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Lena Belogolova

Intellichanges, Inc
Founding Partner & Head of Behavioral Science
Lena Belogolova has been studying how and why people make decisions since college (MIT) and is passionate about using behavioral science research to help people make better decisions. For more than a decade, she's been bridging the gap between academia and industry by evaluating products through a behavioral lens to facilitate research and product impact to the customer experience. Inspired by her work with Dan Ariely and Kristen Berman at Startuponomics (an Irrational Labs conference), her work as a trader on Wall Street (Goldman Sachs), product marketing in tech (Facebook), grad school at UCLA Anderson, and as a YCombinator startup founder, Lena founded Intellichanges, a behavioral science research consultancy in 2017. She currently spends most of her time working with companies on large scale behavioral science projects to integrate behavioral science into their DNA, as an advisor, investor as well as building the not-for-profit international Applied Behavioral Science Association (ABSA) - all with the goal of translating behavioral science into rigorous application. She continues to learn and teach at conferences, startup incubators, universities, and continues to do fun research on herself (n of 1) and more rigorous research (eg. published in Journal of Consumer Research).

What do you enjoy about the work you do?

I get to completely change the way someone approaches a specific outcome they want to achieve and empower them to continue using behavioral science in future projects/on themselves. Those moments when behavioral science starts to click for the CEO or a leader at a company I’m working with. That moment when they themselves start doing a behavioral audit of their product or a new product feature based on a new research concept I've translated to their language and taught them… those moments are each priceless.

What gets you most fired up in terms of a technology, tool, trend, or advancement?

A few things:
1) the trend of more and more cross-functional collaboration between academia, industry research, design, and product. Role likes behavioral data scientists or behavioral design or white papers being written on behavior at places like Facebook, show me that we are starting to see that we can all learn from each other and work together to understand people and optimize their lives using new products.
2) Impact investing and B-corporations. Balancing purpose and profit and making sure the money shows up to support that gives me hope.

What is the biggest obstacle you face in your line of work?

Status Quo Bias - the idea that people prefer things to stay the same by doing nothing or by sticking with the way things have always been done. It's much easier not to spend a little extra time incorporating research or changing your metrics or simply thinking about molding your customers to your product rather than the other way around.

What would you tell your younger self?

Be patient and always intellectually curious - your passion will reveal itself in due time. When my friends in high school and college were finding their passions and following their dreams, I felt lost. I was quite good at math but didn't have that one thing I wanted to do for the rest of my life like so many of my peers (or so I thought). In fact, what I realized looking back was that running experiments was part of my DNA. I ran decision making experiments at MIT both in my computational neuroscience class and on peers, while I was a trader at Goldman and moving billions of dollars around on a daily basis, and so on, until I met Dan Ariely and he change by life by opening up the world of behavioral economics to me.

My Speakers Sessions

Thursday, October 22

4:10pm EDT

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