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People Want to do Zero Work and Make More Money
(And Money = Utility)
Every person on the planet wants to get something for nothing (including me)
Welcome to my First Principles series.
I think all models of the world are wrong, but some are useful.
This is one of the ideas I default to when I have to make a decision with imperfect information.
We Like Free Stuff.
You’ll probably pick up $20 off the ground.
You might chase it a little if the $20 starts to blow away.
But if it blows into the sewer drain across the street, you’re probably not about to pry open the grate and spelunk to search for that “free” cash.
This is the continuum of “People want to do zero work and make more money”.
But it’s more than that.
It’s why we suck at changing habits.
It’s why we mostly choose our credit cards on the perceived rewards we get.
And (paradoxically) it’s also why Finn’s will stand in line for hours for a free bucket.
If you do anything that involves persuading others to change their behavior in some way…
It’s important to take a beat to think about how much work you’re asking for and how much free money you’re giving.
Whether it’s designing an app, selling a product, or negotiating with your life partner, this principle isn’t about giving things away for free - although that might be the right answer for you - it’s about consciously accounting for the basket of costs vs the pile of benefits you’re handing to whoever you’re asking to do work.
Behavior change is work.
Dopamine releases, returned time, reduced effort, and actual honest-to-god dollar dollar bills are all “more money”.
Naturally, this tension lives in a landscape of competing choices, distribution advantages, opportunity costs, user contexts, switching friction, ecosystem expectations, and evolving user preferences - but it’s the fundamental question of every user decision.
The closer you are to asking nothing and giving something, the more likely it is that person is going to change their behavior.
And the more you give, the bigger the change a user is willing to make
I hope this added value to your day.
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