Alex Blau is a vice president at ideas42 with projects in consumer finance, design and decision-making, and international development. In our discussion, we focused on a new project he’s working on in the area of supervision of people after they're released from incarceration, or what we commonly refer to as parole.

The cost of incarceration and supervision is more than just social – it comes with a big price tag. Nearly $7 billion is spent annually to supervise individuals coming out of the prison system and another $9 billion is spent on incarceration. More than 4.5 million people in the United States are under supervision and government data indicate that roughly two-thirds of those released from prison will be arrested within 3 years.

Roughly 50% of the arrests are for rule violations (the other 50% for committing new crimes). Alex and his colleagues at ideas42 are researching ways to change the context of the world the parolees return to with the hope of reducing recidivism. We talked about the novel interventions they’re testing.

We also discussed a brief history of Jamaican music with an emphasis on the rich catalog of the island nation’s artists, emerging near the middle of the 20th century. In our grooving session, Kurt and Tim cover the implementation-intention framework and how reminders via association can be more powerful than specific triggers, especially when triggers are difficult to identify.

We hope you enjoy our discussion with Alex Blau.



Alex Blau:


Annie Duke:

Todd Rogers & Katy Milkman “Reminders through Association”

Sendhil Mullainathan:

Laurie Santos, GI Joe Effect:






David Hussman episode #17:


Kurt Nelson: @motivationguru 

Tim Houlihan: @THoulihan

Check out the Behavioral Grooves website:



Bob Marley:

Desmond Decker:

Toots and the Maytals:


Steven Sisler may not be a household name, but he should be. Steve is a Master Level Behavioral Profiler and the lead Behavioral Analyst at The Behavioral Resource Group. He consults on personality, career strategy, leadership strategy, culture, spiritual growth, relationship management, and temperament strategy.

We were introduced to Steve by one of our listeners and we were happy to invite him on the show. His wit and wisdom were both entertaining and rewarding in ways that only a guy who has held jobs as diverse as roofing a house to authoring seven books and speaking at conferences can be. Steve’s behavioral focus emerges from his work with personality assessments, and this brought a fresh perspective us as we rarely dive into the tools of the trade. We discussed the value of understanding who we are as individuals to help us better understand how others are. As Steve said, “We don’t see people as they are, we see people as we are.” 

We hope you enjoy our conversation with Steve and we’ve shared links to many of the references – and there were many – for those unfamiliar with this field of study.




Steven Sisler:

King Solomon (Ecclesiastes 9:11):

Descriptive Self:

Normative Self:

The Prince of Egypt (Disney):

Robert S. Hartman, PhD:


Bad Players Make Great Coaches:

Turning into a Skid:

Dave Ramsey (radio host):

John G. Geier & Dorthey E. Downey, Aristos:

DISC Assessment:

Hyper Empathy:

Emotional Intelligence:

GI Joe Fallacy:


Pinky & The Brain:

“Quiet” by Susan Cain:

“9 Lies About Work” by Marcus Buckingham & Ashley Goodall:

Meyers Briggs Personality Assessment:

Kimberlé Crenshaw – Intersectionality:



“A Star is Born” soundtrack:

Lady Gaga:


Electric Light Orchestra:


Dredg “The Pariah, the Parrot, the Illusion”:

“Down to the Cellar”:

“The Times They Are A Changing” by Bob Dylan:

“Purple Rain” by Prince:

“Love Will Never Do Without You” by Janet Jackson:

“Candy Apple Gray” by Hüsker Dü:

The Replacements:

The Suburbs:


Our guest in this episode is a prolific writer and observer of the human condition, Chris Matyszczyk (pronounced ma-TIS-chick). We talked with Chris about a variety of topics including

advertising, the psychology of who we are, including an unplanned psychoanalysis of Tim’s desire to be heard as a musician. We also talked about politics and referenced Brexit, life at Google and Facebook, and, hold the phone: how World War will be won by the best nerds.

All of this got started because we saw an article Chris wrote that caught our attention. It was a topic we have discussed in the past: Music and its relationship to getting work done. Is music a stimulant to creativity or is it a buzz kill? Does it enhance the work experience or drown it out? You’ll have to listen to see what Chris has to say about this.

In our grooving session, we focused on the dynamics of why we connect so easily with some people and others, not so much. And we also covered some of the challenges of a digital, high-social-media age where the lines of work and life might be more like how our ancient ancestors live: it’s just life. Or is it? 

We hope you enjoy our conversation with Chris. And please share your thoughts with us and stay in touch.


Chris Matyszczyk: and and


John Cleese:

Fawlty Towers:

On Privacy: “Privacy and human behavior in the age of information,“ by Alessandro Acquisti, Laura Brandimarte, and George Loewenstein

Marvel comics:

Work-Life Balance was Episode 59 with Jeanie Whinghter and Afra Ahmad:

Charlotte Blank:

Roger Dooley:


Kurt Nelson: @motivationguru and

Tim Houlihan: @THoulihan and

Check out the Behavioral Grooves website:


Cold Play:

Pink Floyd:

Ludwig Van Beethoven:

Beethoven’s Violin Concerto:

Because we're taking a little break, we are republishing one of our favorite episodes: a conversation with Scott Jeffrey, PhD from Monmouth University in New Jersey, recorded in December 2017. Our conversation was so engaging that we wanted to make sure no one misses out on it. The original audio from this was only our third podcast we’d ever recorded, and it was a recorded with the simplest tools available. That said, we hope you enjoy the content.

In this episode, we discuss the concept of justifiability with one of its earliest researchers, Scott Jeffrey, PhD. Scott was early among researchers, including Itamar Simonson at Stanford, to note that part of what makes a thing a 'reward' is its difficulty to be justifiable. In other words, the best reward is something that we would NOT justify spending our own money on. 

Scott took an interesting turn with his theme song and we had also talked about how employee engagement platforms are 'dollarizing' the relationship between the employer and the employee. Scott also brought up Max Bazerman's "Arguing with Yourself and Losing" model which coaxed a spirited discussion among us.

We groove on holiday eats, since we originally recorded this in December and lots of geeky stuff in this episode. We hope you enjoy.



Scott Jeffrey, PhD:


A Theory of Moral Sentiments, Adam Smith:

Cognitive Misers:

Dragon’s Den:

Max Bazerman, PhD:

Dan Ariely, PhD:

Source Attribution:

Behavioral Grooves:

Kurt Nelson: @motivationguru and

Tim Houlihan: @THoulihan and


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