Josh Pitzalis

Learning Log

Page 2

How To Change Behaviour.

This is a summary of a meta-analysis of research on how to change behavior. The original paper was published in February 2019 by Angela L. Duckworth, Katherine L. Milkman, and David Laibson: ‘Beyond Willpower: Strategies for Reducing Failures of Self-Control’ and authored.

The paper covers evidence for 21 ways people can change behavior. The strategies were categorized in two ways: The first category was based on whether you were trying to change your own behavior or someone else’s behavior. The second category was whether the changes were to someone’s perspective or their environment.


Ways to change your behavior by changing your environment:

Commitment devices

A commitment device is any kind of mechanism that helps you stick to a decision about the future. For example, downloading some kind of software that stops surfing the web for more than an hour a day.

Commitment devices...

Continue reading →

Productivity Shame

Why do we think we have so much more time in the day than we actually do?

There are a couple of biases that reinforce 💩 decisions or help underestimate how much time stuff takes.

Understanding them helps you become more realistic with your time 👇

First up is the Planning Fallacy.

Stuff that should take an hour takes a day.

It’s all the in-between stuff like emails and chat apps. Then there’s multitasking and context switching.

This is workflow dark matter, completely invisible, but distorts time and space.

Then there’s the completion bias.

Maybe it’ll take a bit longer than you’d planned, but you’ll still get it done, right?

Not when you’re checking items off at the expense of working on what’s important.

The more overwhelmed we get the more seductive a small win becomes.

Productivity Shame is a term coined by author and podcaster Jocelyn K. Glei, who describes it as:


Continue reading →

Upping your eye contact game

Given how easy it is to learn, understanding how eye contact works has a disproportionately large effect on how we interact with people.

Here are 5 steps to upping your eye contact game in about two weeks 👇

Step 1: Knowing where to look

Most people haven’t got a clue where to look. For comfortable interaction, look at the whole face with their eyes in the center of your vision. Control how harsh your gaze is by how intensely you focus on one point. Aim for a soft, warm focus.

Step 2: Steal glances

Make infinitesimally brief eye contact with people on the street. You want to maintain eye contact for just long enough to see the color of their eyes. When people sustain eye contact with you it is important to smile. Genuine smiles come from the eyes.

Step 3: Showing involvement

Make longer eye contact with strangers such as waiters or salespeople. 3 to 5 seconds is enough to show...

Continue reading →

$ 1,000,000 worth of sales advice

Neil Rackman and his colleagues spent 10 years analyzing sales transactions. They studied 116 factors that might play some part in sales performance and they researched how people sell effectively in 27 different countries. Their study, which cost over a million dollars in systematic research, constituted the largest ever investigation into sales.

They discovered that there is a major difference in selling lower and higher value items. The reason is that larger sales generally occur over a longer timeframe which means an ongoing relationship between the salesperson and the client develops in a way that it wouldn’t necessarily develop in a smaller sale. There is also often more than one person involved in a high-value purchasing decision and the amount of money involved means that the risk, both financial and social, is higher. All of these factors combined to change the way people...

Continue reading →

Products should match problems, not people.

Instead of focusing on the people, focus on the problem they’re dealing with.

Personas and user stories can be useful, but they rely on too many assumptions.

The job story format is:

‘When (situation) I want to (motivation) so I can (outcome)’.

Focusing on the job makes you more aware of the context your solutions exist in. This lets you design a better solution for the way it will be used.

You sell drills.

A drill is useful for putting holes in the wall.

Most people use drills to hang pictures.

Hanging pictures means a more beautiful home.

If the job is making a home more beautiful then maybe the next feature should be a gorgeous power docking station, not a more powerful motor like all your competitors are focusing on.

View →

Idea Merchants and the trafficking of thought

First wealth was based on who could build the biggest farm. 100 years ago it became about who had the biggest factories. Now it’s about who has the biggest ideas.

If your ideas can change the way people think, talk or act…they have value.
The science and art of using ideas to make money are relatively new. One thing is for sure though, the future belongs to people who understand how to market ideas.

Today people actively resist marketing because they are used to being accosted with irrelevant uninteresting information about products and services they don’t need.

This slow decline of interruption marketing has given rise to a whole new meaning of the word. Marketing is no longer about talking to people and telling them what they need, now it is bout people talking to each other and telling each other what works.

Continue reading →

From back pain to building software

Before I got into tech I used to help people deal with back pain. I started out as the guy who cleans weights up at the gym. Slowly worked my way up to a personal trainer. Ended up specializing as a corrective exercise coach for people with debilitating back pain.

I never set out to be a physical therapist. It was just a way to make money when I was in university. Things got out of hand and by the time I graduated no entry-level job could offer me more money than I was already making as a physical therapist. So I stuck with it.

I got into tech in my late 20s. Learned how to code at a Bootcamp in London called Founders & Coders 🙏 I fell in love with the immediacy of feedback that comes with writing software. Worked as an engineer for about 5 years. I wasn’t bad but I was never going to be great.

I enjoyed the product side of software work way more. I gradually began to focus on...

Continue reading →

How change gets made

In India specifically, change can happen in one of two ways:

  1. a law get made
  2. a government order gets issued.

Laws take time. But once created they are fairly permanent.

Government orders are faster but they are also easily revoked. More importantly, failing to adhere to a government order is not a criminal offense.

When a problem is serious enough to necessitate legislature the first step is for the ministry that precedes over the issue to create a draft for the law.

This draft is then publicly showcased so that anyone can offer their opinion on the draft. The more detailed, factual, and useful this feedback is the more likely it will be considered.

After this process, the cabinet introduces the draft to Parliament. Parliament is the central law-making body. It consists of two houses and laws must be voted on by both houses before they are passed.

  1. The house of the people
  2. ...

Continue reading →

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

In 1894, the Greenbackers, who pushed for detaching the dollar from gold entirely to allow the government to spend freely on job-creation campaigns, invented the idea of the March on Washington—an idea that was to have endless resonance in U.S. history.

L. Frank Baum’s book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, which appeared in 1900, is often held to be a parable for the Populist campaign of William Jennings Bryan, who twice ran for president on the Free Silver platform—vowing to replace the gold standard with a bimetallic system that would allow the free creation of silver money alongside gold.

As with the Greenbackers, one of the main constituencies for the movement was debtors: particularly, Midwestern farm families such as Dorothy’s, who had been facing a massive wave of foreclosures during the severe recession of the 1890s.

According to the Populist reading, the Wicked Witches of the...

Continue reading →

A good campaign

In many ways, a good campaign is like a good joke. A joke’s effectiveness lies in the choice of the right words, good timing, a convincing delivery, and a funny punchline. A good joke is memorable and easy to share. All of these factors ultimately depend on having an understanding of the values and beliefs of the audience and on the authority of the person delivering the joke.

There are many strategies for intervening in an issue but they can be divided into 3 categories: Interruption, Education, and Coercion.


The important thing to remember when questioning the dominant narrative is to avoid preaching to the quire.

Sometimes an interruption might seem clever but it’s only going to appeal to like-minded people.  Those kinds of campaigns will be easily dismissed by the people it actually needs to appeal to.  If you’re going to question the narrative then you should be...

Continue reading →