Newsletter - August 2020

Hey, Groovers…

Another month living in a pandemic.  It feels like the months are all running together and that we have grown accustomed to the craziness that is life.

If you would have told us on New Year’s Day this year, that by August the world would be in a pandemic, that over 600,000 people would have died from it (over 150,000 in the US alone), that millions of people would be out of work, that we would be quarantined for months on end and having to social distance, wear masks and hold our Behavioral Grooves Meetup virtually, we would have A) thought you were crazy and B) not believe how much we have adjusted to this new craziness.

One aspect that has been highlighted by this pandemic for us is the idea of human adaptability. If we can adapt to this, what else can we adapt to?

PS – Tim and I are working with some other local behavioral scientists to put on a behavioral science conference – Nudge it North.  It was going to be live, but given how the world has changed, we adapted and it is now going to be virtual.  Save Friday, November 13th on your calendar – it is going to be epic!

~ Kurt & Tim


Highlighted Behavioral Grooves Podcast: Steve Wendel, PhD

Stephen Wendel, PhD is the Head of Behavioral Science at Morningstar and the author of a new book, “Designing for Behavior Change.” He is also a co-founder of the non-profit Action Design Network that focuses on educating the public on how to apply behavioral research to product development with monthly events in fifteen cities.

In our conversation, we talked about epistemic humility, which is a cool concept that was new to both Kurt and Tim. We also discussed a few of our favorite topics including the role of behavioral science in the corporate world, the ethical application of behavioral science, and how important context is to … well, everything.


Kurt’s Reading

I’ve been reading Think Like a Rocket Scientist: Simple Strategies You Can Use to Make Giant Leaps in Work and Life by Ozan Varol.  It was hard for me to get into it, but pushing on I found it really fascinating.  The concepts discussed are a bit simplistic (strange when the title of the book is Think Like a Rocket Scientist – I thought rocket science was hard), but overall good strategies.  Ideas such as reasoning from “first principles,” using “redundancy,” be “playful,” and “moonshot thinking” are not that hard to grasp, but the stories around them and the interesting twists that Ozan brings to them are fun and enlightening.

Tim’s Reading

Two great reads are on my desk this month. The first was recommended by Kurt last month and I want to reiterate it: Robert Sapolsky’s Behavior. It’s more than just a neuro-primatologist’s view of human behavior, it’s a journey into the nuances of the way our brains both inform and respond to the world around us. It’s a manifesto of sorts and can feel daunting in scope from time to time. However, Sapolsky is uber-smart and sarcastic and very contemporary in his references. Kurt and I joke that the footnotes are almost more fun reading that the text itself! If you want to geek out on the neuroscientific elements of behavior, look no further than Behavior.

The second book I’m spinning through is Roy Baumeister and John Tierney’s The Power of Bad. While the title may sound like a downer, the book is filled with terrific insights into how to enjoy life to a fuller extent. Baumeister’s work has been cited more than 200,000 times, putting him in the top 100 psychologists of all time. (That list includes BF Skinner, Sigmund Freud, and William James.) The Power of Bad is straightforward with tips and reveals great insights from neuroscience and the social sciences.

Kurt’s Music

I spent way to many hours one night this past month watching YouTube videos of voice coaches reacting to hearing Disturbed’s version of “Sound of Silence” (if you have not heard it, it is GREAT!).  Spending hours doing this was both the best and worst use of my time – but oh, so enjoyable.  There are pompous reviewers, those in awe, and others that are just so corny that you have to see it to believe it.  Here are three that I found extremely entertaining for any number of reasons – I highly recommend you watch at least two to get the full effect:  Hip-Hop Heads https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dmCaWyYqUmY; Sam Scott Thorne https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xdtsgo559LM; and Sam Johnson https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bVRydgArqUs.

Tim’s Music

There’s always new music to explore and this month, I’m recommending the fabulous sounds of Linda Diaz. Take a liste to her song “Green Tea Ice Cream” on the Tiny Desk Concert. If you don’t feel more relaxed and more inspired after listening to Linda, check your pulse. Plus, I’m a huge fan of seeing what a performer can do when they’re NOT on a big stage and Linda delivers great sounds seated behind a conference room desk with two talented back-up singers, a bass, a small kit and a keyboardist.



Available at our Behavioral Grooves website, iTunes, Spotify, and just about anywhere you catch your podcasts, we have new podcasts including the COVID-19 Special series and regular episodes, as well. You can check all of these podcasts, and more, at our Behavioral Grooves website at https://behavioralgrooves.com/.


Next Meetup: August 20th  

Topic: TBD

Date: August 20, 2020

Time: Gather at 6:00pm Central Time

Online Zoom: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88185993323


Behavioral Science Principles for August

Cognitive dissonance: Refers to the uncomfortable tension that can exist between two simultaneous and conflicting ideas or feelings—often as a person realizes that s/he has engaged in a behavior inconsistent with the type of person s/he would like to be, or be seen publicly to be. According to the theory, people are motivated to reduce this tension by changing their attitudes, beliefs, or actions. (Festinger, 1957).

Horn effect: The exact opposite of the Halo Effect. When you perform poorly at first, you can easily get pegged as a low-performer even if you work hard enough to disprove that notion.

Google effect: The tendency to forget information that can be found readily online by using Internet search engines.

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Reviews, Ratings & Patreon

We received a wonderful review from Mexico a couple of weeks ago:

Very insightful podcast

I love to hear how they nerd about behavioral science. It’s a very professional podcast and the hosts make it also very enjoyable. They bring rough behavioral science to examples of everyday life. I find it incredibly useful that after the interviews they chat about the most interesting points. I highly recommend it.

Fer flynn via Apple Podcasts ·Mexico ·07/16/2020


Lastly, we’d appreciate you sharing our podcast with a friend or taking a moment to write us a review.  If you don’t have the time or inclination to recommend us to friend or write a review, we have also started a Patreon account you can sponsor us directly.  Each episode hour that we produce takes over eight hours of our combined time (sometimes more), as well as hard costs for hosting, transcription and web services.  We don’t currently have advertisements or big corporate sponsors, so we appreciate any support you can provide.  The link to give is https://www.patreon.com/behavioralgrooves – we appreciate it!


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Are you concerned about how your employees are dealing with work – either coming back into work during a pandemic or continuing to work from home?  Contact Kurt or Tim to help navigate those turbulent waters.

Kurt Nelson, PhD / 612-396-6392 / kurt@lanterngroup.com

Kurt has over 25 years helping organizations understand their employees.  His company, The Lantern Group, is a Behavioral Design & Communications Agency focused on Employee Motivation, Company Culture, and Organizational Friction.  He has a passion for trying to understand “why we do what we do,” skiing (downhill and water), the Timberwolves, good books, and good beer.  Find out more at www.lanterngroup.com

Tim Houlihan / 612-386-5886 / tim@behavioralchemy.com

Tim founded BehaviorAlchemy, LLC, nearly 3 years ago after nearly 20 years at BI WORLDWIDE, a global incentive agency based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. At BIW, Tim was the Vice President of Reward Systems with corporate responsibility for $300,000,000 in revenues for products distributed to over 1 million participants in 49 countries and 32 languages. Tim is also a committed Americana singer-songwriter with 6 self-published records and performs more than 35 gigs each year.


Is your company maximizing its human capital?  Does your leadership team know how to leverage behavioral insights to improve performance?  Do you need help in developing incentives or understanding how you can maximize motivation?  We can help you take that leap through an organizational diagnostic, consulting engagement or a custom podcast for YOUR company? Give us a call!


© 2020 Behavioral Grooves

Disclosure: some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase, we will earn a commission. This helps us offset some of the costs of the podcast and running the monthly meetups.  Note, you can always bypass these links and just buy them directly. 

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