Seth Godin Akimbo: Cheap Placebos

In his Akimbo podcast, Seth Godin teaches us how to adopt a posture of possibility, change the culture, and choose to make a difference. Here are my takeaways from the episode.

In this podcast, Seth discussed the effects of placebo and how we can leverage it to help ourselves and others.

Placebos are powerful to human beings as we tell ourselves stories, and those stories change our physiology. Placebos change the way we interact with ourselves and with the world.

Once we have discovered the placebo and embraced the fact that none of us live in a double-blind study, what should we do with that? How can we carefully construct placebo effects and make it possible for us to amplify the implications of what we do?

There are different types of placebo effects. Some are expensive, and some are cheap. Most expensive placebos deliver rather limited benefits for several reasons in addition to the financial cost. Some expensive placebos can have severe and adverse side effects due to an unproven medical or scientific basis.

Another reason against the expense placebos is the crowding effect. When we make a big deal out of expensive placebos, we are probably crowding out the actions that can have an actual, high efficacy.

The last reason why many expensive placebos are unproductive is the opportunity cost. That opportunity cost comes at the expense of the distraction created when we are wasting time talking about things that do not work.  The distraction from the work we should be doing becomes the opportunity cost.

Expensive placebos generally benefit the seller of the placebos, rather than the users.

Placebos have been around for a very long time. For as long as human beings have been wrestling with joy or pain, we have had placebos in our lives. We are wired to want to believe, and belief changes the way we interact.

What we should do more is to cultivate and amplify cheap placebos with few side effects and few distractions.

Cheap placebos can come in many forms, and many of them are a result of generosity and care. It pays huge dividends because it associates person-to-person intimacy and care. Cheap placebos are a gift from the universe, and they are terrific.

The challenge as we seek to make placebos more powerful, more productive, more widely available is not to go down the path of promoting something that only very few can afford.

We need to seek out cheap placebos that can promote human connection and do not cost a lot of money. Those placebos can help us by opening us up to what works beyond the story we tell ourselves.