I’m a software dev and founder of Hotels.ng and HNG Internship. I also dabble in embedded systems and hardware projects.

Techniques, Feedback loops, Reactive/Initiative activities & Micro-motivation


A technique is a specific type of knowledge that a person can gain that is applicable in a wide array of circumstances.

For example, I could learn the art of persuasion. This will likely take me a long time to learn, but once I have it, I can use it in many different situations.

There are situations where knowing that technique puts me at a very big advantage (for example, in sales) and situations where it has very low utility (for example, software development.)

A combination of two or more techniques is very potent - for example, I could know how to code (which is a technique on its own, not just a skill), and I could know how to write well. If I combine both of them, it can result in a very lucrative consulting career. I could layer on a 3rd technique (for example marketing), and if I find a niche where the combination of all three techniques gives me a large advantage, I can quickly dominate that niche (because most people would not have all three techniques available to them).

Feedback loops

A feedback loop is an action that results in a reaction being fed back to the creator of the action. For example, if I push a random person on the street, I am very likely to get some kind of reaction.

A feedback loop is quite essential for anything to improve. For example, if a writer publishes stories with zero feedback, they will improve way slower than a writer that is publishing to constant reader comments. If a writer is publishing to both reader comments and another metric (like traffic), they will start adapting and improving both metrics.

To measure, first, the feedback loop has to be designed. Anything done without a feedback loop will naturally stagnate.

Reaction vs Initiative Activities

If you drop a person on a seat, most people are perfectly content to sit there and wait. Maybe fiddle around a little. If a screen says, however “Push this button”, then most people will push the button. The vast majority of people react and do not initiate. Something happens, and they react to it. If nothing happens, they prefer to wait.

If everyone initiated all the time, nothing would get done. The world needs a balanced mix of reactive and initiative people, and I guess it has found the optimum.

Jobs are either reactive (e.g a fireman) or need initiative (e.g a general in an army). The vast majority of people function really well in reactive jobs, while some people function well in jobs that need initiative.

During the building phase of something like a company, there are lots of jobs that need intiative. Things need to be made to come into existence, or fixes made for broken things, and that process does not work only with people who react. It needs people who can initiate.

If you have a task with a feedback loop, you can make reactive people to be able to initiate. For example, if you have a sales person who only needs to narrate the spiel 10x an hour, they will simply repeat themselves over and over again. They react to the clock. If you reward the sales person based on sales they close, you have created a feedback loop. This feedback loop creates something that they can react to, and the reaction is a form of initiating. Because they start thinking of ways things can be better.


If you get $1m suddenly in your account, you will be very happy. After a week, you will be less happy, a week later less happy and so on. Within a few weeks, the euphoria would be gone. You would be fully adapted to having the $1m.

If you get $10k today, then $2k tommorow, then $12k the next day, then $7k - even if it came to much less than $1m, you would be a happier person that getting $1m all at once. Your brain uses the same chemical to reward you for getting it - and that chemical does not come with dollar values attached.

The frequency of the reward, and the randomness of the reward, will make you happier than the size of the reward.

The above is what I describe as micro-motivation - smaller, random-value motivations, instead of big, single motivations.

Linking all these together

A person should learn particular techniques deeply, and then apply them to something worthwhile. The person should then apply feedback loops, in particular feedback loops that change initiative-style to reactive-style.

The person can then hack themselves by dripping micro-motivation - that gets them ‘addicted’ to doing that thing.

Whatever the ultimate goal of the person, it has to be so that doing a lot of that thing will lead to the goal.

For example, doing a lot of sales calls leads to sales. That means that sales calls need to offer micro-motivation, and there has to be a feedback loop AND this feedback loop needs to convert initiative-style activities to reactive-style activities.

The above is a technique, and it’s a general purpose meta-technique that can be applied on any technique in order to get much better at it.

Last Modified: Feb 8, 2021