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Extended Audio Sample Carrots and Sticks: Unlock the Power of Incentives to Get Things Done, by Ian Ayres Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (104 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Ian Ayres Narrator: John H. Mayer Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Could you lose weight if you put $20,000 at risk? Would you finally set up your billing software if it meant that your favorite charity would earn a new contribution? If you’ve ever tried to meet a goal and came up short, the problem may not have been that the goal was too difficult or that you lacked the discipline to succeed. From giving up cigarettes to increasing your productivity at work, you may simply have neglected to give yourself the proper incentives. 

In Carrot and Sticks, Ian Ayres, the New York Times bestselling author of Super Crunchers, applies the lessons learned from behavioral economics—the fascinating new science of rewards and punishments—to introduce readers to the concept of “commitment contracts”: an easy but high-powered strategy for setting and achieving goals already in use by successful companies and individuals across America. As cofounder of the website stickK.com (where people have entered into their own “commitment contracts” and collectively put more than $3 million on the line), Ayres has developed contracts—including the one he honored with himself to lose more than twenty pounds in one year—that have already helped many find the best way to help themselves at work or home. Now he reveals the strategies that can give you the impetus to meet your personal and professional goals, including how to 

• motivate your employees
• create a monthly budget 
• set and meet deadlines 
• improve your diet
• learn a foreign language
• finish a report or project you’ve been putting off
• clear your desk 

Ayres shares engaging, often astounding, real-life stories that show the carrot-and-stick principle in action, from the compulsive sneezer who needed a “stick” (the potential loss of $50 per week to a charity he didn’t like) to those who need a carrot with their stick (the New York Times columnist who quit smoking by pledging a friend $5,000 per smoke … if she would do the same for him). You’ll learn why you might want to hire a “professional nagger” whom you’ll do anything to avoid—no, your spouse won’t do!—and how you can “hand-tie” your future self to accomplish what you want done now. 

As fascinating as it is practical, as much about human behavior as about how to change itCarrots and Sticks is sure to be one of the most talked-about books of the year.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Actor/narrator John H. Mayer adeptly and engagingly presents the material. Recommended for anyone seeking further insight into successfully changing human behavior on the personal or organizational level.”

    Library Journal (audio review)

  • “Here is an entertaining report on one of the basic techniques of overcoming what the ancient Greeks called ‘weakness of will.’ All can enjoy it; many may discover it therapeutic.”

    Thomas C. Schelling, 2005 Nobel Laureate in Economics

  • “‘Lord, give me chastity and continence, but not yet.’ Ian Ayres has developed the path-breaking tools that resolve Saint Augustine’s paradoxical prayer, brilliantly showing us how to escape self-defeating behavior and overcome the drive for instant gratification.” 

    David Laibson, Robert I. Goldman Professor of Economics, Harvard University

  • “There are creative books, rigorous books, and useful books, but Carrots and Sticks is all three. It’s fascinating and fun to read.”

    Tim Harford, author of The Undercover Economist

  • “This brilliant book will help you outwit your greatest adversary: your future self. It will give you tools that can change your life.”

    Barry Nalebuff, coauthor of The Art of Strategy

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Lindy | 11/26/2013

    " I would probably have given this 4 stars, but I think I just grew tired of the author using dieting and weight over and over for the examples of how we make and keep (or break) our commitments. Otherwise, a pretty fascinating read. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Dave | 6/29/2013

    " This book is more than twice as long as it should have been. There are some great concepts and ideas to learn here; but, you know how a lot of books take the first 100 pages until they get interesting? Well, this one says it all in the first 100 pages. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Bailey Olfert | 5/22/2013

    " Although perhaps not as personally helpful as the books I read recently about Habit and about Willpower, there were some concepts that I believe I will take forward into changing my behavior, such as the inner Homer vs the inner Spock, and loss aversion. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Kathy | 12/3/2011

    " Lots of interesting examples of experiments,research and surveys about what motivates people to acomplish something but I didn't think it is very practical for the everyday person as far as instructions or help in achieving your own goal "

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