my closet.” “I banished my game console to the garage.” “I don’t use credit cards. Only cash.” “I call hotels beforehand to ask them to remove the minibar.” “I call hotels beforehand to ask them to remove the minibar and the television.” “I put my iPad in a safety deposit box at Bank of America.”

32. Physical self-binding is now available from your local apothecary. Instead of locking our drugs away in a file cabinet, we have the option of imposing locks at the cellular level. The medication naltrexone is used to treat alcohol and opioid addiction, and is being used for a variety of other addictions as well, from gambling to overeating to shopping. Naltrexone blocks the opioid receptor, which in turn diminishes the reinforcing effects of different types of rewarding behavior.

33. Another form of self-binding is the use of time limits and finish lines. By restricting consumption to certain times of the day, week, month, or year, we narrow our window of consumption and thereby limit our use. For example, we can tell ourselves we’ll consume only on holidays, only on weekends, never before Thursday, never before 5:00 p.m., and so on.

34. Categorical self-binding limits consumption by sorting dopamine into different categories: those subtypes we allow ourselves to consume, and those we do not. This method helps us to avoid not only our drug of choice but also the triggers that lead to craving for our drug. This strategy is especially useful for substances we can’t eliminate altogether but that we’re trying to consume in a healthier way, like food, sex, and smartphones.

35. Scientists at Charles University in Prague, writing in the European Journal of Applied Physiology, conducted an experiment in which ten men volunteered to submerge themselves (head out) in cold water (14 degrees Celsius) for one hour. This is 57 degrees Fahrenheit. Using blood samples, the researchers showed that plasma (blood) dopamine concentrations increased 250 percent, and plasma norepinephrine concentrations increased 530 percent as a result of cold-water immersion.

36. Michael’s accidental discovery of the benefits of ice-cold water immersion is an example of how pressing on the pain side of the balance can lead to its opposite— pleasure. Unlike pressing on the pleasure side, the dopamine that comes from pain is indirect and potentially more enduring. So how does it work?

37. Pain leads to pleasure by triggering the body’s own regulating homeostatic mechanisms. In this case, the initial pain stimulus is followed by gremlins hopping on the pleasure side of the balance.

38. With intermittent exposure to pain, our natural hedonic set point gets weighted to the side of pleasure, such that we become less vulnerable to pain and more able to feel pleasure over time.

39. Exercise has a more profound and sustained positive effect on mood, anxiety, cognition, energy, and sleep than any pill I can prescribe.

40. Extreme sports— skydiving, kitesurfing, hang gliding, bob-sledding, downhill skiing/snowboarding, waterfall kayaking, ice climbing, mountain biking, canyon swinging, bungee jumping, base jumping, wingsuit flying—slam down hard and fast on the pain side of the pleasure-pain balance. Intense pain/ fear plus a shot of adrenaline creates a potent drug.

41. Scientists have shown that stress alone can increase the release of dopamine in the brain’s reward pathway, leading to the same brain changes seen with addictive drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine.

42. A study of skydivers compared to a control group (rowers) found that repeat skydivers were more likely to experience anhedonia, a lack of joy, in the rest of their lives.

43. People who lean too hard and too long on the pain side of the balance can also end up in a persistent dopamine deficit state.

44. If we consume too much pain, or in too potent a form, we run the risk of compulsive, destructive overconsumption. But if we consume just the right amount, “inhibiting great pain with little pain,” we discover the path to hormetic healing, and maybe even the occasional “fit of joy.”

45. In my clinical practice, I often see one member of a family get into recovery from addiction, followed quickly by another member of the family doing the same. I’ve seen husbands who stop drinking followed by wives who stop having affairs. I’ve seen parents who stop smoking pot followed by children who do the same.

Summary : Traction by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares

1. Bullseye, a simple three-step process for getting traction. 

2. After interviewing more than forty successful founders and researching countless more, we discovered that startups get traction through nineteen different channels. Many successful startups experimented with multiple channels until they found one that worked.

3. We uncovered two broad themes through our research. First, most founders consider using only traction channels with which they’re already familiar, or those they think they should be using because of their type of product or company.

4. Second, it’s hard to predict the traction channel that will work best. You can make educated guesses, but until you start running tests, it’s difficult to tell which channel is the best one for you right now.

5. The nineteen traction channel : 

  • Targeting Blogs - Targetting blogs prospective customers might read.
  • Publicity - Publicity is the art of getting your name out there via traditional media outlets like newspapers, magazines, and TV.
  • Unconventional PR - Unconventional PR involves doing something exceptional like publicity stunts to draw media attention.
  • Search Engine Marketing - Search engine marketing (SEM) allows companies to advertise to consumers searching on Google and other search engines.
  • Social and Display Ads - Ads on popular sites like reddit, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and hundreds of other niche sites can be a powerful and scalable way to reach new customers.
  • Offline Ads - Offline ads include TV spots, radio commercials, billboards, infomercials, newspaper and magazine ads, as well as flyers and other local advertisements.
  • Search Engine Optimisation - Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of making sure your Web site shows up for key search results.
  • Content Marketing - Using your company blog to get traction
  • Email Marketing - Creating a list of prospect that you can email about your offerings.
  • Engineering as Marketing - Creating a side product(e.g. free utility, microsite or app) that helps with promotion of your main product.
  • Viral Marketing - Customers referring other customers.
  • Business Development - Creating Strategic partnerships that benefit your startup and partner.
  • Sales - Focus on creating direct exchange of product for dollars.
  • Affiliate Programs -  An affiliate program is an arrangement where you pay people or companies for performing certain actions like making a sale or getting a qualified lead.
  • Weinberg, Gabriel; Mares, Justin. Traction (p. 159). Penguin Books Ltd. Kindle Edition. 
  • Existing Platforms - Focusing your efforts on attracting consumers from an existing platform that has your target audience.
  • Trade Shows - Attending trade shows to attract customers from relevant industry
  • Offline Events - Sponsoring offline events just as small meetups or large conference
  • Speaking Engagement - After speaking at events people start viewing you as an expert and may desire to purchase your service.
  • Community Building - Forming passionate communities around your products that can promote it.

6. If you’re starting a company, chances are you can build a product. Almost every failed startup has a product. What failed startups don’t have is enough customers.

7. Having a product or service that your early customers love, but having no clear way to get more traction is a major problem. To solve this problem, spend your time constructing your product or service and testing traction channels in parallel.

8. Traction and product development are of equal importance and should each get about half of your attention. This is what we call the 50 percent rule: spend 50 percent of your time on product and 50 percent on traction.

9. To be clear, splitting your time evenly between product and traction will certainly slow down product development. However, it counterintuitively won’t slow the time to get your product successfully to market. In fact, it will speed it up!

10. You can think of your initial investment in traction as pouring water into a leaky bucket. At first your bucket will be very leaky because your product is not yet a full solution to customer needs and problems. In other words, your product is not as sticky as it could be, and many customers will not want to engage with it yet. As a consequence, much of the money you are spending on traction will leak out of your bucket.

11. These interactions also get you additional data, like what messaging is resonating with potential customers, what niche you might focus on first, what types of customers will be easiest to acquire, and what major distribution roadblocks you might run into.

12. Before you can set about getting traction, you have to define what traction means for your company. How many customers do you need and at what growth rate?

13. Your traction strategy should always be focused on moving the needle for your traction goal. By moving the needle, we mean focusing on marketing activities that result in a measurable, significant impact on your traction goal.

14. From the perspective of getting traction, you can think about working on a product or service in three phases: 

Phase I—making something people want 

Phase II—marketing something people want 

Phase III—scaling your business 

15. In the leaky bucket metaphor, phase I is when your bucket (product) has the most leaks. It really doesn’t hold water.

16. When you constantly test traction channels by sending through a steady stream of new customers, you can tell if your product is getting less leaky over time, which it should be if your product development strategy is sound. In fact this is a great feedback loop between traction development and product development that you can use to make sure you’re on the right track.

17. Once you have crossed over to phase II, you have product-market fit and customers are sticking around. Now is the time to scale up your traction efforts: your bucket is no longer leaky. You are now fine-tuning your positioning and marketing messages. 

18. In phase III, you have an established business model and significant position in the market, and are focused on scaling both to further dominate the market and to profit.

19. Phase I is very product focused and involves pursuing initial traction while also building your initial product. This often means getting traction in ways that don’t scale—giving talks, writing guest posts, emailing people you have relationships with, attending conferences, and doing whatever you can to get in front of customers.

20. The definition of traction keeps changing as the environment gets competitive. That’s why it is actually useful to look at AngelList and look at companies who just got funded; that will give you an idea of where the bar is right now.

21. With investing, always remember that traction trumps everything.

22. We strongly believe that many startups give up way too early. A lot of startup success hinges on choosing a great market at the right time. Consider DuckDuckGo, the search engine startup that Gabriel founded. Other search startups gave up after two years: Gabriel has been at it for more than seven.

23. It’s important to wrap your head around this timescale. If you are just starting out, are you ready to potentially do this for the next decade?

24. A startup can be awesome if you believe in it: if not, it can get old quickly. 

25. If you are considering a pivot, the first thing to look for is evidence of real product engagement, even if it is only a few dedicated customers. If you have such engagement, you might be giving up too soon.

26. Another factor to consider before you pivot: startup founders are usually forward thinking and as a result are often too early to market, which is another reason why it’s important to choose a startup idea you’re willing to stick with for many years.

27. How can you tell whether you are just a bit early to market and should keep plugging away? Again, the best way to find out is by looking for evidence of product engagement. If you are a little early to a market there should be some early adopters out there already eating up what you have to offer.

28. With nineteen traction channels to consider, figuring out which one to focus on is tough. That’s why we’ve created a simple framework called Bullseye that will help you find the channel that will get you traction.

29. We use the name Bullseye for our three-step framework because you’re aiming for the Bullseye—the one traction channel at the center of the target that will unlock your next growth stage.

30. The first step in Bullseye is brainstorming every single traction channel. If you were to advertise offline, where would be the best place to do it? If you were to give a speech, who would be the ideal audience? Imagine what success would look like in each channel, and write it down in your outer ring.

31. For each channel, you should identify one decent channel strategy that has a chance of moving the needle. For example, social ads is a traction channel. Specifically running ads on reddit, Twitter, or Facebook is a channel strategy within social ads. Through brainstorming, identify the best channel strategy you can think of in each of the nineteen traction channels.

32. The second step in Bullseye is running cheap traction tests in the channels that seem most promising. Go around your outer ring and promote your best traction channel ideas to your middle ring.

33. It is often the case that there are a few truly exciting and promising channel ideas in your outer ring. Stop promoting ideas where there is an obvious drop-off in excitement. That drop-off often occurs around the third channel.

34. For each traction channel in your middle ring, now construct a cheap traction test you can run to determine if the idea really is good or not. These tests should be designed to roughly answer the following three questions: 

  • How much will it cost to acquire customers through this channel? 

  • How many customers are available through this channel? 

  • Are the customers that you are getting through this channel the kind of customers that you want right now?

35. The third and final step in Bullseye is to focus solely on the channel that will move the needle for your startup: your core channel.

36. If all went well, one of the traction channels you tested in your middle ring produced promising results. In that case, you should start directing all your traction efforts and resources toward this most promising channel. You hit the Bullseye! You’ve found your core channel.

37. At any stage in a startup’s life cycle, one traction channel dominates in terms of customer acquisition. That is why we suggest focusing on one at a time, but only after you’ve identified a channel that seems like it could actually work.

38. If, unfortunately, no channel seems promising after testing, the whole process should be repeated. The good news is you now have data from all the tests you just did, which will inform you as to what types of things are, and are not, resonating with customers.

39. If you go through the process several times and no traction channel seems promising, then your product may require more tweaking. Your bucket is still too leaky.

40. In the early days, the channel strategies of sponsoring mid-level bloggers in the financial niche and guest posting allowed Mint to acquire its first forty thousand customers. 

41. When this channel maxed out and stopped moving the needle, Mint repeated the Bullseye process, and found a new core traction channel to focus on: publicity. Within six months of launching, it had 1 million users.

Summary : Hooked - How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal

1. Seventy-nine percent of smartphone owners check their device within fifteen minutes of waking up every morning.1 Perhaps more startling, fully one-third of Americans say they would rather give up sex than lose their cell phones.

2. Cognitive psychologists define habits as “automatic behaviors triggered by situational cues”: things we do with little or no conscious thought.

3. Instead of relying on expensive marketing, habit-forming companies link their services to the users’ daily routines and emotions.7 A habit is at work when users feel a tad bored and instantly open Twitter.

4. Today, small start-up teams can profoundly change behavior by guiding users through a series of experiences I call hooks. The more often users run through these hooks, the more likely they are to form habits.

5. These years of distilled research and real-world experience resulted in the creation of the Hooked Model: a four-phase process companies use to form habits:

  1.  Trigger
  2. Action
  3. Variable Rewards
  4. Investment

6.  Trigger - A trigger is the actuator of behavior—the spark plug in the engine. 

7. Triggers come in two types: external and internal. Habit-forming products start by alerting users with external triggers like an e-mail, a Web site link, or the app icon on a phone. For example, suppose Barbra, a young woman in Pennsylvania, happens to see a photo in her Facebook News Feed taken by a family member from a rural part of the state. It’s a lovely picture and because she is planning a trip there with her brother Johnny, the external trigger’s call to action (in marketing and advertising lingo) intrigues her and she clicks. 

8. By cycling through successive hooks, users begin to form associations with internal triggers, which attach to existing behaviors and emotions.

9. Action - Following the trigger comes the action: the behavior done in anticipation of a reward. The simple action of clicking on the interesting picture in her news feed takes Barbra to a Web site called Pinterest, a “social bookmarking site with a virtual pinboard.”

10. Companies leverage two basic pulleys of human behavior to increase the likelihood of an action occurring: the ease of performing an action and the psychological motivation to do it.

11. Variable Reward - What distinguishes the Hooked Model from a plain vanilla feedback loop is the Hook’s ability to create a craving.

12. Research shows that levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine surge when the brain is expecting a reward. Although dopamine is often wrongly categorized as making us feel good, introducing variability does create a focused state, which suppresses the areas of the brain associated with judgment and reason while activating the parts associated with wanting and desire. Although classic examples include slot machines and lotteries, variable rewards are prevalent in many other habit-forming products.

13. When Barbra lands on Pinterest, not only does she see the image she intended to find, but she is also served a multitude of other glittering objects.

14. Investment -The last phase of the Hooked Model is where the user does a bit of work. The investment phase increases the odds that the user will make another pass through the cycle in the future. The investment occurs when the user puts something into the product of service such as time, data, effort, social capital, or money.

15. However, the investment phase isn’t about users opening up their wallets and moving on with their day. Rather, the investment implies an action that improves the service for the next go-around. Inviting friends, stating preferences, building virtual assets, and learning to use new features are all investments users make to improve their experience. These commitments can be leveraged to make the trigger more engaging, the action easier, and the reward more exciting with every pass through the Hooked Model.

16. Neuroscientists believe habits give us the ability to focus our attention on other things by storing automatic responses in the basal ganglia, an area of the brain associated with involuntary actions.

17. Habit formation is good for business in several ways:

  • Increasing Customer Lifetime Value - User habits increase how long and how frequently customers use a product, resulting in higher Customer Lifetime Value.
  • Providing Pricing Flexibility - Buffett and his partner, Charlie Munger, realized that as customers form routines around a product, they come to depend upon it and become less sensitive to price. For example, in the free-to-play video game business, it is standard practice for game developers to delay asking users to pay money until they have played consistently and habitually.
  • Supercharging Growth - Users who continuously find value in a product are more likely to tell their friends about it.
  • Sharpening the Competitive Edge - User habits are a competitive advantage. Products that change customer routines are less susceptible to attacks from other companies. Products that require a high degree of behavior change are doomed to fail even if the benefits of using the new product are clear and substantial.
  • Building the Mind Monopoly - As one of its findings, the study concluded that the more frequently the new behavior occurred, the stronger the habit became. Like flossing, frequent engagement with a product—especially over a short period of time—increases the likelihood of forming new routines.

18. A company can begin to determine its product’s habit-forming potential by plotting two factors: frequency (how often the behavior occurs) and perceived utility (how useful and rewarding the behavior is in the user’s mind over alternative solutions).

19.Googling occurs multiple times per day, but any particular search is negligibly better than rival services like Bing. Conversely, using Amazon may be a less frequent occurrence, but users receive great value knowing they’ll find whatever they need at the one and only “everything store.”


21. Note that the line slopes downward but never quite reaches the perceived utility axis. Some behaviors never become habits because they do not occur frequently enough. No matter how much utility is involved, infrequent behaviors remain conscious actions and never create the automatic response that is characteristic of habits.

22. On the other axis, however, even a behavior that provides minimal minimal perceived benefit can become a habit simply because it occurs frequently.

23. It is worth noting that although some people use the terms interchangeably, habits are not the same things as addictions. The latter describes persistent, compulsive dependencies on a behavior or substance that harms the user. Addictions, by definition, are self-destructive.

24. A habit, on the other hand, is a behavior that can have a positive influence on a person’s life.

25.Habit-forming products often start as nice-to-haves (vitamins) but once the habit is formed, they become must-haves (painkillers).

26. External triggers are embedded with information, which tells the user what to do next.

27. An external trigger communicates the next action the user should take. Often, the desired action is made explicitly clear.

28. More choices require the user to evaluate multiple options. Too many choices or irrelevant options can cause hesitation, confusion, or worse—abandonment.4 Reducing the thinking required to take the next action increases the likelihood of the desired behavior occurring with little thought.

29. Companies can utilize four types of external triggers to move users to complete desired actions:

 Paid Triggers - Advertising, search engine marketing, and other paid channels are commonly used to get users’ attention and prompt them to act. Paid triggers can be effective but costly ways to keep users coming back. Because paying for reengagement is unsustainable for most business models, companies generally use paid triggers to acquire new users and then leverage other triggers to bring them back.

Earned Triggers - Earned triggers are free in that they cannot be bought directly, but they often require investment in the form of time spent on public and media relations. Favorable press mentions, hot viral videos, and featured app store placements are all effective ways to gain attention.

Relationship Triggers - One person telling others about a product or service can be a highly effective external trigger for action.

Owned Triggers - Owned triggers consume a piece of real estate in the user’s environment. They consistently show up in daily life and it is ultimately up to the user to opt in to allowing these triggers to appear. For example, an app icon on the user’s phone screen, an e-mail newsletter to which the user subscribes, or an app update notification only appears if the user wants it there. As long as the user agrees to see the trigger, the company that sets the trigger owns a share of the user’s attention.

30. Companies may be lulled into thinking that related downloads or sales spikes signal long-term success, yet awareness generated by earned triggers can be short-lived.

31. Yet external triggers are only the first step. The ultimate goal of all external triggers is to propel users into and through the Hooked Model so that, after successive cycles, they do not need further prompting from external triggers.

32. When users form habits, they are cued by a different kind of trigger: internal ones.

33. When a product becomes tightly coupled with a thought, an emotion, or a preexisting routine, it leverages an internal trigger. Unlike external triggers, which use sensory stimuli like a morning alarm clock or giant “Login Now” button, you can’t see, touch, or hear an internal trigger.

34. Internal triggers manifest automatically in your mind. Connecting internal triggers with a product is the brass ring of habit-forming technology.

35. Emotions, particularly negative ones, are powerful internal triggers and greatly influence our daily routines. Feelings of boredom, loneliness, frustration, confusion, and indecisiveness often instigate a slight pain or irritation and prompt an almost instantaneous and often mindless action to quell the negative sensation. For instance, Yin often uses Instagram when she fears a special moment will be lost forever.

36. The study demonstrated that people suffering from symptoms of depression used the Internet more. Why is that? One hypothesis is that those with depression experience negative emotions more frequently than the general population and seek relief by turning to technology to lift their mood.

37. Products that successfully create habits soothe the user’s pain by laying claim to a particular feeling. To do so, product designers must know their user’s internal triggers—that is, the pain they seek to solve.

38. The ultimate goal of a habit-forming product is to solve the user’s pain by creating an association so that the user identifies the company’s product or service as the source of relief.

39. “[If] you want to build a product that is relevant to folks, you need to put yourself in their shoes and you need to write a story from their side. So, we spend a lot of time writing what’s called user narratives.”

40. Dorsey believes a clear description of users—their desires, emotions, the context with which they use the product—is paramount to building the right solution. In addition to Dorsey’s user narratives, tools like customer development,11 usability studies, and empathy maps12 are examples of methods for learning about potential users.

41.  One method is to try asking the question “Why?” as many times as it takes to get to an emotion. Usually, this will happen by the fifth why. This is a technique adapted from the Toyota Production System, described by Taiichi Ohno as the “5 Whys Method.” Ohno wrote that it was “the basis of Toyota’s scientific approach … by repeating ‘why?’ five times, the nature of the problem as well as its solution becomes clear.”

42. Remember, a habit is a behavior done with little or no conscious thought. The more effort—either physical or mental—required to perform the desired action, the less likely it is to occur.

43. If action is paramount to habit formation, how can a product designer influence users to act? Is there a formula for behavior? It turns out that there is.

44. Fogg posits that there are three ingredients required to initiate any and all behaviors: (1) the user must have sufficient motivation; (2) the user must have the ability to complete the desired action; and (3) a trigger must be present to activate the behavior.

45. The Fogg Behavior Model is represented in the formula B = MAT, which represents that a given behavior will occur when motivation, ability, and a trigger are present at the same time and in sufficient degrees.

46. Fogg states that all humans are motivated to seek pleasure and avoid pain; to seek hope and avoid fear; and finally, to seek social acceptance and avoid rejection.

47. Consequently, any technology or product that significantly reduces the steps to complete a task will enjoy high adoption rates by the people it assists.

48. Evan Williams, cofounder of Blogger, Twitter, and Medium, echoes Hauptly’s formula for innovation when he describes his own approach to building three massively successful companies: “Take a human desire, preferably one that has been around for a really long time … Identify that desire and use modern technology to take out steps.”

49. Fogg describes six “elements of simplicity”—the factors that influence a task’s difficulty. These are: 

  • Time—how long it takes to complete an action. 
  • Money—the fiscal cost of taking an action. 
  • Physical effort—the amount of labor involved in taking the action. 
  • Brain cycles—the level of mental effort and focus required to take an action. 
  • Social deviance—how accepted the behavior is by others.
  • Non-routine—according to Fogg, “How much the action matches or disrupts existing routines.”

50. The action phase of the Hooked Model incorporates Fogg’s six elements of simplicity by asking designers to consider how their technology can facilitate the simplest actions in anticipation of reward. The easier an action, the more likely the user is to do it and to continue the cycle through the next phase of the Hooked Model.

51. After uncovering the triggers that prompt user actions and deciding which actions you want to turn into habits, you can increase motivation and ability to spark the likelihood of your users taking a desired behavior. But which should you invest in first, motivation or ability? Where is your time and money better spent? The answer is always to start with ability.

52. Naturally, all three parts of B = MAT must be present for a singular user action to occur; without a clear trigger and sufficient motivation there will be no behavior. However, for companies building technology solutions, the greatest return on investment generally comes from increasing a product’s ease of use.

53. The fact is, increasing motivation is expensive and time consuming. Web site visitors tend to ignore instructional text; they are often multitasking and have little patience for explanations about why or how they should do something. Influencing behavior by reducing the effort required to perform an action is more effective than increasing someone’s desire to do it. Make your product so simple that users already know how to use it, and you’ve got a winner.

54. There are many counterintuitive and surprising ways companies can boost users’ motivation or increase their ability by understanding heuristics—the mental shortcuts we take to make decisions and form opinions.

55. The Scarcity Effect - The appearance of scarcity affected their perception of value.

56. The Framing Effect - Context also shapes perception. In a social experiment, world-class violinist Joshua Bell decided to play a free impromptu concert in a Washington, D.C., subway station. Bell regularly sells out venues such as the Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall for hundreds of dollars per ticket, but when placed in the context of the D.C. subway, his music fell upon deaf ears. 

57. Almost nobody knew they were walking past one of the most talented musicians in the world. The mind takes shortcuts informed by our surroundings to make quick and sometimes erroneous judgments.

58. The Anchoring Effect - People often anchor to one piece of information when making a decision.

59. The Endowed Progress Effect - Two groups of customers were given punch cards awarding a free car wash once the cards were fully punched. One group was given a blank punch card with eight squares; the other was given a punch card with ten squares that came with two free punches. Both groups still had to purchase eight car washes to receive a free wash; however, however, the second group of customers—those that were given two free punches—had a staggering 82 percent higher completion rate.

60. The study demonstrates the endowed progress effect, a phenomenon that increases motivation as people believe they are nearing a goal.

61. The third step in the Hooked Model is the variable reward phase, in which you reward your users by solving a problem, reinforcing their motivation for the action taken in the previous phase.

62. The study revealed that what draws us to act is not the sensation we receive from the reward itself, but the need to alleviate the craving for that reward.

63. In the 1950s psychologist B. F. Skinner conducted experiments to understand how variability impacted animal behavior.

64. First, Skinner placed hungry pigeons inside a box rigged to deliver a food pellet to the birds every time they pressed a lever. Similar to Olds’s and Milner’s lab mice, the pigeons learned the cause-and-effect relationship between pressing the lever and receiving the food.

65. In the next part of the experiment Skinner added variability. Instead of providing a pellet every time a pigeon tapped the lever, the machine discharged food after a random number of taps. Sometimes the lever dispensed food, other times not. Skinner revealed that the intermittent reward dramatically increased the number of times the pigeons tapped the lever. Adding variability increased the frequency of the pigeons’ completing the intended action.

66. Variable rewards can be found in all sorts of products and experiences that hold our attention. They fuel our drive to check e-mail, browse the web, or bargain-shop. I propose that variable rewards come in three types: the tribe, the hunt, and the self.

67. Rewards of the Tribe - We are a species that depends on one another. Rewards of the tribe, or social rewards, are driven by our connectedness with other people. Our brains are adapted to seek rewards that make us feel accepted, attractive, important, and included.

68. Sites that leverage tribal rewards benefit from what psychologist Albert Bandura called “social learning theory.”8 Bandura studied the power of modeling and ascribed special powers to our ability to learn from others. In particular Bandura determined that people who observe someone being rewarded for a particular behavior are more likely to alter their own beliefs and subsequent actions.

69. Here are some online examples of rewards of the tribe:

  • “Likes” and comments offer tribal validation for those who shared the content, and provide variable rewards that motivate them to continue posting.
  • Stack Overflow devotees write responses in anticipation of rewards of the tribe. Each time a user submits an answer, other members have the opportunity to vote the response up or down. The best responses percolate upward, accumulating points for their authors
  • League of Legends, a popular computer game, launched in 2009 and quickly achieved tremendous success. Soon after its launch, however, the game’s owners found they had a serious problem: The online video game was filled with “trolls”—people who enjoyed bullying other players while being protected by the anonymity the game provides. To combat the trolls, the game creators designed a reward system leveraging Bandura’s social learning theory, which they called Honor Points. The number of points earned was highly variable and could only be conferred by other players. Honor Points soon became a coveted marker of tribe-conferred status and helped weed out trolls by signaling to others which players should be avoided.

70. The need to acquire physical objects, such as food and other supplies that aid our survival, is part of our brain’s operating system.

71. Here are a few examples of products that create habits by leveraging rewards of the hunt:

  • Slot machines provide a classic example of variable rewards of the hunt. Gamblers plunk $1 billion per day into slot machines in American casinos, which is a testament to the machines’ power to compel players.16 By awarding money in random intervals, games of chance entice players with the prospect of a jackpot. Naturally, winning is entirely outside the gambler’s control—yet the pursuit can be intoxicating.
  • The Twitter timeline, for example, is filled with a mix of both mundane and relevant content. This variety creates an enticingly unpredictable user experience. On occasion a user might find a particularly interesting piece of news, while other times she won’t. To keep hunting for more information, all that is needed is a flick of the finger or scroll of a mouse. Users scroll and scroll and scroll to search for variable rewards in the form of relevant tweets.

72. We are driven to conquer obstacles, even if just for the satisfaction of doing so. Pursuing a task to completion can influence people to continue all sorts of behaviors.

73. Surprisingly, we even pursue these rewards when we don’t outwardly appear to enjoy them. For example, watching someone investing countless hours into completing a tabletop puzzle can reveal frustrated face contortions and even sounds of muttered profanity.

74. The rewards of the self are fueled by “intrinsic motivation” as highlighted by the work of Edward Deci and Richard Ryan. Their self-determination theory espouses that people desire, among other things, to gain a sense of competency. Adding an element of mystery to this goal makes the pursuit all the more enticing.

75. Rewards of the self are a defining component in video games, as players seek to master the skills needed to pursue their quest. Leveling up, unlocking special powers, and other game mechanics fulfill a player’s desire for competency by showing progression

76. Variable rewards are not magic fairy dust that a product designer can sprinkle onto a product to make it instantly more attractive. Rewards must fit into the narrative of why the product is used and align with the user's internal triggers and motivations. They must ultimately improve the user's life.

77. To change behavior, products must ensure the users feel in control. People must want to use the service, not feel they have to.

78. Experiences with finite variability become less engaging because they eventually become predictable.

79. For example, games played to completion offer finite variability, while those played with other people have higher degrees of infinite variability because the players themselves alter the gameplay throughout.

80. The more users invest time and effort into a product or service, the more they value it. In fact, there is ample evidence to suggest that our labor leads to love.

81. The more effort we put into something, the more likely we are to value it; we are more likely to be consistent with our past behaviours; and finally, we change our preferences to avoid cognitive dissonance.

82. The last step of the Hooked Model is the investment phase, the point at which users are asked to do a bit of work. Here, users are prompted to put something of value into the system, which increase the likelihood of their using the product and of successive passes through the cycle.

83. Unlike in the action phase of the Hook, investments are about the anticipation of longer-term rewards, not immediate gratification.

84.In Twitter, for example, the investment comes in the form of following another user. There is no immediate reward for following someone, no stars or badges to affirm the action. Following is an investment in the service, which increases the likelihood of the user checking Twitter in the future.

85. Also in contrast to the action phase, the investment phase increase friction. This certainly breaks conventional thinking in the product design community that all user experiences should be as easy and effortless as possible. In the investment phase, however, asking users to do a bit of work comes after users have received variables rewards, not before. The timing of asking for user investment is critically important. 

86. The collection of memories and experiences, in aggregate, becomes more valuable over time and the service becomes harder to leave as users' personal investment in the site grows.

87. The company found that the more information users invested in the site, the more committed they became to it.

88. Reputation makes users, both buyers and sellers, more likely to stick with whichever service they have invested their efforts in to maintain a high-quality score.

89. Investing time and effort into learning to use a product is a form of investment and stored value. Once a user has acquired a skill, using the service becomes easier.

90. Once users have invested the effort to acquire a skill, they are less likely to switch to a competing product.

91. I recommend that you progressively stage the investment you want from users into small chucks of work, starting with small, easy tasks and building up to harder tasks during successive cycles through the Hooked Model.

92. Users set future triggers during the investment phase, providing companies with an opportunity to reengage the user.

93. You are now equipped to use the Hooked Model to ask yourself these fundamental questions for building effective hooks:

What do users really want? What pain is your product relieving? (Internal trigger) 

What brings users to your service? (External trigger) 

What is the simplest action users take in anticipation of reward, and how can you simplify your product to make this action easier? (Action) A

re users fulfilled by the reward yet left wanting more? (Variable reward) What “bit of work” do users invest in your product? 

Does it load the next trigger and store value to improve the product with use? (Investment)

94. Creating a product that the designer does not believe improves users' lives and that he himself would not use is called exploitation.

95. Start-ups are grueling and only the most fortunate persevere before finding success. If you only build for fame or fortune, you will likely find neither. Build for meaning, though, and you can’t go wrong.

96. The Hooked Model can be a helpful tool for filtering out bad ideas with low habit potential as well as a framework for identifying room for improvement in existing products.

97. Building a habit-forming product is an iterative process and requires user-bebavior analysis and continuous experimentation.

98. Habit Testing offers insights and actionable data to inform the design of habit-forming products. It helps clarify who your devotees are, what parts(if any) of your product are habit forming, and why those aspects of your product are changing user behavior.

99. Habit Testing:

  • Step 1 - Identify. First define what it means to be a devoted user. How often "should" one use your product? Publicly available data from similar products or solutions can help define your users and engagement targets. Educated assumptions must be made if data is not available.
  • Step 2 -Codify. Atleast 5% of your users should be habitual users initially. Once your exceed this bar, the next step is to codify the steps they took using your product to understand what hooked them. You are looking for a Habit Path -- a series of similar actions shared by your most loyal users. For example, in its early days, Twitter discovered that once new users followed thirty other members, they hit a tipping point that dramatically increased the odds they would keep using the site.
  • Step 3 - Modify. Armed with new insights, it is time to revisit your product and identify ways to nudge new users down the same Habit Path taken by devotees.

100. Identifying areas where a new technology makes cycling through the Hooked Model faster, more frequent, or more rewarding provides fertile ground for developing new habit-forming products.

Summary : Contagious by Jonah Berger

1.One reason some products and ideas become popular is that they are just plain better. We tend to prefer websites that are easier to use, drugs that are more effective, and scientific theories that are true rather than false. So when something comes along that offers better functionality or does a better job, people tend to switch to it. Remember how bulky televisions or computer monitors used to be? They were so heavy and cumbersome that you had to ask a couple of friends (or risk a strained back) to carry one up a flight of stairs. One reason flat screens took off was that they were better. Not only did they offer larger screens, but they weighed less. No wonder they became popular.

2. Another reason products catch on is attractive pricing. Not surprisingly, most people prefer paying less rather than more.

3. Advertising also plays a role. Consumers need to know about something before they can buy it. So people tend to think that the more they spend on advertising, the more likely something will become popular. Want to get people to eat more vegetables? Spending more on ads should increase the number of people who hear your message and buy broccoli.

4. But although quality, price, and advertising contribute to products and ideas being successful, they don’t explain the whole story.

5. People share more than 16,000 words per day and every hour there are more than 100 million conversations about brands.

6. Word of mouth is the primary factor behind 20 percent to 50 percent of all purchasing decisions.

7. In fact, while traditional, advertising is still useful, word of mouth from everyday Joes and Janes is at least ten times more effective.

8. Word of mouth tends to reach people who are actually interested in the thing being discussed. No wonder customers referred by their friends spend more, shop faster, and are more profitable overall.

9. Research by the Keller Fay Group finds that only 7 percent of word of mouth happens online.

10. Fifty percent of YouTube videos have fewer than five hundred views. Only one-third of 1 percent get more than 1 million.

11. Further, by focusing so much on the messenger, we’ve neglected a much more obvious driver of sharing: the message. To use an analogy, think about jokes. We all have friends who are better joke tellers than we are. Whenever they tell a joke the room bursts out laughing. But jokes also vary. Some jokes are so funny that it doesn’t matter who tells them. Everyone laughs even if the person sharing the joke isn’t all that funny. 

12. Contagious content is like that—so inherently viral that it spreads regardless of who is doing the talking. Regardless of whether the messengers are really persuasive or not and regardless of whether they have ten friends or ten thousand.

13. After analyzing hundreds of contagious messages, products, and ideas, we noticed that the same six “ingredients,” or principles, were often at work. Six key STEPPS, as I call them, that cause things to be talked about, shared, and imitated.

14. Principle 1: Social Currency - How does it make people look to talk about a product or idea? Most people would rather look smart than dumb, rich than poor, and cool than geeky.

15. So to get people talking we need to craft messages that help them achieve these desired impressions. We need to find our inner remarkability and make people feel like insiders.

16. Principle 2: Triggers - How do we remind people to talk about our products and ideas? Triggers are stimuli that prompt people to think about related things.

17. People often talk about whatever comes to mind, so the more often people think about a product or idea, the more it will be talked about. We need to design products and ideas that are frequently triggered by the environment and create new triggers by linking our products and ideas to prevalent cues in that environment. Top of mind leads to tip of tongue.

18. Principle 3: Emotion - Naturally contagious content usually evokes some sort of emotion. Blending an iPhone is surprising. A potential tax hike is infuriating. Emotional things often get shared.

19. Principle 4: Public Can people see when others are using our product or engaging in our desired behavior? The famous phrase “Monkey see, monkey do” captures more than just the human tendency to imitate. It also tells us that it’s hard to copy something you can’t see. Making things more observable makes them easier to imitate, which makes them more likely to become popular.

20. Principle 5: Practical Value How can we craft content that seems useful? People like to help others, so if we can show them how our products or ideas will save time, improve health, or save money, they’ll spread the word.

21. Principle 6: Stories What broader narrative can we wrap our idea in? People don’t just share information, they tell stories. But just like the epic tale of the Trojan Horse, stories are vessels that carry things such as morals and lessons.

22. These are the six principles of contagiousness: products or ideas that contain Social Currency and are Triggered, Emotional, Public, Practically Valuable, and wrapped into Stories.

23. Word of mouth, then, is a prime tool for making a good impression—as potent as that new car or Prada handbag. Think of it as a kind of currency. Social currency. Just as people use money to buy products or services, they use social currency to achieve desired positive impressions among their families, friends, and colleagues.

24. Give people a way to make themselves look good while promoting their products and ideas along the way. There are three ways to do that: (1) find inner remarkability; (2) leverage game mechanics; and (3) make people feel like insiders.

25. Remarkable things are defined as unusual, extraordinary, or worthy of notice or attention. Something can be remarkable because it is novel, surprising, extreme, or just plain interesting. But the most important aspect of remarkable things is that they are worthy of remark. Worthy of mention. Learning that a ball of glass will bounce higher than a ball of rubber is just so noteworthy that you have to mention it.

26. Remarkable things provide social currency because they make the people who talk about them seem, well, more remarkable.

27. One way to generate surprise is by breaking a pattern people have come to expect.

28. People don’t just care about how they are doing, they care about their performance in relation to others.

29. Game mechanics help generate social currency because doing well makes us look good. People love boasting about the things they’ve accomplished: their golf handicaps, how many people follow them on Twitter, or their kids’ SAT scores.

30. Leveraging game mechanics also involves helping people publicize their achievements. Sure, someone can talk about how well she did, but it’s even better if there is a tangible, visible symbol that she can display to others. Foursquare, the location-based social networking website, lets users check in at bars, restaurants, and other locations using their mobile devices.

31. Effective status systems are easy to understand, even by people who aren’t familiar with the domain.

32. Giving awards works on a similar principle. Recipients of awards love boasting about them—it gives them the opportunity to tell others how great they are. But along the way they have to mention who gave them the award.

33. Word of mouth can also come from the voting process itself. Deciding the winner by popular vote encourages contestants to drum up support. But in telling people to vote for them, contestants also spread awareness about the product, brand, or initiative sponsoring the contest. Instead of marketing itself directly, the company uses the contest to get people who want to win to do the marketing themselves.

34. Scarcity is about how much of something is offered. Scarce things are less available because of high demand, limited production, or restrictions on the time or place you can acquire them.

35. Exclusivity is also about availability, but in a different way. Exclusive things are accessible only to people who meet particular criteria.

36. Scarcity and exclusivity help products catch on by making them seem more desirable.

37. Scarcity and exclusivity boost word of mouth by making people feel like insiders. If people get something not everyone else has, it makes them feel special, unique, high status.

38. If word-of-mouth pundits agree on anything, it’s that being interesting is essential if you want people to talk. Most buzz marketing books will tell you that. So will social media gurus.

39. Unfortunately, he’s wrong. And so is everyone else who subscribes to the interest-is-king theory. And lest you think this contradicts what we talked about in the previous chapter about Social Currency, read on. People talk about Cheerios more than Disney World. The reason? Triggers. 

40. Interesting products didn’t receive any more word of mouth than boring ones.

41. Sights, smells, and sounds can trigger related thoughts and ideas, making them more top of mind. A hot day might trigger thoughts about climate change. Seeing a sandy beach in a travel magazine might trigger thoughts of Corona beer.

42. But triggers can also be indirect. Seeing a jar of peanut butter not only triggers us to think about peanut butter, it also makes us think about its frequent partner, jelly. Triggers are like little environmental reminders for related concepts and ideas.

43. More frequently triggered products got 15 percent more word of mouth. Even mundane products like Ziploc bags and moisturizer received lots of buzz because people were triggered to think about them so frequently.

44. So rather than just going for a catchy message, consider the context. Think about whether the message will be triggered by the everyday environments of the target audience.

45. The more the desired behavior happens after a delay, the more important being triggered becomes.

46. One product that used triggers brilliantly is Kit Kat. “Give me a break, give me a break, break me off a piece of that Kit Kat bar!” Introduced in the United States in 1986, the Kit Kat tune is one of the most iconic jingles ever made.

47. Products and ideas also have habitats, or sets of triggers that cause people to think about them.

48. Competitors can even be used as a trigger. by making a rival’s message act as a trigger for your own.

49. A famous antismoking campaign, for example, spoofed Marlboro’s iconic ads by captioning a picture of one Marlboro cowboy talking to another with the words: “Bob, I’ve got emphysema.” So now whenever people see a Marlboro ad, it triggers them to think about the antismoking message.

50. Researchers call this strategy the poison parasite because it slyly injects “poison” (your message) into a rival’s message by making it a trigger for your own.

51. Triggers can help products and ideas catch on, but some stimuli are better triggers than others. The more things a given cue is associated with, the weaker any given association.

52. Triggers work the same way. The color red, for example, is associated with many things: roses, love, Coca-Cola, and fast cars, to name just a few. As a result of being ubiquitous, it’s not a particularly strong trigger for any of these ideas.

53. Compare that with how many people think “jelly” when you say “peanut butter” and it will be clear why stronger, more unusual links are better. Linking a product or idea with a stimulus that is already associated with many things isn’t as effective as forging a fresher, more original link.

54. It is also important to pick triggers that happen near where the desired behavior is taking place.

55. Triggers and cues lead people to talk, choose, and use. Social currency gets people talking, but Triggers keep them talking. Top of mind means tip of tongue.

56. As we expected, both characteristics influenced sharing. More interesting articles were 25 percent more likely to make the Most E-Mailed list. More useful articles were 30 percent more likely to make the list.

57. Sadder articles were actually 16 percent less likely to make the Most E-Mailed list. Something about sadness was making people less likely to share. What?

58. More recently, however, psychologists have argued that emotions can also be classified based on a second dimension. That of activation, or physiological arousal.

59. Arousal is a state of activation and readiness for action. The heart beats faster and blood pressure rises. Evolutionarily, it comes from our ancestors’ reptilian brains. Physiological arousal motivates a fight-or-flight response that helps organisms catch food or flee from predators.

60. Some emotions, like anger and anxiety, are high-arousal. When we’re angry we yell at customer service representatives. When we’re anxious we check and recheck

61. things. Positive emotions also generate arousal. Take excitement. When we feel excited we want to do something rather than sit still. The same is true for awe. When inspired by awe we can’t help wanting to tell people what happened. Other emotions, however, have the opposite effect: they stifle action. Take sadness. Whether dealing with a tough breakup or the death of a beloved pet, sad people tend to power down.

62. In their wonderful book Made to Stick, Chip and Dan Heath talk about using the “Three Whys” to find the emotional core of an idea. Write down why you think people are doing something. Then ask “Why is this important?” three times. Each time you do this, note your answer, and you’ll notice that you drill down further and further toward uncovering not only the core of an idea, but the emotion behind it.

63. And it did. Among students who had been instructed to jog, 75 percent shared the article—more than twice as many as the students who had been in the “relaxed” group. Thus any sort of arousal, whether from emotional or physical sources, and even arousal due to the situation itself (rather than content), can boost transmission.

64. A key factor in driving products to catch on is public visibility. If something is built to show, it’s built to grow.

65. Observable things are also more likely to be discussed. Ever walked into someone’s office or home and inquired about a weird paperweight on the desk or a colorful art print on the living room wall?

66. The more public a product or service is, the more it triggers people to take action. So how can products or ideas be made more publicly observable?

67. One way to make things more public is to design ideas that advertise themselves.

68. Every time current Hotmail customers sent an e-mail, they also sent prospective customers a bit of social proof—an implicit endorsement for this previously unknown service. And it worked. In a little over a year Hotmail signed up more than 8.5 million subscribers. Soon after, Microsoft bought the burgeoning service for $400 million. Since then more than 350 million users have signed up.

69. Take Apple’s decision to make iPod headphones white. But because most devices came with black headphones, Apple’s white headphone cords stood out. By advertising themselves, the headphones made it easy to see how many other people were switching away from the traditional Walkman and adopting the iPod. This was visible social proof that suggested the iPod was a good product and made potential adopters feel more comfortable about purchasing it as well.

70. Designing products that advertise themselves is a particularly powerful strategy for small companies or organizations that don’t have a lot of resources.

71. But sharing something useful with others is a quick and easy way to help them out. Even if we’re not in the same place. Parents can send their kids helpful advice even if they are hundreds of miles away. Passing along useful things also strengthens social bonds.

72. If Social Currency is about information senders and how sharing makes them look, Practical Value is mostly about the information receiver. It’s about saving people time or money, or helping them have good experiences.

73. One of the main tenets of prospect theory is that people don’t evaluate things in absolute terms. They evaluate them relative to a comparison standard, or “reference point.”

74. The prices of the dresses were the same in both versions of the catalog. So using the word “sale” beside a price increased sales even though the price itself stayed the same.

75. Another tenet of prospect theory is something called “diminishing sensitivity.”

76. While almost everyone is willing to endure the drive for the cheaper clock radio, almost no one is willing to do it when buying a TV. Why? Diminishing sensitivity reflects the idea that the same change has a smaller impact the farther it is from the reference point.

77. As prospect theory illustrates, one key factor in highlighting incredible value is what people expect. Promotional offers that seem surprising or surpass expectations are more likely to be shared.

78. Another factor that affects whether deals seem valuable is their availability. Somewhat counterintuitively, making promotions more restrictive can actually make them more effective.

79. But offers that are available for only a limited time seem more appealing because of the restriction. Just like making a product scarce, the fact that a deal won’t be around forever makes people feel that it must be a really good one.

80. Researchers find that whether a discount seems larger as money or percentage off depends on the original price. For low-priced products, like books or groceries, price reductions seem more significant when they are framed in percentage terms. Twenty percent off that $25 shirt seems like a better deal than $5 off. For high-priced products, however, the opposite is true.

81. A simple way to figure out which discount frame seems larger is by using something called the Rule of 100. If the product’s price is less than $100, the Rule of 100 says that percentage discounts will seem larger. For a $30 T-shirt or a $15 entrée, even a $3 discount is still a relatively small number. But percentagewise (10 percent or 20 percent), that same discount looks much bigger.

82. Useful information, then, is another form of practical value. Helping people do things they want to do, or encouraging them to do things they should do. Faster, better, and easier.

83. So while broadly relevant content could be shared more, content that is obviously relevant to a narrow audience may actually be more viral.

84. Of the six principles of contagiousness that we discuss in the book, Practical Value may be the easiest to apply.

85. Virality is most valuable when the brand or product benefit is integral to the story. When it’s woven so deeply into the narrative that people can’t tell the story without mentioning it.

86. Sure, you can make your narrative funny, surprising, or entertaining. But if people don’t connect the content back to you, it’s not going to help you very much. Even if it goes viral.

87. Using scarcity and exclusivity early on and then relaxing the restrictions later is a particularly good way to build demand.

Notes : The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal

1. The best way to improve your self-control is to see how and why you lose control. Knowing how you are likely to give in doesn’t, as many people fear, set yourself up for failure. It allows you to support yourself and avoid the traps that lead to willpower failures. Research shows that people who think they have the most willpower are actually the most likely to lose control when tempted.

2. Willpower is about harnessing the three powers of I will, I won’t, and I want to help you achieve your goals (and stay out of trouble).

3. In other words, when Gage lost his prefrontal cortex, he lost his will power, his won’t power, and his want power. i.e. The Preforntal Cortex is what gives us the ability to control ourselves.

4. Most of us don’t have to worry about ill-timed railroad explosions robbing us of our self-control, but we all have a little Phineas Gage in us. The prefrontal cortex is not always as reliable as we’d like. Many temporary states—like being drunk, sleep-deprived, or even just distracted—inhibit the prefrontal cortex, mimicking the brain damage that Gage sustained.

5. Some neuroscientists go so far as to say that we have one brain but two minds—or even, two people living inside our mind. There’s the version of us that acts on impulse and seeks immediate gratification, and the version of us that controls our impulses and delays gratification to protect our long-term goals. They’re both us, but we switch back and forth between these two selves. Sometimes we identify with the person who wants to lose weight, and sometimes we identify with the person who just wants the cookie.

6. Baba Shiv, a professor of marketing at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, has shown that people who are distracted are more likely to give in to temptations. For example, students trying to remember a telephone number are 50 percent more likely to choose chocolate cake over fruit at a snack cart. Distracted shoppers are more susceptible to in-store promotions, and more likely to go home with items not on their shopping lists.

7. Or you could do something a lot simpler and less painful: meditate. Neuroscientists have discovered that when you ask the brain to meditate, it gets better not just at meditating, but at a wide range of self-control skills, including attention, focus, stress management, impulse control, and selfawareness. People who meditate regularly aren’t just better at these things. Over time, their brains become finely tuned willpower machines. Regular meditators have more gray matter in the prefrontal cortex, as well as regions of the brain that support self-awareness.

8. One study found that just three hours of meditation practice led to improved attention and self-control. After eleven hours, researchers could see those changes in the brain. The new meditators had increased neural connections between regions of the brain important for staying focused, ignoring distractions, and controlling impulses. Another study found that eight weeks of daily meditation practice led to increased self-awareness in everyday life, as well as increased gray matter in corresponding areas of the brain.

9. “What was my body doing?” Science is discovering that self-control is a matter of physiology, not just psychology.

10. The good news is that you can learn to shift your physiology into that state when you need your willpower the most. You can also train the body’s capacity to stay in this state, so that when temptation strikes, your instinctive response is one of self-control.

11. While your body was getting ready to defend your life, the alarm system in your brain was busy trying to make sure that you didn’t get in the body’s way. It focused your attention and senses on the saber-toothed tiger and your surroundings, making sure no stray thoughts distracted you from the threat at hand. The alarm system also prompted a complex change in brain chemicals that inhibited your prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain in charge of impulse control. That’s right, the fight-or-flight response wants to make you more impulsive. The rational, wise, and deliberative prefrontal cortex is effectively put to sleep—the better to make sure you don’t chicken out or overthink your escape. Speaking of escape, I’d say your best bet in this situation is to start running. Now.

12. Suzanne Segerstrom, a psychologist at the University of Kentucky, studies how states of mind like stress and hope influence the body. She has found that, just like stress, self-control has a biological signature.

13. Segerstrom calls those changes the pause-and-plan response, which couldn’t look more different from the fight-or-flight response.

14. Your instincts are pushing you toward a potentially bad decision. What’s needed, therefore, is protection of yourself by yourself. This is what self-control is all about. The most helpful response will be to slow you down, not speed you up (as a fight-or-flight response does). And this is precisely what the pause-and-plan response does. The perception of an internal conflict triggers changes in the brain and body that help you slow down and control your impulses.

15. The single best physiological measurement of the pause-and-plan response is something called heart rate variability—a measurement most people have never heard of, but one that provides an amazing window into the body’s state of stress or calm.

16. Heart rate variability is such a good index of willpower that you can use it to predict who will resist temptation, and who will give in.

17. Studies also show that people with higher heart rate variability are better at ignoring distractions, delaying gratification, and dealing with stressful situations.

18. You won’t find many quick fixes in this book, but there is one way to immediately boost willpower: Slow your breathing down to four to six breaths per minute. That’s ten to fifteen seconds per breath—slower than you normally breathe, but not difficult with a little bit of practice and patience. Slowing the breath down activates the prefrontal cortex and increases heart rate variability, which helps shift the brain and body from a state of stress to self-control mode. A few minutes of this technique will make you feel calm, in control, and capable of handling cravings or challenges.

19. Heart rate variability steadily increases as your breathing rate drops below twelve per minute.

20. One study found that a daily twenty-minute practice of slowed breathing increased heart rate variability and reduced cravings and depression among adults recovering from substance abuse and post-traumatic stress disorder.

21. Exercise turns out to be the closest thing to a wonder drug that self-control scientists have discovered. For starters, the willpower benefits of exercise are immediate. Fifteen minutes on a treadmill reduces cravings, as seen when researchers try to tempt dieters with chocolate and smokers with cigarettes. The long-term effects of exercise are even more impressive. It not only relieves ordinary, everyday stress, but it’s as powerful an antidepressant as Prozac. Working out also enhances the biology of self-control by increasing baseline heart rate variability and training the brain.

22. If you are surviving on less than six hours of sleep a night, there’s a good chance you don’t even remember what it’s like to have your full willpower. Being mildly but chronically sleep deprived makes you more susceptible to stress, cravings, and temptation. It also makes it more difficult to control your emotions, focus your attention, or find the energy to tackle the big “I will” power challenges.

23. The good news is, all of this is reversible. When the sleep-deprived catch a better night’s sleep, their brain scans no longer show signs of prefrontal cortex impairment. In fact, they look just like the brains of the well-rested.

24. In one study, five minutes of breath-focus meditation a day helped recovering addicts fall asleep. This added one hour a night to their quality sleep time, which in turn significantly reduced the risk of drug use relapse. So for better willpower, go to sleep already.

25. This may seem to work in the short term, but in the long term, nothing drains willpower faster than stress. The biology of stress and the biology of self-control are simply incompatible. Both the fight-or-flight and pause-and-plan responses are about energy management, but they redirect your energy and attention in very different ways. The fight-or-flight response floods the body with energy to act instinctively, and steals it from the areas of the brain needed for wise decision making.

26. Welcome to one of the most robust, if troubling, findings from the science of self-control: People who use their willpower seem to run out of it. Smokers who go without a cigarette for twenty-four hours are more likely to binge on ice cream. Drinkers who resist their favorite cocktail become physically weaker on a test of endurance. Perhaps most disturbingly, people who are on a diet are more likely to cheat on their spouse. It’s as if there’s only so much willpower to go around. Once exhausted, you are left defenseless against temptation—or at least disadvantaged.

27. Researchers have found that self-control is highest in the morning and steadily deteriorates over the course of the day. By the time you get to the stuff that really matters to you, like going to the gym after work, tackling the big project, keeping your cool when your kids turn the couch into a finger paint masterpiece, or staying away from the emergency pack of cigarettes stashed in your drawer, you may find yourself out of willpower.

28. The more a person’s blood sugar dropped after a self-control task, the worse his performance on the next task. It appeared as if self-control was draining the body of energy, and this energy loss was weakening self-control.

29. Low blood sugar levels turn out to predict a wide range of willpower failures, from giving up on a difficult test to lashing out at others when you’re angry. Gailliot, now a professor at Zirve University in Turkey, has found that people with low blood sugar are also more likely to rely on stereotypes and less likely to donate money to charity or help a stranger. It is as if running low on energy biases us to be the worst versions of ourselves. In contrast, giving participants a sugar boost turns them back into the best versions of themselves: more persistent and less impulsive; more thoughtful and less selfish.

30. Other studies have found that committing to any small, consistent act of self-control—improving your posture, squeezing a handgrip every day to exhaustion, cutting back on sweets, and keeping track of your spending—can increase overall willpower.

31. The widely observed scientific finding that self-control is limited may reflect people’s beliefs about willpower, not their true physical and mental limits.

32. When your willpower is running low, find renewed strength by tapping into your want power. For your biggest willpower challenge, consider the following motivations: 

  1. How will you benefit from succeeding at this challenge? What is the payoff for you personally? Greater health, happiness, freedom, financial security, or success? 
  2. Who else will benefit if you succeed at this challenge? Surely there are others who depend on you and are affected by your choices. How does your behavior influence your family, friends, coworkers, employees or employer, and community? How would your success help them? 
  3. Imagine that this challenge will get easier for you over time if you are willing to do what is difficult now. Can you imagine what your life will be like, and how you will feel about yourself, as you make progress on this challenge? Is some discomfort now worth it if you know it is only a temporary part of your progress?

33. Ayelet Fishbach, professor at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, and Ravi Dhar, professor at the Yale School of Management, have shown that making progress on a goal motivates people to engage in goal-sabotaging behavior.

34. The problem with progress is how it makes us feel—and even then, it’s only a problem if we listen to the feeling instead of sticking to our goals. Progress can be motivating, and even inspire future self-control, but only if you view your actions as evidence that you are committed to your goal. In other words, you need to look at what you have done and conclude that you must really care about your goal, so much so that you want to do even more to reach it. This perspective is easy to adopt; it’s just not our usual mindset. More typically, we look for the reason to stop.

35. How do you focus on commitment instead of progress? A study by researchers at Hong Kong University of Science and the University of Chicago provides one strategy. When they asked students to remember a time they turned down a temptation, moral licensing ensued, and 70 percent took the next opportunity to indulge. But when they also asked the participants to remember why they had resisted, the licensing effect disappeared—69 percent resisted temptation.

36. We wrongly but persistently expect to make different decisions tomorrow than we do today. I’ll smoke this one cigarette, but starting tomorrow, I’m done. I’ll skip the gym today, but I’m sure I’ll go tomorrow. I’ll splurge on holiday gifts, but then no more shopping for at least three months.

37. Behavioral economist Howard Rachlin proposes an interesting trick for overcoming the problem of always starting a change tomorrow. When you want to change a behavior, aim to reduce the variability in your behavior, not the behavior itself. He has shown that smokers asked to try to smoke the same number of cigarettes every day gradually decrease their overall smoking—even when they are explicitly told not to try to smoke less.

38. How does the reward system compel us to act? When the brain recognizes an opportunity for reward, it releases a neurotransmitter called dopamine. Dopamine tells the rest of the brain what to pay attention to and what to get our greedy little hands on. A dopamine rush doesn’t create happiness itself —the feeling is more like arousal. We feel alert, awake, and captivated.

39. When dopamine is released by one promise of reward, it also makes you more susceptible to any other kind of temptation. For example, erotic images make men more likely to take financial risks, and fantasizing about winning the lottery leads people to overeat—two ways daydreaming about unattainable rewards can get you into trouble. High levels of dopamine amplify the lure of immediate gratification, while making you less concerned about long-term consequences.

40. The reward system of the brain also responds to novelty and variety. Your dopamine neurons eventually become less responsive to familiar rewards, even ones you really enjoy, whether it’s a daily mocha latte or the same old lunch special. It’s not a coincidence that places like Starbucks and Jack in the Box are constantly introducing new variations of the standard fare, and clothing retailers roll out new color choices for their wardrobe basics. Regular cup of joe?

41. Businesses also use smells to manufacture desire where none existed. An appetizing odor is one of the fastest ways to trigger the promise of reward, and as soon as the scented molecules land on your olfactory receptors, the brain will begin searching for the source.

42. The promise of reward has even been used to help people overcome addiction. One of the most effective intervention strategies in alcohol and drug recovery is something called the fish bowl. Patients who pass their drug tests win the opportunity to draw a slip of paper out of a bowl. About half of these slips have a prize listed on them, ranging in value from $1 to $20. Only one slip has a big prize, worth $100. Half of the slips have no prize value at all—instead, they say, “Keep up the good work.” This means that when you reach your hand into the fish bowl, the odds are you’re going to end up with a prize worth $1 or a few kind words. This shouldn’t be motivating—but it is. In one study, 83 percent of patients who had access to fish bowl rewards stayed in treatment for the whole twelve weeks, compared with only 20 percent of patients receiving standard treatment without the promise of reward. Eighty percent of the fish bowl patients passed all their drug tests, compared with only 40 percent of the standard treatment group. When the intervention was over, the fish bowl group was also far less likely to relapse than patients who received standard treatment—even without the continued promise of reward.

43. We humans find it nearly impossible to distinguish the promise of reward from whatever pleasure or payoff we are seeking.

44. When you’re feeling down, what do you do to feel better? If you’re like most people, you turn to the promise of reward. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), the most commonly used strategies for dealing with stress are those that activate the brain’s reward system: eating, drinking, shopping, watching television, surfing the Web, and playing video games. And why not? Dopamine promises us that we’re going to feel good. It’s only natural that we turn to the biggest dopamine releasers when we want to feel better. Call it the promise of relief.

45. The brain, it turns out, is especially susceptible to temptation when we’re feeling bad. Scientists have come up with clever ways to stress out their laboratory subjects, and the results are always the same.

46. When smokers imagine a trip to the dentist, they experience off-the-chart cravings for a cigarette. When binge-eaters are told they will have to give a speech in public, they crave high-fat, sugary foods. Stressing out lab rats with unpredictable electric shocks (to the body, not the brain’s reward center!) will make them run for sugar, alcohol, heroin, or whatever reward researchers have made available in their cage. Outside the laboratory, real-world stress increases the risk of relapse among smokers, recovering alcoholics, drug addicts, and dieters.

47. Neuroscientists have shown that stress—including negative emotions like anger, sadness, self-doubt, and anxiety—shifts the brain into a reward-seeking state. You end up craving whatever substance or activity your brain associates with the promise of reward, and you become convinced that the “reward” is the only way to feel better. For example, when a cocaine addict remembers a fight with a family member or being criticized at work, his brain’s reward system becomes activated, and he experiences intense cravings for cocaine.

48. While many of the most popular stress-relief strategies fail to make us feel better, some strategies really work. According to the American Psychological Association, the most effective stress-relief strategies are exercising or playing sports, praying or attending a religious service, reading, listening to music, spending time with friends or family, getting a massage, going outside for a walk, meditating or doing yoga, and spending time with a creative hobby. (The least effective strategies are gambling, shopping, smoking, drinking, eating, playing video games, surfing the Internet, and watching TV or movies for more than two hours.) 

49. The main difference between the strategies that work and the strategies that don’t? Rather than releasing dopamine and relying on the promise of reward, the real stress relievers boost moodenhancing brain chemicals like serotonin and GABA, as well as the feel-good hormone oxytocin. They also help shut down the brain’s stress response, reduce stress hormones in the body, and induce the healing relaxation response. Because they aren’t exciting like the dopamine releasers, we tend to underestimate how good they will make us feel. And so we forget about these strategies not because they don’t work, but because when we’re stressed, our brains persistently mis-predict what will make us happy. This means that we’ll often talk ourselves out of doing the very thing that will actually make us feel better.

50. It doesn’t take planes flying into buildings to press our inner panic buttons. In fact, it doesn’t even take real deaths to set us spending—television dramas and movies can have the same effect. In one study, watching a death scene in the 1979 tearjerker film The Champ made people willing to pay three times as much for something they didn’t need (and would later regret). Importantly, the participants in this study were oblivious to the fact that watching the film had influenced what they were willing to pay.

51. Not surprisingly, people who drank too much the previous night felt worse in the morning— headaches, nausea, fatigue. But their misery wasn’t limited to hangovers. Many also felt guilty and ashamed. That’s where things get disturbing. The worse a person felt about how much they drank the night before, the more they drank that night and the next. The guilt was driving them back to the bottle. 

52. Welcome to one of the biggest threats to willpower worldwide: the “what-the-hell effect.” First coined by dieting researchers Janet Polivy and C. Peter Herman, the what-the-hell effect describes a cycle of indulgence, regret, and greater indulgence.

53. Any setback can create the same downward spiral. In one not-so-nice study, Polivy and Herman rigged a scale to make dieters think they had gained five pounds. The dieters felt depressed, guilty, and disappointed with themselves—but instead of resolving to lose the weight, they promptly turned to food to fix those feelings.

54. And yet getting rid of guilt kept the women from overindulging in the taste test. We may think that guilt motivates us to correct our mistakes, but it’s just one more way that feeling bad leads to giving in.

55. If you think that the key to greater willpower is being harder on yourself, you are not alone. But you are wrong. Study after study shows that self-criticism is consistently associated with less motivation and worse self-control. It is also one of the single biggest predictors of depression, which drains both “I will” power and “I want” power. In contrast, self-compassion—being supportive and kind to yourself, especially in the face of stress and failure—is associated with more motivation and better self-control.

56. Whether we look to economics, psychology, or neuroscience for an explanation, many of our problems with temptation and procrastination come back to one uniquely human problem: how we think about the future.

57. One reason we’re so susceptible to immediate gratification is that our brain’s reward system did not evolve to respond to future rewards. Food was the reward system’s original target, which is why humans are still exceptionally responsive to the smell or sight of anything yummy. When dopamine was first perfecting its effects in the human brain, a reward that was far off—whether by sixty miles or sixty days—was irrelevant to daily survival.

58. To delay gratification, the prefrontal cortex has to cool off the promise of reward. It’s not an impossible feat—after all, that’s what the prefrontal cortex is there for. But it has to fight a feeling that’s been known to make rats run across electrified grids and men blow their life savings on a slot machine. In other words, it’s not easy.

59. To really overwhelm our prefrontal cortex, the reward must be available now, and—for maximum effect—you need to see it. As soon as there is any distance between you and the temptation, the power of balance shifts back to the brain’s system of self-control.

60. Anything you can do to create that distance will make it easier to say no. For example, one study found that just putting a candy jar inside a desk drawer instead of on top of the desk reduced office workers’ candy consumption by one third. It isn’t any more difficult to open a drawer than to reach across a desk, but putting the candy away reduced the constant stimulation of desire. When you know your own triggers, putting them out of sight can keep them from tempting your mind.

61. Ten minutes might not seem like much time to wait for something you want, but neuroscientists have discovered that it makes a big difference in how the brain processes a reward. When immediate gratification comes with a mandatory ten-minute delay, the brain treats it like a future reward. The promise-of-reward system is less activated, taking away the powerful biological impulse to choose immediate gratification.

62. To find out, he created a measure of “future-self continuity”—the degree to which you see your future self as essentially the same person as your current self. Not everyone views the future self as a total stranger; some of us feel quite close and connected to our future selves.

63. His most recent work shows that people with low future-self continuity behave less ethically in business role-play scenarios.

64. It is as if feeling disconnected from our future selves gives us permission to ignore the consequences of our actions. In contrast, feeling connected to our future selves protects us from our worst impulses.

65.You can help yourself make wiser choices by sending yourself to the future (DeLorean not required 27 ). Below are three ideas for making the future feel real, and for getting to know your future self. Pick one that appeals to you and try it out this week. 

  1. Create a Future Memory. Neuroscientists at the University Medical Center HamburgEppendorf in Germany have shown that imagining the future helps people delay gratification. 
  2. Send a Message to Your Future Self. 
  3. Imagine Your Future Self. Studies show that imagining your future self can increase your present self ’s willpower. One experiment asked couch potatoes to imagine either a hoped-for future self who exercised regularly and enjoyed excellent health and energy, or a feared future self who was inactive and suffering the health consequences. Both visualizations got them off the couch, and they were exercising more frequently two months later than a control group that did not imagine a future self.

66. Willpower failures may be contagious, but you can also catch self-control.

67. When Christakis and Fowler looked at participants’ weight over time, they saw what looked like a real epidemic. Obesity was infectious, spreading within families and from friend to friend. When a friend became obese, a person’s own future risk of becoming obese increased by 171 percent. A woman whose sister became obese had a 67 percent increased risk, and a man whose brother became obese had a 45 percent increased risk.

68. As unsettling as it may be, the implication is clear: Both bad habits and positive change can spread from person to person like germs, and nobody is completely immune.

69. What does all this mean for your self-control? The good news is, goal contagion is limited to goals you already, at some level, share. You can’t catch a brand-new goal from a brief exposure the way you can catch a flu virus. A nonsmoker is not going to catch a nicotine craving when a friend pulls out a cigarette. But another person’s behavior can activate a goal in your mind that was not currently in charge of your choices. As we’ve seen, a willpower challenge always involves a conflict between two competing goals.

70. When we observe evidence of other people ignoring rules and following their impulses, we are more likely to give in to any of our own impulses. This means that anytime we see someone behaving badly, our own self-control deteriorates (bad news for fans of reality television, where the three rules of high ratings are: Drink too much, pick a fight, and sleep with someone else’s boyfriend). Hearing about someone cheating on their taxes might make you feel freer to cheat on your diet.

71. We may be willing to give up our vices and cultivate new virtues if we believe that it will more firmly secure us a spot in our most cherished tribe.

72. The best predictor of whether a student cheats is whether he believes other students cheat, not the severity of penalties or whether he thinks he will be caught. When students believe that their classmates cheat, a relatively honest class can become a class full of students who text their friends for answers during an exam (yes, I have caught a student trying this).

73. Look for a new “tribe” you could join. It could be a support group, a class, a local club, an online community, or even subscribing to a magazine that supports your goals. Surrounding yourself with people who share your commitment to your goals will make it feel like the norm.

74. People who imagine how proud they will feel when they accomplish a goal—from quitting smoking to donating blood—are more likely to follow through and succeed. Anticipated disapproval works too: People are more likely to use condoms when they imagine feeling ashamed if others knew that they had unprotected sex.

75. Even when shame is anticipatory, it may fail us when we need it most. When health-conscious individuals are asked to imagine a chocolate cake in front of them, and then imagine the shame they would feel if they ate it, they are less likely to (hypothetically) eat it. However, when researchers actually placed a large piece of chocolate cake from the Cheesecake Factory on the table, complete with a bottle of water, fork, and napkin, shame had the opposite effect. Only 10 percent resisted the temptation. Anticipatory shame might be able to keep you from walking into the Cheesecake Factory, but when the temptation is in front of you, it has no power over the promise of reward. Once your dopamine neurons are firing, feeling bad intensifies your desire and makes you more likely to give in.

76. Pride, on the other hand, pulls through even in the face of temptation. Forty percent of participants who imagined how proud they’d be for resisting the Cheesecake Factory cake didn’t take a single bite. One reason pride helped is that it took people’s minds off the cake. In contrast, shame paradoxically triggered anticipatory pleasure, and the participants reported more temptation-related thoughts like “It smells so good,” and “It will taste great.” Another reason boils down to biology: Laboratory studies reveal that guilt decreases heart rate variability, our physiological reserve of willpower. Pride, on the other hand, sustains and even increases this reserve.