Podcast Episodes

What is behavioral economics? Why does it matter to you?

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Podcast Episodes

What is behavioral economics? Why does it matter to you?

322. Achieving More with Less: Subtraction Strategies for Success with Leidy Klotz (refreshed episode)

In this episode of The Brainy Business podcast, guest Leidy Klotz shares his research on the psychology of subtraction and its importance in decision-making and problem-solving. Klotz discusses how our natural instinct is to add rather than subtract when trying to improve a situation, and he provides insights into why this is the case. He explains that humans have a desire to display competence, and adding to a situation is a visible way to demonstrate that we can deal with the world effectively. However, Klotz argues that we can also display competence through subtracting, but it may require more effort to make it noticeable.

He shares studies conducted with LEGO structures, itineraries, recipes, and computer grids, which consistently showed that people overwhelmingly choose to add rather than subtract. The episode explores concepts such as loss aversion and the IKEA effect, which contribute to our preference for adding. The conversation also touches on the concepts of minimalism and essentialism, and how subtracting can be a powerful tool for displaying competence and achieving goals effectively. Listeners will gain valuable insights into the psychological biases that hinder effective decision-making and problem-solving, and learn practical strategies to prioritize and achieve what truly matters. 

In this episode:

  • Discover the pivotal role subtraction plays in effective decision-making and problem-solving.
  • Learn how our instinctive preference for addition can obstruct optimal solutions.
  • Grasp how to confront biases and initiate shifts towards a subtractive mindset.
  • Understand the immense benefits of streamlining and eliminating needless aspects of daily life.
  • Acquire empowering strategies for integrating subtraction practices into your everyday living.
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00:00:00 – Introduction,
Melina Palmer introduces the episode and its focus on the power of subtraction with Dr. Leidy Klotz. She emphasizes the importance of optimization, reduction, and efficiency in various areas of life.

00:03:20 – Dr. Leidy Klotz’s Background,
Dr. Klotz shares his background in engineering and how his interest in sustainability led him to behavioral science. He highlights the overlap between engineering, architecture, and behavioral science in terms of creative application and design.

00:08:56 – Uncommon Paths to Behavioral Science,
The conversation explores the diverse backgrounds of behavioral scientists, including Dr. Klotz’s experience as a professional soccer player. They discuss how different disciplines, like marketing and sports, can contribute to the field of behavioral science.

00:11:50 – Personal Backgrounds and Professional Work,
Melina and Dr. Klotz discuss how personal backgrounds, such as being an opera singer or playing basketball, can shape a person’s approach to problem-solving. They highlight the value of diverse experiences in the field of behavioral science.

00:13:35 – Introduction to Subtract,
Dr. Klotz introduces his book, Subtract, and explains how it explores the concept of subtraction as a means of optimization. He discusses the relationship between design, sustainability, and the creative application of behavioral science principles.

00:15:26 – The Instinct to Add,
Leidy discusses how our first instinct when trying to improve something is to add, rather than subtract. This instinct is seen across various contexts, including LEGO structures and itineraries. The guest also mentions a study where people were given a task to make quadrants symmetrical and found that people overwhelmingly added blocks instead of removing them.

00:17:27 – Overlooking Subtraction,
The guest explains that our tendency to overlook subtraction is due to various factors such as loss aversion, the endowment effect, and the IKEA effect. The book explores these factors and delves into the biological, cultural, and economic forces that contribute to our preference for adding.

00:18:47 – Science-Informed Strategies,
Leidy discusses the latter half of the book, which focuses on utilizing science-informed strategies to get better at subtraction. By understanding the science behind our inclination to add, we can develop strategies to improve our ability to subtract. Leidy emphasizes the importance of creating a list of “stop doings” instead of solely focusing on a long list of to-dos.

00:21:06 – Minimalism and Essentialism,
Leidy notes the connection between the book’s concept of subtraction and minimalism and essentialism. He and Melina highlight the value of decluttering and getting rid of excess in order to display competence. Leidy also mentions the satisfaction that comes from having a focused to-do list with achievable tasks.

00:30:08 – The Importance of Subtraction,
The conversation begins with the idea that subtraction is often overlooked in our society, and how we need to shift our mindset to value subtraction as much as addition. The guest, Leidy Klotz, mentions historical figures like Da Vinci and Lao Tzu who understood the importance of subtraction for design perfection and gaining wisdom.

00:31:01 – Subtraction as a Valuable Skill,
Klotz discusses how his book aims to help people understand the science and stories behind subtraction, and encourages readers to adapt the principles to their own lives. He emphasizes the importance of subtracting first and how it can lead to better decision-making and problem-solving.

00:32:48 – Overcoming Challenges with Subtraction,
Klotz addresses the challenges people face when considering subtraction, such as loss aversion and the fear of regret or guilt. He suggests mindset shifts, such as reframing subtraction as a positive improvement and emphasizing the benefits of subtracting. He also highlights the role of valence in perception and the value of thinking of add and subtract as complementary approaches.

00:35:53 – Add and Subtract,
Klotz discusses the misconception that add and subtract are opposites and explains how they can coexist as complementary ways to make change. He encourages people to consider both options and think about the potential gains and losses associated with each. This mindset shift can lead to more effective decision-making and problem-solving.

00:44:27 – Introduction to the Book Work Well, Play More,
Melina introduces the book Work Well, Play More by Marcey Rader, which builds upon the concepts of productivity and distraction introduced in “Indistractable.” The book focuses on three areas: productivity, clutter, and health, providing a twelve-month approach to improve each area and reclaim time and mental well-being.

00:45:02 – Conclusion,
Melina’s top insights from the conversation. What stuck with you while listening to the episode? What are you going to try? Come share it with Melina on social media — you’ll find her as @thebrainybiz everywhere and as Melina Palmer on LinkedIn.

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