Terry Esau: Carbon Fiber Therapist

Terry Esau is the founder of Free Bikes 4 Kids, a non-profit based in Minneapolis that collects and distributes tens of thousands of bikes to needy children every year around the holiday season. He’s not as well-known as some of our guests, but his story will engage even the savviest marketers and HR executives. Terry realized early on that growing the organization would require meaningful marketing, smooth operations, and a phalanx of well-trained volunteers. To streamline these functions, he turned to Kaizen / Lean analysis and employed a host of behavioral science tools, without all the terminology. As a result, he is maximizing the organization’s mission to bring FREE bikes to kids.

Terry is what we call an Accidental Behavioral Scientist. His work clearly demonstrates the application of foundational behavioral science principles, yet he is unaware of the principles by name or theory. He has applied behavioral science principles to how kids (and their parents) shop for their free bikes and how volunteers are vetted and trained. In roughly 8 weeks, more than 20,000 volunteer hours are put into the collection, repair and distribution of bikes in each city. And it all happens with remarkably high satisfaction for both the riders and the volunteers.

Terry is an avid bicyclist, and he is also a published author and speaker. However, he spent most of his career composing music for documentary films, television and radio advertising. He composed and produced music for over 2,000 TV commercials for clients including Target, McDonald’s, Pepsi, Harley Davidson, Honda, Subway, Perkins, Golden Grahams and even Kitty Litter. He’s even has won a Clio award for his work in advertising.

In our grooving session, Kurt and Tim suss out the ways Terry leverages the endowment effect and uses choice architecture to guide kids and parents on the journey of getting a new bike. We also talked about the psychological effects that music has on the taste of food. Not just another rabbit hole, but a very interesting discussion!

We hope you enjoy the discussion with Terry Esau. If you would like to learn about how to bring Free Bikes for Kids to your city, please contact him directly: terry@fb4k.org


AIRDATE: June 2, 2019 EPISODE 73

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Terry Esau: Carbon Fiber Therapist