We Are a Collection of Our Habits

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Marketing podcast with Charles Duhigg (Click to play or right click and “Save As” to download – Subscribe now via iTunes or subscribe via other RSS device (Google Listen)

Habits are very strange and powerful things. They drive our everyday routines and teach us, often subconsciously how to feel and react to the things that happen around us all day long.

They can propel us forward in very positive ways and hobble us equally destructive ways. Habits allow us to do many of the little things we do, often without thought. They are extremely difficult to change and can be a major factor in the success of failure of a business.

My guest for this week’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is Charles Duhigg, a staff writer at the New York Times and author of the recently published book The Power of Habit about the science of habit formation and its applications among individuals, companies and societies.

For the Power of Habit, Duhigg researched in great deal how habits are formed, how they are disrupted and changed and how some companies are using this understanding to turn your habits into sales.

At its core, The Power of Habit contains an interesting argument: The key to exercising regularly, losing weight, raising exceptional children, becoming more productive, building revolutionary companies and social movements, and achieving success is understanding how habits work.

Duhigg breaks the psychology behind how habits control are actions into three parts: Cure, Routine, and Reward. It’s this pattern that makes our behavior so predictable and makes breaking habits so hard.

However, when we understand why we act as we do habitually, it starts to make the process of creating healthier rewards for healthier habits more possible. In fact, habits are so hard to break that we often only succeed doing so when we replace one habit with another.

I’ve stated for many years that marketing is a habit. The fact that so many business owners struggle to practice it successfully stems from the fact that they haven’t sufficiently tied a reward to “doing” marketing every day.

The Power of Habit is a must read for any business owner trying to understand how to form habits that serve and a very enlightening read for any marketer trying to understand why their clients do what they do.

Duhigg has produced some nice extra resources to accompany the book, including a Guide to Changing Habits.


Charles Duhigg, The Power of Habit

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  1. Since I read many years ago the Steven Covey book : The “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” I believe in the power of habits. Imagine if breathing required you to pay attention to it, you could not use your brain for other things,that is the same with anything than can be “automated’ as an habit. At the beginning, I found useful to use a chart of 10 daily habits that you can track everyday  until it is automatic.

  2. Excellent advice. I also subscribe to the “21 days” theory to make or break a habit. I have a little Post-It on my keyboard with 22 hash marks on it to remind me of how hard it was for me to break a certain unwanted habit, and of what it would cost me to have to repeat that process. It’s been maybe a year or more, and I’ve not backslid even one single time.

    Alfred Poor
    The Center for Small Business

  3. I am reading the book and it’s fantastic.  I love the idea of the keystone habit–how changing one habit can have a domino effect.  It’s a bit unnerving to see how marketers use habits but empowering to know that understanding the nature of habit can change your life. 

  4. This was a terrific podcast. Buying the book this week. I truly connected with the piece about habits changing when you disrupt daily patterns. I think this proves to be a key element in most any change.

    Thanks for another great topic on the podcast.

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