The Fetch Blog

Curated reads and events for professionals

The four types of personalities and why empathy matters when designing for habits — April 8, 2014

The four types of personalities and why empathy matters when designing for habits


If you understand yourself, what motivates you, what barriers you struggle with, you will know how to help yourself or your user build better habits. Laura Pereyra explains.

As human beings, we create habits to build healthier behaviors and more efficient lives. We make it a habit to wake up at 6am to work out or we intentionally block our email or social media through freedom to stay focused at work. Habits are the heuristics of the mind. They just help.

But what might help us build better and healthier habits? The answer is having the empathy to understand yourself or the user for whom you are designing a habit forming product for. It may also be about being empathetic towards yourself as well.

Think about it. There are apps like Facebook, which you check more than you check the weather. There is WhatsApp, which you constantly use to communicate with family and friends. And then there are apps like RunKeeper that work to help a user stay on track with training. All of these apps leverage the motivations that drive people. Using empathy to understand these motivations is something we take for granted but it is crucial to designing better and healthier habits.

At this year’s inaugural Habit Summit, Gretchen Rubin gave a great framework to understand the secret for making and breaking habits. Specifically, she mentions four types of personalities that respond to expectations in their own very unique ways: the upholder, the questioner, the rebel, and the obliger. According to Rubin’s observational and anecdotal research, most people fall into the questioner and obliger types. Some even have a mix of two of the general categories. Which one are you? Or which type of user are you trying to build a habit for?

1) The upholder

This is the user who is motivated by getting things done. They dislike letting other people down or letting themselves down. I can vouch for this type of personality because I have a tinge of upholder tendencies. If I set a goal for myself, I want to accomplish it.

For example, I used RunKeeper to help me keep track of my marathon training. Not only was I internally keeping myself accountable but I had an app that was reminding me every Saturday that I had to go on a 17 mile run (the external motivator). When you are building for upholders know that you may already be building a product that has very ambitious users.

2) The questioner

This kind of user likes to question everything. No really. They want good reasons for why they should do something and if they don’t agree with it the don’t give it the light of day. An app that feeds into this certain persona is Twitter. Why should you follow someone or a conversation? People follow funny celebrities because they say funny jokes or they follow CNN to stay on top of the latest news. There is a clear reason. If it’s worth it, there is the motivation to act and build a habit.

As a person who always questions why I should do things, I can relate because as I watch political conversations on Twitter, I want to know why I should follow certain politicians. Are they representing my state? Are they providing me with valuable information?

If I’m getting valuable information then I want to engage. Otherwise the habit to look back into a conversation is futile. Give these users a reason to engage in the habit that you want to form.

3) The rebel

This user is looking to defy rules and is motivated by their sense of freedom and self-determination. A great example is Apple. This company gave people the freedom to create by being the first personal computer. They wanted to bring computers into the home of the regular Joe and tell everyone that if they wanted to make something happen all they had to do was use Apple. It’s inspirational to the rebel motivations. If you don’t believe me, just rewatch the 1984 ad.

4) The obliger

Obligers like to be accountable and not let other people down. Facebook is a good example of a platform that helps people build habits because it creates an external accountability factor with friends. You announce that you want to have a goal and your friends can help keep you honest.

In fact, so many people have developed a habit of sharing and exploring their friends’ lives on facebook that a lot of people become afraid of checking it for fear of missing out.

Keep in mind that all of these examples are not based on hard science. However, it’s worth thinking about how being empathetic to the type of ways you or your user responds to expectations can help you design better.

As Nir Eyal puts it: “When you design for everybody, you end up designing for nobody.”

You have to build a habit or habit-forming product for a persona and have the empathy to understand what the barriers they face are and how they look for solutions.

So as you’re designing and building a new product or building a new habit, ask yourself, “what kind of motivators am I trying to satisfy? Where does the user I’m trying to help build a great habit go to solve their problems?

Whether a user is an upholder, a questioner, a rebel, or an obliger, learning how to be empathetic and knowing what motivates each personality can definitely help build better habit forming products.

About our ambassador // Laura Pereyra is a communications manager at a digital design agency in San Francisco. She loves connecting her love for politics, design thinking, tech, and women leadership. She is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin. Follow her on @laurapereyra7.

Image credit: Alvaro Tapia Hidalgo

Event Review: Wellington Lux Festival — June 30, 2013

Event Review: Wellington Lux Festival

As part of the Wellington Lux Festival Symposium spanning 22/23 June, Katherine Field and Pepper Curry attended both days and reported back to The Fetch on all the terrific art they interacted with.

Photo credit: Katherine Field
Photo credit: Katherine Field

Last weekend marked the second instalment of the WGTN Lux Festival, celebrating creativity at the interaction of light, space and technology. The festival was plagued by the recent storm in Wellington but fought the odds, with almost all of the artists managing to install these outdoor pieces.

A Symposium occupied the central two days of the four-day event and was a fascinating insight into the creative, scientific and mad minds of the artists – most of whom had pieces dotted around the city for the festival. Twelve artists and a panel discussion entertained an intimate, engaged audience in the Wellington City Gallery over the two days.

Ruairi Glynn from the UK, was a heavyweight addition to the Symposium. His interactive kinetic installations have been exhibited in such esteemed institutions as Centre Pompidou and The Tate Modern. His artwork unfortunately didn’t feature in the festival here, but he was a passionate and engaging speaker. Glynn shared his unending enthusiasm for his projects that create organic and playful human experiences using artificial intelligence and robotics.

A highlight from the first day of the Symposium was also the poetic and humorous tale of experimentation and failure delivered by local lighting designer/artist, Marcus McShane. He spoke about his journey from building solar racecars and land yachts from a young age, to his current frustrating project. The hurricane-force weather of last week plagued (and postponed) the installation of McShane’s permanent artwork in Opera House Lane which was to debut during the Festival.

Day Two of the Symposium featured five more engaging speakers. There seemed to be a recurring theme of playful and complex digital projects inspired by the natural world. Design the Future’s Social Firefly, Antony Nevin’s BELUGA and Pierre Proske’s Blink were three beautiful pieces in the festival that worked with animal interaction in interesting ways.

Lux Lit Tree 2013 Kimchi and Chips
Photo credit: Katherine Field

Elliot Woods from Seoul-based art and design studio, Kimchi and Chips was a standout in his presentation. In 45 minutes he took us through the relatively complex processes that have informed their work, which left some of the less technologically minded audience members barely keeping up. To over-simplify, the duo have explored such concepts as the aesthetics of error, 2D vs. 3D sight, and have a system which creates the emulsion of digital light in physical space. Their enchanting installation in Frank Kitts Park, Lit Tree 2013 goes beyond ‘traditional’ projection-mapping, and illuminates a tree with light that is volumetric and also able to be manipulated.

As a final session, all the participating artists formed a panel. The discussion ventured though topics on the subtleties of true interactive art, negotiating audience expectation, analogue vs. digital experience, and driving creativity by constraints. Rachael Rakena, (co-creator of the beautiful Aniwaniwa from 2007 Venice Biennale) then became the main focus of the discussion, with many of the questions directed at how she copes with the often negative reaction to her provocative artworks such as Haka Peep Show from the Rugby World Cup.

Photo credit: Katherine Field
Photo credit: Katherine Field

The Symposium was an insightful journey into the processes and inspirations of the talented exhibiting artists. Thankfully, the weather cleared for the final two evenings of the festival, to allow a number of Wellingtonians like us to explore the actual installations under the light of a super-moon – most armed with cameras, tripods and many woollen layers!

About our Ambassadors // Katherine Field is one helluva busy lady. In between holding down the fort as the Community Manager at the BizDojo, she is also back at university and helping to coordinate Startup Weekend Wellington. Find her on twitter as @kathfromwelly

Pepper Curry is an illustrator, zine publisher (Press Zine), and audio-visual performer with Subterranean Mountaintop Seaside. She lives in Brooklyn, Wellington, and can be found helping to facilitate greatness at the BizDojo, Monday thru Friday. 

Event Review: Inspire Days 2013 — June 15, 2013

Event Review: Inspire Days 2013

Every year Kea’s Inspire Days helps hundreds of Kiwis by putting our best and brightest on stage to tell their stories. This year was no exception. Ambassador Deirdre Dawson attended the event this year and walked out the door with a real spring in her step.

Catherine Robinson, Kiwi Landing Pad
Catherine Robinson, Kiwi Landing Pad

Inspire – From Surviving to Thriving

‘New Zealand being on the cusp of something big’ was the recurring theme of the Inspire 2013 event. Hosted by KEA and AUT, it boasted some of our finest leaders currently excelling on the worldwide stage.

The speakers were indeed inspirational, from scientists to systems analysts, young to old, with a strong female contingent taking the stage.  It was thoughtfully noted that Maori and Pacific Island speakers were missing from the line-up and would no doubt be changing in the future. Speakers included:

Key points to take us from ‘surviving to thriving,’ reiterated by numerous speakers, included the need to drop the “she’ll be right attitude,” we can do better!  However to nurturing the innovative “no.8 wire” beliefs Kiwis are so famous for will lead us to success in the future.

The audience was encouraged to be courageous and confident in sharing their stories, and to keep asking the impossible questions.

From a business perspective we look at overseas markets and the most exciting element is the size of the market. And we head off suitcase in hand ready to sell to a market often 100+ times our local domestic market but, our sales and marketing collateral are often based on what has worked in New Zealand. Succeeding offshore is being able to adapt to the market, fast. – Catherine Robinson, Kiwi Landing Pad

It was brilliant to hear from Catherine Robinson who spoke about the Kiwi Landing Pad in SoMa, San Francisco. This area is home to 8000 startups within a 2km block and is the bricks and mortar space for Kiwi tech companies wanting a piece of the American Pie. Read more about Cat’s talk here.

Thanks KEA. There was certainly a buzz and sense of pride in the air as people emerged from the auditorium. Guests walked away feeling taller, part of something a lot larger and indeed inspired.

About our Ambassador // This article was contributed by Community Ambassador Deirdre Dawson. While she is currently working on the person to person rental startup Rentaholic, her varied background includes being an official Ambassador for Kohu Road ice cream, Business Manager for Disruptiv Graffiti Collective including Disrupt Magazine and Disrupt Gallery and teaching in Japan.  

Event Review: Participation is the new consumption — June 10, 2013

Event Review: Participation is the new consumption

As part of the Vivid Ideas festival, community ambassador Mark Woodrow went along to the Participatory Revolution, an event inspired by Michelle Williams, connector, collaborator and  founder of Ideaction.

Panel discusses big Vivid Ideas
Panel discusses big Vivid Ideas on participation

“There is the same power in our phones as what took humans to the moon.” Michelle Williams inspires passion in us all to join the revolution in opening the half day conference at the MCA in Sydney, 27 May.

“This is the era of creativity. Participation the new consumption.”

It’s not what we consume, it’s how we participate

Greenpeace CEO David Ritter defined their early vision with blunt clarity in quoting David McTaggart  “We have to get our world into 21st C in one piece. Fuck everything else.” Greenpeace works by active participation. The latest campaign targets the horrendous damage by plastics on bird life. Two thirds of Australian sea birds are choking on a stomach full of plastic. You can participate by not purchasing from a multinational like Coca-Cola, which shows no interest in recycling. And watch the compelling ad that was censored by mainstream Australian media.

“Greenpeace’s mission hasn’t changed  but now there are many more options for activism.The action items on the menu for social change have expanded in the rich opportunities contained in digital age.”

Participatory democracy and citizen centricity

‘Social media is just a part of a broader cultural change’ according to self proclaimed geek and open data advocate Pia Waugh.  Gov 2.0 means 3 key things:

1. open data, 2. participatory democracy, 3. citizen centricity.

It is good to have Pia representing the thoughtful application of technology in government and promoting that as citizens we should all be central participants. “For two years, we’ve had more people engaging with government online than through any other medium”, says Pia.

Learning to be a citizen scholar

James Arvanitakis is the lecturer you wish you had at University, winning a Prime Minister’s award for being the most popular Australian lecturer in 2012. He advocates participatory education where we trade knowledge to attract students – we need more citizen scholars, as “Students aren’t empty vessels”.

Like newspapers, James believes the model for traditional university education is outdated. Studies show that attention in lectures goes downhill from 12 minutes. James overcomes this by interacting before, during & after lectures with downloads, and interacting on Facebook.

“Knowledge is like a big picnic. If we all bring something & contribute it will be awesome. We need to get students ready for jobs that don’t exist”

Dan Ilic (Very funny MC), Michelle Williams (Amazing Curator), Mark Woodrow (Fetching)
Dan Ilic (Very funny MC), Michelle Williams (Amazing Curator), Mark Woodrow (Fetching)

Know your sense of purpose

People are interested in doing the right thing and changing the conversation, according to Paul Bennett, Creative Director at renowned design firm IDEO. But to truly participate we need little less conversation, a little more action. Paul recommends we:

1. Have a higher purpose. ‘Know your sense of purpose’, but it needs to be integral, “Purpose is not a layer that you just add on top”.

2. Make stuff. ‘Less talking more doing’ is what leads to human centered design.

3. Be transparent about success & failure. Leap forward into growth rather than step back into safety.

4. Play well with others – collaborate. Assume the good.  “If you care about solving problems, you can’t try and own the solution”

The rule at IDEO is that everybody is in it for everybody. Incredibly IDEO puts everything online. You can see it all, download it. frameworks , designs etc. According to Paul:

“Burning eyes are the business eyes of the future”

The Maker Movement

Yammers Steve Hopkins is all about eliminating silos.  “How you make things is as important as what you make”. Makers are true participants and they are on a different schedule. For a further insight read Paul Graham’s Maker’s Schedule versus Manager’s Schedule

For projects to work, Steve’s suggest’s the Yammer formula:

“Two to ten people in a team for between 2 to 10 weeks. Never longer”

For Ian Lyons, the ‘maker movement’ is increasingly creating value. Ian makes drones (pilot-less flying machines) and suggests you investigate over funded projects on crowd funding platforms,  such as KickStarter. These are a great source of market research. Collaboration is the key – find a community that will help you build what you want. There are great Australians ‘Maker Spaces’ including  Robots & Dinosaurs, Ozberry Pi, Ninja Blocks and Dorkbot. These vibrant, creative communities that provides access to tools, software, space, ideas and support. As do #coworking spaces. You just need to search them out to participate.

The time is now. Reward collaboration over competition. Join the participatory revolution. Vive la révolution!

About our Ambassador // Mark Woodrow. Prefers the more informal self-appointed title of No1 Fetch Fan.  Runs a design and communication consultancy, The Galaxy. Resides at Hub Sydney. On the NSW Board of International Assoc of Business Communicators. You can connect with Mark on Twitter @markwoodrow


Event Review: Startup Weekend Auckland — May 19, 2013

Event Review: Startup Weekend Auckland

On Wednesday the 16 of May Deirdre Dawson from The Fetch Community Ambassador Team in Auckland went along to the Startup Weekend Auckland event. 

Photo Credit: Janine Barr
Photo Credit: Janine Barr

Hipsters, Hackers and Hustlers Unite

Auckland recently hosted its third annual Startup Weekend at the Emirates Building in Wynyard Quarter. Startup Weekends began in Seattle in 2010 with a vision of ‘inspiring change in entrepreneurs’. It seems to have worked with over 110 countries having adopted the frenetic event and this being Auckland’s third such event.

2013 saw close to 80 attendees who classed themselves either as hackers, hipsters or hustlers otherwise know as programmers, designers or those skilled in other areas of ‘non-technical’ business.

All participants are encouraged to pitch a new idea – the guise being to create something from scratch. An excited, nervous energy lingered around the room as people lined up to wow the audience with a 60-second pitch. From here, it was an organic selection process whereby those with the strongest ideas and most persuasive leaders shone.  Within 90 minutes of the pitching session, all teams were formed and the game was on.

Photo Credit: Janine Barr
Photo Credit: Janine Barr

The next two days were then spent conceptualizing, formulating, planning, validating, designing and in some cases, launching a new business. Mentors volunteered their time to assist with the curly questions, playing a massive role in the development of ideas. The fact that these experts in their field willingly give up their time and energy is a fantastic indicator of the thriving Startup scene here in Aotearoa.

Final pitches were on Sunday night in front of a panel of four judges all of whom are well respected in the business community. Teams had five minutes to share their workings from the weekend and convince the panel why their business would succeed. A high caliber of ideas were taken from conception and into the real world over the weekend, with an average of a third of them expected to still be operating in three months.

Startup Weekends are an excellent event for entrepreneurs of all flavours. Often misunderstood by their boundless optimism and never-ending torrent of ideas, events like this create a nurturing environment where everyone is welcomed to the start-up family. Those interested should get it quick for the next event scheduled in November.

For more information about the event, winners, judges and general hype, check out

About our Ambassador // This article was contributed by Community Ambassador Deirdre Dawson. While she is currently working on the startup, Rentaholic, her background includes steering Disruptv gallery as the business manager of the multi faceted creative company  which specialised in large scale murals, graphic design, event management and graffiti workshops. 

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