Last week I had a bit of an epiphany… I realized that for the past 2 years I had done a horrendous job articulating what I believe our “Promise” feature should be solving for. I realized how poorly I had done when our internal team started to voice their opinions to me about this specific feature and I was finally able to see the reality of what is currently a very light feature that we’re really missing the mark on.

After a few minutes of self-pity and a few hours of beating myself up for letting this happen. I wrote this.

This is why promise exists and this is what promise exists to do:


Because the overwhelming majority of health and wellness solutions are not built with the science of behavioral change in mind. Because of this failure, the specific objectives of consumers/members are not being optimized for in a way that is scientifically supported and proven.

The result is an incredibly cyclical usage pattern across the majority of the industry. Though volume is consistent, relative to the % of the people who are looking for solutions, usage has massive peaks and valleys, consumer lifetime value is low and consumer satisfaction is low.

(Example) Top reasons why people join a gym?

The solution for all of the objectives, mentioned above, is the same thing… a big box store filled with equipment, which offers 1-1 training, small group training and large group exercise classes. Want more people? Charge less… BROKEN!

When it comes to behavioral change, we understand that execution is reliant on 3 main factors; Motivation/Accountability, Ability, Trigger/Signal

We have no desire to continue along the same lines, as the currently failing status quo. We strive to work with individuals to execute a 1-1 coaching solution, that is accessible to everyone; void of the current economic and logistical hindrances which currently limit access to most people.  Our model drives a completely custom process in conjunction with a human-to-human relationship that increases the likelihood of success by driving a superior level of compliance to a said process.

Everything we do is designed to enable the success of our consumers (and our producers), as it relates to this feature, specifically, “PROMISE” is designed to drive a superior ability into our consumer’s day to day lives.


The result of promise is a habitual change and the compounding nature of a series of habitual changes equates to a healthier lifestyle, which equates to Ladder’s success in making our consumers happy and providing a core utility in our offering.


A feature designed to enhance a consumer’s “ability” by proactively planning and driving keystone habits optimizing for healthy lifestyle behavioral change, specifically relative to:



Sleep Quality

Stress Management


  • Promises are implemented by mutual acceptance between Consumer and Producer
  • Promises last for 1 month
  • Promises can be edited
  • Promise are tracked by:
  1. Streaks = number of consecutive promises kept
  2. Compliance = % of promises kept



  • Determines what the specific goals of the consumer are
  • Gives consumers 3 options to choose from


  • Chooses promise
  • Chooses the days he/she will promise to execute their promise

Consumer and Producer

  • Make a promise to each other
    • I promise to execute 100% of my promises for the given month – consumer
    • I promise to be there for you, every step of the way – producer

This is what the process looks like:

  • Assess
      1. Understand a consumer’s goals and objectives
  • Assign
      1. Determine which goal will be optimized for, first
      2. Outline potential promises which optimize for a given goal or objective
  • Customize
      1. Determine how the promise best fits into a given consumer’s life
      2. Ascertain mutual acceptance of the custom promise
  • Implement
      1. Promise becomes live in Consumer Dashboard
      2. Producers coaches, encourages and motivates Consumer towards success
  • Compliance
      1. Once the promise has been customized and mutually accepted, the producer coaches, encourages and motivates the consumer to success
  • Evaluate/Repeat
    1. Process repeats itself every month

Initial Objectives solving for:

  • Lose Weight
  • Gain Muscle
  • Increase Flexibility/Mobility
  • Reduce Stress
  • Increase Performance (specific)

What is a habit?

  • “the choices that all of us deliberately make, at some point, but stop thinking about and continue doing.” At a certain point we stopped make a choice and the behavior became automatic… that is a habit.
  • Habits can be changed, if we understand how they work.
  • Focusing on one habit, known as a keystone habit is proven to be one of the most effective ways to drive behavioral change.

Habits are made up of 3 main parts:

  1. The initial cue: the trigger that sets your brain into the automated routine. It usually falls under one or more of five elements: a moment in time, a location, the presence of specific people, emotions, or rituals.
  2. The routine: the habit itself. It is the series of actions or decisions that your brain does automatically in order to obtain the reward. They can be either mental, physical, or emotional.
  3. The reward: the positive reinforcement received by your brain once the routine is executed.

The repetition of the above pattern creates a neurological craving, and we might become addicted to the sensations brought by the reward.

In order to change our habits, we need to understand when and why the cues arise, and which reward we are looking for when we execute the habit.

We cannot extinguish habits. They are an essential part of our human biology, and they are necessary for our survival. The only thing we can do is to substitute our actual habits for new, better routines.

What is a Keystone Habit?

Good habits that trigger other good habits in a natural, unforced way, creating a chain effect that is highly beneficial for the individual or the organization.” – Charles Duhigg

“Keystone habits lead to the development of multiple good habits. They start a chain effect in your life that produces a number of positive outcomes.”

“A keystone in a structure is the central piece of an archway which all the other blocks of stone rely on to hold everything in place.”

“A keystone habit is a habit change that causes many other positive habit changes as a result.”

Examples of Promises and Coaching

Sleep related

Why? Lack of sleep impairs our cognitive functions. One of those cognitive functions includes willpower. Not getting enough sleep makes us more likely to make poor health decisions (food choices, not exercising, etc.)

Goal – Get 8+ hours of sleep per night

Context/Use Case

Male / 38 years old / Car Salesman

“I have to wake up at 7am to spend an hour with my kids and still get to work on time.”

Optimizing for – getting to sleep earlier

Possible Solutions (promises):

  • Go to bed 10pm
  • Only watch tv for 60 minutes per evening
  • Turn devices off by 930pm
  • Remove devices from the bedroom
  • Don’t eat any sugar after 6pm
  • Don’t drink caffeine after Noon
  • Eat Dinner by 7pm
  • Mediate for 10m per night
  • Journal for 10m per night
  • Read for 20m, in dim light

Coaching Sparks:

  • Hows your evening routine going, is there anything that’s taking up a lot of time that you might be able to get done earlier in the day?
  • How’s your journaling going, want to chat about some of the things you’re writing about?
  • What book are you reading these days? Want a couple of suggestions?
  • I know not drinking coffee in the afternoon is a challenge, here’s a list of foods you can eat that will actually give you more of a boost!
  • I know not drinking coffee in the afternoon is a challenge, could we squeeze in a mid-afternoon walk to get some fresh air… it’s proven that just getting outside can really give you a great boost of energy!

The goal is 8 hours of sleep. To get 8 hours of sleep (with the understanding that you have to wake up at 7am), you need to be asleep by 11pm. What does your pattern of behavior look like leading up to 11pm? What, specifically, can you replace in that pattern to make you more likely to fall asleep by 11pm, thus making your more likely to get 8 hours of sleep.

Nutrition Related

Why? You can’t “out-train” a bad diet. When it comes to weight loss, the most important piece of the puzzle is proper nutrition.

Goal – Eat healthier at lunch time

Context/Use Case:

Female / 29 years old / Buyer at ecommerce fashion company

“I make my least healthy food decisions at lunch, I don’t usually eat breakfast and when lunch rolls around, I’m starving! There aren’t many options near my office, so I usually go downstairs to this one place that doesn’t have many healthy options!”

Optimizing for – eating a healthier lunch  

Possible Solutions (promises):

  • Bring your lunch to work
  • Make your lunch for tomorrow
  • Eat a healthy breakfast
    • Have a protein bar, each morning for breakfast
    • Put the ingredients for a smoothie, in the blender each night and put the blender in the fridge
    • Have a piece of fruit, each morning, for breakfast
    • Wake up 15m earlier and make yourself breakfast
    • Go to bed an hour earlier each night
    • Plan tomorrow’s breakfast

Coaching Sparks:

  • Lunch can be so hard when you’re in an office setting, do you have any colleagues who are also struggling with poor eating habits at lunch?
  • Maybe you could give them a free month of ladder and you guys could each make lunch for one another, one day per week!!!!!
  • How’s it going with the protein bars in the AM, want to switch to fruit for a few days?
  • How’s it going with fruit in the AM, there are so many crazy fruits out there… maybe we try to mix it up a little? Here’s a link to a bunch of fruits I didn’t even know existed!
  • How are your smoothies tasting? Not as good as the juice bar, yet? Here’s a link to amazing smoothie recipes!
  • How’s new wakeup time going, maybe we can chat about some ways that you can make sure you’re getting to sleep on time!
  • I know it can be a pain to make breakfast every morning, maybe next week we can think about planning your meals for the week or maybe even doing some meal prep!

The goal is to eat a healthier lunch. To eat healthier at lunch, you need to have more access to better food options or you need to have more willpower around lunchtime. What does your pattern of behavior look like leading up to lunch time? What, specifically, can you replace in that pattern to make you more likely to have a healthy lunch prepared and/or have more willpower when it comes time to make that food choice,  thus making your more likely to eat a health lunch

Starting to make sense?

Exercise Related

Why? Because exercise burns calories, increases resting caloric burn, elongates anabolic state, increases bone density and drives mindfulness around healthy behaviors which increases the likelihood of better food choices

Goal – Go to the gym 4 mornings per week

Context/Use Case:

Female / 56 years old / Retired Administrative Assistant

“I’ve had a really hard time getting to the gym on a consistent basis, I have to be at my daughters house to watch my grandchildren by 9am and I’ve really struggled with getting my morning workouts in!”

Optimizing for – Getting to the gym in the morning

*** we’d want to find out if it may be easier to workout in the evenings or do a home-based workout in the morning, etc. etc.

Possible Solutions (promises):

  • Pack your gym bag the night before
    • Compound from there
  • Make your breakfast the night before
    • Compound from there
  • Wake up 15m earlier
    • Compound from there
  • Go to bed an hour earlier
    • Compound from there

Coaching Sparks:

I think you get it, at this point…

Each decision or habit follows previous decisions or habits, how do we get in front of things…  and insert something into the prior flow to create a higher likelihood for success?

Supporting Information

Habits / Self-Control / Willpower

Do we better understand promises now?

Whatever the goal is, whatever is being optimized for… needs to get done. Promise helps it get done, more.

Brett Maloley

Brett Maloley

Co-Founder and CEO @Ladder - I love all things Startup, the Commercial Fitness Industry and Building and Leading teams to do extraordinary things. I live in South Boston, MA, with my beautiful fiancé, Nicole and my co-worker/best friend/French Bulldog, Penelope. I spend the majority of my free time exercising, reading and preparing for future arguments. My favorite thing to do is drink good wine, eat good food and talk to great people (at the same time).

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