Want to do a fun exercise?
Pick three of your top 3 skills.
Maybe it's programming, understanding systems, and playing guitar.
Maybe it's writing, connecting with people, and throwing great parties.
Maybe it's throwing great events, making people feel fantastic, and having a great eye for aesthetics.
Or managing people, ensuring followthrough, and persisting until things get done.
Whatever they are, do you have 3 of them?
They don't have to be your very best 3. Any 3 will do.
Now, what would you rank yourself 1 to 10 on those skills?
Got it yet? 7, 8, 9? 10?
Most people, if they're not being excessively modest, will rank themselves pretty highly on their top skills.
Now instead, imagine there's a "1 to 10,000" scale, where "10,000" is everything you could possibly know about the topic.
Regardless of how good you are, you can always and easily pick up more points on a 1 to 10,000 scale...
...so, go back and rank yourself now, 1 to 10,000, on those top skills of yours.
It's different, huh?
It's very easily possible to rank yourself "8 out of 10" in a skill -- but then, upon reflection, notice you maybe only would have "1,500 out of a possible 10,000" in that area.
1 to 10 scales obsolete themselves pretty quickly once you get a basic proficiency. You can go from a "2" to an "8" in money management, negotiating, fitness, communication, throwing great meetings, getting organized, or any domain-specific or precise skill pretty quickly. A year or two, at most.
But that only means you went from "100 points out of 10,000" to maybe "1,000 points out of 10,000"... expertise opens up more and more, higher and higher levels, of more and more intriguing and interesting ways to develop your skills.
Once a person gets over, say, 5,000 out of 10,000 -- if that ever happens to you, because it'd reflect a huge amount of mastery -- it would become hard for the lay person to even differentiate between the skill and ability of anyone up there.
So you might have a "9.5 out of 10" or even a "10 out of 10" in the minds of the general public, but you could still pick up tons of interesting little ways to think about things, do things, new mental models, new historical references, and literally hundreds or thousands of other ways to improve.
Rankings have some usefulness, so you can chart progress and mentally size yourself up. We don't have infinite time, and most likely you want to get good at least a half-dozen different skilled areas to build the life you want.
But a "1 to 10" scale is incredibly limiting -- it stops catching fine-grained differences right as soon as the game gets really interesting.
So, on a scale of 1 to 10,000... where are you at in your best skills? Where do you want to get?
Knowing when to STOP developing a skill is vital if one's goal is to become a generalist. A decathlete can't afford working solely on his javelin throw all year long... he has 9 other sports to get good at!
Of course, for the 1-sport performer, obsession is the name of the game.
The 1-10 scale should be thought of as logarithmic, ie the gaps between numbers get bigger. Getting from 7 to 8 is way easier than going from 9 to 10.
But I agree that 10000 points leaves more granularity for visualizing it.
I would agree about diminishing returns the higher up you go, it can be especially noticeable if you have a monetary interest in improving the skill. Do you have to know everything there is to know about your skill? No, you just have to know more than the pack. Once you are a top level (your specialty here) then the highest and best use of your time may be to develop complementary skills instead of trying to go higher if you are already higher than most. Diversification would bring higher returns on your time an effort in most cases.
I refer to the classic bear joke:
Two hikers are enjoying a beautiful sunset in a national park. Suddenly they hear a crashing noise in the bushes and spot a huge brown bear just yards away from where they are standing. The first hiker panics, the bear is pissed, attack is imminent!
The second hiker calmly sits on a rock, takes some running shoes from his pack and starts lacing them up.
His partner laughs at him despite the seriousness of the situation.
"Man, you're crazy! You can't outrun that bear!"
The second hiker smiles as he gets back on his feet.
"I don't have to outrun the bear, I just have to outrun YOU!"
Professional downhill mountain cyclist Steve Peat once said: "Sometimes, when you're at the top of your game, these little one percents make all the difference."
I have a friend who has two things in his life: mathematical physics and strongman competitions (lifting rocks, pressing huge logs overhead, that kind of thing). I am in awe at the subtleties in improvement he seeks out. He prepares meticulously for competition and optimizes everything. He studies the strengths and weaknesses of his competition so he knows exactly which events he needs to crush and which ones will be easy-peasy.
I don't have so much insight into his academic career but I do know he has a similar mindset there.
I am quite different from him: he is a surgeon holding a laser, I am more like a manager of a fleet of dumptrucks.
Don't you think the returns diminish at some point? Obviously it depends on the skill and how important it is to your goals, but I've often made the conscious decision to stop focusing on a particular skill so intensively at an 8/10 (even if that only represents a 500/10000) because the extra effort to make that jump from an 8 to 9 is about equal to the effort to build an entirely new skill up to an 8.
Yes, it diminishes. That's why specialists are so great at what they do - they can afford to spend all of their time eking out ever-smaller chunks of improvements.
For generalists in spe like myself, the name of the game is to determine how much to bite off in a certain domain, and then keep every other skill balanced at the same time. I may never be a 10 in fitness, business, social/sexual, art, personal development, and logistics, but I DO have a shot at getting to 9 in each if I manage my time well.
I haven't necessarily thought about this concept in terms of numbers, but I have felt this way about my foreign language skills.
In the two languages I've seriously pursued (Japanese and Korean), I've hit a point where it feels like I'm at the top of the kindergarten class. Where I'm better than most ex-pats I run into, but then there are those other guys who are like, actually really good at communicating in the language.
In both cases, I hit that wall for different reasons (which I won't bore you with here.) Though perhaps instead of a wall, it'd be better to call it a really steep hill. With Korean, my desire to ascend that slope is close to zero; with Japanese...well, I might get there some day. We shall see.
> In both cases, I hit that wall for different reasons (which I won't bore you with here.) Though perhaps instead of a wall, it'd be better to call it a really steep hill.
Actually, I'd love to hear why you hit the wall / steep hill. Would be interesting if you have a moment.
A "brief" overview:
Japanese - I took years of classes. They didn't help me. I sucked at Japanese. My grades were okay, but I was consistently the worst speaker in my classes. Then I went to Japan, where it finally struck me that the language was "real," and not just homework/tests. That opened my eyes. I made a lot of progress, even once I returned to the U.S. from Japan, mostly by watching lots of Japanese TV and reading manga. My studies were going well. I planned to go back to Japan. Then my plans to return fell through, and I stopped studying. End of story.
In short, my experience with Japanese was a lot of failure, followed by some promising success, until "life got in the way." Maybe I would've hit another wall (as I eventually did in Korean - see below), or maybe I'll pick the language up again later and continue on my journey.
In any case, in August 2009, I found myself in Korea.
Korean - I applied the lessons from Japanese experience to Korean. From day one, I watched TV shows, tried reading books, and soon started sending text messages in Korean. The texting was fun... difficult but fun. When I hardly knew anything, it felt like I was decoding a puzzle, and then somehow recombining the puzzle pieces to make my own message. In any case, I never took any classes, yet I was doing better than my friends who took classes. Things were going well.
Then, I discovered the "steep hill." I was doing okay with day to day stuff, but I realized that if I wanted to get serious about Korean, I'd have to start watching the news, reading "serious" books, and really throw myself into the culture.
Simply put, that didn't appeal to me. I didn't like the culture enough to keep up my studies, and I since I didn't plan to live in Korea forever, I didn't see much practical use in speaking Korean. So, I just gave up, sometime during my third (and final) year in Korea. Obviously I kept using what I knew, but I made no effort to expand my knowledge.
Also, most of the younger Koreans I associated with spoke English quite well. And if I wanted to find work as a bilingual English/Korean speaker, I realized I'd have a whole lot of competition from native Koreans. (Of note: This isn't the case in Japan. Many of my friends there didn't speak English well, and Japanese companies seem much more willing to "outsource" their English to native English speakers.)
I still think I could become a solid Korean speaker, but why climb that steep hill if I didn't like what I saw on the top? The value just isn't there, as far as I'm concerned.
(This isn't to stop anyone else from trying. If Korean is your thing, go for it. It can be done!)
So, Korean is essentially dead to me. Japanese has been "on hold" for years, and I can't say for sure if I'll ever get back to it.
Only time will tell.
(I wanted to keep this brief, but it kept growing longer and longer. I have plans to write about this topic on my blog; I'll make sure the narrative is more coherent when I do.)
Whenever I'm trying to make a certain amount of money, I draw a variation of this table -
1 x 1,000,000 10 x 100,000 100 x 10,000 1,000 x 1,000 10,000 x 100 100,000 x 10 1,000,000 x 1
Where's the easiest place to hit on the chart? Depends on your skills, your industry, lots of things. But you start noticing interesting trends.
I reckon the $10,000 and $100,000 part of the spectrum is the one most overlooked today... five $100,000 contracts is $500,000.
But again, depends on your skills. A million sales of $1 apps isn't so crazy either.
Big props to the Vator team for putting on a great, intimate Gamification conference in Berkeley today. I captured some of the content, with my (chicken-scratch) notes below each video.
Michael Wu, Chief Scientist, Lithium Techologies: Michael's keynote was fantastic. He crammed a 2 hour workshop into a 45 minute presentation, so there was a lot of theory to digest in the video.
My notes from Michael's talk: (not necessarily super coherent)
Big props to the Vator team for putting on a great, intimate Gamification conference in Berkeley today. I captured some of the content, with my (chicken-scratch) notes below each video. Michael Wu, Chief Scientist, Lithium Techologies: Michael's keynote was fantastic. He crammed a 2 hour workshop into a 45 minute presentation, so there was a lot of theory to digest in the video. > My notes from Michael's talk: (not necessarily super coherent) Social = connection but gamification = interaction. While connection is huge as evidenced by Facebook, interaction is what builds loyal relationships. Gamification is created on top of connections. Connection = baseline framework. The latent value of a connection (fan/friend) is the potential to interact. 3 most common commercial uses of gamification: Deepen engagement, sustain loyalty, onboard new users... many more in non-business use (government, education) What powers the magic behind gamification: The Fogg Behavior Model = 3 things that drive human psychology: Motivation Ability Trigger Gamification = temporal convergence of the these 3 things. Must drive users above an activation threshold before triggering them. In more detail: Discussing motivation: What motivates people: Maslow's hierarchy of needs is what motivates people: Physical / Safety / Belonging / Esteem / Self-Actualization. All social cohesion happens in "belonging" stage. Game mechanics happen in "Esteem" stage. Gamification = primal to the human psyche. The self-actualization stage = "being stage" -- things like self sufficiency... goodness... completeness... autonomy... mastery... purpose... Game mechanics can be applied here as well. Watson & Skinner say human behaviors are learned through conditioning... for example, assigning "points" for what works to reinforce behavior. But points by themselves have no value. The proper use of points depends on the reward schedule. Drive different human behavior by providing different reward schedules, like: Variable Ratio (VR): This is what guides game addiction. The "wildcard" where the user never knows exactly how many points are going to be distributed, and when. Variable Interval (VI): Is same point amounts but on varying schedules. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi: Psychology of Flow = forget about physical feelings (hunger, sleep), passage of time, ego... it's HARD to get users to this state. To do so, the skill has to match the challenge. If the challenge is too hard, people get anxiety, if too easy, people get bored. Flow = fine line between certainty and uncertainty. Too much control = boring. Too challenging = frustrating. Very hard to please all users and get them into "Flow". Over time people acquire more skill, so even if they're in the "Flow" at one point in time, they will fall out of it over time as they get better. Developer must have variable, ongoing control over how hard the gameification mechanics are to keep the user in Flow. (or the right algorithms to do so automatically) Moving onto Ability: Ability DNE skill. Ability = measure of access to resources at the moment when the user needs to perform the behavior. Resource types = 1) effort (physical, mental), 2) scarce (time, money, authority/permission, attention), 3) Adaptability (capacity to break norms) Ability is context dependent... access to resources above is different for everyone. Example he just gave: Everyone in the room has the skill to send a tweet. But Michael (presenting) does not have the ability to tweet because he's giving a presentation (he's lost access to time and attention resources above, because he's presenting). 2 perspectives on ability: Think about it from a task perspective, not a user perspective. Task perspective = focus on simplicity -- on perceived ability by user to do that task. Another example: Do it the "hard way" by training the user to have more ability (user perspective), or the "easy way" by making the task simpler (task perspective). Example he gives is publishing video: Anyone could do it before, but YouTube made it seem easy, so now many more people do it. Other examples are progress bars (90% done, you feel like it's easier... divide & conquer... ) Last factor: Trigger Trigger = anything that asks the user to perform a behavior right now. User must be aware of trigger and must understand what the trigger means. Why are triggers necessary? Some reasons: User is unaware of his ability... user does not know when to do something... user may be distracted... user may question his motivation... good triggers break these routines and reassure user's motivation and bring to user's attention how easy the task is. Trigger is all about timing. There are a lot of bad triggers out there: For example, spam mail. Bad trigger because spam arrives at a time when we don't have the ability (i.e., bad timing). "Cancun vacation" spam email ... user does not have motivation or ability to act on it. Different types of triggers: Spark trigger: User has ability but is not motivated. Facilitator trigger: User is motivated but does not have ability (often used with progress bar to create anticipation as user improves towards his goal) Trigger effectiveness also depends on "gamer archetype"... creator of Dungeons & Dragons created this. Says all men created in image of 4 types: Achiever, Explorer, Killer, Socializer. Look at these 4 types: Killer: Less than 1% of population. Highly competitive. How to trigger: Challenge them. Foursquare does this well: "You've been ousted as mayor". Socializer: 80% of population: Opposite of Killer -- hate confrontation. Value relationship & followers. Best way to trigger = show that their friends are doing it. Achiever: 10% of population: Aspire to be killer but can never beat them. Triggered by status increase. Explorer: 10% of population. Driven by discovery & uniqueness of their contributions. Hate time & space constraints. Trigger by calling on their unique skill (you are the only one with this skill). ===== END of 3 points description ==== Beware of moral hazard of game play: Skinnerian operant conditioning: The reward can become learned & become the motivator instead of the behavior. Example: gamify flossing -- reward with perks, like a toy: kids will floss, but for the wrong reasons... you won't be able to keep up... then they lose all motivation to perform the desired task. The overjustification effect: Rewarding people with extrinsic rewards will actually decrease a person's intrinsic motivation for the gamified behavior. If your kid hates to do math, don't reward them with $5 to do math, because they will hate it over time (yes he says this is counter intuitive). Most commercial gamification uses perks & cash... can get expensive after a while. Points & badges works on much larger scale (they're free). BUT the problem is all of these are extrinsic rewards; won't keep working in long run. There are 2 sustainable gamification strategies. Bad news: Gamification is NOT sustainable by itself in the long run Good news: Gamification is GREAT to get someone started on something... creating new habit... but there must be an intrinsic value beyond the gamification. Gamification becomes secondary over time. Gamify = start & reinforce behavior. ... which means: Gamification is great for onboarding. Other option: figure out someone's intrinsic motivation through gamification (like a testing framework) and then focus on the user's intrinsic value. So to sum up: 1) Make gamification work long enough for user to realize intrinsic value 2) Make gamification work long enough for the system to identify user's intrinsic value Some examples of gamification: Speed Camera Lottery: Like a regular speed camera; takes pics of speeders... BUT also takes pics of drivers obeying the speed limit, and some of the $$$ collected is paid out to safe drivers. Trigger type: Spark Result: It worked very well by changing user's behavior long-term: average speed dropped from 32mph to 25mph in 25mph zone Gap gamify store check-in: Gap free jeans giveaway event: User checks in at Gap store to win a pair of jeans (giving 10,000 away) Trigger type: "Ends today" Result: Moral hazard here, because once the 10,000 pairs are gone, user stops checking in. There is no resulting intrinsic value for the user past the prize. An evaluative framework + a design paradigm for gamification: Motivate user with positive (not negative) behavior Increase the user's ability by simplyfing the behavior of the task being gamified Place the proper trigger at the right time Gamification is iterative -- start at the 3rd point and iterate up. I.e. start by placing a trigger... then try to make the task simpler... then try to motivate user differently. Gamification is very data intensive: You need deep behavior metrics & analytics, for example to track players you need to be able to track their behavior... you need feedback data to iterate on the game. Other takeaways: Gamification of work DNE mixing games with work. Don't confuse the two. Ranjith Kumaran, Founder, PunchTab > My notes from Ranjith's talk: (not necessarily super coherent) Session by Ranjith Kumaran, founder of PunchTab.com and co-founder of YouSendIt.com Monthly Metrics from PunchTab.com: 18 out of 10,000 users will actively 'like' something on Facebook. Gamify on FB = 157 out of 10,000. 1 in 10,000 are active on Google+. Gamify on G+ = 9 in 10,000 UGC is really tough: Comment threads are fairly active... 32 out of 10,000 will actively comment once/month. Game-enable = triple it -- 70 to 80 out of 10,000 Sharing activity on twitter = 3x that of Facebook (similar to what Komal found) This speaker's main point: Player should be able to play passively -- for example, gamification happens when user is doing something else. Example in our case would be that user accumulates points by taking a social action in an app, or by reading content in an app. "Just by showing up you get a little bit of social currency." ... that gets users into the system. Over time users realize they have a lot of 'social currency' locked up in a system when they've been gaining it passively, then over time they start making incremental choices to increase that social currency -- i.e., once they have a big # of points, then they care more about increasing it. "Make it real within 30 days" --> ideally within first 17 days have the user take an action that gets them personally invested: unlock a badge, for example. Then the user becomes aspirational. The takeaway: Give users points for doing stuff they're going to do anyway to get them onboard, and then make sure they know how many points they've accumulated. Jonny Shaw, Founder, NakedPlay.co and Chethan Ramachandran, Co-Founder and CEO, Playnomics > My notes from Jonny & Chethan's talk: (not necessarily coherent) Taking gamification to the next level (past badges): Personalized play... To unlock big brand and advertiser budgets, we need a new type of strategic framework. Richard Bartle created the "Killers/Achievers/Socializers/Explorers" types of players... these speakers argue that these 4 categories are no longer relevant. These speakers have created a new framework for gamification that's built around social & mobile, where casual play is much more pronounced: Horizontal axis of new framework: Pleasure -- why do people play? Pursuing pleasure -- "proactive" or "reactive" Are users seeking pleasure, or are they more likely to react to pleasurable experiences. Vertical axis of new framework: Intuitive vs. Diligent . Do you strategize & think, or do you use reflex & instinct. Third axis = smaller circle inside the larger circle: Solus vs. Social Use this framework to define 8 fundamental types of players: Outer ring: Top left: Scientist: Trying new things and intuitively applying learnings, i.e., Cut the Rope game Top right: Habitualist: Seek repetitive pleasure feedback. (I.e., gambling slots game). Overindulgent & spontaneous. Much of gamification today is at this level. Bottom left: Strategist: Control environment to suit skills. Keeping self in check. I.e., Minecraft. Bottom right: Soloist: Detached security & controlled environments... classic motivation of single player puzzle games. I.e., Drop7 game. Inner ring: Top left: Politician: Trying to get ahead by intuitively adapting to people. Huge oppty for more to be built in this area. I.e., Chore wars Top right: Socialite: Connecting people at all costs. Getting a fix out of other people. Draw something = tip of iceberg of this type of game. All about being intuitive, reactive & social. Bottom left: Competitor: Gaining respect; beating the other guy. Control & power. I.e, Words With Friends Bottom right: Collectivist: Follow social norms with badges & uniforms. Heart & soul of gamification at the moment. I.e., Foursquare. Takeaway: Adaptive play, personalization, customization... if you know the core behaviors & personalities you want to speak to, you can start creating environments for the users... For example, a frequent flyer program that changes based on risk appetites -- you can gamble all your points for that elusive first class upgrade... but you might lose all your points. Explaning Gamification: Take the humble, old-school crossword: The best gamification platform of all time. The best loyalty program of all time. (People bought the paper for the crossword puzzle... came back the next day to see the answers). It didn't have any badges... no gimmicks... yet created 30 year loyal buyers of the NY Times. "People like playing games more than people like collecting badges"On Maslow again: 20th century did well with "Esteem" -- expensive cars, luxury goods, etc... but 21st century & future of marketing is around self actualization: and game play fits into that. Panel of Gamification Experts: >