How to get motivated - by losing?! (with Monica Wadhwa) (Transcript)

How to Be a Better Human
How to get motivated - by losing? (w/ Monica Wadhwa) (Transcript)
September 12, 2022

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[00:00:00] Chris Duffy:
You're listening to How to Be a Better Human. I'm your host, Chris Duffy. Okay. Here's a wild story for you. Several years ago, I was a contestant on the game show “Who Wants To Be a Millionaire”. And this was at a time when I was just starting out in my comedy career, and money was really tight. And so when they asked the question “who wants to be a millionaire?” My answer was “Me, please. I would've really, really liked that. I want that very much.”

Now, I didn't win a million dollars on the show. I got knocked out very early. Because I didn't know what the acronym NASCAR stood for. To be honest, I didn't even know that NASCAR was an acronym, but now, ‘till the day I die, I will never forget that it stands for National Association for Stock Car Auto-Racing.

[00:00:44] Chris Duffy:
Honestly seems like there’s too many words that mean car in there. Like, that's like kind of a trick acronym, but it is what it stands for. I'm gonna leave it behind. And look, here's the weird thing about not winning on that game show for me. Okay, predictably, I did wake up in the middle of the night and I was like, “Why didn't I use my lifeline? I should have phoned my friend, John. He 100% knew that answer.”

But then kind of unexpectedly, there was this other side effect of losing on the game show, which is that when I thought about not winning, I found this new kind of motivation for succeeding in my career, right? It was like, if this money isn't just gonna fall out of the sky and save my comedy career, then I'm gonna have to work really hard and I'm gonna make it happen anyway, who needs that game show money.

[00:01:27] Chris Duffy:
Look, I, I fully recognize how ridiculous my personal example is, right? It's not like in any way I deserve to win on a game show, but on today's episode, we're gonna be exploring the surprising benefits of not winning with an expert who studies exactly that. Whenever we set a goal, we always start that journey with a burst of inspiration and motivation. I'm gonna get there. I'm gonna do it.

But what happens when our enthusiasm starts to fade a little bit, and we need an additional shot of motivation? Well, today's guest, professor Monica Wadhwa, her research looks into goal setting and reward systems that can help us keep that motivation and momentum going. Even and especially when we don't win at something that we thought we really wanted. Here's a clip for Monica's TEDx talk.

[00:02:13] Monica Wadhwa (recording):
People believe that winning is the best thing that could happen to them. That winning perpetuates winning. I used to believe the same. I used to believe that winning is the best thing that could happen to me. But what if it is not? I spent the last eight years of my life researching this paradox. That not winning is in fact more powerful than winning.

[00:02:46] Chris Duffy:
How is that even possible? Well, we're gonna find out by talking more with Monica Wadhwa after this break.


[00:03:02] Chris Duffy:
And we are back! Today on the show, we’re talking about the surprising benefits of not winning with professor Monica Wadhwa.

[00:03:10] Monica Wadhwa: Hi, I'm Monica Wadhwa, I'm a behavioral scientist, and I'm also on professor in marketing at Temple University.

[00:03:16] Chris Duffy:
There isn’t always, like, an origin story for a behavioral scientist. And yet you kind of have a, an origin story. Can, can you tell us about that?

[00:03:24] Monica Wadhwa:
So a lot of my interest in studying motivation was literally like a result of my childhood experiences. Growing up, I really liked playing video games. My parents refused to get the TV console games at home for me. So I used to go out and I would play Super Mario a lot. I also like the idea of playing lotteries.

I grew up in India and winning numbers used to come in a small section in a newspaper. So you would pick up the newspaper the next morning and then take your lottery ticket and match the numbers. That was really exciting for me. And I distinctly remember this one time when I almost won, I missed a lottery by one or two digits, and I was truly energized afterward.

But it kind of made me wonder, like, what is it about video games and lotteries that I really enjoy? Why, why did I feel energized afterward when playing video games and lotteries. I sometimes still do the mobile games, but then, more than more than a decade later as a researcher, I kind of wanted to study this question in a more systematic manner. So that's how I started studying motivation.

[00:04:23] Chris Duffy:
What was your answer as to why you really loved them?

[00:04:26] Monica Wadhwa:
So had this basic hunch, right? In both the lotteries in the video games, it was this anticipation, whether I'll win something/Am I gonna cross that level? And that gave me the motivational energy to keep going, right?

I wanted to find out if this about of motivation energy I experienced while playing lottery or video game, was it all bad? Like we consider addictions bad. I mean, after all people get addicted to gambling. Or is it that we could use this motivational energy better and use it in appropriate ways?

[00:04:54] Monica Wadhwa:
Right, so when I started studying again with my own hunch and I came across this stream of research, that seemed to suggest that addiction and motivation actually share commonalities. Parts of brain that are involved in motivation and reward process—processing are the same that are activated by stuff that we get addicted to like sex, curiosity, novelty, video games, drugs, et cetera.

So addiction, in some sense is a type of motivated behavior. And there's a possibility that behaviors associated with addiction could tell us more about motivation in general, right?And how we could channel this in the right direction. We tend to think of motivation as like a, a specific to reward or a goal, right?

[00:05:37] Monica Wadhwa:
You, you’re thirsty. You wanna go get water or you, you are hungry for chocolate. But what my research found is it's a more general source of energy, which once it is activated, it can lead to a pursuit of broad range of rewards. In some sense, motivation is like the accelerator in your car. It's the gas pedal.

It provides energy, and goals are like, like your steering wheel. Once your motivational energy is activated your gas pedal express. You could direct it in the right direction, work on a goal that's close to your heart, or you could just get on Instagram and spend your energy there. So going back to my answer there, when I played video games, Super Mario, I always had it in front of me to play again.

And I, until the money round out, I had it. So the motivational energy was directed in the wrong direction of playing those video games. But when I played that lottery, that one shot lottery and I was only allowed to get one that time, and I had this math example the next day. So when I almost won all of this energy was directed to the goal that was salient for me: my exam. So I put all of that energy there and started working on it. And this is what we've been testing in many different experiments.

[00:06:47] Chris Duffy:
Can you tell us about what one of the ones that led to some of your key findings was?

[00:06:52] Monica Wadhwa:
Let get back to one of my earlier works. My first project, if you will, which I started as a Ph.D. student.

So in this one again, I wanted to test this whole hunch of motivational energy being more general. And what we did was we gave people a brief of a pleasurable rewarding food or a drink item. In another study, we used a whiff for pleasant odor. We’ve used romantic images, just a small taste or a small whiff of, of an odor, which would make you want more.

It doesn't satiate you, but it activates that motivation energy or your drive to get more. Your, you know, the gas pedal is now pressed, and then we measured, “what do people do when this gas pedal is pressed?” So in the first series of studies, we exposed them to a lot of food and drinks. We had a buffet for them, and we said, “There's all this food for you.”

[00:07:39] Monica Wadhwa:
There were chips and there were cookies, et cetera in that buffet, and it turns out that once the gas pedal was pressed, when that anticipation for more was activated, this more motivational energy was, was there, um, they ended up consuming more hedonic food and drink items. I actually have a little secret.

Um, I used to keep small, very little like samples of food, like chocolates. I like the dark chocolate. I like when I was working on my dissertation. So once in a while, I'll just like, kind of have that. And it would just energize me. I make sure that I'm not surrounded by too many, but once in a while, I'll have just a small piece that doesn't satisfy me, but is enough to make me want more. So this kind of led to a lot of my other work as well.

[00:08:23] Chris Duffy:
It's interesting to me that in your experiments, you end up getting to do all sorts of fun things, to mess with people in some ways, right? You give them fake lottery tickets. You create new signs in the dining hall. You have a spread of free snacks that are all secretly coordinated in, in different ways.

It feels like there must be times in your personal life where you encounter a situation and you go like, “Ooh, this would be a fun experiment.”

[00:08:43] Monica Wadhwa:
Oh man, I… all the time, right? So I was at Walmart, and this was as a student. We only shopped at Walmart or, or Trader Joe’s, the grocery shopping for students, right? I went to Walmart, and I don't know if you've noticed they have these cages, Walmart people call them dump cage, or at least they used to, and they'll dump all the DVDs or things there.

And people would hunt for those. Right. I was like, “What's happening here?” You know, I started digging in and I started talking to people and they were like, “Oh, we are curious.” This is the motivation energy they were getting from their curiosity. And we know curiosity activates the reward centers. Same reward centers that is activated by chocolate. That is activated by video games.

[00:09:28] Monica Wadhwa:
So people were anticipating, like hunting. What am I gonna get now? It's the energy, it’s taking on, hooking onto their chase. I've actually done an experiment on a cruise where I asked the art dealer who was, you know, this is an auction. And I asked him would he do a little experiment for me?

This was an Italian guy. And he just indulged me. He said, “Sure.” I got like, like white bedsheet from my room. And I said, “When the next time, when you're do auctions for this particular painter, can you hide the painting and only show a part of it? Don’t show the entire painting.” And he said, “Sure.” I actually made him money.

Oh, like he got more money for the same painter than when he had shown the paintings. And again, it was a curiosity and the anticipation, the little taste that got people excited. So yeah, I've done a lot of the crazy things.

[00:10:13] Chris Duffy:
Well, hearing, hearing those examples, but also reading, reading your papers and listening your talk. It, it almost feels like there's this spectrum where on one end, we have motivation. And on the other end we have satiation, and I wouldn't have thought of those as opposites, but it seems like the more that we get what we want, the less we're motivated.

[00:10:32] Monica Wadhwa:
Yes. Right. Right. In fact, in one of my really like older papers, um, instead of giving people a whiff of an odor, we gave them like 13 minutes of a pleasant odor.

They were watching a documentary, but that room was like full of pleasant, odor or no odor. And then we had the same buffet and this was not a food odor. This was like a normal odor. People who were exposed to the pleasant odor for 13 minutes, they ended up consuming less than who were exposed to whiff of an odor.

And we ran multiple different experiments for this. Uh, we found the same finding again and again. You satiate people with a lot and, you are literally like satisfying that motivation energy.

[00:11:12] Chris Duffy:
So you found that near losses are very motivating. Why aren't all losses equally motivating?

[00:11:18] Monica Wadhwa:
It boils to your anticipation and the motivational energy, right? I, I do find that near loss is… this actually came from my lottery playing experience of like, I almost came close to winning. There is a very nice, really amazing work by a psychologist called Clark Hall. Like. He was, he worked in 1920s, 30s, and he had this cool theory: reward gradient. He ran this quirky study with, with rats, right?

What he found was rats, as they come closer to a reward, they start running faster, okay? And video game developers know this really well. You normally have levels, right? For you cross a level for each level, you have to cross certain steps. They will make the last step difficult for you. Hmm. The first few steps you can easily cross.

The last step is difficult, and it's the same thing with nearly winning versus clearly losing. If you make the first step difficult and somebody loses, that intensification of energy doesn't happen. We are like Clark Hull’s rats. So when we, we run to whatever reward that energy is getting intensified when you're running and the first step you’re, done, that energy is not going to intensify. That's why clearly losing, or not all losses are the same as nearly winning. In nearly winning, you’re running toward the reward. Your motivational energy is getting intensified and intensified, but at the very last minute, that reward, you can't really get that reward, but now you have this intensified motivation vibe that spills over to another task.

[00:12:47] Chris Duffy:
So implications for that, for personal goal setting, I, I sometimes hear people talk about like, make a list and when you have a to-do list, put some easy things on first. So you build some momentum, right? Does that line up with what you're saying right there?

[00:13:01] Monica Wadhwa:
It kind of does. In fact, if it's, especially if it is a difficult goal, like you, you're starting a podcast, and it's your very first podcast, you don't wanna start with the difficult step. You want to get the momentum and start with, like, first divide your entire journey into small steps, right? And then focus on achieving that one step.

Absolutely you should start something with, with a step that is more familiar to you if it is a difficult goal. What do I do? I'm gonna start with something familiar, and that'll energize me, and that'll make me go on, but I don't wanna set something so easy as my primary goal that just says, “Okay, it doesn't motivate me.”

Again, we have to pick up things from video game developers in terms of how they're doing it. They don't need the vid—video game, easy. They just make the first few steps to cross level easy.

[00:13:52] Chris Duffy:
One of the most cliche things that people ever talk about with goals, and is shoot for the moon, and even if you miss you'll be among the stars. It, it almost seems like this, your work is in some ways a validation of that.

If you change stars to like trying harder in the future, right? It's like you shoot for this big goal. Maybe you'll achieve your goal. It's a little harder than you thought. Or if you don't achieve it, you'll then end up with this real kind of fire in your belly to do the rest, the next goals, and to work harder on the, the other things that you’re doing.

[00:14:18] Monica Wadhwa:
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, winner doesn't take it all. I love ABBA, but winner does not take it all, right? It’s almost like, but framing is important to at risk. You could, the reason I got motivated after paying that lottery was because in my mind I was not framing it as losing. I framed it as nearly winning or almost getting there, right?

So that is the key here: how you frame it. Let's say if you were a leader in an organization and you have to give feedback to your employees or your team members, how do you do it? You could tell them that they did not make it, or you could tell them that they almost made it. Both factually correct. One is demotivating and another one is just energizing.

So I think that is the key aspect here. And it has many other key implications from the perspective of goal setting and reward setting. But that framing is, is absolutely key.

[00:15:10] Chris Duffy:
Is there a different kind of satisfaction from succeeding on your first try versus having a big motivation period where you've been working really hard and trying many, many times getting closer and closer and closer, and then finally doing it? Without having done any research, it feels to me like it must be more satisfying to, to not get it right at first, but to have to work for it. But is that actually true?

[00:15:28] Monica Wadhwa:
I'm assuming yes, there is a different kind of feeling, right? If you succeed, you, you feel really excited. “Oh, I succeeded the first time.” But I think what we need to be careful with that is that you could frame it as, “Oh, I am good at it.” Which is not really the best framing you could do for yourself.

Because if you, if you think that you are good at it, somehow it is going to negatively impact your effort you're putting in. And this is based on a very famous theory, which talks about the implicit theory.

Some people actually believe that mindsets are incremental. Like you work hard and you get something, and some people have a fixed mindset. You believe you're good, and you stop putting hard work. And I worry that if you easily succeed the first time, you shouldn't frame it as I'm good at it. As much as you feel great amazing. Feel good about it. Get all the excitement, but tell yourself I still to work hard.

[00:16:23] Chris Duffy:
Okay. I'm gonna keep telling myself that, but actually right now, we're gonna take a quick break and then we'll be right back with more. Don't go anywhere.


[00:16:41] Chris Duffy:
We are back. Thank you so much for sticking with us. And here is your reward for being so motivated. It is another clip from Monica's TEDx talk, where she's explaining how setting goals at the correct difficulty level can help give you the motivation you need to achieve, not just that specific goal, but also other goals that you're working on. Here's Monica.

[00:16:59] Monica Wadhwa:
When you’re setting goals for yourself, set goals that are slightly beyond your reach. Goals that you can almost reach, but not quite, that’s slightly beyond your capacity. And this almost reaching your goal, this experience is going to give you the motivational juice, that fire in the belly that you need to succeed on your next goal.

Keep in mind though, I'm gonna put a caveat on this. I told you that motivation is like the gas pedal, and steering wheel—goal is like the steering wheel. Right? So where the steering wheel is moved is up to you. You could actually use this motivation energy and apply it to that next big project you're working on. Or you could squander this away on another kind of reward: a night out at a club.

[00:17:53] Chris Duffy:
I'm just curious for people who are now trying to think about setting goals for themselves and trying to think about putting your work into practice. What are maybe three questions that people should ask themselves as they come up with a list of goals?

[00:18:05] Monica Wadhwa:
So I think one of the things you wanna ask yourself is: the goal that I've set is it too easy for me? Or is it something so difficult that I cannot even achieve it either? Either one of the two cases is not a good idea. If it's easy, you can easily achieve it. You're gonna get satiated very quick. If it's too difficult and you think like, “Oh, I did not even get like a1/0th of the way.” Then you are going to basically just get demotivated. So that's one thing you wanna ask yourself.

The second thing you wanna ask yourself is: set deadlines that are realistic. Okay. You don't wanna miss a deadline. You might just not achieve your goal to exact level. If you miss a deadline that you just kind of like, “Yeah. Okay, now I'll do it when I want to do it”, you sort of delay it further. So set difficult or slightly difficult, slightly beyond reach goals, but set realistic deadlines to achieve them.

Another implication, not in terms of goal setting, but in terms of, uh, performance feedback is like, you know, when you're giving feedback, to somebody you're working with or to your own self, frame your feedback is nearly getting there rather than failing. Because that failing feedback is something that can really demotivate you. Very important during difficult times. This is what I did during COVID time. It’s, it was a long journey. So setting goals into smaller steps, giving yourself the right kind of feedback, and self rewarding, it’s extremely important.

[00:19:29] Chris Duffy:
I, I imagine that some of this feedback piece is we were so close, we can visualize a version of ourselves that's just a little bit better, that tried just a little bit harder than makes it there. I can, of course, that's such a better way of thinking about yourself as opposed to being like “I'm just a little too bad” to be like, “Oh, I could be just a little bit better.”

[00:19:46] Monica Wadhwa:
Absolutely. That visualization is the key. Visualization and anticipation. These are two that I underly actually, the motivational energy. These are actually two that underly addictive behaviors. They share commonalities. Right? I mean, addiction is, like I said, a form of motivated behavior. That is why it is important to divide the goal into steps because you are visualizing it, like grabbing it. Victory is so close or it was so close. I could have reached it. So that is absolutely the key here.

[00:20:15] Chris Duffy:
There's all this motivational momentum, as you put it, right? How do you get good at directing that energy to goals that you care about?

[00:20:23] Monica Wadhwa:
One of the key things before I even get to that: make sure that you're not surrounded. This is a, do not do thing in my list. I, for one, am not on social media. I'm not on Instagram. I mean, I have an account which I use for research when I have to sort of, like, understand what people are doing, but I do not post anything. I do not look at it. I don't have any friends on it. Nothing. I’m not on Facebook, et cetera, because keep in mind today, we have so many distractors.

If you have this motivational energy, and you have all of these distractors, if it gets hooked onto that, then you’ll waste today. So be mindful of not surrounding yourself with all of these distractors. Right? When you have this motivation energy that is activated and reward systems are surrounding yourself with right of rewards, it’s gonna play a great role in activating this energy source.

I have a list to do with how I design my reward system, but once you have this motivation energy, goal setting, dividing your goal into smaller steps rather than trying to achieve this big goal at one go, that becomes really important in making sure that you're directing it in the right direction. Surrounding yourself with goals that are important to you, that becomes extremely important as well in terms of achieving that.

[00:21:35] Chris Duffy:
And how do we avoid being manipulated by this kind of energy? Because, you know, one thing that you talk about is how if a store gives out these lottery, in one of your studies, right? You're shopping and, and the store gives out lottery tickets and people almost win, but they don’t. Then you found that those people did a lot more shopping. So how can we avoid being manipulated by these near misses and kind of use the energy for the ways that we want to use it, as opposed to being pushed into things that we don't to do?

[00:22:02] Monica Wadhwa:
Uh, one thing that I do is whenever I'm going shopping, I go as a satisfied person having consumed a lot of what I enjoyed. So when I go, I'm already satiated. Again, I have to say this: that doesn't mean that nearly winning wouldn't work in that case, but maybe the effect would be reduced if you already go as a satiated person inside the store. You are satisfied with that. It's a good question. Sometimes these manipulations are very difficult to avoid.

[00:22:29] Chris Duffy:
And for yourself, if you're working on a paper, which I imagine happens all the time. You're working on a paper, or you're grading, or you're looking over at one of your students' work, and you're trying to give notes. You must find moments where you're like, “Oh, I just am not motivated. I I'm stressed.” I think a lot of people would like have a cup of strong coffee, have some, some tea. Do you instead look for a quick way to fail at something so that you can then use that for your energy?

[00:22:53] Monica Wadhwa:
I play chess. A quick, speedy, 10-minute chess. I'll have these 10-minute breaks which are interspersed in my journey to my, to my daily goals. And I’ll, with the computer, and typically I'll play with a bot that's really tough to play with. Not too hard, but hard enough for me.

So if I win, I feel good. It's actually got an effort, but I've put in a lot of effort into it. It's 10 minutes I'll spend, you know. I’ll play those quick games. And if I do not win, I've at least played with a tough enough one for me. Or sometimes I'll have a mobile game, but that's risky because you can, you can have a second shot and it's very quick, you know, it's just a one-minute thing.

If you're doing that, sometimes now that I do it, I tell myself like one round and I'm leaving it. And if you really don't know when to stop, do not do this for yourself, because then you are going to spend your motivational energy into playing that again and again, which is not a good idea. Instead, give yourself rewards that are very quick rewards, or maybe you could give yourself a chocolate, just a small piece in between. Highly energizing.

[00:23:55] Chris Duffy:
So with this motivational energy, how sustainable is it? Right? Like, what's the connection, if any, between working extra hard, because we almost got something, and then burning out because now we're like working at the maximum capacity.

[00:24:08] Monica Wadhwa:
You can’t go on for a very long time, right? That's why I keep saying: it's a big goal. Divide it into steps, not the same length of steps. Like some could be like a small step. Some… one could be a slightly bigger step. And then give yourself a reward before a small one, before you start working on the next step. Because you know, if you don't do that, you've used up this motivational energy, and it's gonna win. And it's not like an ever ending resource. You have to create this resource by giving yourself these smaller rewards and not in a fixed schedule. Give it, give it to yourself in like a variable schedule. If you start predicting, “This is what I'm gonna get a reward”, it loses its value.

[00:24:48] Chris Duffy:
We've talked a lot about personal for ourselves and then also kind of professional. But I know you've also thought about some of this in terms of parenting, and like what we, how we communicate to kids, and what we message to them around goals and dreaming. And one thing that I know you've spoken about is we often tell kids to dream big, but that's not always exactly their best.

[00:25:08] Monica Wadhwa:
Right. So I think, in terms of kids, a lot of implications for designing a reward system that stems from this research, one of the things is obviously what we do is we wanna reward our kids by sometimes consciously losing. I don't have kids, but I, so I, I can take a neutral perspective because I watch parents do that with kids.

They would sometimes intentionally lose. Even as a grown-up, your parents would sometimes intentionally lose to you. Like it was back when I really wanted to learn playing. One time, my dad, who's an amazing chess player, he intentionally lost and like don’t ever do that to me. So I think instead of making your child feel like winning is so important and intentionally losing, it's okay to let them lose sometimes. Your child does not need to be a star performing all the time.

[00:25:57] Monica Wadhwa:
The second thing is design the rewardsfor your kids in a way that they can motivate your kids. Sometimes we'll tell our kids that if you get like an egg or something, you will get you this particular thing. Instead of doing that, the one way of, um, if you try really hard or you do this, you know, you will get something. But don't tell them what they will get.

That unpredictability in rewards is way more energizing than you actually tell them. And they're just visualizing what they're gonna get that, and that's an extrinsic thing, and it's just that energy wouldn't flow. And don't reward them every time.

If I'm not wrong, Chris, you were, you, you were also a fifth grader, yeah?

[00:26:37] Chris Duffy:
That’s right, yes.

[00:26:38] Monica Wadhwa:
So imagine like, if your fifth graders got some reward after every three problems that they solved, would they be energized to work on the sixth if they are predicting, “Oh, I'm gonna get this”? They probably won't be that energized.

[00:26:51] Chris Duffy:
Yeah. It loses its power so quickly.

[00:26:53] Monica Wadhwa:
Exactly. But now imagine if you give them a reward in an unpredictable fashion. Like maybe our one in three puzzles that you solve. You'll probably get a reward. Or one in four, or maybe after two, you will get a reward. Sometimes after three, there's an unpredictability that's built in. And that is great for kids.

[00:27:14] Chris Duffy:
You're saying that I can already hear kids walking into the classroom and being like, “Is today gonna be a reward day? Maybe we're gonna get extra recess today.” And there's the whispering and the energy of that. Yeah. Of course, the flip side is you have to make sure that they actually do get it sometimes so that they're not just like “It's all a scam.”

[00:27:29] Monica Wadhwa:
Yes, absolutely. If they think it is a scam, you've just, they've just lost their entire motivation. But you don't need to reward them on every trial. You just reward them sometimes. Um, because unpredictability is very, very rewarding for the brain. There is actually a very cool experiment where they put people in a scanner, and they gave them a little bit of juice or water.

And what the researchers looked at was they looked at the activation in the reward center and what they found was when people didn't know whether they were getting juice or water, that unpredictability that activated the reward center more than if they got this reward, which matched their taste. So unpredictability was more powerful than personal preference with that reward. And that's what, and my own research has shown that unexpected benefits are really powerful, way more powerful than expected benefits.

[00:28:18] Chris Duffy:
Have you figured out any ways to make that kind of unpredictable reward for yourself? Because obviously, if I'm setting my own reward, I know what it's gonna be. I wonder if there's a way that you could rig it up.

[00:28:27] Monica Wadhwa:
Yeah, what I do is that when I'm traveling or when I'm imagining traveling, when I used to solo travel, I used to get this and I would do eenie meenie miny moe, And say, “I'll, I'll go here.” And that, and I literally used to do that.

[00:28:40] Chris Duffy:
Wow. Okay. So there is that… you still did work a way of unpredictability into it?

[00:28:46] Monica Wadhwa: Yeah. A little bit. Yes.

[00:28:47] Chris Duffy:
Yeah. Well, we always end our interviews with the same two questions: what is one thing, whether it's a book, a movie, a piece of music, an idea, a video game? Could be anything. What's one thing that's helped you to be a better human?

[00:29:00] Monica Wadhwa: Uh, Shawshank Redemption, because it is so much a struggle and it ended with a hope, right? Like that made me feel very optimistic and hopeful. So that definitely motivated me. Another one, and I think it's, it's a book that I think everyone should read that: All the Light We Cannot See, and today is the right time to read it. Like these days, when there's so much of lack of love in this world, if you will, I mean, or at least that's what we see. I think we should definitely read this and we'll realize that love is such a motivating force, and these are the two that kind of made me a better human being.

[00:29:35] Chris Duffy: I love those great, great answers. Monica Wadhwa. Thank you so much for talking to us. It was a real pleasure, and I am excited to play a very difficult round of chess right after this, and be extremely motivated for the rest of my day.

[00:29:47] Monica Wadhwa:
Yeah. Thank you so much, Chris. Wonderful talking and thank you for inviting me and thank you to this, your entire team who were amazing behind the background.

[00:29:54] Chris Duffy: behind the background. I couldn't agree more. That is our show for today. Thank you so much for listening to How to Be a Better Human. I am your host, Chris Duffy, and a huge thank you to today's guest Monica Wadhwa.

From TED, our show is brought to you by Sammy Case, Anna Phelan, and Julia Dickerson. None of whom could relate to today's episode because the three of them have never achieved anything less than 100% success.

From Transmitter Media, we’re brought to you by Gretta Cohn and Farrah Desgrange: who are hard at work devising an audio-based motivation system.

And from PRX, Jocelyn Gonzales and Patrick Grant, who managed to put this episode together by promising themselves a series of completely unpredictable and chaotic rewards. But thanks, most of all, to you for listening to our show. If you are feeling motivated, we would love for you to share this episode with someone who you think would enjoy it.

And we will be back with more How to Be a Better Human next week.