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?

359. From Stuck to Success: Proven Strategies for Breaking Through Barriers with Adam Alter

In this episode of The Brainy Business podcast, you will hear Melina Palmer interview Adam Alter, author of the book Anatomy of a Breakthrough. Adam shares his personal experience of feeling stuck during his early college days, which led him to research and develop strategies for getting unstuck. The conversation covers the four sections of his book: Help, Heart, Head, and Habit, each focusing on different aspects of overcoming obstacles and making progress. They discuss the importance of slowing down, acknowledging emotions, and developing adaptive strategies. Adam also emphasizes the exploration-exploitation distinction and the significance of knowing when to say yes and when to say no. He highlights the benefits of facing fears, taking risks, and not being afraid to fail.

In this episode, you will:

  • Enhance decision-making skills for professional success and personal growth.
  • Understand the impact of technology and screen time on productivity and well-being.
  • Create a mindful and focused environment by cultivating analog practices.
  • Experience the benefits of mindful living and screen-free periods for increased clarity and creativity.
  • Overcome fear and achieve breakthroughs to unlock your full potential.
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00:00:00 – Introduction,
Melina introduces Adam Alter and his background in behavioral science and decision making. They discuss his previous books and his focus on understanding why we make predictable errors and how subtle cues in the environment influence our behavior.

00:02:24 – The Influence of Screens
Adam shares his research on the effects of screen time on our well-being and the shift in public perception about technology. He emphasizes the importance of creating an environment where we have periods of time without access to screens to improve our mental focus and overall quality of life.

00:06:03 – Cultivating Healthy Screen Habits
Adam advises creating boundaries with screens, such as keeping phones in a different room during meals and before bed, to reduce the temptation to constantly check and use devices. He highlights the impact of physical proximity on our psychological experience and suggests analog solutions to digital problems.

00:09:30 – The Outsourcing of Experience
Adam discusses how we have become reliant on devices such as watches and phones to capture and validate our experiences. He shares a personal anecdote about restarting a run because his watch didn’t record it, highlighting our tendency to outsource the business of living to technology.

00:10:26 – The Illusion of Experience
Adam explores the idea that if our devices don’t capture an experience, it feels as though the experience didn’t happen. He suggests that we need to be conscious of this reliance on technology.

00:13:52 – Introduction
Adam discusses his new book on getting unstuck, sharing his own experiences and research on the topic.

00:15:16 – Section 1: Help
Adam introduces the concept of demystification and explores the struggles and hardships faced by successful individuals like actress Brie Larson.

00:17:08 – Section 2: Heart
The emotional component of being stuck is explored in this section, emphasizing the importance of dealing with emotions and coping with the discomfort of feeling stuck.

00:17:53 – Section 3: Head
Adam delves into cognitive strategies for getting unstuck, including finding good ideas, conducting friction audits, and seeking support from others.

00:18:25 – Section 4: Habit
The final section focuses on taking action to get unstuck, discussing the importance of actionable behaviors and outlining how to determine the right actions to take.

00:19:22 – Allowing for Space and Being Stuck
The conversation explores the idea of allowing oneself to be stuck and the importance of taking breaks and creating space for creativity and productivity.

00:23:10 – Consistency vs. Off Switch
Adam challenges the notion that success requires constant consistency, highlighting the value of having an “off switch” and embracing downtime for rejuvenation and creativity.

00:27:33 – The Dunning Kruger Effect and Confidence Tanking
Adam discusses the Dunning Kruger effect, where people realize they don’t know enough about something and their confidence drops. They can choose to invest and work on it or give up completely.

00:28:09 – Exploration vs Exploitation Mindset
Adam explains the exploration exploitation distinction. In exploration mode, one should say yes to opportunities to try new things and create a wide funnel of experiences. In exploitation mode, focus on one thing and say no to everything else to make progress.

00:29:54 – The Importance of Saying No
Adam emphasizes the importance of saying no and not getting stuck on things that don’t matter. Some people are good at saying no and it helps them prioritize what is truly important.

00:30:19 – Balancing Yes and No Mindsets
Adam suggests a challenge where students say yes to everything for a month, followed by a period of saying no. It’s important to explore and try new things, but also to focus on what truly matters and make progress.

00:31:37 – Facing Fears and Overcoming Stuckness
Adam shares the story of a woman who challenged herself to face her fears for 100 days. By confronting her fears, she learned that fear doesn’t have to control her and got unstuck as a person.

00:40:45 – The Importance of Training Beyond the Goal
Adam shares the example of golfer Phil Mickelson, who trains by playing multiple rounds of golf in a day instead of just 18 holes. By pushing himself to play more, Mickelson improves his concentration and makes 18 holes feel easier. Overtraining can be a useful method for training focus and concentration in any area.

00:42:43 – The Benefits and Challenges of Overtraining
Overtraining can be extremely effective for improving focus and concentration, but it can also leave you depleted. The asymmetry in golf, where a lapse in concentration can result in a significant loss of strokes, makes overtraining particularly valuable. It’s important to find a balance and consider the potential costs and benefits of overtraining in any context.

00:43:35 – Practicing Beyond the Goal
Just focusing on the main goal can make it difficult to achieve. By practicing beyond the goal, such as using a weighted ball in soccer or adding weight to a baseball bat, you can develop the strength and skills needed to perform even better when faced with the standard conditions.

00:44:56 –  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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