When bestselling author, Nir Eyal, wrote Hooked a few years ago, it took Silicon Valley by storm. In it, Nir explains the principles that companies and leaders can use to ‘hook’ people on forming (good) habits.

His most recent book, Indistractable, looks at how to get away from the things that distract us (like our phones, people and things that we don’t want to focus on) so we can focus on what matters most. In the future, becoming indistractable will become a super power.

Welcome to Episode 347 of the podcastListen and access the show notes below or search for the Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts and listen for free.

Plus, in this episode’s What I’m Thinking About segment, Carey talks about reopening church and returning to everything after COVID-19.

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Episode Links

Serve HQ

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From Social Media to Social Ministry by Nona Jones

On February 3, Barna released a state of the church report ranking “online church” as the last concern of church leaders. Three weeks later, COVID-19 closed the doors of every church on earth, forcing them online. Now, church leaders everywhere are asking—what does digital ministry look like?

In her newest book, From Social Media to Social Ministry (available in ebook and audiobook formats on June 23, and softcover on August 4), Nona Jones outlines key digital discipleship principles and provides practical instruction to help people grow in faith using digital social platforms—no matter the size of your church.

Drawing from her experience as a church leader and head of global faith-based partnerships at Facebook, Nona introduces you to the most popular social platforms, the best tools to position you for successful digital ministry, and provides a step-by-step guide to implement digital discipleship in your church’s ministry.

Order From Social Media to Social Ministry and get a free guide to using Facebook for building a digital community by going to


Hooked by Nir Eyal

Indistractable by Nir Eyal

Indistractable website

Nir’s website

In-Person Attendance V. Online Attendance and the Emerging Trap of Doing Nothing Well by Carey Nieuwhof


1. How to Get Hooked

What does it mean to get Hooked? The action phase of the Hook is defined as the simplest behavior done in anticipation of a reward. It starts off with a trigger, and a trigger comes in two forms:

  1. External trigger
  2. Internal trigger

Nir says that you start with the internal trigger. Answer the question, what is the feeling that we are going to make better? Is it uncertainty, anxiety, fatigue, fear, loneliness? Once you understand the internal trigger, you can build the variable reward to scratch that itch and yet leaves the user wanting more.

The external trigger, is some kind of ping, ding, ring, or thing in your environment that prompts you to action. On Facebook, the internal trigger could be loneliness or seeking connection. The external trigger is opening the app and scrolling the feed. When you understand these triggers, you can better control your own habit and those of your customers.

2. 4 Steps for Finding Your Customers’ Habits

Understanding your customers’ habits help you establish that competitive advantage. If you’re building a product, then the question is, “What’s the habit that you want to create through that technology?” Ask these four basic questions:

  1. What’s the psychological itch that you seek to scratch?
  2. What’s the external trigger that prompts the user to action?
  3. What’s the key behavior and how can it be made simpler?
  4. Are we scratching the user’s itch and yet leaving them wanting more?

And in the investment phase, is the user putting something into the product in anticipation of a future reward? Is it something that makes the product better with use? When you ask yourself these fundamental questions, if you’re building a new product, you can figure out what that product should look like, what the user experience should be. If you have an existing product in market, then you can figure out where the leaks are, where the product is not engaging enough by using this as a diagnostic tool, because this same pattern is repeated in all kinds of products, enterprise, consumer web, online, offline.

3. How to Become Indistractable

Nir says that the reason we get distracted is an inability to cope with discomfort in a healthier manner. He suggests 4 steps to becoming indistracatable:

  1. Master the internal triggers—A lot of people are told these days, unfortunately, that feeling bad is bad. That feeling uncomfortable. You have to medicate. Or, you have a character flaw. That something’s wrong with you if you’re not happy all the time. That is not true.
  2. Make time for traction—Turn your values into time. Nir says, “Out of the people I interviewed for this book over the past five years, it’s amazing how every high performer, whether it’s a business leader, an athlete, they all take their time very seriously. They plan their day.” It’s all about synchronizing your time with the various stakeholders in your life
  3. Hack back the external triggers—How much time do you spend in distracting meetings, reading emails, with co-workers who keep you from your work?
  4. Prevent distraction with pacts—This is where you can use what’s called a “pre-commitment device” as the failsafe, as the firewall to make sure that as a last resort, you don’t get distracted.

Quotes from Episode 347

The reason we get distracted is an inability to cope with discomfort in a healthier manner. @nireyal Click To Tweet

If you are aware of what is going on, and you have tactics to do something about it, you can be indistractable. @nireyal Click To Tweet

Email is the mother of habit-forming technology. @nireyal Click To Tweet

Email is one of the most underappreciated strategies available to business leaders these days. @cnieuwhof Click To Tweet

Habits help you establish competitive advantage. @nireyal Click To Tweet

The more you use a product, the more likely it is to become a habit. @nireyal Click To Tweet

Monetization is a result of engagement. @nireyal Click To Tweet

Everything we do is about a desire to escape discomfort. @nireyal Click To Tweet

We have discomfort for a very important reason. It helps us strive to do better. @nireyal Click To Tweet

Everything we do is about a desire to escape discomfort. @nireyal Click To Tweet

A mistake repeated more than once is a decision. - Paulo Coelho Click To Tweet

Distraction is a problem of society. It's a culture problem. @nireyal Click To Tweet

Declining church attendance has been intensifying for decades. @cnieuwhof Click To Tweet

Wise leaders don't let fatigue make decisions for them. @cnieuwhof Click To Tweet

Digital ministry scales in a way that physical ministry does not. @cnieuwhof Click To Tweet

Read or Download the Transcript for Episode 347

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Wish your team was more engaged at work?

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Next Episode: Patrick Lencioni

Patrick Lencioni returns to the podcast to talk about how he changed his mind about leading virtual teams and hosting virtual events as a result of the crisis, how virtual can be more personal and why so many leaders abdicated their responsibilities. Plus, he offers his view on how preachers and church leaders can do a better job at communicating in a rapidly changing world.

Subscribe for free now so you won’t miss Episode 348.

CNLP 347: Nir Eyal on How to Hook People with Your Message or Product and (Also) How to Become Indistractable


  1. Harry Court on June 16, 2020 at 5:28 pm

    Nir’s Internal external triggers – Ophra or business could teach but should churches?

    I can see this as a good business strategy but the not the gospel…at all. Thoughts?

  2. Seba Ojeda on June 16, 2020 at 10:51 am

    Very good. Time ago, I followed Carey’s advice to disable notifications. And that was incredibly helpful.

  3. John Hodnett on June 16, 2020 at 9:09 am

    Excellent interview!!! Variability was the key word for me. Thank you, Carey!

    • Carey Nieuwhof on June 16, 2020 at 5:33 pm

      Glad to help!

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