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The Brainy Business | Understanding the Psychology of Why People Buy | Behavioral Economics

Dec 13, 2019

I am so beyond excited to introduce you to Nir Eyal, author of the fantastic new book Indistractable, which I have mentioned a couple times on the podcast already because..well...I haven’t been able to contain myself! I also wrote about some of my learnings from his book in an article from my Inc. column. Nir is awesome, and he was so engaging to talk to. His writing has been featured in Fast Company, Entrepreneur, Forbes, TechCrunch, The Harvard Business Review, Psychology Today, Time and The Huffington Post to name a few.

You may have heard of his first book, Hooked, which became an international phenomenon, loved by everyone from Silicon Valley and beyond. He’s taught at Stanford and sold a couple tech companies…I could list the accolades for ages, but I think you get the idea. Nir is awesome and I can’t wait for you to meet him as we talk about brains, goals and being Indistractable. So without further ado, Nir, welcome to The Brainy Business podcast!


Show Notes:

  • [03:10] Nir calls himself a behavioral designer. He uses consumer psychology and behavioral economics to change customer behavior through the technology that we use. As well as helping people shape their own behavior by understanding their cognitive characteristics.
  • [03:41] His first book Hooked was all about how to build habit-forming products and create habits. Indistractable is about how to break habits and how to make sure we can get the best out of these technologies without letting them get the best of us. 
  • [04:24] Nir writes because he wants to know the answer. With Hooked, he wanted to uncover the techniques that tech companies use to make their product so habit forming. He wanted to allow other industries to use these techniques to help form healthy habits. 
  • [05:40] He wrote Indistractable, because the products can be so well made it's hard to stop ourselves from using them. That was the situation he was in. 
  • [06:40] He was using an activity book with his daughter. There was a super power question, and he missed his daughter's answer, because he was looking at his phone. She actually left and went outside to play. 
  • [07:41] He decided to read everything that was written about this problem. The answer in all the books was to get rid of the tech. So he did. And...he discovered that he still got distracted. 
  • [08:35] This is when he realized the problem was much deeper than the technology. The technology was a proximal cause or symptom of a larger dysfunction.
  • [09:48] He decided to find an answer that actually worked. We can find ways to get the best of these tech tools without letting them get the best of us.
  • [11:07] The opposite of distraction is traction.
  • [12:53] The best place to understand distraction is to learn its opposite. Traction is an action that pulls you towards what you want to do. A distraction pulls you away from what you want to do.
  • [15:03] Tech tools aren't bad if you use them on your schedule. We can turn anything into traction as long as we make time for it.
  • [16:42] Nir wanted to get down to the root cause of identifying distraction and knowing what to do about it.
  • [17:11] Find out what prompts towards traction or distraction. What are the triggers? 
  • [18:14] Our most common triggers start from within. The real disease is that we are uncomfortable with our emotions, so we let ourselves be distracted.
  • [19:23] Why do we do what we do? Our brain gets us to act by spurring discomfort. 
  • [20:25] Motivation is spurred by a desire to avoid discomfort.
  • [21:11] We use distraction as psychological pacification. Time management is pain management unless we learn tactics to cope with discomfort. The first step is to master these internal triggers.
  • [22:50] People can become addicted to anything from exercise to news. It's not about the behavior. It's about what we are escaping from. 
  • [27:46] We were not designed by evolution to be happy all the time. Constantly striving and craving is what helped our species to progress.
  • [28:21] We need to channel our uncomfortable sensations towards traction (not distraction).
  • [29:50] Step two to becoming indistractable consists of three steps reimagine the task, reimagine the trigger, and reimagine our temperament.
  • [36:23] Our brain craves simple answers which always get us into trouble. That's what's happening with the boogey man of distraction. 
  • [39:04] Gum sales have gone down since the iPhone has come out. We don't need gum to distract ourselves.
  • [40:01] If it's something you are serving instead of it serving's time to disconnect. 
  • [41:06] Step number three is to hack back the external triggers. Turn off phone notifications. Hack back the open floor plan office. 
  • [42:31] Every copy of Nir's book comes with a sign you can put on your monitor that says that you are currently indistractable. 
  • [44:09] Nir's wife wears a concentration crown to let her daughter know that she is working. 
  • [44:48] The fourth step is to prevent distraction with pacts or commitments to stay on track. 
  • [46:05] Find one thing that you can do to start the journey to become Indistractable.
  • [48:00] The antidote to impulsiveness is forethought. 

Thanks for listening. Don’t forget to subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Android. If you like what you heard, please leave a review on iTunes and share what you liked about the show. 

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The BIG Brainy Bundle pick the Big Brainy Bundle and use the code BRAINY100OFF by December 31st to get all three pieces (a $1200 value) for just $599. I can’t wait to have you join us in 2020.