Luca Mazzucchelli is a third-millennium psychologist who has been able to harness the power of the digital world to popularize his work. Here he talks about his book on the power of habits to change our lives for the better.
Luca Mazzucchelli, or rather, Dr. Luca Mazzucchelli.
I had the pleasure of meeting him a few years ago during a business lunch at Giunti Editore. He had been introduced to me as the editor of the journal of "Contemporary Psychology," from there a beautiful friendship was born.
We often talk to each other on business matters, exchange information, opinions, advice. He was a speaker at the first edition of my Author LIVE event and has written many books. A few months ago, the new expanded edition of his book "Factor 1%: Small habits for big results", which we discuss in depth in this interview done a few years ago.
Why will we do this? Because the basis of this new text of his is one very important thing: that of carefully evaluating our habits, considering well which are the best ones to incorporate into our daily lives to achieve excellent results, without relying solely on motivation.
We will talk about all this today: enjoy your reading!
The interview with Luca Mazzucchelli
Valerio: Hello and welcome back, I am Valerio Fioretti from Valerio.it and with us today is the legendary and coolest psychologist in Italy, my friend Luca Mazzucchelli. Welcome Luca.
Luca: Great Valerio! Thanks for having me, I am really glad to be able to come back from time to time to say hello to you and your great community.
Valerio: You had done a beautiful surgery now 3 years ago to my...
Valerio: ... annual event, Authorability LIVE, and you had, in some ways, paved the way for this fantastic book of yours...
Valerio: ...Factor 1%: small habits for big results. We show it for those who follow us on video, for those who see us...
Luke: Here it is.
Valerio: ... on some channel, then for the podcast you will find. here. For those poor losers who don't know Dr. Luca Mazzucchelli, tell us a few words about who you are and what you do.
Luca: I am a psychologist, born as a clinical psychologist, psychotherapist. For the first 10 years of my professional career I saw patients in my office in Milan for 12 hours a day. In parallel, I also developed an outreach activity that has to do mainly with making psychological videos. One video after another, dare I say one 1% at a time, I created a YouTube channel that today has 700 free videos accessible by everyone in which I talk about psychology at 360°. These range from interviews with Robert Cialdini, Philip Zimbardo and other great psychology professionals to public figures such as Sergio Castellitto, Claudio Bisio and others...
Valerio: Sure, sure.
Luca: ...so we also talk about famous people in other industries. One thing at a time, let's say these videos got a lot of people talking about me, and I went so far as to open a consulting company. To date we create psychological content in various formats, on various forms, from speeches to training, to video courses. We also do co-branded content with large multinational companies that are based in Italy, in which I talk about psychology. A service or product from these companies is also featured in the margin.
Valerio: Okay, cool. So you've found a way to monetize psychology beyond the classic professional employment where the psychologist has the patient on the couch, stands back there, takes notes, does these things.
Luke: That's right.
How to change 1% at a time
Valerio:I remember very well your speech 3 years ago, where you began by saying that the motivation it is not the engine that drives people to do things, but rather it is habits or routines....
Luke: Yes, that's right.
Valerio: ...so a whole series of -- I'll say it wrong now, then you'll say it better.
Valerio: It's a whole series of rules, of mental embeddings that we create for ourselves, that we impose on ourselves, that we somehow go and construct for our own benefit in order to get more results. I said it wrong though.
Luca: It is so...however, yes, you hit the nail on the head in the sense that motivation I would always want it with me, but it tends to be an element outside of my control. When I'm motivated I feel like a god and I start doing the foils (like Valerio Fioretti). For example, "I go on a diet." If you go and look, every year in January, millions of people go on a diet, but after 12 months the 90% of them weigh more than they did 12 months before. Where has the motivation gone? It has left you, and you are there struggling with the same old habits, for example, eating habits, or exercise habits. Long-term sustainable change, if we are not to kid ourselves, must be based not only or not so much on motivation, but on acquiring good habits, winning habits. What is a habit? A habit is a repeated behavior over time. If you notice, today you are the result of the habits you have adopted over the past 5 years. You, Valerio, for example, have a lot of good habits to skill yourself at work. If I remember correctly, I don't know if you still have it or if you have changed it, you have one day a week?
Valerio: Yes yes.
Luke: You study regularly, that's right. You communicate regularly, you email regularly, these are habits.
Luke: The good news is that in 5 years you will be the result of the habits you decide to acquire today: if you acquire the habit of eating 3 times a day fast food, or eating 3 times a day well, in 5 years you will be a different person. The habit of complaining in the face of suffering or looking for the opportunities inherent in crises is another mental habit. Do you have the habit of reading for 15 minutes a day or playing 4 hours a day on PlayStation? These habits sculpt the person you become.
Valerio: You, in your book Factor 1%--in the first place, why did you call it "Factor 1%"?
Luke: Here, let's say that in order to succeed in adopting good habits there is a scientific method, which is the method I tell about in the book. It all starts with the mindset that you have with respect to the topic of change. I don't believe so much in change from 0 to 10 or in changing one's life overnight, not so much because it doesn't exist, but because it is a very rare thing. Instead, we have to think about trying to change one 1% at a time. If I can grow by 1% each day from yesterday's self, I will move closer, through the gentle nudges of habits, one drop at a time, to the best version of myself. Why is this, Valerio? Because the big problem I see, even as a psychotherapist, in change processes are what in technical jargon is called resistance to change. Earlier we were talking about the good intention of the diet; actually for all our changes that we propose to ourselves a few months or a few years from now, we always come up against a resistance to change, which dissuades us from pursuing our ideas and goals. The problem is just that. There is a law around us, the law of homeostasis, whereby the more force you exert to try to change your system in a certain direction, the more you will feel an equal and opposite force tending to bring you back to your starting position. It's kind of like when you put wood in the water and you push it with great force to keep it underwater: as soon as you let go of your hand, the stick, with equal force and energy, pops back up. The theme is that to get around these resistances to change, you have to act for the 1% at a time. The "1% factor" is the mental approach you need to retain to approach the subject of change: you don't have to revolutionize your life from 0 to 100, but put one little extra brick in every day. It is true that Rome was not built in a day, but every day, every hour, every moment, there was someone ready to put a brick on the existing wall. We must try to create a system that follows precisely a logic similar to Rome's.
The difference between good and bad habits
Valerio: Look, I have a trick question: is there a way, a system, a theory or a stratagem to identify bad habits and distinguish them from good ones?
Luke: I would say yes. There is meanwhile this theme: there is no good or bad habit in general, but there is good or bad habit for you. For example, for many years I woke up an hour or two hours earlier than my natural alarm clock to adopt the so-called "morning routine": instead of running after other people's urgencies like from 8:30 a.m. onward, you devote the first 60 minutes of the day to doing the things that are important to you.
Luca: That helped me so much for a good part of my life. Then when the second child came first and the third child later... you know something about it... I realized that that habit that was winning for me in a certain phase of my life, started, in another phase of my life, to row against it, and I was falling asleep before my children. I felt that I was not a good father, so I had to change that habit that was winning for me before by changing it in another way. Having said that, good or bad is very subjective. I would say that one way to tell whether a habit is good or bad is to try to ask yourself what kind of person you will be in 2-3 years if you keep doing that thing. For example, on the short term, smoking seems like a good thing because maybe it relieves your stress, it helps you, however, a few years from now, that feeling that on the short term it's helpful to you -- that's right, it takes you off track. So a concrete tool could be to imagine what you will be like in a few years if you, every day, do that thing.
Valerio: Okay, perfect. I also use "non-habits," for example I have a non-habit of not checking my e-mail in the morning as soon as I wake up.
Luke: Beautiful, beautiful.
Valerio: I always think that if I check my e-mail all my commitments will vanish and I will end up in someone else's agenda, instead my agenda...
Valerio: ...it goes to hell. I always say.
Valerio: ... "you end up in someone else's agenda," so I do my little things first and then we talk about it....
Luke: This is crucial, bravo.
Valerio: Then we talk about it. I see there are also a lot of exercises here in the book, 15 exercises, 15 habits. What is the difference you made between exercise and habit?
Luke: "Habits" are those habits that are winning for me (or at least have been winning in some parts of my life), which I suggest the reader experiment with because I believe they can bring value. One then tries and figures out what works for him or herself.
Valerio: Shall we read some of them?
Valerio: If we read them, they are "my 3 daily goals, my gratitude, increase my awareness, do more physical exercise, values and education over children, a video a day by Marco Montemagno, coordinating a team in 60 seconds, waking up at 6 a.m., how to curb bad habits 2.0, the to do list, Giorgio Nardone's routine, the showdown routine, a TED a day, mastermind, training."
Luke: That's right.
Luke: This is an overview, exactly.
Valerio: Nice, nice, nice, nice. Look, the one that I'm most curious about is the routine of George Nardone.
Luca: Giorgio Nardone's routine has a lot to do with what you were saying earlier, which is that you before a certain time don't touch e-mail, for example.
Valerio: Ah, yes.
Luca: Giorgio Nardone also has his whole routine made up of writing, reading and duty, however, what is interesting, is that it deviates a little bit from the American one, so you have to distinguish the important and urgent things from the important and non-urgent things, etc. There is a very interesting quadrant, which by the way I talk about in the book. He instead tries to base a routine around pleasure. He always starts with some thing that gives him pleasure, like breakfast with his children, reading the newspaper; little by little, thanks to pleasure, he attaches next to pleasure also a component of duty, and in this way he manages to do a lot of things. Giorgio Nardone is one of the best known psychotherapists, I would say perhaps, definitely, the best known in the world. He has managed to accomplish something really very important in that area.
To whom his book is addressed
Valerio: Look, who is this book for, who should buy it?
Luke: This book is for all people who are trying to change, and who want to try to do it in a more sustainable and longer-term way. It is for people who are disappointed in their motivation, for people who want to become a better person and therefore also a better professional. For me, habits have helped me a lot to become a better, better prepared and also more sought-after professional. Earlier we were talking about the habit of creating a video a day--that is, Valerio, you think what you would be like today if you had never made videos, or if you had not had the habit of communicating so much and in a certain way. This is all about starting one 1% revolution at a time from a professional but also a private point of view. This book serves all people who at some level relate to the topic of change.
Valerio: Okay, so the topic is covered across the board? Is it addressed to anyone who may be interested in achieving any kind of personal, work or even relationship, romantic goals? Even in the romance area there are good habits to have, routines, if you want the relationship to go well and last long.
Luke: That's right.
Valerio: Look... the book band says "go to the site. www.fattore1percento.it to get exclusive resources and get in touch with the author." What do you get if you go to this site, once you have gotten your book?
Luca: Do you know, Valerio, that this is the Fioretti strategy? Do you know?
Valerio: I told you that one.
Luke: Yes, that's right, this is the...
Valerio: You tell it, in short.
Luke: It's a secret eh...
Luca: Listen, I'm going to make sure. Basically I, when I wanted to do the book I said, "I have to call the reference in Italy on best-selling books, so who do I call? Valerio Fioretti." Basically Valerio had explained to me the importance of creating an ecosystem, an ecosystem within which to move people from print to online, and vice versa. My strength is the online community, in fact the book, even before it was available, sold like 2,000 copies in pre-sale. Now it continues to do very well. The online played into it, now it was necessary to intercept those who found the book in the bookstore and bring it into the community. As Valerio Fioretti suggested to me, the reader will find within the book, in several passages, references to the online world. In particular, also on this cover, there is this wrapper. The fact that we are therefore offering exclusive content that is constantly being prepared, constantly evolving, that those who have bought the book can take advantage of. In fact, if you register on factor1percento.it you can download exclusive video interviews, where different personalities from the fields of sports, psychology, personal growth and entrepreneurship tell how they, thanks to habits, managed to become the best version of themselves. This content is, by the way, also continuously updated based on the feedback that people who subscribe to this list then provide to me.
Valerio: They provide you.
Luca: In fact, just yesterday I created a video on purpose, I did a video interview with Giorgio Nardone (whom you mentioned earlier), where he gives another set of very interesting insights in this regard.
A little trick to improve ourselves
Valerio: Great, great. Good. Listen, before you leave us can you give us a pill, a tip, a trick or a strategy to get a good habit and improve a little bit, even just of the 1%? What can you tell us?
Luca: Gladly. There are so many levers in the book in this regard, maybe the one that I'm most curious about lately is to look at our environment and try to understand how, by changing it, we can change our behavior. I give a somewhat practical example.
Luca: You were talking earlier about good "non-habits": how to resist the temptation of digital? If, for example, you keep your cell phone in your environment under your eye, that's a signal that you see and makes you remember that you're want, with a very simple gesture, you can be inside Instagram, see how many people put hearts on you, and get positive feedback. In this way, however, you remain trapped there. I can then modify my environment to exclude certain temptations and instead encourage other behaviors. For example, one of the good habits that I think would be good to cultivate is to drink a lot of water. If I keep on my desk a big glass of water, or a bottle of water, I have an environment that keeps referring my eye to the fact that I can drink if I want to. In this way I am much more likely to drink a lot of water. So the suggestion is this: look at the space within which you perform a certain action or behavior and ask yourself, "How can I make it friendlier and more enticing to do a certain action? What can I do to discourage others?" This is an interesting key, in my opinion, that is making me grow a lot.
Valerio: Yes, yes, yes, great, very good strategy, great. Okay, just don't put the Nutella jar next to it, because otherwise we are f****i, and all the resolutions at the beginning of the year... It's true though, it works so much. I for example do it with books that I have to read....
Valerio: ...because I read several at the same time, so I don't forget that I have to read them I put them next to the monitor, just leaning against the monitor. That way, when I look away I see the coast of books and I say "damn, I have to read Mazzucchelli's book again," so I pick it up and read it.
Luke: No, look-it sounds like a cheap suggestion, but really, the easiest way to drastically change your behavior is to drastically change your environment. I learned this from being in clinical practice. It's a bit of an extreme situation, however, if you get addicts, the first thing you do with an addict is you send him to a community. You disrupt their environment around them....
Luke: ...because if the is always standing there seeing his friends from the little park, looking at the bench from his house remembering that there it is done, etc., it is difficult to be able to acquire a good habit within an environment that discourages you from having it.
Luke: Conversely, in an environment that struggles and paddles in the direction you wish, everything is much more downhill.
Valerio: There is also the whole issue of work environments, the environment where you stay. For example, my studio is an open space, with couches, comfortable things, because people have to be comfortable. Work should not be a cage, but an environment where there is not even a clear separation between free time and the work itself. Everything must be very fluid, free. An environment that is well constructed and designed so that you don't fall into any traps is definitely a very good strategy, it works very well. Okay. All right. Thank you Luca. Gentlemen, Luca Mazzucchelli. Find Factor 1%: small habits for big results by Giunti Editore on all online bookstores and all traditional bookstores. Not to be forgotten is the legendary www.fattore1percento.it wrapper where Dr. Mazzucchelli bestows free extra content. Of course you can learn more by contacting Luca and perhaps joining his community (I am a member), where every week...
Luke: It is true.
Valerio: ... there is a live stream and there are a lot of super smart people sharing information and advice. Okay. Thank you Luca. Thank you so much for being here.
Luca: Thank you, greetings to everyone. Thank you all.
Valerio: Greetings. Gentlemen, I'll see you on Valerio.it's "PODCAST", YouTube channel and anywhere else you can find me with my big face. Greetings to all, bye!