How to Change
The Science of Getting from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be
In these uncertain times, the only thing we can rely on is change: the way we learn, work, consume, parent, live, all of it disrupted indefinitely. Thankfully award-winning behavioral scientist and Wharton’s James G. Dinan Professor Katy Milkman has devoted her career to understanding change. In funny, fast-paced, practical talks based on her upcoming book How to Change (May 2021) she shares her science-based blueprint for going from where you are to where you want to be—conquering goals, dissolving roadblocks, and adapting your behavior (and the behavior of those you lead, manage and coach) to the demands of the post-pandemic world.
“She’s able to find these ideas that are conceptually novel and interesting — temptation bundling, from a purely conceptual standpoint, is brilliant,” he says. “But then simultaneously, [the ideas translate] into something that is quite practical and quite usable in the real world.”— John Beshears, Harvard Business School
Katy Milkman co-founded and co-directs the University of Pennsylvania’s Behavior Change for Good Initiative, alongside her Wharton colleague and fellow Lavin speaker, Angela Duckworth. She is uniquely equipped to show you not only how to create change, but how to make change stick. Whether you hope to nudge yourself, your employees, your customers, or your clients; and whether the goal is to be more productive, save more for retirement, get more out of enrichment programs, or achieve health and wellness targets—Milkman can help.
Decades of research have taught Milkman—host of Charles Schwab’s popular behavioral economics podcast Choiceology and former president of the International Society for Judgment and Decision Making—that the key is to understand what’s standing between you and success, and tailor your solution to that roadblock. Too often, people reach for one-size-fits all solutions that sound appealing but lack a basis in evidence. Milkman’s cutting-edge research illustrates how to identify and overcome the barriers that regularly stand in the way of change. Her discoveries help explain why timing can be everything when it comes to making a change, how to turn temptation and inertia into assets that can help you conquer your goals, and why giving advice, even if it’s about something you’re struggling with, can help you achieve more, too.
Bestselling author Charles Duhigg called Milkman’s upcoming book How to Change: The Science of Getting from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be “a must read for anyone looking to improve their habits or their life”; Charles Schwab declared it “an invaluable guide to success”; and Laszlo Bock, CEO of Humu and former Google SVP of People Operations, says, “If your goal is to get better, or to make your teams or business better, read this book.”
Milkman’s research is transforming our understanding of behavior change. She’s worked with or advised dozens of organizations on how to spur positive change, including Google, the U.S. Department of Defense, the American Red Cross, 24 Hour Fitness, Walmart, Morningstar and the White House, and she’s one of Wharton’s most sought-after teachers. Her research and insights are also frequently covered by major media outlets such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Economist and NPR.
“Katy was FANTASTIC! Our audience really enjoyed her content with our attendee survey giving her a 90% "top two" score, which is 90% of respondents gave her the highest or second-highest rating. In addition, Katy was a real pleasure to work with preparing for and at the event. I know our speaker manager was just raving about her. Please give my best to Katy and I hope we can work with The Lavin Agency again in the future.”1st Global
Employee and customer choices are heavily dependent on context. Katy Milkman, an expert in the ways we consider options and make decisions, understands this from her extensive research studying these populations as a behavioral economist. ‘Choice architecture,’ or simply the way in which a choice is presented (on screens and in person) can thus be an extremely valuable tool for improving employee outcomes and consumer choices.
In this informative keynote, Milkman teaches audiences how to make use of the malleability in how choices are made to influence behavior for the better, providing insights about how to encourage improved decisions—online, at work, and at home. Covering the basics of wise choice architecture, nudges that have been proven to increase the likelihood of optimal decisions, and actionable takeaways tailored for your business or organization, Milkman leads a funny, fast-paced, and practical talk about how we can guide employee and customer behavior in the most helpful ways possible.
In a perfect world, people would always make perfect decisions. But we’re far from perfect: biases, irrational assumptions, and other overriding impulses make our decision-making processes fraught at best. Over the past 30 years, psychologists and economists have joined forces to study how people process information and actually make decisions, rather than how people would make decisions if they were fully rational and without bias. This research program—dubbed behavioral economics—has given us a deeper understanding of how decisions deviate from optimal choices, as well as the (sometimes grave!) consequences of such deviations. Put plainly, people are poor intuitive statisticians, and that means when they ‘just think’ about situations in which some data or casual observations exist, they tend to make serious inferential errors—and systematically biased decisions.
Throughout this engaging keynote, Katy Milkman discusses the most common errors we make, with particularly important implications for managerial and workplace settings. Using evidence-based examples, she introduces a number of common decision biases that influence managers, employees and consumers alike. She can then discuss the best research-based strategies we can use to avoid these biases. With her guidance, we can improve our awareness of situations where business biases are likely to arise, and thereby improve the quality of the decisions we make.