Surely one of the best ways to generate motivation in ourselves and others is by dangling rewards?

Yet psychologists have long known that rewards are overrated. The carrot, of carrot-and-stick fame, is not as effective as we’ve been led to believe. Rewards work under some circumstances but sometimes they backfire. Spectacularly.

Here is a story about preschool children with much to teach all ages about the strange effects that rewards have on our motivation.

I guess the first question is why, why has one style swept across the web design world and been implemented across so many websites? I’ve thought and thought about this and never really come up with a single answer. Initially I looked at the huge theme market that exists where creators sell their themes to any number of customers. The theme market is massive, and as a result creators mimic the best selling work in an effort to make more money. You’re not going to make a lot of money in the theme market by going out on a limb and creating something incredibly unique and personalised. Generic wins out every time.

What is it about walking, in particular, that makes it so amenable to thinking and writing? The answer begins with changes to our chemistry. When we go for a walk, the heart pumps faster, circulating more blood and oxygen not just to the muscles but to all the organs—including the brain. Many experiments have shown that after or during exercise, even very mild exertion, people perform better on tests of memory and attention. Walking on a regular basis also promotes new connections between brain cells, staves off the usual withering of brain tissue that comes with age, increases the volume of the hippocampus (a brain region crucial for memory), and elevates levels of molecules that both stimulate the growth of new neurons and transmit messages between them.

, which Wald saw instantly, was that the holes showed where the planes were strongest. The holes showed where a bomber could be shot and still survive the flight home, Wald explained. After all, here they were, holes and all. It was the planes that weren’t there that needed extra protection, and they had needed it in places that these planes had not. The holes in the surviving planes actually revealed the locations that needed the least additional armor. Look at where the survivors are unharmed, he said, and that’s where these bombers are most vulnerable; that’s where the planes that didn’t make it back were hit.

We work a 4-day week (M-Th, 9-6) because we think that information work isn’t like manufacturing. Another hour at the MacBook won’t yield another $1,000 in profit. We believe that smart folks can get five days of work done in four days. Simple as that.

If you’re going to force me to learn something, hand me a book. Or an article. A blog, a Twitter feed. A cable subscription. PBS—really! Anything else! § Not some richly paid, self-satisfied douchebag sashaying in a headset, backed by meh-tacular slides, and ogled by the well-heeled. Seriously? That’s one fucking awful method of delivery.

It’s as if someone were out there making up pointless jobs just for the sake of keeping us all working. And here, precisely, lies the mystery. In capitalism, this is precisely what is not supposed to happen. Sure, in the old inefficient socialist states like the Soviet Union, where employment was considered both a right and a sacred duty, the system made up as many jobs as they had to (this is why in Soviet department stores it took three clerks to sell a piece of meat). But, of course, this is the sort of very problem market competition is supposed to fix. According to economic theory, at least, the last thing a profit-seeking firm is going to do is shell out money to workers they don’t really need to employ. Still, somehow, it happens.

Having been through multiple launches, seen companies launch at big conferences, and talked with many startups that have experienced the same effect, what I recommend – and what we’re doing at Origami - is not launching at all. Take the word launch out of your vocabulary – it’s a sign that you are gambling on your app and not building a long-term, sustainable company. Instead, put your sign-up page up or your app out because you need more feedback on your idea. Find an audience of passionate users, even if small, and reach out to their community through appropriate means. Try SEM and Facebook ads to find a target market. Experiment with business models and onboarding flows. Let the press come to you because they love what you’ve made.

Innovation may slow at public companies because IPOs trigger “brain drain” as employees cash in their holdings, the study suggests. By tracking about 13,000 of the inventors named in patent filings, Bernstein found that they were 18% more likely to leave after a company went public. Meanwhile, those who stayed behind produced inventions that were less valuable than before, receiving on average 48% fewer citations per patent.

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