How much do I want to read more? 7/10

This book is surprisingly good, inspiring, by the rich diversity of applications it covers.
I like this approach, tacking each subject in the most comfortable way.
We're all concerned, tempting to quit too early, and we all can benefit with what other have set to keep going on.
I also like the parallel with gamification.
But most importantly, the author takes the time to explain each notion in detail, which makes the read interesting.


To truly change behavior, people need to understand why they do things.


Science shows that people have a better chance of success by focusing on small steps. Yet even when they know this, people repeatedly fail to make changes last. That’s because they don’t understand just how small those steps need to be and don’t have a model to guide them. Small means tiny.


We like to think that we’re unique, that we don’t follow the crowd. The power of community, and how to harness it to achieve lasting change in yourself and others.


If you want people to stick to a fitness routine or continue to buy your product, that action or behavior has to be important to them. Everyone knows this, right?


People often think they understand easy, but they actually don’t. This chapter will explain how to make things really easy and therefore more likely to stick.


Have you heard the expression “If there’s a will there’s a way”? Or “Change your thoughts and your actions will follow”? That the mind controls behavior is the basis for many top-selling self-help and popular-psychology books. They teach that people can change their behavior by imagining and willing themselves to change. But this is wrong. Most smokers can’t quit just by imagining themselves quitting. People don’t stick to their New Year’s resolutions by telling themselves that this year will be different than other years. Managers can’t get their salespeople to close a deal just by telling them to visualize closing it.
Social psychologists know now that the truth lies in the opposite direction. People need to change their actions and their minds will follow. What you’re doing is “tricking” the brain into realizing that change is possible. In this chapter, I’ll teach you about neurohacks—a set of mental shortcuts to reset your brain so you can make positive lasting changes.


How do you make something so captivating that people will keep doing it? One popular approach is to “gamify” it. The notion is that giving people rewards like points, badges, and money will make certain activities—or products—captivating, and get people to keep doing or using them. But gamification doesn’t always work. When it does, it’s because it makes use of psychological science. This chapter will show you how to make behaviors captivating enough to convince yourself—and others—to keep doing them.


A lot of successful people will tell you their success is not due to intelligence or talent, but because they know how to use their time efficiently. Barack Obama was known for routinizing food and dress so that he could save his time and energy for making important decisions about the country. Mark Zuckerberg said he owns about twenty versions of the same gray shirt to avoid having to decide what to wear every day. Ernest Hemingway was known for having a strict routine of writing only in the morning. He’d use the rest of the day to think about and build excitement for the writing he would do the following morning. These individuals created an efficient process to keep them doing what they needed to do. They understood the power of the human brain and applied that science to their lives.


All said to focus on the endgame—keep your mind on your dream. But Brad had a feeling that the road map to success being pitched was wrong.

There is nothing wrong with having a vision, or with dreaming to change or better yourself. But dreaming alone is not enough. Dreaming won’t get you through the day-to-day trials that life puts in your path.
Just as dreaming of reaching the top of the mountain wouldn’t have been enough to keep me moving up those ladders, people need more than dreams to make lasting change.

The lesson is to focus on finding the right first step. Put all of your energy into achieving that first little step. Take the time to reflect on your progress. And then repeat.


But although the concept is easy to grasp, it’s not so easy to do in practice. People might know intellectually that they should take small steps toward their goal, but they still plan steps that are too big.


What I’ve learned is that instead of telling people to plan small steps, it’s better to teach people how the mind works.


Steps typically take less than one week to accomplish. Steps are the little tasks to check off on the way toward a goal.

Steps > Short-terme goals > Long-term goals > Dreams

Stepladders teaches that dreams are important for motivation, but focusing entirely on dreams can lead people to plan steps that are so big that they quit doing things early. Instead, goals are key. You need to focus on completing small, concrete goals to calibrate the mind and apply stepladders correctly. That will make change more likely to last.


The women who focused on stepladders were more likely to keep eating healthier throughout the six-week study. They also lost more weight than the women in the other group. In fact, those who had focused on dreams actually gained weight.5 Many studies confirm this principle: to change behavior, focus on the day-to-day process, rather than the outcome.

people are impatient to get results quickly. How does this apply to stepladders? Focusing on small steps allows people to achieve their goals faster than if they focused on dreams. Focusing on small steps also keeps people happier and more motivated to keep trying because they get rewarded more frequently.

Take Robert. If he’s expecting to get $1 or $5 and he gets $5, then dopamine is released in his brain because he gets the larger amount of money. But if he’s expecting $5 or $25 and he gets $5, then dopamine isn’t released because he got the smaller amount. In both cases, Robert got $5, but his expectations were different. When he gets more than he expected, the brain releases dopamine, and when he gets less than expected, the brain doesn’t release dopamine.

How does this apply to stepladders? People don’t feel good based on what they actually accomplish; they feel good based on what they expect to accomplish.


His plan was to force himself to approach and talk to strangers for a short, fixed amount of time. He would start by finding people to talk to for one minute.

“When will I be ready to get onstage and rock out with other musicians?” they ask.
But Abhiman teaches students to not focus on this question. Instead, he tells them to focus their expectation on the goal of playing the right sounds and patterns. Reaching this goal can take a couple of months and requires the students to take a series of steps, like learning how to position their fingers correctly.

the students who focus on the dream of playing with other students quit at much higher rates. The students who learn more incrementally by focusing on the shorter-term goals keep playing for years or throughout their lives.


The other essential ingredient of stepladders is reflection. Reflection is the act of looking back on a successfully completed behavior and having a small celebration. People don’t have to invite their cousins from Atlanta to party with them when they reach their six thousand steps. They just need to quietly celebrate internally for a few seconds. The point is for people to realize they did well and accomplished their goal.

They had a whiteboard with the band’s name, Xero, at the top (very impressive for a garage band to have a business whiteboard). On the board there was a list of short-term goals they were trying to accomplish along with the daily steps they were taking to achieve them. They had scheduled some parties and festivals and blocked them off on the calendar. They had become friendly with a guy in the film music industry who could help them score a soundtrack deal. They celebrated for a minute over this connection with some fist-bumps and went back to strategizing about next steps.

Xero was 100 percent focused on the next small goals, and the steps to reach those goals.
I lost contact with Xero, but a few years after I met them, they changed their name to Linkin Park and had a great run of success.


Getting user buy-in on simple features before they see more complicated features or are asked to provide their personal information will lead to higher engagement and retention.