Podcast: Getting Your “Team” on Board

How do you influence the habits of those around you? Behavioral scientist Jason Hreha jumped on to the podcast to offer some insight.

Jason studied neuroscience at Stanford University. He helped found two different startups (Dopamine and Kite.io) and worked with three Silicone Valley tech companies. In 2016 he joined the team at Walmart to head up their behavioral sciences teams. Now he’s helping companies define better hiring practices.

This episode opened with the idea that I wanted to share some of my good habits and the good feelings they inspired with my family. But I recognize that things like exercising, budgeting, and eating well are not the easiest –and, at times, most *fun* — things to do. So I went searching for ideas on how to inspire some compliance from my family.

I ended up talking with Jason, and he dropped some great advice on how to approach inspiration and good habits in all kinds of teams — from family teams to work teams. From there, I’ve been able to take some steps towards inspiration tailored for the unique people in my family.

Episode 14: Getting Your “Team” on Board

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Episode Notes

A big “thanks” to Jason Hreha for spending so much time with me and asking some really left-field questions. Catch up with Jason at his web site. You can find some great articles there. A few of my favorites:

I spoke with Jason in hopes of finding the magic sauce of enlisting a first follower in my own behavioral changes. He points out that people have unique personalities, and when we look to create a cultural change on a team or even hire people without taking in regards their unique personalities and how they might fit into a certain environment or system, then we are setting up for failure. He recommends this personality test called the IPIP Neo:

IPIP Neo: https://www.personal.psu.edu/~j5j/IPIP/

Creating a behvorial change that leads to a movement requires followership, to a degree. This video is a great analogy for enlisting followers and creating a movement:

Once Jason pointed in the direction thinking about my family members as unique individuals, I recognized that they are the kinds of people who respond to more immediate rewards. This TEDx talk from Dr. Tali Sharot offers some useful insight on inspiring behavioral change:

Episode Transcript:

  • This is the Bad Ass Dad Pod
    • It’s the journey of one man on three epic quests to become a bad ass physically, financially, and relationally despite entering middle age.
    • I’m Ryan Dunn, and this is my journey to reach a full of life content, right now, no matter what age I am.
  • In this episode, I’m getting some help in enlisting others in joining me on my quests… specifically, I’m looking at how to get my family onboard with also being bad asses physically, financially and relationally.
    • So if you’re up to something and wondering how you get your loved ones to join you on your crazy quest
    • Then this episode might just be for you.
    • We’re going to talk to behavioral scientist Jason Hreha
    • And look at a couple things I’ve started doing with my fam that are yielding some positive results.
    • [MUSIC OUT]
  • I’ve been on this wellness and wholeness journey for the past several months
    • And I feel great
    • It’s not just the fact that I physically feel great
    • I feel emotionally well
      • I feel the good feelings that come from accomplishing things
      • In fact, it makes me feel really good about myself… 
      • Which was really needed
  • Here’s the thing… I would love to share these experiences with my family
    • I want for them to experience these feelings of contentment that I’ve been feeling.
    • I would love for them to feel as good about themselves as I have been feeling about me lately
    • BUT, what they see is kind of intimidating…
      • Here’s what’s gotten me feeling so good:
      • I’ve lost 20 lbs.
      • I’ve been physically training for something specific and seeing results
      • I’ve experienced that buying stuff doesn’t really add value to my life…
      • Those sound like great things, right?
      • But they come with a flip side…
        • They see me skipping dessert and watching what I eat
        • They see me working out… sometimes when it’s not the thing I’d prefer to do
        • They hear me say, a lot probably, that it’s not a good idea for us to buy things right now…
        • In short, they hear me and see me making sacrifices and doing hard things… and they’re not necessarily lining up to get on board the bad ass train.
    • Let’s be honest: it sounds like work, right?
      • And, in all honesty, it IS work. 
      • BUT it’s such rewarding work.
      • I’d love for them to experience the rewards, too.
    • And I need to admit that I need their cooperation to fulfill some of the goals I’ve set out for us
      • You know, getting out of debt is NOT something I can do on my own
      • I need buy in from my team here… which is my family
    • So part of my journey here has been trying to devise ways to get my family on board–maybe even a little excited–with things like exercise, healthy eating, and budgeting.
      • And, to be fair, I’ve gotten some cooperation
      • But things have not been fully embraced.
      • It’s kind of like they’re willing to support me out of love
      • But not fully ready adopt some the more austere measures and habits for themselves
      • So I’ve been trying to figure out what key step I need to take in order to get buy in and participation from the rest of the fam.
      • There was a viral video a few years back… it was called the First Follower: Leadership Lessons from Dancing Guy
        • It depicts a guy dancing at a concert… he’s back on the lawn of the amphitheater… totally lost in the music
        • Somebody likely started filming this guy because he was just sooo in to what he was doing… he was in a total state of euphoria
        • And wasn’t that odd? This lone guy. Dancing in his very unique way… by himself.
        • But then something happens… someone else joins him in dancing…
        • And with that first follower, the dancing guy is no longer a strange anomaly off to the side at a concert…
        • He’s leading something…
        • And within moments of that first follower showing up, a large crowd gathers around the leader and a movement of crazy dancing ensues… with more and more people flocking into the picture … to the point that the first crazy dancing guy gets completely lost in the crowd.
      • Right now, I feel a little like the dancing guy at the beginning of the video… I’m this lone anomaly and peculiarity
        • And doesn’t what I’m doing look fun?
        • But it also looks risky….
        • And at the moment, I look a bit like an idiot
      • I’ve been searching for the magic motion that would invite in the first followers…
        • And I haven’t figured it out yet.
        • I have yet to really get my family up and doing some crazy dancing with me.
    • So how do I get others on board with me when what I’m doing looks a little crazy, or risky, or scary… or, in this case
      • Where I’m doing physical training
      • And not spending much money
      • And watching what I eat
      • AND watching what I consume in other ways–like TV and video games…
      • How do I get them on board when what I’m doing looks really hard?
    • Well, here’s what I’ve tried
      • First strategy was probably shaming
        • That’s where I started “shoulding” all over my family
        • That sounds like phrases like
          • “We should save more money…”
          • “We should stop bringing so many sweets into the house…”
          • “We should go exercise together…”
        • These are not helpful phrases
        • Chances are, my family members already feel like they should be doing these things, too.
        • It’s no surprise to anyone to hear that we should eat better
        • So me repeating the word should as a means of motivation is probably counter-productive…
          • it’s just lifting up the negative
          • And dumping shame on to a situation where a little shame is felt already.
          • Some shame can be motivating… but it jumps way too quickly into motivating people to avoid a situation instead.
        • So the shaming, while not done on purpose, needed to be cut out.
      • Second strategy in trying to get my family on board was nagging…
        • Really the should talk is nagging, too
        • But in the second phase of nagging I got way more passive aggressive about things.
          • Especially around financial stuff
          • I guess that’s because that is the area where their behaviors affect me most directly
          • So I was asking questions like, “did you really need to buy that?”
          • Or “what is this purchase?”
          • Or “Did you know you spent this much money on… [insert item that I felt it was unnecessary to buy]
      • Unsurprisingly, my shaming and nagging strategies produced little fruit.
        • In reality, the only reason that I got any compliance through these strategies likely came about through hope to simply shut me up.
        • Which isn’t what I necessarily want, right?
        • I wasn’t really after a family that is bent and broken to my will.
        • I’m after a family that shares in the good feelings and contentment that I have been experiencing.
      • But I don’t know how to motivate them to do that.
      • I’m lost, right?
    • I’ve sought out some professional help–I’ve called in a ringer
      • A behavioral scientist 
      • And this is a person with a pretty impressive resume
      • His name is Jason Hreha [RHEA]
        • He studied neuroscience at Stanford
          • And there he was the lead researcher at the Persuasive Technology Lab
        • He founded two different startups
        • He has worked with several Silicon Valley tech companies
        • In 2016, Walmart brought Jason on board to build the company’s behavioral science team
        • He has a book coming out, which I’m really stoked for: Start With Who: Why You Fail At Personal Change – And What To Do Instead
      • And he agreed to talk to me about taking some of these principles from behavioral science and apply them to inspiring behaviors in my family… 
      • Oh, and like all the other people I’ve interviewed who are successful in their given fields, Jason is really passionate about his work… which made a ton of fun to talk to
        • There’s probably a lesson right there
        • Passionate people are motivating…
  • If you’re like me, you might not have a great grasp on behavioral science, so that’s where our conversation began…
    • From there, we moved into talking about working on teams… both professionally and in our personal relationships
      • And let’s face it, all of us work on teams
      • Jason offers stellar advice in how to think about your and how recognizing the different personalities on your team OR within your family points to unique factors in influencing behavior and moving towards success
      • It sounds like a difficult process because there is not a one-size for all solution
      • But, once Jason helps us drill into it, we’re gonna to see that a personality-based approach makes a TON of sense
    • [Music bumper]
    • Can you tell us a little bit about what you do? Like what is a behavioral scientist? 
    • Yeah. Um, that’s a good question. So I just applied behavioral science research to business and technology problems. So for most of my career I applied behavioral science research to designing better products. So figuring out how to make products more habit forming, more enjoyable to use, easier to use all that.
    • but most recently, um, I worked at Walmart, so Walmart actually recruited me to be the global head of behavioral sciences there and kind of build out their applied behavioral science team. And so I worked on a bunch of stuff across the company. So everything you can imagine, um, with the stores or with the website, I’m just trying to make the ma make the product or service there. Um, just much more enjoyable to use and just so that it fits in better people’s lives. Right. People today have really, really busy lives. Yeah. They a have tons of different choices that they can make in terms of where to buy their groceries, where to buy their socks, where to buy their books, et cetera.
    • And so, you know, if you can kind of understand people’s current behaviors, their current habits, um, and then if you, if you can figure out how to, can I fit into the structure of their lives more seamlessly than you can kind of, you know, take, take market share from Amazon. You can kind of build a product, build services that people love and keep using and that will kind of, yeah, enable you to build a great business. So worked on a ton of stuff there.
    • I came across you because a lot of the things that you’re have that you’ve written, especially through your blog posts speak to, um, not so much product organization, but like relational organization and, uh, building better teams and how we relate to one another. Is that something that you’re working with a little bit more now? Yeah, so, you know, I’ve, I’ve shifted most of my focus too. Um, uh, more, I guess you could call them human resources or recruiting, um, or talent issues.
    • So what are some of the myths that you keep rubbing up against in the human resources department? Well, I’ll say that the biggest myths, a, the biggest myths around like how you should vet talent and what things predict actual performance on the job.
    • So, uh, we, we know now from a century of data that um, interviews for example just aren’t great measures of talent or performance, um, or they’re not great predictors rather of talent or performance. Uh, years of work experience is actually one of the weakest predictors of job performance. Uh, I’ll take a, an a motivated, smart, driven kind of person with one year of experience over somebody who is not as driven but has 10 years of experience any days, any day of the week. A reference sex for example, are really bad predictors of performance. Almost anything that you find on a resume barely predicts performance. So for example, things like GPA are really bad predictors of performance. As I’ve said, like where you’ve worked in the past is, is really not a good predictor of performance. Um, uh, let’s see here. Uh, yeah, I mean like, so I’d say that most the indicators that people look at wow, kind of assessing who to interview or who to hire, um, are just very noisy indicators and they just don’t do a good job of actually figuring out who would be the best fit for, uh, each, you know, each role.
    • we know now, you know, from, from a lot of research that the predictors of performance can really be broken down. I’ve put into two different buckets. One bucket I would call it personality. And then one bucket I’d call a cognitive ability. Uh, so if you think about it, what is work? Uh, when, when you go to work, you go into the same environment, uh, day after day, and you are presented with a bunch of problems where you have a bunch of problems thrown at you, some of these problems you’ve seen before and you know how to solve, uh, but many of the problems that you see on a daily basis, uh, you haven’t really seen before. You don’t really know how to solve them. And so you have to use your brain. You have to use your ability, uh, to kind of problem solve and to learn to figure out, OK, cool.
    • Like this is a problem I haven’t seen before. What information do I need to collect? Okay, interesting. What’s the pattern here? Does this seem similar to anything I’ve seen before? And you have to take all that information, combine it together and come up with the best solution you can. Right? So if you think about it, work is just problem solving. And so problem solving ability is very, um, is actually quite easily predicted by giving somebody what’s called a general cognitive ability test. A general cognitive ability test is a test, a is a diverse problem-solving assessment where you pretty much were you more or less just throw together a bunch of strange, uh, problems that a person probably has not seen before and you just have each individual that is applying for your job or that you want to assess, take this diverse mixture of problems, of novel problems and uh, how well they do on a diverse problem solving assessment is unsurprisingly the best predictor of how they’re actually going to perform on the job.
    • The other bucket is personality. And if you think about what his personality, you know, it’s, it’s this term that people throw around a lot, but personalities, really just a person’s like behavioral emotion and emotional predispositions. That’s how I like to describe it. And so a personality measures things like, you know, how, how prone to anger is an individual, how prone to anxiety or fear as an individual, how prone to, um, you know, they’re in. Therefore, how, you know, resilient is an individual likely to be, um, how caring and nice as a person does a person tend to be, how extroverted slash. Social does a person person tend to be? How like cheerful and motivated does a person tend to be? Does the person really care about going above and beyond, they’re doing a great job, et cetera or not.
    • So a personality kind of encapsulate all these kind of emotional and behavioral elements. And so, um, if you have kind of a good personality measure for candidates and then if you have a good problem solving or cognitive ability measure for candidates and you combine those two things together, you’re, you are getting the most complete picture of the things that actually matter for somebody coming in as an employee and doing well.
    • So, um, are there, are there things that, um, that you see happening on work teams that are working very effectively as far as inspiring habitual change or good habits in and the teams themselves or the coworkers?
    • Speaker 1: 14:02 Um, I mean, how well a team is able to operate really as less of a function of the habits that the team has and like the context that the team’s in and it has much more to do with kind of how well the personalities of the team members themselves mesh, mesh. Um, and so, you know, there’s been a huge line, kind of that’s been put forward in the behavioral sciences for the last 50 or 60 years. And the big lies that the context is the main determinant of people’s behavior. The main determinant of people’s behavior is not context. It’s not the environment, it’s the, the personalities of the individuals themselves. Um, that’s a much larger driver of behavior than any contextual variable. Of course, you know, um, you know, of course in very extreme environments, the environment can overpower, um, kind of personal kind of predispositions and personal preferences, uh, but in kind of most everyday contexts, uh, the, the, the environment is not extreme enough to really kind of do that or really push people to act in a way that’s completely contradictory to their predisposition.
    • Speaker 1: 15:07 So like, for example, like if I’m, you know, in like a prison or like if somebody kind of, yeah, like if somebody is put into a prison or some extreme contexts like that, of course, right. You can get them to act completely differently than they naturally just kind of would according to just their, their nature of their character. But, um, uh, you know, in, in a, in a modern office where people are applying to that job and they are choosing to work there and shoot, you know, we’re, people have a lot of choice, um, and freedom, which is pretty much almost every modern context. Um, uh, the personality is going to be the driving force. And so I think that people in the behavioral sciences focus way too much on these little habit hacks and like, Oh, tweak your environment here and tweak your environment there and do this and do that.
    • Speaker 1: 15:52 And that stuff is almost, almost always a huge waste of time and won’t really kind of give you any, any of the results that you actually want. Um, and so, uh, what, what I really kind of the most research back, the most evidence based thing, uh, that actually works is, um, what I kinda like to call the insight method. And it’s, um, instead of trying to figure, like learn this hack or that hack or learn about how like you can create a like, um, uh, you know, use social proof or commitment and consistency in order to slightly improve the chances that you’ll follow through on habit or, or whatever it is. Yeah. Um, my whole, my whole, but the, the, the most evidence based approach that I kind of really push, um, is instead of doing all that instead, learn as much about yourself and your personality and your, your predispositions, uh, as possible.
    • Speaker 1: 16:46 And then use that information in order to put yourself into the right context or to even choose the right behaviors or things to do in the first place. And don’t worry about on any of these silly hacks that people try and foist upon, uh, readers in the Bay, in, in like the psychology and behavioral science world because they don’t work. They just don’t work. All right. So, um, things like finding the right kind of reward or not necessarily as important as looking at yourself, doing that introspective work and finding the right place for you to maybe put your, your, you’re right behaviors on display. Yeah. So like here, I can just give you a quick example right now. So for example, um, you know, uh, let’s say, uh, let’s say that you, let’s say that you’re trying to kind of lose weight and that’s like your goal or the outcome that you’re trying to kind of go after and yeah, totally.
    • Speaker 1: 17:45 So let’s say you’re trying to lose weight and the way that you decided to do it is, is, is, you know, you’ve heard from a bunch of your friends that, Oh, like, you know, here’s a great weight lifting program that you can do. All you have, you know, just requires you to go into the gym three different days a week. Just go in, put some headphones on and just do these three, one hour weightlifting, um, sessions, uh, you know, a week and in three or four months you’ll be at your goal. Like, you’ll be good. Just just do this well, that may or may not actually be the right behavior for you given your personality and given your predisposition. So let’s say you take a big five personality inventory, you know, which is great personality assessment. Let’s say you take one of those and you see that actually you’re super extroverted and you’re not that conscientious.
    • Speaker 1: 18:31 So conscientiousness really measures how kind of motivated and organized a person tends to be and and extroversion, um, measure one of them, it measures a few things, but one of the main things it measures is how kind of like, um, like social a person is how much they see kind of the attention and uh, attention, date, attention and contact of others. Right? And so let’s say you find out that you’re super social but not very conscientious. Well, the workout scheme that I just described to you would be a horrible traits for you if that was indeed your personality. Um, because going into the gym and forcing yourself to go into the gym, excuse me, week after week, um, that requires a lot of willpower, a lot of effort, a lot of self discipline. And that’s one of the main things that conscientious conscientiousness in particular, that orderliness component kind of really measures, right?
    • Speaker 1: 19:23 And so if you’re not very just naturally kind of orderly and routine based and kind of self-disciplined, you’re gonna, it’s gonna be hard for you to go against that and just like drag yourself into this routine day after day, week after week. And if you’re actually very extroverted and you just are super motivated by kind of people and dealing with people than doing something solitary like that just will not be very stimulating for you and you’ll just get bored and it just, you just won’t like it. And so instead for somebody like that, what I’d recommend is join, join a a join like a, a league of some sort. Join a team of some sort. Um, join like a, team if you like soccer, join a join a, like a, like a club soccer team or join a little basketball league or a Dodge ball league or whatever you find enjoyable so that you actually are, you can be in a, an exercise context that is social, that kind of stimulates that part of you and then actually the team can for, it can kind of be, you’re forced.
    • Speaker 1: 20:24 Um, you’re forced conscientiousness, you yourself do not have very much conscientiousness. You’re not very orderly, you’re not very routine based, but the team structure can kind of, um, can kind of in a certain sense, police that for you and can kind of, uh, substitute for that lack of routine and discipline in your own life, in your own brain and how naturally functions. And so that’s what I’d order. That’s what I recommend to somebody with a personality profile I just described. And so I, the really the trick of life and the trick of achieving your goals is picking the right activity, the right behavior for your predispositions, rabbit, and trying to do all these silly little hacks in order to, uh, make up the, the, um, the inappropriate behavior work. Does that make sense? Yeah, absolutely. So it sounds like there’s no one magic bullet for an hour buddy.
    • So you brought up the idea of, of losing weight, why you’ve done the paleo diet. It, it did very well for you. Uh, but the paleo diet may not be right for everybody. So as you’re thinking about trying to encourage somebody else to get involved in watching their nutrition or going on a, uh, on a diet because it’s, it’s made you feel great, what are some ways that you can inspire somebody else to do that? Yeah. So yeah, the paleo diet, we’re great. We’re very well for me because it really fits my personality very well. The paleo diet is a, is what I’d call a lower conscientiousness, a higher openness diet. So openness is one of the big five personality traits. And what it really measures is how intellectually curious somebody is how into new, just new, just novel stuff. Somebody is how creative somebody is.
    • Speaker 1: 23:07 And if you think about it, the paleo diet, um, you know, it’s, it’s kind of one these scientific cutting edge exciting diets, right? So people that are kind of science nerds or science geeks are really interested into like evolutionary stuff. I’m just a really attracted to it, right? And I was attracted to it for the same reasons where I really liked the, um, the logic behind it. I just found it intellectually fascinating. And so for me, it was just this really sexy, cool thing, especially when I got into it, which was back in 2010, 2011. Um, so that was kind of an early adopter with all this stuff. And so for me, I just at that time was utterly fascinated just by all of the thinking and the research that went behind it. And so for me, I’m extremely high in openness, um, that that specific personality trait.
    • Speaker 1: 23:50 And so, uh, you know, paleo kind of really meshed with that element of my personality. And then also, you know, I’m a very, um, uh, you know, as I mentioned before, conscientiousness, that personality trait can really be broken down into two sub traits, ones in called industriousness, one’s called, um, orderliness. Orderliness is, is this measure, as I’ve mentioned before, this measure of how, how kind of routine based and kind of structured you tend to be. Um, and I’m very low in order. We invest, I’m not a personal structure, I’m kind of more of like a fly by the seat of the pants type of person. And that’s what makes me a really good entrepreneur because being an entrepreneur requires you to kind of be okay with chaos and be okay kind of with the exp, this exploratory business process where you’re kind of, you don’t know quite what the product exactly is yet, but you have some idea and your kind of experiment thing and kind of going through all this craziness to try and, you know, find this product or service that the market wants, right?
    • So, but people that are low in orderliness tend, I mean, entrepreneurs tend to be very, very well in ordering orderliness. And so, um, I’m quite low in orderliness and, uh, for me, uh, that’s the problem that I’ve always had with traditional diets is that with the traditional dieting approach, it’s all about, Oh, cool. Like, well, you know, you have to plan out your meals and you know, you have to cut, you have to cut a, if you want to lose this many pounds this month, you need to eat 200 fewer calories than normal each day. Uh, so that requires you to track everything you’re eating, like market down, calculate out the number of calories that you’re just not, you’re just normally eating, then figure out, okay, interesting. So if I, if I need to cut 200 calories for my daily intake, that means I should need half, six ounces, fewer, uh, you know, potato six, six ounces, less of the, you know, these potato fries for lunch and et cetera.
    • It’s like, it just requires a lot of planning and structure and orderliness. Right? Yeah. And so that’s the traditional dieting approach. And for me, the thing that I loved about paleo is, you know, paleo says, you know, throw out all these like throw out all the, all the calorie counting, throw out all the like hyper structured kind of, uh, the hyper structured meals, right? It just, it just a few simple rules that you have to follow. It’s like, don’t eat this, don’t eat that. More of this, eat more of that. Right? And it’s just a few kind of do’s and don’ts. And if you follow those do’s and don’ts, that very simple structure, then you can really do whatever you want. You can kind of improvise within very loose constraints. And so for somebody like me, that’s just not good at being all that organized and orderly.
    • The paleo was a godsend. I could just follow this loose roles, eat whatever I wanted within that, and I shed weight and I felt better. And so for me, just high openness, low orderliness, it was perfect. And so, um, that approach is perfect for me, but it might not necessarily be perfect for, you know, the super organized accountant type who, you know, is okay kind of, you know, making their oatmeal for the next three days on Monday. Right. And like work part up, portioning it out in little kind of food containers or whatever. So, um, there’s no one size fits all approach. Paleo was great for me. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it to my hyper organized routine based friends. Um, but for everybody else who has a similar personality profile, I would recommend it. And actually I think that that’s why it’s paleo and all these types of diets have taken off so well and Silicon Valley is so it can valleys filled with highly open, highly creative, highly adventurous individuals who are kind of chaotic messes and, or at least like chaotic entrepreneurial messes. And, um, you know, I think, I think therefore it’s, it’s no, it’s no surprise that paleo is become the dominant dietary paradigm within the most kind of entrepreneurial part of the country or the world.
    • I guess some processes of frugality. Uh, what are some ways that we can begin to encourage the people around us to, uh, adopt maybe some of those money saving habits in light of the fact that we’re all going to relate to it differently?
    • Speaker 1: 28:35 Yeah, no, that’s, that’s a great question. So, yeah, I mean, uh, so that, that’s an interesting issue because once again, right, I think that different different habits or different, different, um, recommendations will be good for different teams or different members of different teams. Right. So, um, I would say that for, for, for individuals that are like super conscientious and who are very good at, you know, kind of planning and kind of coming up with a, um, details, let’s say spending plans, um, which will be certain teams or certain members, certain teams, I think having them do to a more traditional kind of like, um, budgeting exercises is great, works really well. Um, but for individuals who let’s say aren’t as good at that, the, the planning aspects and aren’t as good at, um, kind of like sitting down and just, yeah, like kind of doing all that like detail oriented work of longterm planning.
    • What I would do for teams like that is I’m kind of what I would call, um, do you default default saving or, um, like budgetary restriction. So, I don’t know if they, this is something that the behavioral economists topic talk about a lot, which is that, you know, the best way of course to get people to save, um, save money or to, uh, put money into a 401k plan is to automatically deduct that money from the poor Ronk plan or from their account. And I think that that approach is, is really great for individuals that aren’t going to planning and there just aren’t very good or aren’t, aren’t very prone to doing that, which is, you know, a lot of people. Um, so, you know, but like, you know, half the population is below of course, right below average in that kind of, um, uh, in that, uh, that kind of ability.
    • And so for those individuals, like a, uh, you know, an automatic deduction or kind of like automatically if you’re the department head, they’re automatically kind of like giving the people in that department a lower budget than actually exists. So that, you know, w with like, let’s say some buffer in place. Um, uh, so for example, let’s say you want the group, let’s say the team is spending like $1 million a year and you want to reduce their spending to, you know, 800 K a year. Uh, what I would probably do is give the people on the team a $600,000 budget instead and just just now, I would just know that they’re probably going to go beyond that. There are unforeseen expenses there, unforeseen circumstances, and um, so can you give them a $600,000 target? They’ll probably go above that, let’s say to 800 K or so.
    • And so that’s what I’d do. I’d almost take that defaulting or that like constraint based approach in that case. And then with the other individuals that are like higher on, um, conscientiousness higher in that orderliness, I would have them do the more traditional kind of budgeting exercises just to figure out how to get rid of things. Um, so yeah, those are the two main approaches I do.
    • So, wait, you’ve talked about these kind of five different types of personalities. How do we drill down into finding out what we are or what the people around us are? Yeah, that’s a good question. So, uh, what I recommend for, to, to learn about yourself and how you feel, what I would recommend or like to learn about yourself and, and how you’re, like I said, how you feel, but really to learn about yourself and your predispositions and how you like how you kind of stack up. Uh, personality wise, I would take, uh, what’s called the big five personality inventory and the best freely available one is called the EPIP.
    • So if you type in IP, IP and then space Neo Neo, if you typed that in, there is a, um, a 120 question, big five, uh, assessment and then there’s a 300 item, big five assessment on that website. And if you just take that, um, either of those, I would recommend of course the 300 item version, you know, just the more questions you answer, the more reliable the scores are.
    • But you know, once you, once you start thinking about people in the world in terms of these different personality traits, um, then after a few weeks or a few months, you start to get pretty good at kind of inferring people’s traits and their levels of these different, um, personality traits, uh, just from just talking to them or observing their behavior, et cetera.
    • Well, Jason, this has been really informative. How do we, if we want to learn more about some of the things that you’re up to, uh, and also to read your blog posts, where can we find you and how can we get ahold of you? Definitely. Yeah. So my, my website is the behavioral scientist.com. So I put all my articles and just online materials up on there. I’ve actually been writing a book, a short book, about 150 to 200 pages on this personality stuff and how like, you know, what, you need to know why it’s important and how you can actually use this personality research to change your own behavior to achieve your goals. And then also to, um, you know, change the behaviors of behaviors of others.
  • [Music bumper]
  • Well, now the challenge before me is a little more clear. There aren’t fix all solutions.
    • My family are unique individuals who are going to respond to stimuli in different ways
    • SOOOOO… this is kind of cool as it relates to my family quest
      • I need to figure out what kind of people my family are
      • What motivates them
      • And this relates to my quest to become bad ass relationally… ‘cuz I gotta tune in to my family
      • I’m going to jump in to that in a sec
    • I do want to note that I took the IPIP Neo test that Jason mentioned
      • A link to that is on the web page for this episode… on thebadpod.com
      • I totally dominated (so to speak) in the agreeableness category
      • Which probably means I would excel at being the person influenced rather than the influencer in my whole familial situation.
    • Looking at the report I received helped me imagine how my family members fit on to this scale and the ways I might use that knowledge to connect more deeply with them…
      • And also, you know, how I might influence some of their behaviors
      • In a benevolent way, of course
  • And here’s what I’ve deciphered: rewards are a huge deal
    • My family needs to see immediate rewards
    • So me saying… “we need to spend less money so that some day we can be out of debt… so stop spending money now” is not really motivating for them.
    • In reviewing my time with Jason, I think there’s another big thing to note
      • We initially were talking about two different things
      • When the interview began, I wanted to know how I could inspire compliance
      • Jason wanted to point out how teams inspire success
      • Those are very different things, because success does not demand compliance in many cases
      • It just involves action
  • That led me to do some more research, because I want to know how to inspire my family towards action in a way that is reasonable for them…
    • So that it’s not just about bending towards Dad’s will
    • But that it’s genuine action initiated by each of them individually for their own wellness and our familial wellness
    • I came across a TEDx talk by another behavioral scientist, Tali Sharot–which I’ve posted up on the web site
    • Here’s what she notes:
      • Warnings and threats don’t do much
        • So my nagging that we’re digging a deeper financial hole really had no affect on my family’s behavior
      • Instead, people want to take in positive information and receive immediate rewards
        • That echoes something I read in Michael Matthews’ book Bigger Leaner Stronger
        • Our brain’s job is to raise hell until it gets rewarded… in essence, we’re like dogs who often execute behaviors that will result in reward
        • That’s an awful analogy… I hope you get the spirit of it… I don’t believe you’re like a dog…
        • ANYWAYS, I need to reinforce positive information and highlight immediate rewards
    • So here’s what I’ve put into practice…
      • It’s a trick that Jerry Seinfeld recommends
      • Not that I’m friends with Seinfeld
      • There’s a popular anecdote about Seinfeld and a wall calendar
      • Jerry identifies a habit he wants to do… like writing comedy every day… and for each day he does that, he puts a line through the day…
      • His goal is to not break the chain
      • I’ve adapted this practice for my family
        • We’re in testing phase
        • We’ve each identified a behavior we want more of 
        • For me it’s writing every day
        • For my kid, it’s 30 minutes of active fun
        • Each day we do those things, we put a line up on a wall calendar
          • Just one line across the day
          • So if we get several days strung together, we have a long, unbroken line
        • The idea is not to not break the line–well, I think that’s actually pushing towards negative enforcement, 
        • the idea is to grow the line– and to keep it growing.
          • There’s an immediate reward in daily putting up a mark on the calendar
          • It’s satisfying, like checking something off a to-do list
          • It’s an immediate reward, which, because of the way my family members are wired, is important to get
    • The OTHER thing I’ve found helpful is not to focus on everything at once
      • Like, my wife doesn’t need me nagging her about what we spend, what we eat, and how we move our bodies all consecutively
      • I have to accept that one behavior will likely lead to another… and snowball together… so I’m trying to focus on one behavior and let go of the rest.
      • Which is tough for me… because, if it isn’t obvious from the whole premise of this podcast… I want to do it all
  • One last note, another practice that’s helping to spread my influence a bit…
    • This relates to the idea that we want to take in positive information
    • I’ve been talking a lot more positively… Like framing the positive results of what I do
    • So when my wife asks me how a workout went, I don’t say “man, it totally kicked my ass…”
    • I try to reframe and say, “Whew, I feel so good about what I accomplished today…”
    • All in an attempt to feed to the positivity
    • Because, inside, I’m feeling really, really good.
    • I feel like, this is the tender moment of contemplation that closes the episode… 
    • You know, I may not reach my goals in the time frame I hoped to reach them
    • But I’m experiencing something really beneficial in the process
    • And the more I do towards reaching those goals, the better I feel about myself and the more content I feel about my life
    • And that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?
  • [MUSIC UP]
  • This has been a ton of fun
    • Thank you for sharing this journey with me
    • Hey, I’d like to know what people are questing towards…
      • So if you’re on a life quest, share it. Tell me in the comments section on the web page
    • And, again, you can find that page at thebadpod.com
    • That’s also where you’ll find weekly postings
    • And the information to connect with the Bad Ass Dad Pod through social media
    • I would really appreciate it if you’d leave a rating and review of this podcast through the podcast platform of your choice… thank you in advance
      • Well, you know, I keep saying that,
      • But from what I can tell, Apple Podcasts / iTunes is the only platform that allows for ratings and reviews
      • So I guess if I’m going to cut to the heart of it, I need you to jump on to that platform and spread the love
      • Thank you so much
  • My name is Ryan Dunn
    • I am host, writer, editor, producer of this podcast
    • BIG thanks to Jason Hreha for his time and insight in making this episode possible,
      • Again, check out what Jason does at thebehavioralscientist.com
      • And watch out for his book, Start With Who: Why You Fail At Personal Change – And What To Do Instead– which should be coming out very, very soon.
  • The theme music is by Eyoelin
  • New episodes of this podcast drop every other Wednesday… but new content is available every week at thebadpod.com
  • So I’ll be back with you soon!
  • OK Bye!

Published by RyanDunn

Ryan Dunn has a bunch of certificates on his desk. A few are awards for content production and marketing. Another marks his ordination as a minister. One says he’s earned a BA in English from the University of Iowa. The certificate next to that says he earned an MA in Christian Practice from Duke (with honors!). Ryan is most proud, though, of the things he’s created: The Compass Podcast, some deep content on RethinkChurch.org, a series of practical spiritual advice videos, a long-lasting marriage, and fantastic little boy. (He enjoyed A LOT of help on all of those projects, especially the last two.)

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