Episode #237: Interview with ADP's Chief Behavioral Economist Jordan Birnbaum

Another Great Show, This One Featuring Jordan Birnbaum of ADP

Here is some background on Jordan…

Jordan Birnbaum has been with ADP since 2015, as VP and Chief Behavioral Economist. He directs the application of behavioral economics principles into new product development in the human capital management market.  Prior to joining ADP, Jordan was the owner / operator of The Vanguard in Los Angeles, a hybrid media production and live music venue, employing more than 150 people for close to a decade.  He was a founding employee and Senior Vice President, Business Development, of Juno Online Services, playing a key role in a successful IPO and then beating analysts’ estimates for six consecutive quarters.  Jordan graduated from Cornell University with a BS, Policy Analysis, and from NYU with an MA in Industrial / Organizational Psychology. 

We asked and Jordan answered…

This is an instance in which no amount of show notes, regardless of how thorough, could capture the energy and excitement of Jordan as a guest. Our questions for him are below but you really should listen to the show (audio is linked above) in order to truly understand how much depth Jordan brought to the show as a guest.

Ron’s Questions…

  • Tell us about The Vanguard?

  • Did you ever meet the South Park creators?

  • Give us the second answer to Ed’s question on the difference between nudging and manipulation.

    • We had on the show Rory Sutherland. He created a Nudge unit inside of Ogilvy in the UK, and when he was president of the IPA in the UK he was saying: “Hundreds of agencies have developed models for ‘how advertising works.’ What’s needed now is for agencies to base their business on how people work.” Basically, that if ad agencies don’t become behavioral economists they are going to become irrelevant. You read about how these Silicon Valley companies employ behavioral economists, such as Airbnb, Uber, etc. Can you share any examples of how you specifically apply these principals at ADP.


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Ed’s Questions…

  • So, you’re hanging out with Bill Maher on the weekends, you have this great club in LA, and now you’re the VP and  chief behavioral economist at a payroll company. You’ve got to make that leap for me?

  • Ron and I are big fans of behavioral economics, and one thing that has puzzled me that I struggle with in my mind is, where do you see the difference between nudging and manipulation?

  • Then the question becomes who decides what is in someone else’s interest, right?

  • We often talk about pricing and proposal construction. I wanted to get your thoughts on three choices being optimal, is that something you’re seeing as well. Also, what about add-on to options, does that become confusing at some point? Where’s the line between complexity and creating effective choices?

  • If you’re creating a business proposal for a relativity complex engagement, is there a difference between three choices and four choices?

  • Throughout the course of the questions, we touched on many of these: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cognitive_biases