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Category: Behavior (page 3 of 3)

Book Review: Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely

Rationale for reading: Hope to improve my ability to keep clients accountable. Recommendation from Zach Moore.

Book summary: Quote from Ariely: “Our irrational behaviors are neither random nor senseless—they are systematic and predictable.” (p. 239)

Review summary: Use relativity to your advantage. Set a new anchor and be more like Starbucks. Don’t switch between social norms and market norms. Keep your clients feeling positive emotions. Shut the doors that suck your life force away. Manage expectations.

Suggested audience: Anyone who interacts with people, especially if you coach them to change their habits.




Dan Ariely became interested in behavioral economics after he was hospitalized, sustaining injuries from an explosion.

If you want a visceral reaction, just think about how painful it must have been to have bandages ripped off of his entire body. Over and over and over again. As someone who has been in a moderately-severe motorcycle accident, the effect this thought has on my body is amazing.

Predictably Irrational” is an amalgamation of Ariely’s research that provides insight into how our minds work. There’s a lot in this book, so I’m going to pick a few points I think are more applicable to fitness and talk about those.


Product Decoys and Dating

Relativity is a great way to illustrate how reality is based on our perception of the things around us. Take this picture, for example.

The blue circles are the same size! I still don't believe it.

Both the blue circles are the same size, but the environment (black circles) around them make them appear much different.

Think about this in terms of selecting which gym membership you want. You have two options: (A) gives me 1x/month one-on-one personal training for $199 and (B) gives me 4 semi-private training sessions and full use of the gym during the month for $199. It’s difficult to compare A to B.

But let’s say I throw in a third option (B-) which gives me 4 semi-private training sessions for $199/month, but no use of the open gym. Now I may not know if A is better than B, but I surely realize that B is better than B-. And if B is better than B-, it’s probably better than A as well. People are more likely to pick option B.

How can I use this as a fitness professional? I can set up training packages in a way that drive people to the most beneficial package. I could include a free group forum so that clients can keep themselves and others accountable. I can see them for shorter times but at a higher frequency. The possibilities are endless.


Starbucks and Paying for a Trainer

Mark Twain once wrote the following about Tom Sawyer: “Tom had discovered a great law of human action, namely, that in order to make a man covet a thing, it is only necessary to make the thing difficult to attain.”

I’m reminded of the Romeo & Juliet effect from Cialdini’s Influence: Stop telling me I shouldn’t date her if you don’t want me to date her. All you’re doing is inciting a (predictable) fire of (irrational) passion.

Ariely presents the concept of arbitrary coherence, which is really just another illustration of perception.

Let’s say I have someone who has never worked out in their life, never worked with a trainer, and never even had a gym membership. What do they know about how much working out should cost them? Nothing.

Well, almost nothing.

They’ve seen commercials on TV and the billboards on their commute that say, “Join LA Fitness now for only $30/month!”

“Wow, exercise is cheap,” they think. Then when they come to you, they say, “LA Fitness costs $30/month. Your LOWEST price is $199/month. That’s ridiculous!”

They can’t see the added value that you bring that makes you worth the extra money. They think all exercise is just exercise. Now you must show and tell them why you’re better. Remember, if you don’t convince them to stay, you can’t help them.

In order to avoid the negative effects of arbitrary coherence, think about Starbucks. They’re a coffee company, right?

Not quite. What are they really? Are Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts the same experience?

Starbucks sells pastries, tea, French presses, and whole coffee beans. They have all those fancy machines back there to make those Macchiatos, Frappuccinos, and Caffè Mistos. They sell a venti coffee, not a large coffee. For two places that both sell coffee, they couldn’t be more different.

Ariely calls this “setting” a new anchor and avoiding the old anchor. If they tried to come out and compete with a similar company selling a similar product, they would lose. But if they set themselves apart from the rest…

As a fitness professional, I must find a way to have more value. I must offer something that you can’t get anywhere else. I think the best way to do this is through personal interactionshow people you care about them. Look at Mark Fisher Fitness. They are the Starbucks of the fitness industry.


Social vs. Market Exchange

This section is about framing your relationship with your customers. A social exchange is like a friendship. A market exchange is like a business proposal. Ariely never defines a winner between the two, but he does make sure you know the difference and how they interact.

An example from the book is the scenario of asking your friends to help you move. If it’s a few boxes, or maybe just some of the big things, that’s fine. Asking them to help you move everything, however, is not okay. Pay someone and stop taking advantage of your friends. Similarly, asking your neighbor to get your mail for free while you’re out of town is acceptable. Asking him to do your taxes for free is not.

As a business owner, do I want to establish social norms or market norms?

Let’s say I establish a social relationship with my clients. They know I care about them. They love that about me. It’s easier to ask for referrals. However, it gets harder to ask for money from them. Harder to raise your prices. Harder to sell more services to them.

If I establish market norms, they expect my prices to rise occasionally and it doesn’t phase them. Conversely, I have more trouble establishing that personal relationship that gets great results in fitness. They aren’t as emotionally tied to me.

Either way has it’s advantages, but you can’t have it both ways. Don’t treat them like family and then sick your lawyer on them if their a few days late on their payment. It’s likely that they will feel betrayed.

I see the answer in fitness to be anywhere you want it to be. Personally, I lean more towards social norms because it keeps me happy and I attract the type of clientele that will stick around, but I don’t completely abandon market norms because I have difficulty asking for money as it is.


Get Clients Aroused (Wait, What?)

My friend, Jae Chung, and I just had a conversation the other day about hitting on the clients more.

Not actually hitting on the clients, but maintaining an appropriate level of banter. It makes the session more fun for the client; they don’t want to work with a dry personality. All you’re trying to do is to make them feel better than they would if they hadn’t come to see you. There’s a reason my Facebook profile picture has been up for so long: smiles, sun, and bright colors.

Me and my Pre-Warped Tour outfit, four years ago

Man, I miss those sunglasses.

Ariely did some research on how his subjects perceive themselves and compared those responses to their responses when aroused (yes, in that sense of the word) and concluded, “They were simply unable to predict the degree to which passion would change them” (p. 97).

Stop right there.

I’m not suggesting you do—that—with your clients. What I’m suggesting is that you give them a positive emotional experience. My goal is always to make you feel better than when you came in. Change their emotions and you turn them into a new person. Change them the right way and you turn them into a happier person.


Keeping Doors Open

I helped a friend move things out of storage into his garage the other day. You’d be amazed at what people will hang onto. To an impartial outsider, it looks irrationalbut it’s still predictable. Everyone does it.

Let’s take a trip back in time to 210 BC. Chinese commander Xiang Yu led troops across the Yangtze River in a fight against the Qin dynasty. Imagine yourself as one of Xiang Yu’s soldiers. Your group lands on shore and sets up camp for the night. After you lay down for bed, you start to dream of flames engulfing your ships. What a hellish nightmare.

Then you awaken to find it’s real.

You alert your sleeping mates and charge the attackers, only to realize that it is your commander who has set your ships ablaze.

He tells you, “Now that you have no ships, you only have two options: victory or death.” They went on to win nine consecutive battles.

Xiang Yu knew that if the option to retreat existed, his troops would not fight with everything they had. This is perhaps the most extreme example of closing doors that history has known.

How do we keep doors open in our daily lives? Well, my friend can hoard his old suitcase, or soldiers can leave an escape route open, but it can happen on a personal level as well. Do you have an ex who is still available to you? It’s not as hard to break up (appears temporary) as it is to cut them out of your life (appears permanent), especially when they were the one to dump you. Or you may have found yourself staying in a relationship for much longer than you should have because it’s safe.

Any doors that drive us crazy should be shut because they sap your energy away from the things that matter.

As it pertains to fitness, this principle means find new friends who support your healthy lifestyle goals. I need to be aware that keeping old doors open could be what is preventing you from reaching your goals.


Fulfilling Expectations

If there’s vinegar in your beer, do you want to know about it? My prediction is no, at least not until after you’ve already had it.

There was an experiment that Ariely described where they let subjects taste test two different beers: one normal, one with vinegar in it. They controlled everything except when they told the subjects about the vinegar.

If a subject was told there was vinegar in the beer they had just drank, they were more likely to enjoy it. But if told prior to drinking, they had already decided that vinegar would make the beer gross.

The most famous brand in the world

Similar research has been done comparing Coke and Pepsi: people like Coke more, but only if they know they’re drinking more. The Coca Cola brand makes the product taste better. The Coke drinkers who knew what they were drinking had more activation in an area of the brain, the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, that helps with associations among other things.

Drawing a correlate to fitness, this is a lot like the section on arousal. I want you to feel happy when you work out with me. So happy that you start to anticipate the happiness. I want it to be difficult for me to make you unhappy. I want to be the cue that triggers your habit to be happy.

Testimonials help this as well. As I’ve talked about before, this is social proof: “If it worked for other people, it can work for me.”



Instead of being wordy, I think one sentence from Ariely is a great summary of this book.

“Our irrational behaviors are neither random nor senseless—they are systematic and predictable.” (p. 239)

Pick up this book so you can learn to recognize these behaviors and use them to improve your results.

When was the last time you were irrational and should have seen it coming?

Book Review: The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

Rationale for reading: Hope to improve my ability to keep clients accountable. Recommendation from Zach Moore.

Book summary: Habits are initiated with a cue and reinforced with a reward. If you understand how habits are made, then you can adjust your behavior. Find the cue and reward for your habit, then change the routine.

Review summary: I initially listened to this book, and it was so good I picked up a hard copy as well. There are a lot of pieces of the book that I left out of this review. There are some great stories, especially the chapter about Target and the chapter about the gambler vs. the widower. Very user-friendly book with a plethora of citations in the back. Highly recommended.

Suggested audience: Anyone who interacts with people, especially if you coach them to change their habits.


Stuck in My Ways

In the past, every time I got hungry while I was at home, I would make some food and go lay down to watch TV while eating. This severely ate up my productivity (pun intended because I like them).

I could be on a mission to get things done. Wake up at 6AM, go downstairs and power through a book for hours. Maybe noon hits: “I need to refuel.”

Go eat: “Man that show is good. I better watch another.” And another. And another…

It’s hard to get out of a habit.

But once I recognized what was putting me into this loop, I was able to change. Now I can eat and go back to working. Charles Duhigg explains the process well in “The Power of Habit“, and I’m going to outline some key points for you.


How Habits Work

The habit loop

I talked about this a little in a post the other day over on the IFAST website, but habits work in a cycle of mostly predictable steps. A cue tells you to do something, then you are rewarded. The more you do this, the more ingrained it becomes.

How does it get stored? Well one of the older parts of our brain, the basal ganglia, takes care of that. Storing habits is easy to take for granted because they become innate – you just do them – but consider what would happen if you had to think every single time you did every single thing.

When you’re first learning to drive, you step in, adjust the seat, adjust the steering column, look to see where the lights are, look to see where the windshield wipers are, remember to press the brake before coming out of park, move your transmission because you accidentally shifted into neutral instead of reverse, completely stop at stop signs to make sure nobody is coming (hopefully you still do that), and stay in the right lane.

Now when you’re driving you jump in, start going as you’re closing the door, “slow down – look – we’re good” when you turn, lean your seat way back, loosen your grip on the steering wheel, listen to music, put on your makeup, eat a sandwich, and yell at the kids… all at the same time.

If every decision and observation we made was conscious, we would be less productive and easily overwhelmed. Our basal ganglia helps with that.

Thanks little guy!

People with a damaged basal ganglia get locked up when they try to do simple tasks like choosing a path for their morning walk or ordering lunch at a restaurant. They can’t read body language because they aren’t quite sure what they should focus on.

A caveat, however, is that the basal ganglia can’t distinguish between helpful and harmful habits. If you repeat it, it shall stick. But if you learn to observe the cues that trigger your behaviors and the rewards you receive – the driving force – you can begin to change habits.

Cue —> Routine —> Reward. Simple enough.

But that’s not the whole story.


How to Create New Habits

A cue and a reward are not enough to make a habit stick. Your brain also needs to crave that reward.

In exercise, the best example are people who start running. Usually they start on a whim because exercise is supposed to be good for you, but they continue because they crave that “runner’s high”. They like the way they feel and the person they become when their body releases endorphins (happy hormones). After a while, they start to anticipate this feeling and their brain gets excited. It gets easier and easier for them to reinforce this habit.

But what happens when they get stuck at work and can’t go for their run? They get irritable. (Though they would get less irritable than someone who’s routine is going for a smoke.)

If you want to create a habit, create a craving.


Why Transformation Occurs

The golden rule of habit change: You can’t extinguish a bad habit, you can only change it.

No amount of will can take away that pattern in your brain, but you can build over it. Use the same cue and reward to take advantage of the pattern you’ve built, but change the routine.

Lets set up an example.

  • Cue: Seeing a jelly donut.
  • Routine: Eating a jelly donut.
  • Reward: Sugar high.

Soon enough, seeing a jelly donut creates a craving for a sugar high.

What if when you got a craving for sweets, you first ate an apple? You may still have the sweets after, at least initially, but you’ve begun building a new habit. Physiologically, the sugar in the fruit mitigates your body’s desire for blood glucose – i.e. your blood sugar still elevates, but to a level that is less detrimental to your health and body composition goals. The next step would be to have a handful of veggies when you get a craving for sweets. Then maybe fruit if you need it. You still increase blood sugar and you still feel good after, but you don’t need as much as you did before. You’ve then used a habit to please your pancreas and fight off type II diabetes mellitus.

So replace the routine. Okay. That’s easy.

But that’s not it.

You have to take into consideration why you’re craving your reward in the first place. Consider people who unleash their inner alcoholic when a relative dies. You can replace drinking with a new routine, but when they’re next relative dies, relapse is inevitable. They NEED alcohol to medicate them because otherwise they can’t deal with the stress. Or, more specifically, they FEEL they need to be medicated.

But when an alcoholic goes to Alcoholics Anonymous, they see other people. They hear their stories. They think, “I’m just like this guy… and it worked for him. Maybe it can work for me.”

You need to instill the belief that change is possible. If you’re my client, I’m not going to let you assume you have to stay unhealthy. I’m going to find the bright spots and show you that change is possible.


Actionable Steps

Take out a piece of paper.

Choose a habit you want to change. Why do you want to change it? When does it happen? What is the cue that sparks this behavior? What reward do you crave? Write those down.

Draw out your own habit loop. A cue triggers a habit which leads to a reward which reinforces the loop.

Now what is going to be your replacement habit? Make sure it still gives you the reward you crave.

Draw your new habit loop. Make it bigger than the last one.

Do you believe you can change this habit? Why or why not? If alcoholics and gamblers can change, why can’t you?

What do you do around the time that you succumb to your bad habit? Is it at the end of the day when you’ve used up all of your willpower (see p. 137 in the book or this whole other book)? How can you avoid that moment of weakness?

You’ve got a great place to start from. Go make change.

This book is a staple in anyone’s library. Tell me your plan for habit change in the comments below.

P.S. Who do you know that wants to change a habit? Do me a favor and send this to them.

Book Review: Switch by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

Rationale for reading: Hope to improve my ability to keep clients accountable. Recommendation from Zach Moore.

Book summary: In order to make change happen, you must direct the rider, motivate the elephant, and shape the path. In not-shorthand language, that means you need to appeal to logic, emotion, and the environment.

Review summary: Great read with great information that has formed my framework for behavior change.

Suggested audience: Anyone who interacts with people, especially if you coach them to change their habits.



If you’ve been reading these past few reviews (one and two), you know by now that Operation Interpersonal Intelligence is in full effect over here at I read Made to Stick by the Heath brothers years ago and it was one of the best books I’ve read. Their writing is simple, direct, and fun.  Switch gives Made to Stick a run for its money.

You don’t need to be a PhD to be successful with changing the behavior of others. This book has given me the framework into which I can fit all of my experiences. It’s a system with three steps:

  1. Direct the Rider: give clear direction. The rider knows where we’re going.
  2. Motivate the Elephant: what looks like laziness is often exhaustion. The rider can only force you along for a short period of time. Ultimately, the elephant will do what it is emotionally inclined to do.
  3. Shape the Path: introduce the right environment for change. If backsliding is simply not an option, it won’t happen.


Direct the Rider

There a three pieces to providing the rider with direction. First, find the bright spots.

What would you do differently if you woke up tomorrow and magically your goal was accomplished?

Stop focusing on all the things you do wrong and start focusing on the bright spots. Focus on the solution, not the problem.

Second, script the critical moves. It’s to get crippled by some grand list of things you have to do before you die, which could be on Friday with the way your stress levels are:

  • Buy more vegetables
  • Buy healthy meat
  • Cook more vegetables
  • Find money to buy healthy meat
  • Eat more vegetables
  • Don’t go out to eat
  • Don’t have sweets
  • Don’t stay up all night
  • Don’t skip workouts

We can rephrase a few of those to be more productive – more solution focused – like we just talked about. But first we have to ask, “What is the biggest issue here?” If you try to change everything at once, you become paralyzed and make no decision.

If you, however, have never had a vegetable in your life, we start there. Week one goal: buy vegetables on Sunday and eat them on Tuesday and Friday night.

Sunday, Tuesday, and Friday are completely arbitrary, but they shed light on the fact that you must be specific. You must have a plan. Ambiguity is the enemy of change.

Third, point to the destination. Draw out a postcard of where you’ll be in three months (or six, twelve, etc.). You need a black and white goal. This quote from the book says it all:

“When you’re at the beginning, don’t obsess about the middle, because the middle is going to look different once you get there. Just look for a strong beginning and a strong ending and get moving.”

Every step does not need to be detailed, but you do need vision. Things will change and you will learn to ebb and flow. Worry about now.


Motivate the Elephant

To motivate the elephant, you need emotion, so find the feeling. This isn’t a problem for you because you’re reading this blog, but how do you find a feeling when someone is oblivious to the fact that they need to change? We all have positive illusions that make us think we’re more thoughtful the the average person or a better driver than the average person. How do we dispel these illusions without raining down negativity?

Create a crisis. Those famous trainers like the ones on The Biggest Loser know this. They know how to make people cry. It’s not about putting someone down, it’s about helping them.

There’s no more time for maybes. There’s now or never. And I will help you.

Positive feelings

It is so important, however, to avoid negative emotions (my feelings evidenced by my notes in the picture above). Crying because you’re ashamed of yourself is less beneficial than crying because you can see the way you want to become. I’m not going to say that shame is ineffective (I’m sure there’s research somewhere), but I would avoid it as much as possible. This is an area of further that I could afford researching further if anyone has any references to share.

Stick with positive emotions because they open you up, relax you, and give you confidence. I want you to be curious, not stubborn. Happy, not angry. Feel included, not excluded.

Next, you must shrink the change. Remember the Power of Less?

Even if you simply ask someone to drive to the gym is an acceptable goal for a certain population. Yes, that’s all they have to do. It seems remedial, but that’s a step in the right direction. They probably won’t just turn around, either, because the hard part of making the decision to go is already over.

Understand what the next action is. It’s not working out three times a week. It’s going to the gym. No, it’s having gas in the car. No, it’s getting into the car. No, it’s putting on clothes you can publicly sweat in.

Lastly, grow your people. Adopt a growth mindset. Expect failure. Welcome it. Everyone has failed. In fact, I would bet that the more successful you are, the more often you’ve failed. The key is to learn from it.

I've failed so much that once I saw success it was nothing to me but BLINDING.


Shape the Path

Shaping the path is all about making it easier to get to your goals and harder to backslide. Tweak the environment to aid in this. For example, if I need to get things done, I have a very specific set of things I do:

  • I go to my desk that doesn’t have electronics around it
  • I leave my phone face down or upstairs
  • I remove books from eyesight that don’t pertain to my current project
  • I put on music without comprehensible vocals (Explosions in the Sky or Sigur Ros)
  • I listen to this music with noise canceling headphones
  • I face a wall instead of a place where I can see people
  • Usually I consume caffeine
  • Any book I’m reading is propped up so it isn’t laying flat on the desk
  • I have a pen to follow words I read and write with
  • I have a highlighter or two
  • I have bookmark tabs so that I can come back to an important point I want to remember
  • I have a certain pen I use to write on these tabs
  • My feet are flat on the floor
  • I will alternate between sitting and standing
  • I start my day with resets to reposition my bones (my boss Bill Hartman has been using a mouthguard lately to do this)

Put these together and you have what I have found to be the best study environment. It’s easier to get to my goals and harder to backslide.

Now consider weight loss. If I want to stop eating ice cream, I can tweak the environment by removing all ice cream from my house. No more bored eating of desserts while I’m at home. If I go out to eat, I can remove temptation by going to a place that doesn’t have ice cream. Simple as that.

Next, you need to build habits. This is only a chapter in Switch, but Charles Duhigg wrote a whole book about it.

Find a trigger for your behavior. Mine for studying is waking up. I do it first thing in the morning. If you’re trying to eat better, maybe your trigger for cooking is going to the gym – as soon as you get home, you’re turning the stove on.

Lastly, it’s time to rally the herd. Surround yourself with like-minded people. If you’re trying to be happier, you better stop hanging out with your “friends” who put you down and complain about everything (or at least see them less). If you’re trying to be healthier, your husband better not be eating donuts every morning for breakfast in front of you. You are the product of your environment. There’s a great story about medical interns working long hours in the book and how they changed behavior in the hospital.



This is my new framework for change:

  1. Direct the Rider
    1. Follow the bright spots
    2. Script the critical moves
    3. Point to the destination
  2. Motivate the Elephant
    1. Follow the feeling
    2. Shrink the change
    3. Grow your people
  3. Shape the Path
    1. Tweak the environment
    2. Build habits
    3. Rally the herd

Change doesn’t happen overnight. Be sure to remind yourself throughout your journey of how far you’ve come. Think about the wins you’ve had, both big and small.

Change looks daunting in the beginning, but little wins make that change a little smaller every time. Inertia makes it hard to get rolling, but it also makes it easier to continue. Pick a goal, start small, and watch your success snowball.

Overall, this book is great. I highly recommend you pick up a copy and read all the stories. There’s even a great summary page at the end that I will be referencing in the future.

Anyone read it already? Leave your thoughts in the comments!

Book Review: Influence by Robert Cialdini

Rationale for reading: I have not read much on persuasion or sales. I thought this would help keep my training clientele accountable. Recommendation from Zach Moore.

Book summary: To influence others and to avoid being influenced when undesired, understand the psychological principles of reciprocation, commitment, consistency, social proof, liking, authority, and scarcity.

Review summary: I went suit shopping and saw this book unfold before my very eyes.

Suggested audience: Anyone who interacts with people, especially if you coach them to change their habits.


A few days after reading this book I went shopping for a suit. Without luck at the cheap places, my friend and I went to Men’s Wearhouse to browse and were immediately accosted by an attractive sales woman. As she began talking, I saw this book unfold.



The idea of this chapter is that if you do someone a favor, they feel obligated to reciprocate it, regardless of whether or not they even like you. Saleswoman Katie went after this right off the bat.

The conversation sounded something like…
Katie: “Hey, we have great suits. Let me show you this one.”
Lance: “Oh wow, this one is great. How much is it?”
Katie: “$800.”
Lance: “Haha, we better look at the cheaper stuff.”
Katie: “Okay, let me show you this $500 suit.”

I then proceeded to call her out on this tactic, which she performs subconsciously. It’s like it’s in her DNA.


Commitment and Consistency

Commitment and consistency are obtained when you have a prospect stick around for a longer duration of time. If I’ve committed more time to Katie, I will consistently come back to her for all of my suiting needs. The fact that we were there for hours is one part of it.

Another way to get commitment and consistency is by getting me to agree with anything.

She could ask if I like the $800 suit that I have on (obviously I do). She could ask if I’m enjoying my suit shopping experience. She could even ask if I am enjoying the nice weather! Getting me to commit in any way will help her chances of closing the sale.

Smile for the camera!




Social Proof

Social proof is fascinating to see in action. Like the time my school sent out reports that an unidentified man with a gun was on campus. One person says, “Meh, someone made it up,” and soon nobody thinks it’s a big deal. People just keep walking about. The effect snowballs.

In sales, a busy store gives social proof – especially when customers are asking her for advice. This store wasn’t particularly busy at this hour, so Katie was unable to obtain social proof in this way.

But there’s another way.

Katie, as a wardrobe consultant, values the clothes she wears. The principle of social proof suggests that we want to be like others. So in this case, when Katie talks about how she would “never wear something like that” or how I would “be the life of the party in this”, I am forced to think there must be something to her view and I start to think, “Well, if someone who dresses well thinks this would work, then I should buy this!”



Liking is probably the easiest and most straightforward of the principles from “Influence.”

If I like Katie, I’m more likely to buy from her. So she dresses up, makes me laugh, likes my friend, and matches my level of speech (i.e. she doesn’t swear until I start to swear). Even if what she’s asking of me is uninteresting, I might do it because she’s my friend.

Most of this factor is dependent on the individual and your ability to read them. Some people respond to playful joking, and others want you to be a professional.



The authority principle is what is in play when your boss asks you to do something. Or the reason you pick the guy with the doctorate over the guy with the master’s degree. With authority comes reassurance.

Katie demonstrated her authority by giving advice in a stern tone. “Don’t you ever wear this with any other set of pants. Ever. We record your address and I will hunt you down.” Her strong opinion reinforces to me that she knows what she’s talking about. Plus I feel the need to be obedient because I don’t want to let her down.

Everyone in the fitness industry is trying to have authority; there’s a sense of trust that accompanies the tagline “from a NY Times best selling author”. This says nothing about how good of a trainer he or she might actually be, but proving you’re qualified is necessary to reach customers.



Scarcity is a principle that must work well because I see it everywhere.

“Act NOW before this deal expires.”

With Katie, the sheer fact that there were only three suits in the building that fit my body displays the scarcity of the product. Finding more suits that fit me doesn’t lend well to this principle (then there’s just too many to choose from).

Katie mentioned that earlier in the day, she had a guy very close to my size come and wipe out the inventory. Later I find a suit I really like and I get worried that it will be gone if I don’t purchase immediately. However unlikely, it still could happen, and that thought weighs on a consumer’s mind.

This principle will be harder to incorporate with clientele in terms of getting them closer to their goals. Selling them on a group who’s signup period will end on a set date and who’s class size is limited will be a good way to make sure a potential client becomes an actual client. Without a signup, I cannot help someone, and buyer competition funnels in those who are more dedicated, giving us the best group possible.



So how am I going to use these to help others accomplish their goals? Let’s break it down.

  • Reciprocation: The best avenue I see to engage reciprocity is by putting out free material. Even if it’s my best stuff. You’re going to try on a suit before you buy it, right?
  • Commitment and Consistency: If you commit to my newsletter, I know that my message is more likely to reach you. I would like as many people on this list because it allows us to form a more personal connection. The site becomes more of an environment than a billboard.
  • Social proof: I want you to know that your friends are here and they like being here. This is the reason that I want the site to be a community; communities stick together and help each other.
  • Liking: I try to be an interesting person – mostly just because then I am more happy. Not everyone will like you, but I’ll be the best me I can be!
  • Authority: Getting results and writing other places will be my next step here. Per the suggestion by an IFAST client, we may be getting shirts that say, “Lance is my boss.” If you want to get on the pre-order list, send me an email (
  • Scarcity: There’s only so much I can get done in my waking hours. If you want to ensure your spot, act now. Putting it off to tomorrow means you’ll never do it.

Understand that none of these factors were enough to make me purchase because I was not brought up as a high roller, but I could literally feel the energy in the room changing. I would have never even amused the idea of a $500 suit if left to my own devices. I would say this means Katie wants a better lead than someone like me, but it could speak to the efficacy of the principles presented in the book.

Pick up a copy of “Influence” here.

Book Review: The Power of Less by Leo Babauta

Rationale for reading: I try to make people do too many things when coaching. Recommendation from Zach Moore.

Book summary: Do less. Decide what is truly important and focus on that.

Review summary: I think the cover is kind of dumb (less, I get it, but come on), but the contents are good. Reads quickly, kind of like a blog post.

Suggested audience: Good if you feel constantly overwhelmed. Really helps cut out the unessential parts of your life. Also useful if you need to understand human behavior.



Last summer I decided I wanted to write more effectively. One thing that I read has really resonated with me since then is that editing is what represents writing. Getting the initial story down is easy. What is harder is cutting your 4000 words down to 2000.

And then what’s really hard is cutting those 2000 down to 1000. More often than not, that’s all you need to convey your message.

I was reminded of this as I read The Power of Less by Leo Babauta. Consider a haiku: seventeen syllables. That’s it. Imagine how intimidating that is if you have something important to say.

The lesson of the book, however, is that you can do a lot with a little. In fact, you can do more than usual.


The Power of It

Setting limitations allows you to focus on your most important tasks.

What do you have to do this month? Think about it for a second.

  • Drop my classes.
  • Set up an eye appointment.
  • Set up a dentist appointment.
  • Cover shifts at work for Jae.
  • Read six books on psychology.
  • Listen to two other books on psychology.
  • Remember everything I read.
  • Get into a new exercise routine.
  • Bring the new interns up to speed on IFAST methodology.
  • Return movies to the library.
  • Find a part-time job.
  • Write three blog posts this week.
  • Clean my coffee cup.
  • Make eggs.
  • Keep girlfriend from killing me.

If you look at everything you have to do simultaneously, what happens? You become paralyzed and nothing gets done.

Instead, break it down. What are my three most important tasks? These are my big projects. Which one will I work on today? What am I going to do today to work towards finishing it?

So now even if I only get a small piece done, I’ve made progress. And small progressions accumulate over time to form large progress. Plus I have goals that will get me somewhere and I stop wasting my time on busywork.


Examples in Fitness

Think about it in terms of your diet. How many people do you see with New Year’s weight loss resolutions who don’t even drive to the gym once during the month of February? All they can see is this distant, grand goal. Then they hit play on their internal script:

“Oh, that will never be me.”

Then, instantaneously, it’s over.

When instead they could set the goal of making it into the gym once in the first week. Twice in the second week. Then cook once in the third week. Twice in the fourth week…

There are a lot of weeks in a year.

This is hard, though. It’s hard to know what goals to set when there’s misinformation everywhere. That’s why I recommend getting a trainer, preferably one who considers your uniqueness. If you skip a workout, you not only let yourself down, but you’re letting down someone else as well. This type of accountability is worth its weight in gold.

If you find yourself feeling constantly overwhelmed, pick up this book. It’s a quick read, I went through it in an hour or two on Sunday because I was already familiar with the topic.

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