Jonah Berger (@j1berger) is a professor at Wharton and a world-renowned expert on word of mouth, social influence, consumer behavior, and how products, ideas, and behaviors catch on. He’s also a bestselling author; his latest book is The Catalyst: How to Change Anyone’s Mind.
What We Discuss with Jonah Berger:
- How the ingrained anti-persuasion radar we all possess makes it harder for us to follow even the best advice.
- Why providing someone with a “menu” of options is a far more effective method of persuasion than giving them a single option.
- While pushing works well when we want to move furniture, we’re better off identifying obstacles and removing them when we want to guide another person in a certain direction.
- How effective advertising overcomes our anti-persuasion radar and gets us invested in the idea of buying products.
- Why most anti-smoking campaigns have an effect opposite of their intentions, and how a Thai campaign cleverly adopted a tactic that actually worked.
- And much more…
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We human beings — especially those of us in the Western world — love to be in charge of our own destiny. We need to believe we’re the ones in the driver’s seat making the choice to stay on the freeway or steer toward the exit ramp. We know for a fact that other people are easily influenced by the advertising agencies and the tastemakers and the government, but we’re ultimately calling the shots — drinking the beverages we truly enjoy, wearing the clothes we know to be the most complimentary for our physique, and naming our kids something so unique that they won’t share that exact moniker with five other kids from K through 12 to the grave.
But honestly, we’re pretty simple to manipulate by people who understand what levers motivate the decisions we make. Fortunately, on this episode, Wharton professor and The Catalyst: How to Change Anyone’s Mind author Jonah Berger gives us access to these levers so we can understand how to keep an eye out for the attempted manipulations of others — and stealthily encourage our kids to clean their rooms, get our loved ones to stop smoking, and bolster the initiative of our coworkers. Listen, learn, and enjoy!
Please Scroll Down for Featured Resources and Transcript!
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Hopeful entrepreneurs come to the Shark Tank seeking an investment to start, grow, or save their businesses. When the investing sharks see a great idea, the feeding frenzy is on! The Emmy-winning Shark Tank returns Friday, October 16th, at 8/7 Central on ABC.
Miss our episode with human guinea pig A.J. Jacobs? Catch up with episode 174: A.J. Jacobs | Thanks a Thousand: A Gratitude Journey here!
THANKS, JONAH BERGER!
If you enjoyed this session with Jonah Berger, let him know by clicking on the link below and sending him a quick shout out at Twitter:
And if you want us to answer your questions on one of our upcoming weekly Feedback Friday episodes, drop us a line at email@example.com.
Resources from This Episode:
- The Catalyst: How to Change Anyone’s Mind by Jonah Berger
- Jonah Berger | Website
- Jonah Berger | Twitter
- Invisible Influence: The Hidden Forces that Shape Behavior by Jonah Berger
- Why Are People Eating Tide Pods? | Intelligencer
- Coronavirus Lockdown Protest | All Gas No Brakes
- Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger
- The 16 Best Super Bowl Ads of All Time | Vogue
- White Claws Are Manly | Zoltan Kaszas
- 9 Out of 10 Dentists | Know Your Meme
- Kelly McGonigal | The Upside of Stress | TJHS 374
- Why Cigarette Warning Labels Make People Smoke More, Not Less! | Break the Habit Blog
- Smoking Kid | Thai Health Promotion Foundation
- Sheena Iyengar | Website
- Chris Voss | Negotiate as If Your Life Depended on It | TJHS 165
- How the Status Quo Bias Affects Your Decisions | Verywell Mind
- Switching Costs: Overview | Investopedia
- “Good is the Enemy of Great…” -Jim Collins | GoodReads
- Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t by Jim Collins
- Report: Everyone from Your High School Has a Kid Named Jayden Now | Reductress
- The Devil Wears Prada | Prime Video
Transcript for Jonah Berger | How to Change Anyone’s Mind (Episode 414)
Jordan Harbinger: [00:00:00] Coming up on The Jordan Harbinger Show.
Jonah Berger: [00:00:02] So an eight-year-old boy or an eight-year-old girl goes up to a smoker on the street, says, "Can I have a light?" And smokers do, of course, what you'd think they would do, they say, "No way. There's no way I'm giving you a light. Like, you're a little kid. You should go run and play. Like, it'll give you lung disease or give you emphysema. Don't you want to be healthy? Like, no way am I giving you a cigarette." And then at the end of the interaction, the kid goes, "Okay," and they hand the smokers a piece of paper. And on that piece of paper, there's a note that says, "Hey, you worry about me, but not yourself. Think about calling this Quit Line." Because again, rather than trying to persuade the smokers, we're not saying, "Hey, don't smoke." We're saying, "You can do whatever you want, but if you wouldn't give me a cigarette, why are you still doing it yourself?" It points out a gap between their attitudes and their actions or what they say they care about and what they're recommending for someone else.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:00:47] Welcome to the show. I'm Jordan Harbinger. On The Jordan Harbinger Show, we decode the stories, secrets, and skills of the world's most fascinating people. If you're new to the show, we have in-depth conversations with people at the top of their game, astronauts, entrepreneurs, spies, psychologists, even the occasional arms dealer, and neuroscientist. And each episode turns our guests' wisdom into practical advice that you can use to build a deeper understanding of how the world works and become a better critical thinker.
[00:01:00] Today, on the show, Jonah Berger is a professor at the Wharton School of Business, one of the top schools in the nation. He's an expert on word of mouth, viral marketing, social influence, and how products, ideas, and behaviors catch on. Today, we'll discover that humans have an anti-influence and anti-persuasion system. Of course, we'll also learn how to work around this, hopefully for good. This episode centers around persuasion, especially as used in marketing and influence campaigns. We'll also learn why we don't even see influence in real-time, even when we're trained to do so and how we can sharpen ourselves to be more aware of influence attempts, subversive marketing — and of course, our own bias as well.
[00:01:53] Speaking of influence, if you're wondering how I managed to book all these great authors, thinkers, and celebrities every single week, it's because of my network. I'm teaching you how to build your network for free over at jordanharbinger.com/course. And by the way, most of the guests on the show, they subscribed to the course, they helped contribute to the course. So come join us, you'll be in smart company. Now, here's Jonah Berger.
[00:02:16] The last book I interviewed you about was Invisible Influence, last time you were on the show. And this book, The Catalyst, actually in many ways, is similar. You know, we start off with a little bit of persuasion. And you note that most of the time, we just hit the gas and try to force our way to get someone to do something else. If we want to persuade it — parenting is a classic example. I've got a nine-month-old kid, so I don't have to do this yet. But I distinctly remember my parents saying things like, "Why do you have to do it?" "Because I said so." Or, "You know, this is the way things are done and you have to do it that way. And you just have to trust me because I'm your mom or your dad." And that's limited in its effect, especially if those people we're talking to are not our children.
Jonah Berger: [00:02:58] Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:02:58] What alternative strategies are we looking at here? Short of field hypnosis to persuade.
Jonah Berger: [00:03:05] Yeah. You know, I was talking about a consultant who talked about this and I think a way that many of us can understand, you know, imagine you're presenting at a meeting, right? So you had, you're pitching a group, whether it's a client potentially even an internal meeting, maybe you're pitching your boss and your team or their team on an idea. And you're doing your best, right? You're giving them lots of reasons why they should do what you want them to do. You're giving them facts. You're giving them figures. You're giving them information. You're giving them PowerPoint slides, all the growth trajectories go up into the right. You know, everything looks wonderful and they're all sitting there and they're looking like they're engaged. And at the end of the meeting, they say, "Okay. We'll think about it." And then they never get back to you.
[00:03:40] Because what they're really doing is they're sitting there thinking about all the reasons why what you're suggesting, unfortunately, is wrong, right? Because essentially people, whether they're kids, whether they're nine-months-old, soon to be eventually two years old where they can talk a little bit more, or whether they're that boss or that client in the meeting, you know we all have an ingrained anti-persuasion radar. It's essentially a defense system that detects persuasion attempts. So when I realize that someone's trying to persuade me whether it's a telemarketer or an advertisement or someone presenting in a meeting, I engage in a set of defensive actions to protect myself against persuasion. I avoid the message. I ignore it. So, you know, maybe I hang up on that telemarketer or I delete the email or even worse, I do what's called counter-argument.
[00:04:21] I sit there and I think about all the reasons why what someone is suggesting is wrong. I poke and prod, sort of like almost a high school debate team member. I find all the flaws. I find all the holes and the arguing eventually comes crumbling down. And so I think the challenge for us as people trying to change minds, whether it's our kids' minds, whether it's our client's mind or our boss's mind, is not so much to persuade, but to get people to persuade themselves.
[00:04:45] One thing I talk a lot about in the Reactance chapter is really how can you shift the role of the person who's listening to you, not so you're pushing on them, but you're involving them in the process. They're participating in a way and as a result, are much more likely to buy into what you're suggesting at the end. And so happy to talk more about some specific strategies of how to do that, but that is a high level of sort of one of the principles, right? Rather than persuading people, get them to persuade themselves. Rather than trying to sell them, get them to buy into what you're suggesting themselves, and they'll be much more amenable to changing.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:05:16] It's funny thinking about this. People were going, "Oh great. Okay. Get them to persuade themselves." Like when you let a kid think cleaning their room is their own idea. A friend of mine, who's also a parent — I got parenting on the brain, which is probably a good thing.
Jonah Berger: [00:05:27] Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:05:27] He said, "My son just asked me how he can earn more Legos." Because I texted him a photo of a bunch of Legos. I get sent a lot of stuff, doing a show, and I'm like, "My kid's going to choke on these." They're like, you know, it's like a castle set —
Jonah Berger: [00:05:39] Yes.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:05:39] — of Legos that he can't use for a decade.
Jonah Berger: [00:05:43] Yes.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:05:44] And I'm like, "Thanks. It's a very kind gift. But I'm just, this thing is going to be old and dusty and not cool in 10 years," or like storing it is just not even worth it at this point. And again, the show fan who sent this to me, I'm deeply thankful as just one of those things that non-parents send to parents and they think, "This is awesome. He's going to love this."
Jonah Berger: [00:06:02] Towards the lots of lights and sounds also falling out.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:06:04] I'm like, you know, every single one of these things can poke through skin and kill.
Jonah Berger: [00:06:08] Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:06:09] So I'm just going to go ahead and not let him have that. Anyway, I took a photo of it and sent it to my friend, who's got little kids who are in appropriate age.
Jonah Berger: [00:06:16] Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:06:16] He said, "Yeah, my kid just asked me what he can do to earn more Legos." And I was like, "Ah, putting a pin in that because that's really one of those notes where you go, 'Aha,' so he can say, 'Well, you can start to do more cleaning or something like that.' And the kid's like, 'Great. How about I cleaned my room? The most obvious thing you're always asking me to clean.' 'Yeah. Good idea. And then maybe you can clean up your toys outside and all these little things to earn more Legos.'"
[00:06:37] There's also a dark side to this too. Recently, I was involved in a lawsuit and I don't know how much I can say about this, or how much is a good idea to say about this. But one of the things that I did during the lawsuit was the other side was so predictably, irrational and angry that it was easy enough to do something that would trigger them to do something that would then kind of either be something we wanted them to do or would paint them into a corner. Well, I don't want to, if an example, because then they're going to be like, "I've been tricked." But you know, they would do something and they'd go, "Oh, well, we're just going to do this now." And my lawyer and I would just kind of sit there and chuckle because we were like, "Really? All you had to do is post this tweet and get them so riled up that he would then pull this particular thing. And then he ends up only having one or two options left, both of which are good for us."
[00:07:23] And so we started to do this and it doesn't trigger what you've called the anti-persuasion radar. I don't know if you created that, but it's a brilliant term. People have this innate anti-persuasion radar. And once you trigger this. They don't want to be persuaded. I'll let you explain it since I'm interviewing you theoretically right now.
Jonah Berger: [00:07:43] Yeah. I mean, it's sort of like a Spidey sense and someone described it that way and I think that's exactly right. If you detect an incoming persuasion attempt and you then try to fight against it and that's when their defenses go up and you avoid, you ignore, or you counter-argue.
[00:07:55] But I think what you're saying with the Legos, you know, to me, that's a little bit like the carrot and the stick.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:07:59] Yeah.
Jonah Berger: [00:08:00] If you do this, you'll get that, which is great in some ways because as long as you have Legos, people will do something if they're desiring Legos, eventually though, they're going to want bigger things, and eventually going to say, "Well, if you don't give me Legos, I'm not going to do it." And so that's the challenge was sort of the carrot and the stick approach. And so what I would suggest instead, whether you have kids or whether you're trying to change an adult's mind, is one way is to give people choice. One way is to provide what I'll call a menu.
[00:08:25] So go back to that example where you're presenting in front of an audience, rather than saying, "Hey, here's what I'm suggesting." Give people a choice. Say, "Hey, which do you like better X or Y? Which of these — I'm suggesting one of these two courses of action, which do you guys like?" And what it subtly does is it shifts the role of the audience because before the audience was going, "I don't like this. This is why I don't like this. This is why it's not going to work. But when you give them a choice, now they're sitting there going, "Wait for a second, I've got a job. I've got to figure out which of these two I like better." And because of that one, "The anti-persuasion radar doesn't have time to work because I'm focused on my new job, which is figuring out which one I like.” And two, "Because I'm figuring out which one I like, I'm much more likely to go along with one of them at the end of that meeting." It's giving people a menu, but it's a small menu. It's choosing the choice set and allowing them to choose from within that choice because now they feel invested in it.
[00:09:12] And it works the same thing with kids. I mean, you know, I was talking to a parenting expert who talked about this from the kids' angle and you know, it's like, "Hey, which do you want to do first put on your pants or your shirt?"
Jordan Harbinger: [00:09:21] Right.
Jonah Berger: [00:09:21] So you have a 2-1/2-year-old. And so recently went through some similar things myself. And so it's not saying, "Hey, do this," and it's not saying, "Do this or I'll give you some Legos. It's saying which one of these do you want to do first?" And then the kid is not sitting there going, "Well, actually I want option three to do neither of them." They're saying, "Hmm, which one do I want to do first? I want to put my pants on or my shirt on?" And now they're not thinking about the other options and they're much more amenable to doing what you want in the first place.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:09:44] So when people think they're being sold or persuaded this anti-persuasion radar kicks in, defenses go up, and then suddenly people — what? Shut down or are they just more skeptical and suspicious or is there like a complete shutdown? I'm sort of imagining myself when I walk on the car lot and somebody is like doing the assumptive close and it's their third day on the job and it's all clunky. And I'm like, "Dude, I just told you, I'm not here to buy. You don't have to do all," I feel like I'm sort of embarrassed for them at some level. And I'm just like, "Oh, I know you're doing your job but looks, this is not happening. Like you're not going to out frame me. Come on."
Jonah Berger: [00:10:17] I think a good way to think about it is often when we try to change minds we assume some version of pushing for will work. You add more information, you add more reasons, you try and emotional appeal. You do some sort of close. You use all these techniques that we're all familiar with. Often you use some version of pushing. And it's sort of clear why we think pushing works, right? If there's a chair in the middle of a room and we want to move that chair. Pushing is a great way to move that chair. We push on it and it goes. The problem with people that we just talked about is when we push people, they're not like chairs. They don't just go. They, in some sense, dig in their heels. That radar goes off. And they don't just become immobile or stop listening, they push back. And so I think a good way to think about it is almost, you imagine that chair. Sure, if you're just pushing and there's nothing pushing back, the chair goes. But with people, you start pushing them, they push back, you push harder, they push harder back. And so they don't go anywhere.
[00:11:07] And so really what this book is all about is rather than pushing or finding more facts or figures or reasons, figuring out what those obstacles are and removing them. Figuring out well, what's preventing someone from changing, whether it's reactance, because we're pushing them too hard or, you know, whether it's one of the others. I'm sure we'll talk about it later. What are those barriers or those obstacles? let's figure out how to get rid of them. And let's use that to help people be more willing to move.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:11:30] You mentioned the example of public health messaging when it comes to some of this.
Jonah Berger: [00:11:34] Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:11:34] Kids eating Tide PODs. I would love for you to talk about that just because it's the most ridiculous news story of — was it 2018?
Jonah Berger: [00:11:40] Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:11:41] When I've read it? I thought this was fake. And then I went on YouTube and I went, okay — I lost like five percent more faith in humanity after that.
Jonah Berger: [00:11:48] Yes. So I'll tell the Tide PODs story. It's also funny because you know, when you think about these stories, we think they're one-offs, but it does indeed come back to a sort of re-haunt us again.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:11:55] Oh my God.
Jonah Berger: [00:11:56] I'm sure most of your listeners are familiar with Tide PODs.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:11:59] Yeah, they eat them all the time.
Jonah Berger: [00:12:04] So, you know, they're little packets, basically. They're one-inch by one-inch squares filled with all sorts of chemicals. You're probably not aware of the story behind Tide PODs. And so I'll talk a little about the story. So Tide many years ago wanted to make doing laundry and doing dishes and all these other things that Procter & Gamble cares about easier. They started trying to figure out. "Could we come up with tablets or cubes that basically people can toss in rather than have to measure?" It failed the first iteration. Move forward a couple of decades, they come out with Tide PODs, a new version of them for laundry, no muss, no fuss, no measurement. You just toss them in. They work. So Tide was thinking, "Look, this billion-dollar laundry market is ripe for innovation. Let's spend over a hundred million dollars in marketing. Let's launch these things and we really do quite well." And they did well for a little while. Tide PODs were selling. People were excited about them.
[00:12:46] Then as you noted, there was a problem. And the problem very simply was that people were eating them. Now, you're probably sitting there going, "What do you mean people were eating them? They're full of chemicals, right? Why do people eat them?" No, people were eating them. So there was some funny video in College Humor. There was a piece on the Onion. Suddenly, 18-year-olds are challenging each other on the Internet to eat Tide PODs. Called it the Tide POD Challenge. Got some traction. Obviously, dangerous. Tide is sitting there going, "What do we do?" And so they did what any corporation does. They told people not to do it. They said, "Hey, don't eat Tide PODs. And in case you don't believe us, look, we hired this celebrity, Rob Gronkowski." And Rob Gronkowski comes along with his own video and says, "Don't eat Tide PODs. They're a bad idea. Don't eat Tide PODs."
[00:13:37] Okay. So they think this would be the end of it.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:13:28] Right.
Jonah Berger: [00:13:29] They make this message. They hope it will stop people from eating Tide PODs. It doesn't stop people from eating Tide PODs, also doesn't have — no effect, even worse visits to poison control shoot up. Searches on the Internet shoot up over 400 percent. Essentially a warning becomes a recommendation. Tide telling people not to eat Tide PODs makes them more likely to do it.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:13:45] Why the like? Is it because more people saw that and then thought, "Wait, you can eat Tide PODs?" I'm so mystified by this because one, I would never think to eat a detergent, a capsule. They do look tasty though. I will tell you, they're too brightly colored. They need to make them dull looking. And the —
Jonah Berger: [00:14:03] Yes.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:14:03] The ones I put in my dishwasher, they don't look tasty. They look like weird soap.
Jonah Berger: [00:14:06] Yes.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:14:06] But the Tide PODs, you bust those things out and you're like, this looks like a toy that I could play with. And since it doesn't do anything, it's soft, the texture looks just right. It looks like it would be delicious at a restaurant.
Jonah Berger: [00:14:15] Like a Gummy Bear.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:14:16] Like a giant Gummy Bear.
Jonah Berger: [00:14:16] Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:14:17] So I kind of get that, but I wouldn't do it because I'm an adult. Then, if I see a celebrity say, "Hey, you know, this is detergent. Do not eat this. Don't do it."
Jonah Berger: [00:14:25] Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:14:26] That would not encourage me. So what's actually happening here? This makes no sense to me.
Jonah Berger: [00:14:30] A couple of things are important. So one, certainly the case when people tell us not to do things, we go, "Screw you. Don't tell me what to do. I'm going to do it anyway." Right? So, you know, you're a teenager, your parents tell you not to date someone. Someone tells you not to do something. You're like, "Ooh, I want to see why did they tell me not to do it?" And so sometimes it's an advertisement. It makes people realize this thing exists and makes them interested in it. But the opposite is also true. Telling people to do something, makes them less interested in doing it.
[00:14:54] Think about all the stuff around the coronavirus, where they said, "Stay at home. Wear a mask. Do this," and this essential public health messaging has been doing for decades. If it's a good thing, do it. If it's a bad thing, don't do it. And assuming that, just telling people what to do will change behavior. The problem — what that does is it impinges on people's ability to see their choices is driven by themselves. That's at the core of what reactance is. We want to see that we're in the driver's seat. "Why did I buy this car, use this detergent, make this choice? I did it because I wanted to." But as soon as you, whether you are the government, whether you are Tide, whether you are a friend or a boss, whoever it might be, as soon as someone tells me what to do, now it's not clear whether I'm doing something because I wanted to do it or because they told me to do it. And because of that uncertainty, either I don't know whether it's me or them, I say, "Well, screw it. I'm not going to do it." Because it could not be driven by me, I'm not going to do it. Or in Tide's case, people are more likely to do it. People say, "Don't impinge on my freedom and autonomy. Don't tell me what to do. I'm going to do it anyway." And that reactance is really what drives these things.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:15:56] How is it different than regular advertising though? Because ads come on all the time where celebrities will say something like, "Drink White Claw. It's so tasty and fun," or whatever. I don't even know if I'm supposed to talk about this. This is a joke advertisement for an alcoholic beverage. I don't want to get in trouble for this — but that works. Advertising works. "Hey, look, buy this thing. It's fun." So how come we don't have reactance to that?
Jonah Berger: [00:16:17] Yeah, let's be careful. So what are we comparing advertising to? And so if we compare, a hundred million dollar advertising campaign to no advertising at all, a hundred million dollars of advertising can make a lot of people aware that something exists, you know, a Superbowl ad.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:16:32] Right.
Jonah Berger: [00:16:32] It makes a lot of people aware that somebody exists. That doesn't mean all those people go and buy it.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:16:36 Right.
Jonah Berger: [00:16:36] And you know, my first book Contagious was all about how word of mouth is much more powerful than advertising. Why? Because we know advertisers are convincing us, trying to convince us. So our radar goes up.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:16:44] Right, the agenda.
Jonah Berger: [00:16:46] When our best friend says, "Hey, I had a White Claw last week and it was delicious." I don't know if your best friend would say that, hopefully not. But imagine they said that we're not going to go, "Oh, you're trying to sell me some White Claw." We're going, "Oh, you're trying to help me out." So my radar system doesn't go off. And so I'm much more influenced by a friend or somebody I know telling me something appears than an ad.
[00:17:05] And so reactance happens for most ads. It's just that so much money is spent on advertising in some cases. That even above and beyond the reactance that happens, it has a little bit of an impact. But if there wasn't so much reactance, the ads would actually have a much larger impact than they do already.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:17:20] Interesting. So we see certain types of advertising get less effective over time probably because reactance goes up, right? So like —
Jonah Berger: [00:17:27] Well, yeah, 9 Out of 10 Dentists. So think about the first time 9 Out of 10 Dentists came out, someone is like —
Jordan Harbinger: [00:17:31] Ah that's still convinced.
Jonah Berger: [00:17:33] Wow. Dentists must really like this.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:17:34] Yeah.
Jonah Berger: [00:17:35] Now, all of us sit there and go, "No way. Like you just paid a bunch of people. This isn't true. I'm not going to believe it."
Jordan Harbinger: [00:17:39] Yeah or just anything that's advertised is always approved by nine out of 10. So it becomes like table stakes to have.
Jonah Berger: [00:17:45] Yeah. I mean, you know, you see the people in American or United Airlines, it looks like they're having a wonderful flight. They're having a great time. I see that and I go, man, I've never been on that flight. Like, I would love to go on that flight on that flight. They're on time, they didn't lose the bags, the customer service people are nice. Like I'm on the flight where they don't care about you. You know, they lost your seat, they lost your bag and the flight is two hours late, but the ad makes it look wonderful.
[00:18:07] And so I think, you know, the first time, sometimes these appeals work, but people are smart the second, the third, the 10th time, they definitely don't work. They decrease in effectiveness in part because of reactance.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:18:17] Yeah. Okay. That makes sense. Kelly McGonigal was on the show a little while ago. And she mentioned that anti-smoking and alcohol campaigns can increase consumption. Apparently, Tide POD campaigns can also increase consumption. She mentioned that those black lungs on cigarette packs — and I don't know if they do this in the United States, in Asia and other countries, they will put like a disgusting photo of like an autopsy —
Jonah Berger: [00:18:40] Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:18:40] — lung or heart, or both on the pack. It's one of the most disgusting photos you could see and it's printed right on the pack. And I thought, well, that works on me. Like, I'm already a non-smoker, but if I even thought about it — like if I've had too many whiskeys and someone's like, "Hey, come outside and smoke with us." I see that pack come out. And I'm like, "I don't even want to be standing near you when you smoke to continue the conversation. I'm going to go wait inside."
Jonah Berger: [00:19:03] Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:19:04] Because it's disgusting, but they just are unaffected by it. In Kelly's research, Kelly McGonigal says research shows that this actually increases consumption, which is like really kind of a bummer.
Jonah Berger: [00:19:14] Yeah. So I'll say a couple of things. So first of all, there's a bunch of research that has looked into smoking and other related campaigns. Some of it has been found to have what is called backfiring effects in part because they're like advertisements. So, you know, think about the old Don't Do Drugs Campaign, Say No to Drugs, sort of the 1980s of potentially, you know, one's youth. And, you know, a lot of these campaigns, they said, "Hey, there's some kids at school they're going to ask you to try drugs and you should say no." And if you're a 12-year-old kid, you're going, like, "First of all, drugs, I didn't know these things existed."
Jordan Harbinger: [00:19:42] Right.
Jonah Berger: [00:19:42] "What are they?" And second, "Oh, other people are using them and it's the cool kids at school. Well, maybe I should check those things out." And so it deals a little with norms where it says, "Hey, don't do this because other people are doing it." That's one thing.
[00:19:54] I think another thing I would say, though, is there are ways around this. So there's a great smoking campaign I talk about in the book from Thailand. It's from this group called the Thai Health Promotion Foundation since the Quit Line to help people to quit smoking. And similar to what you said, you know, they've realized, "We don't need to give smokers information." Smokers aren't sitting there going, man. The reason I'm smoking is because I think it's good for me.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:20:11] Right.
Jonah Berger: [00:20:14] That's not what smokers are thinking.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:20:15] Yeah, I read an ad from 1850 and it said that this was good for —
Jonah Berger: [00:20:18] Yes, yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:20:19] What's the thing they use to advertise like, "Oh, this will help you clear your throat out," or something like that.
Jonah Berger: [00:20:23] It definitely helped clear your throat out one way or the other.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:20:25] Yeah.
Jonah Berger: [00:20:26] So the ad does something interesting. The campaign does something interesting. They have a smoker on the street, they come up to smokers and they ask the smokers for a light. And which is something that most smokers say, "Yes, of course." But it's not a regular person asking the smoker for a light. It's an eight-year-old kid. So an eight-year-old boy or an eight-year-old girl goes up to a smoker on the street, says, "Can I have a light." And smokers do, of course, what you would think they would do, they say, "No way. There's no way I'm giving you a light. Like you're a little kid. You should go run and play. Like it'll give you lung disease or give you emphysema. Don't you want to be healthy? Like no way am I giving you a cigarette?" By the way, very clear that smokers know more about the health effects of cigarettes than doctors do.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:21:01] That's right.
Jonah Berger: [00:21:01] They're very happy to list all the reasons why you shouldn't smoke. And then at the end of the interaction, the kid goes, "Okay," and they hand the smokers a piece of paper. And on that piece of paper, there's a note that says, "Hey, you worry about me, but not yourself. Think about calling this Quit Line." This campaign goes viral, millions of views on the Internet. Callers to the Quit Line go up to 40 percent, but it's an example of a much broader principle called highlighting a gap.
[00:21:22] Because again, rather than trying to persuade the smokers, we're not saying, "Hey, don't smoke." We're saying, "You can do whatever you want, but if you wouldn't give me a cigarette, why are you still doing it yourself?" It points out a gap between their attitudes and their actions or what they say they care about and what they're recommending for someone else. Essentially, you know, people want those two things to be in line. If I say I care about the environment then I should recycle. Anytime our attitudes and our actions don't line up, it creates cognitive dissonance. I'm sitting there going, "Man, I say one thing, but I'm doing something else. I got to figure out how to make those things fit." And often people change their behavior as a result. And so a great way to change behaviors, to highlight a gap. "Hey, you know, you might want to go run outside and do whatever you want and not wear a mask, but would you want your grandparents to do that? Would you want your younger brother and sister to do that? Okay. If you wouldn't want them to do it, then why are you doing it yourself?" Not telling people, "Hey, do these things," but making them realize, "Wait. If I wouldn't want someone else to do it, that I care about, why should I be doing something different?"
Jordan Harbinger: [00:22:16] You're listening to The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest Jonah Berger. We'll be right back.
[00:22:21] This episode is sponsored in part by chiliPAD. I started using this because I prioritize my sleep more. You know, when you have a kid, you got to sleep when you can. And if you're not prioritizing your sleep, you're not prioritizing your overall health. Sleep is when your muscles repair your brain detoxes. Your body works on cellular renewal. And if you're too hot, you sleep poorly. And that's where chiliPAD comes in. It's a climate-controlled mattress topper. So you throw this thing over your existing mattress and it uses water to control the temperature of your bed. And water is more thermally efficient than air. So you don't have like just a bunch of air being pumped in there. It's nice to cool water — it's kind of like having air conditioning under the blankets, but you're not cold. It's actually super comfortable and it doesn't get moldy. They got a UV cleaner in there. It's remote-controlled. They use a little app. It can turn on automatically. I love it. And of course, it can also get warm. Jen uses it for Jayden. She warms up the bed and then she could put him in there. So each side of the bed can have a different temperature. Mine's cold. Hers is hot. Pretty amazing, right?
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Jordan Harbinger: [00:24:35] And now back to Jonah Berger on The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[00:24:40] It seems so obvious but, of course, like addiction is complex, right? There's like a compulsion for this but you said that campaign was extremely effective.
Jonah Berger: [00:24:49] Yes. Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:24:50] Huh. So what are we trying to do? Sort of like reduced cognitive dissonance or like smashed them so hard with the obvious facts that they can no longer reconcile these two ideas in their head.
Jonah Berger: [00:24:59] We must be really careful. We're not smashing with the facts. What's even better is if they smash themselves. I think about it as a sort of guiding a journey, guided choices, or guiding a journey. We're not telling them what to do. We're not telling them, don't smoke. We're not telling them, wear a mask. We're not telling them, adopt this product or service. We're giving them choices or asking them questions or raising ideas and letting them make the decisions. But because we're guiding that journey in the right way, we're not just saying, "Hey, do whatever you want." We're sending an eight-year-old kid to talk to smokers, but we're not sending them to tell him not to smoke. We're encouraging them to figure it out themselves. We're using them. Because they're participating in that conversation, they're much more likely to change at the end of it because they decided at themselves. Again, we're not persuading them. They're playing a role in the process.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:25:42] Yeah. Okay. That makes sense — again, like having them make this decision for themselves. You mentioned in the book about how choice and control make us happier or more content. Let's discuss this a little bit because, of course, there's vague ideas of autonomy and things like that we don't want to feel influence. What is it about choice and control that we as humans seem to be hard-wired to do?
Jonah Berger: [00:26:05] Yeah. I mean, I think the best way I often like to think about is we like to be in the driver's seat. We like to feel like a choice is ours. Like we are guiding our destiny. We are guiding our journey. We are making decisions. You know, there's obviously work on too much choice. That says, you know, too much choice can be overwhelming. You give people too many options. They don't make a decision. But what's neat is if even in those studies, if you look at those studies, when they ask people, "Do you want choice?" People always say, "Yeah, of course." Right? Even when a choice is bad, even when there's so many options we feel overwhelmed, we prefer having the option to choose rather than not having that option. Because we don't want to feel like someone else is making the decision for us.
[00:26:43] There are lots of great studies that look at this. You know, even terrible choices that make people feel horrible from making them, they rather have them making those choices and then a doctor making those choices for example because they want to feel like they're in control. So even when it's worse for us, we love that sense of control.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:26:57] What kind of choices? You mean like to —
Jonah Berger: [00:27:00] Oh like there are great studies that have been done. Sheena Iyengar has done a bunch of great work in this area. They'll take people and ask them, "To imagine that you have a young child that has a disease and you have to figure out whether to take them off a ventilator or not. And if you take them off, the ventilator they'll die. But if you leave them on the ventilator, they'll probably be brain dead and won't have a great life. Which will you choose?" And people hate this choice, right? It makes them feel stressed out and badly. But they ask the second set of people, "Hey, do you want to make this choice to take your child off the ventilator or not? Or do you want a doctor to make this choice?" Most people say, "Well, I want to make the choice. Of course, I want to make the choice. This is such an important choice. Why would I give it up for a doctor? I want to have control over what's going to happen for my kid, even though it's going to make me miserable, by the way, I don't think about that. And even though the doctor might make a better choice, by the way, I don't think about that. I don't want to give up that feeling of freedom — the chance that I'm driving my destiny." And so even when it's a terrible choice like that one, we want to feel like the choice is ours, even if it makes us worse off.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:27:57] So we don't want to feel influenced even when — it's complex, right? Because I almost would feel — my gut says I want somebody else to make that choice. That way I can sort of rationalize that I didn't really have a choice. That this was something so bad that I couldn't do anything about it, not like I chose to pull my auntie's life support system out.
Jonah Berger: [00:28:17] Yes.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:28:17] Like, "Oh, I didn't have a choice." I would want to almost rationalize that. That was the case.
Jonah Berger: [00:28:21] I think if someone said, "Hey, the way we usually do it is that we choose." But if you really want to, you can choose. You would love that situation, then say, "Great, go ahead and do it." But if the situation was reversed, that they said, "Hey, it's your choice. But by the way, if you want us to choose, we can, then we're not going to give it up." We feel badly about giving up the opportunity to choose even though sometimes we have a sense that it might make us worse off. It's really hard for us to let it go.
[00:28:47] You know, think about it, people love going to stores with more choice. People love health care plans that give them more options. Even though because those things have more options, they end up choosing plans that are worse for them after all, because they like the sense of choice and the feeling of choice. More than they actually like choosing itself.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:29:03] Now, that makes sense. You mentioned to reduce reactance, we can allow for — or we're allowing for agency essentially. And the first example you gave in the book was providing a menu. And you mentioned this before where it's — do you want to put on your shirt first or your pants first or whatever the example was that you gave. Or do you want to wear your yellow pajamas or your blue pajamas before you go to bed right now? That kind of thing. What other options and techniques do we have to reduce reactance?
Jonah Berger: [00:29:27] Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:29:27] To reduce reactance and allow people to decide for themselves what it is they want to do?
Jonah Berger: [00:29:31] So we talked about providing a menu, right? Giving people some choice. We also talked a little bit about what I call highlighting the gap or pointing out a gap between their attitudes and their actions.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:29:39] So that's like the Thai smoking thing.
Jonah Berger: [00:29:41] Yes. Yeah. And you think about the same thing at the office — someone's wedded to an old project. It's not working, it's losing money, but they don't want to give it up. Rather than telling them, "Hey, we need to close this project. We should shout at this project saying something like, would you recommend someone else start a project like this?" And they'll probably say, "No. Given what I know now, you know, I wouldn't want to start." And then you can say, "Oh, why are we still doing it then? If you wouldn't recommend someone else's doing it." Again, asking them rather than telling them, and outside of highlighting a gap, I would say that's another principle that I talk about there, which is asking rather than telling.
[00:30:12] So, you know, one example of this, there was a startup company in the book, that I talked to a startup founder. And he was trying to get people to work harder and put in more hours, work weekends. And of course, if you tell people to work weekends, they say, "Thanks, but no thanks. I don't want to work weekends." So instead he had this sort of all-hands meeting where he was like, "Hey guys, what kind of startup do we want to be? Do we want to be a good startup or a great startup?" And everyone knows how to answer that question. Everyone goes, "We want to be a great startup."
Jordan Harbinger: [00:30:35] Yeah.
Jonah Berger: [00:30:36] Right. And then he goes, "Okay, well, then what do we need to do to get there?" And so people start talking about it. They start coming up with ideas and they start making suggestions. And then later on, when he implements some of those suggestions, it's a lot harder for them. One of those suggestions, by the way, was putting in more hours. It's a lot harder for them not to do it because, in a sense, they've committed to the conclusion. They said, "Hey, we need to put in more hours." He said, "Great. That's what you came up with. Let's do it. So it sort of forces them to put a stake in the ground by asking questions again does a couple of things. One, it shifts the role of the listener from thinking about why they don't like what you suggested to coming up with what they think you should do, which they're more than happy to do. It's their opinion. It's their idea. So they're really happy about those ideas. But then later when you go ahead and say, "Great, I liked your idea. Let's do it." They can't say, "Well, I don't want to because they came up with it." And so again, asking rather than telling, telling pushes reactance, asking gets them involved. It allows them to participate and makes them much more bought in. So that later when you roll out something they want to do, they're happy to go along with it.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:31:33] Yeah. It reminds me of a concept that Chris Voss who's an FBI hostage negotiator had mentioned on the show before. He's got this sort of magical question where he says, "How am I supposed to do that?" And you kind of let the hostage taker figure out how you're supposed to do this thing or come up with ideas on how to solve the problem. That way, later on, they're not thinking, "Well, you're forcing me to do this," right? It's their idea on how to get through the situation without getting — I don't know, shot by the police, or whatever the situation might happen to be. I want to highlight something with providing a menu though, as well, when we don't provide multiple options, people poke holes in the single option, which — can you speak to this a little? Because I think this is kind of magical when it comes to sales presentations or, you know, parenting like the example you gave him the book, broccoli or chicken. Poking holes in that single option — I've noticed this so many times, even when I talked to my own team about something. If I bring them an idea, they have 8,000 things that are wrong with it. If I bring them three ideas, they just pick one and we go on with our lives.
Jonah Berger: [00:32:30] Yeah. And again, it's involving them in the process. It's shifting their role — and I think we talked a little bit about this already — but it's shifting their role from shooting down — that anti-persuasion radar shooting down, what you came up with, which was their job when you're presenting one option to switch in their role to say, "Okay, which of these do you think is best?" "Okay. But hold on now I have a different job. I've got to compare these different options. I've got to think about them in terms of which I think is best. So I've got a job. I like having a job. I like feeling like someone cares about my opinion. I like having a choice. I like feeling free to make those choices. But now I'm spending a lot less time thinking about what's wrong with each of these options and more time spending thinking about what's right. And less time to think about which options are not on the table." Because obviously there are more than three options in any situation. There might be 10 or 15 or 20 options, but because you focus them on a few and all of them seem like decent options, they focus on those and are more likely to choose one at the end.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:33:20] Back to the earlier point about hostage negotiators using some of this to start with understanding was something where I think even in the book you give the example of crisis or hostage negotiators using this. I'd love to hear about this.
Jonah Berger: [00:33:32] Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:33:32] Because this is something basically anything you could use when somebody's got a machine gun aimed at a crowd of spectators is something you can use with the teenager. So this is going to be widely applicable, even though it sounds like it's not going to be.
Jonah Berger: [00:33:42] Yeah. You know, one interesting thing about this book, I did sort of the usual set of interviews. So I interviewed top-performing salespeople and leaders of organizations and great bosses and startup founders and that sort of stuff. But I also interviewed hostage negotiators, substance abuse counselors. A guy who we got a grand dragon of the KKK to renounce the KKK. I talked to a lot of people. I talked to people who changed political parties. I talked to a lot of interesting folks outside of the normal type of people I would speak to. And it was neat to see — you know, parenting experts — it was neat to see the same principles at work, in different areas under slightly different names or approaches. And so starting with understanding, I think is sort of simple, but we often don't think about it.
[00:34:21] You know, one of the hostage negotiators I talked to spoke about this a lot, where he said, "You know, often novice negotiators want to jump right to the end. They want to start with influence. I want you to come out with your hands up." Or, you know, if it's your kids, "I want you to eat your vegetables." If it's your boss, "I want you to implement this project." They jumped right to what they want and listeners — the people that are trying to change — go, "Hold on. No, thanks." And they do all the reactants things we talked about. And so what he said that sort of seasoned negotiators do is they start with understanding. They start by figuring out who is the person I'm trying to change. Why are they here? What is the problem? And if I understand them, how can I make it easier to change them?
[00:34:54] If you go to the doctor's office, for example, and you go in with a problem, the doctor doesn't say, "Okay, let me give you a cast for your foot." The doctor starts by saying, "Okay, what's your issue? Let me ask some questions, let me figure out what the problem is so I can solve it." And so, you know, doctors think about that as a diagnostic. Hostage negotiators talk about the same thing.
[00:35:13] And this guy was saying, he starts every interaction with, "Hi, my name is this. Are you okay?" And he starts asking the person questions to get a sense of why that person is there in the first place. And I'll share a story, which I think is really regulatory. It's one — I hope none of us have to be in, but I think it really shows this idea of starting with understanding. He was talking to a guy who was thinking about committing suicide. It was a father who had a couple of young kids. He had lost his job. He had no way to provide for his family, but he had a big insurance policy and he thought, "Look, if I kill myself, this insurance policy will pay off. It'll take care of my family."
Jordan Harbinger: [00:35:46] Not how insurance works, by the way, people.
Jonah Berger: [00:35:48] Yeah. And that's part of the challenge, right? Because the hostage negotiator wants to come and say, "Hey man, you kill yourself, insurance won't pay off. I did my part here. Thanks."
Jordan Harbinger: [00:35:55] See you later. Yeah.
Jonah Berger: [00:35:56] But the person's in such a state that they may still kill themselves. You can't just jump to influence. So instead, he comes in. "Hey, are you okay? What can I get you? How can I help you? How can we work together?" all these sorts of stuff. And he starts a conversation. He starts by understanding. "What's going on? What are you worried about?" "Oh, you know, I can't provide for my family." "Okay." And so he doesn't say, "Hey, the insurance policy won't pay this off." He said, "Okay." Clearly, he sees the person cares about their family. "Tell me about your family." "Oh, I've got two young kids." "Oh, you seem to care about them a lot." "Yeah. They're great boys. I take them fishing. I'm trying to raise them to be gentlemen," all these different things.
[00:36:29] He starts the guy in a conversation about the things that the guy cares about. And as part of the conversation, he's learning a lot about why the guys there. He's learning about what the guy cares about, what the guy is worried about, all those different things. So, you know, "Tell me about your boys. Tell me what they do." And he gets to a place in the conversation — the negotiator — where he goes, "Oh, well it sounds like you care a lot about your kids." And the guy goes, "Yeah, I do." And then the caution negotiator goes — and this is when he makes his move. He goes, "Well, if you kill yourself, your boys are going to lose the best hero they've ever had it." Doesn't tell the person not to do anything. Doesn't tell them what to do. Just again, guides that journey, because now he's raised something. He's raised something that the person sitting there going is going, "Wow, actually, that's pretty powerful. Maybe I don't want to do what I wanted to do originally." And he doesn't tell him. But he starts with understanding. He gathers that information that allows him to get to that point.
[00:37:17] And so, you know what? The same thing can be true with customers. People talk a lot in marketing about customer-centricity, starting with the customer. Too often, we use the same pitches or the same appeals with everyone. The better we understand why someone's in the situation they're in, what they need, what the barriers are. I use this all the time in consulting projects. Let's face what's stopping someone from buying your product or service. Let's identify those barriers and remove them. By starting with that understanding, we can really encourage change to happen
Jordan Harbinger: [00:37:44] in the book, also you discuss concepts like loss aversion, and this is commonly discussed, but we can refresh here. Why is it that we're so afraid to lose things versus the prospect of gaining something? It almost seems like the opposite because you see people doing such stupid things like gambling, buying lottery tickets. I mean, where is loss aversion when people are dumping 10 percent of their income, even though they're below the poverty line into lottery tickets.
Jonah Berger: [00:38:09] Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:38:10] It seems like I'm missing that part of the equation.
Jonah Berger: [00:38:12] Yeah. So I think a good way to think about it is to talk about a study that was done many years ago with mugs. And it could be anything. It's not important that it's a mug. It can be whatever product or service you want. It could be with selling a home, but the study was done with mugs and so I'll talk about it that way. And so, imagine I show up and I say, "Hey, thanks for doing this interview. Really appreciate it. By the way, here's a mug, the coffee mug. It's a Wharton coffee mug. It has a Wharton logo on it. You can use it, hold coffee or tea, or whatever you want. It's a beautiful mug." And you say, "Thanks. That's great." And you take the mug home. And then I call you a couple of days later and I say, "Hey, I have someone who wants to buy a mug like that. How much would they have to pay you to sell that mug?" Okay, so I asked you your price to give up this thing that you already have. To give up something you've been using, how much someone has to pay you to give it up. And you might give a number like eight, nine, 10 dollars, whatever it is. Your valuation of that mug is eight to 10 dollars, something like that.
[00:38:59] If I put you in a second scenario though where I didn't give you the mug, I just said, "Hey, here's a coffee mug. It's a Wharton mug," coffee, tea, whatever, same situation, but now it's not yours. You're thinking about buying it.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:39:08] Do you have a Ross mug instead of a Wharton mug?
Jonah Berger: [00:39:11] I can find, I can find whatever you like. It doesn't have to be a Wharton mug.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:39:13] Yeah, I'm a Michigan guy. I don't really want a Wharton mug.
Jonah Berger: [00:39:14] Yeah, I have a number of friends that went to Michigan. I'm happy to get you a Ross mug.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:39:18] All right.
Jonah Berger: [00:39:19] But I asked you how much you would pay for that mug, same mug, same thing, you would say about half the amount. You would say maybe four dollars, maybe five dollars, something like that.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:39:27] Okay.
Jonah Berger: [00:39:27] Same mug, but because it's not yours already, you value it less. And that's a lot of what the research shows. Essentially, it shows what's called a status quo bias, or the endowment effect. The stuff we're doing, we like it a lot because we're already doing it. It feels safe. We know what it's like. We become attached to it. It's hard to let it go. New stuff is costly. It's hard to give up old things because we say, well, this is all the stuff I'm giving up. And we weigh the things we're giving up more than the stuff we're getting. And so we become attached to the old things and unwilling to shift to the new ones. And this is a huge problem when it comes to change.
[00:40:00] Whenever we're trying to change someone's mind, we're trying to get them to do something. Well, I was trying to get them to give up that old thing. Like people talk a lot about this in relationships. They say, "Oh, you know, I'm dating someone, but I'm not sure, but you know, I'm just really worried that I'm not going to be able to find someone else."
Jordan Harbinger: [00:40:12] Right, exactly, the switching costs or whatever —
Jonah Berger: [00:40:15] Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:40:15] — involved.
Jonah Berger: [00:40:15] You're both uncertain about the new thing, but you're also attached to that old thing. That old thing is not perfect, but because you know, it, it feels a lot safer and so we tend to stick with it, even in cases, when we shouldn't just.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:40:25] Do switching cost and loss aversion, do they go up the longer we have something? Because I'm thinking about relationships where it's like —
Jonah Berger: [00:40:31] Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:40:31] — they're slashing each other's car tires and like, you know, putting an Ex-Lax in each other's breakfast cereal. And they're like, "But I don't know, it's been 20 years. I can't go back out on the market." Like they're more afraid to be alone as sort of the conventional wisdom. But it's also just loss aversion. It's not necessarily more — well, I guess that's part of loss aversion, right? They're more afraid to be alone. It's like a component of it.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:40:54] Yeah.
Jonah Berger: [00:40:54] But there's also just that familiarity. And it's like, no matter how awful this person is, you've sort of rationalized their behavior because you just don't want to make the switch. Even if it's your freaking tennis partner and they show up half an hour late every time and like forget once a week that you have a match or a game, and they're there knowing you don't want to hear about it anymore. You're still not going to switch off, "Ah, but I have to find someone new."
Jonah Berger: [00:41:16] Yeah. And so I think both things are true. It's both that we're uncertain about new things and new things are risky and we're attached to old ones. The longer you live in a home, for example, the more you value that home above and beyond market price because it becomes hard to imagine giving it up. And so loss aversion happens anytime we switch from an old thing to a new thing.
[00:41:33] This happened to me when I was buying a new phone. I had an old phone that was running out of memory. It couldn't do things. I couldn't store any more photos on it. I kept holding onto it. Why was I holding onto it? Because I had a small footprint and all the new phones had a larger footprint. Now, that is true. The new phones did have a larger footprint. They also had better memory, better camera, more storage space. Yet I stuck to the old one because I didn't want to give up the small footprint, which is a loss even though there were all these other gains.
[00:42:01] Lots of research often shows that gains have to be two times the size of losses to get us to give up old things. And anytime when we ask people to make a switch, we ask them to give up an old thing for a new thing. And so they tend to focus on what they're losing. "Oh yeah, this person isn't perfect, but I would lose these things." Rather than thinking about all the good things they would gain from something new.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:42:20] So how do we get people past switching cost, past loss aversion? You mentioned two ways, one, surface the cost of inaction and two, burn the ships. I think one sort of seems really clear, but I'd love to hear you explain how these work and how we can do them in practice because burning the ships may be a little tougher in practicality these days.
Jonah Berger: [00:42:38] Yes. Yeah. And I love surfacing the cost of inaction. I think in writing this book, that's one thing I've learned a lot about, and I've tried to apply in my personal life. And the basic idea here, I think is best illustrated in terms of injuries. So, which do you think would hurt you more, a minor injury or a major one? So a minor injury — like, I don't know — you sprain your knee or you sprain your ankle or major injury like you've shattered your knee cap or you break your ankle. And if you're like most people, you'd probably say, "Well, of course, the major injury is a lot worse. I have to go to surgery and I have to go to rehab and all these other things. The minor injury is not that bad."
[00:43:14] And that's what everyone says and they're wrong. And the reason why they're wrong is when you have a major injury, you do a lot of work to fix it. You do that rehab, you do that surgery, do all those things. If you have a minor injury, that's below the threshold of change, you never go get that sprained ankle fixed. You never go get that weird sort of shoulder tweak that you have. You never get it fixed. And because that over time it caused you a lot more pain than it would otherwise. Each amount of pain is a small amount, but aggregated over time, it's a lot worse.
[00:43:42] And that's the idea of surfacing the cost of inaction. We think that isn't that big and indeed, it's not that big. Right? I mean, if we're using an old software product, that's not as good as the new one. It's not that big, but adding up each of those things actually is a big deal. And that's partially what change agents are, what catalysts have to do is they have to surface those costs.
[00:44:02] So actually, a cousin of mine, I was talking to him and he was talking about every time he sends an email, he would write at the bottom of that email his email signature. So, you know, regard Charles, every single time or best Charles every single time. And I was like, "Why don't you just program that as part of your email signature? Like every time you have to write that, it'll just save you time," and he was going, "Yeah, but it's two seconds. Like each time it's only two seconds. Like why would I take the time to change it? And I don't know how to change it. It'll take me five minutes to figure out how to change it and five minutes is more than two seconds. So I'm not going to do it."
Jordan Harbinger: [00:44:31] It's honestly aggravating just hearing this. This guy sounds super annoying. I'm sorry, I know he's your cousin.
Jonah Berger: [00:44:36] But we do this all the time.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:44:37] I know this.
Jonah Berger: [00:00:00] Like you do this. I do this. Maybe we can't see it, but we do it all the time because that's the minor injury.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:44:42] Yeah, yeah.
Jonah Berger: [00:44:43] That two-second thing, yes, it would take more time to get it fixed, but we're ignoring that it's going to bother us the entire — it's like, you know, if you have a cockroach infestation versus you have a couple of flies in your house. Cockroaches get fixed You got an infestation, you get it fixed, it's terrible.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:44:54] Yeah.
Jonah Berger: [00:44:55] A couple of flies, you don't get fixed, but they stick around much longer than you think. And so we have to do is you have to turn it from a minor injury to a major one. So I was talking to him, I was trying to get him to change. Finally, I go, "Hey, how many emails do you send a day?" He goes, "I don't know, 40 emails." "How many do you send a week?" He goes, "I don't know, 200, 300 emails. " "Okay, so how much time do you spend every week or every month writing your email signature." And he does the math and then he goes online and he looks at how to automate the email signature because each time was only two seconds. But adding it across a week or a month made it clear that it actually wasn't a minor injury, it was a major one. It's surface that the entire cost of inaction made him realize, "Wow. Yes, it'll take me more time now than each individual time, but it's worth doing the hard work to fix it now to make it cheaper or less effortful late later on." And so it's making people realize the status quo might seem safe. It might seem easy, but it's neither as safe nor as easy or as costless as they might think.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:45:48] This is The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest Jonah Berger. We'll be right back.
[00:45:53] This episode is sponsored by Fiverr. I use this website all the time. Whenever I need little kind of knick knacks done, like, "Hey, can someone clean up this email list? Can they format these spreadsheets? There's so much going on right now in 2020. Your business can plan for the unexpected. You don't have to haggle with pricing. They got freelancers for pretty much anything you can think of — graphic design, copywriting, web programming, film editing. Again, I find everything I need here for these little one-off tasks, and customize your search by service, deadline, price, seller reviews. You don't have to haggle. You don't have to guess. You don't have to worry about what this might cause. There's no hidden fees. People can't mess with you on that. They've got good customer service as well. Again, I use this one pretty much every week for something or other.
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[00:47:37] Thanks for listening and supporting the show. Your support of our sponsors is what keeps us going. Keeps the lights on around here. To get links to all of the deals you hear about on the show — all the advertisers — go to jordanharbinger.com/deals. Don't forget we've got a worksheet for today's episode. That link is in the show notes at jordanharbinger.com/podcast. And now for the conclusion of our episode with Jonah Berger.
[00:48:00] You know, that makes sense although, I can imagine — he sits there and he does the math on how long that's going to take, which took much longer than actually just solving the problem.
Jonah Berger: [00:48:10] That is true. Yes.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:48:11] Is he also a business school professor because it's a very —
Jonah Berger: [00:48:13] Oh no, he’s not.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:48:16] So horrible performance generates action. Average performance generates complacency. I think the way that you phrase it or paraphrasing from the book.
Jonah Berger: [00:48:24] Yeah. And there's a Jim Collins' quote that he says really nicely, it's like, "We don't have great schools because we have good schools. We have good solutions. We don't have great ones." If something's good enough, we tend not to change it. But often that impedes us from getting to something better. And so part of what is surfacing the cost of inaction or any of these solutions around endowment is making people realize, "Look, you should do something now because it's not as costly as you might think."
Jordan Harbinger: [00:48:44] Yeah. The other example that is particularly painful from the book is the investing — and I see so many people our age, younger in their 20s, 30s, and they won't invest their money. They don't really know what to do. They feel like they can't learn it. So they just, like you said before, keep things in a savings account or do something that is just sort of moderate. So they're combining the loss aversion with the inertia of —
Jonah Berger: [00:49:08] Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:49:09] What is it? Good is the enemy or great is the enemy of the good, something like that or good — sorry, I f*cked that up.
Jonah Berger: [00:49:13] They're sitting there going, "Hey, like I'm not losing any money in my savings account. So I should just keep it in my savings account and yes, they're not losing money, but compared to the stock market, they are losing money.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:49:23] Right.
Jonah Berger: [00:49:23] And so I think as you sort of alluded to I tell the story of an investment professional in the book who basically made a calculator over time, they're showing how much our client was losing by not investing in the market and he kept going, "What do you mean? I'm not losing money, I'm making money." And she was going, "Yeah, but compared to this other option, you're actually losing money. And each period each day or week, you're not losing that much money, but over the course of a month or six months or a year, you're actually losing a lot of money." And so by surfacing that cost by saying, "Hey, you're foregoing thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars by doing this thing," it makes it more real. It frames it as a loss rather than a gain, which encourages people to take action.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:49:59] Good is the enemy of the greatest I the quote I was looking for —
Jonah Berger: [00:50:01] Yes.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:50:02] — searching for back there before. I would love to talk about why we don't see influence. And one of your earlier works, you gave the example of your dad is a DC lawyer. And he had bought a BMW, just like every other DC lawyer, but he was like, "Well, mine's blue." Right?
Jonah Berger: [00:50:15] Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:50:16] So it's like, we don't even notice the influence and I can give you an example, even current from my own life. I thought, "Okay, I'm going to name my son, Jayden. That's really unique. I don't hear it anywhere else. And it's just something I've liked for a long time," and that's it. And then my friends after he was born were like, "Hold on. I hate doing this, but I got to send you this article." And it was like a blog post entitled all of your friends from high school now have a son named Jayden and it wasn't something he had made as a joke. It was like, actually in some popular blog. I just sat there, kind of quietly, shaking my head, and I was like, "I've been tricked."
Jonah Berger: [00:50:49] Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:50:50] I've been had.
Jonah Berger: [00:50:00] Bamboozled.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:50:00] Because that name is so popular, that it's become an actual cliche and I didn't even notice it. And I thought this is unique. I will never have this problem. Like I do with my own name.
Jonah Berger: [00:50:58] Yeah, this happens a lot with names. I've done some research on names and for exactly the reason you suggested, which is we all choose names and we're all choosing them to be different in some sense. We want to be a little unique. We don't want our kid to have the same name as everyone else. Yet, often we get to first grade or second grade or whatever it is, or in this case, there's a blog post and we find that lots of people have done the same thing. And so it's this weird situation where everyone wants to be different. Yet, they all end up doing the same thing. How could that be? And part of that is because influence often happens invisibly. It often happens without our awareness of it.
[00:51:33] If you ask me I'm wearing a gray shirt at the moment. You ask me, why did I buy this gray shirt? I'll give you a story. I was at the store and I saw this gray shirt and I like gray because I'm a pale person and this is why I like it. I'll give you a story. Whether that story is actually the reason why I bought it is often unclear. And actually, a lot of the reasons why I bother are things I may not be aware of. I may have seen a whole bunch of people wearing gray shirts and I don't even remember that's actually the case, but that shifted my behavior.
[00:52:00] There's a lot of research on something called the mirror exposure effect. It basically shows the more, you see something more, you like it. A way to explain it is happening with songs all the time. The first time you hear a song, you hate it. And the 10th time you love it and couldn't imagine ever hating it, even though you did the first time, because the more you hear it, the more familiar it sounds. And the more familiar it sounds, the easier it is to process. And so you go, "Oh, this feels pretty good. This feels like something I know and understand and so I like it." And so the challenge with influence is, you know, we're often not aware of how it works on us. And how it shapes other people's behavior and without being aware of how it works without seeing it, it's really hard to harness its power.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:52:36] Nobody wants to admit they're vulnerable or susceptible to this stuff. I sat there shaking my head, although it matters not one iota. If there's another Jaden in his class, it really doesn't. It's just — the reason I sat there feeling bad about myself for a second was because it's like, "I should know better. I do a show about critical thinking," and it's like, "I should have had this, but that's the point of influence is like, it is so invisible. It's kind of like saying — no one is above this. It's kind of like saying, "Well, I'm a doctor who studies the lungs, so I don't need to breathe anymore."
Jonah Berger: [00:53:07] Oh yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:53:07] Like, it's just ridiculous. You're just not immune to this at all.
Jonah Berger: [00:53:10] And, you know, just to be clear, I mean, I've written books about influence and change and overcoming uncertainty and lots of people in my personal life love to joke about how I'm terrible at these things. Just because we study them, doesn't make us immune to these issues. In influence, in particular, we hate to see ourselves as influenced. First, because we don't see it. There's that old quote from like The Devil Wears Prada — I think that movie where a woman comes in wearing a certain sweater and she feels like she chose it herself. Again, she wants to feel freedom and control. Like she's in control of it. When they say, "Actually the reason you bought this was it on the catwalk three years ago and then it made its way down to the bargain bin at Target where you picked it up." You know, we don't see all that machinery happening and so we think we just like it. We don't realize it.
[00:53:53] But also because particularly in American culture being influenced is a bad thing. Particularly in sort of Western culture, people like to feel like they're free. Like they're independent. Like they make their own choices. We talked a lot about reactance. We'd like to feel like we're in control. And so we don't want to think that we were shaped by anyone else because that would be a negative thing. We all like to think we're unique, special snowflakes. We're not like anybody else. When really we're actually very similar to other people around us and are shaped by the same biases.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:54:22] Yeah, we're affected by trends.
Jonah Berger: [00:54:24] Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:54:24] Permanent things in our environment. The concept of priming and I'd love to sort of discuss this a little bit because I think there's an exercise that you have done before. We won't do it on air now, but you read this list of words. And then you tell a story and the list of words affect how you perceive the person in the story. And nobody really puts this together, but priming is everywhere. We see priming used — well, why don't you tell us, I mean, this is something that brands do. It's something that we experience all the time when we're in different places physically. It's a fascinating concept that I think we could probably use to our advantage, but also helps to become aware of because it's one of the primary — what do you call it the levers for exerting influence on others?
Jonah Berger: [00:55:04] Yeah, I mean, I think a good way to think about it is we don't think about everything all the time. We can only have so much brain power. We only have so much attention, so much mental capacity. And so we tend to think about certain things at certain moments of time, other things at other moments in time. But by shaping what things people are attending to or thinking about or mulling over in their minds, we can shape the decisions they make.
[00:55:26] So imagine, for example, just a simple model of choice, right? Where you're thinking about buying a new car and you have different levers like price and how much fun it is and it's gas mileage and all these different sorts of weights that you can put on different attributes. Well, what the salesman talks about or what an ad talks about or what your spouse talks about right before you look at those cars may shape how you evaluate them. You care about all the different dimensions, but if one person focuses you on a specific dimension, you spend a lot of time thinking about that one and it sort of has an overweight or an over-impact on your judgment.
[00:55:56] You talked about the example I shared in the book about how words or stories could influence the judgment of people. You know, the same behavior can seem exciting or risky and bad. The same thing can seem like a good idea or bad idea, depending on what lens you look at it through.
[00:56:12] And so what priming is really about is how can we subtly shift behavior based on things in the environment. We did a study a few years ago where we looked at whether where people vote, could affect how they vote. Think about the last time you voted, for example, unless you voted by mail, you voted at a polling place. In the United States, we voted a mix of churches and schools and firehouses and community centers, all these different things. But what those different places do is they activate different things in our minds. Right? You walk into a church, you're thinking about different things than if you walk into a school, even though you didn't choose where to go to. Imagine you're voting on an initiative around — I don't know — gay marriage or a tax initiative for schools. Whether you're walking into a school or a church may change how you think about those different ideas and whether you support them or not. Not because you always feel one way or another, but because you're a little bit uncertain about which way to go and the prime that cue in the environment shapes your behavior.
[00:57:06] And so I talk a lot about this in an Invisible Influence. Let's talk about it with someone contagious in the triggers chapter but basically, how we can shape — what's salient to people or accessible to people when they make decisions and use that to drive judgment. Attributes we make are accessible to shape what they do.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:57:21] It's fascinating that people we see more often seem more attractive, the same thing for brands —
Jonah Berger: [00:57:25] Oh yeah
Jordan Harbinger: [00:27:26] — which, you know, branding, advertising. I always wonder when companies buy ads on The Jordan Harbinger Show and it's like, they don't want me to send them to a website or anything. They just want me to be like Coca-Cola tastes good in the summertime, for example. I mean, the ads are a little bit more sophisticated than that, but not really. And they're like, you have to read this verbatim. You can't change any of the words —
Jonah Berger: [00:57:44] Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:57:44] — which means somebody, somewhere was like, this is the exact messaging. And they buy a ton of ads and they all go in the same spot and they just want that over and over and over and over again for insurance or for a drink or something like that. And I find this all fascinating, but I wonder if there's a limit to this. What about novelty? We like that too. There's such a thing as too novel, but there's also such a thing as I've seen this a hundred times, I don't want it anymore. So is there like a balance here? Where's the balance?
Jonah Berger: [00:58:09] Yes. So I'd say a couple of things. So first I think you're very right in terms of what advertising usually does. I think it's easiest to see this in a restaurant context. If I spend a lot of five minutes on the show talking about Mexican food, it's going to make your listeners more likely to buy Mexican food sometime soon. Not because they never bought Mexican food and I convinced them to buy Mexican food, but because sometimes they buy Mexican food and sometimes they buy Chinese food and talking more about Mexican food makes them think about Mexican food. It makes them more likely to buy that. And so by talking about one thing, it brings that thing to mind, which then makes it more likely to drive behavior.
[00:58:41] But I think the second thing I would say is you're very right. You know, our behavior is a mix of being similar and different. We want to be different. We don't want to be wearing the exact same thing as our friends, but we also don't want to be wearing something that is completely different from anybody else. Unless maybe we're going to the Met Gala or something like that. We want to fit in but be a little bit different. And so, there's a nice phrase for this, which is optimal distinctiveness, which is a mix of similar and different at the same time.
[00:59:07] Going back to my dad in that example, we want to buy a BMW just to show we have status, but we buy a blue one to separate us from our friends, for example. We want to wear what's in this season, or we want to listen to a type of music that everyone likes, but we want to be the one that brings in a new artist in that type of music. So everyone goes, "Oh, you know, you know about music." And so we want to be similar enough to be right, not to be outside the group, but different enough to feel like we're our own unique person and we're separate from everybody else.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:59:34] is there an amount we can see something too many times. So many times that it loses value. I guess that's the golden ticket if you can calculate that, right?
Jonah Berger: [00:59:41] Yeah. I mean, I think it depends on the situation. Because you can listen to a song or go to a museum many times and not get bored of it. But you can also listen to a 10-second jingle and hate it after four exposures. And so some of it depends on how complex the stimulus is. So before the pandemic took over, I would basically go every weekend, every Sunday to the same place with our son. I go to the same place every time. But it's an outdoor and indoor museum. It has lots of stuff to do. Yes, it's the same place, but it's a rich and complex experience so every time is different. So I could go a hundred times and not get bored. That's different than listening to a 10-second jingle a hundred times in a row, which would get really frustrating really quickly because there's not a lot of variation and nuance in it.
[01:00:23] And so some of it is how complex a stimulus is. Some of it is how much time elapses between repeated exposures. If I asked you to eat the same thing every meal every day for a week, you would hate me. If I said, "Hey, you can't go to your favorite restaurant again, ever." You would also hate me. Right? You want to go back to that favorite restaurant. You just don't want to go back right away. You want enough time to pass so that it feels stimulating enough and sort of provides enough variety that it's novel, but not too
Jordan Harbinger: [01:00:49] Last but not least, this concept in fashion and branding, I find extremely interesting where there's like this effect where elite fashion brands or any mainstream fashion brand will do this. They put that giant logo —
Jonah Berger: [01:01:01] Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:01:01] — the loudest branding on some of the cheapest, low-end stuff and the middle range has even more branding. There's even more stuff on there, that's like, oh, you thought Chanel was big on starter shades — you know, the starter sunglasses. Look at the mid-range stuff where the whole thing is like the giant logo, but then as things get more expensive from there, the branding is smaller and smaller and smaller. Until there are certain handbags, for example, or sunglasses where you can't even tell, unless you look maybe on the inside of the temple and you see like, "Oh, these are Cartier sunglasses or something like that. So there's this sort of spectrum here. What's going on here? This is fascinating because this shows up in all kinds of fashion especially.
Jonah Berger: [01:01:41] Yeah. I mean, so we did some research on this and essentially what it is, is sort of subtle signals, right? Logos help people know that somebody has a certain characteristic. And you see this now more online, almost even other than logos with photos that people post for information. If you want a signal that you're into sports, you post pictures of being at sporting games and you post articles about your favorite team and information. And you want to share a lot of things that signal that you're into that. if you're into travel, you post a picture of yourself in front of the Eiffel Tower and all these other things to signal desired characteristics.
[01:02:14] But the challenge is that sometimes overt signaling can be bad. Sure. Yeah, you might want to signal you're in front of the Eiffel Tower, but if lots of people do that, it starts to seem a little bit gauche, right? "Oh, look at you. Yeah, but like, why are you telling me that? Why are you bragging so much?" And so sometimes actually subtle signals can be better.
[01:02:31] We found, with handbags — for example, with sunglasses is part of the reason people buy more expensive items in those domains is, it's a signal status. I don't want to buy the cheapest bag or the cheapest sunglasses. I want to show you that I have some status. So I spend more money. And to show you that I have status, it needs to have a logo on it because if it doesn't have a logo, you don't know that I bought the more expensive thing. But then sort of interesting is if I want to show that I'm different from those people, I can't just buy something with a logo on it because I will look exactly the same as them. And so in some sense, another way to differentiate myself is then to use a subtler signal. If you think about shoes with red bottoms or shirts that have special detailing. What those things do is they have a signal. People in the know can tell, but not everyone can tell. And so for those that are really high status who want to differentiate themselves from the masses, subtle signals are a great way to do it. You know, you want to show you're really into sneakers, you don't just buy — I don't know the newest pair of Jordans, for example, but you wear a pair from 15 years ago that was only released in certain colors that most people won't recognize, but the people in the know will be able to tell and using those subtle signals is a great way to communicate to in-group members or folks that have that knowledge and not necessarily communicating to everybody.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:03:36] Right. So, yeah, you're paying to show this off and paying more to show it off even more, but the top-end consumers kind of don't care. They want something more tasteful. And I think you kind of alluded to this, but like it's an elite club, right? Only recognized by insiders. You know, those Birkin bags or something like that. These super expensive $25,000 handbags from Hermes. Have you heard of these?
Jonah Berger: [01:03:57] Yes. I think they're like a knit bag or something with cross.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:03:59] I seriously don't even really know. Yeah, I'm not totally sure. Generally, in my opinion, they looked like something that an old lady would wear. They do have —
Jonah Berger: [01:04:08] Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:04:08] — other ones, but they're extremely popular. A lot of wealthy people I know they go in like this secret room and there's like this whole experience where you get it. But it doesn't say this is the Birkin bag on the side like you would expect somebody to be able to show it off. It's very, very subtle. And you can tell the fakes by like the way the lock looks or something. And it's like a different kind of zipper.
Jonah Berger: [01:04:28] Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:04:28] And there's all this training online about how to spot it because I'm not paying 25,000 bucks for a bag if I can't spot somebody else, who's a champ and using a fake one and not be able to rub it in their freaking face. Right?
Jonah Berger: [01:04:40] Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:04:40] Or just tell all my friends, she's got a fake one.
Jonah Berger: [01:04:42] Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:04:42] So like, it's like this dog-whistle fashion, as you call it in the book, the red bottom shoes, Christian Louis Vuitton, the hipster stuff, these fixed wheel bikes.
Jonah Berger: [01:04:50] Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:04:50] This is a little bit different though. Right? The fixed wheel bikes. This is something that's like more difficult to use somehow that is the virtue signal, I guess kind of, for lack of a better word.
Jonah Berger: [01:04:59] Yeah. And again, it's doing something that most people wouldn't do. Most people wouldn't give up the big logo because they'd be misidentified by some people. Most folks would want a bike with lots of gears because it makes it easier to ride, but being willing to do something that most people aren't —
Jordan Harbinger: [01:05:12] Right.
Jonah Berger: [01:05:13] — is a great way to sort of signal an identity that's different from everybody else.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:05:16] Jonah, thank you so much for coming on the show.
Jonah Berger: [01:05:18] No problem. Thanks so much for having me back.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:05:22] I've got some thoughts on this episode, of course, but before I get into that, here's a quick sample of my chat with A.J. Jacobs. He's a friend of mine and does these weird experience where he lives by the literal word of the Bible for a year, or tries to say thank you to all the people involved in manufacturing, shipping, and brewing his morning coffee from the bean growers to the logistics and shipping people. This one really shows you just how dependent we are on one another. Here's a bite.
A.J. Jacobs: [01:05:47] What I tried to do was thank a thousand people who had even the smallest role in making my cup of coffee possible.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:05:56] Thousand? You go, "Oh, that's not a lot." That's a lot of people.
A.J. Jacobs: [01:05:59] Oh my God, it was a lot!
Jordan Harbinger: [01:06:01] A hundred people would be a tedious process.
A.J. Jacobs: [01:06:03] It was way more than I anticipated.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:06:06] 10 times that many.
A.J. Jacobs: [01:06:07] Everything we do requires hundreds, thousands of interconnected people, and that we take for granted. And just making this mental switch just from a selfish point of view is very good because it really does help you appreciate the hundreds of things that go right every day, instead of focusing on the three or four that go wrong. There's a great quote I wish I'd come up with it myself but it says, "It's easier to act your way into a new way of thinking than to think your way into a new way of acting." So I had to fake it for a long time. You know I would wake up in a grumpy mood but I'd be like, "I have to spend an hour calling or visiting people and thanking them."
Jordan Harbinger: [01:06:50] And I'm not in the mood to do that.
A.J. Jacobs: [01:06:51] No. It feels like acting, it was like method acting, and I would force myself to do it. But I'll tell you, by the end of that hour, your mind, you know, the cognitive dissonance is too much. Your mind will switch over to gratefulness. There's a great quote that happiness does not leave gratitude. Gratitude leads to happiness. Having that mindset really will make you happier.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:07:17] For more with A.J. Jacobs and his fascinating journey to thank everyone involved in his cup of morning coffee and an inside look at just how complex the supply chain of our lives really is, check out episode 174 of The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[01:07:32] Thanks to Jonah Berger. His book is called Catalyst. By the way, I think it's really interesting that there's also reverse influencer marketing. We talked a little bit about influence and influencer marketing. There's also reverse influencer marketing. So if you remember that show, The Jersey Shore, Snooki and Mike, the situation, they were actually paid to not wear certain clothes. If you remember their behavior — you're not missing anything if you didn't see it. But these were like super trashy, low-class folks. They were actually paid to not wear certain handbags, clothing. They were always getting arrested. They were always drunk. Snooki was actually getting handbags from companies that were sending the competing companies handbags. So like Chanel would send over a Gucci bag and be like, "Enjoy." You know, to get them to wear or use the other brands and instead of their own because it was negative branding. These people were so famous for being trashy, that people did not want them to wear their clothes. And famously Mike Sorrentino was paid by Abercrombie to never wear Abercrombie clothing ever again, which I think is hilarious in a weird way to make a living.
[01:08:35] Links to Jonah Berger's book, everything will be in the website on the show notes. Please do use our website link if you buy the books because it does help support the show. Worksheets for this episode in the show notes. Transcripts of the episodes are in the show notes. There's a video of this interview on our YouTube channel coming soon at jordanharbinger.com/youtube. I'm at @JordanHarbinger on both Twitter and Instagram, or you can also hit me on LinkedIn.
[01:08:57] I'm teaching you how to connect with great people and manage relationships using systems and tiny habits and of course, your newfound influence skills. That's in our Six-Minute Networking course, which is free over at jordanharbinger.com/course. Dig the well before you get thirsty. Most of the guests on the show, they subscribed to the course and the newsletter. Come join us, you'll be in smart company.
[01:09:16] This show is created in association with PodcastOne and my amazing team, that includes Jen Harbinger, Jase Sanderson, Robert Fogarty, Ian Baird, Millie Ocampo, Josh Ballard, and Gabe Mizrahi. Remember, we rise by lifting others. The fee for this show is that you share it with friends when you find something useful or interesting. If you know somebody who's in marketing or interested in influence, persuasion, please share this with them. I do hope you find something great in every episode. Please share the show with those you care about. In the meantime, do your best to apply what you hear on the show, so you can live what you listen, and we'll see you next time.
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