When the Starbucks rewards program came out years ago, I never followed the trend because I hardly ever spent money at Starbucks. To me, it was a waste of money to pay for overpriced coffee and frappuccinos.
But when I lived in D.C., my mom opened up a Starbucks account for me online. She wanted to able to add money to it occasionally for whenever I wanted a drink (my mom is so sweet like that 😁).
Seeing the stars add to my account with each purchase eventually got me hooked. Damn it, Starbucks!
Before the most recent revamp of the rewards program, it used to work like this:
Every purchase you make, you get 1 star. After you’ve earned 12 stars, you get a free reward. This allows you to buy any menu item. The most expensive things, like a Trenta sized drink or their snack pack, will cost you about $6
If the average order price is around $4, Starbucks is banking about $48 for every free item they give away, which is a net profit of $42 for them.
Side note: as a Gold level member (getting 30 stars in a year) you also get a “birthday reward” on your birthday. Who can argue with free stuff? (Well, almost free. But you know what I mean.)
Now, I think I’m a smart guy 🤔 so given these figures, there’s no way I’d get suckered into giving away $42.
Soon, I started to notice these promotional emails they would send out. They would have offers like, “make 4 purchases, earn 10 stars” or “visit 5 days in a row, get 12 stars”.
So I thought, this could be a way to cheat the system. Instead of spending $4 to get 1 star, I could average 2 or more stars per dollar if I bought one of the cheaper items (bagels – $1.50, vanilla bean scone -$1.25, banana -$1.00) through these promotions.
Here’s the math:
4 purchases x $1.50 (bagel) = $6 for 14 stars (4 regular + 10 promotional)
14 stars / $6 = 2.33 stars per dollar.
If costs me a little over $5 to get a free reward, that means I’m just about breaking even. Except I get a free reward plus the 4 bagels so that adds a bit more value.
And yes, I understand the whole “if you get 30% off your $10 purchase, you don’t save $3, you just spent $7” logic. But the instant gratification of the sweet, empty calories of a double chocolate chip venti frappuccino and the fallacious rationalization that I’m getting a great deal is irresistible.
This system, however only works if you only buy when there are good promotions. If the promo doesn’t give me at least 2 stars per dollar spent, I won’t use it. $6 spent = 12 stars = free item. Anything less than that and I’m losing money.
Although I guarantee there are tons of other people who have figured this out, I’m certain the majority of people will just get Starbucks whenever they feel like it, regardless of the promotion. This means Starbucks will make their generous $42 net more times than not.
These promos are to get you to making a habit out of going to Starbucks everyday, hence the “6 consecutive visits” promo. People with less mental discipline to go only during promotions will understandably fall for the trap.
With this new program, they seemed to fix the loopholes I’ve been exploiting. Now they award 2 stars for every dollar ($0.50 / star) and it takes 125 stars ($62.50) to earn a reward item. Though it prevents me from cheating, I admit it is obviously more fair for the average person.
With this new program not allowing me to cheat, I vowed not to participate in it anymore.
Until they sent another promotion to my email:
Quick calculations: 4 visits x $1.00 banana = 104 stars (26 stars per dollar spent)
With this system, I could turn $1 into $13!
A week later, they rolled out another promotion: 1 visit for 50 stars!
7 bananas later, I had 250 stars (2 free items).
I felt victorious. I had cheated this new system again. $7 to get 7 bananas + $12 worth of free Starbucks food items, a $19 value!
Sometimes I’ll just save these rewards for a rainy day, or split a venti frap into two grande fraps for with my girlfriend and me, essentially making it an $8.50 value (2 grande fraps run about $4.25).
There you go. That’s how I beat Starbucks. Having my frap and drinking it too.
But once my sugar high wears off, I realize I just bought seven overpriced bananas that will probably over ripen before I can eat them all, consumed 3 days worth of sugar in 10 minutes, wasted $2 worth of gas driving there, added 1 plastic cup to the landfills of our dying earth, and I bet you Starbucks isn’t crying over the $12 they lost on me as everyone who hears this story will probably want a frappuccino now.
Yesterday, my boss told us a story in our Monday morning meeting that shifted the way I thought about motivation. I’m paraphrasing for sure but hopefully the meat of the story stays in tact.
There were these two men who ran together everyday, one was older and one was significantly younger. Based on appearance, the younger man’s youth and vitality would assumably give him an advantage. However, the younger man could never catch up to and pass the old man.
One day, the older man asks the younger one, “What do you think about when you run? What motivates you to keep going?”
The young man responds, “I imagine a snarling, hungry wolf running behind me, his teeth chomping at my heels. That’s what keeps me going.”
“Interesting,” said the old man.
“What about you? What do you think about when you run?” said the young man.
The old man replied, “I imagine I’m the one chasing the wolf. Though I can never catch him, I always try.”
It’s easy to see how this key distinction affects each man’s drive. One focuses on the fear of being eaten by the wolf, while the other focuses on surpassing the thing that’s better than him.
Many times, we focus on what we don’t want. As Tony Robbins says, “what you focus on expands.” Likewise, we fail to instead focus on what we do want and head toward that.
Its funny how when you ask someone if they could design the ideal life for themselves 10 years into the future, they usually can tell you more about what they don’t want compared to what they do want.
Then, we wonder why we get all the things we don’t want, and never what we do want.
So my challenge to you, the reader, is how can you stop focusing on the bad, and instead focus on what we want more of? Better yet, how can we push ourselves to chase our higher self everyday? While we shouldn’t ever think we’ll achieve “perfection,” you might surprise yourself on how much you’ll grow in pursuit of it.
For me, I’m stuck on a treadmill chasing treadmill ahead of me. Who knows if I can ever catch it 🏃🏼🤔
I heard this as I was listening to Success Principles by Jack Canfield last week. The context is when you want to develop a new habit in your routine, but can’t seem to stick to your commitment.
A perfect example many of us can relate to is working out.
At one point in time, I remembered being fed up with always being tired and lethargic. I knew I had to get my lazy butt off the couch and into a gym. But whenever I tried starting, I always found myself in the same cycle:
I would decide to go, work out 3-4 times that week, then get really sore. The next week, it would take all the willpower I had to push through the pain of the lactic acid buildup that make it hard to move. By the end of the week, I would give myself a few days rest as a reward. By week three, all of my willpower was used up and it became impossible to go to the gym.
A few months later, I would get fed up and start the cycle again.
I thought to myself, how can people make it seem so easy to go consistently? And I was having trouble keeping it going for a few weeks.
While this book has tons of nuggets of wisdom, one key point was forming habits to reduce using our limited willpower. This way, we can make things like working out as automatic as showering, eating, and brushing our teeth.
I found that going to the gym 4-5 times a week consistently wasn’t too difficult at first. But since there were 2-3 days I could take off, there was always an internal struggle between whether or not I should go that day.
Eventually, I had a revelation: if I committed to go everyday with the intent of integrating it into my daily habits, I wouldn’t have to conjure up and utilize my precious willpower.
I found that a 99% commitment is hard to keep. A 100% commitment, while not easy at first, is still extremely easier to keep.
Since the decision is has already been made, I didn’t have to think about whether or not I was going to the gym. I would just go.
As a side note for those who are thinking, “shouldn’t you have rest days to let your body heal?” I still go to the gym daily, even on my “rest days.” But instead of a full workout, I’ll do something light like jogging a mile or some basic calisthenics. The idea is not breaking the habit. I’m know people who can commit 3-4 days per week successfully, so finding out what kind of schedule works for you is important.
After eight weeks of going to the gym basically everyday (with the exception of being out of town for three days while on a trip to Phoenix), its now feels uncomfortable NOT going to the gym.
Its like if you’re used to showering before you sleep everyday, try not showering before you sleep and you’ll know what I mean. Or if you regularly eat breakfast at 7:30 AM before work, try going to work without eating. Your hunger pains is a physical manifestation of the discomfort.
I read somewhere that 90% of what we do everyday is habitual. This frees up our mental energy for tasks that require more focus. With this idea in mind, I’m starting to develop some other daily, keystone habits like meditating, journaling, and playing 5-10 minutes of chess everyday. That way I can benefit from these habits with minimal effort, while simultaneously being able to focus on bigger tasks.
Now, if only I can use this new insight to stop my habit of eating the free cookies at the bank 😓
The size of the problem determines the size of the person.
So this morning as I was headed to the gym for my 5:30am workout, I somehow managed to lose my earbuds during the walk from my car to the gym (as I was taking a selfie for my workout accountability group). I spent the next 5-10 minutes retracing my steps, getting frustrated at the fact that I may have just lost my $20 apple ear buds.
A couple weeks prior, I had to replace my $10 gym lock that I absentmindedly left in the men’s locker room. Needless to say, I was ticked that I can’t seem to stop wasting money on things I lose.
After giving up the search, I realized that I was getting worked up over something so small. Yes, $20 can buy a lot of things like a all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ or 2 admission tickets to a new release movie in theaters. And I’m not a rich person, but I’m also not so financially insecure where replacing lost earphones would mean I couldn’t eat for the next few days.
My point: why was I letting something so trivial get me down?
In the book “Secrets of the Millionaire Mind,” T. Harv Eker makes a comparison about the mentalities “rich” people versus “poor” people. He says that poor people are smaller than their problems, whereas rich people are bigger than their problems.
This is how I interpret it: if I let something small get me down, then I’m a small person. Small problems don’t affect big people, only big problems.
As one part of my daily habits, I recite what’s called a “commercial affirmation” to myself. Its pretty self-explanatory, but it’s basically a paragraph of affirmations written in the third person about the person I want to become in the future. Or as a mentor of mine says, my “higher self.” I do this once a day, usually in the mornings before my commute to work.
When something small like losing my earphones gets me worked up, I think: would my higher self, the multi-millionaire entrepreneur, international speaker, and bestselling author be phased by this?
The answer is always a resounding “Nope.”
If the size of the problems determines the size of the person, how “big” of a person are you? What’s getting you down that you know isn’t worth your time, energy, or attention?
I’ve always been taught that mindset is where it all begins. When you can control how you think, you can control your reality.
Event + Response = Outcome.
But that’s a whole topic in itself, haha. As of now, I have a new lock, 2 sets of earphones (a backup in case I lose mine again), and I haven’t even given it a second thought.
Exactly what I’ve been doing since I finally got myself to open this account. I ask myself, “why does starting something seem like the hardest part?” I know that once I get the ball rolling, momentum will eventually take over and it’ll be harder to stop than start
Similar to how i’m consistently going to the gym everyday, or at least 6 days a week. Forcing myself to run or do some form of cardio for a mile, as well as a muscle group to focus on before the cardio. Right now I’m almost 35 days straight consistent of exercising and working out, minus the 3 days I was traveling to and from Phoenix, AZ. But now, its easier to keep going and keep up the momentum. Its still a challenge at times to force myself to get up at 5am, but I only need to utilize just enough #willpower to create a habit, then I won’t need to exert those willpower muscles, or rather focus on developing the next habit.
So now i’m trying to apply this concept with writing in this blog consistently. My original goal was maybe once per week. Then I read a blog about 1st time bloggers, and some key points. The lady talked about 2-3 times minimum per week to gain traction. For me, I’m probably going to shoot for 1 post / day, or at least 6 days a week. This way I force myself to 1) make it a habit and 2) force myself to become consistent and comfortable with writing. I figure 350+ posts at the end of the year and my writing should be at least a bit decent 😉
Writing constantly will also allow me to develop the familiarity with blogging, learn as I go, generate a large quantity of content that I can reorganize, re-synthesize, and refine in my future posts/blogs, and establish my style as a writer.
But for now, baby steps. The hardest part is starting. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, right?