Storytelling about The Fabulous with Sean Greenspan

Welcome to the Use Case Podcast, episode 133. This week we have storytelling about The Fabulous with Sean Greenspan. During this episode, Sean and I talk about how practitioners make the business case or the use case for purchasing The Fabulous.

The Fabulous is a daily routines app that uses evidence-based research to find the most effective ways to help people achieve long-term goals through small behavioral changes. They state, “It’s about dividing the big changes you seek into smaller behaviors and getting you to accomplish them one at a time.” For example, running is considered a goal, and the small steps taken each day to achieve the practice of running are behavioral changes.

The app features individual plans for personal use, as well as employee plans to help teams reachest their highest potential. This is what we discuss today.

Sean is head of enterprise business, Americas, at The Fabulous and an expert in all things strategy and structure. His team transforms the methods that have worked well for individual subscriptions into business-oriented plans. A team of behavioral scientists works around the clock to optimize the program for effectiveness and engagement.

His passion of helping teams establish a community that promotes health, resilience and productivity really comes through during the podcast.

Some of the questions we answer today are: What categories of habits does The Fabulous focus on helping individuals change, and how does this apply to the workplace? How should HR teams classify The Fabulous in their budget? Where do we see people trying to build healthier habits regarding productivity?

Give the show a listen and please let me know what you think.

Thanks, William

Show length: 29 minutes

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Sean Greenspan
Head of Enterprise Business - Americas The Fabulous

Currently helping teams establish a community that promotes health, resilience, and productivity. After experiencing the liberation you get from a rigid structure in your days, Sean strives to help others achieve this feeling.


Music:  00:02
Welcome to RecruitingDaily’s Use Case Podcast, a show dedicated to the storytelling that happens or should happen when practitioners purchase technology. Each episode is designed to inspire new ways and ideas to make your business better as we speak with the brightest minds in recruitment and HR tech. That’s what we do. Here’s your host, William Tincup.

William:  00:25
Ladies and gentlemen, this is William Tincup. You’re listening to the Use Case Podcast. Today, we have Sean on from Fabulous, and we’re going to be learning about the business case, the use case, and why people, his customers, buy Fabulous. So, we’re also going to be learning all about Fabulous. So Sean, do us a favor and introduce both yourself and introduce Fabulous.

Sean:  00:47
I appreciate that intro. Thank you very much. To tell you a little bit about myself and Fabulous, I head up the enterprise division for Fabulous. I’m focusing on how to bring what we’ve done so well with individuals of helping them build healthy habits and bring that to businesses. What’s pretty cool is I’ll tell you a little bit about Fabulous in this, and we’re focused on behavioral science and how to utilize principles from behavioral science to help people build better habits, because it’s not just about delivering content, right? We’re living in the information age, where if you want to meditate, you could find a million free meditations. If you want to exercise, you could find the workout program, but implementation and getting people to build habits that stick is what’s really the golden ticket, right? That’s what’s going to make change in people’s lives. Luckily, we have behavioral science, which is a study all about human behavior and how to change it. We have that to help us there. So, it’s pretty cool. We get to work with a team of behavioral scientists that daily, who are always optimizing our program for impact and engagement.

William:  02:10
I love this. So, let’s talk a little bit about habits. What are the categories of habits that you help people with?

Sean:  02:20
Well, great question. We break it down to four areas. So two that might be something you’re thinking, physical and mental wellbeing. Now, the other two are productivity and connection. So connection thinks social wellness, as well as a little bit along the lines of spiritual, but when we’re talking in the corporate setting, we’re talking about connection to the mission of the company, things like that connection to your colleagues, right? That’s really important. Productivity, yes, we mean the traditional sense, like getting your work done, but also productivity when it comes to prioritizing your mind and body. Whatever you’re getting done should be productive is what we believe, but productivity doesn’t mean you’re getting your chores done and you’re getting your work done. Taking a 15-minute walk, a midday nap, whatever it is, as long as it builds up to one of your individual goals, that’s something that we’re considering productive.

William:  03:33
I love this. When you’re interacting with a TA and HR and leaders, especially on the enterprise side, how do they see Fabulous? Where do they categorize you or where do they put you? Because at one point, it’s got to come out of a budget, right? So, where do you find yourself in the budget?

Sean:  03:57
Uh-huh  affirmative). Hopefully, in the budget.

William:  04:00
Yeah. Right.

Sean:  04:01
Right. No-

William:  04:01
Sometimes you have to steal from… I mean, HR, what’s great is there’s a lot of line items in the budget, but there’s also a lot of movement between those line items. But where do they commonly take money out and fund Fabulous?

Sean:  04:24
Yeah. So, great question. It’s generally one of a few areas. So traditionally, it would be either wellness, if they have a global wellness lead, something like that. Otherwise, it can be part of the benefits package. Now, what we’ve also seen is Fabulous has helped you build habits, which is intentionally vague, right? We’re trying to teach people to become behavioral change specialists. What that means is it can be applied to a wide variety of things. So with some larger companies, we work directly with the learning and development team, so Fabulous has been viewed there, and then companies that also have people focused on engagement and culture.

Sean:  05:14
Fabulous, we’ve been a part of that budget and working with those people, because two things that we do that I think is pretty neat is when we’re trying to help people build habits, there’s different ways you can do it. One of the ways is what we call a live challenge, which is where you can actually go on a challenge as an organization and communicate about it. For example, if we’re going on a meditation challenge, at Fabulous, we use Fabulous, of course. We went on a meditation challenge at our company and I was taking a picture of where I meditate and that having a little space in my home for it is helpful. I started connecting with someone else on my team because they actually had a very similar setup, pretty simplistic. Now, that’s a bond between us now. We talk about it. There’s a new meditation like website that they shared with me. So, it’s a cool way to connect with people.

William:  06:16
It’s interesting because even though you’ve categorized the four things, physical, mental, productivity and connection, a lot of these can be obviously interlaced or linked to one another, right?

Sean:  06:29
Mm-hmm  affirmative).

William:  06:30
Tell me a little bit more about productivity. Where do you see people trying to build healthy habits within productivity?

Sean:  06:42
I’m glad you asked about that one because it’s probably the most ambiguous. There’s two really ways that we really look at it. One is we’ll try to get people to a place of healthy productivity. We have this pyramid that we talked about inside of Fabulous that the foundation of everything is your physical health. Without your physical health, you don’t have the capability to work on the other things. There’s actually a quote that I heard that a healthy man has a thousand desires when a sick man only has one desire. I love that quote because it shows the next rung up, which is a mental wellbeing, right? That once you get your physical wellbeing in place, you have all these desires that might cause stress and it’s really important to get your mental wellbeing in place.

Sean:  07:43
The next step is that connection, and those cultivate to a place of healthy productivity. The reason we call it healthy productivity is it’s not that hard to be productive, but if you let that eat into your sleep, if you can’t do it sustainably, because you’re burning out, if you are sacrificing mental and physical wellness, of course, that’s not healthy productivity. So, that’s really where we try to get people to. As far as what you asked about specific habits, we actually have productivity journeys and challenges within the app. For example, I think one of the biggest areas is how you start your workday. So, are you going to start your workday by opening your computer, checking your inbox, bouncing around between email to email until you get a notification that you have a meeting in 10 minutes, and now you’re just bouncing from meeting to email and you’re reacting to your day instead of proactively getting your work done?

Sean:  08:50
Some of the habits that we focus on are getting the most important thing done first. We have the one big thing challenge is what we call it. Another one’s going to be called deep work, so getting into a deep working state, especially if you have a creative or highly analytical job. Now, you can’t do that while you’re sending emails or listening to something, right? You need to be completely focused. So, those are some of the habits that we see that are more popular in the corporate setting.

William:  09:25
I love that, and I love how you framed it up with the pyramid of these things are building blocks. It’s okay to focus on one, but you really need to be focusing on all four on some level. So, one of the questions I know that people will ask when they listen to the podcast is how do they sell it internally? I’m sure you get asked on a daily basis about ROI and cost-benefit analysis and all this crazy stuff, but how do they justify it? I mean, it makes sense, like common sense. It makes sense, ethical, moral. It just makes sense. They still got to go to the CFO or their COO or their CHRO and they’re still got to sell it. They got to sell it internally. So, you’re in a great position to help them or assist them with that. How do they sell it internally?

Sean:  10:31
We’ve heard just about everything as far as what people are looking for specifically. I think what we hear most common is the importance of mental wellbeing and how we help in the mental wellbeing face. So, for the internal sale, COVID has really highlighted the importance of mental wellbeing. I think that’s pretty clear, and I don’t think we base it on [crosstalk 00:11:08]-

William:  11:10
It should have been important before COVID, but however, we’re here now and it is definitely more talk. I mean, just mental health, Sean, we didn’t talk about mental health prior to COVID. I mean, it was taboo, especially in HR. And so, the fact that we’re talking about it and wellbeing… We talked about wellness, but it was generic.

Sean:  11:32
It was biometric screening and getting your blood pressure down.

William:  11:36
Right. Right. Right. Right.

Sean:  11:38
We don’t face the challenge that we did three years ago, really, with that. So, the way that Fabulous really is supporting mental wellness is completely revolutionary. What it gives you is a sense of structure. I just got off the phone with the head of wellness at a publicly traded company that has, I think, 125,000 people just before this call. The last thing she said to me was, “Sean…” She doing a trial of Fabulous before they try it. She said, “Sean, I have felt like the last year and a half have just been like a tornado.” Right? She’s like, “I used to wake up and drive to the gym and I’d worked out, and then I’d drive to the office.” We hear that, right?

Sean:  12:29
I used to wake up, shower, get dressed, get my kids ready, send them to school and drive to work, things like this. But now, people don’t have that imposed structure and it needs to be self-imposed structure. Structure is liberating. Structure is not constricting. It’s a liberating. I, myself, have been using Fabulous for over five years. I benefited a strong morning routine from it. My morning routine includes… Exercise is one of it. What I love about it is that is the time that is dedicated to exercise. I know exercise is dedicated to my long-term goal because Fabulous walks you out and shows you that. So, it’s really clear that I have my time set up for exercise and I can commit to it, and now that plays into living in the moment and not being stressed, right? I’m not working out and checking my email, I’m working out and focusing on exercise.

Sean:  13:30
You talked about how wellness is going to… or how there are four areas of wellness cross. Yeah, I’m talking about physical wellness, but there’s a mental wellness aspect to that, right? Having the structure in place is just extremely beneficial. Something else that we do is we have a journey all around reducing the risk of burnout, and it’s about imposing an end of your day and end of your workday. How many of our workdays drag on, especially when we work from our couch or our kitchen or our living room? It’s not healthy. You always hear addition by subtraction. We go subtraction by addition. So if we want you to stop working late, we’re not going to tell you, “Hey, stop working late,” because now there’s a gap. There’s a void to fill, and humans automatically fill voids.

Sean:  14:27
We say at 5:00 PM or whenever it is, even if you want to work till 6:00, put a good habit there, make a plan with your friend to take a walk every day at 5:00 PM. You will have to get your work done on time. Just like you can ask anyone who procrastinates, which we all probably do, with an imposed deadline, we get our work done and it ends up making you be more focused during the workday, strategic with your time, and then, of course, also all the benefits from doing the work-life balance aspect.

William:  15:01
I love it. Because especially on the sales side, you deal with this more often than not, in the demo, when you first show people Fabulous, what do they fall in love with?

Sean:  15:16
Wonderful question. What do they fall-

William:  15:19
And it can be multi-pronged, Sean. It’s okay. But you show software. I mean, at one point, you crack it open and you show people software. There’s this aha moment that generally happens when they get to a certain place. What is that?

Sean:  15:36
Yeah. The daily routine that you build, it’s very clean looking on the app, but I don’t think that’s what captures people as much as our live challenges. So, our live challenges have two unique aspects. I think most people listening probably understand, if we’re talking about corporate wellness challenges, we have over 150, so I think well beyond steps and water. Yeah. I mean, we have areas that cover everything. Some of the best are about getting in deep work habits, self-confidence, things like that. But when people see the way that our challenge ares set up, the two things that we have are one is, like I said before, it’s the behavioral science teaching people to become experts at behavioral change and when people see that in action…

Sean:  16:34
So, let’s use exercise. It’s really common. It’s a good example. We’re not going to say, “Hey, we’re going on an exercise challenge.” We’re going to say, “Hey, did you know that exercising can reduce aging because it actually slows the reduction of your telomeres, which are a part of your DNA that shortened over time?” Right? So you’re like, “Wow. Exercise can reduce aging.” Now, anyone that read that is going to want to know more, do more exercise, something like that. Then we say, “Do you want to do an exercise challenge with your company?” 170 people have already signed up. So there’s that social component, right? Then when you click that, instead of just doing an exercise challenge, it actually gets you to build a contract with yourself and it’s very efficient, right? It’s three questions. It’s when are you going to do it, where are you going to do it, and what are you going to name it?

Sean:  17:30
This helps you visualize. It’s not, “I’m going to exercise this week.” It’s, “Every day at 6:30 in the morning, I’m going to run in the park,” whatever you’re going to do. All these little tips and tricks are based on psychology and behavioral science. But then once you’re in it, it puts you in a discussion board, too, with your teammates. So you can see what other people are doing and when people see the way those challenges work… Because the Fabulous app, it’s a team activity and an individual activity. The individual activity, you have to dive into a little more yourself, but on a demo, when people see the way that that team challenge works, they see why we get the engagement rates that we do and things like that.

William:  18:13
Yeah. Again, it’s an employee or just for person that works with you, if they’re healthier and they have healthy habits, again, they’re going to be more productive. They’re going to be happier. They’re going to be more engaged. You mentioned that the experience, the overall employee experience is going to be better. I think you use it as a recruitment tool for companies that are doing really, really cool things. I think they can push that out into their careers page and say, “Hey, listen, this is who we are. This is what we do. We do these things and it’s for a reason. It’s to help you ultimately.” Talk to us a little bit about pricing, not dollars and cents, but just how, when you talk to somebody, a prospect, again, they’re going to be justifying this in some way or shape to somebody else, how do you typically price?

Sean:  19:14
Yeah. Our pricing, it’s a custom-based on… I should say, once we get over a thousand people, we’re talking about at the enterprise level and it’s being custom.

William:  19:24
Right. Of course.

Sean:  19:26
We do it based off of eligible population and we keep it very simple. It’s a one-time cost. We have a lot of services alongside access to the app. So, monthly calls with a behavioral scientist, who’s going to walk through your admin portal and actually go through some of the data and recommend areas that you can improve and how to improve, right? So not just recommend what to do, but “Okay. If you’re going to do this, maybe you should send email communications. You should try titles like this. We’ve seen these titles work.” So all of those services that we have, everything is kind of like wrapped into just one annual price. There are some exceptions that we make in there, but generally it’s one annual price. It’s per employee, kind of like per employee per year, I feel.

William:  20:20
Yeah, I like that. I like it’s clean. What’s great about it is it’s not a lot of additive stuff. There’s no surprises. Again, y’all are looking at usage. The behavioral scientists are looking at usage. If the usage is just not where it should be, then it can be optimized. Again, that creates a discussion on how to get to that place with that company, with their teams, et cetera. I love that.

Sean:  20:47
Now, we’re really fortunate because we have 23 million users on our B2C platform that would just download it from the app store. So, any suggestions they make, we can use. We can run tests to a few million people to understand what’s going to engage them the most, even tests-

William:  21:08
Oh, that’s cool.

Sean:  21:09
… that you might not think via email marketing, in-app activity, things like that. So we have a leg up there in the sense that we understand how to engage people on. There are little nuances that are different if you’re talking about corporate versus not, but it’s definitely a nice like to stand on.

William:  21:31
Oh, gosh. Yeah. I mean, I could see a lot of innovation that can come out of this B2C model that then maybe you weren’t even thinking that thought as a corporation, but because of remote work, because of hybrid work, because of the way we’re thinking about work now and we’re thinking about engagement now or culture now, it might’ve been something that you would have put on the table two years ago. Now, I love the way that y’all can innovate based on… You can test things. You can also get feedback on stuff. So, I love that. Okay. The last thing, tell us, because again, where you’re positionally, what you do is really important. You interact with someone that’s really reluctant for whatever reason. They don’t think their employees will use it, which is typical. I would tell you with CHROs, is they love the technology, and then all of a sudden, then the fear comes in of, “Will my employees, ultimately, will they use this?”

William:  22:38
Tell the audience a little bit about, and again, no names, of course, but where you face that reluctance and then the success that they’ve had in getting over that reluctance and then obviously using Fabulous to do what it needs to do.

Sean:  22:59
It’s an interesting question. You’re asking about engagement, right? You couldn’t be more right. I mean, we talked to HR leaders all the time that say… Especially ones that might themselves be really focused on habits and they do fall in love with it and they’re gun shy, right? Of course, they don’t want to mismanage their budget and it’s understandable. So behavioral science is the science of engagement, right? So engagement is saying that, engagement in a wellness app like this is saying, “Okay. People are going to build the habit of using the app and they’re going to continue to use it over and over.” Google actually just ran a study that at the six-month benchmark, Fabulous is the number one ranked app in terms of retention out of any wellness app on the market, and that’s a testament to the behavioral scientist on our team, because that is exactly what we do inside the app for consumers and we extrapolate basically those same lessons and bring it to the B2B market, so things like making sure that they are intrinsically motivated.

Sean:  24:19
So for example, incentives might be good to get people starting to use it, but if you don’t in the first 30 days flip that extrinsic motivation to intrinsic, you’re not going to get people to be using the app in six months and you won’t get the ROI. Another thing is anything that you read, any book about habits or developing new habits will tell you that education is the first step, and that’s kind of… If you go back to that example I gave about that live challenge with exercising, we’re teaching people something about exercise. We need to make sure that we’re educating people on why picking this app up is even important, right? Maybe we’re sharing examples of Steve jobs and Oprah Winfrey talking about their morning routine and how a morning routine is going to help you be successful in the workplace and in life.

Sean:  25:16
We always do webinars with our behavioral scientists whenever we kick off a new client and we include things like that, like education and getting things going or behavioral science influenced emails and subject lines. It was pretty interesting. We started working with an organization and their HR department was complaining that they were in, they were sold, but people won’t even open the benefits emails, right? We went back to a behavioral scientist, talk to him about some of these issues. We said, “Okay, what can we do here?” We asked the CHRO, “Do you mind sending an email to your entire company, not from [email protected], from your personal email.” And she’s like, “Yeah, if it’ll help.”

Sean:  26:08
So the subject line read, “Try not to open this email, from your CHRO to you.” Right? And it was personalized with their first name. As you can imagine, we had a 98% open rate on that email. We actually exceeded over 60% engagement with that company because people are opening. We’re all busy, but once you get it open, they start to read it and hopefully the content is quick to the point, valuable, clear call to action. We get people going. So sorry, that’s a long answer. But engagement, we look at that as the primary battle. So it’s a great question that you’re asking. It shows you really know this market well.

William:  26:56
Well, Sean, first of all, thank you. I appreciate the kind words. I love what y’all are doing. Again, I think COVID’s silver lining is that we are further along with some of these discussions. So I think that it’s ripe for you to be able to talk to folks about this. Again, there’s really not a counter argument, a serious counter-argument to healthy habits, but it’s a good thing. Now, it’s just a question of how do you do it and how do you institutionalize it and how do you do it for your employees if you’re thinking about it as a leader. So, thank you for carving out time for us. Thank you for coming on the Use Case Podcast.

Sean:  27:40
Well, I really appreciate that. Thank you for having us.

William:  27:45
Absolutely. It was fabulous.

Sean:  27:47
Hey, I like that.

William:  27:48

Sean:  27:48
I never heard that one before.

William:  27:50
No, I know. I know. I know.

Sean:  27:51
I’m kidding. I really love to see this trend towards wellness and healthy habits. Whether it’s with us or another company, I hope to continue to see corporate companies focusing on it. That’s why we’re in this business, is we want to help people live a more energetic and peaceful life, so it’s been-

William:  28:15
Right. Right. Get more out of life, I love that. I love that just in general. Sean, thanks for the time. Thanks for everyone that listens to the Use Case Podcast. Until next time.

Music:  28:27
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William Tincup

William is the President & Editor-at-Large of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. He's been writing about HR and Recruiting related issues for longer than he cares to disclose. William serves on the Board of Advisors / Board of Directors for 20+ HR technology startups. William is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned an MA in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.


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