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Tag: Zach Moore

Book Review: Switch by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

Rationale for reading: Hope to improve my ability to keep clients accountable. Recommendation from Zach Moore.

Book summary: In order to make change happen, you must direct the rider, motivate the elephant, and shape the path. In not-shorthand language, that means you need to appeal to logic, emotion, and the environment.

Review summary: Great read with great information that has formed my framework for behavior change.

Suggested audience: Anyone who interacts with people, especially if you coach them to change their habits.



If you’ve been reading these past few reviews (one and two), you know by now that Operation Interpersonal Intelligence is in full effect over here at I read Made to Stick by the Heath brothers years ago and it was one of the best books I’ve read. Their writing is simple, direct, and fun.  Switch gives Made to Stick a run for its money.

You don’t need to be a PhD to be successful with changing the behavior of others. This book has given me the framework into which I can fit all of my experiences. It’s a system with three steps:

  1. Direct the Rider: give clear direction. The rider knows where we’re going.
  2. Motivate the Elephant: what looks like laziness is often exhaustion. The rider can only force you along for a short period of time. Ultimately, the elephant will do what it is emotionally inclined to do.
  3. Shape the Path: introduce the right environment for change. If backsliding is simply not an option, it won’t happen.


Direct the Rider

There a three pieces to providing the rider with direction. First, find the bright spots.

What would you do differently if you woke up tomorrow and magically your goal was accomplished?

Stop focusing on all the things you do wrong and start focusing on the bright spots. Focus on the solution, not the problem.

Second, script the critical moves. It’s to get crippled by some grand list of things you have to do before you die, which could be on Friday with the way your stress levels are:

  • Buy more vegetables
  • Buy healthy meat
  • Cook more vegetables
  • Find money to buy healthy meat
  • Eat more vegetables
  • Don’t go out to eat
  • Don’t have sweets
  • Don’t stay up all night
  • Don’t skip workouts

We can rephrase a few of those to be more productive – more solution focused – like we just talked about. But first we have to ask, “What is the biggest issue here?” If you try to change everything at once, you become paralyzed and make no decision.

If you, however, have never had a vegetable in your life, we start there. Week one goal: buy vegetables on Sunday and eat them on Tuesday and Friday night.

Sunday, Tuesday, and Friday are completely arbitrary, but they shed light on the fact that you must be specific. You must have a plan. Ambiguity is the enemy of change.

Third, point to the destination. Draw out a postcard of where you’ll be in three months (or six, twelve, etc.). You need a black and white goal. This quote from the book says it all:

“When you’re at the beginning, don’t obsess about the middle, because the middle is going to look different once you get there. Just look for a strong beginning and a strong ending and get moving.”

Every step does not need to be detailed, but you do need vision. Things will change and you will learn to ebb and flow. Worry about now.


Motivate the Elephant

To motivate the elephant, you need emotion, so find the feeling. This isn’t a problem for you because you’re reading this blog, but how do you find a feeling when someone is oblivious to the fact that they need to change? We all have positive illusions that make us think we’re more thoughtful the the average person or a better driver than the average person. How do we dispel these illusions without raining down negativity?

Create a crisis. Those famous trainers like the ones on The Biggest Loser know this. They know how to make people cry. It’s not about putting someone down, it’s about helping them.

There’s no more time for maybes. There’s now or never. And I will help you.

Positive feelings

It is so important, however, to avoid negative emotions (my feelings evidenced by my notes in the picture above). Crying because you’re ashamed of yourself is less beneficial than crying because you can see the way you want to become. I’m not going to say that shame is ineffective (I’m sure there’s research somewhere), but I would avoid it as much as possible. This is an area of further that I could afford researching further if anyone has any references to share.

Stick with positive emotions because they open you up, relax you, and give you confidence. I want you to be curious, not stubborn. Happy, not angry. Feel included, not excluded.

Next, you must shrink the change. Remember the Power of Less?

Even if you simply ask someone to drive to the gym is an acceptable goal for a certain population. Yes, that’s all they have to do. It seems remedial, but that’s a step in the right direction. They probably won’t just turn around, either, because the hard part of making the decision to go is already over.

Understand what the next action is. It’s not working out three times a week. It’s going to the gym. No, it’s having gas in the car. No, it’s getting into the car. No, it’s putting on clothes you can publicly sweat in.

Lastly, grow your people. Adopt a growth mindset. Expect failure. Welcome it. Everyone has failed. In fact, I would bet that the more successful you are, the more often you’ve failed. The key is to learn from it.

I've failed so much that once I saw success it was nothing to me but BLINDING.


Shape the Path

Shaping the path is all about making it easier to get to your goals and harder to backslide. Tweak the environment to aid in this. For example, if I need to get things done, I have a very specific set of things I do:

  • I go to my desk that doesn’t have electronics around it
  • I leave my phone face down or upstairs
  • I remove books from eyesight that don’t pertain to my current project
  • I put on music without comprehensible vocals (Explosions in the Sky or Sigur Ros)
  • I listen to this music with noise canceling headphones
  • I face a wall instead of a place where I can see people
  • Usually I consume caffeine
  • Any book I’m reading is propped up so it isn’t laying flat on the desk
  • I have a pen to follow words I read and write with
  • I have a highlighter or two
  • I have bookmark tabs so that I can come back to an important point I want to remember
  • I have a certain pen I use to write on these tabs
  • My feet are flat on the floor
  • I will alternate between sitting and standing
  • I start my day with resets to reposition my bones (my boss Bill Hartman has been using a mouthguard lately to do this)

Put these together and you have what I have found to be the best study environment. It’s easier to get to my goals and harder to backslide.

Now consider weight loss. If I want to stop eating ice cream, I can tweak the environment by removing all ice cream from my house. No more bored eating of desserts while I’m at home. If I go out to eat, I can remove temptation by going to a place that doesn’t have ice cream. Simple as that.

Next, you need to build habits. This is only a chapter in Switch, but Charles Duhigg wrote a whole book about it.

Find a trigger for your behavior. Mine for studying is waking up. I do it first thing in the morning. If you’re trying to eat better, maybe your trigger for cooking is going to the gym – as soon as you get home, you’re turning the stove on.

Lastly, it’s time to rally the herd. Surround yourself with like-minded people. If you’re trying to be happier, you better stop hanging out with your “friends” who put you down and complain about everything (or at least see them less). If you’re trying to be healthier, your husband better not be eating donuts every morning for breakfast in front of you. You are the product of your environment. There’s a great story about medical interns working long hours in the book and how they changed behavior in the hospital.



This is my new framework for change:

  1. Direct the Rider
    1. Follow the bright spots
    2. Script the critical moves
    3. Point to the destination
  2. Motivate the Elephant
    1. Follow the feeling
    2. Shrink the change
    3. Grow your people
  3. Shape the Path
    1. Tweak the environment
    2. Build habits
    3. Rally the herd

Change doesn’t happen overnight. Be sure to remind yourself throughout your journey of how far you’ve come. Think about the wins you’ve had, both big and small.

Change looks daunting in the beginning, but little wins make that change a little smaller every time. Inertia makes it hard to get rolling, but it also makes it easier to continue. Pick a goal, start small, and watch your success snowball.

Overall, this book is great. I highly recommend you pick up a copy and read all the stories. There’s even a great summary page at the end that I will be referencing in the future.

Anyone read it already? Leave your thoughts in the comments!

Book Review: Influence by Robert Cialdini

Rationale for reading: I have not read much on persuasion or sales. I thought this would help keep my training clientele accountable. Recommendation from Zach Moore.

Book summary: To influence others and to avoid being influenced when undesired, understand the psychological principles of reciprocation, commitment, consistency, social proof, liking, authority, and scarcity.

Review summary: I went suit shopping and saw this book unfold before my very eyes.

Suggested audience: Anyone who interacts with people, especially if you coach them to change their habits.


A few days after reading this book I went shopping for a suit. Without luck at the cheap places, my friend and I went to Men’s Wearhouse to browse and were immediately accosted by an attractive sales woman. As she began talking, I saw this book unfold.



The idea of this chapter is that if you do someone a favor, they feel obligated to reciprocate it, regardless of whether or not they even like you. Saleswoman Katie went after this right off the bat.

The conversation sounded something like…
Katie: “Hey, we have great suits. Let me show you this one.”
Lance: “Oh wow, this one is great. How much is it?”
Katie: “$800.”
Lance: “Haha, we better look at the cheaper stuff.”
Katie: “Okay, let me show you this $500 suit.”

I then proceeded to call her out on this tactic, which she performs subconsciously. It’s like it’s in her DNA.


Commitment and Consistency

Commitment and consistency are obtained when you have a prospect stick around for a longer duration of time. If I’ve committed more time to Katie, I will consistently come back to her for all of my suiting needs. The fact that we were there for hours is one part of it.

Another way to get commitment and consistency is by getting me to agree with anything.

She could ask if I like the $800 suit that I have on (obviously I do). She could ask if I’m enjoying my suit shopping experience. She could even ask if I am enjoying the nice weather! Getting me to commit in any way will help her chances of closing the sale.

Smile for the camera!




Social Proof

Social proof is fascinating to see in action. Like the time my school sent out reports that an unidentified man with a gun was on campus. One person says, “Meh, someone made it up,” and soon nobody thinks it’s a big deal. People just keep walking about. The effect snowballs.

In sales, a busy store gives social proof – especially when customers are asking her for advice. This store wasn’t particularly busy at this hour, so Katie was unable to obtain social proof in this way.

But there’s another way.

Katie, as a wardrobe consultant, values the clothes she wears. The principle of social proof suggests that we want to be like others. So in this case, when Katie talks about how she would “never wear something like that” or how I would “be the life of the party in this”, I am forced to think there must be something to her view and I start to think, “Well, if someone who dresses well thinks this would work, then I should buy this!”



Liking is probably the easiest and most straightforward of the principles from “Influence.”

If I like Katie, I’m more likely to buy from her. So she dresses up, makes me laugh, likes my friend, and matches my level of speech (i.e. she doesn’t swear until I start to swear). Even if what she’s asking of me is uninteresting, I might do it because she’s my friend.

Most of this factor is dependent on the individual and your ability to read them. Some people respond to playful joking, and others want you to be a professional.



The authority principle is what is in play when your boss asks you to do something. Or the reason you pick the guy with the doctorate over the guy with the master’s degree. With authority comes reassurance.

Katie demonstrated her authority by giving advice in a stern tone. “Don’t you ever wear this with any other set of pants. Ever. We record your address and I will hunt you down.” Her strong opinion reinforces to me that she knows what she’s talking about. Plus I feel the need to be obedient because I don’t want to let her down.

Everyone in the fitness industry is trying to have authority; there’s a sense of trust that accompanies the tagline “from a NY Times best selling author”. This says nothing about how good of a trainer he or she might actually be, but proving you’re qualified is necessary to reach customers.



Scarcity is a principle that must work well because I see it everywhere.

“Act NOW before this deal expires.”

With Katie, the sheer fact that there were only three suits in the building that fit my body displays the scarcity of the product. Finding more suits that fit me doesn’t lend well to this principle (then there’s just too many to choose from).

Katie mentioned that earlier in the day, she had a guy very close to my size come and wipe out the inventory. Later I find a suit I really like and I get worried that it will be gone if I don’t purchase immediately. However unlikely, it still could happen, and that thought weighs on a consumer’s mind.

This principle will be harder to incorporate with clientele in terms of getting them closer to their goals. Selling them on a group who’s signup period will end on a set date and who’s class size is limited will be a good way to make sure a potential client becomes an actual client. Without a signup, I cannot help someone, and buyer competition funnels in those who are more dedicated, giving us the best group possible.



So how am I going to use these to help others accomplish their goals? Let’s break it down.

  • Reciprocation: The best avenue I see to engage reciprocity is by putting out free material. Even if it’s my best stuff. You’re going to try on a suit before you buy it, right?
  • Commitment and Consistency: If you commit to my newsletter, I know that my message is more likely to reach you. I would like as many people on this list because it allows us to form a more personal connection. The site becomes more of an environment than a billboard.
  • Social proof: I want you to know that your friends are here and they like being here. This is the reason that I want the site to be a community; communities stick together and help each other.
  • Liking: I try to be an interesting person – mostly just because then I am more happy. Not everyone will like you, but I’ll be the best me I can be!
  • Authority: Getting results and writing other places will be my next step here. Per the suggestion by an IFAST client, we may be getting shirts that say, “Lance is my boss.” If you want to get on the pre-order list, send me an email (
  • Scarcity: There’s only so much I can get done in my waking hours. If you want to ensure your spot, act now. Putting it off to tomorrow means you’ll never do it.

Understand that none of these factors were enough to make me purchase because I was not brought up as a high roller, but I could literally feel the energy in the room changing. I would have never even amused the idea of a $500 suit if left to my own devices. I would say this means Katie wants a better lead than someone like me, but it could speak to the efficacy of the principles presented in the book.

Pick up a copy of “Influence” here.

Book Review: The Power of Less by Leo Babauta

Rationale for reading: I try to make people do too many things when coaching. Recommendation from Zach Moore.

Book summary: Do less. Decide what is truly important and focus on that.

Review summary: I think the cover is kind of dumb (less, I get it, but come on), but the contents are good. Reads quickly, kind of like a blog post.

Suggested audience: Good if you feel constantly overwhelmed. Really helps cut out the unessential parts of your life. Also useful if you need to understand human behavior.



Last summer I decided I wanted to write more effectively. One thing that I read has really resonated with me since then is that editing is what represents writing. Getting the initial story down is easy. What is harder is cutting your 4000 words down to 2000.

And then what’s really hard is cutting those 2000 down to 1000. More often than not, that’s all you need to convey your message.

I was reminded of this as I read The Power of Less by Leo Babauta. Consider a haiku: seventeen syllables. That’s it. Imagine how intimidating that is if you have something important to say.

The lesson of the book, however, is that you can do a lot with a little. In fact, you can do more than usual.


The Power of It

Setting limitations allows you to focus on your most important tasks.

What do you have to do this month? Think about it for a second.

  • Drop my classes.
  • Set up an eye appointment.
  • Set up a dentist appointment.
  • Cover shifts at work for Jae.
  • Read six books on psychology.
  • Listen to two other books on psychology.
  • Remember everything I read.
  • Get into a new exercise routine.
  • Bring the new interns up to speed on IFAST methodology.
  • Return movies to the library.
  • Find a part-time job.
  • Write three blog posts this week.
  • Clean my coffee cup.
  • Make eggs.
  • Keep girlfriend from killing me.

If you look at everything you have to do simultaneously, what happens? You become paralyzed and nothing gets done.

Instead, break it down. What are my three most important tasks? These are my big projects. Which one will I work on today? What am I going to do today to work towards finishing it?

So now even if I only get a small piece done, I’ve made progress. And small progressions accumulate over time to form large progress. Plus I have goals that will get me somewhere and I stop wasting my time on busywork.


Examples in Fitness

Think about it in terms of your diet. How many people do you see with New Year’s weight loss resolutions who don’t even drive to the gym once during the month of February? All they can see is this distant, grand goal. Then they hit play on their internal script:

“Oh, that will never be me.”

Then, instantaneously, it’s over.

When instead they could set the goal of making it into the gym once in the first week. Twice in the second week. Then cook once in the third week. Twice in the fourth week…

There are a lot of weeks in a year.

This is hard, though. It’s hard to know what goals to set when there’s misinformation everywhere. That’s why I recommend getting a trainer, preferably one who considers your uniqueness. If you skip a workout, you not only let yourself down, but you’re letting down someone else as well. This type of accountability is worth its weight in gold.

If you find yourself feeling constantly overwhelmed, pick up this book. It’s a quick read, I went through it in an hour or two on Sunday because I was already familiar with the topic.

Don’t get thrown ON THE GROUND!

During our training session over the weekend, I happened to randomly conjure up a few new cues.

As you may know, it is of utmost importance that your programming address stability in all planes.

To consider why you should train frontal plane stability, imagine your favorite contact sport. If someone attacks you from the side, frontal plane stability will keep you up and moving on. If you lack it, you’ll be thrown on the ground like a phone in a Lonely Island video. You can’t trust the system.*

If that joke lost you, watch this video after you’re done reading this post.

Moving on, the scenario involved Pete, a new intern at IFAST, and his 12″ step ups. His concentric (the stepping up) looked great, but he would “sag” into his working hip as he lowered himself back down.

So first I had to ask myself, “What are the options to make this look better?” I can either coach him out of his mistake, or we regress the exercise. Always try to coach them out of their mistakes first, and regress them only if you are unsuccessful. A lot of things come into play here, such as the client’s mobility, stability, and overall athleticism. Pete comes from a highly athletic background, so his capacity to control his movement will be much greater than the hypothetical housewife who has never played a sport in her life.

Next, I examined the problem asking myself, “What movements are happening?” His “sagging” caused adduction of the right hip, and a lengthening of the left ab wall, among other things. Now there are many possible causes for this, such as weak left obliques, overactive right quadratus lumborum, or weak right hip abductors. It’s important not to get caught up in muscles and instead focus on the movement when coaching. This is why the fitness industry has adopted the adage “train movements, not muscles”. The success ratio is much higher when evaluating movement.

After determining that, I decided we should try to get his trailing leg some stability and maybe that would clear things up. Luckily (or not), the problems went away and his movement looked much better.

I came up with the following two cues to improve frontal plane stability in Pete’s step up.

  1. Tapping the trailing leg’s heel.This is good for cuing the glutes to turn on.
  2. Pulling on the trailing leg itself. This is good for getting the left ab wall to turn on, as well as promoting a “suction” motion of the hip into the acetabulum (the socket).

Both seemed to work quite well, according to my eyes (a.k.a. Zach Moore). I would venture to guess that giving him an offset load of, say, 8kg in his right hand would also reflexively fix his stability, and that’s what we’re going to try next time.

One last point to address is the offset loading I just discussed. Why would we want to do that when the other cues have already worked?

  1. Less coaching intensive.With these two cues, I was behind Pete, pulling on his leg or tapping his heel, while Zach stood in front of him looking for a change. 2 trainers to 1 client is not a favorable ratio for making money and utilizing your time efficiently. Similarly, if the offset load works, he may not even need a coach for the most part.
  2. Adding a load.Our main goal with Pete is to groove the correct motor patterns before overloading him. 8kg is a very moderate load that will not tax the strapping young lad much at all, but it will introduce another factor for his body to combat.
  3. Did I mention you don’t have to coach him anymore?

That’s all I have for you today, but I’ve heard through the grapevine that Zach Moore has a blog coming up that will really dial home the idea of frontal plane stability, so be sure to keep an eye out for that. The dude continually puts out great content.

Until next time, happy training!

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