Every small step brings you closer to your goals.
This is a story about us. A serendipitous story of how the individual visions two behavioural science nerds came together to create a shared vision. A vision to empower ourselves and others to be better humans.
The seeds of decoding human behaviour were sown in my mind about 15 years back when I pursued my post-grad studies at the University of Manchester, England. I always possessed a deep curiosity to understand the motivation behind people’s decisions.
Why do we choose one over another?
Who influences us?
Why is it that we repeat the same mistakes again?
When are we most likely to lie or defraud others?
What triggers a negative action?
How does that negative action make us feel and so on…
This curiosity in human behaviour was highlighted when I explored the emotion and culture-driven bridal behaviour in India and how it influenced its USD 50 billion wedding market as part of my final dissertation. Coming from a family of entrepreneurs I was always energised by making ideas happen. The next 10 years of my life were purely accidental. I lived in 6 and travelled to over 35 countries, completed my MBA in Paris, built businesses, and worked closely as a strategist to startup founders, public figures, and leaders in retail real-estate, luxury fashion, tech, design, and events.
While I appreciated the industry specific knowledge that I received from working with diverse individuals, what I truly valued was the opportunity to observe and note how behaviours and biases shaped the overall well-being of teams, businesses, communities, and most importantly lives. This was particularly interesting to me as I personally experienced the adverse effects of toxic work culture, biases, and an overactive mind.
Mid 2019 I decided it’s time to re-evaluate my goals and re-align my work with my values. This self-discovery phase rekindled an old flame, Behavioural Science. Engaging and meeting with various behavioural scientists including the brilliant Dan Ariely and Rory Sutherland further deepened my interest in this field. Ideas began brewing in my mind and I knew I wanted my next career commitment to be one that empowers people to live and lead better.
I remember reading The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis that captures the relationship and collaborative work of behavioural scientists Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman and telling myself ‘I don’t want to develop ideas and dig deeper into behavioural science alone.’
Enter Dr. Katerina Bohle Carbonell.
Katerina is what I call superwoman. She’s a single mom to 4 awesome girls, completed her PhD in 5 years while having 3 kids, is a computational social scientist, founder of NetNigma, where she helps companies improve their quality of collaboration, a postdoctoral fellow at the National University of Galway, Ireland, teaches at Northwestern University, and a Ronin Research Fellow.
A similar journey to mine, she has lived an unplanned life and has moved between places and projects for the past 28 years. Holding these changes together was data, data about decision making, data explaining human behaviour and a desire to help others discover themselves with her incessant questions of ‘Why’? She has worked on projects related to social network analysis, evidence based decision making and innovative learning with innovative tech startup companies around the world. She’s had her own struggles in relation to prioritising between family and career. Though she truly enjoys her transitory, free-spirited life, she emphasizes why having a map makes the adventure less daunting.
I met Katerina randomly at a virtual hackathon where we tackled problems related to isolation while working remotely during the Covid-19 lockdown. We continued to come across each other’s path considering our interests in behavioural science converged. What drew me to Katerina was her resilience when life gets unpleasant and her passion to provide people, especially working parents with life hacks that are scientific and practical. I reached out and shared my vision to create a lab where we could together explore problems related to modern lives and how we can look at behavioural science to solve them. Katerina was intellectually charged by this idea. As a scientist a lab meant experimentation, discovery, risk taking, and the search for something life-changing. I had a strong sense that our complementary skills in academia and industry, in addition to our shared values, were fitting to create a solid founding team.
A few casual virtual coffees, a lot of white-boarding, and some robust conversations later, Human-Matter was born.
Weekly wisdom that empowers you and your team
to live and lead better.