The key idea behind this strategy was to be less socially networked and more capitalistically productive.
Sethi wrote on his blog:
“It was the perfect location for an experiment on doubling productivity. How could I leverage Craigslist to improve my efficiency? To me, the answer was obvious: I hired a girl on Craigslist to slap me in the face everytime I used Facebook.”
Using a little app called RescueTime, Sethi measured that he was spending too much time, almost six hours a day, on Facebook and Reddit.
“Nothing makes me more embarrassed than seeing the amount of hours I spend wasted on Reddit and Facebook chat.”
This meant that Sethi was only 38% productive and wasted 19 hours of his time per week.
“I figured, ‘This is stupid, why am I wasting this time doing nothing? When I have a boss, or someone of authority watching me, I always get my work done. How can I simulate the authority figure?’”
Soon, Sethi hired Kara on Craigslist out of the 20 people who responded to his posting.
He discovered that his pain-for-gain method worked as his average productivity that was around 35-40% skyrocketed to 98% in Kara’s presence.
“But not only did my productivity skyrocket—the quality of the work I did skyrocketed as well. …. She also helped me push through an application for a secret project that I applied to—an application that won, out of hundreds of applicants.”
And, no he has no fetish to be slapped by strangers especially women as he recently tweeted.
Sethi summed-up the major reasons for hiring someone on Craigslist to watch improve his productivity and quality of work:
- Someone else, besides me, knew exactly what I wanted to accomplish that day.
- Kara pushed me through the cheese monster.
- I finally had someone to bounce ideas off of.
- The Slap Challenge added a playful, silly element to working.
- Having another pair of eyes to go over my content drastically improved the quality of my work.
As Sethi’s story once again became viral on social media, he tweeted: “This was the foundation for a company I built, @pavlok“
The story that began with just an idea and an experiment now has more than 100k users.
The successful result of Sethi’s social experiment was the invention of his shocking product, Pavlok.
The name of the device, Pavlok, is a play on the classical conditioning experiment performed on his dog by scientist Ivan Pavlov.
This new wristband device looks like a FitBit but is meant to curb poor behaviour with old conditioning techniques using an electrical charge that is “nice to mildly unpleasant.”
According to the company website, Pavlok is the only wearable device that helps people snap out of automatic habit loops and take control of their behaviour.
It uses SNAP (Sensory Neural Automatic Processing) technology to help change habits for good.
“Pavlok’s Snap is a patent-pending stimulus that causes your brain to snap out of autopilot and become present and aware. The Snap is adjustable, safe, and can be used for almost every habit loop.”
Users set the habit that they wish to quit using the accompanying app.
The device automatically delivers a vibration or electrical zap when the person indulges in a set bad habit.
Sethi is the founder of a web design company “StandardDesign” and CEO of Pavlok that he founded in 2014 after raising $283,827 in a spectacularly successful IndieGoGo campaign.
He also appeared on Shark Tank seeking investment of $500,000 in exchange for an extraordinary 3.14 percent stake in Pavlok.
Sethi has also authored two books Game Programming for Teens and Hack the System.
Today, Sethi’s business is growing and he has developed tools to help such as a productivity extension for Google Chrome as well as an online course that teaches “unwanted habits.”