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

May 7, 2021

Today I am very excited to have Dr. Katy Milkman joining me on the show. She has done so much amazing work over the years, some of which you have heard me share in episodes already, including the fresh start effect and temptation bundling, which as mentioned in last week’s episode with Jon Levy, is the most downloaded episode of the year to date. 

I love her research and the insights she has been able to share with the world so far. As you’ll hear in today’s episode, Katy is an amazingly smart person who has a knack for finding links others may not have seen yet. She leads amazing teams of students at Wharton and works with Angela Duckworth on the Behavior Change for Good Initiative, she is also the host of the Choiceology podcast, and her brand new book, How To Change, just came out this week. 

Show Notes:

  • [00:07] In today’s episode I’m very excited to introduce you to Dr. Katy Milkman, author of the new book How To Change.
  • [01:18] She leads amazing teams of students at Wharton and works with Angela Duckworth on the Behavior Change for Good Initiative. She is also the host of the Choiceology podcast, and her brand new book, How To Change, just came out this week.
  • [03:34] Katy shares about her background and who she is.
  • [05:35] Melina and Katy discuss the foreword of Katy’s new book written by Angela Duckworth (you won’t believe what she said!). 
  • [07:53] Katy shares about her fresh start research and how it all started. 
  • [09:11] There are moments throughout our lives that feel like new beginnings. New Years’ feels like a new beginning, but you can also have other new beginnings. 
  • [10:34] Their research on fresh starts and the power of those moments to change our motivation and therefore our ability to make an impact for the better on our lives is the biggest ah-ha for Katy from her research. 
  • [12:44] The fresh start research took about two years from the first conversation to the publication. It was quick because the findings weren’t subtle. (Katy and Melina discuss the differing timelines in academia and business.)
  • [14:33] They had some results and it was clear what they had learned within a few months, but the insights and documenting of the results usually takes the longest. 
  • [15:45] Katy shares another favorite research project she was part of about making people grittier. 
  • [17:38] Instead of giving poorly performing students advice, they flipped the script and put them in the position to be the advice-givers to underclassmen. 
  • [19:01] When people are asked for advice, it improves their motivation to achieve in that domain. 
  • [20:56] There is this huge power in recognizing that when you coach others you are helping yourself. 
  • [23:21] Too often we don’t take the time to figure out what is the actual barrier to change.
  • [24:10] It is important to make sure you are not solving the wrong problem before you deploy your solution.
  • [25:53] 9% of premature deaths in the world are due to inadequate physical activity. If we can figure these behavior change problems, we can really save lives.
  • [26:48] 40% of premature deaths due to decisions that could be changed. This is a really big opportunity for impact, but it all starts with recognizing one of the challenges any individual is having. 
  • [28:41] If I have this problem. I know a lot of people struggle with this as well. I am going to figure out the why for all of us and how we might change it and make it better. It can help you change everything by looking at it in a positive way. 
  • [30:26] Katy shares one of the most frustrating findings of her career. A ton of things did work, but it didn’t create lifelong change.
  • [33:23] It is important to have a reasonable goal with behavior change. 
  • [34:52] If you want to create durable change, it has to be a durable commitment and durable solutions instead of something temporary. 
  • [36:42] It can be really disruptive to have a fresh start if things are going really well. It is really hard to hold on and keep making progress. 
  • [38:46] If we want to change we have to remain vigilant. 
  • [39:27] Katy and Melina share their love for Harry Potter.
  • [42:30] Check out the Harry Potter audiobooks. They are SO amazing! 
  • [44:09] Mindset has a huge impact on what we can achieve. 
  • [47:05] Melina shares her closing thoughts. 
  • [48:31] Melina’s first book, What Your Customer Wants and Can’t Tell You is officially on presale and available on AmazonBookshop, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, and Booktopia. Buy today and be one of the first to receive a copy when it officially launches May 11, 2021. (NEXT WEEK!!!)

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. 

I hope you love everything recommended via The Brainy Business! Everything was independently reviewed and selected by me, Melina Palmer. So you know, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. That means if you decide to shop from the links on this page (via Amazon or others), The Brainy Business may collect a share of sales or other compensation.

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Check out (and preorder!) What Your Customer Wants and Can’t Tell You on AmazonBookshop, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, and Booktopia