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Charles Duhigg

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1: Tony Dungy couldn’t win the big game. That was the rap. In 1996, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hired Tony as their head coach. At that moment, the Bucs were then one of the worst teams in the NFL. Actually, one of the worst teams in the history of professional football, writes Charles Duhigg in The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business. In only his second season as head…

1: The United States is one of the wealthiest countries on earth. Yet, in the 1960s and 1970s, the country had higher infant mortality rates than most of Europe and some parts of South America. In rural areas, a startling number of babies were dying before their first birthdays. As it turns out, the key to solving this complex problem was understanding the concept called “Keystone Habits.” Before leading a turnaround at Alcoa that increased the value…

Yesterday, we looked at how Michael Phelps focused on a few core or “keystone” habits that impacted all other areas of his life. Attending to these “small wins” had an oversized return. And, it’s not just individuals who are capable of this type of transformation. “When companies focus on changing habits, whole organizations can transform,” writes Charles Duhigg in The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business. “Firms such…

1: August 8, 2008. Beijing, China. Summer Olympics. Men’s final for the 200-meter butterfly. Michael Phelps knew something was wrong as soon as he hit the water. “There was moisture inside his goggles. He couldn’t tell if they were leaking from the top or bottom, but as he broke the water’s surface and began swimming, he hoped the leak wouldn’t become too bad,” Charles Duhigg writes in The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and…

1: Getting better at getting better is what RiseWithDrew is all about. Monday through Thursday we explore ideas from authors, thought leaders, and exemplary organizations. On Friday, I share something we are doing at PCI in our quest to earn a spot of Fortune magazine’s 100 Best Companies to Work For. This week we’ve been exploring the idea of “keystone habits.”  How changing one key habit can set off a cascade of other changes in our lives and…

1: “Conventional wisdom held that the best way for people to lose weight was to radically alter their lives,” Charles Duhigg writes in The Power of Habit. “Doctors would give obese patients strict diets and tell them to join a gym, attend regular counseling sessions—sometimes as often as every day—and shift their daily routines by walking up stairs, for instance, instead of taking the elevator,” notes Charles. “Only by completely shaking up someone’s life, the…

1: “You can’t order people to change. That’s not how the brain works,” Paul O’Neill reflected. As the new CEO, his goal was audacious: to transform Alcoa, the Aluminum Corporation of America, a Fortune 500 company that has existed for more than 100 years. His predecessor had tried to mandate improvements.  That didn’t go so well. Fifteen thousand associates had gone on strike, bringing dummies to company parking lots, dressing them like managers, and burning them…

1: The telephone rang in the middle of the night.  Paul O’Neill awoke in an instant.  He was the new CEO of Alcoa, the largest… A plant manager in Arizona was calling. “A young man who had joined the company a few weeks earlier, eager for the job because it offered health care for his pregnant wife—had tried a repair,” Charles Duhigg writes in The Power of Habit.  “He had jumped over a yellow safety wall surrounding…

1: A group of Wall Street investors and stock analysts gathered in the ballroom of a swanky New York City hotel. “They were there to meet the new CEO of the Aluminum Company of America—or Alcoa, as it was known—a corporation that, for nearly a century, had manufactured everything from the foil that wraps Hershey’s Kisses and the metal in Coca-Cola cans to the bolts that hold satellites together,” writes Charles Duhigg in The Power…

1: The year was 1934. One of the largest and most successful attempts at wide-scale habit change was about to begin. Bill Wilson, a thirty-nine year old alcoholic, sat in a dreary basement on the Lower East Side of New York City.  He was drinking three bottles of booze a day.  His marriage was falling apart.  His career was at a dead end, Charles Duhigg writes in The Power of Habit. He poured his old drinking buddy a glass…

1: Mandy walked into the counselling center at Mississippi State University.  She was 24 years old.  For as long as she could remember, she had bitten her nails.   “Lots of people bite their nails,” Charles Duhigg writes in The Power of Habit.  “For chronic nail biters, however, it’s a problem of a different scale.  Mandy would often bite until her nails pulled away from the skin underneath.  Her fingertips were covered with tiny scabs.  The end of her fingers had become…

1: In the year 2002, researchers at New Mexico State University set out to figure out why people exercise consistently. They studied 266 people who worked out at least three times a week.  Most started running or lifting weights “almost on a whim, or because they had free time or wanted to deal with unexpected stress in their lives,” writes Charles Duhigg in The Power of Habit. So, why did their exercise become a habit? Because they…

1: Proctor & Gamble, one of the largest consumer goods firms in the world, was convinced their promising new product Febreze was going to be a big hit. P&G should know. They are the company behind Pringles, Oil of Olay, Bounty, CoverGirl, Dawn, Downy, Duracell, and dozens of other successful brands. For Febreze, “they spent millions perfecting the formula, finally producing a colorless, odorless liquid that could wipe out almost any foul odor,” Charles Duhigg writes…

1: We think the choices we make each day are the result of well-considered decisions. The science tells us otherwise. “A Duke University researcher found that more than 40 percent of the actions people performed each day weren’t actual decisions, but habits,” writes Charles Duhigg in The Power of Habit. “At one point, we all consciously decided how much to eat and what to focus on when we got to the office, how often to have a drink…

1: It was the early 1990s.  Scientists surgically positioned what looked like “a small joystick and dozens of wires” into the skulls of a group of rats, writes Charles Duhigg in The Power of Habit. Their goal? To be able to observe in minute detail what was happening inside the brains of rodents. Each animal was then placed in a T-shaped maze behind a partition with chocolate at one end. A loud click sounded. The partition…

1: The year was 2004, the early days of the Iraqi War. Riots were occurring in Kufa, a small city 90 miles south of Baghdad. While meeting with Kufa’s mayor, a U.S. Army major made an odd request: “Could they keep the food vendors out of the plazas?” Charles Duhigg writes in The Power of Habit. The mayor agreed to the request. A couple of weeks later, a crowd began gathering in front of Masjid al-Kufa,…

1: Lisa Allen was thirty-four years old.  She had struggled with obesity since she was a child.  Lisa started smoking and drinking at sixteen.  She had moved from one dead-end job to another, never working for the same employer for more than a year.  She was $10,000 in debt and collection agencies were chasing her, writes Charles Duhigg in The Power of Habit. After her husband fell in love with another woman and left the marriage,…