Accelerating Your Startup – When Are You Most Likely To Get A “YES”?

As a startup founder, getting people to see things your way is an important skill, and like any other, it relies on a combination of natural talent, practice, and a deep understanding off the mechanics involved.

Your natural talent is a matter of luck, and practice is a question of willpower, but stick around and you might learn something from the science involved in being more persuasive. Specifically how to time your interactions so as to optimize the responses you receive.


The Earlier the Judgement – The Better the Outcome

In his best-selling book Thinking Fast and Slow Nobel Prize winner Dr. Daniel Kahneman describes a study of parole hearings he conducted in Israel (although, since the subject was the inner workings of the human mind, the science would remains valid had it been conducted in Thailand, Singapore, or anywhere). Kahneman wanted to see if there is any impact on the time of day during which a parole hearing is conducted and the outcome. His hypothesis was that since parole hearings are mentally taxing, the likelihood of positive outcome, from the parolees perspective, was closely tied to how alert and energetic the presiding judges were.

Kahneman’s found a strong correlation between the time of day during which the hearings were conducted and their outcome – in cases where inmates were the first to go before the board in the morning they averaged a 66% chance of being granted parole, however when they were the last before lunch, or the last hearing of the day, their chance dropped to zero.


Ego Depletion – When Your Will Has No Power

This research, and others conducted by Kahneman and his team, identified self-control as being a mental resources that can be “used up” – leading to a state of “ego depletion”. When our mental energy is low our cognitive abilities and self-control are impaired, which impacts our functioning self and our interactions with others.

In the case of the parole judges, as the day wore on and they gradually grew more tired and hungry, they “ran out” of the mental energy needed to make the riskier decision to approve parole requests, and instead made the easier choice to leave the default situation in place, and the unfortunate inmates in prison.

The same mechanism is at work when we find ourselves binge eating junk food at the end of a particularly harrowing day – When we’re tired, or otherwise ego-depleted, we literally don’t have willpower to overcome our craving for comfort.


Accelerating Positive Outcomes for Your Startup

As a startup founder there are a couple of very important takeaways from all of this –

  1. Whenever you’re trying to get people to make a decision that will upset or change a status quo remember that from their perspective that choice will require a great deal of mental energy.
  2. Timing is literally everything – By planning important meetings for times when it’s likely your counterparts are well rested and well-fed, you’re far more likely to get the outcome you’re hoping for.

Real life implementations of this tactic should include planning investors meetings for breakfast., meeting new hires soon after lunch, and generally avoiding meeting anyone on Friday at 5 p.m…

Good luck!!!


What Next?

For another great example of Ego Depletion in action – check out the video below.

To learn more about how your startup can leverage cognitive biases to achieve the outcomes you’re hoping for reach out to the team at, who sponsored this post.

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