Marshmallow Challenge

Hack Your Brain and Increase Revenue Part 4

Randal Wark Uncategorized Leave a Comment

In part 1, we discussed waking 15 minutes earlier then usual and before accessing emails or text messages, you were encouraged to read something that would build you up.

For many of us, we didn’t go to business school and get an MBA and then decide we would build, sell and repair computers.  We simply started the other way around, got popular and needed to hire people to help us out.  Maybe that’s a good thing, we are not hindered by a preconceived set of ideas and frameworks.  The best example of this is the Marshmallow Challenge.

There is a simple exercise where a team is given the task of building the tallest free standing tower of spaghetti sticks with the marshmallow being at the top.  The team is given 18 sticks of spaghetti, one yard of tape, one yard of string and one marshmallow.  It has been observed that most will spend the first precious minutes of this challenge discussing strategies, before agreeing on a plan and breaking out in teams, each responsible for one aspect of this tower.  At the end of the challenge, as they gently place the marshmallow on top of their structure, many of the towers will break under the pressure, while a few will bravely wobble at a moderate height.

What is interesting is that Tom Wujec spoke about this at a TED Talk found here: 

He found something very interesting, that is inspiring for many of us.  Who do you think were the worst at this challenge?  It turns out that recent business school graduates were among the worst at this task.  In contrast, the ones with better success were also recent graduates, but of Kindergarten.  They produced the tallest structures and also the most interesting ones.  Why?  Business students are trained to find the single right plan, then execute it and at the end place the marshmallow on top.  The kindergarten teams however work differently, they start with the marshmallow and build successive prototypes that they could fix along the way.  It turns out that Architects & Engineers are the best at this, which makes me feel better driving over a bridge.

Why is that encouraging?  For those of us that didn’t go to business school, we are more at ease with trying something new, possibly failing, and trying again maybe with a small change in our strategy.  We might not overthink something and we might do things in an entirely innovative way because of not being tied to a business school framework.  But remember…the architects & engineers?  What can we learn from them?  The have a specific skill which gives them the advantage.  That is the hack I’m talking about here.

Gaining knowledge from a wide variety of sources will help us gain skills needed to surpass the other towers.  With this in mind, I am often asked what books are worthwhile reading for an entrepreneur.  Here are my favourites so far.

The E-Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber is probably the first one to read.  The takeaway for me is that you need 3 different personalities to run a successful business:  The Entrepreneur, the manager and the technician.  Most of us are very strong with one of these personalities but the book helps us to under the other roles we need to master in equality to be successful.  His Ted Talk is here.

The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss had a major influence on me.  Do not expect to read this and only work 4 hours, but in it, you will learn small hacks that will give you the most advantage.  This is where I learned about the 80/20 rule.  His Ted Talk is here.

Start with Why by Simon Sinek teaches that people don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it.  Sinek brings the example of Apple, who sell more expensive computers that run less programs that the PC.  If their message was WHAT, it would read:  “We make great computers.  They are beautifully designed, simple to use.  Do you want to buy one?”  Compare that with WHY:  “In everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo and thinking differently.  We do this by making our products beautifully designed and simple to use.  We just happen to make great computers.  Do you want to buy one?”  Start with why helps us example what motivates us to do what we do and promote that why to the world.  His Ted Talk is here.

Purple Cow by Seth Godin shows us that if something unique really stands out, such as a purple cow, people can’t help but focus on it and talk about it.  It helps us make our offering unique in some way.  His Ted Talk is here.

Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook by Gary Vaynerchuck shows us that the way to use social media is to give as much as you can to your potential customers and only then ask them for something.

Start with these five books and gain the knowledge to help you master all the roles you need to undertake as a business owner.  You will learn how to be efficient with the 80/20 rule.  You can then reflect on WHY you are different, then find something that will turn you PURPLE, which you can share on social media.

Let me know what you learned for this and give us your suggestions for books you enjoyed that really helped you and your business.

RIGHT HOOK:  Contact me for a free 30 minute session to see if I can help you work ON your business rather then IN it.

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