From speed camera lotteries to piano stairs: a collection of 7 nifty nudges spotted in the wild

Nudge’ by Cass Sunstein and Richard Thaler.

Nudge Theory, as articulated by Nobel Prize-winning behavioral economist Richard Thaler, has spawned a universe of real-world applications. The principles of ‘choice architecture’ have since been applied by both savvy marketers and public policy makers.

A nudge helps people make better choices for themselves without restricting their freedom of choice. It accomplishes this by making it easier for people to make a certain decision. In other words, putting fruit at eye level counts as a nudge. …

Roger Federer tennis match
Roger Federer tennis match
Roger Federer vs Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon (Source)

Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World

Master the rules before you start playing

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

As I wrote in 4 Meta-Habits That Will Make You a Better Writer: if you want to write, you need to read. Nothing inspires a writer like reading someone else’s work. Words in, words out.

Whether you want to write your autobiography, start a blog, or produce a five-pound work of fiction, reading the writing of other people doing it better than you should be #1 on your to-do list. I love the quote by Stephen King:

With that quote…

How to set up your iPhone for maximum productivity and focus

Source: William Hook on Unsplash

When it comes to apps, a golden rule is “quality over quantity”. In a time where we’re being bombarded with notifications and different apps are screaming for our attention, simplicity is key.

Over the past few years, I have tried dozens of apps, to-do lists, and tools to make the most out of my time. In this post, I’ve compiled the best ones that I personally use on a day-to-day basis.

These apps and tools have been massively helpful to me in reaching my productivity goals — I hope they will be just as useful to you!

1. Google Calendar

One-sentence benefit: View…

How poker is the ultimate metaphor for life

The Biggest Bluff — Maria Konnikova
The Biggest Bluff — Maria Konnikova

My favorite book of 2020 was The Biggest Bluff by Maria Konnikova.

To better understand how luck and decision-making affect our outcomes in the uncertainty of life, psychologist Maria Konnikova took up high-stakes poker and hit the casino circuit. The Biggest Bluff: How I Learned to Pay Attention, Master Myself, and Win recounts her fascinating journey.

Konnikova’s goal in the book — learning to distinguish between what can be controlled in life and what can’t — is very fitting for the uncertain times we’re living in right now. …

5 non-trivial ways marketers fool you with their prices

Price tag
Price tag
Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Unsplash

Everyone realizes salespeople try to lure us into buying with prices like $4.99 or $12.95. By lowering the price by a few cents, the item ‘feels’ much cheaper.

Although this technique is still pretty effective, there are plenty of other tricks in the pricing playbook. Here are five psychological tactics you can use to make your products seem cheaper than they actually are (or help protect yourself from sellers who are using them!).

1. Be Extremely Precise in Showing Big Numbers

Thomas, Simon, and Kadiyali (2007) analyzed 27,000 real estate transactions. The data showed that potential buyers pay more if the price is highly specific. …

Some are easier than others, but each one matters

Successful person staring at the sun
Successful person staring at the sun
Photo by Zac Durant on Unsplash

Habits are amazing things. They become the unseen foundations of our future selves. If you can replace a bad habit with a good one, you’ll live with the benefits for decades.

The best way to illustrate their power is by showing the impact of a string of 1% improvements over the course of one year. Here’s the math:

1.0¹³⁶⁵ = 37.8
0.9⁹³⁶⁵ = 0.03

This illustrates an important point: Success doesn’t happen in an instant. Instead, it happens through lots of little successes, strung together over time.

Too often, we think about big changes in terms of big actions. Yet…

Your online presence matters.

Businessman wearing a suit
Businessman wearing a suit
Photo by Hunters Race on Unsplash

When someone searches for your name on Google, what will they find? Probably your Instagram, maybe Twitter, and perhaps some old photos on an outdated Facebook profile.

What if it happens to be a prospective employer or business partner who’s Googling you? You’d probably want them to find more than some random Instagram pictures, right?

Instead, you want to present a professional image — a picture of the work you’ve done and the work you hope to do. At the very least, you want your information to come up, and not someone else’s.

While the best way to achieve this…

David Foster Wallace’s famous speech about education and meaning

The sea
The sea
Photo by YUCAR FotoGrafik on Unsplash

This post wasn’t written by me. It was written by David Foster Wallace, and delivered as his commencement address in 2005 to Kenyon College. It’s the only speech David ever gave outlining his outlook on life, and Time ranks it among the best commencement speeches ever delivered (to which I agree).

However, the speech almost didn’t happen. Wallace hesitated to accept the invite because of his anxiety when talking in front of crowds. …

What REALLY motivates us?

Book cover of The Elephant in the Brain
Book cover of The Elephant in the Brain

What makes people tick?

This is the main question in The Elephant in the Brain, an eye-opening book on understanding our “hidden motives in everyday life.”

In other words, why do we do what we do?

Programmer Kevin Simler and economist Robin Hanson explore why we’re prone to self-deception about our motives, and how this deception can shed light on otherwise inexplicable behaviors. For example, why do we laugh? And how come we laugh 30% more when we’re around others?

Well, as the authors explain in the first part of their book, we’re often blind to our own true motives…

Yannick Bikker

I write about marketing, books, psychology & anything else that sparks my interest. Also a proud advocate of peanut butter (the crunchy kind).

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