Could you lose weight if you put $20,000 at risk? Would you finally set up your billing software if it meant that your favorite charity would earn a new contribution? If you’ve ever tried to meet a goal and came up short, the problem may not have been that the goal was too difficult or that you lacked the discipline to succeed. From giving up cigarettes to increasing your productivity at work, you may simply have neglected to give yourself the proper incentives.
In Carrot and Sticks, Ian Ayres, the New York Times best-selling author of Super Crunchers, applies the lessons learned from behavioral economics - the fascinating new science of rewards and punishments - to introduce readers to the concept of “commitment contracts”: an easy but high-powered strategy for setting and achieving goals already in use by successful companies and individuals across America. As co-founder of the website stickK.com (where people have entered into their own “commitment contracts” and collectively put more than $3 million on the line), Ayres has developed contracts—including the one he honored with himself to lose more than 20 pounds in one year—that have already helped many find the best way to help themselves at work or home. Now he reveals the strategies that can give you the impetus to meet your personal and professional goals.
Ayres shares engaging, often astounding, real-life stories that show the carrot-and-stick principle in action, from the compulsive sneezer who needed a “stick” (the potential loss of $50 per week to a charity he didn’t like) to those who need a carrot with their stick (the New York Times columnist who quit smoking by pledging a friend $5,000 per smoke...if she would do the same for him).
You’ll learn why you might want to hire a “professional nagger” whom you’ll do anything to avoid—no, your spouse won’t do!—and how you can “hand-tie” your future self to accomplish what you want done now. You’ll find out how a New Zealand ad exec successfully “sold his smoking addiction”, and why Zappos offered new employees $2,000 to quit cigarettes.
©2010 Ian Ayres (P)2010 Random House Audio
"For about thirty years there has been increasing study of how people try to manage, and sometimes succeed in managing, their own behavior: smoking, eating, procrastinating, drinking, losing their temper, fears and phobias, games, fingernails.... The list goes on. Here is an entertaining report on one of the basic techniques of overcoming what the ancient Greeks called 'weakness of will.' All can enjoy it; many may discover it therapeutic." (Thomas C. Schelling, 2005 Nobel Laureate in Economics)
I tried so hard to like this book.. it just lacks any substance, it is so dry.. and if that doesn't put you off - it is full of self-promotion / plugs for the author's web business.
I rarely give up on a book, but this was one that I simply could not go any further than half way.. sorry Ian. But that was four hours that I will never get back.
I really could not and would not recommend it to anyone.
I had a difficult time focusing on the content of the book through the awkward growl of Mayer. It often sounded like he was narrating a movie preview, and generally came across as a detached presentation of words with artificially injected inflection. In the end, I abandoned the book after a couple hours because the voice lacked genuine interest in the content, and otherwise seemed like a poor fit. What content I was able to consume was decent enough, but I can't speak to the full volume.
A few new examples - many reminders from other books in the behavioural economics genre.
As a trained scientist in the related field of behavior analysis, I found the conceptual component of "Carrots and Sticks" somewhat anemic. I think the lay person might find this level of accessibility preferable and subsequently find the text somewhat inspiring. I wouldn't, however, recommend it to most professionals in this area. I applaud Ian Ayres efforts and hope that he continues to devote energy to creating opportunities for lasting change in the lives of many people.
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