Achievement vs. potential – The 200 words project

Researchers tested two different Facebook ads for the same comedian. Half the ads said the comedian, Kevin Shea, “Could be the next big thing.” The other half said, “He is the next big thing.” The first ad generated far more click-throughs and likes than the second.”
Studies around candidates applying for new jobs showed that applicants had better chances emphasizing potential.

People often find potential more interesting than accomplishment because it’s more uncertain, the researchers argued. That uncertainty can lead people to think more deeply about the person they’re evaluating. The more intensive processing that is required can lead to rationalizing by generating more and better reasons as to why the person is a good choice.

The implication? When selling our skills, we should consider emphasizing our potential as much or more than our past achievements. Potential is interesting.

The potential to be good at something can be preferred over actually being good at that very same thing. – Dan Pink, To Sell is Human


Source and thanks to: To Sell is Human by Dan Pink, Original study by Michael Norton (HBS), Zakary Tormala (Stanford), Jayson Jia (Stanford)

(The 200 words project involves sharing a story from a book/blog/article I’ve read within 200 words)

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