#78 How Games Can Help All of Us: Dan Grech

This show is about the benefits adults, especially business owners,can get from playing games. 

This year's huge success of Pokemon Go helped bring gamification and augmented reality into the mainstream - with many small businesses using the mobile app to raise engagement with consumers. Dan Grech, OfferCraft, tells us how governments, businesses, and even parents use games to boost participation and change behavior.

Dan Grech is a former journalist who works for OfferCraft, a Florida company that designs games for companies and other clients. 

"You can incorporate games into business settings in really small and subtle ways that aren't necessarily expensive and can generate extraordinary results" says Dan.  

Solutions with games:

  • Governments use games and behavioral economics insights to reduce speeding or increase voter turnout. In China, the government introduced lottery scratch-off games to cut tax evasion.
  • Businesses offer prizes and rewards to excite consumers and boost engagement 
  • Doctors’ offices and healthcare clinics may reduce income loss from last-minute cancellations with games and prizes for patients who show up. 
  • Parents can use games, such as ChoreMonster, to get kids and other family members to do household chores. 

#75 How Can We Get Better At Forecasting the Future: Mark Earls

Almost all of us do a poor job of predicting the future. 

This show looks at how we can adapt to the disruption and change the future inevitably brings.  Using examples from business and our personal lives, we consider how to be smarter and more successful.

"We over-estimate how bad we might feel if we lose something, and under-estimate how we will feel if something good happens,” says our guest, Mark Earls.

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Mark joins Jim and Richard at our living room table in New York. Usually Mark is based in London where he's a well-known author and consultant on marketing, communications and behavioral change.  His books include “Copy Copy Copy”, "HERD: How to Change Mass Behavior by Harnessing Our True Nature” and “I’ll Have What She’s Having

"We have to realize…we have to prepare for multiple futures," Mark tells us in this episode. Some additional takeaways:

Solutions:
Start small. For example Spotify began in a small market (Sweden) and it was able to be more agile, make mistakes and react to its competition more effectively than a larger company.
 
Product plus: some of the most successful companies are the ones that make a product AND deliver a service; Dollar Shave Club is a good example of this.  
 
Customer service is more important than ever. “You can’t have that ‘take a ticket and wait in line’ attitude towards customers; you need to fix it.
 
In our personal lives prepare for multiple future scenarios: what would happen if you had an unexpected expense, how would you deal with a serious illness or a absence from work, or a major housing expense?

#74 Fixes for an Insular World: Talk to Strangers. Kio Stark

"There are genuine emotional benefits when we connect with strangers," says our guest, Kio Stark. These fleeting interactions are important interruptions in the steady routine of our lives. "They bring connectedness and belonging."

Kio is the author of "When Strangers Meet: How People You Don't Know Can Transform You."  Her popular TED Talk has received more than 1,450,000 views. "My own interactions with strangers resonate with meaning for me," she writes in her book. "You find questions whose answers you thought you knew. You reject the ideas that make us so suspicious of each other."

"We live in pretty insular ways," Kio tells us in this episode of "How Do We Fix It?"  "When you talk to somebody who is different than you, you are forced to see this person as an individual in a way that you wouldn't have done before." 

This speaks to our divided politics at a time when it is often far to easy to vilify people we don't agree with.  Being more open to people of different races, social class and age groups can open us up to surprising moments of pleasure and transformative possibilities. 

Kio explains how shy, frightened or suspicious people can benefit from being more open to briefly allowing strangers into their lives.  We discuss how dogs and babies can make it easier to speak with people you don't know.

"There's an amazing power in being seen.  We live in cities we don't see each other," Kio tells us.  "When you are seen, when you notice someone is acknowledging you it's a momentary bond."

#6 Fix It Shorts: Election 2016:The Problem is Us.We The Voters

The news media have bombarded us with stories about the candidates, the contest and - to a lesser extent - the crucial issues America faces as people vote for the next President.

This podcast is about the voters.

We went back to four past episodes of "How Do We Fix It?" pulling extracts about how we make decisions and why the information that you and I receive from internet search engines and other sources may be radically different than the news and views our friends and neighbors are hearing.

On episode 24 podcast host and author David McRaney told us "we are not so smart," using confirmation bias as a defining example. "It would do us all good to actually think what are we wrong about," said David, who argues in favor of challenging our own personal biases. "Whenever you have an understanding of something, create an alternate explanation."

Psychologist Robert Epstein joined us on episode 11 to discuss whether Google is too powerful for our democracy. The former Editor-in-Chief of "Psychology Today" has done extensive research on Google's search rankings and algorithms. "There is a problem is the monopoly in search" that Google holds in most of the world, Robert said. "They're customizing what people see." 

Search rankings can have a big influence on how people vote. We are not getting challenged by ideas that we haven't heard before.

Joan Blades of Living Room Conversations aims to bring people together.  A progressive herself, Joan has engaged with evangelical conservatives and leaders of the tea party in lively, but respectful dialog about climate change, criminal justice reform and other questions. 

"We've become increasingly divided," Joan told us on episode 43. "We don't even share the same facts." Joan explained some of the ground rules of having conversations with those you disagree with. 

This brief "Fix It Shorts" podcast also features John Gable of AllSides. This news website puts stories from different sources next to each other -  columns from left, right and center-leaning news newspapers and online sites. 

"We want people to be able to see quickly the differences," John said in episode 49. "What we started doing with All Sides is breaking that filter bubble."

#71 How to Reduce Cyclist and Pedestrian Deaths: Nicole Gelinas

“Vision Zero” is the highly ambitious plan put in place two years ago by New York's Mayor Bill de Blasio. The goal: no traffic deaths by 2024.

America's largest city is nowhere near reducing fatal crashes to zero, but great progress has been made since 1990.  "The good news is that we've gone from 701 deaths back then to an average of 245 deaths a year under the de Blasio Administration," says urban economics and transportation researcher Nicole Gelinas in this "Fix It" episode.

Nicole is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. She writes for City Journal, The Washington Post, LA Times and a bunch of other publications.

In this show we look at why so many pedestrians and bicycle riders are killed on the streets of U.S. cities and what we can learn from safety initiatives in Sweden and elsewhere.

The bad news is that New York is far safer than almost every other American city. 

"You're three times more like to be killed in Atlanta whether you're in a car or walking - and you're two times more likely to be killed in LA," says Nicole.

We also learn the lessons of the Times Square traffic and pedestrian redevelopment initiative and why it turned critics into fans.  During our show Nicole Gelinas unpacks surprising research on the pros and cons of wearing bicycle helmets on busy urban streets. 

Solutions:

  • Data shows that redesigning streets to slow down and calm traffic is the best way to prevent injuries and deaths.
  • Lower speed limits, especially in dense urban areas.
  • Invest in a comprehensive mass transit system, which will reduce crashes and improves the quality of life for city residents.
  • The old adage, safety in numbers is true when it comes to biking in traffic: bicyclists are safer when they ride in a group.
  • Cyclists should always wear lights to make themselves as visible as possible to motorists. 

#70 Electile Dysfunction: A Cure For Our Campaign: Alan Dershowitz

Electile Dysfunction (is), “a terrible pun plus insightful commentary" is how TV host and wit Seth Myers describes" the new book by Professor Alan Dershowitz.

Dershowitz became a professor at Harvard Law when he was 25 years old. In his long and distinguished career, Newsweek described Dershowitz as "the nation's most peripatetic civil liberties lawyer and one of its most distinguished defenders of individual rights." We recorded this episode of "How Do We Fix It?" at his Manhattan home. "Electile Dysfunction" is his 35th book.

(Left to Right) Jim Meigs, Richard Davies and Alan Dershowitz

Voters are anxious, frustrated and they feel impotent. In this show we look at the strangest political campaign of our lifetime and what can be done to improve the way we elect Presidents.

We are not alone in facing a threat to our democracy.  "I'm afraid of what's going on in Europe today and what's going in the United States may reflect a trend rather than a pendulum swing," Alan Dershowitz tells us. "A trend toward extremes and we have to fight back."

Jim, Richard and Dershowitz discuss the rise of extremism on the right and left, the threat to free speech on college campuses and the virtue of compromise.

(Left to Right) Jim Meigs, Richard Davies and Alan Dershowitz

"I think centrist liberals and centrist conservatives have to get together and take back the center and stop the alt right from taking over the Republican Party and the alt left from taking over the Democratic Party," says Professor Dershowitz

We look at solutions:

A voter's Presidential checklist. Before voting, weigh where the candidates stand on the most important issues - from who will best protect us from terrorism to who will keep America's economy strong and produce more stability.

  • Shortening the nation's extremely long Presidential campaign with one national primary day in June, weeks before the party conventions.
  • Reducing the destructive power of the media to hype conflict and obscure the electorate's understanding of vital issues.
  • Encouraging free speech and open dialog that is now under threat at leading colleges and universities.

#67 How Gratitude Can Transform Your Life - Janice Kaplan

On New Year's Eve, journalist and former Parade Editor-in-Chief Janice Kaplan made a promise to herself to be grateful during the coming year and look on the bright side of whatever happens.

As we find out in this episode, it made a big difference to her life. Janice discovered that how she feels has less to do with events than with her own attitude and perspective on life.

Her recent book "The Gratitude Diaries" began after a survey she had done found that 94% of Americans thought people who are grateful live richer lives.  But less than half those surveyed say they practiced gratitude on any regular basis. 

"It struck me that we have this great big gratitude gap," Janice tells us on "How Do We Fix It?" If we change our attitude, she says, "we're going to be a lot happier."

Solutions:

  • Say thanks to someone you love. It's easy to forget to appreciate your partner and your family. But the daily practice of saying something positive can transform almost any relationship.
  • Gratitude is an attitude, but it's also a daily practice. Each day write down something that you are grateful for.
  • Express gratitude at work. Many of us feel unappreciated at work, but we can change that for ourselves and our colleagues.  The start of the work week is a great time to tell fellow workers that they matter to you. 
  • At family dinners or when you are putting your kids to sleep at night, ask your kids what they were grateful for today. This can become part of what families do and how they think about their lives.

#63 Obesity & Diabetes- One City's Solution: Dr. Rose Gowen

The obesity rate is 52% in Brownsville, Texas - far higher than the national average.  Nearly one in three residents has diabetes - three times the rate elsewhere.  Brownsville also has a very high rate of poverty where more half the residents are not covered by health insurance.

This city and other largely hispanic communities along the U.S. - Mexico border are facing a health emergency.

Brownsville decided to tackle the crisis head on, with an innovative mix of public initiatives - including a new farmer's market, many miles of bike lanes, changes to zoning regulations, and a community-wide health challenge. 

Our guest is obstetrician-gynecologist, Rose Gowen, a City Commissioner in Brownsville. We hear her personal story and what Brownsville is doing to transform itself into a more active, prosperous and healthy community.

"We have found here that even in the poorest among us they want to feel better and they want better for their family and they're willing to listen to options and ideas,"  says Rose.

"The difference that we've made is huge."

#62 Playdates & Class Divisions? Tamara Mose How Do We Fix It?

Remember when kids were allowed to play without supervision, when did that change? When did play turn into a playdate?

Today many parents organize playdates. Play is arranged, supervised and has the parental seal of approval. "

I think we could add more diversity into how our children play with other children,"says our guest, Tamara Mose, Associate Professor of Sociology at Brooklyn College. 

Tamara is the author of the new book "The Playdate: Parents, Children and the New Expectations of Play"  In this episode we look at how the shift to structured playdates reflects changes in parenting and class.  "Let's listen to our children's desires," Tamara urges parents. "I think we've lost the ability to do that because we're so afraid of everything our children interacts with.'

We discuss other solutions, including tips for successful playdates and being open a greater range of children from diverse backgrounds.

#4 Fix It Shorts: Why Hacking & Online Attacks Threaten All of Us: Adam Levin

The release of nearly 19,000 e-mails from the Democratic National Committee rocked party leaders and forced the resignation of DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

We look at how this happened, why Russia was probably involved and how many other organizations, businesses and government agencies are at risk of cyber break-ins.  

Adam Levin, co-founder of Credit.com and the online security firm IDT911 says the power grid and financial system are at risk.  He warns of a possible "Cyber-geddon."

In this episode of "Fix It Shorts" Adam tells Richard and Jim how all of us can reduce our threat of identity theft and hacking attacks.  

Adam Levin is a well-known expert on identity theft and credit and the author of "SWIPED: How to Protect Yourself in a World Full of Scammers, Phishers and Identity Thieves."