I’ve recently had some trouble trying to briefly explain Beeminder to people without becoming too technical or using a lot of Beeminder specific jargon.
Does anyone have any suggestions for what I should say?
How do you describe beeminder to your friends?
It doesn’t explain how it works but maybe try this:
Remember [that goal you have always been trying to achieve]? Beeminder makes you actually achieve the goal.
But the main pain point for beeminder is that it is so counter intuitive people will be far too likely to dismiss it out of hand.
Beeminder is a service that you use to keep track of your progress toward
your goals, and it charges you money if you don’t make the progress that
you previously pledged to.
Then you can give an example to make it more concrete.
Beeminder is a service to help you achieve your goals by hacking your brain. Everyone’s primitive lizard brain is motivated more by the fear of loss than the promise of reward. Beeminder’s process works out how much I need to put at risk to keep me on track. For some goals it’s $5; for others: $100. When I fall off track I lose the money, but I achieve more overall, so it’s worth it. I spent the first half of my life working against the ol’ primitive lizard brain. Now I’m making it work for me.
-499 characters. Suitable for elevators in tall buildings.
The official Beeminder pitch(™) starts like this: “Beeminder is goal tracking with teeth: you pledge money to stay on track toward your goals, and then we send you reminders, track your progress, show you graphs, but if you don’t do what you said you were going to, we take your money.”
A really simple way to describe the basic mechanism that makes beeminder work (for people it works for) is that it makes it costly right now to make suboptimal decisions.
This is really easy to describe in terms of pie vs weightloss. Most people can relate to this.
Another example of pitting immediate consequences against your inherent laziness which I love is @pjf (Paul Fenwick)'s example of sending out client invoices. Sending the invoice will eventually cause you to gain thousands of dollars, which is awesome! But it’s a distant reward, and right now you want to play a bird dating sim. But now imagine pitting those thousands of future dollars against the threat of losing a measly $5 to beeminder right now if you put it off, though, and suddenly you’re totally gonna send the invoice. Loss aversion. SILLY HUMAN BRAINS.
If you really want to dumb it down there’s our Explain Like I’m Five video:
I still like our 3-sentence version from when we first launched.
The line I’ve used when trying to explain it to friends and family is something like “Beeminder helps me do the things that I want do regularly but don’t want to do right now by being stricter with me about what excuses are acceptable for not doing it”.