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Book Notes: The Power of Habit

· 2 min read
Kam Lasater
Builder of things

Author: Charles Duhigg

I read this book in about 48 hours. This is an indicator of both my interest in the topic and the ease of digestion of the content. The book has several groups of memes that have stuck with me. They fall into the following groups:

  • Frameworks for thinking about how habits effect us
  • Anecdotes about how people used these frameworks effectively

Habit Cycle - Framework

This is the core concept of the book. It composed of: input, anticipation and result. Apparently if you don't have any part of the cycle it will not take place. If you have all parts you have no choice but developing the habit.

Marketing Genius - Anecdote

The addition of menthol to toothpaste is to create a sensation necessary in the feedback loop of the habit cycle. Without that sensation the lack of it would not prompt the desire to the complete the loop. Apparently at the time that Colgate (?) was introduced it wasn't the only toothpaste that had the mint oils but it had the dominant advertising that primed consumers to expect the "clean" feeling.

This was the reverse of what almost happened to Fabreeze. In early formulations of the product there was no scent. This led consumes to forget that they needed to use the product. Once a scent was added to new versions of the product it signaled to consumers that the room was now "clean". Apparently we can all get "nose blind" to our own funk :)

Hacking the loop - Anecdote

A whole chapter was devoted to how Paul O'Neill instigated changes in habits at Alcoa. He focused the company on safety. The drive to make Alcoa a zero injury work place was the initiative that enabled cultural changes in other areas.