Key To Success In Life: Don’t Eat The Marshmallow Yet!

By | July 17, 09

I’m just finishing reading the book Don’t Eat The Marshmallow Yet! The Secret to Sweet Success in Work and Life by Joachim de Posada. Mr. Posada is a notable author and motivational speaker with over thirty years experience, who has inspired thousands of business executives and athletes reach their goals using valuable principles of success.

Don’t Eat The Marshmallow Yet is a great book filled with priceless principles; revealing the secret of achieving success in life. The book is a product from Mr. Posada’s many years of research to find the secret of success -.the reason why some people succeed and others fail.

I want to share with you a particular part of the book where Mr. Posada brought out a very important principle of success with a parable, which he called “The Marshmallow Parable”.

You have to read this parable, which is also explained at the end, to be sure you are safe from been one of the 90 percent of people who wind up in their sixties and seventies still working for money, or depending on social security or children for their basic needs – people who, sad to say, fail to secure their future financially.

Here is the Marshmallow Parable:

Marshmallow Eating Is Self-Defeating

Jonathan Patient, normally as serene and confident as the Brooks Brothers suits he favoured, was feeling slightly shopworn as he left a tense business meeting. When he reached his limo, he found his chauffeur stuffing the last ketchup-covered bite of a burger into his mouth.

“Arthur, you’re eating the marshmallow again!” he admonished.

“Marshmallow?” Arthur was as bewildered by his employer’s harsh tone as he was by the publishing mogul’s words. (Jonathan Patient was known to be verbally cryptic.) “It was a Big Mac, honest. I can’t even remember the last time I had a marshmallow. I didn’t even get any Peeps in my Easter basket this year, and I haven’t had a fluffernutter sandwich since-”

“Relax, Arthur. I know you weren’t eating a real marshmallow. It’s just that I spent the morning surrounded by marshmallow-eaters, and I was frustrated to see you doing the same thing.”

“I think I feel a story coming on, Mr. Patient. Would you like me to drive while you talk?”

“Please, Arthur. Esperanza is making her world-famous paella – your favourite, as I recall – and I asked her to begin serving in twenty minutes – at one o’clock – which ties into the point of my story, as you’ll see.”

“So what does a marshmallow have to do with anything, Mr. Patient?”
“Patience, Arthur. You’ll find out soon.”

Arthur pulled the Lincoln Town Car smoothly into midtown traffic and tucked his nearly solved New York Times crossword puzzle behind the passenger-seat visor as Jonathan Patient settled back into the soft leather seats and began:

“When I was four years old, I participated in what eventually became a famous experiment. I just happened to be the right age at the right time. My father was studying at Stanford-he was working on his master’s degree-and one of his professors was looking for preschool participants to help gather research for an experiment about the effects of delayed gratification in children.

“Basically, kids like me were placed in a room, one at a time. An adult came in and placed a marshmallow in front of me. Then she said she had to leave the room for fifteen minutes. She told me that if I didn’t eat the marshmallow while she was gone, she would reward me with a second marshmallow when she returned.”

“A two-for-one deal. A hundred percent return on your investment! That would be pretty intriguing even to a four-year-old,” Arthur mused.

“Certainly. But at age four, fifteen minutes is a long time. And with no one around saying no, the marshmallow became awfully hard to resist,” Jonathan said.

“So did you eat the marshmallow?”

“No, but I almost ate it about a dozen times. I even licked it once. It was killing me not to eat that marshmallow. I tried singing, dancing – anything I could think of to distract me – and after what seemed like hours, the nice woman finally returned.”

“And did she give you… a second marshmallow?”
“Absolutely. Those were the two best marshmallows I ever ate.”
“But what was the point of the experiment? Did they tell you?”

“Not then. I didn’t find out until years later. The same researchers gathered up as many of the original ‘marshmallow kids’ as they could – there were about six hundred of us in the first study, I think – and asked our parents to rate us on a series of skills and traits.”

“And what did your parents say about you?”
“Nothing. They never got the questionnaire. I was fourteen by then, and we’d moved a few times. But the researchers found nearly a hundred of the marshmallow families, and the results were quite remarkable.

“It turned out that kids who didn’t eat the marshmallow – and even those who resisted for a longer time – did better in school, got along better with others and managed stress better than the children who ate the first marshmallow shortly after the adult left the room. The marshmallow-resisters turned out to be vastly more successful than the marshmallow-eaters.”

“Well, that certainly describes you,” Arthur said, “but I don’t get it. How could your not eating a marshmallow at age four turn you into a billionaire Web publisher at age forty?”
“It didn’t directly, of course. But the ability to delay gratification of your own free will turns out to be a strong predictor of accomplishment.”

“But why?”
“Let’s get back to my original comment when I saw you eating that Big Mac. Weren’t you the one who told me this morning that Esperanza promised to save a nice dish of paella for your lunch today?”

“Actually, she promised me the best serving, the one with the most langosta-but I wasn’t supposed to tell you that.”
“And what were you doing thirty minutes before she would have served you the best paella in town?”

“Eating a Big Mac – eating the marshmallow! I get it. I couldn’t wait to eat, and I spoiled my appetite with something that I could get any time.”
“That’s right. You went for instant gratification rather than hold out for something you really wanted.”

“Gee, Mr. P, you’re right. But I still don’t get the big picture. Does eating or not eating marshmallows really have anything to do with the fact that you’re sitting in the back of the car, relaxing, while I’m up here driving?”

“Yes, Arthur, it makes all the difference in the world. But I’ll explain it more tomorrow when you take me back into the city at nine. We’re home now, and I’m on my way to enjoy a delicious lunch. What are your plans, Arthur?”
“To avoid Esperanza until I’m hungry again.”

Arthur dropped off Jonathan Patient, opening both car and house doors for the man who’d handed him pay-checks and, when he listened, valuable lessons for five years. He didn’t know why yet, but he suspected that the marshmallow lesson would prove the most important of all. Without pondering it further, Arthur exited the estate, drove to a nearby grocery store and purchased a bag of marshmallows.

Successful People Keep Their Promises

“Good morning, Mr. P. I hope you’re going to keep your promise about explaining the marshmallow story. I can’t stop thinking about it.”
“I’ll explain as much as we have time for on our way into the city, and as much as you want to know on every drive thereafter. Successful people don’t break their promises.”

Jonathan slid into the backseat as Arthur held the door open for him.
“Really, Mr. P? Seems in business all you hear about is people lying and reneging on deals.”

“That’s true, Arthur. And some people make a lot of money without honoring their commitments. But sooner or later, it catches up with them. People are more likely to produce the results you want if they trust you. But that’s another story. And, Arthur –”

“Yes, Mr. P?” asked Arthur, still standing with the rear door open.
“We’ll get to the marshmallow story faster if you get inside the car.”
“Oh, ha! Right, Mr. P.” Arthur donned his cap, hurried around the car and started its engine.

“Well, Arthur, as I recall, you wanted to know how to apply the marshmallow theory. You wanted to know why marshmallow-resisters are more successful than marshmallow-eaters.”

“Yes, I want to know if that’s the secret to your success and my, er, limited fulfillment.”
“Limited fulfillment. That’s a clever phrase. I can see why you do well on those crossword puzzles you solve during your downtime.”
“Thanks, Mr. P. I’ve always been good with words. Not that I get much chance to use them.”

“You can change that, Arthur, and I’m going to show you how. But first, let’s get back to your earlier marshmallow-eating days. We’ll start in high school. What kind of car did you drive?”

“Oh, man, Mr. P, I had the hottest car! It was a cherry-red Corvette convertible, a guaranteed babe magnet. I even got the homecoming queen to drive around with me in that car.”

“And is that why you bought it?”
“To get hot girls? Absolutely! And it worked too. My little black book was full, from Angelica to Zoe.”
“I believe you. How did you pay for the car, Arthur? Was it a gift?”

“No, I used the money I got for my sixteenth birthday party for the down payment. Then I had to get a job to afford the monthly payments and insurance and a second one so I had enough money to spend on all the girls who wanted to date me. Then, if the car needed repairs, I was really in trouble, begging my bosses for extra hours so I could get the car fixed before the weekend. I was broke most of the time.”

“That ‘Vette of yours was a pretty big marshmallow, wasn’t it?”
“Huh? What? Oh… it was that instant gratification thing, wasn’t it? I had to have the best car and the hottest girls immediately. And they’re all long gone. Today, I don’t even have a car – I drive yours – and none of the classy ladies are interested in a guy who wears a driving cap. This is depressing. Mr. P. But doesn’t every guy in high school want hot cars and hot girls? Didn’t you?”

“Of course I did, Arthur. I often envied guys like you in high school. Do you know what kind of car I drove in high school? A ten-year-old Morris Oxford. It was the cheapest transportation I could find – in fact, it cost me three hundred and fifty dollars.

But it got me back and forth to my job and school and even carried the occasional willing girl on a date. Neither the car nor I were ‘babe magnets,’ as you call them, but I chose to save my money for college, believing that education was the key to getting all the nice things in life I wanted.

I didn’t eat the marshmallow and look what I got instead.”
“About a gazillion marshmallows, Mr. P. Including some mighty tasty-looking marshmallows of the feminine variety, soft and fluffy in all the right places – when you were single.”

“Yes, Arthur, you’re right,” Jonathan said with a chuckle, “although that wasn’t exactly the example I had in mind. Try this one. If I offered you one million dollars today or the sum of a dollar doubled every day for thirty days, which would you choose?”

“Mr. P, I am no dummy. I would go for the million bucks. Don’t tell me that you would go for the damn buck doubled every day for thirty days!”
“Again, Arthur, you ate the marshmallow. You go for what is obvious instead of thinking long-term.

“You should have taken the dollar. If you had done that, you would have more than five hundred million dollars, yet you settled for a mere million.”
“I can’t believe it, Mr. P, but I know you don’t ever lie to me, so it must be true.”

“Yes, Arthur, that’s the amazing power of resisting a marshmallow. Five hundred million dollars in a month is a whole lot better than one million dollars in a day.”
“OK, Mr. P. I think you’re starting to convince me, but what do I do with the theory?

How can I apply it to my life, and how do you apply it to yours?”
“We’re almost at the office, Arthur, so I can’t answer both questions completely. But let me give you a quick example. Remember, yesterday, when I grumbled that the people in the meeting were all marshmallow-eaters, and how we got started on this conversation?”

“Of course. I think it’s the first time I’ve ever seen your tie out of place.”
“We were negotiating a deal to sell our e-sales training courses to a major Latin American corporation.

They wanted to buy one course from us that, because of the company’s size, would have meant a one-million-dollar deal. I was pushing, as I always do, to sell a more complex package of services, courses and seminars that would have meant establishing a long-term relationship with the company – ten million dollars to start and an important connection in the Latin American market.”

“So, what happened?”
“The president of the company was out of town, and we got a call from the Vice President, who wanted to meet with us. Our Vice President of sales went for the sale when their vice president told him exactly what he wanted, which was the one-million-dollar package.

What he should have done was to get away from the easy solution and start probing to find out other needs they have. He went for the marshmallow, Arthur, instead of developing a business case strong enough for us to get the ten-million-dollar deal. This happens all the time, Arthur, in many companies all over the world.”

“So you got the one-million-dollar deal. Not what you wanted, but not horrible, right?”
“Nothing’s been signed. And it gets worse. Yesterday the president of the company calls me and wants to know why we backed out of the long-term relationship.

He thought I’d broken my word. He was insulted, believing we’d lost confidence in him, and was opposed to signing any deal with a company that would only think of immediate gain and would not find a solution that exactly met their needs.”

“He didn’t want to deal with marshmallow-eaters!”
“Exactly. We may have lost the ten-million-dollar deal and the one-million-dollar deal because we ate the marshmallow!”
“Can you fix it?”

“That’s what I’m about to find out, Arthur. But in any event, it’s going to be a long day, possibly a long night. You can go on back to the house, and I’ll call you if and when I need you to pick me up today.”
“Good luck, Mr. P. I’ll be rooting for you!”
“Thank you, Arthur.”

Arthur drove back to the Patient estate, parked inside the six-car garage and walked back to the carriage house that he lived in, rent-free, as part of his salary. His life was pretty comfortable. Low-stress job, no major expenses.

But after five years, what did he have to show for it? Nothing in the bank and about sixty bucks in his pocket. And no plans that extended beyond next week.

Arthur sighed, entered his modestly furnished home and picked up the bag of marshmallows he’d purchased the day before. He ripped open the plastic bag and started to pop one into his mouth, then stopped and set it on his nightstand.

If it’s still there in the morning, he told himself, I’ll have two.

The End.

Hope you got something valuable from the story! Please leave your questions or comments below.


I recommend Don’t Eat The Marshmallow Yet by Joachim de Posada to you if you desire to discover how you can become successful at your work and in your life – you will find it highly rewarding.

Read the complete book: Don’t Eat The Marshmallow Yet! here.

2 thoughts on “Key To Success In Life: Don’t Eat The Marshmallow Yet!

  1. Innocent Post author

    Thank you Joachim for dropping by, your book has the power to fire anyone to succeed in life, and I’m glad spreading it.

  2. Joachim de Posada

    Thank you very much for reading my book and writing about it. This is a very important principle and people like you that act on it and help spread it, are to be thanked for your efforts.

    I think you will also enjoy the sequel to the book just out:

    Don’t Gobble the Marshmallow…Ever.

    Take care

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