Grooving to Behavioral Sciences

For those of you who don’t know, I co-founded the Behavioral Grooves with Kurt Nelson, PhD as a non-profit way to share our enthusiasm for the application of behavioral sciences with a wider audience.

The Behavioral Grooves is both a meetup and a podcast – sort of like a breakfast cereal and an energy drink at the same time. Kurt and I believe deeply in the content and the need to share this content with everyone in every culture of the world.

Tilling the Soil: The Minneapolis Meetup

The first iteration of the Behavioral Grooves was the Minneapolis meetup. While we thought it was a good idea, we had no experience. Kurt and I reached out to Oliver Payne, founder of The Hunting Dynasty, who coached us on how to move forward. We wanted to create an experience that would be fun and functional, and he gave us these tips:

1.     Host the event regularly – even if no one shows up

2.     Host in a public space – preferably one that serves alcohol

3.     Host it immediately after work – make it easy

For teetotalers, the requirement for alcohol might seem ridiculous. However, frivolity turns out to be an important part of the experience as its first a social meetup and, second, a cognitive reward.

At our first meetup last Fall, we gathered 22 people in pub in Minneapolis, Minnesota to have a little social/networking time, an 18-minute presentation by a speaker, and about 45 minutes of table discussions based on cues from the speaker.

It went well. Really well, to be honest. Everyone walked away invigorated and asking for more. So, we did it again. And again. At this writing, we have held a Behavioral Grooves meetup on the Third Thursday of every month (except December) since we launched in August 2017.

However, we very quickly hit on a problem: we had designs on speakers that – at the rate of one per month – would take us into the year 2029. Kurt and I were impatient for more discussions and once-per-month was too slow a pace for us.

Planting the Field: The Podcast

We needed an alternative means of sharing ideas that would happen more than once per month and be available to more than 25 people at a time. The podcast was born.

The podcast was designed as a long-form discussion comprised of three key parts: an introduction, a formal interview and a grooving session where Kurt and I get to reflect on the content that the interviewee just presented AND talk about our own musical interests.

We started by calling up friends and colleagues who we thought would be interesting to talk to about the application of behavioral sciences and – to our surprise – they all agreed. We talked to academics and practitioners that we had good relationships with then started inviting acquaintances and people we admire and – to our surprise – they have all agreed, too!

A key element of what is making the podcasts desirable is the mix of content and levity. Kurt and I like to laugh, we like to talk about music and we like to nerd-out. As unusual as we would like to think that combination is, it’s really not. There are lots of people around the world that like those things, too, so we’re finding audiences across the world.

One thing we hadn’t anticipated was the bone-shaking fear in some people when asked about music. People who are deeply confident in their knowledge of behavioral sciences could be reduced to pools of jelly by asking them about their favorite musician or theme song. Go figure.

Growth: The World

The Behavioral Grooves podcast was launched in December 2017 and we currently have listeners in 54 countries with only 49% of them hailing from the United States. We’ve interviewed guests across the United States, India, Sweden, England, Denmark and Kenya. And we have plans to interview practitioners and academics from Australia in the coming weeks.

The podcast opened up all sorts of questions about personal appearances, the Behavioral Grooves Meetup is going on the road.

In April, we held a Behavioral Grooves Meetup in St. Louis at Cortex, the technology barn in the heart of the city’s innovation centers between St. Louis University and Washington University.

In May, we’re holding a meetup in Dallas to coincide with Kurt’s and my presentation at World at Work. (Date = May 22nd, Time = 5:30pm, Location = Del Rio Room at the Gaylord Texan Resort in Grapevine, Texas)

In June, we’re headed to Chicago – date and location TBD.

What’s Next

Want to get involved? Interested in hosting or sponsoring a meetup in your town? Give us a shout – we’d be happy to have a conversation about it.

Or check out our new Behavioral Grooves website here.