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Nir Eyal — Indistractable

"The most exciting new podcast in the startup world.” - Eric Ries, Founder and NYTimes bestselling author Today's episode is one of my favorite conversations I’ve had. It’s with Nir Eyal, who is a founder, an investor, and a best-selling author. His first book “Hooked” came out about five years ago and pretty much every tech founder became familiar with his insights in that book. But his latest book “Indistractable”, which came out this month, talks about how to control your attention and intentionally choose your life. It’s not necessarily just for the tech and startup ecosystem, it's for anyone who cares about life — making the most of it and trying to work on not becoming so distractible. We talked about what is distraction, what motivates us, how to prevent distraction, and what is the opposite of distraction. We talk about all of those things, including building "Indistractable" workplaces and so much more. Hope you enjoy this one as much as I did.

Updated on October 18

Key Smash Notes In This Episode


Nir was a chubby, clinically obese kid, growing up in Orlando, Florida. Being overweight was difficult for normal reason, but when all the kids would go the pool, Nir felt even more embarrassed about his body. However, that experience set Nir on a path to understand human behavior through the products that we consume, which is how he ended up writing "Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products."


In order to see an opportunity that other people don’t see, an entrepreneur need to have a bit of rebelliousness, a little bit of chutzpah in them.

Whether or not you can overcome a challenge, it defines you.


Nir read a book called the The T-Factor Diet, which listed the nutritional content of all the food he wanted to eat. Once he realized what he was consuming, he was able to moderate his intake in a way that was helping him, not hurting him.

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Nir wrote Hooked because while Facebook and similar gaming and social media companies knew how to capture users' attention, they did not want anyone else to use those techniques. Nir wanted other entrepreneurs to be take advantage of these methods in pursuit of good, to create healthy habits in people's lives.


Nir has a favorite fitness app that has been able to implement his ideas beautifully. Here are the four steps to getting hooked.

1 - Trigger - This is an itch the consumer wants to scratch, an uncomfortable phycological or emotional state a customer wants to change. Every habit-forming product has to figure this out.

In case of this fitness app, there's a lot of uncertainly about choosing something to do in the gym, and that's the trigger! "Getting in shape" is not a habit, it's an aspiration, so that doesn't work, but choosing something to do, that could become a habit. A habit is a discrete behavior you want to see repeated.

2- Action - What do you do now? - Open the app. It's easy to get a consumer into a simple habit that can be done without a conscious thought.

3 - Reward - Some kind of uncertainly of what you might find. This is what makes books fun to read and sports fun to watch. It's mystery! What exercise should you do now? The app chooses the exercises, including the reps, and the weights, making the act of lifting the weights to be the reward in itself.

4 - Investment - user puts something into the product to make it better with use. You , the user, store value. It also pre-loads a trigger for the next time, using the stored value.


Nir Eyal says it is a myth that the best product always wins.

For example, when compared in a blind test, Bing get 50% of the users, but in real life, Google has >80% of market share. Most users are already in the habit of using Google, and they just don't stop to consider other options.

Once you can get get a customer to use your product without even thinking about it, then you are no longer competing on either price or features.

Habit-formation is a huge competitive advantage.

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