Hooked: How to Build Habit Forming Products by Nir Eyal, Notes on User Engagement

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Habit-making Phases for your website/product:

Trigger: What are your external or internal triggers that will have users come back to your product? How can you couple an external trigger as closely as possible to an internal trigger to optimize the push to user to action?

Action: The action a user performs with the expectation that there will be an immediate gratification of some kind or reward.

Variable Reward: The user payoff. Variable, because with an increase in predictability, users are less prone to be attracted to the pull, or the “mystery” of an object.

Investment: Concerning the anticipation of rewards in the future.

Fogg’s Core Motivators:

B= MAT

A given behavior will occur when motivation, ability and a trigger are present at the same time and in sufficient degrees.

  1. The user must have sufficient motivation
  2. The user must have the ability to complete the desired action
  3. A trigger must be present to activate the behavior.

6 Elements of Simplicity (Determinants of levels of user engagement/user acquisition):

Time: How Long it takes to complete an action.

Money: The fiscal cost of taking an action.

Physical effort: The amount of labor involved in taking the action

Brain Cycles: The level of mental effort and focus required to take an action.

Social Deviance: How accepted the behavior is by others.

Non-Routine: “How much the action matches or disrupts existing routines” – Fogg

 

Studies show:

The appearance of scarcity affecting one’s perception of value.

Despite the irrelevant information you get, you’re led to think an object has heightened value, with less of it.

Experiencing sudden abundance makes you value something less.

How does this influence buying/subscription behavior?

Heuristics (If you forgot what heuristics mean – related to the mental shortcuts taken to make decisions and form opinions):

“the mind takes shortcuts informed by our surroundings to make quick and sometimes erroneous judgements”

2007 study of price influencing one’s perception of taste of wine:

Same wine was used, but the testers were informed that the various wines they were drinking were anywhere form $10 – $90. As the prices rose, there was a rise in testers’ perception of the taste and value of the wine, despite all the wines being identical.

People often anchor to one piece of information when making a decision (what hook do people gravitate to when they look at my landing page or my product at first glance?)

Endowed Progress/Rewards Study:

2 test groups:

1st test group was given a punch card for coffee: There were 8 holes to punch, and the customer would have to punch 8 to receive a free drink.

2nd test group was given a punch card for coffee with 10 holes. 2 holes were punched already form the onset. Customers would have to punch 8 to receive a free drink.

2nd test group returned with higher engagement rate and also showed signs of increased motivation.

Behavior being driven by 3 core motivators:

  1. Seeking pleasure and avoiding pain
  2. Seeking hope and avoiding fear.
  3. Seeking social acceptance while avoiding social rejection.

“Come to depend on the product as a reliable solution to their problem— the salve for the itch they came to scratch.”

“Our brains are adapted to seek rewards that make us feel accepted, attractive, important, and included.

Social learning theory, psychologist Albert Bandura:

People who observe someone being rewarded for a a certain behavior are more likely to alter their own beliefs and subsequent actions.

Persistence hunting = On long term roadmaps

“When the kudu must stop to catch his breath, the hunter begins closing in, not to catch it, but to run it to exhaustion.”

Optional solution for finding triggers:

The 5 whys – iterative interrogative process. Why is what you are making needed? Can you validate it?

Users’ search for variable rewards:

  1. rewards of the tribe: gratification from others (feeling accepted, important, safe)
  2. rewards of the hunt: material goods, money, or information (saving time, money)
  3. rewards of the self: mastery, completion, competency, consistency. (clearing out your gmail inbox, finishing a book, filing taxes 3 months in advance)

“Only by understanding what truly matters to users can a company correctly match the right variable reward to their intended behavior.

When you ask for favors, testing, or execute outreach to potential subscribers, giving an element of choice largely increases targets’ willingness to engage and comply: e.g. “But you are free to accept and refuse”

Leverage familiar behaviors users want to do, instead of have to do.

Companies that successfully change behaviors present users with an implied choice between their own way of doing things and a new, more convenient way to fulfill existing needs.

When you look at your product, would you have used it? Why or why not? What current elements would stop you from using it?

My 5 Favorite Books of 2017

2017 has been a whirlwind of a year for me. I took on a new job, learned of some big family news, and also confronted some health issues and personal demons of mine..
One of the biggest and most constant sources of joy to me this year was when I read.

I love books [really any form of great writing, short or long form]. I like them for the following reasons:

  1. I can escape into them: On a good, restful day, taking the time to read for myself helps me achieve an even higher state of zen, and on a crazy, tiring day, I can escape the traps of “my depressing life” thinking and jump instead into the world of the book I am reading, and this gives me deep solace and strength. Sometimes they even help me cry and grieve for the things I’ve probably been meaning to cry for, and they help me bring my guard down even if it’s for only a minute to feel what I have been feeling that day, that past week or the past year. Sometimes they bring a greater joy to the things I’ve been experiencing in my life by offering up similar and parallel scenarios that add more color and zest to the contexts of my real life stories.
  2. The authors help me live lives I’ll probably never have the chance of living with this one body. You can’t be in three places at once, but with books– you can! Limits to time, geography, and resources are blown away like “chaff from the wind” (sorry, I had to add in the Biblical reference – har har). I can imagine myself in the village of Combray, France, or find myself the next day in Middletown, Ohio on the suburban streets. I can bring myself back to post-war England in the 1940’s, where the last of true aristocracy habits were finally coming to an end. I can put myself in the shoes of the invisible black man of the early 19th and 20th centuries, of the white man experiencing discrimination from those that cry out “down with white privilege!” or even of the young Irish orphan in Tuam, relegated to a life of social marginalization and impoverished youth.
  3. Books elucidate thoughts I’m thinking and am grappling to understand better. They give me a deeper wisdom about the things out there and add another puzzle piece to the mental “map” I have about the kinds of people, lives, and thoughts I see co-existing in the world at large, from Chile to Cambodia, with time unbound. They tell me I really don’t know much, that I only know so much, and that I need to learn so, much, more in order to do the things I think I’m meant to do in this life (apparently according to the Social Security Administration, I have about 61.6 years, 739 months, or 22,484 days left to figure life out- time’s a tickin’). Every book, every line of well written prose gives me a deeper understanding for the human experience, of the brokenness amongst our global communities, of the complexities of our problems and our progress, and of the shared experiences we as humans all go through, sometime and somewhere on this Earth.

For those who’re not too much of a book reader, I’m sure you probably experience the same kind of things through a different medium. Maybe it’s art. Maybe it’s music or film. Maybe it’s through your career vocation, I don’t know.

Anyways, without further ado, here are my favorite books of 2017:

 

  1. Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of NIKE by Phil Knight

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2. Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance

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3. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

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4. Kick Kennedy: The Charmed Life and Tragic Death of the Favorite Kennedy Daughter by Barbara Leaming

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5. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky (recommended by friends Max and Sewon)

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If you’re interested in seeing what else I’ve been reading, feel free to check out my Reading List, with a list of the books I’ve read from 2016 to present, and Wordy Treasures, which includes my favorite excerpts and aphorisms.

 

On Cheering to Death

“On my deathbed, I will instruct a nurse to bring me the following:

 

A bag of parmesan flavored Cheese-Its, a burger, the crispiest rosemary covered thin fries, a glass of Diet Coke (lightly chilled), dill flavored waffle chips, a steak tartare with extra capers, the creamiest strawberry choux-creme cake, a McDonald Big Mac, and a Burger King Double Bacon Cheeseburger.

 

In my final moments, I will consume this food slowly and delicately as I fade into oblivion.” – Marina Keegan

 

Complement this creative marriage of Keegan’s prose from  The Opposite of Loneliness and my appetite with If I Die Tomorrow, by Korean hip-hop artist, Beenzino.

My 2016 Book List: Let my Year in Books Inspire You as Well!

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Here is my 2016 book list of books I’ve carried through completion and thoroughly enjoyed, with random, rambling annotations:

Books with * = well read, well worn, well kept

Books with ** = SUPERSTAR

  1. *The Unpublished David Ogilvy by David Ogilvy, Joel Raphaelson
  2. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
  3. Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann: Recommended by my friend Nick McClish; Hans Castorps take on life in a sanitorium is hilarious and may I say, morbidly magical.
  4. *Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
  5. *How Proust Can Change Your Life by Marcel Proust: I bought this at the Strand bookstore for $2 and it opened me up to the world of Proust. Guys, $2 + tax can indeed change your life for the better.
  6. *In Search of Lost Time: Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust: This book changed my life, but if you are a grammar N*** or someone who considers brevity a virtue, then this is not that life-changing book for you.
  7. *Bible (NIV): For my spiritual and moral feeding – I hold this very close to my heart, always, for the truth of the Lord breeds the purest of love, knowledge, kindness, goodness, forbearance, joy, and peace.
  8. ** Leonardo’s Notebooks edited by Anna Suh: my eyes were burning from the amount of manuscript notes I had to read that he created; can you believe that someone with a non-classical education has over 20,000 notes in total of mind-blowing studies and findings found through sheer observation and experimentation? Wowzers.
  9. Chaos Monkeys by Antonia Garcia Martinez: hilariously scathing, and very tell-all by nature, a book on the going ons of the SV tech world from the eye of one man who managed to get acquired by or work for some top companies. A peer and Director of Salesforce who I recently met told me this is much like the HBO series: Silicon Valley, so for those who liked watching that, you ought to take a chance on this.
  10. The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli: I never got to read this in school, but all of a sudden I had the urge to read this now and on Machiavelli’s thoughts on acquiring, conquering, managing, and losing principalities/power/people. Pretty relevant, I’d say.
  11. The Prodigal God by Timothy Keller: talks a lot about the moralistic brothers of the church vs. brothers who’ve gone wild and then returned to the folds of God – really cool and enlightening read on the hypocrisy of institutions like religion and even more importantly, why it’s even more necessary to stay steadfast in your faith in God.
  12. **Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan: I had been exposed to surfing this year through a man I loved, and naturally became curious as to the intensity of adoration felt for this specific hobby by him and by many other friends. Finnegan explains the surfing life perfectly, and I am totally hooked – theoretically speaking.
  13. *Blood, Brains, and Beer: Autobiography by David Ogilvy
  14. **Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen: recommended by my friend David Kong. I enjoyed it and as a Jane Austen fan, really glad I got to read another stellar work of hers!
  15. Ein Mein Manifesto by Eric Jarosinski
  16. **Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport
  17. Algorithms to Live By by Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths: My older sister had this on her Audible.
  18. So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love by Cal Newport: because I enjoy reading Cal Newport’s blog and was deeply changed by his book Deep Work. This is an earlier book of his, and I have noticed that his prose here is not so pithy, but still to the point. It serves its purpose.
  19. **Team Genius: The New Science of High-Performing Organizations by Michael Malone and Rich Karlgaard: because I wanted to make the company I worked in at the time better.
  20. Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder by Arianna Huffington
  21. The Unbearable Lightness of Being: Recommended by my dear friend, Victoria Wong! It’s one of her favorite books. Funny story: There was a time when I was quoting this book, and a friend had asked me who the author was, when I replied, “Mila Kunis” with the sureness of a cock. I was deservedly embarrassed.
  22. Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness by Richard H. Thaler, Cass R. Sunstein
  23. Who Needs the Fed by John Tamny: I picked this book up because my younger sister works at the Fed, and I am always down to read a book that will enlighten me more on the activities of loved ones.
  24. Virtual Billions: The Genius, the Drug Lord, and the Ivy League Twins Behind the Rise of Bitcoin by Eric Geissinger: The book in its entirety wasn’t engaging, but the first couple chapters were amazing in detailing the foundations of Bitcoin & its network, and the influencers * all the the ants involved in this crypto currency ecosystem.
  25. The Charisma Myth by Olivia Fox Cabane: written for the layman, it reinforces wise mental hacks that are necessary to live both in optimism and be successful.
  26. Get What’s Yours: The Secrets to Maxing Out Your Social Security by Laurence J. Kotlikoff: A book picked up in an effort to aid my parents when they become of age.

Things I’ve started or am looking to read in 2017!:

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien: I’m reading this one to get to know my younger sister better. She is a big fan of Tolkien.

The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky: I’ve only read the first few chapters, and so far the story lines of the characters introduced and families are absolutely ACE! The complexity! The depth! The scandal! Recommended by my good friends: Sewon Yang and Max Heering.

Leonardo da Vinci: The Marvellous Works of Nature and Man by Martin Kemp

I wish the world the biggest growth it’s seen yet this 2017.

Bises,

Soo

Understanding a Marginalized Metric in the Arms Race for Success: Emotional Intelligence

In his delicious article “What Makes A Leader?,” brain and behavioral sciences expert and professor Daniel Goleman summarily tackles and identifies Emotional Intelligence as the fulcrum of the development and measurement of leadership within spheres of business and management.

First surfaced in 1985 via Wayne Payne’s doctoral thesis, “A Study of Emotion: Developing Emotional Intelligence”, EI was formally termed to account for the additional types of intelligence not subscribed in the parameters of technical and IQ modules.

Emotional Intelligence is an important quality to understand as how you measure up against these elements/pre-requisites are factors that can affect one’s ability to be a leader: managing a critical mass of people and ultimately creating high-impact value.

Out of the many models that have since been created by many scholars in their attempts to define EI, Goleman’s on EI has withstood the 2000’s and has served as the frame of reference for many educational and professional institutions seeking to understand this more deeply; I have likewise found his model for EI to be particularly useful, so I will continue on with reference to his model of five fundamental components:

Self-awareness is pretty by the book. It’s having a keen knowledge of your strengths and weaknesses, your needs, and your desires.

Self-regulation is the ability to maintain what can be simply described as the “emotional/professional poker face”, having the ability to yield reason over instinct despite certain situations natural eliciting a reaction that might be oppositional.

Motivation is the desire to achieve something. Often times, those who are motivated in the work place who currently hold decision making power have been observed to have the inclination to achieve for achievement’s sake regardless of there being a targeted goal or not.

Empathy, is empathy 🙂 Showing and successfully conveying genuine camaraderie and understanding for teammates, despite facing situational differences, deadlines/hard decisions being needed to make (i.e. corporate layoffs). Having the ability to treat each person uniquely and smoothly to best fit his/her emotional makeup and reactionary dispositions.

Lastly, social skills, i.e. being  gregarious – being willing to open up your time, resources, and mind widely. Studies have supported that people with great social skills often have  friendship networks that are very wide in breadth. Also, in the working space, high-leadership potential individuals can paradoxically appear to not be working as much because they more often than not recognize the needs to do things like allocate amounts of time during their work day to “chat ” and get to know their colleagues cross-departmentally.

Goleman doesn’t merely expound on or seek to heighten the value of pre-existing didacticisms, and this particular excerpt, amongst many, is very enlightening as it gets into the neuroscience of it all–showing where exactly EI growth is being activated and how we can push ourselves and our lovely comrades forward towards [higher command!] higher vision:

“With competency and leadership training programs provided in leading companies, it’s important to determine where exactly our emotional intelligence comes from. It’s a mixture of nature and nurture, but studies show that a large part of our development in regards to this as physiological: “Emotional intelligence is born largely in the neurotransmitters of the brain’s limbic system, which governs feelings, impulses, and drives. Research indicates that the limbic system teams best through motivation, extended practice, and feedback. Compare this with the kind of learning that goes on in the neocortex, which governs analytical and technical ability The neocortex grasps concepts and logic. It is the part of the brain that figures out how to use a computer or make a sales call by reading a book. Not surprisingly-but mistakenly-it is also the part of the brain targeted by most training programs aimed at enhancing emotional intelligence. When such programs take, in effect a neocortical approach, my research with the Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations has shown they can even have a negative impact on people’s job performance. To enhance emotional intelligence, organizations must refocus their training to include the limbic system. They must help people break old behavioral habits and establish new ones. That not only takes much more time than conventional training programs, it also requires an individualized approach.”

And just how important are these for professional development and how do they add up to affect the trajectories of our careers and our lives?

An extensive study of data culled through the numerous competency models employed by top 500 companies of manager to C-level executives has revealed that out of the technical, intellectual and EQ abilities we can strive to develop, EQ is what’s most paramount to hinting at one’s growth potential as a thriving leader.

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There are people that would scream out in surprise, “what a coincidence! That this is so important to my success!! ..I suppose they would be the kind of people who forget that humans are the backbone to every problem and every solution found in this world, but this is only the opinion of one.

Cool stuff!

Anyways, I shall end my advocacy for EI for the moment, but I do hope you take the time to read Goleman’s article, “What Makes a Leader” when you have the time.

Bises,

Soo

***

See here for another benefit to EI form a cost/benefits angle as noted by a leading research team in the UK specializing in management training:

Benefits of early EI measurement:

Case 1: “When hiring recruiters, the government used an emotional intelligence test as part of the process. They found that the recruiters who performed the best were the ones that had scored the highest on the EI test– particularly in the competencies of emotional self-awareness, empathy, happiness, and assertiveness [hiring employees who have high levels of EI gives you a better chance of hiring the right people the first time and reduces employee turnover, resulting in significant cost savings”. The Air Force soon learned that it could increase the chances of hiring successful recruiters by three times as much if they used the EI test. They found that using EI tests saved over $3 million annually by being able to hire the right people for the first time. The results were so notable that the Government Accountability Office (formerly the Government Accounting Office) presented the information to Congress who in turn requested the Department of Defense use emotional intelligence tests in recruitment and selection in all the armed forces.”

***

Read on to get better acquainted with the fundamental tenets of emotional intelligence as delineated here by Goleman: self awareness, self regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills, and see them presented through examples within the business sphere.

For additional content, feel free to go further with Daniel Goleman’s work on EI here, or here, to get his best-selling book, Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ.

Peter Thiel On the Valuation of Companies

I’ve put down The Guermantes Way for a moment to crunch through Zero to One, a book by Peter Thiel on notes on startups, monopolies, and how to build the future. So far, it’s proven to be an interesting read (it’s also my first time “reading” a book through Audible– I don’t know how to feel about that yet- but more on that for another time).

In Zero to One, Thiel advises on critically measuring a company’s long -term profitability and urges us to contemplate the following questions:

1. Growth measurability vs. durability

  • Opt to see one’s market potential over its current  or “near-term” growth measurability, so.. an example would be having the prescience to value a company for its projected future market cash flow rather than solely looking at x company’s present market cap.

2. What does a company with large cash flows far into the future have in regards to qualitative characteristics?

  • proprietary technology
  • network effects
  • economies of scale
  • branding

It would be interesting to see how this applies to my present company and other businesses of interest:

barneys

supreme

a-cold-wall

alpha

For instance, what are the network effects of cult brands such as Supreme and emerging brands like Alpha Industries and A-COLD-WALL?

What kind of proprietary “innovations”do creative houses boast and have helped them become the monopolies they are today within their respective markets?

How do creative businesses navigate the land of commerce and manage to thrive when one quality exists in the midst of a dearth in others?

Bises,

Soo