Under Promise Over Deliver

Hi!  I'm Jake!

A lot is going on. A truck ran over people in France. Trump hasn't picked his Vice President.  Brazil is getting ready to infect everybody with the Zika virus. After all these years, Octomom's cooch finally healed up.

So, today,  let's focus on business strategy.


The business world tells us it is better to under promise and over deliver than to over promise and under deliver.  This seems like a successful strategy, because you are initially angry at the low expectation, but then real happy because the service you received didn't suck as bad as they said it would.  Here are some times this strategy pays off:

  • When you are at a restaurant and they quote that it will be two hours before you get your table, you are happy when they can seat you in five minutes. 
  • When Google Maps tells you your trip will take two hours, you are happy it only takes five minutes. 
  • When your doctor tells you your wife's childbirth labor will take ten hours, you are happy when it only takes five minutes.
However, the negative side effect of this strategy is your clients or family or whatever now thinks you are bad at estimating time.  Or worse yet, they think that you lied to them.  That's because you did lie to them.

"...under promise and over deliver"
-Thomas J Peters (aka The Business World).


However, I have my own strategy.  Rather than under promise and over deliver, or over promise and under deliver, I take the best from both worlds.  I under promise and under deliver.  I tell you not to expect too much- and then I do even less than that!  By preparing you for mediocrity, you are prepared for when I give you bottom of the barrel. This strategy has several benefits:
  • I don't feel stressed about letting you down.
  • Because I am not putting all my time into your stuff, I have more free time for me. That's called time management. Time management is good for business.
  • You have a great story to tell. "Jake was babysitting my child. He took a nap and lost track of reality. But good news: the police found my child walking around downtown." Everybody likes a good story.
"...under promise and under deliver"
-Jake A Sharon, Greenville, SC smarty pants.


The first step to under promise is to really visualize what you can deliver.  You have to imagine all the possible variables that could affect your ability to do a "good enough" job.
  1. Imagine precisely how good of a job you are able to do for your client or friend or whatever if you put every last ounce of your will power and skills into the task.  That is your potential for success.
  2. Then think about what is going to happen when your friend unexpectedly invites you to see the new Captain America movie. That's called the unknown. The unknown is probably going to take priority over doing a good job.
  3. Then think about how much effort completing that task is going to take versus how money you will get. That's called the effort versus motivation ratio.  Doing a favor for a friend, family member, or church is called volunteering. Tell them they get what they pay for.  However, if money is involved, ask for even more money. When they tell you that they can't give you more money, tell them how poor their service is going to be. Low money means your motivation is going to be real low.


Based on these three factors, potential for success, the unknown, and the effort versus motivation ratio, you can visualize how good of a job you can do.  Then you can set the expectations as low as you need to.  Tell your client, friend, or family member "I'll try a little, but I have stuff to do. I am re-watching Dexter on Netflix.  Sorry this isn't going to turn out well."  Below are a few more phrases you can use to under promise.  Sorry I didn't have time to make more.  I really am re-watching Dexter on Netflix.  I have two episodes left before going to work today.


  • "I'll try a little, but I have stuff to do. I am re-watching Dexter on Netflix.  Sorry this isn't going to turn out well."
  • "If I have time, I will let the dog out to pee. If not, I gave her some paper towels to clean up her crate.  I told her not to eat the paper towels."
  • "I'm really sad because my dreams in life all fell apart.  But I'll try to give you an ok back rub."
  • "I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."


I really have to let the dog out. Josie is about to piss her pants.  Then I have to watch Dexter and go to work.  Overall, though, just don't promise too much and you'll probably get by.