Home Articles How to motivate yourself and others using the principles behind games

How to motivate yourself and others using the principles behind games [PODCAST]


PreneurCast is a marketing + business podcast. Each week, author and marketer Pete Williams and digital media producer Dom Goucher discuss entrepreneurship, business, internet marketing and productivity.

In this show, Pete talks to Dr Jason Fox, author of The Game Changer. They discuss motivation, and how you can use the principles behind games to motivate yourself and others. They also talk about goal setting and measuring progress.

Pete talks to Jason about his book, The Game Changer, about goal setting and measuring progress

http://www.drjasonfox.com – Jason’s Site
http://www.Challenge.co – The Challenge – Ed Dale’s Free Course
The Game Changer – Dr Jason Fox
Amazon – http://preneurmarketing.com/gamechangerbook
You can try out a lot of the books we recommend in audio format with Audible:
http://audibletrial.com/preneurcast – Free trial with a free audiobook download for PreneurCast listeners
Previous PreneurCast Episodes:
Episode 37 – Preneur Hierarchy – http://preneurmarketing.com/preneurcast/preneurcast037-the-self-indulgent-preneur-hierarchy/

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Episode 129:
The Game of Motivation with Dr. Jason Fox

Pete Williams:      Hello, hello, hello! Pete Williams here, along with my trusted pal Dom Goucher, for this week’s PreneurCast episode.

Dom Goucher:      How are you doing? Hello everyone, and welcome.

Pete:                         How are things, mate?

Dom:                         Pretty good. Pretty good as usual — I almost talked about the weather there.

Pete:                         This week, we have an awesome conversation with Dr. Jason Fox, author of the book, The Game Changer, and the man with the best beard in marketing, I think.

Dom:                         I can’t disagree with you on that. Looking at the photograph on his website, it’s quite a spectacular feat of facial accoutrement.

Pete:                         We’ll get into that in a moment. But as usual, what’s been happening in your week, mate? What’s been going on in the world of Dom?

Dom:                         Really, just carrying on with stuff I talked about last week. I hate to be boring, but I’m doing the ‘serial versus parallel‘. I’m sticking with my main projects, developing the consulting business and that little other sideline that I’ve hinted at. That has still not gotten itself off the ground yet, so it’s not really something I want to talk about. But when it does, it’s going to be quite interesting. Because as I said, it’s a complete break from everything that I’ve got anything to do with about. I know nothing about the topic at all. I’m just bringing the marketing chops, so it’s quite an interesting little thing. What about yourself?

Pete:                         Mate, just been working on a whole bunch of essays and getting my writing on. Make sure you do check out PreneurMarketing.com. Not only are the show notes for all the episodes we have here on PreneurCast there, but we’re ramping up the actual writing side of things. There’s been a couple of good essays on there recently, one with the Davey J [David Jenyns], who listeners will be familiar with. I talk about him a lot. He’s done a fantastic backlinking strategy last year that would absolutely still work today. We broke that down as a case study. The ‘If I Was…” theories that we occasionally do here on the show is being extended into short essays on the blog.

We’ve got a whole bunch of other really cool stuff coming out: book excerpts and guest posts. A lot of cool evidence-based, data-driven, swipe-and-deploy essays are coming out on the blog. We’re trying to lift that publishing process over there, so there’s going to be some cool content that’s worth reading, sharing, subscribing to, all that kind of good stuff.

Dom:                         You are absolutely just churning out an amazing amount of content. But the quality, I have to say, is quite fantastic. I love the Davey J backlinking thing. There’s loads of different avenues and aspects of the business marketing process that you cover there on PreneurMarketing, but the Davey J thing was pretty cool. He’s a clever guy, isn’t he?

Pete:                         He’s very smart. There are some other stuff that he’d done recently which I was begging him to let me share, but he wanted to keep them a little bit closer to his chest. So hopefully, I can twist his arm in a couple of months’ time and release some other case studies and stuff he’s done.

Speaking of that, if anyone who listens to the show has done a cool marketing tactic or a way to increase anyone of their levers, or have done something really cool and want some free exposure, want a good SEO backlink, then reach out to us via support [at] preneurgroup [dot] com. We would love to share what you’ve done in your business. We want it to be data-driven, so we want screenshots of before-and-afters, and analytics stats. Anything that can prove that ‘this is what we did and this is the results we got,’ we would love to share your story on the site. We got a whole bunch of our community case studies already set ready to go, and we’d love to plug yours in that list as well.

Hit us up if you done something cool, whether it’s you’ve done something to increase your opt-in rate on your website, you did a split test and something worked, whether you did cool Kickstarter launch, whether you have done a good negotiation with the supplier, or you wrote a book and a you did a good tactic to promote it. Let us know about one single thing you’ve done really well that you’d love to share, that we can talk about with the community and help them grow their businesses as well. That’s the whole idea of this Preneur Community, is to help each other out.

Dom:                         Absolutely. Just say that e-mail address again please, Pete.

Pete:                         Support [at] preneurgroup [dot] com.

Dom:                         Do drop us a line about that folks. We would love to share your successes with the rest of the community. As usual, Pete, I’m going to ask you, have you’ve been listening to or even reading a particular book this week?

Pete:                         Yeah. A few books hit my table regularly. The bigger we get, the more people send us books, which is nice. One of them which actually came from a friend of mine, Mark Middo, who’s an Australian entrepreneur here in Melbourne. The book’s called the 5 Minute Business. It breaks down how to start a business that you can run in five minutes. It’s an interesting book. There’s a lot of good takeaways in there. I’m featured in it as well, which obviously makes it a great book.

There’s one chapter that I was reading that gave me a very different perspective on content marketing. There will be a blog post up on the site, possibly about time you listen to this, about that. I have this issue with content marketing — it doesn’t fit my framework for marketing business, which a lot of people who listen to the show know, is the Preneur Hierarchy. Make sure you go back and listen to that episode. I’ll voice out content marketing has been a way to reach procrastinators and ignorants when it comes to that framework. I thought you are better off trying to reach the searchers in that framework. If these terms aren’t making sense, make sure you go back and listen to that episode because it is important.

One of the things that Mark mentioned in one of the chapters is a way to look at content marketing that I hadn’t looked at before. I convinced him to let me rip that chapter out, put it as a guest blog post/book excerpt, which is coming out in the next couple of days. Just getting some typos fixed and commas put into the essay, and will be up on the site. So, if you want to get a preview of his book, read something that surprised me, and find out more about it, then check out the blog in the next couple of days. Or when you are listening to this, there’s probably a good chance it’ll be up there on the site.

Dom:                         That’s really great actually that we’re now getting book excerpts from authors on PreneurMarketing.com as well. Do check that out, and I’ll put a link to the full book in the show notes anyway. That’s the 5 Minute Business by Mark Middo, right?

Pete:                         Absolutely.

Dom:                         Cool. I’m pushing this forward — I’m going to sound like a stuck record here, but this year you are just going all out with these interviews that you’re finding, these authors that you’re finding. Not only are they really interesting subject matter, but there’s a thread at the moment which is that they’re things that I wouldn’t normally — like I would never pick this book up. Dr. Jason Fox, author of The Game Changer. But the first thing – – you mentioned it to me – – and the first thing I thought was gamification. I hate that term. I can’t stand the concept as it’s been presented in the popular media. I think it’s a right load of tosh. I’m like that like you are with content marketing. And so I had no hope that this was going to be a good interview at all. One of my favorite parts of the whole thing is where he says, “I hate that term too.” He’s written this book, which you’ll talk about in the interview, but there’s so many other things that you get him to talk about. He’s got such huge range of knowledge and his perspective is really interesting on a lot of different things that are totally relevant to the Preneur Community.

Pete:                         This is the thing, his doctorate is in motivation. That’s where his doctorate came from. He’s a doctor of motivation, which sounds like a hype, some 1990’s motivational stage speaker, ‘the Doctor of Motivation.’ But he actually has one. It’s official. He is officially the Doctor of Motivation.

Dom:                         He does talk a lot about that in this interview. Motivating both yourself and teams, but there’s just so many other things in it. I’m just going to get out of the way. And folks, this is a bit longer than the usual but definitely worth the time. Have a listen to Pete talking to Dr. Jason Fox, author of The Game Changer.

[Pete’s conversation with Dr. Jason Fox starts]

Pete:                         Alright, Jason, I’ve got one question. It’s probably going to be the one you get asked the most, before we delve too much into all this, and that is how do you look after such a magnificent beard?

Dr. Jason Fox:        Oh, that’s great. I’m so relieved that it’s not that, “What does the fox say?” question. I’ve been getting that so much recently. I tried to do a polite laugh. The beard, right. Well, how does that happen? I am trying desperately to think of something cool, but the reality is it’s a thing that my wife hooked me on to, which is like this beard conditioning thing made by hippies over in the other side of the planet, and it’s just magic. You look after it, you wash it every couple of days because with beards and like Eggs Benedict and all sorts of things, it’s tricky.

Pete:                         Interesting. I love it, mate. On more serious topics though, The Game Changer, the new book, it’s very exciting.

Jason:                       It is, actually. You’ve published books. It’s this is weird mix of emotions, having this book out because it’s a part of me, that the whole book is about progress and helping people drive progress and change and always be leveling up in the work that they do. But now that it’s captured in the book, there’s even more ideas that I want to share but this book is here. Yeah, it’s weird mix of things. It’s exciting. It hasn’t hit the shelves at the time of recording. It hasn’t hit the shelves, but that’s going to happen very, very soon. It’s going to be out there.

Pete:                         I want to ask you about this, because I was watching one of your TED talks, I think from the Melbourne Uni one from a couple of years ago. I don’t know if you remember this, but in the conversation, in the presentation you had, you said, “If I was going to write a book about all this, it would have one word: work.” Now, I’ve had an galley version of this book and I’ve read it, and there’s more than one word in it. It’s strange.

Jason:                       Yeah, that’s right. I think that’s in the context of the secret to success. I did a PhD in Motivation Science and I’m a fairly introverted guy. But I’ve had a fairly unhealthy level of exposure to motivational speakers, and there is so much hype and fist-pumping, rah-rah, and fluff and folklore out there that just doesn’t just correlate to science or even just reason. It feels good. It sounds good, but I just got frustrated with all these glossing over the fact that if we want to make stuff happen, it’s a lot of non-linear, failure-rich work. And instead of trying to get around it or ignore the fact, or outsmart it like just cheat it, I think we need to get smarter with how we work and make the work bit work. That’s from redesigning work.

That was kind of inspired by this — I don’t even know if this is true, but I heard and it’s a great story. Apparently, Jerry Seinfeld, the comedian guy, was once rumored to have been paid $40,000 or $60,000 to speak for five minutes at a conference on his secrets to success. The conference had big-ticket prices, paid by lots of business people who sat there and listened to his secrets. He’s introduced, “Here’s Jerry Seinfeld, sharing the secrets to success.” He went up to a flip chart, he wrote three words, he nodded and then he left. And those three words were, “Do the work.” I think it’s a little bit anti-climactic in some sense, but I think it’s where we need to bring the focus back to, particularly in the context of motivation.

Pete:                         Absolutely. But this is the question: how do you do the work? And I’m guessing that’s a whole context and the content of the book, and I want to get into that. What you talked about quite a bit is the gamification, which is probably a bit of a buzzword. But these are gamification of stuff to make your present. One of the things you talked about quite a bit, and this is where I’d love to take this conversation, people will sit and play Candy Crush for five hours straight and do that over and over again. But if they can just build a habit of sitting down for an hour everyday, working on that book, working on that start-up, working on that idea, there’s going to have much more success in their life, more substantial and material impact. What is it about things like Candy Crush that is addictive that make people do that “work” compared to real work?

Jason:                       Yeah. That’s the very question that has fascinated me. And that for me started when I was doing my research and teaching people how to set goals at that time and all the classic motivational strategies, and yet I was playing a lot of World of Warcraft, which was a very popular massively multiplayer online role-playing game at that time. It displaced all the other motivational constructs I had. I did a conference recently. Someone admitted that on the flight over, about 80% of the staff are playing Candy Crush. These are all intelligent people who, at some level, are aware that it’s probably not the wisest investment of time.

But Candy Crush, you look at games like that, and if you actually get curious, most people stop and the excuse that they say is it’s just escapism. People are playing video games like that because they want to escape. What I get curious about is, what are they escaping from? Because what usually happens is if you look at games, even sports games like golf, if it was simply about achieving the goals and getting a sense of reward, then you could just walk up to any golf hole and take your shot an inch from the hole, and you’d be winning.

But games have rules that make it difficult, and this is so important. It’s something that is often missed when people talk about gamification. Games are essentially well-designed work. People play games because they want to engage with well-designed work. Work that gives them a sense of achievement and a sense of progress. Candy Crush does that. The feedback loops are tight and immediate. So any effort you invest into it, you get feedback as to how you’re progressing. You’ve got a sense of mastery. You can see your growth. You can see how your skills are developing. They calibrate the level of challenge, so it’s never so ridiculously challenging that you feel anxious and want to avoid the task, and it’s also not so boring and easy for you that you get disengaged, they get the level just right.

That puts us into a state of flow where we lose sense of time. That’s the same type of experience that people have when they play some sport games, or when they do art or cook, or play golf, or other things like that. There’s a lot of factors there. But all of these things are motivation design elements that we can take and apply to real-world stuff, perhaps meaningful projects and meaningful work. That’s where I attempt to at least unpack some of the things that might work, and in an approach that might work for people in real-world work.

Pete:                         Very cool. I am reading one of the passages in the book (or one of the things I listened to over the years), and you said that technically, motivation isn’t the problem. And I find this enlightening because no doubt, people who listen to this have been to motivational seminars that we’ve all been to and heard, that rah-rah type of stuff. There is some value to it, I believe, to a certain extent. But the one thing you said which stuck with me was motivation isn’t the problem. Because if you are sitting on the couch, watching TV, you are 100% motivated to do that action. I thought that was cool to think, and stop and go, yeah, we’re always motivated. It’s just what we’re motivated to do, which is the issue. Sometimes you are avoiding certain types of things.

Jason:                       Exactly. To put this in context — and you’re right, the rah-rah stuff is really good. Let’s make the distinction between ‘inspiration,’ which is the stimulation to feel or think differently about something, which then is converted into ‘aspiration,’ which then is translated into the ‘motivation’ that makes stuff happen. Now, once we get to the point where you have a goal or an intention, or a purpose, or something you want to achieve, it gets a little bit counterproductive to focus on motivation too much.

Traditionally, what people will do is they’ll go in, they’ll start questioning attitudes and beliefs, and values, and goals, and vision, and dreams, and all these internal stuff. Whereas, if we just [park] this concept of motivation and just assume all of us are 100% motivated all the time, if people aren’t engaging in the behavior that we want them to, or if we’re not finding that we do what we have a goal to do, or what we intend to do, or what’s good for our business, then we just get curious. Then they look at [things] like, what’s happening in the environment, what is the level of challenge? Is it that we need to break this task into smaller steps? Or, is it that it’s so mundane and boring that we need to compress the amount of time we spend on it and do a productivity list, and just ninja through it in an hour?

Because between where we are and where we want to be, there’s always a whole heap of friction, like stuff that just gets in the way. And if we can work on removing the friction or at least limiting that, and then calibrating the challenge, and probably most importantly, getting a sense of progress — and this correlates to the number one Breakthrough Idea from the Harvard Business Review for 2010: progress is one of the most powerful motivators. It’s why people will often default to checking e-mail or Facebook. You’ve got lots of important things to do, but hey, you’ve got 60 e-mails in your inbox. An hour later, you’ve only got 12, you’re winning.

Pete:                         You’ve achieved something, yep.

Jason:                       Exactly. And that’s a sense that we get to. Our activities will often default to the environments that give us a bigger sense of progress. Most of our procrastination efforts — some people have this thing of tidying up their desk or checking e-mails. I have a friend who procrasti-bakes. So, she’ll bake cupcakes and just watch the progress of that happening. All of these things give you a sense of progress, and that’s often what’s missing. It’s the number one thing that’s missing in a lot of our projects — the feedback loops are way too delayed. Then you look back at games, you’re getting a sense of progress immediately as you’re doing things.

Pete:                         I was going to say this, the feedback loops, you mentioned that before. Would love to talk about that for sure. That’s obviously where you’re going, so apologies for interrupting you.

Jason:                       Oh, no, it’s fantastic. I’m glad I’m on the right track. I tend to go on these like little rambles, so jump in at any time. The simplest hack, the simplest motivational hack that you can do is write a list of things to do. It’s so powerful that sometimes people write down things that they’ve already done just to tick it off and give themselves a sense of progress of what they’ve achieved. There’s more steps to that, but that’s the core thing. You can start your day with a game in mind. Here’s the game plan, and then there’s a whole bunch of things to do. If we want to elevate that up, you can distinguish what are your mission-critical things and what are just others things that you might want to do.

Then this is where lists sometimes become a little bit crippling for people, because we’ve been taught to prioritize that list — what usually happens for most people is they have a whole heap of things on their list that are all high priority, and it gives them the sense of anxiety and overwhelm. So what’s good at that point is then to start sequencing it out over the week to work on the right things at the right time. What we’re doing here is just building a bit of a game for ourselves so that we can calibrate very quickly, and that gives us a sense of progress as we go through it. It’s just a very basic example, but the list is one of the simplest motivational hacks that we can have.

Pete:                         It’s the game plan almost. You’ve got to save the princess. Each task is saving the princess.

Jason:                       Yeah, exactly.

Pete:                         More like they’re going out to save the princess.

Jason:                       Yes. Here’s an interesting thing. Because most of us have come from a world of motivation where goal-setting or focus on goals has been overemphasized. More research is emerging now that says we need to focus more on the process rather than the results. This is very important in entrepreneurial perspective as well because there’s assumptions to be tested, there’s also the changing of elements in the market and things like that. But the process and the activity, and the investment in the system is what’s going to make a difference. It’s an interesting research.

I come from the background of teaching goal-setting. I used to think it was bee’s knees until I discovered that everyone talks about it, but few people do set smart goals. They work wonderfully well for formulaic task with predictable outcomes. But for more innovative things, creative things, aspirational things, they’re not so good. Even for some of the more formulaic things — sometimes having focus on goals and good intentions can detract from an inherent joy of an activity.

I did some research with some bicycle riders, marathon bike riders, people who ride long distances. One group was focused on their goals, and the other focused just on enjoying the ride. The ones that focused just on enjoying the ride, trained more often and performed better than the ones that focused on achieving the goals. Just because the goal-focused ones didn’t enjoy the task, and therefore weren’t as likely to invest the effort into ongoing training sessions.

Pete:                         That’s very interesting.

Jason:                       Not to say that goals aren’t an important component, they’re just often overemphasized.

Pete:                         What can we do then? One of the things you say as well is that the house always wins. You have to be the person who designed the game, so you’re playing in your house. What are some of these things, along with the to-do list, that can increase that feedback loop, have the right challenges, work on the mastery that you spoke about, and gamify our lives? That’s the challenge for a lot of people. “I want to write a book. I want to create a product. I want to do ABC. I want to write a bunch of blog posts.” The biggest friction point is getting their bum in the chair and doing it. You read a lot of what Stephen King said and all these [quotes], like ‘I’m at the same time and place everyday, and write.’ That’s all well and good, but it’s not a fun game.

Jason:                       Yeah, that’s right. I cringe at ‘one size fits all’ things and the turning up everyday. It might work for some people. But for the rest of us, it probably doesn’t work so well. Generally, there are some approaches we can take. This comes back to rituals and structures — rituals, being almost sacred-like routines that you have. The very basic ritual that we should all try to incorporate, or strive to incorporate, is at least a weekly check-in. This is where we check in to some structure or some game plan.

I’m not a huge fan of New Year’s resolutions, but I do like the concept of every year having one word that we focus on as an overarching context or thing.

Pete:                         Ooh, a word. I like that.

Jason:                       Oh, okay. I’ll talk more about that in a tick. But beneath that word — we’ve got four quarters in a year. Every 90 days, I think it’s wise and it’s a good level for us to be choosing three projects that matter. No less, no more, but three projects that matter that will help to move us forward. These are the types of things that otherwise wouldn’t get done unless we had some conscious structure around them. Many of us would do great things anyways, but there are always projects that get shelved or slide, or it’s always a good idea but the timing is never right. To get really conscious, set quarterly resolutions around three projects that matter every 90 days. It’s a good level of focus for teams as well as individuals.

A project is different to a goal. A goal could be an intention: I want to get fitter, I want to get healthier. A project is a very specific thing: I want to run a marathon. A goal is: I want to learn how to cook, or I want to cook better. A project is: at the end of the month, I’m going to host a dinner party and cook a dish from six Spanish regions. We think about these projects that matter each quarter, and we take an approach that’s very experimental. There’s a part of us that needs to be above and detached from the games that we’re playing.

I shared a tweet on Twitter earlier today, “We need to separate ourselves from our methodology.” When stuff isn’t working, we don’t internalize that failure, we get curious as to why it might not be working and then we just try to find a new path. And then each quarter, out of these three projects, you might fail half of them and that’s fine. Failure is not the opposite of success necessarily, the opposite of success is actually apathy. Because if you’re failing properly, you’re doing stuff and you’re learning, and you’re getting results that you can actually use to grow and learn from.

Having a ritual that then checks in with these projects in the context of one word for a year, and then having some structures that will help you manage the tasks each day, will keep the game present for you. So, as an individual, each day, it would be great for you to have a task manager or at least some sort of diary or journal, or some sort of daily process that might only be five minutes over breakfast where you identify your mission-critical actions that you’re going to do. Little teeny bite-sized actions that are going to move you forward on one of your three projects.

And then every week, on a Sunday, you check in with how you’re tracking. If something’s messing up the game, you get curious and you go up to that whole level where you almost see yourself playing this game. It’s like you zoom out, and you can see where you are. If anything needs calibrating, or if stuff’s getting in the way — you just get curious from a motivation-design perspective. You think, what are the elements that I can tweak that will make this work better for the next week? And the games continue, projects go by, quarters go by, and years go by. It’s that type of approach that incorporates a bit of agility that keeps things progressive without locking it into very specific long-dated plans. I hope that ramble made sense.

Pete:                         It’s about getting that momentum that’s fundamental. What you’re saying is that there’s a feedback loop built-in daily and weekly, and that momentum. I guess that’s why things like Lift, the iPhone app, has been so successful. Because you are checking in regularly. You see that green line progressing, you don’t want to break the pattern of progress.

Jason:                       Yeah, keep the train going. That’s right. The cool thing about that is that it’s not motivated by extrinsic reward. I’m not super keen on the term ‘gamification’ even though I’m referred to as a gamification expert.

Pete:                         That’s why I kind of said it with trepidation before.

Jason:                       You did very well. It’s maturing rapidly, but there’s a lot of crappy gamification out there that’s done in a way that looks good but doesn’t really work from a motivation perspective, at least not sustainably. A lot of that relies on rewards or incentivizing behavior. That example you used before about Lift, the app, which is essentially just a ritual for checking in to particular habits daily. It’s completely self-regulated. You can fluff it up if you want, and just pretend you’re doing things. But no one’s going to win or lose if you do that.

But if you use it properly and track daily habits or daily activities or actions, then what you get is this sense of progress which is inherently motivating. It’s where the activity is the reward itself, rather than relying on ‘if I manage to clear my inbox five days a week, at the end of the week, I’m going to go out to dinner.’ You just set up a very contingent-based thing. It might all be about going to dinner, rather than the joy of processing through your stuff and staying on top of things.

Pete:                         How does that apply to games? In the traditional games — golf, basketball, football — it’s to win and the reward of winning, so to speak. People love to play the game. But you see them cross the finish line and it’s like, “I came second,” or “I lost the game,” and there is a bit of disappointment. They don’t really internalize the joy of, “Hey, I played well.” That’s what you try to instill in your kids. But realistically, let’s be honest, that doesn’t happen.

Jason:                       There’s two types of fun, really. And this is an academic term and academics are very repressed people, so it’s kind of phallic. There’s hard fun and soft fun in academic literature. Soft fun refers to activities like going to the movies, watching TV, and things like that. “Ah, that was fun,” they say. Whereas hard fun, if you look at people in the process of it, it doesn’t look like they’re having fun. It’s frustrating. It’s hard work. And yet, it can bring a rich sense of satisfaction when you reflect on the work that’s done. So, hard fun, another way to look at it is tension plus release. In order for there to be better fun, there needs to be tension and then release. This just works with humor as well. So if you crack a politically incorrect joke and then you’re not sure if it’s going to land but then people laugh, that actually contributed to the sense of fun, or so I’ve learned.

When it comes to sport — I’ve read a lot about sport, but I’m not speaking from too much experience here — if it was just about winning, then you can win easily. You just need to go into an easier game. If it’s basketball, don’t play at NBA level. Just go play at the local level, for your level of skill, then you could easily win. What people are instead striving for — and you’re right, there is disappointment when you don’t achieve — but the thing that actually gets people engaged is the sense of engaging in something that’s meaningful and challenging. People, if they’re doing really well in a particular sport, you get upgraded to a more challenging level of play.

Just like if people are learning music. Once they’ve mastered a piece, they haven’t won. It’s not game over, there’s only game on. There’s no real success in a game like learning music, there’s only progress. You master a particular piece, or at least to a level of competency, and then you move on to another piece. And it’s always about seeking. What is that challenge? How can we make this challenge the core part of the experience? And then when we are progressing through that, how do make sure the progress is visible or at least clear? With music, you master a song, you can perform that song to people. With sport, you get skilled enough, you win some more games. You might get upgraded to a different league. Always, things have progress mechanisms or ways that you can see your mastery built in to the actual game itself. It’s the challenge that people really want to get out of these things, more so than the reward. The reward is secondary to the challenge.

Pete:                         One thing you mentioned in all of that before, was this gamification thing and how there’s a lot of things that are seen as gamification that don’t actually work. Can you talk about that? A lot of people are familiar with gamification in terms of this buzzword, and on the surface what it means. But whether they’re trying to do something for their own right, or they’re trying to implement it in a product or a course, or something that they’re doing, what are some of these things that when they envisage gamification, things they’re going to do, but don’t add any value?

Jason:                       Yes, that’s perfect, I reckon. It’s a very hard topic for a lot of entrepreneurs. It usually comes about when people are looking to enhance engagement in some way, whether it’s with customers, or with people engaging with that product or service. In organizations, it works for employee engagement. Gamification, according to the very fluffy definition that came up, or fuzzy definition that came up, it essentially means the application of game-like mechanics in non-game context. There are other definitions going out there about game thinking, applying game thinking to things. But I’ve come from a background in academia, and academics are very brutal when it comes to definitions. No one knows what game thinking is. Academics love to define definitions, and the methodologies define definitions, and we could go on forever there.

But if we look at the term ‘gamification’ — Gartner, who’s the biggest technological firm, have this Gartner Hype Cycle. It’s an international, kind of map of all the trends. In about 2011, gamification was rising up on what they call the Peak of Inflated Expectations. Gartner predicted by 2014, this year, over 70% of organizations will have at least one gamified app or process. Now, this was like a rallying horn for — it’s like the Web 2.0 days. Like anyone and everyone could call themselves a gamification expert. There are all sorts of gurus that came out of the woodwork promising all sorts of stuff. I reckon that people at Gartner, about six months later, thought, “Oh crap, what did we unleash here?” So about a year later after that, Gartner said, “By 2014, 80% of current gamified apps and processes will fail due to poor design.” I thought that was a very good save, good cover for them. And it’s also very true.

A lot of them will fail due to poor design. The reason is that people will often put the game before the player. They’ll get so excited about the game mechanics that they’ll forget about what the actual core purpose is. In most of the things that work very well for getting people engaged, you just want to minimize as much stuff that gets in between where they are and where they want to be. Whether that’s engaging your service, or moving through levels of engagement in a member community. What happens sometimes is people have been inspired by what can work in games, and at a very superficial level have implemented game-like things like leaderboards, point systems, gadgets and things like that, into other context out of the blue, and then try to incentivize particular behaviors that aren’t really aligned to someone’s inherent motivation. These are the examples like, “Review my book and you’ll earn 100 points. If you earn 1,000 points, you level up and then you unlock five percent discount on your next visit.” It’s just putting the cart before the horse.

A lot of us start to get very inauthentic as well, which is the other trouble with what I’m saying, with a lot of gamification. I look at typical loyalty programs. If you’ve ever gone to a cafe that has a loyalty card where you get your10th coffee free, that’s cool. But what’s more important than that is building loyalty by making really, really good coffee, and doing little things like remembering people’s names, or asking how they are. Sometimes we jump to these structures and think, ah, this will inspire loyalty. But really, what you get is potentially the continuity of purchase and not real or true loyalty.

I see things like that happen. Usually the biggest buzzwords that seem to indicate things are getting off track is when people start talking about competitions and rewards. Mainly because competitions, they’re very tricky to do well. You’ve got a very limited chance for people to win things out of it, and they’re usually only participating in the activity for the hope of winning whatever the reward is. And rewards, if they’re shiny enough, they’ll actually detract from the inherent motivation of the activity. What we want to do is decontaminate these processes and make the work inherently motivating. Make it easy for people to have fun doing whatever it is that they do, rather than jumping to rewards. I hope I’m making sense here.

Pete:                         Absolutely. I want to ask you some ground-level application of this.

Jason:                       Sure.

Pete:                         I know a lot of people who listen to the show here are familiar with Ed Dale and his [The] Challenge that’s been going on for seven or eight years now. This year’s Challenge or the previous 12 months’ Challenge that they ran was the biggest and the most engaged, based on video views and participation, and stick with people going through The Challenge program, which is completely free. Challenge.co is where you can find it. I know you had some input into the redesign of The Challenge in terms of how they did make that stick. Because they did gamify, for want of a better term, The Challenge this year, which is the first time they’ve done that. The whole idea was fundamentally to get people to consume more of the program, and get to the end and achieve the goal of publishing and producing some content. Whereas, in the past, there was a huge hockey stick or a negative hockey stick-type approach.

What we found (I was involved on and off for various years), is that the first three or four days — huge engagement. People would stick around, watch the videos, take the actions and move forward. But over the three or four-week period (The Challenge changed a little bit over the years), over the period of delivery, engagement dropped off significantly. People didn’t follow through. Whereas, this year, they made some changes to deal with that. I know you had a lot of input in that, strategy devised for Ed and the team on that. I think for a lot of people who have some sort of program, coaching program or course, they’ll probably find some ground-level ideas of what was implemented in The Challenge and in similar places that worked really well.

Jason:                       I am thoroughly honored that Ed thinks like I had a big input in that. I caught up with Ed actually just recently for a coffee. I think I may have inspired some things, but I didn’t have a lot of…

Pete:                         Take the credit, mate. Come on. Take the credit. Ed’s not good-looking or not that smart. Let’s be honest.

Jason:                       But it’s brilliant, what’s been done. When I had a chat with Ed, he was saying how, on the whole, engagement just went up dramatically. But he also realized that in the process, there’s a lot of things that you do differently next time. This potentially is an approach that mirrors what I’m trying to talk about in The Game Changer. It’s a very experimental approach. Game designers will call it playtesting, scientist would call it conducting experiments. You could see this most recent Challenge is a big experiment in which lots of different game mechanics were added.

With all of these things, and for anyone running a coaching program, it’s inevitable that you’re going to encounter the law of unintended consequences, where any well-intended thing that you do — you might want to encourage more participation on the forums. You recognize that somehow.

Pete:                         Like give them little points?

Jason:                       Yeah. People spam with all these short comments and clog up things like that, just in an attempt to get points. Now, inevitably, there are going to be people that are going to game the system. The good design comes through where you start thinking, how could this little mechanic that I’m going to introduce possibly be gamed? The closer you go to quantified mechanics, the more likely you are to get people who are hacking the game or playing the game system. So, at the simplest level if you’ve got a coaching program, it comes back to providing visibility of progress. If you’ve got particular challenges that you would like people to do or to get through…

Pete:                         Watch a video, download a report? That kind of thing?

Jason:                       Well, I wouldn’t really call them a challenge so much. Watching a video, download a report might help in a bigger challenge…

Pete:                         Where at least you’re learning how to do the actual action, which is the challenge itself.

Jason:                       Exactly. Let’s just choose something generic for a coaching program. Say you’ve got a coaching program to help people write a book. The challenge might be, “Alright, everyone. In two weeks’ time we’re all going to have a draft contents page uploaded. Here are some videos on how you can go about structuring the book,” different ways and stuff like that. The big challenge is uploading that. Now, in a poorly designed thing, what that could look like is just, “E-mail me your table of contents,” or “Just upload them,” or something.

Here’s where badging technique can work because it’s a legitimate challenge. Badges came from Scouts and Girl Guides, and things like that. They were really cool at one stage, or I think they were. But they’ve been used in some gamification context as a reward. Whereas, if you use them instead as something that acknowledges achievement, almost something that’s delivered after the event, then they become good indicators as to who has done what. And people are more likely to be motivated to invest effort into the next challenge because they know their effort doesn’t disappear into a void. It has some recognition around it.

Pete:                         Inside the members’ area or wherever it might be, you say once someone’s submitted their chapter contents document, they’ll then have a little badge next to their name that shows this person has done the first step.

Jason:                       Yeah. There are so many caveats to this. It really depends on the vibe of what you’re doing and all that. There are far too many templates and rules and things out there. Let’s always keep thinking throughout this as to what’s going to best serve, what’s most aligned. But if you have a system where, if people are engaging in challenges — let’s look at what happens in a video game, particularly a role-playing game. The bigger the challenge that you engage in, the more likely you are to get experience points. You get more experience points for the greater the challenge. So the more outside of your comfort zone you step, if you successfully complete the challenges, you get more experience points, which help you level up.

That same philosophy, done without so much engineering of rules and things like that — if we just think, if we’re going to have some people engage in this challenge, and some people are going to go and do really well, what’s a way that we can make sure that their activities are actually recognized? What’s some way that we can enhance the visibility of their progress? I’ve seen people ran coaching programs very lean where it’s 12 people on a webinar. What they do, instead of building in some system into their program, with gamification, coding and all the background, in the webinar they just make sure at the start of the webinar that they highlight other people’s achievements. So if you’re running a program, you’ve got a dozen people on board. You know that eight of them have submitted their table of contents and the next bit, and a couple of them have even gone further. Making a real point to get that visible and highlighting that, can make a huge difference. Because we are all intelligently lazy, in the sense that laziness could be seen as a really good gift in some regards because it protects us from investing effort in things that would otherwise not contribute to progress.

When you make it clear how things contribute to progress and up the visibility of that, people are a lot more likely to invest effort into it. This correlates (stop me at anytime) to some fascinating research around depression as well, and depression’s an absolute bitch. There’s an evolutionary scientist, Dr. Randolph Nesse (I think, I can’t remember exactly), he argues that depression maybe an adaptive mechanism to protect us from blind optimism. And this is what can sometimes happen when we’re so focused on big, hairy, audacious goals and we forget to celebrate small wins along the way. Our systems can almost shut down. Rather than invest stuff in our effort, our limited effort that we have each day into something that doesn’t even seem to work, we instead just preserve that and almost go into this low-level energy state. Laziness is kind of like a healthier version of that. If we want to hack laziness, we need to make sure that we know that if we’re going to invest effort into something, it’s going to contribute to a sense of progress, and that’s where the visibility phase comes through. It’s something that you can incorporate very well with simple hacks and into any platform or even just a good acknowledgment on a webinar.

Pete:                         Taking this to a bit more of an obscure angle, can this gamification or game metrics work in anything? Let’s say for example you’re printing a book. You have a book coming out. How can you use game metrics and game theory to increase purchases and referrals, people socially sharing bits of the book? How can you use game theory to get people to do that where it’s not a continual thing? There’s no little society that exists of the book readers where you can promote the badges and stuff like that. How can you use things in obscure, one-off promotions or campaigns?

Jason:                       I’m writing it at the moment. If you would have asked me this question about six months’ time, I might have some more [information]. We’ll see how it goes.

Pete:                         What are some of the plans though? Do you have some plans?

Jason:                       There are number of things. I just want to slip this in because it was helpful for me in the writing of the book. Anything that visualizes progress around that is great. I used website called 750Words.com initially to get me in the habit of writing. It’s just something that tracks everyday to make sure that you write at least 750 words. That’s all it is, much like Lift. And then there’s other apps that allow you to set little daily targets and things like that, that allow you to almost build your own little mini game: “Here’s the challenge. You’re going to write 2,000 words in the next two hours,” and just bam, game on, you write.

But now that the book is done, it’s got to get out there, the worst things that I could do — not the worst things, but stuff that I think would be very tacky and reminiscent of the stuff that I consider to be the poorer elements of gamification, would be to make a book promotion something to put the game before people’s actual wishes. I don’t even have a system. What I’m doing here, instead of giving out points and having some sort of thing like that, I’m using a game thing. Have you ever heard of the game mechanic called the Easter Eggs?

Pete:                         In terms of like putting little hidden gems inside something that people who are kind of aware of it, or will stumble across and go, “Ooh, I’ve got something really cool.”

Jason:                       That’s exactly it. Combine that with something that’s a very, very powerful mechanic in a lot of role-playing games (and it’s the same thing that poker machines use), which is the variable reward ratio where people know that as long as they participate in playing, they’re going to get some sort of reward eventually. They don’t know what it is though. I’m trying to combine both of those in the real-world organic form. What I’ve done is — I’ve got pre-orders at the moment. The book — I don’t have the full stock yet, but it comes in about a week or so. But I’ve said that anyone who orders it through my website, I’m going to draw a random picture in the cover. I might draw a random picture on the cover. They don’t know what it’s going to be a picture of, but it could be anything (because I illustrated the book as well, you see). It could be anything from all sorts of random things like a unicorn, a potato, to a dolphin pirate, to contemplating the ethical rights of grapefruits, to a rock that is actually a sentient and a secret ninja clan member, all sorts of things. That seems to have generated a fair bit of the excitement as to what they may get.

But what’s happening next with that, and it’s something I am toying with and please, please listener — to everyone who’s listening to this, don’t even think that I’m an expert in this because this is my first time launching a book like this and there’s this terrible irony of expertise happening up right here, where I’ve never worked on a book launch with anyone else before. It’s this nervous playtesting thing. I have no idea how it works, but I’m detached enough to know — you know gamers spent 80% of their time failing, by the way?

Pete:                         Dying and then starting again?

Jason:                       Yeah. Dying, starting again.

Pete:                         That was me with Mario Bros., mate. Just to save that princess.

Jason:                       Yep, that’s right. Exactly. I feel that the PR and the promotion of this book is going to be 80% of me dying, and sometimes getting some wins. So the next thing that happens is, and it’s one of the stupidest things too. Be careful of your marketing strategies. Because sometimes they can so work so well, they backfire. It’s only been about five days since I announced this, I’ve got hundreds and hundreds of pre-orders now, which means I have to draw hundreds and hundreds of things, which is going to take a while. I’m going to try to draw them in sets. There’s going to be possibly a pirate-themed one, a ninja-themed one, a robot-themed one, a unicorn-themed one. All sorts of little sets. I’ll probably have three types of characters in each set. We’ll see how tired I get, drawing all these pictures. It could get incredibly random. I’m trying to make sure they don’t get phallic at all, because it’s going out to families and whatnot. But it could get all sorts of random.

But then what’s going to happen after that is there’s going to be some sort of encouragement that if you happen to find the other two elements of the set (and that could be done in anyway, a lot of people are ordering group orders), if they happen to find it, then I will be doing a custom card-mounted illustration of the three people who match up their set. I don’t expect many people will actually get to this point, but it’s another layout that has the mystery and intrigue. What it also taps into potentially is this completion bias that often manifests in day-to-day life. If you’re 80% of the way through a task, you’re more likely to invest the energy for the last 20%.

LinkedIn did this with their profile completion stuff. Again, if you’re running any online course or you manage members, you can take huge inspiration from this. Sometimes you have membership communities and there’s a sea of blank faces because no one’s uploaded their photo to their community. What LinkedIn did, they had that problem, all they did was they simply put a percentage of profile completion. This was done a while ago now. [They put a] percentage of profile completed. Add a photo, add an extra 30% to your profile completeness. Add a background, that’s another 20%. It gave a progress bar. People started adding up their things, because they couldn’t stand the concept of having an incomplete profile. As they added stuff, the feedback was immediate. You could see how the percentage went up.

This bias towards completion is something that we can use and work with. It happens to me whenever there’s only one Tim Tam packet left in the fridge. I cannot not have that progress bar unfinished. There’s a hope, at some level, that that may happen. But I’ve also done that ( and I guess it’s an afterthought to the drawing in the book), I’ve done that in a way that it protects myself from an excessive amount of effort. It’s hard enough that it might or probably not manifest, but intriguing enough that some people might be inclined to share the book and the drawing that they have on their cover.

Pete:                         There’s this thing in here about consumption and progress. When you read a book on Kindle, you have that almost like a progress bar at the bottom of the Kindle or the iPad. Whereas, in the traditional printed book, you don’t have that. It would be really interesting to see if people get to 80% of that progress bar in the Kindle book what percentage of people actually end up finishing the book. Is that affecting consumption in terms of books and things? That’d be really interesting to see.

Jason:                       It would be.

Pete:                         Then you could manufacture a printed version of that sort of scrollbar at the bottom of every page of a printed book. See if that kind of visual helps keep people engaged.

Jason:                       Yeah, that’s right. Books are a funny thing. A lot of books, a lot of the value is heavily skewed to the front. If you’re looking for the big why, that aha moment, it’s probably going to be delivered in the first third of the book. Then the rest of it (with a lot of books) kind of moves into more implementation stuff. It moves from why, what, how pretty much. It wouldn’t surprise me if people are jumping in a non-linear way. I’m pretty excited about the future of books with this game design context. There’s been some pretty fascinating visualizations and little mockups of what the future of reading could be like. You can almost imagine — you start off and there’s these different worlds that you can visit. I’m getting a bit carried away here.

But anyway, yes, the progress bar. There’s this wonderful movie called Sight. It’s a movie, I think you can find it on Vimeo. It has this disturbing view of the future. It’s really fascinating and disturbing by equal measure. If we look at the current trends of technology where we’re shifting to wearable technology, and after that will become even more wearable like contact lenses. I did some work with researchers at one of the big universities here, and they’re already talking about embedded technology that can intervene for your health and synch with your smart phone and all sorts of things. That’s the path where we’re going to. Imagine if we had a heads-up display that was very much like a game.

We talk about keeping goals visual and primary. So if there are important things for us to do, mission-critical goals, or we’re in the quarter and we’ve got them there, if you look at a role-playing game, your current active quest is visible. You know what the objectives are: slay three boars, pick 10 flowers or whatever it is, or something more complex if you’re at a higher level. Unfortunately, we don’t have that in the real world. A lot of our goals and good intentions remain hidden. We find ourselves defaulting to the more progress-rich activities like checking e-mail instead of chipping away at the bigger and important things. I think it will be within our lifetime where we get to experience — it might be Google Glass or the equivalent, or something like that, where we can walk around and almost like have a heads-up display. We can have our current health, energy levels, nutritions, all that.

The quantified self. Giving yourself immediate visual feedback as to what’s happening in your body and what’s also important. That will help to keep you aligned. And as you achieve certain stuff, you get to see it visibly. You tick off the things on your list. We don’t have to wait to that, of course. We can carry around a notebook or a journal, and we can use some clever apps like Lift and the other things that we can do. But I think there’s going to be a way where these feedback loops can be short-circuited even further. And if we just start thinking about this mindset now and looking at any of this work — work is already a game. I should probably share the definition of a ‘game’ by the way.

Pete:                         Sure, absolutely.

Jason:                       All games — sports games, video games, board games, all games are simply the interplay of goals, rules and feedback. A good game is a goal-driven, challenge-intense, and feedback-rich experience getting towards making progress. I mentioned before that there’s been an overemphasis in the past in goals. The big overlooked thing has been this clear sense of progress, the feedback mechanism. Goals, rules, feedback. Rules are what calibrate the level of challenge, and give us clarity about what we can and cannot do. If we look at this definition of goals, rules, feedback, any project could be considered game. Projects have goals. They have objectives, they have rules, they have the amount of budget and time that you have. And they have feedback as to whether that project succeeded or failed, and whether the project is on track.

This same definition of games can also be applied to very mundane things like driving to work. You’ve got a goal to get to work alive or on time. There are rules like the legal speed limits and all sorts of things. There’s feedback as to whether you’re on track or whether you’re progressing, that you can use to get a sense of whether you’re winning your game. It can extend to even making a cup of tea. Your goal is to make a good cup of tea. The rules are leave it in for a certain amount of time. Put milk if you have that. Your feedback is if it’s a good cup of tea. Cooking a meal, reading a book — everything in life is a game.

But if something’s not working, it’s usually that there’s something that could be tweaked with the goals. It might be that the goal is too big, or too far into the future it needs to be chunked down. It might be the rules are inherited and archaic, and don’t serve the actual purpose of it. And the feedback might be not in the useful format or too delayed. Taking this approach of seeing everything as a game, if it’s something’s not working, rather than questioning someone’s or their motivation, just stepping back and thinking, what’s going on in the game here? Do we know what we want to achieve? What’s getting in the way? That is what’s going to liberate us. That’s what’s going to help us when it comes to motivation behavioral challenges, whether it’s in our own life or whether it’s in people engaging with our stuff.

Pete:                         True. Cool, man. That’s basically what the book’s all about, isn’t it? Who is the book for? People listening to us cover a lot of great stuff. They’ll ask, “Is the book for me?” We haven’t really talked about The Game Changer in its actual context much. Can you explain exactly what the book covers, who it’s for, and what they’re going to get out of reading it?

Jason:                       Sure. Anyone working with people is going to get a lot of benefit out of this, particularly if you want to drive change. I’ve got clients that range from senior execs in multinational organizations, through to people running fairly lean start-ups. In all of these areas, change is one of those tricky things. Start-ups usually have a pretty good approach, they’re using an agile approach. But in organizations, change is bloody hard.

What this book does is it gives people a new way, a new approach to actually manage motivation through change. Inevitably, I found myself through the writing of the book, writing for an individual. Because even if you are a leader in a large organization, you’re still an individual, and it’s still worth understanding your own motivation before you attempt to influence the motivation of others. The avenue that I present in this book, the classic motivational approach is to work on attitudes and beliefs. And I think that can lead to a lot of problems unless you have a very sophisticated coach. Don’t get me wrong — this stuff can be transformational if you know what you’re doing. But it’s very hard to scale. Sometimes you get these one-size-fits-all motivational messages that don’t really correlate to people and don’t really work in a bigger context, and can sometimes be damaging.

The second approach is the classic managerial approach, which relies on incentives, recognition and reward schemes. These work tremendously well. So, in organizations, sales teams that are motivated by commissions, or if you’re managing a small team, setting up a reward based upon particular activities, it actually works incredibly well. The danger is, sometimes it can get people so focused on achieving that reward that the other more important things that are hard to define, they actually start to slip by.

Imagine a context where you’ve got someone who’s a teacher, for example, in a school. They do amazing work. Kids love it. She’s innovative in the classroom. She shares resources with other teachers. They all love it. And then this new whippersnapper principal sees that and thinks, “I want to get more of that happening in this school.” So, they offer a $10,000 bonus to the top 10% of teachers. Now, it’s a wonderful intention. But what might happen is this reward might get teachers who wouldn’t naturally share their resources, they might think, “Actually, you know what, if I share this, I might not be in the top 10%. So I might keep this one to myself.”

People that might be inclined to innovate in the classroom and do stuff that’s creative and out of the box, they might rein that back in and just do things that might get recognized within the context of the reward. So, this well-intended, very competitive mechanic of a reward, dropped into a collaborative environment, can influence behavior in a way that’s not really conducive to good progress. And it’s that type of awareness of moving beyond incentives and rewards — because they do work, they work incredibly well to focused behavior — but the work that we’re moving towards, the future of work, requires much more collaboration, much more creativity and agility. It’s hard to box in and define, especially if it’s unprecedented work or pioneering work.

That’s where I hope through the book, I present a third perspective. And that is, to change the game to make work inherently motivating, and to look at any task, any process that you’ve got through the lens of game design to see the goals, rules and feedback; and with a good understanding of science and reason, be able to make tweaks to the game at play to almost find the game changer, the element that will make a significant difference to the game at play, and to really focus on making the process inherently motivating before we just default to incentives and rewards, and before we try pump people up with individual coaching. That’s what it’s about.

Pete:                         Beautiful. Perfect. Well, I highly recommend it. I’ve had a read of it, and I found it really engaging, particularly the tactic or the strategy of ‘rubber ducking.’ I thought that was very cool.

Jason:                       Oh, yes.

Pete:                         We’ll leave that for people to pick up a copy and definitely check that.

Jason:                       Sure. Oh, mystery. Yes.

Pete:                         I think its own right, that in its own little takeaway is definitely worth the price of admission. That’s really cool.

Jason:                       Oh, cool. Thanks.

Pete:                         One final question, Jason, that I ask every single guest we have on the show here, and that is: what is the one question that I haven’t asked you that I probably should have?

Jason:                       That’s a really good question. The one question that you haven’t asked that you probably should have. Wow. You’ve done really well, and thank you for that flexibility of allowing me to go on my rambles.

Pete:                         That’s what it’s all about here on PreneurCast, mate.

Jason:                       We’ve covered the gamification thing, which is good. I think there’s one thing that I just want to reemphasize here. Early on in the book, I talked about how I deliberately — this is not a book that will dumb things down to a simple set of tips. I actually want to provoke deeper thinking through this. I want people to think about motivation. So far we’ve been lulled into almost very simple ways to handle motivation. “Ah, it must be this. So, we need to have a goal. We need to have a vision. It needs to be smart,” and all these things. Sometimes the world of motivation and the interactions of human behavior are a bit more complex.

There’s this great quote that I pulled from a book (and I’m just looking at the book now because the name is just eluding me). It’s essentially, “If you want people to think, share your intent, not your instructions.” Rather than simply dumbing this down to instructions or a list of things to do or follow, I hope that this is a book that gets people to think a little bit differently about motivation. Even if you’re not cool with this whole concept of seeing life as an internet game that consists of all these little games, even if that doesn’t sit too well with you, at least play with that idea. At least try to look at things as though it were a game.

If you are listening to this podcast right now, I don’t know what your next activity is. You might be going for a run, you might be getting back to e-mails, you might be working on another report. Whatever it is, just play with this concept for that next activity. Think about what is the kind of game right now. Maybe set yourself a time parameter to achieve a particular task within a certain timeframe. Make sure the feedback is going to be visible and clear, and give it a go. Just stay curious with how you actually act on that. If you didn’t succeed, maybe the challenge was too high and it could be calibrated for next time. If you got disengaged or disinterested, maybe the challenge wasn’t high enough and that could be shifted. Maybe you need to work with other people. It’s that type of mindset that I want to get you into. Just to be wonderfully curious about your own motivation behavior, and to extend that curiosity to the world around you.

Pete:                         Love it. And David Marquet was the person who said, “If you want people to think, give them intent, not instruction.”

Jason:                       Perfect, thank you. Thank you. Yeah, legendary quote.

Pete:                         Beautiful. Well, again, thank you very much for your time. The book is The Game Changer. Dr. Jason Fox, appreciate it.

Jason:                       Thanks, mate. That’s excellent. Cheers.

[Pete’s conversation with Jason ends]

Dom:                         I still can’t believe that you actually talked about his beard straight out.

Pete:                         Well, mate, it is that good. It is seriously the best beard in marketing. It’s awesome.

Dom:                         Folks, not just to give him the credit of the extra traffic to his website, but do go and check out the link to Dr. Fox’s website in the show notes. Go and just check out Jason’s About page, it’s just amazing. But please, I don’t want to detract from the stuff that I got. I literally have gone back and listened to it again. I was seeing links to a lot of the stuff that we’ve already talked about. He talks about things like entrepreneurs, start-ups. The things in there in my mind, I was linking stuff he was talking about, back into things like The Lean Startup, a book I talk about a lot.

I think the biggest thing for me, I’m going to pull this one out, the biggest thing for me was when he said, because all of this stuff does come from actual game, this concept of the game theory, or how games work, he said that if you actually look at people who play games (like video games or whatever), they fail 80% of the time. If anyone takes anything away from that, it is that.

Failure is not the opposite of success, was what he said, wasn’t it? I think he actually said apathy is the opposite of success. Failure is a path to learning, absolutely. We’ve said this before on the show, but it was great to hear his perspective on that and just all those other things. It really changed my mind about this term gamification or game theory, or whatever you want to call it. I do recommend the book because there’s a lot of stuff for anybody in any kind of business, whether you’re dealing with clients or dealing with your own internal team, or even yourself as an example he gave.

Pete:                         Absolutely. Speaking of the book, the lovely people at Wiley Publishing have given us free copies to give away to the community. If you are interested in grabbing a copy of Dr. Jason Fox’s book, I would suggest going and buying it on Amazon, or Kindle, or Booktopia (or some other places), and then try and win one for a friend. That’s my suggestion. But to win a copy of Jason’s book, all you have to do is head over to PreneurMarketing.com, the home of the show and the home of the community, and leave a comment at the bottom of this episode’s post. Let us know the biggest takeaway you got, what you thought of his beard, how you’re going to apply some of this stuff in your business, your favorite quote from the conversation. Mine was, “I’ve read a lot about sport.” I thought that was quite an amusing comment that he made.

But head over to PreneurMarketing.com. Find the blog post for this particular episode and leave a comment on the show. We’ll keep that going from two weeks from the day this episode airs. You’ll have two weeks, so this episode and then the next episode, that period of time to enter so you’ve got a chance to listen to this show. Leave a comment: what your biggest takeaway was, what you loved about it, how you’re going to apply it, a similar book you read that you think is worth reading or noting. Anything that relates to this particular episode. So, go there and we’ll announce the winners of three books we’ll send your way to hopefully, give to a friend because you already bought Jason’s book.

Dom:                         That is, I say, a great tip because we love to share our knowledge and we love to share our tips about the books. I actually don’t like giving people my copy of a book. I’ve been known to buy one for my friends as well. So yeah, if you can win one, give it away, and away you go.

And folks, while you’re on PreneurMarketing.com, if you’re not already a member of the Preneur Community, if you haven’t gone on our mailing list and are already receiving things like Noise Reduction, our weekly tips about cool and interesting things out there, do sign up. Because the other thing you can do when you do that is that you can download a copy of Pete’s audiobook, which you did mention actually. You did mention it in the interview.

Pete:                         Well, it’s my first book with Wiley, the same publishing team that Jason used. We have the rights back to that book now, which is super exciting. It was part of the negotiation that my agent factored in, which was fantastic. We can now give away the audio version of the book. It is available right now, you can go and get it at PreneurMarketing.com. At the top of the page or the bottom of the page is a box where you put in your name and your e-mail, and we’ll send you that audio version which you can throw on your iPad, or on your iPod, or on your Android, and listen to it between podcast episodes if you really miss hearing the stuff we share.

Dom:                         Excellent. On that, folks, as it was a little bit of a longer-than-usual interview, but definitely incredibly valuable, let’s wrap up. Pete, what are we doing next week?

Pete:                         We’re going to talk about my VD Report.

Dom:                         That sounds unfortunate.

Pete:                         No, basically it’s a report that’s available on my website — the Venn Diagram Report, the VD Report. It’s all about increasing your website conversion. If you have a website, and as part of your 7 Levers, you are trying to increase the conversion that generates, whether that’s phone calls, whether that’s people requesting a quote for a service you offer, whether it’s them making a purchase through your e-com site.

I have different businesses that use the conversion lever in numerous ways. We’ve got a telco business that is designed to generate inquiries for phone system quotes. We’ve got iTelecom.com.au, which is a new business unit we’ve set up. It’s an e-com site around telco products, the phone system hardware and handsets. And then we’ve got Simply Headsets. We’ve been increasing the conversion rates of our e-com stores for a while. And then places like OutsourceProfitMachine.com, which is the online information site for the outsourcing course. We have a number of websites in our businesses that require online conversions to generate the revenue for the business. So, we’ve got a lot of things we can share in next week’s episode which is my VD Report.

Dom:                         I’m sorry, that was very schoolboy of me, but I just got to giggle. Okay, folks, on that, before I lose it completely, thanks for joining us this week. Hope you really enjoyed the interview, and we’ll see you next week.

Pete:                         Bye.


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