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How to change anyone’s mind. Oren talks to Jonah Berger, Author of The Catalyst

Jonah Berger is a Marketing Professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, an internationally bestselling author, and a world-renowned expert on change, influence, word of mouth, natural language processing, consumer behavior, and how products, ideas, and behaviors catch on. He has published over 50 articles in top‐tier academic journals, teaches Wharton’s most popular online course, and popular accounts of his work often appear in places like The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Harvard Business Review. Over a million copies of his books, Contagious, Invisible Influence, and The Catalyst: How to Change Anyone’s Mind are in print in over 35 countries around the world. Berger often keynotes major conferences and events like SXSW and Cannes Lions, advises various early stage companies, and consults for organizations like Apple, Google, Nike, Amazon, GE, 3M, and The Gates Foundation.

Today, Oren talks to Jonah Berger is an internationally bestselling author, and a world-renowned expert on change, influence, word of mouth, natural language processing, consumer behavior, and how products, ideas, and behaviors catch on. They will discuss "How to Change Anyone's Mind".

Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Oren Klaff: Hey guys. Welcome. This is Oren Klaff you're on the deal maker show. And I want to thank you for being patient. As we got the technology worked out, we're getting things started right here. I have a fantastic guest today. Some of you who are interested in both sales and psychology will be very familiar with the individual.

[00:00:25] Oren Klaff: Then I'm about to put on screen. I'd like to introduce today, and it's my pleasure to host on the dealmaker show.

[00:00:35] Oren Klaff: Dan Ariely, Dan, welcome

[00:00:37] Oren Klaff: Jonah Berger. Welcome to the show. Do you know Dan?

[00:00:39] Jonah Berger: I do know Dan. Yes.

[00:00:41] Oren Klaff: Okay. . So Dan's a very nice guy. We'll talk about him later day. I was looking at your book, the catalyst, which just came out. This is it. And I have a bunch of questions about this. This is your most recent book, 2020.

[00:00:53] Oren Klaff: I just want to point out that the color of this book and this is also yellow. The also yellow. Not, this is not a legal accusation of any kind, but it is just pointing, merely pointing out the facts of the case that I'm making to the Supreme court about this situation. All right. On a welcome. Your a psychologist.

[00:01:15] Oren Klaff: Is it your cognitive psychologist? Is that the technical definition?

[00:01:19] Jonah Berger: I would say I'm a social psychologist, but I'm a marketing professor also. So I said it certainly in between the two.

[00:01:25] Oren Klaff: Yeah. And so why are you writing books about this subject? What, and It's not an accusation, but what drives you to write the books?

[00:01:34] Jonah Berger: Yeah, so I used to be just an academic. It used to only do research, only do teaching. And in 2013, something happened that changed my life a little bit. I'd been doing a bunch of research on word of mouth. I thought it would be interesting to try to write a book about that research.

[00:01:47] Jonah Berger: And so I came out with a book called contagious and that book changed my life a bit. So I started getting calls from all sorts of fortune 500 companies from Google and apple and Nike to small startups and everybody in between. And so since then, I've basically spent half my time doing the research and teaching.

[00:02:03] Jonah Berger: Professors often do and the other half doing, speaking and consulting, helping companies and organizations with their challenges. And a few years ago I realized that many of the challenges had something in common, which is that everyone had something they wanted to change. So the folks in marketing or sales, they wanted to change a customer or a client's mind. Leaders wanted to change organizations. Employees wanted to change their bosses, mind. Startups wanted to change industries. Nonprofits wanted to change the world. Everyone had the same goal, but they were really having trouble getting traction.

[00:02:31] Jonah Berger: And I realized that the tools that were out there weren't doing it, everyone was pushing and the people they wanted to change were pushing back. And so I started wondering if there was a better way to change minds and drive action. And that really started the journey that ended up with the book,

[00:02:43] Jonah Berger: The Catalyst.

[00:02:44] Oren Klaff: Yeah. No, thank you for pointing out. I think we covered a lot of those similar, reacting. Is a huge topic. And I think every, everybody in sales from CEOs, when they want to get something they go about it in a very straightforward way and trying to use a force of will use the money, relationships control the dominance hierarchy, whatever they can impose their will to.

[00:03:07] Oren Klaff: What they want promoted and they sell quite aggressively in the more you push things, just human reactants puts up the defenses because it starts to take away the autonomy of an individual. If you go into evolutionary psychology, what caused autonomy to be so critical to our fundamental core wellbeing?

[00:03:31] Oren Klaff: Why do we protect the autonomy? More than almost anything else in our lives.

[00:03:37] Jonah Berger: Yeah. We want to feel like we have freedom and we're in control. We want to feel like we're in the driver's seat. I'm making my own choices. I'm making my own decisions. I'm the one in the driver's seat. But when someone else tries to tell us to do something encourage us to do something, asks us to do something, pushes us to do something we pushed back.

[00:03:53] Jonah Berger: We have this ingrained anti persuasion radar. That's like a missile defense system that goes off and says, wait, There's an incoming projectile. Someone's trying to convince us. Let's avoid it. Let's ignore it. Let's do something to avoid being persuaded. Even counter-argue right, push back and think about all the reasons why, what someone's suggesting is wrong or won't work as persuaders.

[00:04:14] Jonah Berger: It's clear why we think pushing is a good idea, right? It's the F we think it's the fastest way to get what we want. If we just tell someone what we want, and that would be great. That assumes that if we tell them they'll do it right. If they do it, then the fastest way is just to tell them. But the problem is that's often not the fastest way.

[00:04:30] Jonah Berger: It's often a lot slower of way, because when we tell them they push back, they dig in their heels. They can think about all the reasons they don't want to do it. And so it actually leads. In the opposite direction of where we're hoping to go.

[00:04:40] Oren Klaff: So we're building Chinese thumbscrews here or arguments inside our arguments, because if you think back, 150,000 years ago, or 225,000 years ago or whatever when evolutionary psychology really started becoming.

[00:04:53] Oren Klaff: Part of the psychology started becoming part of the biology of humans. And we w what caused us, what is in the evolution, in the DNA that caused us to protect our autonomy. Proactively, right? Why do we not, why do we not want to give him that? And and why as persuaders don't, we.

[00:05:15] Oren Klaff: Recognize that people want their autonomy. So in, in marketing and sales tax for the last 50 years, the basic premise has been tie people down to yeses. The more yeses you can get somebody to say, the more likely they are to give the Jonah, you you said you'd be interested in a red car.

[00:05:38] Oren Klaff: That's your favorite color is right. Yep. Yeah, you love red. And so Gretta is very hard to get wouldn't you agree?

[00:05:45] Jonah Berger: I did say it is hard to get. Yep. I agree. Not

[00:05:48] Oren Klaff: If, and if I could get you one in red when you agreed that's what you said you wanted

[00:05:52] Jonah Berger: that it is. I love red.

[00:05:54] Oren Klaff: And so if I can get one and read, I can talk to my manager.

[00:05:56] Oren Klaff: We don't have one, but there's one another light. If we make the special effort to get one over here, get the one you said the one that you wanted, the one that you could afford, we talked about the price and the one you said your wife loved. And then do we have a deal for the one in red?

[00:06:07] Oren Klaff: So 50 years. Yeah, a hundred percent. And by the way someone get Jones' credit card, sold him a car. That's how it's done for me. But why for 50, not 50 where 2021 for 70 years, every single Tom Hopkins, Zig Ziglar, Tony Robbins, everybody down the road has said tie people down, back up in the quarter and make them say yeses.

[00:06:31] Oren Klaff: The tie down those yeses and use these logical circuits to make people. Finally say yes. And then hold them accountable for that. Yes. Jam the paperwork in front of them. Press hard. Mr. Jones, fifth copies are yours. You own this motherfucker. But if it's true, which I believe it is that reactants is so powerful that we are we are so defensive of our autonomy.

[00:06:54] Oren Klaff: Why did the entire sales industrial complex. Build its entire reputation in marketing and sales on taking people's autonomy away. How did we get into that? Chinese thumbs?

[00:07:08] Jonah Berger: Yeah. I think there, there are a couple of reasons. First we are focused on what we want. We're focused on the outcome we want to achieve.

[00:07:13] Jonah Berger: I want to sell more cars. I want to sell more of this. I want to change this. Person's mind. I want to do this thing. We spent a lot of time thinking about what we want. We don't spend as much time understanding the person we're trying to change and what's in them. We spent a lot of time saying what could I do to get this person to change rather than saying why hasn't this person changed already?

[00:07:32] Jonah Berger: And so we really need to be a lot more customer focused where that customer is an actual customer. When that customer is a boss, a colleague and employee, any anyone at all, who is that person that we're trying to change? And what are the barriers or obstacles that are getting in the way. Often we think it's information.

[00:07:50] Jonah Berger: We say oh, if I just gave someone more information, they would come around. If I just told them why they should do what I want them to do, they will change. Rarely is information. The barrier. We think it is more often. The barrier is well, it's not their idea. It's my idea. More often the infer barrier is it's too far away from where they are at the moment.

[00:08:08] Jonah Berger: More often the barrier as well. It's very different from what they're doing now and what they're doing now feels safe and they don't want to do something completely different. And so there are all these barriers that are not about information are about something else. And if we don't understand those barriers, we don't understand the obstacles.

[00:08:23] Jonah Berger: It's going to be really hard to get people to change.

[00:08:26] Oren Klaff: So is it so, in the companies I work with, basically they open up the presentations with facts and percentages and statistics and things to build their case. And so what do they truly, so when you're a 50 year old CEO, who's been in business for 30 years, he cannot truly believe. From having thousands of experiences of going to pitch and sell and trying to get things done, that facts and information change people's minds and sell stuff. And I have a thesis on this. I want to see if we think about the same. Why is it Groundhog day? Why when they go build a presentation where the number one company, these are our logos, 88% of customers choose us over the next, next option.

[00:09:09] Oren Klaff: Over the last five years, we've had 2000 accounts we represent 60% of the fortune 500, 238 of the fortune 500 use us. And this is the starting point. If they know facts, don't persuade, these are not emotional arguments. Like you could take every single one of those guys who are giving that presentation and say do facts persuade or is emotion more positive?

[00:09:29] Oren Klaff: Oh, emotion. You've got to tell stories, but then they turn to the facts. What are you seeing in the boardroom? Like why, even though people know today, what's right. They still default to what's wrong in the basics of business psychology.

[00:09:46] Jonah Berger: Yeah. I there are a couple of challenges, right? First factor, because feel valuable, they feel useful.

[00:09:52] Jonah Berger: They feel persuasive. How am I going to tell someone what to do if I don't have any ammunition behind me, but if I have numbers, I can point to numbers, feel safe, feel like a foundation that makes our argument more valuable, but I would even say with emotional stories and by the way, I'm a big believer in emotional stories.

[00:10:07] Jonah Berger: I think emotional stories can be very valuable. But even emotional stories can still be pushing. Emotional stories can still be let me tell you why you should use this. And I'm going to give you an emotional story about why you should use this rather than saying hold on. Why aren't you using this at the moment, right?

[00:10:22] Jonah Berger: Why aren't you doing this already? Things that are is it information, is it something else? I was working with a client a few years ago that they they basically make a software that helps companies find machine parts. So imagine you have a whole bunch of John Deere backhoes, or you have a whole bunch of other sorts of machinery every once in a while they go down, you need to find parts.

[00:10:40] Jonah Berger: They help you find those parts and do it quickly. Okay. Trying to tell people all the reasons why they should buy from them. And we stepped back and we said wait a second. Let's create the customer journey from awareness all the way through. And let's think about what the barriers are. So some people are not aware that you exist.

[00:10:55] Jonah Berger: That's clearly a barrier, right? They've never heard of you. Some people are aware. But don't understand what the value proposition is. Some people understand the value proposition, but don't think they have the problem. Other people think they have the problem, but think it's too expensive. Other people don't think it's too expensive.

[00:11:08] Jonah Berger: They're worried it will integrate with their existing programs. And so moving through there, we were able to say what are the different barriers that are getting in the way? And notice the solutions are very different depending on what the barriers are. If it's information, let me list all the information.

[00:11:22] Jonah Berger: But hold on if it's price or if it will, it won't integrate with my existing systems. Those are two very different barriers. If it's price, maybe we need an introductory offer. If it's won't integrate with the existing systems, maybe it's what let's raise our price. Actually, an offer white glove service, where we come in and do the integration for you.

[00:11:37] Jonah Berger: The more we understand about the people, whether those people are individuals or companies that we're trying to change, the more effective we can be. If you go into a doctor's office doctor, doesn't start by saying, Hey, let me put a cast on. Doctor starts by saying wait, tell me about the problem.

[00:11:53] Jonah Berger: And only once they've understood the problem, do they prescribe a solution?

[00:11:57] Oren Klaff: I think now we're in the Dan air. What I call the Dan area, Lee conundrum dammit. You said 17 things I loved and two things I hated and I'm trying in my tiny dinosaur brain to collect all that. Oh. So what I really loved and I think we have to, record for all history is for those of you guys out there at facts.

[00:12:17] Oren Klaff: Not that the facts are useless or you shouldn't start with facts. And what I love, what Jonah said is facts are used to take down specific. Barriers. So starting with facts, we're number one. We like I work with Symantec, nice little, $18 billion company, and actually they split into Symantec and Veritas.

[00:12:36] Oren Klaff: So I think they're down to 10 billion, but anyway they start their presentation on, Hey, we work with 498 of the fortune 50. We have may actually work with all of the fortune 500, but we just can't find those other two on whatever updated list the fortune 500 is. So that's the start of their presentation.

[00:12:54] Oren Klaff: And I always I didn't agree with them starting out like that because to your point, nobody is doubting that Symantec is used by almost everyone. That's actually like a reduction in what people believe. People believe like Symantec is backup. Software is used by 50,000 of the fortune 51,000.

[00:13:12] Oren Klaff: Like everybody has, there's a welfare you're using. Hang on a second. Hey Matthew, would you be willing to turn off the AC. Because I can't hear myself think and that's not good. I can barely think without not being able to think. Matthew. Okay. Thanks. Hey so facts, I think an information are used to tear down barriers that are known to exist.

[00:13:32] Oren Klaff: And if you're just you're just like taking pot shots. At sticking points when you lead, I love this. Like when you, because we just dissuade people from certain, our presentations with statistics, facts and information, because it's not emotional. It doesn't, we don't find it persuades and everything like that.

[00:13:50] Oren Klaff: But I think a nuance that you've added is that you're just taking pot shots.

[00:13:54] Jonah Berger: What's the problem, right? As you alluded to there, if the problem is, Hey, they don't believe that companies use you well, then that's a great fact, but if that's not the problem, then it's not the right solution.

[00:14:04] Jonah Berger: In, in some sense, before you figure out what the right solution is, you need to understand the problem. You've got to start with the root. I, if you ever, if you have a yard and you, your garden at all, and weeds, right? The easiest thing is just to pull the top off the weed. That's the fastest.

[00:14:16] Jonah Berger: Then the weed grows. If you don't find the root, if you don't grab the weed from the bottom, it's just going to come back. You've got to figure out what that underlying issue really is and address it specifically.

[00:14:25] Oren Klaff: Okay. So now I'm excited because I feel like I have a rat in a cage because it's very, because all the academics, we're it's backwards.

[00:14:33] Oren Klaff: You guys are in the ivory tower and we're all the experimental billions out here. My dad was a college professor. He a professor of sociology. The university of Delaware university of Delaware, Illinois, university of Wisconsin. And he was a tenured professor university of Denver.

[00:14:48] Oren Klaff: So I grew up with a sociologist and my mom's a clinical psychologist. So I lived my life. As an experimental a free unregulated experimental rat for any sociological or clinical psychology experiment that they could dream up in wanting to do their master's thesis. But all of us civilians and college students, everybody out here where the rats and the academics cage.

[00:15:09] Oren Klaff: So I feel like we get to turn around and put the academic in the cage for a few minutes here. The Dan Ariely conundrum. Dan Arielli takes 12 college students, locks them in a room, gives eight of them, a coffee cup with the logo of the university printed on it. Gives four of them, a coffee cup and tells them to draw their own picture on it and then offers to buy the fucking coffee cup back.

[00:15:34] Oren Klaff: And the ones that drew a picture on it, won't sell it for less than $3 and 27 cents. And the one that just had the stock logo of the university and all they did was have a cup of coffee. You're willing to sell it for $2 and 97 cents. And therefore the conclusion is whatever the conclusion is. Okay.

[00:15:50] Oren Klaff: That's fine. Now I Oren Klaff have to go meet with billionaire motherfucker who gives me five minutes to come in and pitch my deal, explain why I need $45 million in a recapitalization financing to grow our company from 22 million to 72 million. And then exit at a 440 million. Price within 18 months, giving him a 19% return, which is beating the current market standard return of 8% and a reduced risk profile.

[00:16:20] Oren Klaff: And I walk in that room and all of a sudden, I go what, what was the coffee cup do? Who buys what? Coffee cup again? So translating the academia to the high stakes environments that a lot of us find. Ourselves in is just it feels like the gap is too wide. And so for Danny Arielli, it was mainly in academia and publishing the reaction of white Anglicised.

[00:16:51] Oren Klaff: Wealthy educated, all came from either modern day or some, either prep school or solid public prep school. It's a very, you've heard this argument before, right?

[00:17:02] Jonah Berger: I'm not exactly sure where it's going, but I look forward to, I look forward to hearing about it.

[00:17:06] Oren Klaff: Okay. This argument has actually become an argument is what you're saying.

[00:17:08] Oren Klaff: So the academic research in social psychology, Which is used in a lot of the books is based on the reaction of college students. We're individuals in closed environments. It's very hard. It's very hard to translate a lot of this stuff to actual high stakes deal-making negotiation and sales interactions.

[00:17:30] Oren Klaff: And what's what have you found? Because you have a foot on both sides of it, right? How do you get the stuff from the lab? To translate into the real world environment.

[00:17:40] Jonah Berger: Yeah. I think there are a couple of things and first, you're very right that some effect some ideas, some principals have more weight behind them than others.

[00:17:49] Jonah Berger: Some things have been looked at with 20 people and, one school and others have been looked at millions of people across places. We've done work with, 6 million car sales, for example, or, thousands of pieces of online content or tens of hours. Brands.

[00:18:01] Jonah Berger: So I definitely hear that the point that sometimes academic research can seem narrow among a specific set of people. I think the opportunity is really large, right? And I work with a lot of companies. I was actually on a chat before this with a bunch of startup founders. And particularly when I talk to B2B firms, everybody says, oh, but my situation is different.

[00:18:21] Jonah Berger: This point, you're talking about your examples, not the exact same as my example. And so it doesn't apply. And I think there's a lot of opportunity, has somebody studied exactly the situation you're in? No, because every situation is going to be somewhat unique, right? Every billionaire you talk to every person you're trying to convince every situation is going to be a little bit unique, but what's nice about academic research is by looking across enough situations, we can generalize and we can learn some things that people can apply.

[00:18:50] Jonah Berger: I think a, a nice way to think about is, think about babies. Does anyone hit a thousand? Nobody hits a thousand, best case someone hits, I don't know, three 30 or three 40 or something like that case

[00:18:59] Oren Klaff: 20 years ago.

[00:19:00] Jonah Berger: Yeah. But do people understand the science of hitting? Do they hit better?

[00:19:04] Jonah Berger: Yes. They don't hit a home run every time. Everything they do doesn't turn to gold, but they do. Better things more often. And so that's the goal, right? Nobody can tell you how to become perfect at anything by just reading one book, you got to learn it. You got to think about it. You gotta read it and you got to apply it.

[00:19:20] Jonah Berger: But by understanding science, you can do a lot better.

[00:19:24] Oren Klaff: So I like this baseball example, as compared to psychology, social psychology, cognitive psychology, which is really interesting to me. Because in baseball, for example, there are many new things still being discovered, about nutrition just the the technology, being able to track the swim.

[00:19:43] Oren Klaff: Brain mind, brain machine interfaces, and, all kinds of things are improving the athlete. And so there continues to be statistical insights as computers get better as the AI get better. The computers continue to be an excellent interface for improving the athlete's nutrition drugs, are much better than with just sustained on or Winstrol V or die rush.

[00:20:05] Oren Klaff: And Diana Ball we're in like the, these sledgehammers. Steroids of choice, 15, 20 years ago. And now the drugs are much more bespoke. So the drugs are so all kinds of new discoveries, but in, in psychology, It feels like I, is there anything new to discover or we all just stirring a pot of soup from a stone, it's all the same ingredients and we're either putting more salt or more pepper and calling it a different ecologies or is there anything new, because human th there's the genetic change in humans is so slow. And we're so smart and we've researched so much psychology.

[00:20:45] Oren Klaff: It just doesn't feel like anything new. There's anything new to come out of human psychology, but we, I'm not a psychologist, so you know what, I'm not in an academic institution. I'd just love to hear that from you. Like it has everything about psychology can be discovered, been discovered.

[00:21:02] Jonah Berger: People haven't necessarily changed, but the situations we find ourselves in have changed, right?

[00:21:09] Jonah Berger: There's some in a different domain, great work on birth order, right? Parents are the same. So shouldn't kids be the same. W they biologically, in some sense, they're similar, but they're born into very different situations. The first kid is born. There's no other kid around the second kid is born into a completely different situation.

[00:21:24] Jonah Berger: Their genetics may be very similar, but the situation is quite different. We deal with a lot of things today that we've never dealt with before we negotiate online, we talk to Alexa and get recommendations. We can parse that things and engage in situations that we've never been able to before.

[00:21:40] Jonah Berger: A lot of my recent research has actually on automated text analysis or natural language processing, basically how we learn things from the language that people share and the language that impacts folks. We look at hundreds of customer service calls and look at the words that agents.

[00:21:55] Jonah Berger: And the para language, the pauses and the linguistic features they use to look at language features that shape customer satisfaction. We look at, tens of thousand of written articles online and look at whether people read them or not, or how much they read. And we can say what ways of writing content makes it more engaging?

[00:22:11] Jonah Berger: Makes people more likely to read it. We can look at song lyrics and understand why songs succeed. We can look at movie scripts and understand why movies are successful. Are the underlying psychological reasons for why these things were completely different than anything anyone's ever shown.

[00:22:24] Jonah Berger: Some aren't right. Some are more similar to things we already know, but we uncover things that we could have never studied before because new technologies change human behavior and they change the things we can discover. And so I think there's a lot of opportunity out there to learn a lot of interesting things.

[00:22:39] Jonah Berger: Not every academic papers, the most exciting thing you've ever read. Academics play like any other discipline. They play a little bit of inside baseball, we tend to talk to one another, rather than writing in ways that other people can understand. But that's why great books that bring academic insights to life can be so powerful.

[00:22:55] Jonah Berger: They take empirical generalizations things that we know to be true, not just because they're someone's opinion, but things that data show us to be true. And they express it in a way and making it accessible in a way that a broad audience can understand and use. And that's why I love reading, great books that are out there that teach me things.

[00:23:12] Jonah Berger: And that's the hope one when we write books like these, as well as they can help people apply things we know to be true.

[00:23:18] Oren Klaff: Yeah. No, very well said. I remember, I think I was 10 or 11. And I had just learned that my dad had written some books. I was so excited because I was an avid reader.

[00:23:26] Oren Klaff: I have a seven year old, he loves reading as well. And I went in his study and took one of his books and served me. I'm like, what the fuck is it like this isn't a book. This is completely unreal. I was so excited. My dad is. Writes books. They're not actually books.

[00:23:40] Jonah Berger: There are different audiences,

[00:23:47] Oren Klaff: An audience of 15 people,

[00:23:49] Jonah Berger: And not, academic books can sometimes be written for a narrow audience. I think the ones that are written for a broad audience can be really powerful. What's great. Having worked at companies and having worked for companies, I think there's a tendency to solve problems that are on the table and not think about broader principles.

[00:24:06] Jonah Berger: We have, so many things we've got to do tomorrow. We've just got to figure out how this should look or what we should say or what we should do. What's nice about academia is we can step back. We can generalize across situations but we certainly have to express those things in a way that can be both understandable and usable.

[00:24:20] Oren Klaff: So interesting. And I think you just in the subject before you touched on one of my favorite subjects is as this AI and machine learning starts to turn on and it has the, now the ability to. Even we use the system when we want to write a blog post, it will suggest a lot of the language and then we can modify it.

[00:24:40] Oren Klaff: But how fast and how is it moving and how close are we to really the content that we're getting is largely provided for us, by the machine, because it has intuited what we're interested in. So how close are we? And if we get too close, are we losing art form? Along the way.

[00:25:07] Jonah Berger: Yeah, as someone who's studied, why movies become successful and songs become successful and know people who look at why paintings are more valued or more esteem than others.

[00:25:16] Jonah Berger: I think under art can be a lot of science. And the artists may be creative. The artists may be picking a point in a multi-dimensional space that speaks to them. But why that thing resonates with a lot of people is not random or luck or chance. There's often a science behind it. It doesn't mean there's one ideal point.

[00:25:34] Jonah Berger: Doesn't mean there's one painting. That's great for everybody or one song. That's good for everyone. Yeah. But just like the baseball analogy. If we understand what makes hitting work, we can be better hitters. If we understand what people resonates with people, we can design songs and books and movies and paintings and other experiences that people will enjoy more.

[00:25:52] Jonah Berger: I think there's also a difference between using things like. Natural language processing and AI and machine learning to understand behavior and predict behavior versus create content. We are far from the place where I think that machines can create amazing content that will work well for everybody.

[00:26:09] Jonah Berger: But machines can also avoid some of human biases. They also can have biases baked in of course but they can avoid some of those, I think. What's really exciting is it can allow us to analyze things we've never been able to analyze before. So to give you an example we did a project recently, people often say, oh, this movie, the plot moves really quickly, or it covers a lot of ground or, this book went in circles.

[00:26:30] Jonah Berger: That's a neat, that's a neat phrase. When in circles, can we measure that? Can we actually see whether books go in circles? Can we see whether plot moves quickly? Can we see whether things cover a lot of ground and can we see what the things that do that are more successful? And so using some of these tools, whether it's dictionaries or topic modeling or machine learning, all sorts of different things, we can really extract insights that would never have been possible before.

[00:26:53] Oren Klaff: Because you're so deep in the subject, are we gonna lose. The, Bob Marley and yes, and the early rolling stones and things that you know, were born out of chaos and Brownian motion and pain and suffering and strife, and they haven't been fed through. The predictive, at a studio predictive analysis of how, what cohort between 20 and 25 or this beat of music.

[00:27:19] Oren Klaff: And are we losing. Access generationally tube, Bob Marley, and yes.

[00:27:24] Jonah Berger: I think what's most interesting about the thing that you just said is who we tend to blame that on. So we tend to blame the label. We blame the label for engineering success. We blame the label for doing too much market research, rather than looking at the creative process.

[00:27:37] Jonah Berger: We don't blame ourselves.

[00:27:38] Oren Klaff: We should blame the academics for coming up with the technology. I'm just a listener. I'm not going to book it myself

[00:27:44] Jonah Berger: Problem is, when we use technologies that that capture our data and learn based on our data, we are both enjoying those experiences, but we're also training those systems to be more adult.

[00:27:56] Jonah Berger: To give us things that we're more likely to, like every time, we do something that's easy and convenient rather than doing something else. We're essentially reinforcing these things. And I don't think that we're going to have computers, making music that is popular within the next three or four years.

[00:28:10] Jonah Berger: If you're a label and your job is to make songs that people listen to, why wouldn't you want to try to pick things that more people would like, rather than fewer people would lie. Part of that challenge rests with us, right? As the listeners, the user, if we want diverse things that expressing diverse opinions and showing that we do want a diverse set of stuff.

[00:28:28] Jonah Berger: And as long as we are picking and choosing and voting with our feet, there will always be lots of different stuff. And also people are different. Even when you know, I in a paper show that on average, something is true, that does. Everyone likes that thing all the time. Right there's heterogeneity.

[00:28:43] Jonah Berger: There are customer segments. And so really saying why to different people, like different things is really where a lot of the magic lies.

[00:28:49] Oren Klaff: No I appreciate that point. That's really well said when you look at something like industry, where do you look for the Canary in the coal mine of humanity?

[00:28:59] Oren Klaff: Like where, what vector or what magnitude and what direction you Manatee is moving to? Because when I look at Instagram, I get, there's I swiped a lot because there's all kinds of cool stuff in there. And then an hour goes by, but then I come up and also pressed for humanity because it's at our it's technology.

[00:29:15] Oren Klaff: That's devolving us to our basis. Instincts it's. So w th Instagram seems to wash out nuance and quality, and it's firemen with their shirts off and puppy, collections of, oh, you're on that. You're on that feed too. It's great. Isn't it? I like April, the guys are good.

[00:29:30] Oren Klaff: No, but the then there's collections of, greatest Simpsons moments. And then there's fortune cookie wisdom. If you try hard and surround yourself with good people. Then you'll do really well. And the five people you surround yourself. You're the average of that. And if you don't give up when things get hard, then you'll rise to the circumstances and become great.

[00:29:48] Oren Klaff: And don't care about what other people say about you, by the way, if you're not familiar with Instagram, you now own it. Just replay that over and over again. That's all of Instagram. But when you look at that, what does it tell you about where culture is heading?

[00:30:05] Jonah Berger: I want to be, I want to be careful here because I think technology, interesting technologies are great tools and they allow us to do a lot of things. But they can also be addictive. And I actually am not really on Instagram. I've used Instagram for work a couple of times. And I've analyzed Instagram data, but personally actually don't spend a lot of my time there.

[00:30:24] Jonah Berger: All have to make the choices that we make and do things that are enjoyable for us, but we have to recognize whether those things are making us better off or not. There's a good bit of research that colleagues and even friends of mine have done showing that social media can be addictive.

[00:30:38] Jonah Berger: That social media can make us feel bad about ourselves because everybody's showing only the good side. Our life. So it was social media useful. Yeah. It gives us lots of information. We wouldn't get access to. Otherwise. I learned about great research and books and ideas by being on social media sometimes does it make us feel bad?

[00:30:54] Jonah Berger: Sometimes it also does that as well. And like anything else tools are not good or bad, they can be used for good or bad things. I think we each have to decide what is this thing in my life. Adding to my happiness. Is this not, you talked about an hour, goes by many people do things like set limits.

[00:31:10] Jonah Berger: They say, look, I'm going to be on here for 10 minutes, but I'm not going to be on for more than 10 minutes, take a step back and say, is this good? Giving me what I want? Am I getting what I want out of this? Or not? As long as you're getting what you, why not have it great. But if you're not be careful that said it's not.

[00:31:26] Jonah Berger: Tabloids have been around forever. People bragging have been around forever online, allows us to see more people bragging and allows us to

[00:31:33] Oren Klaff: let me, can I, sorry to interrupt. Go ahead. I would just cause also just like a dinosaur pee brain, if I don't thank you for indulging me, but I want to hold you accountable for a minute, right?

[00:31:44] Oren Klaff: Because you're a white, highly educated Wharton professor that consults to Google. Saying you just have to make your own determination and process a decision matrix that is going to be best for the outcome, of you and your family in terms of interacting with technology. But if you go out there in the huddled masses, that sort of, they don't have.

[00:32:07] Oren Klaff: What I would say meta perspective on themselves, they're eating McDonald's and the shit is not good for you. They're, head is down in this prone position. We do, we have a little boy. I want to talk about kids in a minute, but this is just a thermometer, not a phone, but their head is down in this position and you're waiting and constantly there is not social interaction, health, communication going on among young kids.

[00:32:28] Oren Klaff: The parents are giving them the iPad as a pacifier. So they can talk among themselves or have a moment of peace. So there, isn't this sort of self determinism that you're saying describing to humanity. I think it's either you're giving people too much credit or you're unfairly whatever the cycle, the halo effect, whatever, Nobel prize does your effect.

[00:32:48] Oren Klaff: We can apply to that but you know what I'm saying? People don't know. These choices that you have about this meta analysis of their destiny.

[00:32:59] Jonah Berger: Let's be careful. So a few things. So first of all, people do have choices. People always have choices, right? I agree that if you don't have a lot of resources, you have fewer choices.

[00:33:08] Jonah Berger: You may not have choices about how to spend your money. You may not be able to buy healthy food all the time and provide for your family in the way that you want. You don't have to be on social media, right? There are things you could, your choices that you can make. We all have opportunities to make choices.

[00:33:21] Jonah Berger: I think the challenge. And I've thought about this quite a bit in more of a philosophical sense is who's going to step in and regulate some of these things, right? It's not just about technology, right? The same can be said for food. The same can be said for entertainment. You look on television.

[00:33:35] Jonah Berger: This is all the stuff on internet television. Good, wholesome, valuable energy. No, should somebody come in and regulate what's on television? That's a tough question, right? Is that something we actually want? We wanted, as long as it's being regulated in the way that we want there is a way that we don't like then we're not happy about it.

[00:33:51] Jonah Berger: We want that channel that we hate to get off the air, but we want the channel that we like to be the one that everybody has to watch. And I think this is a complicated, sticky issue. I don't think it's just about technology. I think it's about human Liberty in general, and this is tough, right?

[00:34:05] Jonah Berger: When it comes to information, whether it comes to food, whether it comes to entertainment there is clearly stuff that on average is not great for all of us. But if we want the government to step in and regulate that we all need to support that and actually follow. Yeah

[00:34:18] Oren Klaff: I can't believe you voted for Trump.

[00:34:20] Oren Klaff: That was terrible. Okay so that is said, I appreciate that position. That is, coming down from the

[00:34:27] Jonah Berger: I actually had something else. I think what I've learned is that while I am a white man, who's had a good amount of privilege in his life. I don't get to decide this. No, no individual gets to decide it right while we, while individuals may feel, I may have my own opinion about a certain food or a certain, website or place or thing or show or whatever it might be.

[00:34:46] Jonah Berger: Nobody gets to decide, whether we think it's good or not as individuals don't matter. It's whether we as a society get together and decide that it's important. To do something. And so again, we've got to vote with our feet. We've got to vote with our votes and we've got to agree to change something.

[00:35:00] Jonah Berger: Otherwise it's not going to change. It doesn't matter when he, any one individual of us, he may have an opinion. Just like anybody else. My opinion is one opinion. It's only more we get together and decide to change something.

[00:35:11] Oren Klaff: There is one domain where you do get to decide. Cause in my household is what I tell my son.

[00:35:17] Oren Klaff: I brought you into this world. Wow. So I have a seven year old. I have some young kids.

[00:35:25] Jonah Berger: I do. Yes. Yeah.

[00:35:28] Oren Klaff: And we fight with this. How old are you? How old are you?

[00:35:30] Jonah Berger: 18 months and four years old,

[00:35:32] Oren Klaff: Four years, so four years 18 months, if I remember, it's just not much difficulty. They are just moving out of sea cucumber mode and turning into a person.

[00:35:39] Oren Klaff: But the four year old, then, it was wanting things as they get to six. So you're not quite there where they want the phone. Not just, could they've seen it outside of the house. So Pokemon Sonic the hedgehog, like we restrict our son from screen time, but he also gets screen time.

[00:35:57] Oren Klaff: Like it's unrestricted. And so how do you think as your kids growing up, how do you think about the compromise that you said Hey, there's good information on it. On the phone, like we'd love to show our kid, what, he would never know how an octopus lives, its life. He would never see, a comment or an, a Russian icebreaker or really, think about something and then immediately.

[00:36:19] Oren Klaff: Be able to explore it, research it, get Wikipedia on it and decide if he wants to become more involved. If you think about when you and I were kids we're like, Hey, I wonder what it's like to be a fireman. And you're like, I'm not going to fucking go down to the library right now and figure that out.

[00:36:32] Oren Klaff: So I'll just pass on that subject and go play baseball. But these guys go, I wonder if it's like to be a fireman, or wonder what it's like to be an astronaut. And so the phone has good in it, as you said. But if you look away. We can come back. And also, so how are you going to weigh these decisions for the people that you control?

[00:36:50] Oren Klaff: Which is your family as the kid wants screen.

[00:36:54] Jonah Berger: So first of all I I wished control, I don't wish, but control is not a word I would add. I get the opportunity to use shape, maybe director courage, maybe control far from it. He has a lot of opinions and is not always interested in mine.

[00:37:08] Jonah Berger: Consistent with idea of reactants that we talked about at the beginning, but, I try to think very carefully about how I interact with my own technology devices and when I'm using them and what I'm using them for and whether they are making me happy. And we do the same thing with our kids.

[00:37:23] Jonah Berger: They, they don't have devices. They don't use devices. That doesn't mean, yeah. We as a family, don't sometimes use them to look up useful information. I agree with everything you said, it's powerful tool and we can learn a lot from those things. Do Eagles live in certain states, the United States?

[00:37:38] Jonah Berger: I don't know the answer to that question. Thank goodness that I can look online and find that out. Or what does this type of animal look like? Or what does this type of animal eat? We have amazing information at our fingertips and I think that's really the power of. Of technology. I think as we've talked about, we also have to be aware of the downsides of those things and the things we can miss out on.

[00:37:58] Jonah Berger: I think, often yeah, I'll say this as an adult for myself. Often we go into our device with a particular goal in mind. And an hour later we've lost sight of that goal. And we've lost sight of an hour of our time. That doesn't mean that we wouldn't enjoy 15 minutes of it or 30 minutes of it, but sometimes we lose sight of other things.

[00:38:15] Jonah Berger: As many experiences can be all encompassing. And so I think we need to be careful. We need to think about how we use these things. Purposeful in the way we do it. Just like television, just like with food, just like with anything else in our lives.

[00:38:26] Oren Klaff: No, that's again, another thing well said, and I just see here on the comments Jonah Berger, 11 Oren Klaff too.

[00:38:32] Oren Klaff: Hey, we're not keeping score here. Come on.

[00:38:35] Jonah Berger: I don't know keeping score on, but I'm glad to hear. I have 11 I'll work my way to 12.

[00:38:39] Oren Klaff: And you can only go to 10 anyway, but I want you to keep this so you can play it back two years from now. When your it's your son, who's four.

[00:38:48] Jonah Berger: Yes. Yeah.

[00:38:49] Oren Klaff: Just, when you say, we

[00:38:50] Jonah Berger: Hey, just to be very clear, I'm not saying this is going to be easy.

[00:38:54] Jonah Berger: I'm sorry. Even if I am, I will be wrong, right. This will not be easy. This will not be a walk in the park, we have some friends who talk about, at a certain time of night, they turn off the wifi. And like the code changes at a certain time of night. And so then you're on your own.

[00:39:07] Jonah Berger: And unless you have a device that's also a phone and, we have other people that use Devices, we have a great neighbor that has a, their child has something on their wrist where if they ever need to call mom and dad, they can, but otherwise it doesn't do anything else. And do we need to think strong about those things?

[00:39:20] Jonah Berger: Is it complicated? Yeah, it's complicated. But there is opportunity to take other paths if we want them.

[00:39:25] Oren Klaff: So the other thing you can do and not a lot of people take this option and it's an extreme route and it takes a, just like a lot of discipline and effort and money, but you can also have a great kid.

[00:39:37] Jonah Berger: Yes.

[00:39:38] Oren Klaff: Okay. So

[00:39:39] Jonah Berger: Wait, I remember when I do my best.

[00:39:41] Oren Klaff: We have and your kid and turn him into a great person. And then he understands, even though they're compelled to do the screen time. I remember we were at a restaurant and there was a couple of them. They were there were so Google wide with each other, like they were going to propose to each other and they were playing with our son and everything.

[00:39:57] Oren Klaff: And I was like, Hey, I just want you to understand this is false advertising. This is not the kid you're going to get in your shitty life. This is no, but the kids are unpredictable. You could get a, you can get away. We got a great kid and he controls the screen time. But so for example we have a good kid and I have him racing.

[00:40:13] Oren Klaff: He races go-karts, seven years old drives around at 70 miles an hour in a car. And so when the stakes go up in life, especially with your family, like we do have to, I have to exert control over that environment because the stakes are so high. The things that a seven year old self determines.

[00:40:36] Oren Klaff: Are safe and interesting and desirable to do in a car that goes 70 miles an hour, he does, he just doesn't have the experience. So you do have to set very firm controlling boundaries. Eh, because so there, when the stakes go up in life in any situation you do need to exert more control and you can do less to share.

[00:40:58] Oren Klaff: Using your language. As you get into business when the stakes come up, you yes, you want a guide. You want to shape, you want to advise, you want to contribute, if it's a, if it's a million dollar account we recognize the stakes and want to instinctively be more controlling and exert more effort into the, control and getting the win.

[00:41:18] Oren Klaff: So , I guess where I want it around the corner is something that I read in in catalyst surface the cost of inaction. Yeah. Surfers, the cost of inaction. So if you could describe it and then I can yell at you for. And then you can defend your position and then you can say, thank God, this was only an hour.

[00:41:37] Oren Klaff: The full scheduled three hours did not happen.

[00:41:40] Jonah Berger: I'll talk about this quickly, cause I think we only have a couple of minutes left and I want to make sure to take any more questions if you have them. But I think the basic idea is anytime we're trying to get people to change their switching. Those costs can be money. If I am buying a new phone or new car, they can be time and effort. If I'm switching systems, if I have to learn a new process and new way of doing things, anytime we're asking people to change their costs, not only are their costs, which people would hate, but costs are often upfront and benefits are often later.

[00:42:06] Jonah Berger: Yes, the new phone car software system idea might be better, but I'm not going to find out until I invest all the things to change. And only then will I get the benefits? And by the way, not only the benefits later and the costs earlier, but the benefits are uncertain and the costs are certain. I know it's going to cost at least this much to change things.

[00:42:25] Jonah Berger: And maybe there'll be a better benefit on the other end, but I'm not sure. So this cost benefit, timing up stymies. Why am I going to change what I'm doing already seems pretty good, right? Why am I going to take a risk and do something new? Even what it might be better, but it also might not be better and it might be quite costly.

[00:42:40] Jonah Berger: And so this stymies action, we tend to think of the status quo, what we're doing already as safe. We tend to see new things as risky, but one important thing to point out is that status quo is okay. Sticking with what we're doing. Isn't always the safest way to go. I teach a case actually at the Wharton school on a beer company, that's thinking about, introducing a new line of beer and they're worried it'll cannibalize their old line.

[00:43:03] Jonah Berger: And they're thinking about introducing a new line though, because year on year, they're losing 2% of sales. And 2% isn't a lot, but if they do nothing for a few years, it's going to start to be a lot. And yeah, we often think doing nothing is safe or the safest thing is not to change, but actually doing nothing can yeah.

[00:43:18] Jonah Berger: Quite, quite costly. And so the idea of surfacing the cost of an action, just to make people realize that doing nothing isn't as safe as it might feel, I'll give you a simple and dumb example. And then maybe we can wrap up, but I had a question. Who is typing his email signature every time he would write his email.

[00:43:33] Jonah Berger: So he'd typed, regard Charles or whatever. It might be at the bottom of his email. And I said, look, man, it's taking a time to do this each time. And he goes, no, I like it this way. It is what it is. And so finally I was like, I hit on a strategy. I was like, okay. How long does it take.

[00:43:45] Jonah Berger: To write your email signature. So like only five or 10 seconds. And I said how many emails do you write in a week? And he said, oh, I don't know 300, 400 emails. And I said how much time do you spend in a week writing your email signature? And he thought about it for many. He did the math.

[00:43:58] Jonah Berger: And then he went to Google and type in how to automate your email signature because at each moment, It took him less time to write it by hand than it did to look it up and do it's on each moment, it was less costly to stick with the status quo. It was the status quo was safe, but over the course of time, adding up all those times that you have to do it, the cost of inaction was actually much higher than the cost of action.

[00:44:20] Jonah Berger: And so that's what I did. I tried to highlight that cost at traditional and look at each end emotional moment. It may seem, feel like it's safe, but actually doing what you think is safe is not, it's better to change.

[00:44:32] Oren Klaff: So this feeds to me. Exactly the, and I agree a hundred percent and it's a well highlighted point.

[00:44:40] Oren Klaff: It feeds to me a hundred percent. Again, the Dan Ariely conundrum, which is the stakes are very low in an email signature. So one thing I've discovered when you are, in a room proposing something, in the million 20 million, whatever the stakes are for you, the stakes are different for everybody, stakes for a four year old is different than stakes.

[00:44:59] Oren Klaff: 50 year old, 55 year old CEO of a energy company. But when the stakes are high and you surface the cost of inaction for people, it's clear that it's self motive.

[00:45:13] Oren Klaff: I find that when you're in that boardroom and you tell someone, Hey, if you don't do anything, this can continue to cost you a million dollars a year. So you're talking about sophisticated people who understand risk reward and their downside. And then when you highlight the cost of an action in high stakes scenarios, I feel like we tend to trigger.

[00:45:36] Oren Klaff: Reactants are self self-serving messaging. Yeah. So I just wanted to get your reaction to that. Yeah.

[00:45:41] Jonah Berger: And that is actually one of the big points of the entire book. Not telling people something, but encouraging them to get there themselves, asking the right questions that guide them down a journey that encouraged them to realize what you wanted them to realize in the first place, but allowing them to get there themselves.

[00:45:58] Jonah Berger: Makes it less likely, they're going to feel like you're trying to persuade them. If you go in a room and you say, Hey, you shouldn't stick with your existing strategy because it's costing you a million dollars a year. That's why you should switch. You should buy my thing because it's going to solve your problem.

[00:46:09] Jonah Berger: Of course, that seems self-serving. If you go in there instead and you say, Hey think about this thing you're using at the moment. What are some of the things you that are good about it? And what are some of the downsides? What are those downsides costs? Asking them the right questions, encourage them.

[00:46:21] Jonah Berger: I didn't tell my friend, Hey my cousin, I didn't tell him, Hey, switch your email signature. Cause he pushed back. Cause the reactants idea we talked about, I asked him questions to encourage him to come to the conclusion by himself. And there were some great quote. I forget exactly what it was, but I came across reading the book, which said something like know.

[00:46:37] Jonah Berger: People never people never change other people's minds. You just encourage them to realize it's time to change themselves. And so a lot of what you're trying to do as a change agent is not change someone, but encourage them to get to that conclusion themselves. And so guiding them down the right path and shaping that journey so that they get to the right place is really the best and most effective way to drive it.

[00:46:59] Oren Klaff: I think we're a hundred percent in alignment on that. Joan really appreciate you being here, guys. The book is a catalyst. There's a lot in here that we didn't discuss. Thanks for being a good sport. I did try and put you off of dead center. So you just didn't give us look, you already have videos out there.

[00:47:12] Oren Klaff: We don't need to repeat the video. That you already have and say you have something fresh and new and exciting. I hope we didn't make you too uncomfortable, but you're a very intelligent academic and clearly you have this bestest underwear. You could take a little bit of heat. I appreciate you being a good sport.

[00:47:30] Oren Klaff: Backstrap. Of the things that you have what are you going to do now? What does the rest of Jonah Berger's day look like?

[00:47:36] Jonah Berger: Oh

[00:47:36] Jonah Berger: wow. I'm actually, I'm filming a documentary about beanie babies and doing some expert witness work and working on a paper. So all the fun things that come with academia.

[00:47:45] Oren Klaff: Yeah. And

[00:47:45] Oren Klaff: Jonah Berger, skydiving climbing, Mount Kilimanjaro teaching the Navy seals, how to shoot man fixing the middle east.

[00:47:52] Jonah Berger: We'll look tomorrow. I'll work with you on that tomorrow.

[00:47:55] Oren Klaff: Thanks a lot for being here. I really appreciate it. Thanks. Appreciate it. Bye now.

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