Between Hooked and inDISTRACTable: Building Sticky Products with Nir Eyal

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Welcome to another episode of The Widest Net Podcast. I’m your host, Pamela Slim, and I’m joined today by my guest, Nir Eyal. Nir Eyal is an author and former lecturer at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. He writes, consults and teaches about the intersection of psychology, technology and business. He previously taught as a lecturer in marketing at his alma mater, the Stanford Graduate School of Business, as well as the Hasso Plattner School of Design, Stanford’s acclaimed Design Thinking Institute.        


He has co-founded and sold two tech companies since 2003 and was dubbed by MIT Technology Review as the prophet of habit forming technology. And according to Bloomberg Business Week, Nir Eyal is the habits guy. Want to understand how to get app users to come back again and again? Then he is your man.        


He’s authored two bestselling books, Hooked: How to Build Habit Forming Products and inDISTRACTable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life. InDISTRACTable earned critical acclaim winning the Outstanding Works of Literature Award and was recognized as one of the Best Business and Leadership Books of the Year by Amazon and one of the best Personal Development books of the year by Audible, which is how I listened to it because I love audiobooks and you really did a great job. The Globe and Mail called InDISTRACTable the Best Business Book of 2019. So, in addition to blogging at, Nir’s writing has been featured in the New York Times, Harvard Business Review, Time Magazine and Psychology Today.        


So I am so thrilled to welcome you to the podcast. Great to be here with you, Pamela. Yeah, well, I’m so interested and excited to have you here because your body of work really fascinates me and you remind me of that Star Wars Jedi straddling the light and dark side of the Force. So you have crafting, communication and products that get people hooked and also providing tools for becoming indistractable. So how do you see the relationship between these two ideas and books?        


Yeah, so they don’t conflict, they complement. So the idea was to write Hooked in order to democratize these techniques that we see used by the social media companies, by the video game companies, by the media in general, they use these tactics to hook your attention. Now, we can use those same tactics for good. We don’t have to only let the companies that are getting us to trivialize our time with all this frivolity. We can actually use those same tactics, the same psychology to build healthy habits.        


So a few folks that have used the hook model Duolingo uses the hook model to get people hooked to learning a new language. FitBot uses the hooked model to get people hooked to exercise. Kahoot uses the hooked model to get kids hooked to online learning. There’s all kinds of ways that we can use the same psychology that gets people hooked to Facebook and Instagram and TikTok. We can use that same psychology to get people hooked to healthy habits.        


And so that’s why I wrote Hooked. The gaming companies, the social media companies, they know these techniques. I stole their secrets. They don’t need to read my book. It’s the rest of us who are trying to build businesses that would really help people if they would use the darn product.        


And so, as someone who’s built a few companies and sold a few companies, I know that’s always the hardest part is how do you get people to engage and re-engage with your product or service so they can actually benefit from it? So that was Hooked. That was written for product designers, marketers, entrepreneurs, CEOs. That’s who that was written for. Now, inDISTRACTable is the other side of the coin.        


So if Hooked is about building good habits, inDISTRACTable is about how do we break bad habits but not to the same products. So that’s why I’m not one of these Jedi masters playing both sides. In fact, we can get hooked to healthy habits and break the unhealthy habits. So we want to build a habit with that exercise fitness app or the language learning app or the enterprise SaaS software that makes us more productive at work but also break our bad habits to reading…        


…too much news. Or drinking too much booze or too much football or too much Facebook or whatever we’re spending too much time doing that is keeping us from being our best selves. I really appreciate that. And of course I just have to work a Star Wars metaphor into everything. So I appreciate that how you really just shared the nuance of it.        


And I love looking at that really through the lens of habit building, of making it easy for people to adapt to changes that you want them to. I know for the work I do, you do. Most of the folks who are listening, we like to think the work really is making a positive difference in the world. So if you are designing for ways in which people can get engaged, involved in the work, what are some of the design principles? And I know some folks listening might have technology companies, but certainly a lot more in professional service or getting people excited about ideas around books.        


What are some of the ideas maybe from Hooked in your experience that are just things we should think of to get people engaged and coming back for more? Yeah, well, the big picture is frankly, the book is not for everyone in that not every business needs people to come back habitually. So for example, if you are working in the kind of company where you sell something once but then people don’t use it that much, what does that mean? How can you not use a product you buy? Think about car insurance.        


You buy car insurance. You don’t use car insurance every day. You don’t interact with Geico or whatever insurance company you bought from. You only use it, god forbid, if you get in an accident, something terrible happens, that’s the only time you would need it. So that type of company doesn’t need to be habit forming, but it does need some kind of competitive advantage.        


So whether that competitive advantage is intellectual property, whether it’s economies of scale, whether it’s brand or a habit, so a habit is one form of competitive advantage. If you think about how many times a day people check Google, right, google owns something like 90% market share. The beauty of building a habit from a business perspective is that you don’t have to fight with your competition on price and features all day long, right? When you compete on price and features, look at the car insurance industry, right? Geico comes out with their slogan, what is it, 15 minutes will save you 15% on car insurance.        


Well, the next guy comes over and says, oh yeah, well, twelve minutes will save you 20% on car insurance, right? So you’re constantly competing on price and features, which we know drives down excess margins. And so until they’re raised or thin. And so that’s a very difficult type of business to have that you’re constantly being beat up on price and features. A habit forming product, like for example, Google, when someone forms a habit with a product, they don’t even stop to consider if the competition is better.        


And that’s huge. That’s the definition of a competitive advantage, right? Because of this habit, they use that product with little or no conscious thought. So when you think about Salesforce or Slack or Instagram or WhatsApp, or TikTok, I mean, all these products, either enterprise or consumer products, when you can build that customer habit, you have a huge competitive advantage. Now, many of your listeners don’t work in the technology industry, but I would argue they still need some kind of competitive advantage.        


And so, again, there’s many, many different types of competitive advantage. The beauty of building a habit is that even if the product itself is not a habit, okay, people are not going to buy legal counsel habitually. They’re not going to buy certain things. Purchasing is almost never a habit. It requires a lot of conscious thought.        


But you can bolt on a habit onto a product that is not itself inherently a habit. I’ll give you an example. I was hired to speak at a conference of 500 real estate agents, 500 real estate agents, big room in a conference center in Las Vegas. And the person who hired me to give the talk introduces me and says, now we’re going to hear from Nir Eyal. He’s an expert on habit forming products, and he is going to teach us how to make home buying and selling into a habit.        


I got on stage, I’m so sorry, I think you hired the wrong speaker. I have no idea how to make home buying and selling into a habit, because the definition of a habit is a behavior that occurs with little or no conscious thought. You do not buy or sell a home with little or no conscious thought. That’s never going to be a habit, right? But I only wrote two books, I only have two talks.        


So I gave my talk and afterwards it was amazing. People came up to me with brilliant ideas. These real estate agents said, you know, I know that home buying and selling is not going to be a habit. But here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to start sending out a newsletter and I’m going to get people hooked.        


I’m going to build a habit to get people to open my newsletter. And in that newsletter I’m going to put stuff about the local high school football game and what movie is playing at the local theater and important stuff that’s happening at city council. I’m going to put all this stuff in my newsletter and that’s going to build a habit. Another person said, I’m going to create a community habit. I’m going to get people to interact with each other and I’m going to facilitate that.        


Why? Because one of the things I mentioned in my talk was that monetization is a result of engagement, not the other way around. Monetization is a result of engagement. What these real estate agents learned and what many of my clients learned who don’t have a product that is itself habit forming, is that by bolting on habits like content or community, you can create a content or community consumption habit. So that the result of that habit.        


The result of that engagement is eventual monetization. So when people in this neighborhood do want to buy or sell a home, which agent is going to be top of mind? The one they’ve built a habit either through a community or a content consumption habit. So that monetization will eventually be the result of all that engagement. So even if the product itself is not habit forming, you can use these principles that I talk about in the book to build a habit around the product for sure.        


It sounds like the folks from Morning Brew have probably read your book. Do you ever subscribe to that?        


I am the just person. I mean, every day. I cannot start my day and my fanatic every Friday thing that I do is take the quiz and if I get four out of five I’m so disappointed. So I can just see the habit forming thing around that. I love a great design of something like that.        


I am so in love with their product. I think it’s such a great thing. But now it’s wonderful knowing that. I think it really is infused with those elements. It’s very strange of most of what I’m trying to do is chase emails out of my inbox but that is one that just feels like it flashes at me with a green light every day.        


Actually, that would be a great example of a product that we could actually analyze through the lens of the hook model. Because once you understand the hook model, you can see it repeated time and time again online, offline, all kinds of different products utilize this framework. It’s funny that you mentioned morning brew. I’ve known them since day one. Alex and I go back for a while now.        


I’ve done interviews and consulted with let is it okay? Yes, let’s do it. Oh, I would love to. I wrote about them in my book because I’m such a fan.        


So yeah, let’s do sure, sure. So every hook starts with a trigger. There are two kinds of triggers. We have external triggers and we have internal triggers. So an external trigger is something in our outside environment that tells us what to do next.        


So a ping, a ding, a ring, any kind of information outside of us that tells us what to do. So in the case of Morning Brew, for example, that notification in your email inbox, that is the external trigger. But there’s an even more important trigger, which is called the internal trigger. An internal trigger is an uncomfortable emotional state. So all habit forming products need to attach themselves to an emotion, a negative emotion.        


So what you said, Pamela, is perfect. You said you can’t start your day without checking Morning Brew. Right? So that sense of uncertainty around not knowing what’s going on in the world, that is an internal trigger. The solution to that problem, the way to scratch that itch is by taking the habitual action.        


So now what’s amazing about what they’ve done in your brain, you went from needing the external trigger to remind you to open that email to now proactively checking. Even without an external trigger, you yourself prompt through an emotion of uncertainty, what’s going on in the world. I can’t start my day without knowing, let me go check, let me go open my email inbox to go see what’s happening on Morning Brew, right? That’s amazing. Think about the power of that for your business model.        


If you don’t need to pay for expensive advertising, if you don’t need to send spammy messages. Because people prompt themselves, that’s when, you know, a habit is formed when you don’t even need to send them messages and they automatically come back to you time and time again because they want to, not because they have to. That’s incredible. So that’s the importance of the internal trigger, that emotion that the customer is seeking to scratch and you are going to create an association within the user’s mind. The next step is the action phase.        


The action phase is defined as the simplest behavior done in anticipation of reward. In this case, it’s simply opening the email. Then comes the reward phase. And it’s not just a reward, it’s a variable reward. This comes out of the work of B.F. Skinner, the father of operant conditioning.      


In the 1950s, he took these pigeons, he put them in a little box, and he gave these pigeons a little disc to peck at. And every time the pigeon pecked at the disc, they would receive a reward, they would receive a little food pellet. And what Skinner observed was that the rate of response, the number of times these pigeons pecked at the disc increased when the reward was given on a variable schedule of reinforcement. So in all sorts of habit forming products, you don’t just give people what they want.        


You give them an element of mystery, an element of uncertainty. Unpredictability variability sparks curiosity and forms a habit. So when you think about slot machines, when you think about scrolling your newsfeed, when you think about what makes sports exciting, it’s all about variability. We see variable rewards everywhere. It’s not just pigeons pecking a disc for food pellets.        


We are all beholden to these variable rewards in all sorts of products. Enterprise, consumer, web, doesn’t matter. Variability is very important to keep people hooked. So in the case of Morning Brew, it’s the news, right? The first three letters of news.        


N-E-W it’s new it’s different. Nobody wants yesterday’s news. We want to know what we don’t know. It’s uncertainty.        


It’s that soap opera of what happened next in the world. Okay? That’s the variable reward. There are three types of variable rewards. We can get into them later.        


I’m giving you the very, very high level overview of five years of research. But that’s the third step. The fourth step, and the most important is what’s called the investment phase. The investment phase is where the user puts something into the product to make it better with use. And this is really a revolutionary concept I call stored value.        


Habit forming products store value. They get better the more they are used, as opposed to your couch, your clothing, your car, which depreciates with use. Habit forming products must appreciate with use. They must get better and better. So it’s perfect.        


You said it yourself. You take that quiz, right? That’s a form of investment. You’re giving the company information. You’re putting in effort into the product that makes it better and better with use.        


And what they can do with that information is to start custom tailoring and making more and more recommendations based on your previous behaviors. So that’s revolutionary. What’s happening and what will increasingly happen, and companies who don’t keep up will be left in the dust, is that products will become increasingly personalized, especially now with the rise of LLMs, like Chat GPT, products will have to personalize for the customer, for a market size of one, based on data, content, recommendations, reputations. All of these things will improve the product the more you use it. So that the user becomes more and more likely to come back through the hook once again.        


So that’s the four steps of the hook: trigger, action, reward, investment. And it’s through successive cycles through these hooks that our tastes are formed and that these habits take hold. Oh, it’s so fascinating. And I do realize I’m the ruse for them because it’s just funny. I get panicked if I don’t.        


I was just on vacation, but I still read The Morning Brew because I know I needed to read everyone in order to get my score. So it’s such a helpful concept. One of the core ideas within the widest net, which is really more of a relational kind of ecosystem based way in order to think about building your business. I talk about the method of Tiny Marketing Action. So I am influenced a lot by work you do, BJ Fogg, you know, around habits and just the power of tiny habits.        


And I find with so many of my clients that it’s just overwhelming when you think of gigantic marketing launches or you’re trying to build your connections. And so there’s a whole methodology that I’ve developed and teach over time on Maven, if you’re familiar with that platform, that is helping people really to just get much more comfortable with just taking these Tiny Marketing Actions once you have an assessment of the places where you should be spending time. So I’m curious, from your perspective, if you were looking at the students that I’m working with that are trying to develop this habit of Tiny Marketing Actions, and part of what we wanted to do is just reinforce for them, using some of your methodology, of how can we just be consistent? Maybe if we’re taking five or ten of these little tiny actions during the week, what would be some of the things that you would share with them? So the biggest waste of time is doing something you shouldn’t do really well.        


That’s the biggest waste of time. And so this actually gets into my second book, InDISTRACTable a little bit know the biggest source of distraction, what we find is in the workplace, the biggest source of distraction is not checking Facebook, it’s not Netflix, it’s not playing video games. It’s checking that email. When you really need to work on the big project or doing something that feels like work and you justify it to yourself is a work-related task that you really didn’t need to do at all or didn’t need to do right now. So the biggest mistake I see is not being strategic about your actions.        


People do things that their boss tells them to do or that their competition is doing or some guru told them to do, as opposed to actually taking a step back and asking themselves, what does consumer psychology say is a critical component of my product that’s missing? And so where the Hook Model can be very, very effective is as a diagnostic tool. So if you have a product or service that, you know, deserves greater engagement that people should be coming back to, but they’re not for one reason or another, why aren’t they coming back? You can take out the Hook Model, those four steps we just talked about trigger action, reward, and investments. And you can ask yourself, where is my product efficient?        


And then you can come up with hypotheses to test, right? So I love the idea of working on your business, right, doing small things that improve your marketing or whatever the case might be, but make sure it’s strategic, make sure you are doing the right things. Because the hardest thing I’ve been a CEO now three times.        


The hardest part about being a CEO and I invest in many companies. I’ve been an angel investor in 36 companies and six of them have become unicorns. The number one thing I look for in a CEO, the number one thing is the ability to prioritize. The easiest way for me to figure out who’s going to succeed and who’s going to fail is knowing who knows how to prioritize. That is the CEO’s most important.        


Maybe the CEO’s only job is to know how to prioritize. And so what I see with a lot of entrepreneurs is a real struggle with knowing what to prioritize. I got to talk to customers, I got to talk to investors, I got to go work on my product. I got to go read this book as opposed to no what comes 1st, 2nd, 3rd. And so by understanding the contingencies of what is most important to work on first and prioritizing those things, that’s a huge advantage.        


Now, how do you do that? I think the right approach is not to go talk to investors and ask them what they think. It’s not to go talk to a guru. What do they know? Right?        


It’s not even believe it or not to talk to our customers. Right? I know this is very sacred cow, but I even think actually customers are not the best place to of course we have to talk to customers, but not as the only source of input for what we should build. Because what happens many, many times anybody who’s built products knows this. Customers will tell you one thing, oh yeah, I really want that.        


Go build that for me, please. Go make this. That’s the one feature, that’s the one thing I’m missing from your product. And then I’ll buy it, and then I’ll use it, and then you do that. And what they tell you is one thing, but they do something else, right?        


There’s this gap between what they say and what they do. And it’s not their fault. They’re not lying to you. It’s just that they don’t understand themselves as well as you need to understand them. And if you look at the world’s greatest companies, if you look at the biggest companies on Mean, think about Amazon and Apple and Microsoft and Google.        


What’s their advantage? Their advantage is one thing. They know what makes you click and what makes you tick better than you understand yourself. They understand your psychology. And so that is the model we should use to prioritize what we work on in our business.        


We should look at the principles of consumer psychology, which are decades old. We’re talking about 50, 60 year old research here to understand how people will behave in a way that they can even articulate. So that’s what the hook model is for. Yeah. It’s so helpful.        


And I did love inDISTRACTable because I agree with you. It is part of what I find as a longtime business coach, that’s the hardest thing to convince people of just slowing down a little bit, to look at the big picture and really make sure that you understand where your core areas of priority before you begin taking action. Because there’s just such, I think, a cultural push sometimes just to be constantly out there and taking action. And so I appreciate this thought about being very deliberate, as you said, putting things in order. I’m also a longtime instructional designer, so I love steps.        


Steps, priorities and models. One of the things that you talked about in the book, and it sounds like one of your investments was Focus Mate. Is that right? One of the products you’ve invested in which I thought was really interesting, it kind of goes with this idea of collaborative support for Focus. So tell us a little bit more about that, about that product.        


And in the example that people are focused on the right kinds of activities but trying not to be distracted, how could they use something like Focusmate to get work done? Sure. So I’m very partial to four step models. It seems like we both are. And so in inDISTRACTable, there’s also a four step model.        


So the four steps are master internal triggers, make time for traction, hack back external triggers, and prevent distraction with pacts. And that’s where Focusmate comes in. So Focusmate is a tool that you can use as the fourth and final step to become indistractable, meaning it’s what you have to do last. So before I tell people what Focusmate is for and how it works, I want them to understand that this is not the magic bullet solution. You have to do the other three things.        


First, if you don’t first master your internal triggers, make time for traction, hack back the external triggers, what I’m about to tell you will not work. Okay, let’s be very clear there. But as the fourth and final step to becoming indistractable, you can make what’s called a pact. A pact is a pre commitment device that you use to keep yourself in. So the other steps of becoming indistractable is about keeping distraction out.        


That’s certainly part of the equation, but there’s also a factor of keeping yourself IN to the task at hand. And how do you do that? Well, you erect a firewall, you erect a barrier between you and the distraction. So that’s where this is effective. So how does focusmate work?        


Focusmate is a tool that you can use that, it’s kind of like ChatRoulette, but without the dirty bits. Meaning you log into ChatRoulette, you find a time when you want to work without distraction. And in that time there’ll be another person who has the same goal, one other person. So you pick that person.        


So for me, where I found it to be very effective was, for me, I have trouble when I’m in a task, I usually have no problem. I can finish out my time box and work on that task pretty well. But getting started sometimes can be tough. So what do I do when I know, hey, I need to start working on this project? That’s going to require a lot of concentration.        


I’ll book that time, let’s say eight in the morning. Okay, I’ve got that on my schedule. With this other person on Focusmate, you assign that time so they expect you to show up. And if you don’t show up, they’re going to give you a bad review. And you show up, you see each other just kind of how we’re seeing each other now.        


You talk about what you’re going to work on for about 60 seconds, and boom, you get to work for the next 40 minutes. Now, that is a pact. You’re making a promise, a commitment to another person that you are going to show up on time. And it’s amazing. It sounds silly, but just having that other person working on a task that they’re struggling to stay focused on as well is incredibly effective.        


So I like the company so much, I actually invested in it. And it’s a wonderful way. It’s one of many, many techniques. I don’t want people to think that this is the end all, be all. No, it’s not that simple.        


You have to let me reinforce you have to do together three steps first, but as the last line of defense. Having that focus time with another person, where you have a commitment to another person, can be very effective. And you don’t necessarily have to use Focusmate. You can get a colleague at work to sit across from you at a desk. You can go to a coffee shop and sit with your spouse or partner.        


There’s lots of ways to do this, but this is a way if people are working from home, for example, or maybe in different time zones, and they want to find someone to work together with, this can be very effective. Yeah. Use a similar model. AJ Harper.        


If you know AJ, who partners with Mike Michalowicz to write a lot of his books, Profit First and Clockwork and all of that. During quarantine, when I was writing The Widest Net, she has a writing circle that was like that. So in the morning, the same time everybody logs in, we set our writing goal and it was just silent writing. I always give credit to her.        


I don’t think that book would have happened because it was just so challenging to be writing during that time. But it is very powerful. What’s the big deal? Why do I need a bunch of people doing nothing and not saying anything?        


But it’s incredible how effective that pact with other people can be. That’s right. And as you and for me personally, I think Gretchen Rubin and her book The Four Tendencies, I don’t know if you’ve read that book or look at some of that, I used to just really get after myself about it. But I’ve just learned, like, if it’s only me, I am not one of those people that is just totally internally driven. So if I set a goal, but if I tell you I’m going to do it, if I make a commitment to my client or like this writing group, I definitely will always comply.        


So I’s the interesting thing about this, by the way. Everybody’s like that. I think that there’s a myth that everybody is self driven about everything. My sister, I feel like my older sister is the one who just always gets everything done when she says it.        


My best friend and my sister, but they’re the only people in my life I know who are like that. That’s interesting. Let’s explore this. And maybe your sister is the exception. Is she like that in all domains of her life?        


What I find is that some people will say, okay, they’re super great about work, but they’re not so good about personal fitness. They’re really great about money, but they’re not so good about being fully present with I don’t know what it is, but I find that nobody’s good at they’re good at the easy stuff, the good stuff that they think that they are good at and enjoy, but they’re not so good at the stuff they don’t enjoy. Yeah, it happens to be, I think, for those actually my husband too, I think I just surround myself with people like that. I mean, they are not perfect, but they really are just very focused, clear people. I think I need to have those kind of folks around me.        


But I agree with you that each of us can have our pattern that we may be long for. Somebody might be very personally disciplined in their life, but then have a harder time at work. But knowing that pattern. And as you said, I think finding these ways in order to have the pact is so important. I’m just curious.        


Not one of those people. By the way, I did not write inDISTRACTable because I am indistractable. I wrote InDISTRACTable because I wanted to become indistractible. It took me five years to write that book because I kept getting distracted. Now.        


Thankfully, I am indestructible. After I really started from first principles and went back to the psychology research and really understood, what does this research really say? I discovered there’s so many myths out there right around multitasking. It turns out you can multitask if you do it the right way. There’s myths around to do lists.        


It turns out to-do lists are one of the worst things you can do for your personal productivity if you don’t use them correctly. Along with the time box calendar, there’s all kinds of stuff that I used to do that was actively harming myself. So the book is really for people like me. I mean, I wrote the book for myself more than anyone else because I wanted this superpower. But what I learned is that all of us, no matter how distracted you are, myself included, by adopting these tactics, you don’t have to do everything all at once, but by understanding, okay, now I get it.        


Here’s. Why? I get distracted. I can do something about it in the future. Paulo Coelho had a wonderful quote.        


He said, “A mistake repeated more than once is a decision.” Such a good quote, right? It hits right at the core. A mistake repeated more than once is a decision. So what I say is, look, how many times can we complain about Slack and Facebook and TikTok distracting us?        


Okay, yes, there’s lots of distracting stuff out there. And what are you going to do about it? Are you going to sit there and say, oh, I’m a victim. No, you got to do something about it. And so that’s who InDISTRACTable is for.        


I love it and I am. I really, really do enjoy your work. I admit sometimes I get a little bit persnickety just when I see really smart people who just make up an idea in the shower and they think it sounds really cool, and they get a nifty model and a huge book deal and sell a million copies. And in the meantime, I’m sitting here grumbling because I feel like I need to test it with real people in the real world to make sure that it makes sense. And I really do like your approach of mixing the kind of research that you do with your own lived experience but also using it in companies.        


And to me, I call my clients Architects of Liberatory Change. I feel like so much of what we need to be building in the world, in the broadest sense, are really new infrastructure, like really new ways of working, because we can see how harmful it is for people who are just really drowning and being so overwhelmed, unenergized, feeling unsuccessful, in addition to so many other things. So I just find the work to be so clear, storytelling really entertaining. I’ve been good friends with Bob Sutton. Do you know Bob from the Design School at Stanford? So I just love everything about, I think, the work that comes from that arena where we can look at principles either with Hooked or inDISTRACTable, to really think about it in the design that we do just to make better products and services.        


So I’m just so thankful that you’ve written those and we got a chance to have a conversation about it. Anybody who knows me knows I’m a huge fan of John Legend. So seeing you worked at Boston Consulting Group, did you work with John at the same time, I didn’t work with him, but I did meet him when I was still a consultant. I remember I was in the New York office and I got assigned I wasn’t based out of the New York office, but I was working there for the day.        


And I come into this room and there’s this guy and we have this conversation. Really nice guy. And he says, oh yeah, by the way, I’m an amateur musician. Do you want one of my CDs? Sure.        


And this turned out to be John Legend a few years later. I’ve written about it for years and again, I love his work. I wrote about him a lot in Body of Work in my last book. But I met somebody who worked at Boston Consulting Group. Jane, I’m going to forget her last name.        


She was telling the story. I think he was doing like excel pivot tables, kind of early stage analysis for pharmaceutical companies. But she know he was so quiet and would kind of sit and in his cubicle and he was up for promotion for something like junior client relationship manager or something. And she was like, oh, he’d be terrible, like, never put him in that public facing role. And then a couple of years later she saw him like, busting out of dry ice at the Grammys.        


So it’s like a fun thing for me to find people who have worked with him. And I love the metaphor sometimes, right. Where you never know exactly who it is that’s hidden, hiding their talents. I love that. I think we all have that potential.        


I don’t believe that there’s such a thing as these overnight successes. Right. The guy worked really hard and he did it without distraction. Right. He really focused in on that was his primary objective.        


And he got better and better and better. That’s right. No, I love that. Well, how cool that you met him. Probably that CD is worth something these days.        


So what’s the best way for people to find your work and connect with you? Sure. So my website is Nir is spelled like my first name. N-I-R and the book is called inDISTRACTable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life.        


That’s my latest book. And if you go to my website,, there’s actually a workbook there an 80 page workbook that we couldn’t fit into the final edition of the book, so we decided to give it away for free. You can get that at That’s spelt I-N the word distract, able.        


And my first book, Hooked: How to Build a Habit for Me and Products is available as well. I love that. We’ll make sure all of the links are in the bio. Hearing you say your own last name? I realize I slightly mispronounced it in the beginning, so it’s Eyal it sounds like AOL.        


That’s a personal pet peeve. My apologies to that. I should have double checked that at the beginning, but I want to clear. Nir is the important part. You would not believe how many times I get introduced on stage and people say, here’s our next speaker, writes a website “nir and far”.        


Please welcome Nir. I know. Well, I feel like I should know. But at least for the record, I appreciate getting it right. So for those of you who are listening, we’ll have a show notes with all of the links to the great books and resources ways to connect.        


Thanks to my 31 Marketplace production team. LaVista Jones, Jose Arboleda, Tanika Lothery and our award winning narrator, Andia Winslow. Until next time, be sure to subscribe to the show and enjoy building partnerships, organizations and communities that grow our ecosystem.

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