Transforming Human Behavior

By Mac M. Martirossian, CPA

Pacing the aisles on a Boeing 757 on a half day journey to the West Coast, I can’t help but notice the number of Kindle’s in use by my fellow passengers.  Electronics replacing print.  Who would have the courage to make masses of people take the leap and go against traditional forms of reading?  Would you?

In complete awe, it is another reminder of how behavioral transformation takes vision, courage and unconditional execution.  Wi-Fi on-board, has replaced gazing out the window; gourmet coffee has pushed aside free airline coffee; and if you want to purchase food or an adult beverage, you better have plastic on you.

Returning to my seat, I am painfully playing the “why didn’t I think of that” tape in my head, reinforcing a great lesson that innovators earn their billions by finding a path to changing our behavior and habits.

Many of us participate in change, almost without awareness, but few have the gift of a game changing innovation.  And why is that?  Distractions with non-value add activities would be one of a countless number of reasons, why there are only a few like Mark Zuckerberg roaming this earth.

So, what is a common person to do?  Here are some points to consider:

  1. Strip away the distractions, sit back and imagine.  “Thinking” has been replaced by “Clicking”.  It is so much easier to play with smart phone apps, click on website icons and hit “send/receive” to see if an e-mail came through in the last nano second—than finding time to just think.  Find 30 minutes a day of quiet time to let your mind wonder and imagine possibilities.  Try exercises that force the opposite side of your brain to get stimulated and to design an idea.
  2. Develop the courage to experiment.  What separates entrepreneurs from the rest of us—the courage to pursue dreams.  Jeff Bazos had just launched Amazon.com in 1995 and in 1997 when Barnes & Noble launched their website to compete with him, everyone thought Bazos was done.  Amazon shares plummeted to a mere $6 a share.  Bazos kept re-engineering and re-designing his on-line innovation.  Today AMZN trades at $176+ a share, has a market capitalization exceeding $78 billion and some say was responsible for driving Borders to bankruptcy.  A great design needs great engineering.
  3. Execute with a passion.  Too many designs are built poorly and as a result, execution falters and is done with reservation and pause at the first sign of interference.  Some would argue that the real heavy lifting is not in the previous two phases, it occurs here.  If you read “Pour Your Heart Into It” you will indeed see that Howard Schultz drove Starbuck’s relentlessly to the industry leader it is today.

We all have the ability to transform human behavior in our respective positions, albeit not to the same extent as those sited here.  Why not set is as a goal for 2011—for instance transforming those you work with to be more productive and successful.


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