I believe that behavioral science, correctly applied, can change the world. But, as with any emerging discipline, there is a period of self-definition in which people fight (with varying amounts of actual animosity) about who can claim what title and where the borders of the field are.

Personally, I’ve largely been uninterested in the debate about who can and cannot call themselves a behavioral scientist (though to be clear, as a non-PhD, it benefits me not to start drawing lines). But that’s different from what it actually means to be doing behavioral science; as the name of the field suggests…


Jason Fried, the CEO of Basecamp, has been making some changes at the org and decided that they “deserve an announcement”. While worth reading in their entirety, the changes are geared around taking the challenges of leading a company and addressing them by promoting monoculture (in the veil of individualism; Jason would call it “being responsible for [only] ourselves”) as a solution. He quotes Aldous Huxley in his introduction: “We live together, we act on, and react to, one another; but always and in all circumstances we are by ourselves.”

The changes are a stark departure from his previously expressed…


Recently, I accepted a new job offer. And I was excited, as so many folks are when they find meaningful work. It felt like such a great gig: my entire reporting line would be women! It would be global in scope! It would be spreading behavioral science among Fortune 500 CEOs! I turned down three competing offers, told my family, and started working on plans for the first few months.

Then the employment agreement arrived.

It had the standard bevy of non-competes and non-solicits, which are problematic in their own right but still a standard that hasn’t been broadly challenged…


Over the weekend, Fast’s CEO Domm Holland posted a short Twitter thread about growing from 2 to 120+ people in 18 months while maintaining “an exceptionally high talent bar” and offered some tips based on Fast’s hiring process. But as I was reading the thread, I was struck by how many of the practices seemed likely to perpetuate a monoculture. So I drafted this post to offer a counterpoint to some of his recommendations by surfacing potential alternatives.

Note that I am not responding to all of Holland’s tips: “treat your people well” is grounded in strong evidence for supporting…


The tech and VC worlds, like the world at large, are facing a reckoning over their history and practice of exclusionary bias. And while bias is incredibly complex and we have a long way to go, there are plenty of systemic changes that aren’t complex at all, like changing who and how we talk with people for the first time. The insistence on warm and double opt-in intros actively reduces the diversity of conversations people have and while the privileged have the right to continue those practices, it is empirically true that they ultimately result in systemic inequity.

Before we…


Almost seven years ago, I gave a TEDx talk that would prove to be prophetic. The focus was on trying to resolve two seemingly irreconcilable facts: that many new college graduates were unemployed and yet there were abundant job openings for college graduates with no experience. My explanation was one of expectations: that because college students were recruited into college with promises of high future salaries, taking anything less than a high salary would mean realizing a loss. As long as they stayed unemployed, they could continue to dream big. The antidote, I suggested, was the centering of meaning rather…


Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Spice Girls. Cowboy Bebop. Epic squads make for great storytelling. But the reason they’re compelling is essentially the same: optimum distinctiveness.

When we think about identity, everyone is trying to find a balance between uniqueness and belonging. Good squad-based narratives play on this by balancing a central uniting theme that differentiates them from the rest of the world (teenagers that are mutants and ninjas and turtles, defined against anyone that isn’t all four of those) with within-group archetypes that are clearly differentiated. …


(I’m vocal in my support of the work First Round Capital has done to help the entire entrepreneurial ecosystem and the First Round Review is a big part of that. When they asked me for thoughts about what candidates should be asking in their interviews, I sent the below; the finished article, with tips from Aubrey Blanche, Adam Grant, and others, is a good read with over 40 questions.)

Here’s the thing about candidate questions: I always try to ask myself “Would I change my decision about working here based on the answer?” If you wouldn’t, then there is no…


(I was talking with a mentee about her sister’s admissions essay for college and she asked if I would share mine. And so I’m doing that publicly, because the world is better with transparency. For context, this was written for Swarthmore College, which I ultimately attended.)

I do not know why I find this significant but it is on my mind as I read the essay guidelines for Swarthmore. And so I write…

I hate time zones. Through the miracle of a sun that determines how we set our watches, it is 6:37 in the evening here in Hong Kong…


(This is a post primarily about the results of an experiment, but I did build a tool as part of it that you can use to gather behavioral feedback from former coworkers; you can go directly to WorkWithMeAgain.com to use it for free without reading about the journey or my data.)

It started, as so many of my projects do, with a conversation on Twitter. I proposed a public Glassdoor-like system with a single rating: would you be willing to work with this person again? …

Matt Wallaert

Behavioral scientist & author of Start At The End. bit.ly/MattWallaertMeet for call slots (URM prioritized). ex-: academia, startups, Microsoft, Clover Health

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