Psychological Reinforcement: hodl.

If you like Bitcoin, chances are you know the word “hodl.” If you aren’t aware, that means “hold,” but it’s spelled funny.

by the way: this is not investment advice.

hodl is the general plan for buying BTC. You buy it and hodl. Most people who Tweet about BTC would agree, Bitcoin is going to keep rising. Some predict it will get up to $100,000 per coin, $300,000 per coin, or even a million dollars USD. So hodl it is.

Some people have already recognized a problem with this. It looks tempting to sell your BTC sometimes. You agreed you’d hodl, but if you just sold now…

So what can you do about this temptation?

You might recognize this as a psychology problem. For a solution, I’m going to refer to the cognitive science of consistency, a principle of influence established by Dr. Robert Cialdini.

Humans have a built-in need to feel consistent with their past behaviors. This includes private statements and writing it down, but public statements seem to work better. So if you tweet your commitment, it’s likely to work better than if you say it privately to yourself.

This is a principle I used in my time as a salesman. It’s common practice to get a small payment towards a sale before closing the deal. To the buyer, it doesn’t feel like a big deal, but it makes a huge difference in the likelihood that someone will buy.

again: this is not investment advice.

So if you want to reinforce your psychological commitment, I offer that you can:

  1. Privately write down “hodl” over and over. It sounds absurd but it will really work. I really recommend that you define your exit points — until when will you hodl? Until what price? Maybe you want to keep your BTC forever though. That’s up to you.
  2. Tweet your commitment. Again, you may want to define an exit point. Use your own judgement.

But there might be an even better way.

See, humans are social creatures. It is true that public commitments are very effective. So suppose instead of stating your commitment, you wore it!

I checked on Amazon, and there are definitely BTC shirts available. The act of walking around in public with a commitment to hodl as your clothing, where everyone can see, would be pretty powerful.

You can buy a “HODL BTC” shirt here.

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The Nightclub Interview Problem

Today I created a way to respond to something most aspiring club DJ’s dread hearing from a club manager:

“How many people can you bring in?”

A quick disclaimer. I haven’t tried this yet. I assert that it could work, but I need to hear feedback to fine tune the idea. The issues that come up while testing would be useful for adjustments. And it wouldn’t work on every club manager, though it does improve your odds of getting a gig. My hope is that I can use my skills to help someone overcome a challenge that I could not. That would feel great.

So if any bedroom DJs want to try this out while looking for a club gig, a) don’t tell me I said it would work, because I didn’t and b) if you do try it, tell me what happens! Feedback would be a fair repayment if it worked, wouldn’t it?

Now or those of you who have never applied to DJ at a club, you need to know that every single time, the manager asks if you have lots of friends to bring in. This feels annoying because DJing feels like it should be solely about the music (or, if we’re honest, the music and the DJ).

Now if you are a DJ, and the phrase mentioned above triggers you, I have to do you a favor before I teach you how to handle this. I have to bring some reality into the room. You might not like it at first, but you can look back later and appreciate how another perspective helps you improve.

Club managers work for the club. The nightclub mostly exists to make money. It might also exist to help the owner and the staff treat their friends, have fun on off nights, and feel like an acceptable place for indulgences. Anyway, it’s mostly there to make money. And the club makes money by having a full room of people who paid for cover and buy alcohol. So the manager isn’t even looking out for his interests. He’s looking out for his interests and the nightclub’s.

Now my solution. This is an exercise in commitment and sleight of mouth.

For anyone new to persuasion, commitment means something slightly different here. It refers to the idea that you have an immense difficulty disagreeing with something you just said. If you don’t believe me, try disagreeing with your answer to the small question I asked about repayment four paragraphs ago. It will be difficult to do.

Sleight of mouth is a bit new to me. You are essentially leading someone to reframe their own intentions into different terms. You’ll see what I mean in a moment. For now, I can’t resist this example: I think children sort of use it without realizing it, except they don’t have any benevolent end result in mind. “Why?” “Why?” “Why?”

Now we have all the tools we need. Onward.

You are a DJ speaking to a club manager. You want to play there weekly, or whatever suits you. You believe you can handle the job, or that you can learn how. But you haven’t built a social media following and your real-life social network feels unconvincing. So what do you do?

First, it’s important to introduce some non-DJing talents early on in the conversation. Maybe you’re great at photography and video. Maybe you can sell. If you are good, you can probably think of some ways to use them to help at a nightclub. Now read this script and see why that’s useful.

Club manager: So how many people can you bring in?

Aspiring DJ: I’d like to answer your question better. What is the purpose of bringing more people here?

Club manager: We’re a nightclub, we need people here to make money.

Aspiring DJ: Okay, I understand. And in the past, how many people has a good DJ brought in on his own?

Club manager: <some number, which you can give a sincere reaction to.>

Aspiring DJ: So it would be good if I could come close to that amount, and if I could bring more people, that’s even better. Okay. This is actually a great opportunity. I can help the club exceed that value in other ways.

Club manager: What do you mean?

Aspiring DJ: We discussed my skills as a _______. If I used them to _______ and eventually _______, that could help the nightclub’s bottom line, could it not?

Club manager: Yeah, but we still need you to bring in people.

Aspiring DJ: I agree, it’s important to bring people to the nightclub. Have you ever had a DJ offer to help with <those things> before?

Club manager: We had this one guy but he didn’t deliver.

I think this is enough to give you some ideas. The general framework is to ask open ended questions to reveal why a manager needs a DJ who can bring bodies to the club. If you can show ways you could satisfy that need in a different way, you might overcome the requirement.

If you think my post might have value to someone, send it to a DJ friend for me.

Kayzo’s Facebook Persuasion Game

Today I received a message from Kayzo’s Facebook account. I want to highlight how well the message’s persuasion is crafted.

For those of you who do not know of Kayzo, he is a music producer and DJ who has had a successful few years in dance music. I doubt he will slow down anytime soon. His music is great, but any artist who succeeds also has great marketing. I’ll dig into a piece of that here.

First, it’s unusual to receive a Facebook message from a well known artist. Even if you know it’s bullshit sent by a bot, everyone harbors a small hope that the artist sent the message themselves. So when the notification pops up on your phone, that’s exciting.

Kayzo’s direct-mail advertising is immediately different from other artists’. The usual format is:

“Hey! My new track is now available. Check it out here and let me know what you think! [link]”

That’s standard, and boring. I even avoid clicking those messages when it’s from an artist I like. Now look what Kayzo’s message said:

“Hey Roland. i dropped something new. do you wanna check it out?” and then a “YES!” button below the message.

This is great persuasion. The question at the end gets your curiosity. The track’s name isn’t even mentioned. You have one way to find out, which is committing a big, bold “YES!” By giving you only one choice, and a positive one, you get a peek into a reality where you are super, super excited about this track. Would you love to read more of this blog? YES!

Then when you click “YES!”, it actually pastes it in chat. At which point you are prompted with this message:

“Whistle Wars finally is out and on Spotify! Check it out and add to your playlists!” [Spotify link]

Now I didn’t click the link. I just waited because I was busy watching a Periscope. But that didn’t matter, apparently, because Kayzo sent me another message right after asking me what I think of it.

The genius is that I was only given two options.

“Like it?” or “Love it?”

In either case, they use commitment and consistency to funnel me into liking the track. If I like the experience enough to click a button, I’m set. Note that the word “Like” can point to anything from Kayzo to his music. The result is the same.

I did eventually click “Like it?” and received an automatic “Thanks for your feedback” response. But because it was interactive, Kayzo has me locked in to liking his music a little bit more.

There was some room for improvement by the way. “I like it!” or “I love it!” would have been more affirmative than the question formats I was presented with. But that’s ok. It still works.

Relationships and the Consistency Principle

Today I am going to tell you a story. On the surface, it will appear to be about relationships. But if you look a little bit deeper, you might see that this lesson applies everywhere.

Last night a friend of a friend asked me about relationship related beliefs. I overtly dodged the question, saying, “I don’t answer that question. It might make me weaker if I did.” It’s worth expanding on that to uncover why.

If you read my blog enough you’ll learn about the tools of persuasion. The one I used above is the consistency principle: Once you commit to a position, your mind resists you letting go of it. This is well known among everyone from salesmen, to trial lawyers, to master negotiators, to me.

When I say this, you might think I’m referring only to the uncomfortable feeling of changing your mind or finding out you are wrong. You can see it on someone’s face when they shift their position internally. That’s a feeling we humans generally try to avoid. But it goes deeper than that.

After you adopt a position, you subconsciously align your thoughts, feelings, and behavior with that position. The more you commit to it, the harder it becomes to change. Eventually, you get stuck concerned with the definition of something because in the past you committed yourself to (for example) “all breakups should be amicable.” If your position is based off a rule that exists only in your mind, you are ignoring the situation at hand.

Now look: By avoiding a committed position on what a relationship should be, I remain free to modify my position later when I find a better fit.

When you rely on an internal rule, your mind often sums (incorrectly) a complex multi-variable problem into a gut response based off whatever rule you were paying attention to at the time.

You might agree that the gut gives you a useful response. I agree that it does, sometimes. But your gut response is your instinctive reaction to exactly one imagined scenario. That is what the science of Daniel Kahneman says about intuition. After your gut makes a decision and you go with it, the impact of additional information drops like a rock. You literally hallucinate that it is unimportant and behave like you would if you hadn’t heard it.

The reality is that every situation is different. The qualities of a good relationship change depending on the context. At 16, you want something different from when you are 35. And in either of those cases, a good result looks different whether you are employed or not, going to night classes or not. You might want someone who takes up a lot of your time or very little. Your previous commitments about this will effect your behavior here, whether you like it or not. It’s the difference between taking the time to smile at someone and not even noticing them because “they aren’t my type”.

By the way, if you want your significant other to get you something nice for Christmas, now is a good time to ask them: “We get along really well, wouldn’t you agree?”