Madhav's Book Notes, SWITCH by Dan Heath and Chip Heath

Recently I was introduced to this book by a friend. I had known about the book for a while as I have read Made to Stick by the same authors a few years ago and liked their lucid style of capturing complex concepts in simple metaphors. Here is some notes I made as I listened to the audiobook on Scribd –

Bigger popcorn bucket size makes people consume more popcorn and vice-versa. To reduce eating more, reduce the plate size. To reduce eating unhealthy, reduce buying unhealthy food, once they are in the pantry, chances of eating them goes up significantly.

Forcing the team to think about “Under One Roof”, people started thinking about making room for other critical departments under one roof, for example, Radiology in the same building, improving breast cancer diagnosis. A woman coming in for an exam in the morning might be able to leave that evening with the results.

We all have the Rider and the Elephant in each of us, to appeal to a person we need to think about both aspects.

Who is a Rider? Analytical self

Who is an Elephant? Emotional self. Elephant tries to paint the rosiest picture of things, creating positive illusions. “truth teller” can break these illusions to help the Elephant make progress.

Show the Rider where we are headed with charts, data analytics. Show the Elephant the big picture and vision. Both Elephant and Rider are part of the same person.

What is a B&W goal? Back and White goals are basically binary goals, the state can be either 0 or 1, like “I will not drink wine”, “I will not eat processed sugar”. Binary goals are easier to practice than trying to moderate, in other words, Analog goals 🙂

At the beginning, don’t look for the middle, look for a strong beginning and a strong ending and get going. Focus on what we can control, the next step and the next.

When parameters are well understood and things are static one can apply analysis, think and change something to improve results. However, in real life, parameters are not well understood, uncertainty reigns, not enough data is available. How can one make decisions in that situation?

See → feel → change OR 

Analyze → think → change

Problem of change is not one of lack of information but it’s one of identity and emotion. People don’t buy BMW because of the information in the Ad but the emotional appeal, identity to “this kind of person drives BMW”, same with Nike shoes, “this kind of person uses Nike shoe”

Elephant needs quick wins to get fired up.

If you want to change a behavior, give clear direction (Rider), boost motivation and determination (Elephant) alternatively remove friction, create a slope and nudge them (Path).

Shape the Path, build habits. (Atomic Habits by James Clear is a good book on this topic)

Fataki (an explosion in Swahili, someone to stay away from) – Eliminating sugar daddies in Tanzania by popularizing the term “Fataki” on radio station campaigns, like “that guy is such a Fataki”.

How do you make the Switch?

  1. Direct the Rider
    1. Find the bright spots
    2. Point to the destination (like B&W goals)
  1. Motivate the Elephant
    1. Have someone read the email and ask if any of them is worth replying to
    2. Build identity – “John you are such a controlled guy”
    3. Build the growth mindset
  1. Shape the Path
    1. Break the environment e.g. break the breakberry
    2. Tweak the environment (turn of the sound, silent mode, no buzz)

Good relationships with colleagues is not going to happen based on Myers-Briggs types, it’s built from reinforcing bright spots, look for little rays of sunshine.

The more you are exposed to something the more you like it e.g. Eiffel Tower, just an ugly metal structure.

Cognitive Dissonance – people don’t like to think in one way and act in another way. So once they start acting in one way, they will like to continue to act that way, it helps with good habits, inertia is a good thing here.

When change works, the Rider, the Elephant and the Path all are aligned. Change follows a pattern. Clear destination helps with the change.

What will you SWITCH?

Lessons From People No Smarter Than You

“I’m still young, I try to always look at what people significantly younger tan me are doing. What’s the next thing? I like to imagine the world five years from now Or imagine what I want the world yo look like five years from now”

Brain Chesky

“I have always followed my gut – and sometimes it’s been really lonely. When you look at the Forbes 400 list and take off everybody who inherited money, what’s left are people who went right when everyone else went left. Conventional wisdom leads to mediocrity.”

Sam Zell

“I’ve seen plenty of powerful women squander a chance at power simply because they waited for someone else to give them permission to have power. There is no permission slip — you just have to BE powerful.”

Shonda Rhimes

“Power is taking action in a moment that could make you feel powerless. Never let anyone define you. Only you define who you are.”

Ginni Romettey

“Politics is a powerful place, but it can and should be a place where power is used to build communities, and to model exactly the kinds of values we teach to our kids.”

Jacinda Ardern

“When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.”

Malala Yousafzai

“Knowing what must be done does away with fear.”

Rosa Parks

“Power’s not given to you. You have to take it.”

Beyonce

“The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice.”

Peggy O’Mara

7 Things My Dogs Beats Me In

Don’t compromise, ever! – She will never eat food that she doesn’t like even when the food is lying around in the bowl whole day and she has not eaten anything.

Don’t eat if not hungry – She won’t eat food when she is not hungry how ever much you plead or force.

Play like a dog – She always loves to play, in the middle of the night or early in the morning or middle of the day. No questions asked.

Always be cheerful (ABC) – She is happy and cheerful, never a dull moment with her around.

Always greet visitors – She is always the first one to welcome guests into the house and she greets them by playing with them for a minute or two.

Never eat while driving – When we are on a long drive, she never eats any food during the travel. She likes the “less luggage more comfort” policy.

Never get mad – Whatever you do to her, she will never get mad, it’s impossible to make her mad. I’ve had a couple of dogs before and man they get mad when you touch their food bowl, however, this girl is super cool!

Every man has his day, my turn is next. Meanwhile, I might as well enjoy some good music.

Does Everything Happen For Our Own Good?

“He washed his hands and feet, and just as he reached for his boot, an eagle snatched it away! The boot turned upside down as it lifted, and a poisonous snake dropped out. The eagle circled and brought the boot back, saying, “My helpless reverence for you made this necessary…Mohammad thanked the eagle and said, “What I thought was rudeness was really love. You took away my grief, and I was grieved! Learn from this eagle story that when misfortune comes, you must quickly praise. Others may be saying, Oh no, but you will be opening out like a rose losing itself petal by petal….The feeling of joy when sudden disappointment comes, that is Sufism…Don’t grieve for what doesn’t come. Some things that don’t happen keep disasters from happening.” –Rumi

Philosopher and poet Rumi reminds us that everything happens for ones own good. Because when **it hits the fan, it’s hard to believe that anything good can come out of that, **it is not supposed to hit the fan, isn’t it? How does one come to that understanding that everything happens for good?

That understanding comes from faith that there is something better at play than the **it we see and that faith comes from good experiences and good experiences come from a lot of bad experiences i.e. **it hitting the fan.

Inspiration (PE) To Action (KE)

“Inspiration = Potential Energy (PE) = m. g. h
Action = Kinetic Energy (KE) = 1/2 . m . v(squared)

It’s easy to get inspired. Open Youtube and you can watch a million inspirational videos, average video is about 15 minutes. If you watch all million videos it would take about 28.5 years of your life. Funny thing is you will still be where you are, no progress. In fact, you will be worse off now because sitting on your ass for that long only could mean bad health, depression and death.

A different approach could be, go get the inspiration from wherever, youtube, a book, gym, running, music or a friend. Get pumped and don’t stop there, it’s pointless if you do, you might have as well sat on your ass eating Cheetos. Go turn that potential energy into kinetic energy, that’s the only reason to ever get inspired. Period. Remember energy can neither be created nor destroyed but can only be transformed. I had to say that, the only thing I remember from that physics class in grade school 🙂

How do you take action, move (velocity), keep going. Do your thing, this is the best time. If you don’t know what your thing is, I doubt it but let’s say you don’t, then do something. Like writing a blog, calling that friend you haven’t called in ages or whatever, don’t let the potential energy dissipate away in frivolous activities.

KE is all about velocity and mass (f/a). Velocity, as I see it, is speed with a sense of direction, keep going with a sense purpose and reach your destination.

Subhashita 3 – Mother And Motherland

Api Svarnamayi Lanka Na Me Lakshmana Rochate/
Janani Janmabhumischa Svargadapi Gariyasi//

English translation of the above Sanskrit Subhashita by Prof. S.B. Raghunathacharya, former Vice-Chancellor R.S. Vidyapeet, Tirupati is as follows –

O Lakshmana! I wouldn’t like this city of Lanka, though it is full of gold, because the mother and the birthplace are always greater than even the heavens.

This is a very famous saying of sage Valmiki, after the battle, Lakshmana liked the city of Lanka which was abundant in riches and full of golden structures. Sri Rama advised Lakshmana like this –

O Lakshamana! I consider the mother and the birthplace are greater than the heavens. Indeed nothing can occupy the place of a mother or birthplace, they are matchless.

in Life | 123 Words

Don’t Move The Way Fear Makes You Move

“Keep walking, though there’s no place to get to. Don’t try to see through the distances. That’s not for human beings. Move within, but don’t move the way fear makes you move.” —Rumi

Any decision is better than no decision, if you are making them fast enough and course correcting. Action is generally better than inaction, as Rumi points out, just keep walking even when you don’t see where the road is taking you. Many times we get paralyzed by our rational mind and that leads to much inaction.

Dont try to see through distances, I know this very well, having run a few marathons. I’ve found it discouraging to see how far away I was from 26.2 mile marker, instead putting one foot in front of the other was a lot more encouraging. I can do it, any of us can do it, just one step in front of the other.

Instead of looking out for those external mile markers, we can make much more progress looking internally, we can feel more satisfied looking within.

Lastly, fear and love cannot co-exist. If we are driven by fear, our actions, thoughts and words cannot be loving and kind. We cannot be happy or satisfied and we cannot be authentic.

Subhashita 2 – Tomorrow’s Work Today

“Svah Karyam Adya Kurvita”

English translation of the above Sanskrit Subhashita by Prof. S.B. Raghunathacharya, former Vice-Chancellor R.S. Vidyapeet, Tirupati is as follows –

The work to be attended tomorrow, should be done today itself. Generally the human mind postpones important activities indefinitely. Chanakya the author of Arthasastra advises like this –

Don’t postpone anything. Do attend the work planned for tomorrow, today itself.

This type of strategy is more necessary for rulers. They should announce the program for tomorrow and do it in advance today itself, so that there may be no chance for their enemies to spoil it.

in Life | 101 Words

Subhashita 1 – Who Is A Friend?

“Dadati pratigrnhati guhyam akhyati prcchati /
Bhunkte bhojayate caiva shdvdham mitralakshanam //”

English translation of the above Sanskrit Subhashita by Prof. S.B. Raghunathacharya, former Vice-Chancellor R.S. Vidyapeet, Tirupati is as follows –

He is a real friend who gives to others first and then takes anything from others, first reveals personal secrets to others and then enquires about their personal things and lastly accepts food from others and happily offers it to others as well. This is the definition of a real friend.

Lessons From People No Smarter Than You

Listen to the audio of this blog.

“Don’t take ‘no’ when your gut tells you ‘yes'”

James Patterson

“Whatever drives us, we all derive happiness from finding purpose. We find joy in thinking, doing and discovering – in improving people’s lives and catalyzing positive change in the world.”

Robert Smith

“I should have done this a long time ago”

Lou Gerstner

“Truly great artists, they always get better”

Jeff Koons

“I read. I listen. I try to surround myself with smart people of all ages and backgrounds. Wednesday nights me and my wife host college students for dinner to share their world-views and work, they inspire me with their potential and passion to change the world.”

John Doerr

“Be a voice that is respected and abreast of developments”

Ratan Tata

“By the end of the day, I’ve learned something that shows how dumb I was yesterday”

Bernard Marcus

“I believe in telling like it is and not worrying about it”

Vinod Khosla

“I believe in work and being connected to the world we live in”

Miuccia Prada