Looking for a simple 5-step plan to be happier? Our guest has one.

Amit Sood, PhD is an author and physician at the world-renowned Mayo Clinic, in Rochester, Minnesota. He specializes in pediatrics, internal medicine and oncology and he also maintains certificates in acupressure, yoga and reiki. His books include two particularly relevant volumes that formed the basis of our discussion: The Guide to Stress-Free Living and Handbook for Happiness. He’s a remarkably well-rounded and humble healthcare practitioner as well as a highly productive author.  It’s clear from talking with him that he cares deeply about his patients and the quality of his work. His passion was inspirational for us and we hope you have the same experience.

Our conversation focused on the topic of happiness: things we do to increase it and things we do to reduce it.  Amit shared some fascinating insights into specific things that we can do to increase our happiness and we were glad to speak with him.    

In the grooving session, Kurt and Tim wove these insights into a broader fabric of the environment we’re in when we go to work.  Specifically, we addressed how different types of interactions – contentious, transactional or affiliative – influence our happiness and our productivity in the office.  We also deliberated the human condition’s increasing need for responsiveness and how our patience for what we consider a socially-acceptable wait time is growing shorter.

Finally, Kurt and Tim discussed the importance of intentionality that Amit believes is foundational to living a happy life, which acted as a springboard for Kurt to ask, “What song would you have wanted to write?” That question quickly got our brains into some miraculous and happy dreaming.

We hope you enjoy our discussion with Amit Sood and, if you do, please leave us a very brief review on your favorite listening app.


Amit Sood, PhD: https://www.mayoclinic.org/biographies/sood-amit-m-d/bio-20054879 and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amit_Sood

Mayo Clinic: https://www.mayoclinic.org/

The Guide to Stress-Free Living: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-mayo-clinic-guide-to-stress-free-living-amit-sood-md/1115183416#/

Handbook for Happiness: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-mayo-clinic-handbook-for-happiness-amit-sood-md/1119972623?ean=9780738217857


A Fragile Culture (by Jonathan Haidt): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8lFsc-xGz7o

In My Life (Paul McCartney & John Lennon): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6xx8h4IBrRY

Eleanor Rigby (Paul McCartney & John Lennon): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=weN-l8SOiFU

If We Were Vampires (by Jason Isbell): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JF45uzdPgd4

People Are People (by Depeche Mode): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MzGnX-MbYE4


Kurt Nelson: @motivationguru and https://www.linkedin.com/in/kurtwnelson/

Tim Houlihan: @THoulihan and https://www.linkedin.com/in/tim-houlihan-b-e/


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Imagine a company where 100% of the employees are rebels – would it be chaotic or wonderful? Our guest from the Harvard Business School, Francesca Gino PhD, argues that rebels are not just essential, but they can improve corporate effectiveness.

Francesca is a professor and researcher at Harvard Business School who describes herself as a curious behavioral scientist, passionate about teaching and helping leaders make wiser decisions that can improve their lives and those of the people around them. She’s the author of dozens of peer-reviewed articles on decision making and her books include Sidetracked (2013), and more recently, Rebel Talent, that covers a body of research findings highlighting why the most successful people break the rules, and how rebellion brings joy and meaning into our lives.

Our discussion revealed that Francesca isn’t the kind of person who just doles out good advice, she often tests it out first on herself, her husband and children, her students and colleagues and even the business leaders she consults with! She’s a rebel thinker and doer and her drive to discover answers to the why-we-do-what-we-do question is without limits.

Her findings reveal key methods that companies can use to help employees remain curious and to steer employees clear of the day-to-day ruts that are so easy to fall into.

In the grooving session that follows our discussion with Francesca, we dig deeper into the application of curiosity, psychological safety and extremely powerful (and portable) conversation too, “Yes, and…” Kurt and Tim share ways in which we’ve seen “yes, and…” is applied successfully in workshops, brainstorming sessions, corporate meetings, and presentations in the corporate world.

We hope you enjoy our conversation with the rebel Francesca Gino.

If you enjoyed this episode, please don’t hesitate to give us a positive rating on your favorite podcatching service.

© 2019/2020 Behavioral Grooves


Francesca Gino: http://francescagino.com

Rebel Talent: https://www.rebeltalents.org

Sidetracked: http://francescagino.com/sidetracked

After the episode, Francesca told us that she listened to Youngblood’s version of 5 Seconds of Summer:


Julia Minson, PhD at the Kennedy School at Harvard: https://www.hks.harvard.edu/faculty/julia-minson

Pixar Animation Studios: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pixar

The Ballad of Lucinda (by Tim Houlihan): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9jzM2wLgNc8

Blog Post on PADI certification (by Ben Granlund): http://blog.lanterngroup.com/behavioral-science-beneath-the-surface-the-power-of-rational-thoughts-in-an-unnatural-environment

St. Vincent (on sounds): https://consequenceofsound.net/2017/10/10-times-st-vincent-gave-no-fucks/

Blasphemous Rumors (by Depeche Mode): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o3EAzf5fDpY

Kurt Nelson: @motivationguru and https://www.linkedin.com/in/kurtwnelson/

Tim Houlihan: @THoulihan and https://www.linkedin.com/in/tim-houlihan-b-e/


Subscribe to Behavioral Grooves: https://behavioralgrooves.podbean.com/

In this episode, we had the pleasure of speaking with two guests: Jeanie Whinghter, PhD and Afra Ahmad, PhD. Jeanie is the Chair of Industrial and Organizational Psychology and General Psychology at Capella University. Her research focuses on the manifestations of stressors and strains in alternative work arrangements and was in Memphis when we spoke.  Afra was in Dubai at Zayed University but will begin a new role in the summer of 2019 as Director of the Masters in Professional Studies in Applied Industrial and Organizational Psychology at George Mason University. Her research emphasizes diversity and inclusion and she has been authored chapters in books, published in Harvard Business Review, as well as in peer-reviewed journals.

Both are researchers, teachers, wives, mothers and truly fascinating people. We were grateful to be able to speak to them in advance the SIOP – the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology – conference in April 2019. At the conference, they’ll unveil an interactive workshop to illuminate the challenges of trying to “have it all.” Inspired by a satirical article in The New Yorker magazine (citation below), the idea of having it all has plagued women, especially, who strive to be successful at parenting and a career at the same time. Jeanie and Afra are advocating an approach that focuses on harmony rather than balance.

Our conversation first centered around their research and revealed insights for those struggling to have it all. More timely, we discussed their SIOP session.

After the formal discussion, with the tape still rolling, we talked in greater depth about their unique, interactive structure for their SIOP session and how surprising it is that more conferences don’t feature non-traditional, participant engagement sessions.

To learn more about the SIOP session itself, listen to our grooving session which immediately follows the discussion with Jeanie and Afra. If you’d like to skip straight there, check out the discussion starting around 51:40. There we also tackled the concepts of work-life harmony and the importance of allies.

Our grooving session continued with the challenges nursing mothers face when no nursing rooms exist. And we talked about the use of harmony is songwriting. 

Select Links

Jeanie Whinghter, PhD: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jeanie-whinghter-b303a9148/

Afra Ahmad, PhD: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dr-afra-saeed-ahmad-35229070/ 


SIOP – Society for Industry & Organizational Psychology: https://www.siop.org/

Inspiration for the workshop from this article in The New Yorker: https://www.newyorker.com/humor/daily-shouts/i-am-the-one-woman-who-has-it-all

Jeff Bezos on Work/Life Balance: https://www.businessinsider.com/jeff-bezo-advice-to-amazon-employees-dont-aim-for-work-life-balance-its-a-circle-2018-4

Jeff Bezos on Harmony vs. Balance: https://www.cnbc.com/2018/08/09/what-jeff-bezos-does-instead-of-work-life-balance.html

Leading the Life You Want, by Stuart Friedman, PhD (Wharton Professor) 2014: https://hbr.org/product/leading-the-life-you-want-skills-for-integrating-work-and-life/11343E-KND-ENG

Research on how we always think we do the most work at home by Yavorsky, Dush and Sullivan, especially after a baby comes into the house: “The Production of Inequality: The Gender Division of Labor Across the Transition to Parenthood.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26430282

Bentley University’s Center for Women in Business (Waltham, Massachusetts) 2017 report: “Men as Allies: Engaging Men to Advance Women in the Workplace.” https://www.ceoaction.com/media/1434/bentley-cwb-men-as-allies-research-report-spring-2017.pdf A growing trend.

Baby Shark: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XqZsoesa55w

Alicia Keys, Girl on Fire: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J91ti_MpdHA

Tim Houlihan, Beneath the Surface of the Well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oNUbRG1yWwM&t=0s&index=41&list=PLagHYhetqqmEEie866Zodn7W4IBlfNwli

Kurt Nelson: @motivationguru and https://www.linkedin.com/in/kurtwnelson/

Tim Houlihan: @THoulihan and https://www.linkedin.com/in/tim-houlihan-b-e/


Subscribe to Behavioral Grooves: https://behavioralgrooves.podbean.com/

Michael Kaplan is a private equity and angel investor who was part owner and president of the wildly successful carpet cleaning franchise called Zerorez. (Note that it’s spelled the same backward as it is forward. A classic palindrome!)  He is now associated with Red Hook Investments and is actively finding new ways to help small service companies grow.  

Michael grew up in Minneapolis, moved to Maine (undergrad) then to Atlanta (for barbeque and bourbon) then to Boston (pondering a Jimmy John’s franchise) then to Minneapolis (law school) and stayed to help turnaround a troubled carpet cleaning business in 2009.

We talked about his life and business journey and discovered that the underlying themes he lived by are replicable. (We cover them in depth during our grooving session following the discussion with Michael.)  We talked about how people make decisions and what data goes into those decisions; how framing impacts us from the name of our company to why we work; and we all long to have a sense of purpose and build a community – even at work! 

When Michael brought up the importance of having naysayers in the decision-making process, we felt right at home because of Annie Duke’s Thinking in Bets. This led us to view Michael’s successes through two important lenses: First, how he actively seeks out counterintuitive thinking. He dives deep and often reframes issues to reveal better answers. When there was trouble hiring the right people, he shared how Zerorez adapted the jobs to the marketplace rather than assuming the market would simply come around to his business needs.

Second, we saw his tremendous attention to reworking ideas as he noted, “Whatever system you're implementing, it's going to be wrong. You have to tweak it, you have to get out in the real world and figure out where my assumption's correct.”

Of course, we talked about music and his affection for having a local radio station curate playlists. The radio brings him both familiar and new tunes on a regular basis and he likes the mix of hearing Sinatra after the Lumineers.

We hope you enjoy the conversation with Michael and take a moment to give Behavioral Grooves a quick review on your favorite podcatcher.


Zerorez: https://www.zerorez.com/

Red Hook Investments: http://redhookinvestments.com/

4-drive model (Lawrence & Nohria): https://www.leadersbeacon.com/four-drive-model-new-theory-on-employee-motivation/

French cooking music: https://www.pandora.com/genre/french-cooking-music

Steve Miller Band “Swing Town”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1jGYx0hMjM0

Twin Reverb amplifier: https://shop.fender.com/en-US/guitar-amplifiers/vintage-pro-tube/65-twin-reverb/0217300000.html

The Current radio station: https://www.thecurrent.org/

June Carter Cash: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/June_Carter_Cash

Lumineers: https://thelumineers.com/

Annie Duke, Thinking in Bets: https://www.annieduke.com/books/

Palindrome: https://examples.yourdictionary.com/palindrome-examples.html


Subscribe to Behavioral Grooves: https://behavioralgrooves.podbean.com/

Kurt Nelson, PhD: https://twitter.com/motivationguru and kurt@lanterngroup.com

Tim Houlihan: https://twitter.com/THoulihan and tim@behavioralchemy.com


March 6, 2019

Grooving on Reciprocity

This is the second episode in a series on the 6 Principles of Persuasion as identified by Robert Cialdini, PhD, in his 1984 book, Influence. (The first episode in the series was on consistency – with the link below.) In this grooving session, Kurt and Tim discuss reciprocity, the first principle of influence, its roots and how it shows up in our world today.

Reciprocity is when we feel obliged to give back to people who have given to us. The operative word is given, to differentiate the experience from a contractual exchange like a loan or a quid pro quo. Reciprocity shows up not only in what we do but also how we do it. A great example is a study conducted by Cialdini, et. al, to measure how leaving a mint with a restaurant bill makes a difference in the size of the tip left for the server. The results are remarkable – but you’ll have to listen to find out what’s even more fascinating in this study.

We talk about reciprocity as a social construct and a social obligation to keep our social credit strong. We talk about its roots in anthropological terms and how the humans need communities to survive and reciprocity helps maintain the community.

We hope you enjoy this grooving session on one of our favorite topics: reciprocity.


Episode on Consistency: https://behavioralgrooves.podbean.com/e/grooving-political-stalemates-insights-on-consistency/

Cialdini’s HBR article on harnessing the power of persuasion: https://hbr.org/2001/10/harnessing-the-science-of-persuasion

Cialdini’s principles: https://www.influenceatwork.com/principles-of-persuasion/

Link to Influence: https://www.influenceatwork.com/store/#!/Paperbacks/c/2254134/offset=0&sort=normal

Social Construct and Retaliation: https://pubs.aeaweb.org/doi/pdfplus/10.1257/jep.14.3.159

Obligation principle: http://changingminds.org/principles/obligation.htm


Kurt Nelson, PhD: kurt@lanterngroup.com or Twitter @motivationguru 

Tim Houlihan: tim@behavioralchemy.com or Twitter @THoulihan


Subscribe to Behavioral Grooves: https://behavioralgrooves.podbean.com/

Liz Fosslien is the co-author and illustrator of No Hard Feelings: The secret power of embracing emotions at workThe book is a wickedly funny guide to un-repressing your emotions at work, finding constructive channels even for jealousy and anxiety, demystifying coworker communication styles, and ultimately allowing readers to be the same person in work and in life. She recently joined Humu to develop nudges and behavior change models that make life at work better. 

Our conversation with Liz, like all of our conversations, meandered from her book to her workout music (EDM), to her background in math and economics, to 14 Ways An Economist Says I Love You, to the burnout that led to the book, to the research and findings that the book explores, to the OREO method of feedback and much more.

The primary concept we took away was that our emotions can play a positive role at work for a variety of reasons, and the second is about how to deal with the limits or restrictions that we sometimes place on ourselves in the workplace. We talked about how these approaches impact our productivity and our emotional health.

In our grooving session, Kurt and Tim discussed psychological safety, how emotions are contagious, to loss aversion and its relationship to our naturally negative brains, to William Kahn’s ground-breaking work on psychological safety, to Vittorio Gallese’s work on mirror neurons and Kurt and Tim’s first-ever song based on a behavioral science principle: Loss Aversion.

We hope you enjoy our conversation with Liz and please refer us to a friend if you like this episode. 


Liz Fosslien: http://fosslien.com/

Liz & Mollie’s book: No Hard Feelings: The secret power of embracing emotions at work.   https://www.lizandmollie.com/book/

Liz’s article on how economists say I Love You: 14 ways an economist says I love you  http://fosslien.com/heart/ 

National Affairs: https://www.nationalaffairs.com/

Project Aristotle: https://rework.withgoogle.com/print/guides/5721312655835136/

Vittorio Gallese, PhD: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vittorio_Gallese

William Kahn, PhD: “Psychological Conditions of Personal Engagement & Disengagement at Work”


Thaler & Sunstein, Nudge: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nudge_(book)

Loss Aversion (Kurt & Tim’s video): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AyeRNVSWJAI&t=4s

Tears for Fears – “Shout” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ye7FKc1JQe4

Bob Dylan: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bob_Dylan

Cat Stevens (now Yusuf Islam): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cat_Stevens


Kurt Nelson, PhD contact: email kurt@lanterngroup.com or Twitter @motivationguru or LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/kurtwnelson/  

Tim Houlihan contact: email tim@behavioralchemy.com or Twitter @THoulihan or LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/tim-houlihan-b-e/  


Subscribe to Behavioral Grooves: https://behavioralgrooves.podbean.com/



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