Paul J. Zak

Paul J. Zak

Paul’s two decades of research have taken him from the Pentagon to Fortune 50 boardrooms to the rain forest of Papua New Guinea. All this in a quest to understand the neuroscience of human connection, human happiness, and effective teamwork.

Recent posts by Paul J. Zak

2 min read

Optimizing Organizational Performance

By Paul J. Zak on Jan 18, 2021 11:21:01 AM

I've spent much of the last 20 years developing the science of interpersonal trust and showing how powerfully trust drives outcomes. Mary Slaughter, a Managing Director of People Advisory Services at EY, kindly asked me to contribute to an article she wrote at the digital magazine Reworked on optimizing organizational performance by building a culture of trust. Connecting trust to culture was not fast or easy.

Topics: Emotional Health Flow Trust
2 min read

Can you Dial for Answers?

By Paul J. Zak on Jan 5, 2021 11:06:30 AM

Data analysts like to say that more data is always good.

Topics: Entertainment marketing Prediction
2 min read

Flowing into Immersion

By Paul J. Zak on Dec 14, 2020 8:30:00 AM

Steamed mussels, white wine, and espresso. Mihaly, or Mike as he preferred to be called in America, had lived here for 45 years but his Hungarian heritage was clear from his lunch. Sitting outdoors on a warm day in a Southern California café, my Claremont Graduate University colleague Mike Csikszentmihalyi described how he discovered the psychological state he named “flow” in the early 1970s. He observed and interviewed painters and other artists who described being so absorbed in their work that they lost track of time. They also reported a sense of bliss during the experience. Mike characterized flow as the pleasurable experience of being actively engrossed in a task. This research has been, and continues to be, very influential.

Topics: Science Emotional Health Flow
2 min read

Battle Tested

By Paul J. Zak on Dec 7, 2020 6:07:20 PM


Topics: Training Science Prediction
3 min read

Thank You to Immersion Super Fans

By Paul J. Zak on Nov 26, 2020 8:08:11 AM

"Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others." So said the Roman statesman and philosopher Cicero.

Topics: Training Entertainment recall
2 min read

Crowd-Sourcing Content Creation Using Immersion

By Paul J. Zak on Nov 16, 2020 6:56:03 PM

Years ago, I served as a consultant to a large ad agency and was invited to join a meeting with a client. The agency presented rough-cut videos of six approaches for an American automobile manufacturer's Super Bowl commercial. The 30-second air time would cost $4 million and toss in another million to the agency for creative and production and you're talking real money.

Topics: marketing NaaS
2 min read

Neuroscience-as-a-Service: Democratizing Neuroscience

By Paul J. Zak on Nov 9, 2020 10:03:49 AM

Neuroscience is awesome! Also, very complicated.   Specially trained scientists need a lab and lots of expensive equipment to figure out what the brain is doing. Especially human brains.

Topics: Science NaaS
3 min read

Why Your Gut is Wrong (But is Sometimes Right)

By Paul J. Zak on Nov 2, 2020 10:30:10 AM

The oil rig Deepwater Horizon exploded in 2010 causing deaths and a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The rig was operated by British Petroleum. BP's CEO, Tony Hayward, issued an apology immediately after the accident saying, "We're sorry for the massive disruption it's caused... There's no one who wants this over more than I do. I'd like my life back." This after 11 men lost their lives in the accident, mothers lost sons, children lost fathers. Hayward was forced to resign a few weeks after the incident due in part to his feeble apology. A month after oil spill, BP's market capitalization had dropped in half, losing $105 billion in value.

Topics: Science Prediction
2 min read

The Neuroscience of Disneyland

By Paul J. Zak on Oct 26, 2020 3:37:59 PM

Pirates of the Caribbean—that's easily the best ride at Disneyland. At least for me.

Topics: Entertainment Customer Journey
1 min read

On Being One's Own Rabbit

By Paul J. Zak on Oct 1, 2020 8:47:12 AM

On Being One's Own Rabbit is the title of a 1927 article by British scientist and mathematician J.B.S. Haldane (1892-1964). Haldane wrote about a scientific approach with a long history: self-experimentation.  Haldane first did this at the age of eight in his scientist father's home laboratory testing poison gases.  A self-experiment he did as an adult testing high levels of oxygen saturation caused a violent seizure that crushed several of Haldane's vertebrae.  That's commitment.

Topics: Science Prediction