Have you ever heard of the marshmallow experiment? It’s a powerful example of how delayed gratification can be more powerful. In this episode, Alex Mandossian goes even further by relaying how those kids from the marshmallow experiment fared later on in life. He teaches us how compounding can be one of the greatest forces in nature. Keep in mind that small actions consistently done produce extraordinary results. Ask yourself, are you a marshmallow eater?
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Power of Delayed Gratification
In this episode, you’ll discover how to sell with instant gratification but how to grow with delayed gratification. You’ll also learn why compounding is the most powerful force in nature and in business. The nature of compounding is delay. Third, you’ll learn how to get instant gratification from your daily routine, so that you can reach momentum and not be bored because of the power of compounding and delayed gratification.
I will start with another story as I always do. This one is called the Marshmallow Experiment. Even if you’ve heard it, see if you can spot some new distinctions. Many years ago, a large group of four-year-olds was led into a room all at the same time. This room looked like a classroom, but it was equipped with a two-way mirror where the researchers would be on the other side and what the kids could see was only a mirror.
Each child was seated and given a marshmallow. The marshmallow was put right in front of each child. The instructions were, “You can eat the marshmallow right now if you want, but if you wait until I come back to eat your marshmallow, I’ll give you a second marshmallow to go with it.” The giver of marshmallows left the room and all the children were alone looking at each other. It’s amazing but there were no other instructions given.
You can imagine what’s going through the minds of these four-year-olds. We’re looking at the power of delayed gratification. That power is powerful on the outer game, but with the inner game, it could be excruciatingly painful. Not only as a four-year-old but as you grow up through adulthood, wouldn’t you agree?
Is there anything you think we could learn from this test? What was the study looking for? Could it tell us anything about those children’s future? That was the purpose. Let’s see the results.
After all was said and done, about a third of these kids ate the marshmallow immediately. As soon as the adult left the room, that marshmallow was going down the drain. One-third of the kids held out for a short time but then they couldn’t take it anymore. You can see the perspiration coming down their forehead. They ate the marshmallow before the adult came back into the room which was a researcher.
The final third waited about fifteen to twenty minutes until the person who was giving the marshmallows returned, as promised. They gave a second marshmallow to that child. You can imagine the smile on those children’s faces. What the study didn’t measure is if any of the kids who got the second marshmallow gave their marshmallow to one of the kids who ate their marshmallow. That would have probably studied the art and science of codependency.
I do have a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. I would have loved to have seen that final experiment go in that direction, but it didn’t. Sometimes little things can make a big difference. Little indicators can have a valuable and big impact. You and I both know that delayed gratification is not easy, but delayed gratification is what nature is all about. It’s what business is all about.
Bill Gates was once known for saying that in the beginning, he would put a thousand parts or a thousand units into his business. With those thousand inputs, you get one output. He was sleeping under his desk and times were tough. He wasn’t poor. He came from a wealthy family as a Harvard dropout. He was working hard and he wasn’t getting much results. Eventually, he would put in one unit and get ten million output units. That’s delayed gratification.
[bctt tweet=”Seeding through storytelling is the new selling.” username=”AlexMandossian”]
An acorn falls from an oak tree. It somehow implants itself into the soil. Over time, that little acorn takes root. A trunk grows and branches, leaves, and other acorns follow. There’s delayed gratification. It’s the same with watermelon. The same with human beings, about 40 weeks. Dad released you, mom received you. Whether you get along with them or not, or if you ever knew them.
As you came out, you were born a winner because you beat nearly a billion other competitors and you got in unless you’re a twin or a triplet. Nature rewards delayed gratification but delayed gratification is not fun. Let’s fast forward because I think the study is important. It’s one of my favorites to reference. You can have a lot of fun with the whole marshmallow analogy once you know the story.
They started at four so fourteen years later, they’re eighteen. They’re young adults. Each of the original 216 children were located. That’s a miracle in and of itself that all were alive. Nothing happened to them. What a blessing. Of the 216, they looked at who ate the marshmallow and who didn’t. Remember, one third did not eat the marshmallow and they got a second one.
Those who did not eat the marshmallow, those people scored an average of 210 points higher on their SATs, 610 verbal and 652 math. Versus the average of the people who did eat the marshmallow, 524 verbal and 528 math.
If you live outside North America, the SAT is a test that all high schoolers take. They’ve taken it for many years. It’s a score that the kids get in order to be assessed by colleges. Their grades are not the only assessment.
The SAT score is also another form of assessment. There are athletics and other forms of scholarship. At age 40, we fast forward 36 years. The group who didn’t eat their marshmallows had more successful marriages, had higher incomes, and greater career satisfaction. They had better health than the ones who did eat the marshmallow. Does that mean that there’s power in delayed gratification?
I can’t say for sure, but I know that it can’t hurt to have delayed gratification and make that your expectation as you ascend that mountain of prosperity, wealth, or whatever your aim is. My question is, what type of entrepreneur or business owner are you? Are you the one who eats the marshmallow instantly for instant gratification and is oriented for the here and now, and doesn’t put any time aside in order to get more?
Are you the one who waits, delays, and is ultimately oriented for the future and willing to sacrifice short-term profit in exchange for long-term wealth? Stockpiling food and water to honor a natural disaster such as states in Florida, those are non-marshmallow eaters. The marshmallow eaters don’t stockpile. When the hurricane comes, and the hurricanes come every season. Some are worse than others.
They’re in big trouble because there’s no water to drink. There’s no food to eat because the stores have shut down. There’s no electricity. Having and embracing delayed gratification can save lives. I store water. I’m not one of these people who store food. I have about two weeks’ worth of food in my home. I don’t know if I’m a marshmallow eater or not.
I probably would have eaten the marshmallow at age four, but at age 54, I wouldn’t because I know all about the study. The point here is that little actions consistently done produce extraordinary results. The marshmallow experiment measured the power of delayed gratification, which is the topic of this episode. It mimics nature. The acorn that turns into the oak tree. It doesn’t happen overnight. The watermelon seed that turns into the watermelon.
The bamboo shoot that takes three years before it shoots out of the earth. It shoots quickly nearly six inches every week. Human beings, you and me, 38 to 42 weeks. That’s delayed gratification.
The key question is, with delayed gratification is that a skill you can teach your kids? I think it is. It takes a lot of training. They don’t teach it to you in school. The reason I’m bringing it up is delayed gratification is a learnable skill if you pin your hopes and you focus on other things.
If you pin your hopes on certain things, then you want instant gratification because you’re focusing it on the instant. If you’re enjoying the journey and the actions that you’re taking especially if they don’t work such as market testing. You try something and it doesn’t work, you’re not disappointed. You get excited because as Thomas Edison realized it’s one more way not to invent the light bulb.
Here’s the irony. I teach sales and marketing to coaches, consultants, and service professionals who don’t like to sell. That’s the premise and that’s the purpose of this show. I’m assuming that’s why you’re reading.
I hope you refer more people to read because there are more people who hate to sell than there are people who love to sell. I love to sell because the sale is always made. If you make the sale, you win a customer. If the prospect makes the sale, then you accept their objection. That originally didn’t come from me. It comes from a good friend of mine, Jeffrey Gitomer, who is a genius and prolific writer.
For me, the mantra for this episode is that seeding through storytelling is the new selling. The way I delay my gratification is I love seeding. I take a little hammer, metaphorically, and I’m tapping a rock. I tap and then on the 108th gentle tap, I close the sale. The rock splits open. I win the heart. The heart opens. I enjoy that process of seeding.
I don’t focus on the clothes. I don’t focus on the sale. I have a mantra that I constantly say to myself. I shared it with my son Gabriel. He is waiting for recruiters to contact him for college. He’s a national class rower. He’s an oarsman as they say. He’s a senior in high school.
I told him, and it’s something I’ve told myself for over twenty years, “The results are none of our business.” All we can do is have supportive thoughts and feelings that lead to actions. If we don’t get the results we want, then we take different actions. We know another way of what not to do.
[bctt tweet=”Productivity is all about getting maximum results in minimum time.” username=”AlexMandossian”]
I want you to start thinking about selling through instant gratification and then ethically smuggling delayed gratification. How do you do that? Instant gratification is small victories every day or every week. I do that when I’m writing a webinar or doing a Facebook Live. I do that if I’m assisting an author to have a virtual book tour and we’re doing an interview together.
What’s the first victory that you can have immediately? If someone is going into my membership site, let’s say for our Guerilla Business Online member’s area, we have them not delay any gratification. The moment they register, they come in, there’s a tab that says, “Start here.” We allow them to have their first victory. They take this binary assessment which I created.
I don’t think it’s scientifically sound but it’s fun. It says something like, “Do you consider yourself a starter or a finisher? Are you a morning glory or a night owl? Are you a project person or a people person?” Just these binary questions that they can complete in less than a minute. The instant gratification, is they tell everybody and they leave the member’s area. They go to the Facebook group and the link is inside and they say, “Here’s who I am.”
All the members are trained because they did it themselves. They dog pile with a bunch of post love and likes saying, “Congratulations.” The best news is that they revealed themselves. That’s ethical smuggling, don’t you think?
Here’s an example of selling through instant gratification and then smuggling delayed gratification. You can’t sell through delayed gratification. That’s not my experience. I have a training and a course called Productivity Secrets.
Productivity is all about getting maximum results in minimum time. Most people aren’t trained to be productive with their email, travel, networking or with meetings. I have 21 different topics and they’re mini-modules of about five to seven minutes. They’re on video. I have an audio portion of the video that people can download onto their smartphones so they can listen.
The instant gratification is I say, “Is it possible to become more productive with your emails in less than seven minutes?” Rather than making a statement, I ask a question. That way their BS detector isn’t signaled. That’s pretty instant, less than seven minutes and they probably have a productivity challenge with their email. That’s my first module. They go in, they watch it and then I ask them to give me some commentary.
If you want to see an old-style online sales letter, you can go to ProductivitySecrets.com. There’s some coaching that’s involved with that. We charge less than $1,000 for that. There are 21 of these and it’s designed to do daily.
After day 21, I ask for one day break and they do the 21 again. I ask for another one day break and they go still another 21. It takes about 66 days. The research that I have read and believed is that it takes about 66 days to develop a habit. That’s my productivity secrets of selling instant gratification but growing with delayed gratification.
The Alexism for this episode is small actions consistently done produce extraordinary results. It’s true, think about nature. The acorn goes into the earth. There’s sunlight, rain, and all the consistent actions that are enabling that acorn to flop into an oak tree root. It becomes a giant oak. I have one in the back of where I hike. I have an oak tree growth where I work. It’s amazing, looking at the size of these trees.
When the acorn starts falling, I can’t imagine it was that little thing. You were one fifty thousandths of your size when you were swimming and attempting to win the ovarian lottery. Take your age and add 40 weeks. It’s the law of nature, everything big was once small.
Let’s take compounding which Albert Einstein said was the most powerful force in the universe. There’s a delay with compounding. How can compounding work?
I have a good friend Darren Daily who is a genius. He is the publisher of Success Magazine. He comes from a lineage of great publishers. He wrote The Compound Effect. I love that book. I read it three times. You can check him out at DarrenDaily.com.
The example I give on stage is that imagine you took a sheet of paper and then you doubled it each day for 50 days. A normal 8.5×11 inch sheet of paper which is the size that we use here in North America and you doubled it. How tall would that stack of paper be? Some people say the Empire State Building. I go, “Think again.” They say, “Is it 30,000 feet or 40,000 feet? How high planes would fly? The altitude of planes.” I go, “Nope.”
If you took a sheet of paper and doubled it for 50 days, that stack would be from Earth to the Sun which by the way is far away. It takes eight minutes for sunlight to hit us. Light travels at 186,000 miles per second. You can imagine if the sun is that far away and it takes eight minutes for light to reach us, if the sun blew up, we wouldn’t know it for eight minutes. That’s a long way away.
What if I doubled it on the 51st day? That stack of sheets would be from here to the Sun and back. That’s the power of compounding. How do you get instant gratification daily and build momentum on it? The way I do it is through tracking.
The second best way to make delayed gratification easier is to track your daily progress for seven days and then 21 days. Let’s say you don’t want to eat white sugar for seven days, so you track it. Make sure you put something iconic like a happy face on your calendar so that you could see your progress. Many times people want to walk 10,000 steps a day, they have a pedometer on their wrist. There’s an app on their smartphone.
Tracking is everything if you can make it more physical, it’s important. If you’re ever going to diet, there’s a headache in tracking. If you wrote down everything that goes into your mouth including water, juice, food and snacks, it prevents people from eating. If you’re going to be honest with yourself then you’re not going to eat because you don’t want to write it down. You’re not by the pad of paper. You’re not by your phone or whatever.
[bctt tweet=”Small actions consistently done produce extraordinary results.” username=”AlexMandossian”]
Imagine tracking is the second-best way to win the game of delayed gratification. No matter what business you’re in, you’re going to have to embrace delayed gratification and play tricks like I’m teaching you to have instant gratification through many wins every single day.
The best way is to hire a coach or a mentor because you don’t have the one thing that your coach and mentor has. Choose wisely. You don’t have an eleven letter work, objectivity. You can’t read the label from inside the jar. That’s another Alexism from a previous episode.
A review of the insights that I hope you and I have discovered in this episode is delayed gratification is one of the secrets of success. When you sell, you have to sell with instant gratification and do it ethically. If you want to grow and you want to compound the value of your business and the growth of your business, it’s all about delayed gratification.
We talked about compounding. Compounding is impossible without delay. Einstein said, “The most powerful force in the universe is the power of compounding.” I agree. Remember, the sheets of paper and the stack going to the Sun and back in 51 days.
Finally, we talked about tracking. It’s the second-best way to make delayed gratification easier. You’re focusing on the tracking, the many wins, and victories or failures that you want to improve every single day.
You lose sight of the big picture which many times people stop moving forward because they have unmet expectations. They thought they should be successful earlier. The best way is hiring a coach or a mentor. Remember, these insights can only work if you work them.
Speaking of reviews, if you’ve never done this before, I want you to go to AllSellingAside.com/iTunes. Type in your biggest takeaway, or sometimes people call it the a-ha moment. Think about what you experienced in this episode. You can do it in the reviews section. You can look for it on iTunes. When you do it, it will ask you to rate the episode. I hope I’ve earned five stars from you.
I hope you will refer friends and colleagues to this. We have many episodes. There’s a lot of business philosophy and insights that are poured out of my heart and head for the past 25 years. They come to you in 25-minute chunks.
If you’ve already done that, then put your biggest a-ha or takeaway on an index card and save it. It will take about two to three minutes out of your day. What you declare and when you revisit it, it may provide you a lifetime of learning.
I have a final gift for you in honor of this 28th episode of All Selling Aside. That’s a complimentary copy of my eBook that’s titled Alexisms: Useful Lessons from a Recovering Serial Entrepreneur. I give an Alexism per episode. You can buy it at Amazon for about $20. You can get it here and download it for free, the digital version at AlexismsBook.com.
I hope I hear from you. I hope our paths cross again next episode for the All Selling Aside podcast. This show is dedicated to you in becoming an ethical influencer because it’s within your reach. That way you can achieve and even exceed your sales potential even if you hate selling.
You’re selling all the time and the sale is always made. You may not call it that, or think of it that way. Do whatever it takes to join me next episode because our topic is going to be Bucky’s Three Unifying Principles. The Bucky I’m talking about is my root mentor is Buckminster Fuller. You’re going to love it.
I encourage you to invite a friend or bring a study companion. It’s always fun to learn together and I can’t wait to connect with you as you read and it’s going to be a fun one. All good wishes.