Kurt and Tim have experience in designing and implementing rewards programs for sales reps, channel partners and loyal customers as well as corporate recognition programs. In this episode, we discuss the not-so-intuitive value of non-cash rewards for a variety of reasons. We serve up research from Dan Ariely, James Heyman, Scott Jeffrey, Ran Kivetz and Richard Thaler. If you have doubts, listen in! If you are a believer but need more cognitive ammunition for your boss, listen in! And if you have stories you'd like to share, drop us a line at www.behavioralgrooves.com


Kurt and Tim have decades of experience applying BS (behavioral sciences) in corporate environments (and non-profits) and this episode walks through some tips that YOU can use to apply BS (behavioral sciences) to your workspace. We talk about sales incentives, employee recognition and general ways to get the BS (behavioral science) stuff going at your company. We outline some best practices: the need to start with a business problem, how to convince your boss (and your boss' boss), start small by creating a pilot, measure what is meaningful, and live with the results.  If you have stories to share or questions you would like answered, fill in the form at www.behavioralgrooves.com or drop us a note in your review and we'll plan a follow-up podcast to share. 


This podcast is Part 2 of a 2-part podcast. Our interview with Rob Burnet, founder of Well Told Story in Nairobi, Kenya went so well and so long that we decided to break it into two separate podcasts.

Part 2 begins with a Seth Godin story and gets into sociologist James Coleman’s working model of how social change occurs. Often referred to as Coleman’s Boat, Rob brought it up as a way to recognize the power of every individual’s behavior on social change.

Rob also detailed some research projects he’s embarked on with Tulane University and Cambridge University and how they’re gathering data from social media posts to measure the change in teenage attitudes toward (unprotected) sex.  We expand the story of the Teaspoon Hustle and discovered that Scotsman living in Nairobi for 25 years still loves The Blues Brothers!

Thanks to Well Told Story for giving us permission to use "The Hustler" theme music from Shujazz!


This podcast is Part 1 of a 2-part podcast. Our interview with Rob Burnet, founder of Well Told Story in Nairobi, Kenya went so well and so long that we decided to break it into two separate podcasts.

In this episode, Part 1, we tee up the work that Rob did with the Ford Foundation and leading into the creation of Shujazz, the Nairobi-based graphic novel (or comic book). Shujazz means 'hero' in Sheng, the slang spoken by Kenyan youth. Rob shared the challenges he and his team faced in creating ways to improve the lives of the largely disenfranchised population of teenagers in a country where poverty and corruption run high. Shujazz – the hero – was their mythical creation to inspire healthier living. It’s a wonderful story and we end Part 1 of our podcast with the true tale of Winnie, a teenager hustling her own path to becoming bulletproof – a term used to signify she’s practicing safe sex and has a foot firmly planted on the ladder of success.

There is no musical grooving session at the end of Part 1 as we end with "The Hustler" theme music from Shujazz!


In this episode, we spoke with Michael Ahearne PhD, a professor and researcher at the University of Houston. Mike is an expert in sales incentives, so we talked about the behavioral issues that come to light with – mostly – bad incentive design. Mike’s work with Tom Steenburgh, PhD at the University of Virginia’s Darden School has introduced a new way of thinking about salespeople. This was highlighted in a Harvard Business Review article from July-August 2012 called "What Really Works." These two researchers coined the use of the terms Stars, Core and Laggards to describe salespeople on their performance journey. One of the things we took away from our conversation with Mike was that the emphasis on Stars and Laggards is overshadowing the Core performers – those in the middle 60%. We touched on some big mistakes common to sales incentive design and the importance of measurement. We also talked about the Baseball Hall of Fame, General Colin Powell, and automobile sales.  

In our Grooving Session, Kurt and I wondered into talking about outdoor concert experiences and want to encourage everyone who loves music to check out Milwaukee's Summerfest. It's a high-quality festival with lots of good music. 


From being a recording engineer at Prince's Paisley Park studios, to playing with the big-hair metal band Slave Raider to founding a successful Agile coaching business called Dev Jam, David Hussman has been forging his way one untraditional step at a time. 

Our interview with David quickly pegged him as the 'accidental behavioral scientist' and that played well throughout the discussion. We talked about chaos monkeys, constructionism, how important it is for Neil Young to know G-C-D chords (and to know what to do with them) and to do things that focus our attention on things that make people smile. 

Unlike pies and cakes, software development is never done. The behavioral aspects of how people interact with software - from the photo app on your phone to the way GPS could alert you gas stations nearby when you're low on fuel (connecting to your car's fuel system) or eateries (connecting your journey to the time of day) - need to be better constructed for the world we live in.

Hendrix vs. Van Halen - who would have thought it was such a difficult question. Listen in and find out. And check out David on Twitter at @davidhussman and let him know that Hendrix is the only correct answer.


May 15, 2018


Dr. Christina Gravert is a Post-Doc at the University of Gothenburg and Chief Behavioral Economist of Impactfully, a behavioral science consultancy. We talked to her from Gothenburg, Sweden, and we had a very interesting conversation about nudging. Christina has worked closely with Nobel laureate Richard Thaler and we thought she'd be a good one to talk to about nudging. 

Our discussion began by defining a nudge versus other policy or incentive decisions. We talked about how nudges came about, in part, because Richard Thaler started recording anomalies he witnessed in real-life behavior and how those behaviors were often at odds with what classical economic theories would have predicted.   We also talked about the evolving definition of Economic Utility and how it has morphed by the impact of behavioral economics. 

We also discussed utility functions in broader terms than simply time or financial utility. Although these are not new to the behavioral sciences, we found gravity in how our feelings of right and wrong are now included as a measure of utility. 

Most importantly, we had fun. Christina was a terrific interviewee and we are seriously going to pursue a Nudge-A-Thon in Minnesota in 2019!

You can follow her on twitter @C_A_Gravert.  

Christina offered a great song to define her passion for surfing: "Pefekte Welle" (Perfect Wave) by Juli. Sweet sounds and solid narrative. Highly recommended. 

May 14, 2018

A New Leadership Model

In this episode, we spoke to Mark Horwitch, Partner for Co-Creation ~ Flexibility ~ Openness ~ Vision at Bain & Company about his remarkable new leadership model developed at Bain.

Leaders at Bain selected Mark to lead a team to develop a new leadership model with specific emphasis on improving employee retention and engagement.  He and his team examined thousands of leadership models in order to hone in on 32 distinct characteristics that they found drove leadership effectiveness. They discovered that leaders don't need to demonstrate all 32 characteristics to be effective. With just 4 of them, the leader can be seen as a truly inspirational.  The model can be found here or at www.bainleadership.com/leadership-model/.

We discussed whether the Peter Drucker model for management is dead and Mark’s comments might surprise you. 

Of course, we talked about music and discovered that the KINKS is one of his favorite bands – a group not known for being shy about their dispositions. Neither is Mark.

Enjoy the discussion with Bain and Associates’ Mark Horwitch.



When Kurt and Tim founded the Behavioral Grooves, we wanted to glean insights into the applications of behavioral sciences from world-renowned researchers and practitioners. So far, so good! In this shorter episode, rather than interviewing a guest, we converse with each other about a topic near and dear to Kurt's heart: The 4 Drive Model. We discuss Lawrence & Nohria's development of the 4 Drive Model and how it's morphed over the years, how the model remained below the radar of corporate applications until a Harvard Business Review article appeared in 2008.

In this 31-minute discussion about the 4 Drive Model, you can learn about how it's been modified since it was first conceived and how it's being applied to organizational effectiveness, sales incentive design and employee engagement. 


This episode’s guest is Kyle Simenson, a marketing consultant who noted that ‘When marketing is good, you can’t see it.’ His comment instantly brought questions of malevolent and benevolent use of marketing data along with intention and the lines marketers draw when considering the uses of behavioral sciences.

Kyle’s work in digital strategy is particularly relevant in a world where big data can generate highly-tailored messages and can incorporate nudges that appeal to the unconscious mind of the customers. We talked about, on some levels, marketing is entirely behavioral. POC and SEM. Automation tools that observe the dynamics of human behavior. We discussed books from “Predictably Irrational” to the “Undoing Project” to Tim Ferriss’ book, “Tribe of Mentors” and they inspire Kyle to deliver insights to his clients. Our conversation also uncovered that Kyle is a not-so-in-the-closet Rolling Stones fan and “Tumbling Dice” would be his theme song.

We hope you enjoy this episode as much as we did recording it.


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