Andrew Zimmermann is the founder of the Behavioral Science consulting firm Behavior Design Collective. He helps systematically apply validated models, methods, and frameworks from diverse fields of behavioral science to products, programs, and services. From research to strategy, design, and development our Behavior-First approach and custom Behavioral Architecture results in solutions that drive sustainable behavior change at scale for clients in healthcare, financial services, and consumer technology.


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What to Listen For

  • A behavior happens when motivation, ability and a prompt happen at the same time. This formula comes from BJ Fogg’s Behavior Model.
  • A good place to start with designing something you want to do is asking the question, “is it easy enough to do?” For example, writing a tweet or a post on Facebook is much easier than writing a blog post.
  • To make things easier, think about time, physical effort, money, cognitive load, social norms and your routine.
  • If you aren’t doing something that you want to do, ask yourself: “what is the missing piece?” Do I have enough time? Too much time? Do I know what to do? Is it too hard? Are the people around you supporting or detracting from this? Or, maybe you aren’t clear on your aspiration. Then you can solve for these.
  • The question of your “why” is similar saying “what is your aspiration?
  • You can start with a state of being aspiration (ex: being financially independent) or outcome based aspiration (ex: buy a house, achieve a level of income).
  • Humans evolved to survive so we have difficulty in developing aspirations and other behaviors.
  • Test everything. For example, if you have a company do you tell people you “have a startup” or “you own your own business.” While this may be the same thing, other people might understand what you do differently.
  • Most people dream about the outcome. When you are in that phase, they aren’t planning. Instead, start planning. What is your desired outcome? Then what actions do you need to match that outcome?
  • Move from the planning stage when you know enough so that I am not going to cause sever damage by moving forward. Is it good enough for now?
  • “Success is relentlessly focusing on what you can control.”
  • Acting vs observing. Acting is being really focused on what you can control in the moment. When you are done, you can learn.
  • Always be asking yourself, “What is in your control and what isn’t in your control?” For example, in this pandemic, what can I do under these circumstances?
  • Review your progress. Did I do “it” (your designed behavior)? Yes or no. Did “it” (your designed behavior) lead to the desired outcome? Yes or no.
  • Use your desired outcome as a signpost. Look at your behaviors (For example, if you wanted to write a book, did you write 1000 words a day?). At the end of the month you can review your behaviors and answer, “did I do that?”
  • If you didn’t do it, ask “how do I make sure I don’t get in this situation again?”
  • Life is a game. You are going to play again tomorrow. How can you get better so you don’t lose in the same way? For example, if you are practicing free throws but want to get better at scoring a goal in soccer, you either need to change your behavior or aspirations.
  • If something isn’t working, find out the barrier and then design how to overcome it. Is it a reminder that you are missing? Do you not have the time? Are there too many things on your mind? Do I really want to do this or not?
  • If you want other people to do the behavior, ask 5 people to do something. Test to see if they actually do it or not. This will save you a ton of time and money if you are trying to create something new in the world.
  • Context matters: physical, social, and digital environment. How are they helping or hurting my behaviors?
  • Remember that “simplicity changes behavior.”
  • If you made a mistake, such as you lost a sale, focus on what is important now. Go back to the question, “what can you control?”
  • When you lose your focus, ask yourself “where are you at?” This will help to bring you back to the present moment. If you need, follow that up with “who are you” (if you are playing a game, you are a human choosing to play baseball. Losing the game isn’t the end of the world)?
  • Remember that if you fail, you aren’t a failure. Also, not much of failure is fatal.  You might lose some money but you will learn and move on.
  • Try one of these mindsets: “Fail fast and move and. Fail and learn. Try and learn.”

Episode Resources:

Andrew’s Firm Behavior Design Collective

BJ Fogg and his Behavior Model

Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

Punished by Rewards by Alfie Kohn

Business Model Generation by Alexander Osterwalder

Business Model Canvas

Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell Malcolm Gladwell Teaches Writing


Edward Deci

SNL: Chris Farley Down By The River

Stealing Fitness

Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals by Chris McChesney, Sean Covey, Jim Huling

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