Friction, Advertising, and Passion Brands with Jeff Rosenblum

Friction, Advertising, and Passion Brands with Jeff Rosenblum

Jeff Rosenblum may be one of the few to say that we ask our Jeff Rosenblumadvertisements to do too much. But in an age that sees us constantly bombarded by marketing, he has a point – it may be unrealistic to expect a simple banner ad to drive traffic.

In his new book FRICTION – Passion Brands in the Age of DisruptionJeff talks about how brands can overcome friction to make it easier for consumers to engage with their content, products, and overall branding. 

Jeff Rosenblum and his business partner Jordan Berg are the co-founders of Questus, a branding agency that has worked with brands like Apple, Disney, Ford, and The NFL. They are also the filmmakers behind the well-regarded documentary on the changing nature of advertising, The Naked Brand.

Jeff and I talk about friction and how it keeps both people and brands from realizing their goals. Jeff talks about how customers today don’t want to be interrupted and how our brains have learned to block out advertising. We highlight some of the biggest and best brands in the advertising game, and how they use inspiring content to keep customers engaged.

If you enjoy the show, please drop by iTunes and leave a review while you are still feeling the love! Reviews help others discover this podcast and I greatly appreciate them!

Listen in:

On Today’s Episode We’ll Learn:

  • How Jeff defines friction and how it affects brands.
  • Some of the brands that are eliminating friction and dominating the competition.
  • Why it’s essential to move the target if you want to create a competitive advantage in your industry.
  • How we currently ask advertising to do to much, and how to make it more effective.
  • How the brain creates eureka moments and accesses creativity.

Key Resources for Jeff Rosenblum and Passion Brands:

Share the Love:

If you like The Brainfluence Podcast

  • Never miss an episode by subscribing via iTunes, Stitcher or by RSS
  • Help improve the show by leaving a Rating & Review in iTunes (Here’s How)
  • Join the discussion for this episode in the comments section below

Full Episode Transcript:

Get Your Full Episode Transcript Here

Welcome to the Brainfluence Podcast with Roger Dooley, author, speaker and educator on neuromarketing and the psychology of persuasion. Every week, we talk with thought leaders that will help you improve your influence with factual evidence and concrete research. Introducing your host, Roger Dooley.

Roger Dooley:    Welcome to the Brainfluence podcast, I’m Roger Dooley. If you read my blog or have been to any of my speeches, you know that friction is an interest of mine. In my persuasion slide framework, it’s one of the four main elements just as in a playground slide, it’s so rusty that a child stops before reaching the bottom. In my model, friction is difficulty that stops your customer before you’ve completed the conversion process.

Today’s guest, Jeff Rosenblum, has written a book on the top. It’s called Friction: Passion Brands in the Age of Disruption. Jeff and his co-author Jordan Berg, are the documentary filmmakers who produced the well-regarded film, The Naked Brand. They also co-founded Questus, an agency that has worked with brands like Apple, Disney, Ford, and the NFL. Welcome to the show, Jeff.

Jeff Rosenblum: Thank you, thank you for having me on, I appreciate it.

Roger Dooley:    Jeff, at IMBD you’ve basically got one directing credit, The Naked Brand. How did you happen to get into the filmmaking business?

Jeff Rosenblum: That’s a funny one for me because I never even realized I was in it until I was all the way there.

Roger Dooley:    Everybody wants to direct, right, but you actually did it so that’s good.

Jeff Rosenblum: Well, here’s the crazy part is, I am the writer, I am the director, and to this day, I could not actually give you the definition of what a director does. But to answer your question, what happened was, we saw that there was this revolution taking place in the way that people communicate, right. We look at our mobile device every four and a half minutes that we’re awake. There’s been more video uploaded onto YouTube in the last 30 days than the big three networks did in 60 years combined. But when you look at advertising, it’s still caught in the mad-men era, right? Smiling pitch person gets on the screen says, “Buy some, it’s good.”

TV ads turn into pre roles, and banner ads turned, and print ads turned into banner ads, and junk mail turned into spam. We just realized, hey the world is gonna change, why don’t we make a three minute video on this. So I called some video folks that I know and we made a three minute video. At the end of the three minutes, we were like, “Wait. This is pretty good, let’s keep going.” Then it turned into 6 minutes and it kind of grew into like 30 minutes and then word started spreading and brands like Unilever and Patagonia, and even celebrities like Shaquille O’Neal and neuroscientists all starting hearing about it. So, we just kept videoing, videotaping, and editing, and flying around the world and next thing you know, we had ourselves a full-blown documentary.

But we kind of came in through the side door. There was never a moment where we’re like, “Let’s make a documentary.” It just sort of organically happened.

Roger Dooley:    Well, that’s great. Is there a sequel in the works?

Jeff Rosenblum: Absolutely not. Because every sequel I have ever seen except for maybe the Godfather, is pretty disappointing, and I wanted to quit while I was ahead. My business partner was like, “Let’s do it, let’s do it.” And I was like, “No, we’re gonna tap out.”

Roger Dooley:    Terminator two, perhaps, as well.

Jeff Rosenblum: Actually, that’s a nice call. Terminator two is a very good one, a lot of cool technology in there. So suffice it to say, I don’t have that level of skills but what I do have is access to great brands, great research, great data, more honestly, a great team that’s able to acquire all that information for me. So, our follow up really was the book. What we realized is we sort of laid the foundation for the advertising revolution with the documentary, The Naked Brand, and what people really needed was actionable, tangible advice as of now.

So, we sent the team out to conduct all that research, get all the data, get all the research, get the neuroscience case studies, and that’s ultimately how Friction came about. It sort of is the follow up.

Roger Dooley:    Mm-hmm (affirmative). So, your Friction book extends the thinking in the movie but if you ask an engineer for a definition of friction, you’ll get one answer. An economist will give you a different one, an organizational psychologist another. How do you define friction in your book?

Jeff Rosenblum: Friction is anything that gets in the way of what people want to accomplish. It’s anything that prevents them from doing what they want to do. It’s anything that delays or distracts them from their goals. Consumers, they just don’t want to be interrupted anymore. They want brands to help solve their problems and that’s what friction is. It’s anything that stands in your way, like it’s the big things that prevent you from being who you want to be, and it’s those little thing that prevent you from doing what you want to do.

The rusty slide example that you just gave is great. But we define that as micro friction, those are the things that get in the way of a transaction or a relationship. But we also talk about macro friction and that’s something that sits at the category level, and that’s really about helping people fulfill their dreams and aspirations.

Roger Dooley:    Right, well how to brands do that? I mean, that sounds like a pretty lofty goal for a brand that just wants to sell soap or something.

Jeff Rosenblum: Yeah, great question. It’s what we call empowerment over interruptions, right? There’s this whole machine that’s worked really, really for about a hundred years, and it’s about creating interruptions, right? People are reading a magazine, people are watching a TV show, a sports game; increasingly it’s online, on their desktop and their mobile. We can interrupt people, give them the message, talk about our features, talk about our functionality, give them the price and try to get them to buy. The issue is, now thanks to search, social and mobile technology, people can see through all of that stuff, they know.

Is it new? Is it improved? Is it better? Is it for me? Am I emotionally engaged? The true key, to answer your question, is empower people. Improve their lives one small step at a time. It’s about creating content and experiences that are so powerful, people go out of their way to participate in them and then share them with others.

Roger Dooley:    Content creation reminds me of one of the stories in your book, it was about Yeti coolers, who’s actually a neighbor of ours here in Austin. They’re putting up a new headquarters building and it’s probably about 10 or 15 minutes away from my house. Folks are well familiar with them here. What is Yeti doing right, do you think, that makes them a good exemplar for your book?

Jeff Rosenblum: It’s a great question because I think there’s very few brands that get this right. Our book is not about a good brand, or even a great brand; our book is about how to create a passion brand. These are the brands that absolutely dominate the competition, and Yeti is one of them. Let’s just start at the finish line, Yeti is dominating the competition right now. There is a headline in AdAge that said, “If you can’t afford a Yeti cooler, at least you can afford a hat,” which means these guys make Yeti coolers, it keeps your beer and your sandwiches cold, this technology’s been around for decades and decades and decades.

But it’s a full blown lifestyle brand. People, they sit around the campfire, they sit around the bar, they sit around the dinner table, they buy the t-shirts, they buy the hats, they actively proselytize for this brand. Wall Street Journal ran an article about how people are actually pulling up in Mercedes Benz stealing Yeti coolers because the demand is so high. You can buy a Coleman cooler for under $100. A Yeti cooler is like $800, right? What they don’t have is just customer; what they do have is stark raving fans.

Now to answer your question, they fight friction in two ways: the first is their product. Their product is absolutely amazing. It’s certified grizzly bear proof. There’s an independent organization that actually tests to see if certain products can survive a grizzly bear attack. They’ll keep your beer, your soda, your sandwiches, your supplies cold for hours and hours, days and days, and if you happen to get yourself in a really tough predicament, your supplies are perfectly safe. Most products, to a certain degree, fight friction. That’s the whole point of developing a product. But fighting friction is not just about the product, it’s about the totality of the experience.

The second thing that Yeti does is create incredible content. I think one action item would be go to, they’re not a client of mine, I haven’t worked on them in any way, I’m just a huge fan of theirs. What they’ve done is created a series of videos. Each of these videos are about eight minutes long, and what they’ve done is they’ve found these protagonists that are enjoying the outdoors at a virtually unparalleled level. Like the greatest fly fisherman, the greatest skier, the greatest barbecue person who happens to be like an 89-year-old woman in Texas, right?

These stories are remarkable, and the way that they’re fighting friction is they’re inspiring people. If you’re thinking about buying a Yeti cooler, you probably enjoy an adventurous, outdoor life style. One of the things that we all need is inspiration, so when you watch these eight minute stories, you’re absolutely inspired. You can envision a better version of yourself, you can envision bigger and bolder adventures for yourself, in your friends, in your family. It’s not just about that great product, it’s about creating this incredible content that removes friction.

And by the way, the average ad exposure online is 1.6 seconds. Speaking for myself, I’ve spent hours watching these Yeti videos. I’ve shared them with dozens of people, I’ve spoken now on your podcast of thousands of people. Yeti can buy a bunch of banner ads, and they do, and they work well, but just using banner ads is asking those ads to do too much. Inspiring content, that’s what drives the Yeti brand.

Roger Dooley:    Nobody is sharing that kind of information about Coleman ads.

Jeff Rosenblum: Well said.

Roger Dooley:    It’s like, when was the last time you recommended a Coleman ad, I can’t even actually call one to mind right now, but that’s great. It’s almost sort of a Red Bull type approach that they’re taking too, it seems like Yeti is. Where Red Bull used various extreme events and so on to promote their sort of life style image.

Jeff Rosenblum: Exactly, right? When you interact with Red Bull, you don’t see the “Red Bull Gives you Wings” campaign anymore, you don’t see ads that say, “Red Bull, Buy Some.” Usually those Red Bull ads are awareness generators for their events. Advertising, historically, was about telling the brand story. It’s not about telling the whole brand story anymore, it’s about creating a gateway to these immersive experiences that tell the whole story.

For Yeti, each video might be eight minutes and can add up to hours. For Red Bull, it could be an in-person event that lasts days and days, but then goes on in perpetuity online. You don’t have to use your 30 second or 300-pixel banner ad to tell the whole story; just pull people into that immersive experience.

Roger Dooley:    Yep. Now Jeff, you have examples like Patagonia and Under Armour, but those are lifestyle brands that you can sort of see how people might aspire to be part of them. Just the nature of their product and the nature of their categories, it sort of fits that. One surprising one, I think in the book, is USAA, the insurance company. Insurance has to be one of the most boring products in existence and it’s also something that people really don’t like to think about. It means worrying about death, disease, car smashes and what not. What does USAA do to actually merit being in your book, and to develop that same sort of emotional relationship with their customers?

Jeff Rosenblum: It’s a great question, but part of the answer is, it’s about the mindset. People might say, “Hey, Yeti’s a lifestyle brand, they’ve got a competitive advantage over USAA, which is financial services.” But the truth of the matter is, Yeti’s in the most boring category possible, they’re just rectangular shaped coolers. They proactively turned themselves into a lifestyle brand. Now compare that to USAA. You know what’s pretty sexy in this world? For most people? Money, right? That’s important to people; it’s not as important as friends, it’s not as important as family, but it’s an important thing.

USAA puts all of their focus into customer service. I’ll give you an example, because it’s a personal one and then I’ll tie it back to their platform. I’m a USAA member. You can’t just get a membership, or maybe now you can, I’m not sure. But my father was in the military, so it’s financial services for people in the military and their families. And I got a call from USAA recently, and if I get a call from Chase, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, I’m not listening to a darn thing; I’m probably not answering the phone.

USAA calls, I’m like, “Eh, you know I’ll kind of pay attention because I love and trust this company, but I’m kind of distracted.” And after about a minute or two, after speaking to this really nice woman with this southern accent I’m like, “Wait a second, are you calling to give me money back?” And she’s like, “Yeah, we noticed that you’ve got these two products that kind of conflicting, you don’t need both of them. We’re gonna cancel and modify it and we’re gonna return this money to you.”

Nobody does this in the financial service world. If you double dip, if you but two products and they make more money, most companies are gonna say, “Hallelujah,” and just keep collecting it. USAA figured it out, called me, gave the money back, and I can’t remember the amount, it’s in the book. But let’s just say it’s $87. That is not life changing, that’s not gonna change my life. But will change permanently is the relationship that I have with this brand, because all great brands are built on trust. This does not make me unique.

92% of USAA customers state that they want to stay with USAA for life. I don’t know what the data is, but I’m sure if you spoke to most people, given a choice an early exit at a Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Chase, they jump out as early as possible, right? Nobody loves those brands. USAA does it, they fight friction because they’ve got this innate understanding of the target audience. Many of their customers are overseas, so what they developed is a technology where you can use your mobile device, take a picture of a check and automatically deposit it into your account.

Now you might say, “Okay, that’s not really that interesting, every company has it.” Well USAA developed this technology and licensed that technology, even though they’re a fundamentally smaller organization, because what they were focused in on is customer service, and in that example, how did they fight friction? Leveraging technology. That’s really about understanding what people want and empowering them to have a better life.

Roger Dooley:    How do you compare their approach to Geico, their competitor? Because Geico, they’re obviously the same space, they make their ads very funny. They’ve got lizards, cave men and all kinds of things and they’re meant to entertain and usually care some kind of a message about how they’re cheaper than the other guys. The ads are amusing, but at the same time it’s very traditional type advertising. These could have been created back in the Mad Men era. What do you think about Geico?

Jeff Rosenblum: Geico is awesome, there’s no two ways about it. And they do fight friction, because they’re investing in stronger mobile apps and stuff like that. But for your listeners, here’s the deal: you’re not Geico, you don’t have that kind of money. Those guys have infinite, infinite dollars, and they do a pretty good job of keeping things funny, and they do a pretty good job of staying on message, “You can save 15%.” It’s not a brand that I absolutely love, it’s sort of the old model. You can’t emulate it unless you’ve got those ridiculous budgets, but here’s a way of looking at the solution to Geico; we call it “put the ball where the other team isn’t.”

In 1979, Bill Walsh walked into the San Francisco 49ers headquarters, and he didn’t look like a football coach, he didn’t act like a football coach. He had pressed khakis, neatly combed hair, red sweater; he looked like a professor. The only thing that was missing was like a bent billiard pipe. You look forward 10 years later and this guy absolutely revolutionized the way that football is played. He won like four or five Super Bowls, he’s in The Hall of Fame, he had a bunch of players who made it to The Hall of Fame.

His whole theory was this: put the ball where the other team isn’t. When he came around, football was played with strength and willpower, it was all like Vince Lombardi techniques. Really strong offensive linemen blocking against really strong defensive linemen and really big running backs running up the middle, three yards in a cloud of dust and you would win by having more strength and will power. Bill Walsh realized you can’t create a competitive advantage out of that, so let’s just act like we’re gonna run it up the middle, but before we give the ball to the running back, let’s pull it out and just throw it six yards into what’s called the flats. It’s an area of the football field that virtually nobody was using before that.

Jerry Rice would catch the ball about six yards off the line of scrimmage, and then very frequently run like 60 yards to the end zone. The theme is, you can’t compete directly against Geico. That requires strength and will power in the form of ridiculous budgets. But what we all can do is put the ball where the other team isn’t. In the USAA example, what they realized is, nobody’s putting the ball into customer service, that’s how they created their competitive advantage. What Yeti realized is, nobody’s putting the ball into two things: the amazing quality of the product, and secondly, aspirational content.

Roger Dooley:    I think the USAA example, too, fits into the underlying theme of the book, which is that brands need to focus on behavior rather than advertising. The USAA-Geico comparison would be the two sides of that coin, although Geico’s ads perhaps are better than some. But I think in the old days, brand behavior was really not that important, because it didn’t get that exposure, whether it was bad, if it was good. In general, unless it made the front page of The New York Times or something, it really … People didn’t know much about what brands were really doing.

In fact, if a brand did something good, if they made some big contributions or perhaps launched some kind of charitable program, they would then have to buy ads just to tell people about it. But today, with social media and with cell phone cameras, pretty much all of a brand’s behavior is potentially a few seconds away from being exposed.

Jeff Rosenblum: It’s such a great point. You know what’s amazing? If you do a quick Google search on that complete and total disgusting melt down, United Airlines and how that poor guy got dragged off the airplane. But you know what’s really interesting is, if you look at the pictures or watch the videos, how many cell phones are actually in the foreground of those videos? It’s not randomly like, “Oh my God, one guy pulled out their phone and started taping this thing.”

Everybody started pulling out their phone and taping this thing. It’s gonna get up virtually instantaneously on Instagram, on Facebook, on Twitter, and then from there into mass media. But the same is true in terms of flipping that equation, right? There’s so few brands that are doing incredible things fighting micro and macro friction. There are so few brands that are actually empowering people and improving their lives. When brands do that, that’s when things turn really positive in the form of user generated content, where people are creating videos and posting them online, where people are giving five star ratings, where people are giving in-depth reviews.

And let’s not forget, it’s not just a digital world. When you’re sitting at the bar talking with your friends, when you’re sitting at the dinner table talking with your family, there’s a small group of companies, we call them passion brands, and they’re inverting the behavior of like a United Airlines, they’re empowering people and they’re leading to these incredible conversations. And right now there is nothing more influential than recommendations from friends, and even recommendations from strangers. There’s a bunch of data on this, but typically what we find is, a recommendation from a friend or stranger is up to 12 times as trusted as a paid advertisement.

Roger Dooley:    We’ve been talking about the reduced effectiveness of traditional ads, and of course our brains actually tend to tune out advertising. And in the book you mention an interesting study with monkey brains that kind of illustrates probably what’s happening to most of the people who are viewing traditional ads. Why don’t you explain about that?

Jeff Rosenblum: It’s a really fun one. To be clear, advertising still works, advertising still does incredible things. This isn’t about the death of advertising, that false eulogy has been written before. It’s just about recognizing that we’re asking advertising to do too much. We do need incredible content and extremes to support traditional advertising. But to answer your questions, the monkey brain is … There’s an experiment that’s been conducted dozens and dozens of times. And what these, very often, PHD candidate students do is they take a probe, and the insert it into a living monkey’s brain, specifically into their auditory cortex. And then what they do is they play this loud, blaring, obnoxious sound right in the monkey’s ear, and then they use the probe to read the monkey’s brain’s reactions.

What you find is really not surprising; the monkey’s brain responds very strongly and very negatively to this awful sound. And then they repeat the experiment, they play the loud, blaring, obnoxious sound right in the monkey’s ear. When they read the probe’s finding, it’s not surprising, right? They continue to have this really negative reaction. What is absolutely shocking to me is, after repeating the experiment just a few times, the monkey’s brain stops responding to this God-awful sound. If you look at the read out, the reaction on a graph actually looks like the side of a cliff.

It’s called repetition suppression, and what that means is the monkey, at neurological level, know it cannot continue to have an extremely strong reaction to this loud sound, because if it does it won’t be able to manage its core needs: food, water, shelter. Repetition suppression helps it ignore this sound so it can manage the basic functions of its own life. Now over at QuestUs, we can’t afford monkeys, so we use interns.

We conducted a different experiment. What we did is we took these incredible interns, one woman Dani, she had a 4.0 GPA and she had never been to New York City before. She arrives and she’s a little nervous, as you would expect her to be. We did the one thing that a young woman really doesn’t want to happen, which is we took a GoPro and we stuck it right on her forehead and we said, “Go about your day. Go do whatever you want to do, go to a bar, go to dinner, go to a Yankee game, go out with friends.” We want to video tape everything that you see.

Roger Dooley:    And of course, behave normally.

Jeff Rosenblum: And behave normally, right, to the best of your ability. With the GoPro –

Roger Dooley:    Is that a camera on your forehead?

Jeff Rosenblum: Yeah. She did a shockingly good job but I’m sure she did not enjoy it, although, she was super cool about it. Then what we did was we realized, wait a second, we’re skewing this, right? A 20 year old women in New York City is not very representative. So we did it with a middle aged man in New Jersey, we did it with a mom in West Virginia, we did it with a senior citizen down in Florida. And we watched all these video tapes and then we counted and what we realized is, people are exposed to a branded message every 2.7 seconds that they’re awake. We’re just getting bombarded with branded messages over and over and over again.

Others conducted a similar study based on that 5,000 times a day, people are exposed to branded messages. That’s more than double the previous generation, which was 2,000. The point is, that people are ignoring this. Up to 89 percent of TV ads are being ignored, you’ve got a better mathematical chance of surviving a plane crash than clicking on a banner ad. The key is, you have to create empowering content, you have to create experiences that people go out of their way to participate in, and then tell their friends about. Because relying upon interruptive techniques is asking those techniques to do too much.

Roger Dooley:    Hence the name banner blindness, which has been a phenomenon people have been talking about for years, but just as those monkeys learn to tune out the repetitive, loud sound, we’ve certainly learned to tune out banner ads. There was another example that you have in the book about used FMRI, this time on humans, which actually would have been probably nice to use FMRI on the monkeys rather than sticking something in their brain. These days, they probably would make you do it in a non-invasive way, but in this related to creativity and how the creative process occurred. Why don’t you talk about that a little bit?

Jeff Rosenblum: Sure. Let me start even earlier in the equation in terms of some of the stuff that we discovered, because I found the stuff that research found was really interesting. It started with this guy named Phineas Gage. In 1848, this guy Phineas Gage is this kind, strong, affable guy who’s this natural leader. He’s actually leading a team in Vermont building road beds. Mid 19th century and they’re taking this 8-foot-long tamping iron and they put a bunch of explosions, and then they take the tampering iron and they jam it down so they can make the road beds flat. He gets a little distracted, a spark flies out, and there’s an explosion, which shoots his tamping iron right through his face. It goes through the left side of his face, it emerges through the top of his skull, it flies like a javelin 80 feet through the air, lands on the ground, and it’s literally covered with his brain matter.

Here’s what’s amazing, the guy didn’t die. They actually took him into town, he’s sitting in front of a café or a bar or something, the doctor comes to come see him. He’s fairly lucid, he’s able lucid, excuse me, he’s able to talk and as he’s talking to the doctor he literally throws up a teacup full of his brain, onto the ground. So they get him into some operations, we’re talking fairly archaic technology, he gets an infection, and ultimately he survives. But what they found is, he became totally changed. He was no longer nice and kind and affable. He became a short tempered, he became mean, he went to a leader to barely employable.

So, what they discovered in the 1850’s is your brain is not your brain. Everybody thought that your brain is your brain and that’s what you get. What they were starting to discover is that there are different portions of your brain that do different things. Now fast forward like 170 years later, and we’re starting to learn more about this. Let me short circuit it into the easiest thing you need to know, right, which is, your brain is like a tree. If you look at the inner rings of a tree, that’s the oldest part. There are literally rings of trees from like when Leif Erikson discovered America a thousand years ago. The outer rings of the tree are current days. And your brain is like that.

The inner part of your brain is really old from evolutionary standpoint. These are the things that keep us from getting eaten by like wooly mammoths hundreds of thousands of years ago, and they’re the things that keep us from getting run over by a car nowadays, it’s the limbic system, it’s the amygdala. The outer part of your brain is where all your cool, advanced, creative thinking comes from like your prefrontal cortex. Or to my short circuit comment, you can think of it this way. The inner part of your brain manages the bad shit that you’re exposed to and the outer part of your brain manages the good shit that you’re exposed to. Bad shit being don’t get run over by a car, good shit being cool, creative thoughts.

Now, with the experiment with FMRI’s and EEG’s, what they did is they discovered a really interesting part of your brain, which is what’s called the ASTG, the anterior superior temporal gyrus. A couple docs, one named John Kounios and one named Mark Beeman. What they were interested in is, where do these big, awesome, breakthrough ideas come from. What they called the eureka moment, ‘Eureka, I discovered it.” So, they used FMRI technology, which tracks blood flow in the brain. And they used EEG technology, which tracks electrical impulses in the brain. And then they gave a panel some really tough questions and they asked this panel of people to solve these questions while the read the blood flow and electrical impulses in the brain.

And what they found is, when people had their eureka moment, it came from the ASTG, which is on the lower, right hemisphere of your brain, just above the ear. So you would think, okay cool, great finding. If you really want a great idea, just trigger that part of your brain. What was amazing is, they realized that you can’t do that. The only way to trigger that portion of your brain is to get totally stoned. Tracking the blood flow and electrical impulses, what they realized is the brain looks for the answers in the left part of the brain, it starts in the lower left part of the hemisphere and then it goes to lower, excuse me, the upper left hemisphere. It starts coming around to the right hemisphere and eventually, right when you’re freaking out as a person where you’re like, “I give up. I don’t want any part of this. I can’t solve it.”

Once you get stumped and you get to that point of wanting to give up, that’s when that ASTG is triggered. That’s when you get the eureka moment, or as we would say, that’s where your next promotion comes from. That’s where your big idea comes from. The problem is, we’re all hopelessly addicted to our mobile devices. The friction that resides is all of these amazing tools: digital technology, data, Internet, mobile, search. All of those tools that have created this incredible revolutionary environment negatively impact our ability to participate in it. So when we look at our mobile device every four and a half minutes that we’re awake, when we’re hit with a really tough question, in our knee jerk reaction is to go to Google, we don’t trigger the eureka part of our brain. We ignore the ASTG.

Everybody has unprecedented access to data in technology. That’s table sticks nowadays. The true competitive advantage comes from creativity. So, what we need to do is manage our addictions to our mobile devices, so we’re not just triggering the inner part of our brain, but we’re leveraging the prefrontal cortex, the outer part of our brain. Or leveraging the ASTG that eureka’s pop. Managing our own creativity is incredibly difficult right now because we’re all addicted to our mobile devices, but that’s where the competitive advantage comes from.

Roger Dooley:    I certainly wouldn’t want to discouraging anybody from listening to podcasts since that’s what we’re doing right now, is creating one. But I find, for instance, when I go for a walk with the dog in the morning, I have a tendency to plug in a podcast so I can be productive while I’m walking and perhaps learn something interesting. And that’s good, sometimes you do get some good ideas or some good knowledge, but lately I’ve been disconnecting, turning it off, just walking and thinking. And that too, has some pretty good benefits in my opinion.

Jeff Rosenblum: Absolutely, look, I would say it’s a combination of the two. I would not chalk, in my opinion, a podcast into this sort of mobile addiction. I worry about always using search, always using social. In that same experiment I talked about earlier, we attach screen reading software to people’s mobile devices and it turns out people are making a decision on their mobile devices every 2.1 second, right, so you’re sitting in this environment where you’re squirreling with your thumb, scrolling with your thumb over and over and over again, deciding whether or not you want to interact or not interact. What’s happening is, we’re all becoming very broad. Because we’re able to consume so much information, this is nice, this is an advantage, we’ve got tons of knowledge. We just don’t have very much depth.

I think with a podcast, it’s different. Podcasts tend to be 5, 10, 30, 45, 1 hour, 2 hours. Sometimes you can listen to 8 hours on like serial, I find that to be much more in depth. I think reading, writing, anything that is not triggering a decision every 2.1 seconds, is extraordinarily powerful nowadays. Then to your point, yeah, listening to a great podcast and then unplugging, so maybe to your point you’re walking the dog, you listen to a podcast for 25 minutes, spend the next 25 minutes unplugged. And let all those lessons ruminate and see if they can’t turn into something powerful.

Roger Dooley:    Right, I think the tendency is just to let those electronics fill every moment of down time. If you’re in line at Starbucks what do you do? You pull out the phone and you check your email or you check Facebook or something. I do think our brains need some of that down time. We’re almost out of time Jeff, I wanted to mention that the book is a really interesting format. My paper copy wasn’t available in time to review, but I’m looking at the electronic version and it’s really a beautiful book. It’s jammed with lots of color photos that are not charts and graphs, but mostly they emotionally support the text. I wouldn’t quite call it a coffee table book or a picture book, but it leans a lot more in that direction than the typical business book. Is this a low friction book design?

Jeff Rosenblum: Yeah, that’s a great point and I think you answered it, and we’ll send you a hard copy, I think it looks a lot better in hard copy than even the PDF digital. But the point is, the world has changed. And yes, there are some amazing business books that are 100,000 straight words and can tell a great story, Malcolm Gladwell goes it repeatedly. We wanted to create something that was true to this generation, which is how do we give as much information as possible in a story telling format, in a unique format, in what we call a snack-able format.

They’re stories that are 300 words and you can bang out in three or four minutes, there are stories that re 4,000 words and that takes a little bit longer to read. We use big call out fonts, we have these bold photography images of Keith Richards looking totally wasted, things like that, just to keep people emotionally engaged so they can get that rational information once they’re already engaged with the book.

Roger Dooley:    Great, well nice job on that. Let me remind our listeners we’re speaking with Jeff Rosenblum, author of the new book Friction, Passion, Brands In the Age of Disruption. Jeff, how can people connect with you and your content online?

Jeff Rosenblum: Well thank you for teeing that up, I appreciate it. The book you can get on Amazon, it’s on pre-release now, it comes out on May 23rd. Likewise, on Barnes & Noble, just type in Friction by Jeff Rosenblum. If you want to visit our little micro site with some information, there’s and my handle on all sorts of social channels is JRQuestUs.

Roger Dooley:    Great, well we will link you all those places and any other resources we talked about on the show notes page at And we’ll have a handy PDF text version of our conversation there too. Jeff, thanks for being on the show.

Jeff Rosenblum: Thanks for having me, that was lots of fun.

Thank you for joining me for this episode of the Brainfluence Podcast. To continue the discussion and to find your own path to brainy success, please visit us at

Join 23,647 smart marketers like you.
Better results, less money! Get my newest, best ideas free!

Leave a Reply