Working Under Pressure

April 22, 2007 Posted by Tyler Cruz

A few weeks ago I got yet another e-mail from Michael Simmons, author of The Student Success Manifesto and entrepreneur extraordinaire (Michael has been the winner of three entrepreneur of the year awards from the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship, Fleet, and the National Coalition for Empowering Youth Entrepreneurship).

While I congratulate him for his success at such a young age, I typically hate his spammed e-mails he sends me which are always self-serving. However, the last e-mail he sent me was about a new website he launched, and it peaked my interest.

The website is The idea behind it is for people to set goals to complete in a certain period of time. They then put up a certain amount of cash. If they don’t complete their goal by the specified date, the cash they put up will be sent to charity. The idea being to provide a scare-incentive to complete the goal. This is the basic premise of the site.

Now, this is not exactly an original idea, but I absolutely believe in the idea. I first really heard and thought about the idea when I saw a program on TV about a year ago. It was some show like Dateline or 20/20, I forget, but they had a professor from some Ivy League university state how “scare tactics” or being scared into completing your goal is the single best motivator. To prove this, the show did a test. What better test subject than weight loss?

The show went around the city and invited a dozen obese women to see if they’d like to participate in a weight-loss experiment. Once they had agreed, the show had each of them put on a two-piece bathing suit and privately took photos of them in it. The participants agreed, reluctantly, that if they didn’t lose X amount of pounds in the given timeframe (I believe it was like 3 months)
that the show could publicly display those photos on network TV and on their website. What better incentive to a woman than to provide embarrasement on a national scale?

The results were pretty astounding. From what I can remember, 11/12 of the women cleared their goals. They had said after the experiment that they were absolutely terrified of not meeting it and so did everything in their power to meet it. The one woman who didn’t make it? Well, the show said they weren’t going to show the picture after all. And why bother? The scare tactic had done it’s job already.

I’m a stern-believer in this scare-tactic incentive.

Unfortunately fails to deliver, in my eyes, on a useful website for this purpose. For one, it’s done on a honor system basis and you can get your money back at any time. This alone defeats the whole purprose in my eyes as it provides a clear excuse not to finish the goal. The whole idea is that if the goal is not met, that there is a punishment, in this case, a monetary punishment.

Then there’s the whole thing of the e-bookishness (yes, that’s a word) of the site, with many links and ads to the authors’ books and such. But it’s definitely a good idea. It just needs to be done better.

If I wanted to set a goal, such as my 40-hour-week challenge, and provide a punishment/scare-tactic incentive, the best way I could do that would be to publicly announce on my blog that I’d give out $500 to a random commenter on my blog or something. That way I have public/social pressure to keep my word, as opposed to just making the promise with myself, which doesn’t hold as much water. And the punishment has to be decently bad. For example, for somebody making $10,000 a month, a $250 punishment will not work as well as a $1,500 one.

But money doesn’t have to be the incentive; one could argue that such a tactic is actuallly hurting the person since they are putting themselves in a situation where they may possibly lose money. Thus, it could be anything. It could be that you agree to wash dishes every day for a month for your spouse, for example.

It’s really the best incentive. And even if you don’t make the goal, at least you worked hard and got something done! So give it a try. If you really want to get a specific goal done that you’ve been putting off for a long time, try this tactic. You may be surprised how well it works.

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Posted: April 22nd, 2007 under Articles  

11 Responses to “Working Under Pressure”

  1. John says:

    Is this a paid review?

  2. Tyler Cruz says:

    Nope. He asked me to help advertise it for him, and I told him he could pay me $75 and I’d do it. He didn’t respond.

    So I was just going to forget about it, but thought it’d make a good blog post anyway.

  3. PigsnieLite says:

    I would like to enter your Scare the Shit Out of Big Ladies Raffle please. I need money for Christmus.

  4. Marc says:

    ebookishness? That site looks like a total scam that doesn’t deserve the time of day. Kick it to the curb! KICK-IT!!!

  5. krillz says:

    dude, I wouldn’t trust that site, looks like it was setup in some minutes to get $.

    He won’t make it…

  6. Sean says:


    i just blogged about this a few days ago and today i’ve started implementing it, before i even stumbled across this site!

  7. Mike says:

    I don’t know why anyone in their right mind would put money somewhere, and if they didn’t achieve their goal, that money would be gone. That’s insane.

    If you actually have to resort to doing something like this, you are not an entrepreneur. For entrepreneurs, motivation must come from within!

  8. Just a lame excuse to distribute their “JourneyPage Toolkit” which no doubt contains an ass of delicious affiliate links and a list of more products they created or endorse.

    I like the blog post, but this site is just a scam.

  9. Ed says:

    It is a crazy concept for crazy people.

    I can see the scare tactic is an effective motivator, but why do you need someone else’s website to implement it? Like you said, let someone who frequents your own site benefit from your failure. Then it is sort of a lose-win situation!

    Can you imagine the traffic you would get if you had a headline. I screwed up and gave away $x00 to my readers.

  10. Sunfrog says:

    If you don’t work 40 hours this week you have to buy me $600 camera.

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