David Goggins
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Amaryllis Fox
Former CIA Clandestine Operative
Chris Hadfield
Retired Canadian Astronaut & Author
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How to Create Corporate Evangelists

Question: How do you cement customer bonds?


Chip Conley: But the difference between a successful company and a transformative company, in relationship with your customers whether your customers are loyal or your customers are an evangelist is moving to that top level, that transformation level of the pyramid. And if you think about companies out there that have evangelical customers, I’m not talking about religious, evangelical, I’m talking about customers who go out and tattoo the logo of the company on their body which is like Harley Davidson. There’s twenty thousand people across America that have a Harley Davidson tattoo on their body, it’s the logo of the company. That’s an evangelical customer. Apple customers, evangelical customers. Whole foods Market, to some degree, Southwest Airlines, Prius customers.

So, there’s a collection of things at that the top of that customer pyramid that would create a self actualized customer and that is part of the fun for me to imagine what, how do you do that. For our company, it’s that identity refreshment. It’s the idea that someone comes and stays in our hotel and feels like, wow, you’ve created the perfect habitat for me. It’s like you created this hotel for me. When I’m here, when I check out three days later, I feel like I’m a better version of my self, or the words that you just described the hotel have rubbed off on me.

So when you do that well, you’ve created this transformative customer experience and in so doing, you’ve created almost like your own marketing force out there. We’re almost a three hundred million dollar a year company and we spend less than fifty thousand dollars a year in traditional advertising. That’s because it’s very driven, by word of mouth.


Question: How do you cement investor loyalty?


Chip Conley: The investor pyramid was the hardest of the three because you can say, well, Maslow’s Hierarchy is about human motivation and potential. And so that makes Centrum ploys on customers but our investor’s human. And most investors are, and there are some qualities about whether the investors that are looking for the survival experience an investor is please give me return of investment give me a satisfactory return of investment and let’s make sure that our transactional needs are aligned. Meaning, if I’m going to buy hotel with a base of the pyramid investor, what I call a transactionally aligned investor, we better have the same idea of what the rate of returns going to be, how long are we going to own the hotel, how much money are we going to spend to renovate the hotel, etcetera.

But once we’ve actually done that and we sell the hotel six years from now, that’s the end of the relationship. We don’t go on and just do something else. That’s the baseline, that’s the traditional, transactional investor. Give me as much money quickly as possible. A step above that, what I call a successful investor is the Warren Buffet of the world, whose very relationship driven and more long term oriented. In that case, if Warren Buffet ever bought a hotel with me, his perspective would be, well, I’m buying the hotel with you and we may go sell it in six years.

But that’s the first chapter of the book, there will be a second, third, and fourth chapter. He has a long term perspective of the people he works with. And then finally, at the top of that pyramid is the idea of a legacy investor. And whereas a successful investor’s sort of creating a relationship that’s based upon a long term relationship, a legacy investor actually looks at the way they invest as having some kind of transform level effect on something beyond themselves. And so whether that’s a socio-responsible investor or investing in the community for some reason, or in a family member and that creates pride of ownership. So that’s how a transformative investor looks at almost putting their money where their heart is. So, that’s the progression of the transformation pyramid with the investor.


Recorded on: April 14, 2009


Hotelier Chip Conley offers new insights into how to generate a cult following behind any brand.

Does conscious AI deserve rights?

If machines develop consciousness, or if we manage to give it to them, the human-robot dynamic will forever be different.

  • Does AI—and, more specifically, conscious AI—deserve moral rights? In this thought exploration, evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, ethics and tech professor Joanna Bryson, philosopher and cognitive scientist Susan Schneider, physicist Max Tegmark, philosopher Peter Singer, and bioethicist Glenn Cohen all weigh in on the question of AI rights.
  • Given the grave tragedy of slavery throughout human history, philosophers and technologists must answer this question ahead of technological development to avoid humanity creating a slave class of conscious beings.
  • One potential safeguard against that? Regulation. Once we define the context in which AI requires rights, the simplest solution may be to not build that thing.

A new hydrogel might be strong enough for knee replacements

Duke University researchers might have solved a half-century old problem.

Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images
Technology & Innovation
  • Duke University researchers created a hydrogel that appears to be as strong and flexible as human cartilage.
  • The blend of three polymers provides enough flexibility and durability to mimic the knee.
  • The next step is to test this hydrogel in sheep; human use can take at least three years.
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Hints of the 4th dimension have been detected by physicists

What would it be like to experience the 4th dimension?

Two different experiments show hints of a 4th spatial dimension. Credit: Zilberberg Group / ETH Zürich
Technology & Innovation

Physicists have understood at least theoretically, that there may be higher dimensions, besides our normal three. The first clue came in 1905 when Einstein developed his theory of special relativity. Of course, by dimensions we’re talking about length, width, and height. Generally speaking, when we talk about a fourth dimension, it’s considered space-time. But here, physicists mean a spatial dimension beyond the normal three, not a parallel universe, as such dimensions are mistaken for in popular sci-fi shows.

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Predicting PTSD symptoms becomes possible with a new test

An algorithm may allow doctors to assess PTSD candidates for early intervention after traumatic ER visits.

Image source: camillo jimenez/Unsplash
Technology & Innovation
  • 10-15% of people visiting emergency rooms eventually develop symptoms of long-lasting PTSD.
  • Early treatment is available but there's been no way to tell who needs it.
  • Using clinical data already being collected, machine learning can identify who's at risk.

The psychological scars a traumatic experience can leave behind may have a more profound effect on a person than the original traumatic experience. Long after an acute emergency is resolved, victims of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) continue to suffer its consequences.

In the U.S. some 30 million patients are annually treated in emergency departments (EDs) for a range of traumatic injuries. Add to that urgent admissions to the ED with the onset of COVID-19 symptoms. Health experts predict that some 10 percent to 15 percent of these people will develop long-lasting PTSD within a year of the initial incident. While there are interventions that can help individuals avoid PTSD, there's been no reliable way to identify those most likely to need it.

That may now have changed. A multi-disciplinary team of researchers has developed a method for predicting who is most likely to develop PTSD after a traumatic emergency-room experience. Their study is published in the journal Nature Medicine.

70 data points and machine learning

nurse wrapping patient's arm

Image source: Creators Collective/Unsplash

Study lead author Katharina Schultebraucks of Columbia University's Department Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons says:

"For many trauma patients, the ED visit is often their sole contact with the health care system. The time immediately after a traumatic injury is a critical window for identifying people at risk for PTSD and arranging appropriate follow-up treatment. The earlier we can treat those at risk, the better the likely outcomes."

The new PTSD test uses machine learning and 70 clinical data points plus a clinical stress-level assessment to develop a PTSD score for an individual that identifies their risk of acquiring the condition.

Among the 70 data points are stress hormone levels, inflammatory signals, high blood pressure, and an anxiety-level assessment. Says Schultebraucks, "We selected measures that are routinely collected in the ED and logged in the electronic medical record, plus answers to a few short questions about the psychological stress response. The idea was to create a tool that would be universally available and would add little burden to ED personnel."

Researchers used data from adult trauma survivors in Atlanta, Georgia (377 individuals) and New York City (221 individuals) to test their system.

Of this cohort, 90 percent of those predicted to be at high risk developed long-lasting PTSD symptoms within a year of the initial traumatic event — just 5 percent of people who never developed PTSD symptoms had been erroneously identified as being at risk.

On the other side of the coin, 29 percent of individuals were 'false negatives," tagged by the algorithm as not being at risk of PTSD, but then developing symptoms.

Going forward

person leaning their head on another's shoulder

Image source: Külli Kittus/Unsplash

Schultebraucks looks forward to more testing as the researchers continue to refine their algorithm and to instill confidence in the approach among ED clinicians: "Because previous models for predicting PTSD risk have not been validated in independent samples like our model, they haven't been adopted in clinical practice." She expects that, "Testing and validation of our model in larger samples will be necessary for the algorithm to be ready-to-use in the general population."

"Currently only 7% of level-1 trauma centers routinely screen for PTSD," notes Schultebraucks. "We hope that the algorithm will provide ED clinicians with a rapid, automatic readout that they could use for discharge planning and the prevention of PTSD." She envisions the algorithm being implemented in the future as a feature of electronic medical records.

The researchers also plan to test their algorithm at predicting PTSD in people whose traumatic experiences come in the form of health events such as heart attacks and strokes, as opposed to visits to the emergency department.