Colin Daymude’s Blog

How do you know you are getting your message accross?

Posted in Communication, inspiration by cdaymude on February 28, 2009

This is one of my favorite stories and I got it from Chip and Dan Heath and the book “Made to Stick“. I highly encourage you to buy it and check out the website for other great “insights”. I’ve used this story in presentations and it always makes people think about how they are communicating with their kids, spouse, co-workers, boss, audience etc.  http://www.madetostick.com/

In 1990, Elizabeth Newton earned a Ph.D. in psychology at Stanford by studying a simple game in which she assigned people to one of two roles: “tappers” or “listeners.” Tappers received a list of twenty-five well-known songs, such as “Happy Birthday to You” and “The StarSpangled Banner.” Each tapper was asked to pick a song and tap out the rhythm to a listener (by knocking on a table). The listener’s job was to guess the song, based on the rhythm being tapped. (By the way, this experiment is fun to try at home if there’s a good “listener” candidate nearby.)

The listener’s job in this game is quite difficult. Over the course of Newton’s experiment, 120 songs were tapped out. Listeners guessed only 2.5 percent of the songs: 3 out of 120.

But here’s what made the result worthy of a dissertation in psychology. Before the listeners guessed the name of the song, Newton asked the tappers to predict the odds that the listeners would guess correctly. They predicted that the odds were 50 percent. The tappers got their message across 1 time in 40, but they thought they were getting their message across 1 time in 2. Why?

When a tapper taps, she is hearing the song in her head. Go ahead and try it for yourself — tap out “The Star-Spangled Banner.” It’s impossible to avoid hearing the tune in your head. Meanwhile, the listeners can’t hear that tune — all they can hear is a bunch of disconnected taps, like a kind of bizarre Morse Code.

In the experiment, tappers are flabbergasted at how hard the listeners seem to be working to pick up the tune. Isn’t the song obvious? The tappers’ expressions, when a listener guesses “Happy Birthday to You” for “The Star-Spangled Banner,” are priceless: How could you be so stupid?

It’s hard to be a tapper. The problem is that tappers have been given knowledge (the song title) that makes it impossible for them to imagine what it’s like to lack that knowledge. When they’re tapping, they can’t imagine what it’s like for the listeners to hear isolated taps rather than a song. This is the Curse of Knowledge. Once we know something, we find it hard to imagine what it was like not to know it. Our knowledge has “cursed” us. And it becomes difficult for us to share our knowledge with others, because we can’t readily re-create our listeners’ state of mind.

The tapper/listener experiment is reenacted every day across the world. The tappers and listeners are CEOs and frontline employees, teachers and students, politicians and voters, marketers and customers, writers and readers. All of these Groups rely on ongoing communication, but, like the tappers and listeners, they suffer from enormous information imbalances. When a CEO discusses “unlocking shareholder value,” there is a tune playing in her head that the employees can’t hear.

It’s a hard problem to avoid — a CEO might have thirty years of daily immersion in the logic and conventions of business. Reversing the process is as impossible as un-ringing a bell. You can’t unlearn what you already know. There are, in fact, only two ways to beat the Curse of Knowledge reliably. The first is not to learn anything. The second is to take your ideas and transform them.

This book will teach you how to transform your ideas to beat the Curse of Knowledge. The six principles presented earlier are your best weapons. They can be used as a kind of checklist. Let’s take the CEO who announces to her staff that they must strive to “maximize shareholder value.”

Is this idea simple? Yes, in the sense that it’s short, but it lacks the useful simplicity of a proverb. Is it unexpected? No. Concrete? Not at all. Credible? Only in the sense that it’s coming from the mouth of the CEO. Emotional? Um, no. A story? No.

Contrast the “maximize shareholder value” idea with John F. Kennedy’s famous 1961 call to “put a man on the moon and return him safely by the end of the decade.” Simple? Yes. Unexpected? Yes. Concrete? Amazingly so. Credible? The goal seemed like science fiction, but the source was credible. Emotional? Yes. Story? In miniature.

Had John F. Kennedy been a CEO, he would have said, “Our mission is to become the international leader in the space industry through maximum team-centered innovation and strategically targeted aerospace initiatives.” Fortunately, JFK was more intuitive than a modern-day CEO; he knew that opaque, abstract missions don’t captivate and inspire people. The moon mission was a classic case of a communicator’s dodging the Curse of Knowledge. It was a brilliant and beautiful idea — a single idea that motivated the actions of millions of people for a decade.

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Double or nothing; good sales tactic?

Posted in goals, Infusionsoft, inspiration, Personal, Weight Loss by cdaymude on February 18, 2009

Okay so if you had read any of my earlier posts this year you will know that I set a goal to lose 19 pounds by Feb 14th. And to make myself a little more accountable I did the following:

  • kept an exercise and diet log on my blog
  • bet my 11yr old (bet against me) and 7 yr old (he was on my side)
  • I tweeted about it too to make sure people held me accountable

I thought that the public scrutiny would work but really it was betting against my very competitive 11 yr old that was the toughest. I just wasn’t ready for my kids to know that dad was a real person. The kids do find that out eventually and probably when we least expect it!  But there was no way I was going to purposely cause myself to be knocked from the parental pedestal.  And it doesn’t matter that my son can whip me in a 5k already; psychologically he still thinks I can beat him. Most likely because I have avoided a head to head race.

So here we are, just passed the goal line and I failed miserably!  It was a good start–all 4 or 5 days of it. And it doesn’t matter what the excuse is. Irregular schedule, travel, socializing or just good ole fashion lack of commitment.

As a good parent I had to use this as an opportunity to teach the kids a few lessons. At least that’s the spin I put on it!

Lesson number one:   don’t give up. Just because you set a goal and miss it has no relevance to your ability to set a new goal and complete it. Keeping with Edison, I now know one more way NOT to lose the weight that I wanted to. Perseverance is the key. And there is a perfect quote from Edison on the subject:

Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up. -Edison

Lesson number two: more accountability is better. So I tought my boys about Double or Nothing. The original bet was $5. You’re right, not much accountability in that dollar figure.  So when I went for double or nothing, Caleb said, NO. What? So I upped it to $20 and then $50. Obviously he is brighter than I am because he held out for $100!

The good news is that I haven’t lost the bet, I still have face and I have much more accountability for stage 2.

I now have until March 9th to lose the 19 pounds (yes the starting point is the same!) and I am changing a few things (of course you can’t expect different results without actually doing something differently).  I got my wife to buy in–she’s an awesome baker and I’ll have none of that. You know, lead us not into temptation! Other than that I am doing a much better job of tracking what I am doing daily by using an iphone application called lose it.

More updates on that to come but now to a little business:

I started thinking about how much more accountable I would be with the double or nothing bet. I don’t win anything at the end except what really matters. The weight loss, pride, healthier eating, completion of another significant goal. The $5 would have meant nothing compared to all the intangibles. It really is about the destination.

And that lead me to think about my company, Infusionsoft , and how we have done the same thing. We are the only CRM company (tough to call us that because we are so much more) to offer a guarantee to Double Your Sales. Double or Nothing. If you don’t double your sales, you pay nothing (a complete refund on the set up and consultation).  And if you do double your sales then we all win. But just like my own personal goal, companies who qualify will have to make a significant committment to make it happen. We just provide the tools and the road map; you have to provide the sweat. And that brings me to another great Edison quote:

Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work. –Edison

Just think of how much more accountable Infusionsoft is now that we have promissed to double the sales of any company who qualifies?

So Double or Nothing; Good Sales Tactic? I think so because we all come out winners. If I lose my weight, my son doesn’t get $100 or even $5. But keeping dad on a pedestal is priceless.

And if you want to join me and the team on our Nationwide Double Your Sales Tour, just click here and register. Its free!