Interview with Happify’s Chief Data Scientist Ran Zilca on the Mobile First Podcast
- Podcast /
- Product Leadership /
Always go back to the basics of business fulfilling a need and always be conscious and aware of the need or problem that you need solve (Ep. 31)
Ran is Happify’s Chief Data-Scientist. He is an entrepreneur, author, coach, and TEDx speaker. Ran’s debut book: Ride of Your Life – a Coast to Coast Guide to Finding Inner Peace describes his 6,000 mile solo motorcycle ride of from NY to California, meeting with Phil Zimbardo, Deepak Chopra, and others.
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Here are the highlights of our conversation with our guest:
Ran is excited about the opportunity in technology to make people’s lives better. He is mostly passionate about this—making the most advance technology to deliver a more meaning, fuller life. As soon as he saw the overlap between psychology and technology, he left IBM and this had been his passion since then. These two disciplines made him realize that he can make a profound impact in individuals and an opportunity to intervene and create something transformative.
When he turned forty, Ran took off in a motorcycle and drove from New York to California. He was on the road for five weeks and he made lots of stops along the way. During this time, he interviewed a lot of people and eventually published his first book about it called Ride of Your Life. A lot of transformation happened which led him to negotiate the sale of his company while he was on the road and where he came back as a chief scientist for bLife.
When he was introduced to the folks at Happify, he realized that they were way ahead of the curve. It was very close to what he had envisioned building and the built a natural connection. He became the Chief Data Science Officer and has been nothing but happy since he joined as he knows they are building something very unique.
Happify is a set of tools, activities, games, mediation, etc. packaged in an app and a website. Designed to make you happier, you can chose the activity fit for you which can reduce your stress, find your calling or develop you more. It offers a sequence of activities catered to your goal and is package in a way that is very rich and can transform your life.
Looking at the whole domain of transforming people’s lives through technology and psychology, what Ran views as a possible hurdle is the fact that people’s psychology is not observable, so to speak.
Ran shares the complexity of the data they are gathering and he describes it as intimate and rich. When people come to the app or the site, they are asked to write the things that they are grateful for or their goals or their challenges and all of these are indicative of their psychological states.
Rapid Fire Questions
- What is your definition of innovation?
Innovation is treating science or technology like art. There should be no barriers.
- Would you put more emphasis on the idea or the execution? How would you weigh each of them and why?
It’s a 100% of execution at one point and 100% idea at the other. Allow yourself to think about whatever that comes in mind but when it comes to execution, you need to do the opposite and just focus in doing one thing and doing it well. These two things complement themselves and you need to excel in both realms to accomplish things.
- What is your biggest learning lesson on your journey so far?
Always go back to the basics of business fulfilling a need and always be conscious and aware of the need or problem that you need solve as sometimes, we have a tendency to diverge.
- What is your favorite business book?
Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey A. Moore
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
- What is your favorite app and why?