Leadership Tactic #69: Positive Reinforcement and Jamey Points

I read a fascinating article the other day about a school in Chicago that charges students money when they start to accumulate demerits. Although I found the concept intriguing, it was this passage at the end about a different school district that really clicked with me:

At Knowledge is Power Program, a network of 109 charter schools in 20 states and the District of Columbia, middle school students are rewarded for good behavior with a weekly incentive “paycheck” — fake money that can be redeemed at the school store or used to defray the cost of field trip.

According to the schools, both systems work. And it’s true–both negative and positive reinforcement can work. But given the choice between the two, I will always choose the latter.

One of several awkward photos of myself in high school that I could have submitted to the Tournament.

Thus when I read about a new web app and WordPress plugin called PunchTab the other day, I had to have it. If you’re reading this blog on the web (opposed to an e-mail or Google Reader), you probably see a ribbon in the bottom left of the page that says “Rewards” and a little tab that says “Badges.” You’ve probably even been prompted to sign up to receive points.

So yes, basically, the mythical “Jamey Points” are now a real thing.

What does this mean for you? If you don’t care about points or don’t have a Facebook account, it means nothing. You can continue reading (and hopefully commenting from time to time) as normal.

But for the rest of you, I think this might be really cool. You get points for doing what you already do on this blog–reading, commenting, Liking–and now there’s a way for me to reward you for coming back day after day. Most of those actions net you 100 points every time. Because when you reach certain milestones, I’m going to give you things. Here’s what I have so far:

1000 points: I’ll include a shout-out or mention of you or your blog on my blog.

2500 points: I’ll write a blog entry on a topic of your choice.

5000 points: You can write a guest entry on a topic of your choice.

??? points: Help me out here. I want some really cool things that aren’t all centered around the blog. I’d be happy to include reward levels like, “I’ll grab a root beer float with you,” but I don’t want to presume that you want to hang out with me. It also might be weird.

Don't Like my Facebook page for me. Like it for my cat.

Overall, I’m not looking to change your behavior–I don’t want you to read or comment or Like for the sake of getting points. I want you to do those things because you’re compelled to do so independent of points.

Also, I want to continue to find ways to make it easier for you to know when I write a new blog entry. Not everyone loves Google Reader as much as I do. PunchTab links to Facebook pages, so I created a Facebook page for jameystegmaier.com. You should Like my page. However, I do want to point out a few things, because the whole idea of having a page for myself is a little odd to me. You should know this:

  • I am not famous. Nor am I particularly clever or special. I’m just a dude who consistently writes a blog. I want to be very clear that I do not think that I’m some kind of a big deal Important Person who deserves to have a Facebook page all about me.
  • The blog itself is also not a Big Deal on the Internet. It continues to grow, but let’s put this in perspective: The blog has gotten 20,000 page views the last month (as of about 4:00 today). That’s a record for me and my little passion project. But hugely popular blogs get 20,000 page views a day. Some even way more. I’d love for the blog to continue to grow. But I also like the kind of conversation that a blog fosters when you don’t have to weed through 500 one-line comments. I like that you (I mean you, the reader) can actually stand out from the pack when you take the time to comment on the blog. As a result, the comments are often the best part of these blog entries. Let’s keep it that way.
  • I kind of wish I had originally named the blog something generic like Zabadee.com instead of My Name Dot Com. Mostly because it’s almost as if the blog can only be about Jamey Stegmaier, which is not my intention at all. I’ll see if I can figure out a solution for that.
  • Again, I really want to emphasize that I’m not famous. I’m not a big deal. You’re a big deal. (See how I keep the focus on you instead of me? That’s what introverts do.)

As you can see, I’m all about positive reinforcement. I think it’s way better than having a system that punishes readers for not reading the blog every day. That seems terrible!

16 thoughts on “Leadership Tactic #69: Positive Reinforcement and Jamey Points”

  1. Oh, too late. Already in the let’s-get-points zombie mode. Arrggggg….. Must get badges…. Earn more Jamey Points…..

    That picture of young Jamey is a real winner. What is up with the oversize t-shirts?

    And where’s the other kitty? Here, Walter. Here, kitty, kitty. Meow, meow.

    …. For the ??? points, that person get to see you in a chicken costume breakdancing in a video. Or donate something to some organization?

    Now back to getting more points. PPPPPOOOOIIIINNNNNNTTTTTSSSSS!!!! Arrrgggggg…. Turning readers into points zombies.

    Reply
    • Jasmin–Back in the day I wore baggy shirts for two reasons:

      1. It was the style. At least, I think it was. It was very difficult for me to figure out what the style was.

      2. In my family, we bought clothes so that we’d grow into them. Of course, we never grew into them.

      Do people really want to see me in a chicken costume? That seems expensive.

      Reply
      • You could go to a costume store, try on the chicken costume, pull an old school boombox out of your backpack and make a short break dancing video on your iPhone. FREE! 😉

        Reply
  2. I love the idea of positive reinforcement. I teach a weekly children’s choir and I do two different things. The first is based on individual behavior. This way they focus on what they’re doing and not what the other kids are doing. They get a piece of candy at the end of choir. You can imagine how unhappy they are if they don’t get a piece while others do. The second is for the group as a whole and it’s a point system. If they earn 1 million points by the middle of May they get a HUGE party.

    I hope PunchTab helps to bring more readers into the already active (and 99% of the time funny), conversation on this blog. 🙂

    Reply
  3. Maybe ??? could be blog mementos, like a potato with eyes, a Festivus t-shirt, or a cat.

    ??? could also be positive & negative reinforcement (positive for the person achieving ??? status, negative for those who haven’t). ??? could be a chance to ask the proprietor of jameystegmaier.com to play a sneaky prank on any commenter with fewer points than you have (e.g., leaving a pair of polka-dotted underpants on Kendall’s windshield or hanging a life-sized replica of me from the tree in my front yard and burning it in effigy while throngs of angry villagers dressed in 18th century garb threw rotten cabbages at my front door).

    Reply
  4. I considered it an honor to have been mentioned in Sylvia’s story. I’d think that like Like Javier Mendoza’s writing a song for a patron, you could write a piece of fiction to incorporate them.

    When will you consider yourself famous? Your 3/20/11 post about vices mention your desire to be famous. Do you have to be on talk shows to be famous? You’re involved in owning/managing, what two companies now (which, admittedly may speak more to successful than famous)? When I Google your name, you’re not only the first person to show up, but I gave up after four pages looking for a reference to any other Jamey Stegmaier. I get the optimistic go-getter’s face on the red background on every page.

    How much is enough?!?

    Reply
    • Who is Sylvia?

      Also, there’s another Jamey Stegmaier out there? An evil doppleganger? There can only be one Jamey Stegmaier.

      How much is enough? Good question. I don’t exactly know. Like I said in the post, if 100,000 people read this blog and it got 500 comments every day, that would be cool, but the blog would lose a sense of intimacy. That said, it would be amazing to have an engaged audience that big.

      Reply
  5. Red,

    I like the Google Test. If you can’t show up on the first page of a search for your name, you’re not famous. This can be a cousin of my Entourage Test, in which I determined if someone was a star by whether they were asked to play themselves (Snoop), a trumped up version of themselves (Seth Green) or a character on the show (Autumn Reeser).

    By the way, for some reason the first celebrity to appear under Google Images following a search for Jamey is Alec Baldwin. And if you Google “Red”, the first one you get is Rihanna.

    Reply
    • I figured that was you. Will you send me that autographed picture?

      Searching for images associated with my name (Katie James) brings back an unfortunate time in my life when I starred in Busty Cops and Busty Cops 2. I was hoping to keep that secret under wraps, but I see I was unsuccessful. Damn internets.

      Reply
  6. I don’t know what you should or should not do with your point system… but after the comments about googling your name I decided to google myself. And I’m slightly creeped out by the fact that more than one picture of myself popped up along with another page that tells people where I was born and previous known addresses. Not only that, but I am also listed as living with my retired parents in Florida. And I have a baby registry? I am not a fan of google right now.

    Reply

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