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How These 3 Small Tweaks Lead to Lasting Results (with Timothy Wilson)
Last Updated February 9th, 2012

No matter what you do, you’re in the business of changing behavior.

If you’re looking to sell products and services, you’ve got to get your target customers to switch from their trusted brands to your brand.

And if you’re looking to improve yourself on a personal level, you’ve got to change your own behavior.

Question is what’s the secret to changing behavior?

The 3 Ways to Change Behavior: Story Editing, Story Prompting, and “Do Good, Be Good.”

You know the deal: Smart entrepreneurs who want to thrive in today’s overcrowded market place must master the fields psychology and human behavior.

And that’s why I invited Timothy Wilson, the best-selling author of “Redirect: The Surprising New Science of Psychological Change (aff)” and “Strangers to Ourselves (aff),” to join us on this edition of Social Triggers Insider.

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In addition to being an author, Timothy has published over 100 articles in industry leading scholarly journals, has been cited by many major newspapers, and is the Sherrell J. Aston Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia.

And if you remember the book Blink by Malcolm Gladwell… well, much of Tim’s research from his first book “Strangers to Ourselves” was cited in that break-away best-seller.

To learn about these three tactics (story editing, story prompting, and “do good, be good), and more, listen to this episode of Social Triggers Insider by pressing play above.

Did you know that Social Triggers Insider is NOW on iTunes? It debuted at the #2 podcast in Business, and #1 podcast in Management and Marketing. To get this episode, subscribe to Social Triggers Insider on iTunes here

What can you expect from this edition of Social Triggers Insider? You’ll learn:

  • How mystery grabs attention—and KEEPS IT
  • The fascinating nuance of human behavior called “The Pleasure Paradox”
  • The 3 effective ways to change your behavior (with real life examples)
  • The one exercise that can make you happier and more successful (it’s called “Best Possible Selves”)
  • And much more

So, listen up!

Right click this link to audio as a MP3 file to your computer

Right click this link to save the transcript of the audio to your computer.

Here’s What You Need To Do Next…


As I mentioned during this episode, check out Timothy Wilson’s book “Redirect.” It’s a great read, and it’s quick. And all hype aside, it can change your life.Check out Redirect here (aff)


I want you to leave me a comment on this page, and let me know how you plan on using what you learned from this edition of Social Triggers Insider.

And finally…

Let me know what you think of Social Triggers Insider. This is the fourth episode, and I’d love to hear how much you’ve enjoyed it, and how much it has helped you.

For links to Previous episodes, here you go:

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32 comments Leave a comment

Thanks for this insight Derek.

I have read all of Malcoln Gladwell’s books, and I am looking forward to Redirect.

In physical therapy, I have been using this technique to create positive thinking. I find that when people are telling stories they are so subjective that they may forget what really happened. For example, when a patient improves with how well they can take the stairs, they still complain that they can’t take the stairs. I gently edit their story with reinforcement that they have worked so hard to get where they are, and they can still do it. My patients usually get better. I have always believed that it wasn’t just the PT.

I am happy to see this author tying up scientific facts with technique. As I am starting my own wellness center, I am learning to apply these kinds of social triggers into wellness and marketing.

I look forward to your efforts! There is a gap in science and marketing, and thru you and others like Jason Fonceca we can fill the gap!

Thanks Derek!

Alan | Life's Too Good

Brilliant Derek,

I love the psychology and the science you weave into your work. Great guest and it provides a lot of food for thought.

There are lots of overlaps for me with some of the theories put forward via NLP (i.e. the idea that everyone has their own world view and the idea of people having an internal dialogue – both of which can be influenced).

take care & best wishes,

Marion Ryan

Derek, just downloaded this episode and dying to listen later this evening. To answer your question, I love Social Triggers Insider. I listen to loads of audios and your podcasts so far have been head and shoulders above the rest (alongside Pat Flynn who is also a podcast hottie). I always learn new stuff from you and your great guests so I’m off to check out Redirect now.


Derek-What’s the data on Hellobar increasing opt-ins? You like it?

Chris Corbin

Request: will you add your podcasts as a channel on Stitcher radio? Not sure what this takes….

Charles Specht

Great article.
I came here through a link over at Brian Gardner’s blog. Looks like a lot of great content. I’ll stick around a while. 😉

Lisa Reath

Thank you Derek for this great series of podcasts. I am sharing them with our office staff with fantastic results. At our recent office retreat we had a great brainstorming session based on “How People Make Decisions”. Not only did we come up with some great ideas for our practice, we learned why much of what we are doing is working. Today you solved a marketing issue I was having about a new skin care product we are testing. People are loving it but I can’t explain why it works without getting overly scientific. I am going to go for some mystery!


Great info
Can’t wait so read your next article!


That’s unbelievable how drastically you can change the situation by taking a different look into it. I mean you may think that you can’t do something because you’re just ….well … stupid, but then it turns out, if you wish so, that you’re just doing it wrong. And if you just change the way you do something, it’ll just be a totally different story. Thanks, guys. I really enjoyed your talk.

And I like your vivid style of speaking Derek. 🙂

And a question. Does podcasting drive lots of traffic or it’s just good for your blog’s profile?

Jason Fonceca

Loved the podcast, Derek. Your energy and clarity and personality are great.

Tim Wilson’s research is brilliant, as is Gladwell’s look at it.

If you wanted to expand on this topic in the future, or if you keep a database of content ideas… I’d love to see your take on some more in-depth Story Prompting + Story Narratives applied to websites, sales, and conversion pages, etc.

(Aside from your “hard-working, no-push-button” example :D)

I especially loved the overlap with Personal Development, a nice treat. Thanks man. #ryzeUP 🙂

Gary Anderson II

Very Awesome dude! Paraphrasing,
“…Get inside their heads… and help to edit the readers own story… the story / conversation the reader is already having within themselves…” …in order to better understand them and to give them what they want.. Am I close? 😉

Thanks Derek!

Gary Anderson II

Rob Middleton

Thanks for that. Interesting timing as I was going through sections of the book in my local bookstore during lunch last week.

One technique that I have used from the book was the Pennebaker writing technique. In this you write about a problem that you currently have for at least 15 minutes a day on each of three or four consecutive days. I tried this on a couple of things that I am working on and got a lot of insight in how to deal with them. I then immediate action based on some of the insights and started to see results.

I’m going to do the same thing for the best possible selves exercise.

Charles G. Timm

I enjoyed this helpful interview and here are a couple of things I thought of while listening. The part about “You’re not the only student who’s struggled,” and “You’re a helpful person” (as in, there are others) makes people feel included. And there’s nothing quite like making people feel less alone; feel loved in this vast universe. So, maybe it’s helpful to suggest to customers that, by buying, they’re joining a good group.

The part about consistency of behavior made me remember something about my days in bartending: that men and women were consistent in different ways, a man tending to consistently order the same drink, a woman tending to consistently order different drinks. So, maybe selling to women sometimes means saying, “This is new and exciting. Try it!” while selling to men sometimes means saying, “This is like what you’ve enjoyed before, and will again–by buying my product.” I look forward to more of your site!

Jade Handy

Super badass, Derek. Once again, you’re delivering killer content!

Suzanne Tilton

Derek, I loved this interview, I am going to get the book today! You made me laugh when you said that you have no plans to tell how you achieved your success in such a short time because you get more benefit from others speculating about your success than rather coming out and telling people. That statement as well as your story about the girl on the bus made me remember back (way back) about my own dating stories. My first two years in college I did not date very much at all and what dates I had were flops. I then sat down and looked at my outer and inner self and wrote down who I wanted to become, the kind of person that I wanted to be, not only on the outside, but also on the inside. Then I started to follow my plan. I won’t reveal my secret but I began to have dates and dated several different guys. I learned that guys are more interested in you when they see you date a lot because they want to find out for themselves what is so attractive about you. To make a long story short, I was successful. I met the love of my life whom I have been married to now for 32 years. Thanks for offering such great thought provoking information. Suzanne

Jill Rowe

Hey Derek!
I had the great pleasure of hearing you speak at Marie Forleo’s RHH Live event last fall ~ you were one of my favorite speakers (and the one I got the most 10K ideas from!) ~ I want to say that I thought this was one of your best interviews yet! Why? Because you really were in to it and it showed. You were totally in your element and although it’s obvious you are a smart man, you also came across as a great human being and very intuitive and insightful. I came away from this thinking several things:

1. You and Professor Wilson should write a book together. You both dovetailed so well with each other’s area of expertise and as you mentioned, there are marketing books and there are psychological behavior books ~ you two need to meld those into one fantastic kick-ass book!

2. The idea of the credible source in terms of the study Prof. Wilson performed really helped clarify for me ways that I can share my work with others and have it backed up by specific types of testimonials that will re-frame the way people think about particular issues.

3. I am definitely going to buy the book and am really looking forward to reading it and doing the “Best Possible Selves” exercise. It’s true that we often have big dreams of what we want to achieve, but don’t think alot about HOW we are going to get there. Breaking that down and really looking at it, creates a working list of tangible actions we can take to ensure our big dreams actually come true!

4. (hey there was a ton of great content here, what can I say!) I want to write my first book this year and the gem I came away with was the outline for the book


A great way to lay out my book!

This is long, but you and Prof. Wilson deserve all this praise ~ you guys were amazing. Thank you for sharing your mutual wisdom!

Jill Rowe

Marilyn Hight

Excellent interview and information on this subject of personal development through this expert! 🙂

    Derek Halpern

    Glad you liked it Marilyn.


Sooo…let me see if I am correct:

1) offer readers (customers) good things that will help them in a problem area of their lives
2) give readers strong supporting data of people who have experienced the same problems they have experienced.
3) give my reader a solution via a narrative.
4) back up data and the narrative with testimonials from people who fit the data, then used the narrative’s proposed solution and have prospered.

    Derek Halpern

    That’s a good summary of how you might apply what we talked about directly to blogging.


Interesting stuff Derek,

what I’d really appreciated would be some concise examples of how to apply this on for example a blog post or a sales page etc.



    Derek Halpern

    That might have to be a follow-up blog post at some point.

kimanzi constable

I’ve really enjoyed your podcast, can’t wait. I’m glad you decided to get into podcasting, you provide so much great content.

    Derek Halpern

    Kimanzi, I’m glad to hear that you’re digging it.

Valerie Joy Deveza

Another great session Derek. I really enjoyed your examples..

Story telling is something that I’m really kinda struggling with so you really help me a lot today 🙂 Thanks a lot..

    Derek Halpern

    You’re welcome.

Jeremy McAlister

Great interview! Now to figure out how ‘mystery’ can be applied in the coaching/consulting business….

    Derek Halpern

    You’ve got to develop some proprietary frameworks. A method that you use to help people get results, and name it. Simply doing that can help create the air of mystery around what you do.


I confess, that I don’t totally “Get it”, and not to proud to ask for help. When you present the term “narrative” and concept “Story Editing” I had to rewind and listen again, thinking I missed something. Can you give me another example or way to understand the term “narrative” in the context of this article?

    Derek Halpern

    People create narratives about themselves. When people do bad in school, they can think “i’m doing poorly because I’m just not smart enough,” or “I’m doing poorly because I must not be studying the right way.”

    Two different narratives, each of which have drastically different effects on behavior.

    To edit that story, it’s about pushing people from the negative narrative to a more positive narrative. That’s where the experiment Timothy talks about comes in, the one where he talked about college students and grades.


      I get it but still need to chew on it before I could explain it to someone else. Thanks again for another fabulous resource.

        Derek Halpern

        You’re welcome!

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