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Meet your instructor – Brian Cugelman, PhD 2017-03-16T10:45:21+00:00

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The story of my training

If you’d like to learn more about the roots of my workshops and training, and learn a little bit more about me, your instructor, then read on.

The roots date back to 1997 when I landed my first job as a social change professional and where I discovered a winning formula of running behavior change campaigns through a combination of psychology and online marketing.

Not only did I overshoot all of my performance goals in this job, but the experience helped me land my dream job at the United Nations. Before I knew it, I was flying to Bonn, Germany where I spent the next 7 years running global marketing campaigns and large-scale institutional technology projects for the United Nations. My proudest moments included seeing a TV commercial I produced with Kofi Annan airing on major networks like CNN and reading the UN General Assembly Resolution that highlighted the digital campaign I managed.

Soon after, I joined Prof. Mike Thelwall, a world-leading web researcher (and now consulting partner with AlterSpark), with whom I spent 3 years researching how to use behavioral science to change people’s behavior through online technology.

While completing my doctorate, I amalgamated hundreds of scientifically proven behavior change principles into a simple framework. Using a method called “statistical meta-analysis,” I reverse engineered the psychological design patterns used in online technologies scientifically proven to shape behavior.

My findings were published in the world’s top e-health scientific journal, JMIR, and I began running educational sessions, adapting my research to other fields and consulting for companies and governments. Public interest in my knowledge soon became overwhelming and before long, I was receiving invitations to speak at universities, conferences, corporations, and even the Pentagon asked me to run an educational session for them.

Along the way, I realized there was a huge gap between practitioner know-how and scientific guidance. Through AlterSpark, I started teaching UX designers, digital marketers, and web designers how to use behavioral science for web design and campaigns. At the same time, I started teaching a more academic and health-focused version of my training at York University.

Since then, I’ve trained hundreds of professionals—ranging from new graduates to teams of professionals from the world’s top technology companies, from municipal departments to behavioral scientists with government departments in Canada and the USA, with my invitation to educate Pentagon officials approved by an Undersecretary of Defense, three levels below President Obama. It’s been such an honor to train so many talented people.

The more I teach, the more I learn. And this has inspired me to keep adapting my content, expanding the scope of science behind my training, and seeking new ways to teach people the art and science of digital psychology.

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