The Power of Expectations: From the Pygmalion Effect to Shopify's Success


Hatched by Glasp

Sep 29, 2023

3 min read


The Power of Expectations: From the Pygmalion Effect to Shopify's Success


The Pygmalion effect, named after studies conducted in the 1960s, highlights the influence of teacher expectations on students' IQs. While the debate on its effects continues, it serves as a reminder that our reality can be influenced by the expectations of those around us. Similarly, Shopify, a company that provides e-commerce solutions, has defied Amazon's dominance by empowering merchants to become the "everywhere store." This article explores the common thread of expectations and how they shape our lives and businesses.

The Influence of Expectations:

Expectations play a significant role in our lives, affecting our achievements, thoughts, actions, and self-perception. The visions we offer our children, as Carl Sagan put it, shape their future and often become self-fulfilling prophecies. We must be mindful of the potential influence of our expectations on others. By changing our perception of their limitations, we can stretch people's capabilities and help them succeed.

Shopify: Challenging Amazon's Dominance:

Shopify, founded 15 years ago, provides software for merchants to run their online stores independently from Amazon. Unlike Amazon, which prioritizes customers above all else, Shopify celebrates and empowers the merchant. With a range of services, from website hosting to inventory management, Shopify democratizes commerce and aims to be the everywhere store.

Shopify's Triumph Over Amazon:

Shopify's success can be attributed to its strategic decisions and the mistakes made by Amazon. Amazon's Webstore service, which allowed independent merchants to run their websites, was shut down in favor of partnering with Shopify. This move allowed Shopify to gain momentum and establish itself as a critical threat to Amazon's dominance. Shopify's lending service, Shopify Capital, further supported small businesses, enabling them to start and grow their ventures.

Navigating Challenges and Expanding Opportunities:

While Shopify has made significant strides, it faces challenges in areas like logistics and advertising. Fulfillment, an essential aspect of e-commerce, poses a tough nut to crack for byte companies like Shopify. Additionally, changes in data tracking and user privacy on iPhones have affected the effectiveness and cost of Facebook ads, impacting small businesses. Overcoming these challenges will be crucial for Shopify's continued success.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Be mindful of the expectations you have of others. By changing your perception of their limitations, you can help them stretch their capabilities and achieve more.
  • 2. Celebrate and empower entrepreneurs. Recognize the value of small businesses and support them by providing resources, lending services, and opportunities for growth.
  • 3. Embrace challenges and adapt to changing landscapes. Seek innovative solutions to overcome obstacles and stay ahead of competitors. Constantly evaluate and improve your strategies to thrive in a dynamic business environment.


The Pygmalion effect and Shopify's success both revolve around the power of expectations. Our beliefs about ourselves and others can shape our reality. Shopify's ability to empower and support merchants has allowed it to challenge Amazon's dominance in the e-commerce space. By recognizing the influence of expectations and embracing challenges, we can create a future where success is not limited by preconceived notions.

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