The Memory Pill Problem
My mother went to her Doctor and mentioned she was having memory problems from time to time. So, the Doctor gave her some supplements that were supposed to help her improve.
She was driving away, when her friend turned to her and asked, ‘where are your pills?’
Mum gasped, ‘I forgot them!’
The Memory Pill Problem
Thanks to Mum, who gave me the perfect example of this to write about, ‘the memory pill problem’ can be used to understand a lot of marketing and problem-solving situations. It’s the case where the problem takes the customer away from solutions, rather than towards them.
Solution Approaching Problems
When I have a sore shoulder, I approach the solution — I call my physiotherapist or do some googling. This is the opposite of the memory pill problem, where our trigger is associated with some sort of action that will lead us towards relief.
Physical injuries → Gives you pain → How do I remove the pain?
Unfortunately, there are a number of more serious afflictions that drive us away from relief and solutions. I’ve noticed that psychological and existential challenges normally fall prey to this memory pill problem.
These include personal insecurities, a lack of self-awareness, depression, anxiety, social anxiety, the fear of writing, the fear of public speaking and the fear of being rejected. In these cases, instead of triggering a search for the solution, the challenge takes us deeper into the web of the problem.
Feeling depressed → Don’t feel like socialising or seeing people → Stay away from social contact and support → Greater feeling of depression and isolation.
How do we combat it?
We combat the memory pill problem with judo — using the negative energy against itself, wherever possible. Here’s a few examples:
- Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People is the single greatest example of all time. It attracts people looking for a sleezy manipulation guide book with the title, but then gives them what they really need, which is the perspective that the best way to get your way is to help others get theirs, and to be genuinely interested in people.
- If I do say so myself, our book 18 & Lost? So Were We — we ‘sold’ our co-authors on the experience of writing a book. As part of the book journey, we made them attend a retreat, which was focused on self-awareness! (I’ve since learnt that writing is a more powerful form of personal development than actual personal development for this reason)
- Seth Godin’s altMBA programme, which he founded with Wes Kao. It uses the language from the land of business degrees, and uses it to bring in those who really need a leadership challenge, and a prompt to level up.
- Telling young children to do the opposite of what is in their best interests.
Things to avoid
Regular therapy, personal development and coaching might be fine in practice, but these solutions are biased towards those who seek solutions.
As such, to level up and offer unique solutions, your opportunity is to open a new Door and think where no one else is creative enough to think.
I’m not saying to focus on people who are unwilling to take action, but rather, those who might not be as problem-aware. The question is, if they won’t opt-into or open the Door to the solution to their problem, then what WILL they opt-into?
Picture two different Rooms
One Room has ‘solution’ written on the Door. This is the Door behind which those who seek the solution will line up.
Imagine that the others are in a different Room, where there is no label on the Door. What clever projects like the altMBA and How to Win Friends and Influence People realise is a unique opportunity, to engage those who will take action, but will not likely engage in the solution directly.
A great reflection for you is to ask – where you see the Memory Pill Problem in your life, and your surroundings?