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Katy Milkman on Creating Lasting Behavior Change for Good

Katy Milkman – How to create lasting behavior change for good. | Brought to you by AppSumo and Gusto. The first 100 people to click will get 10% off of their first purchase with AppSumo! Gusto is offering our listeners three months free

Dr. Katy Milkman is the James G. Dinan Endowed Chair at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, host of Charles Schwab’s popular behavioral economics podcast Choiceology, and the former president of the International Society for Judgment and Decision Making.

She is also the co-founder and co-director of the Behavior Change for Good Initiative, a research center with the mission of advancing the science of lasting behavior change. Her bestselling book, How to Change: The Science of Getting From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be was named one of the eight best books for healthy living in 2021 by the New York Times, and Katy was also named one of the world’s top 50 Management thinkers by Thinkers50 in 2021.

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It does make us happy when we have goals, and they give us meaning and purpose. If more of us have those and work towards productivity, it might improve our happiness and satisfaction.

Katy Milkman

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What I Discuss With Katy Milkman

Katy Milkman joins us to discuss how she is advancing the science of behavior change to understand which strategies work best overall, what works best for whom, and how to most effectively use behavioral science to help people transform their lives for the better. We go into why she created the largest interdisciplinary effort in history to solve the problem of enduring behavior change.

  • Why she and Angela Duckworth started the Behavior Change for Good Initiative and its impact.
  • The megastudy approach allows dozens of ideas proposed by a diverse array of scientists to be tested at once
  • How the mastery of human motivation and behavior became her passion.
  • The importance of how our behavior should be a strategy in design.
  • Why change is hard and so many people are unable to alter their lives.
  • Effortless perfection and Katy’s thoughts on behavior change to curtail its practice.
  • The importance of micro-changes in achieving our long-term aspirations.
  • Why the approach to health-related behavior change is different than other forms of behavior change.
  • Have any questions, comments, or stories you’d like to share? Drop us a line at [email protected]m!
  • And much more…
155 | Creating Lasting Behavior Change for Good | Katy Milkman | Passion Struck with John R. Miles
155 | Creating Lasting Behavior Change for Good | Katy Milkman | Passion Struck with John R. Miles

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More From My Interview With Katy Milkman on Creating Lasting Behavior Change For Good

During our interview, I asked Katy about her research indicates that regardless of your age, we all can do behavioral change. I ask her why people get this mindset that they can’t change or someone else can’t change?

How to Change by Dr. Katy Milkman for the Passion Struck podcast book list

Katy Milkman explains, Well, first of all, I should say, change is hard. It’s not as though there’s some magic wand we can wave and just instantly be a different person. And so I think there’s a good reason that we have this. I’ll call it a prejudice toward thinking. We’re not going to be able to change because it isn’t easy. But I think the ways in which we can change are also different than often people recognize those a few things.

First, there’s wonderful research by Dan Gilbert, who’s a psychologist at Harvard, showing that we think we will change far less than we do over any time span. We forecast that we will be more stable as humans than we are. And that’s a misappreciation of the way that our social circumstances evolve. Our preferences evolve. Our tastes and music change over time periods. All of these things just happen naturally.

I think that the same bias may be part of what’s making us think it won’t be possible to change because we don’t recognize that the world is constantly swirling around feeding us new inputs, new social experiences, new beliefs, and new understandings. It does take us on more of a journey than we appreciate.

But second is when we put our mind to it and say I want to change. There are a set of tools we can use that will help us achieve those goals deliberately if we’re going to. Now not everyone will want to. You might think, Oh, I met this person, and could they be a long-term life partner? I don’t know; maybe they can ever change? Well, the answer is if they don’t want to change, and they aren’t interested in being deliberate about using these tools, well, you can’t force them to. It’s more that we have the agency to change ourselves when we choose to use the best principles.

It’s going to be a lot of work. It’s going to take time. It probably will have setbacks. But the evidence is that when we set the right kinds of goals. When we use the right strategies, there is an opportunity.”

Thanks, Katy Milkman!

If you enjoyed this interview with Katy Milkman, let her know by clicking on the link below and sending her a quick shout on Instagram or LinkedIn:

Click here to thank Katy Milkman on LinkedIn!

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Click here to let John R. Miles know about your number one takeaway from this episode!

And if you want us to answer your questions or you have a topic you would like John to discuss on one of our upcoming weekly Momentum Friday episodes, drop us a line at [email protected].

Resources From The Show With Katy Milkman

Please note that some of the links on this page (books, movies, music, etc.) lead to affiliate programs for which The Passion Struck podcast receives compensation. It’s just one of the ways we keep the lights on around here. Thank you so much for being so supportive!

* Website:

* Instagram:

* Choiceology Podcast: 

* Twitter:

* LinkedIn:

* Behavior Change for Good Initiative: 

Katy Milkman quote: Obstacles differ depending on the goal you're trying to achieve. Therefore the best solutions that are likely to help and carry you forward will differ, and thinking carefully through what are the obstacles for you in this context, given your goal, and therefore what science can offer, is super important. That's the first step in any successful behavior change journey."

* My interview with David Yaden on self-transcendence, psychedelics, and behavior change: go-on-self-transcendence/ 

* My interview with Cathy Heller

* My interview with Michael Slepian

* My interview with Tricia Manning 

* My interview with Jordan Harbinger on Why Legacy is Greater Than Currency:

* My interview with Sarah Fay on the fallacies of the DSM: 

* My interview with Admiral James Stavridis 

* My solo episode on why micro choices matter:

* My solo episode on why you must feel to heal:

About Today’s Guest Katy Milkman

Passion Struck podcast album cover episode 155 with Katy Milkman on Behavior Change for Good

Katy Milkman is the former president of the Society for Judgment and Decision Making, a TEDx speaker, an APS Fellow, and the host of Charles Schwab’s popular behavioral economics podcast, Choiceology. She has published dozens of research articles in leading academic journals such as Nature and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and major media outlets regularly cover her findings.

She is an associate editor at Management Science, where she has handled manuscripts about behavioral economics since 2013. She has worked with or advised numerous organizations on behavior change, including The White House, Google, Walmart, Humana, the U.S. Department of Defense, 24 Hour Fitness and the American Red Cross. 

Katy frequently writes op-eds about topics related to behavioral science, and her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Economist and Scientific American. She is a repeated recipient of the excellence in teaching awards from Wharton’s undergraduate and MBA divisions, and in one particularly proud moment was voted Wharton’s “Iron Prof” by the school’s MBA students for a PechaKucha-style presentation of her research. 

Katy received her undergraduate degree from Princeton University (summa cum laude) in Operations Research and Financial Engineering and her Ph.D. from Harvard University’s joint program in Computer Science and Business.

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John R. Miles is a serial entrepreneur and the CEO and founder of Passion Struck. This full-service media company helps people live intentionally by creating best-in-class educational and entertainment content. John is also a prolific public speaker, venture capitalist, and author named to the ComputerWorld Top 100 IT Leaders.

John is the host of the PassionStruckPodcast. A show focused on exploring the mindset and philosophy of the world’s most inspiring people to learn their lessons to living intentionally. Passion Struck aspires to speak to the humanity of people in a way that makes them want to live better, be better and impact.

Stay tuned for John’s latest project, his upcoming book, which will be published in summer 2022.

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