My Conversation with Rory Sutherland: Persuasion, Beer on the Beach, Self-Driving Cars and Japanese Toilets [The Knowledge Project Ep. #19]

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Rory Sutherland (@rorysutherland) is the Vice Chairman of Ogilvy & Mather Group, which is one of the largest and most renowned advertising agencies in the world.

Rory started the behavioral insights team and spends his days applying behavioral economics and evolutionary psychology to solve problems that traditional advertising agencies haven’t been able to solve.

In this wide-ranging interview we discuss:

  • Why advertising agencies are being asked to solve airport security problems
  • How to reframe problems to synthesize happiness for customers even in the lousiest conditions
  • How great storytelling can do everything from increase sales to make beer taste better
  • Why companies are more willing to throw money at infrastructure than they are to invest in behavioral change (and why it backfires)
  • What doormen, London’s black cab service, and ancient medieval guilds can teach Silicon Valley about business
  • One of the most interesting studies ever done that shows how irrational humans are
  • “Transaction utility” and how context and expectations wildly influence how much we are willing to pay for goods and services

And that just scratches the surface. We tackle how to mess with self-driving cars, Rory’s reading habits, the intersection of advertising and psychology, why dry toilet paper is a Western abomination, and so much more.

Don’t miss this episode. Rory will forget more about advertising and behavioral psychology than most of us will learn during our lifetime. This is truly a masterclass from a persuasion technician that has few equals.

If you want to get better at divergent thinking, persuasion, or just want to know why we do some of the silly things we do, this episode is a must-listen.

Enjoy this amazing conversation.

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  • Transcript
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