#128 - A story about democratizing neuroscience so everyone can become a hero

An interview with Paul Zak, Founder and Chief Immersion Officer at Immersion

Product InnovationThis podcast interview focuses on product innovation that has the power show what people really think and feel so we can create experiences that matter. My guest is Paul Zak, CEO of Immersion.

Paul is a scientist, entrepreneur and author of several books.

His newest book is “Trust Factor: The Science of Creating High Performance Companies.”

Paul’s two decades of research have taken him from the Pentagon to Fortune 50 boardrooms to the rain forest of Papua New Guinea.  All this in a quest to understand the neuroscience of human connection, human happiness, and effective teamwork. His academic lab and companies he has started develop and deploy neuroscience technologies to solve real problems faced by real people.

Paul is the founding Director of the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies and Professor of Economics, Psychology and Management at Claremont Graduate University. He has degrees in mathematics and economics from San Diego State University, a Ph.D. in economics from University of Pennsylvania, and post-doctoral training in neuroimaging from Harvard.

In 2017 he founded Immersion which is on a mission to build a platform that would democratize neuroscience and make everyone of us look like a hero.

That inspired me, and hence I invited Paul to my podcast. We explore why so many resources and efforts are wasted because of the challenges we face in understanding what people really think and feel. We discuss what can be when we use technology to augment people in understanding these experiences and how that helps to create better products, better services and high-performing organizations.

Here are some of his quotes:

80% of movies out of Hollywood lose money. Last year, Netflix spent almost $10 billion, creating content that did not hit strong enough to warrant a second season. So how do we not know at this stage of humanity if a movie is going to be great or not, or if a series on Netflix will be great or not.

That’s a lot of effort put into content that isn’t creating real value for humans.

It’s a lot of wasted energy and focus.

What we’ve done is we created technology, a small wearable, like an apple watch or Samsung (although we can take signal from all those things), and understand what your brain really loves and what frustrates you, and do that with really high frequency.

You can see exactly what brains are doing in real time. So, you can pivot, you can audit what you’ve done in the past, and you can create higher impact experiences.

During this interview, you will learn three things:

  1. How to create better products and experiences if we stop asking, and instead using technology to get unbiased feedback from people.
  2. What exponential impacts we can create when we not only know what people really care about, but actually be equipped to adjust instantly to give them experiences they really care about
  3. Why more data is not always better to create results that impact.


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About the author

Sales Pitch

Ton Dobbe is a former B2B software product marketer who's on a mission to save mission-driven SaaS CEOs from the stress of 'not enough' traction. He's the author of The Remarkable Effect, the host of the Tech-Entrepreneur on a Mission podcast, and writes a daily newsletter on the secrets to mastering predictable traction.