Moving the world

“Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world” – Archimedes

Archimedes was referring to the idea that you can get a much bigger return on effort from some strategies relative to others. This page is about just such a strategy. A simple and novel point of leverage that could have a potentially significant impact.

Both planetary and personal well-being share much in common in being complex, systemic challenges in which human behaviour is largely equally the cause and the solution. Behaviour in turn is a function of our Behavioural intelligence (BQ).

BQ is a similar concept to IQ and EQ but rather than reflecting mental or emotional mastery it represents the ability to master one’s own behaviour. The potential in BQ is that it is a system of competencies that anyone can develop. Together with a BQ curriculumm and program, a digital delivery mechanism, and consumer packaging, we can build the world’s BQ.

By building BQ we develop people’s capability to create well-being for themselves and others. We are Rehabit; a New Zealand-based social enterprise lead by Mitch Olson. We envision a world where people building their BQ are empowered to imagine futures they hadn’t previously dreamed of.

Over the last 18 months we have designed a digital product and packaging that delivers BQ through a variety programs around well-being and self-improvement themes. We are looking for NZ$375,000 of capital to complete the product and launch. This will build a 18 month cashflow runway that will see a small team through to financial self-sustainability. The information below outlines a plan to do this.

We would appreciate your help to find the capital required to bring this lever to market. We invite you to read on to find out more about how together we can move the world.

Well-being is under threat and urgently needs new solutions

We are all becoming increasingly aware of the existential threat of climate change and the danger it represents to the well-being of our planet. What is not as well acknowledged is that deteriorating personal well-being shares much in common with the dynamics of climate change, and the unchecked consequences of it could be just as catastrophic in the long-term. We see the evidence of this in globally escalating rates of conditions such as addiction, depression, youth suicide, diabetes, obesity and consumer debt.

There are obviously significant costs associated with this.  For instance healthcare costs amongst OECD countries currently accounts for around 9% of GDP, but is forecast to grow by up to 45% through to 2050.  One in five New Zealanders experience mental health or addiction challenges at any given time and it’s estimated that in 2014 the economic cost of serious mental illness alone was $12 billion, or 5% of GDP.

The evidence of personal well-being is most obvious in the symptoms of its absence, however it impacts everyone and is the most important aspect of the human experience. Well-being is a continuum that ranges from conditions like those above, to people’s subjective sense of psychological prosperity and self-actualisation. Its importance is starting to be recognised and even reflected in the measures of governments, however most approaches to date are either not addressing root causes or otherwise an ambulance-at-the-bottom-of-the-cliff.

The single most important determinant of well-being is behaviour

Threats to planetary and personal well-being share much in common as the outcome of long term, largely invisible, systemic and complex factors.   In both cases the cause lies largely with our own behaviours and our capacity to recognise their relative dysfunction and take responsibility for them.

Whilst we all start in life with varying degrees of capability and relative vantage, we all share in common a responsibility for our own life.  Where we start from will affect our immediate opportunities, but regardless of this the only person who can transform a possibility offered or support received into better personal outcomes is ourselves.  

Of course the way we do this is through our actions which we collectively call our “behaviour”.  No matter what domain of life you are working in, more effective behaviour leads to better outcomes.  But what leads to more effective behaviour?

Behavioural intelligence is the key to changing behaviour

We are all familiar with the concept of IQ – Intelligence Quotient – a concept originally developed in 1905. It represents our mental intelligence and is a measure of our mastery with mental tasks.  Following on from this, Emotional Intelligence or “EQ” was popularised by Daniel Goleman in 1995, and is our ability to understand and master emotions. Whilst both of these “quotients” play a role in our behaviour they are only a subset of what determines it.

It follows then that if our life outcomes are a function of our behaviour then the mastery and effectiveness of that behaviour is determined by our Behavioural intelligence or “BQ”.  A simple example of one of the many facets of BQ is the “intention-action gap”.  The intention-action gap refers to the difference between what people say they plan to do and what they actually do.  The graveyard of broken New Years resolutions is testimony to this gap.

“Of the 10 million bits per second that our brains process, only 50 bits is devoted to conscious thought. This means that to a great extent, we are wired for inattention and inertia rather than attention and choice. As a result, we often experience a gap between what we want to do (were we to stop and think about it) and what we actually do.”

Bob Nease – “The Power of Fifty Bits”

In the face of our broken promises we generally resign ourselves to the shortcomings of our willpower or some other reason.  We believe that the intention-action gap is a function of our BQ, and that BQ can be developed.

We believe

  1. BQ is a competency that can be fostered and developed.  Unlike IQ it is a capability whose growth is only limited by our willingness to develop it.  We also believe that building a satisfying and successful-in-your-own-terms life is more dependent on BQ than IQ or any other capability.
  2. There is a system of behavioural competencies that lie at the heart of behavioural intelligence.
  3. Developing and delivering a scalable solution to build BQ calls for new ways of thinking about and approaching human development and innovation across a range of different domains.
  4. This solution has to be broadly accessible to everyone, low-cost to both deliver and “consume”, flexible enough to engage everyone, and of course effective

Fundamentally new trajectories into our future can only be built by new behaviours, and these in turn are built on new behavioural intelligence.  The unique quality of Behavioural intelligence is that BQ is similar to a muscle that develops strength as it is exercised and skill as it is practiced.  Furthermore, because behavioural intelligence is a foundational life competency it creates a virtuous cycle of self-efficacy, capability and aspiration in people’s lives

Our purpose is to transform the possibility of people’s futures

What if our children could be helped to develop their behavioural intelligence; what difference could it make to their futures, and their children’s futures? Or people dealing with managing their lifestyle in the face of a chronic disease, or struggling to rise above generational poverty.  What difference can you imagine it might make if it was possible to accessibly help every person build their BQ?

We are Rehabit; a social enterprise envisioning a world where people building their Behavioural intelligence are empowered to imagine futures they hadn’t previously dreamed of.   Our mission is to develop and deliver an innovative product that makes this future available to everyone.

We have a fresh and innovative approach to building well-being

If you want to change behaviour at scale you need these four disciplines

In order to cost-effectively deliver a BQ-building solution it requires experience and expertise in four disciplines;

  1. Behavioural science in order to understand what makes people do the things they do
  2. Human development to understand how people grow their capability
  3. Digital technology to understand how to scalably deliver a solution, and augment it with data science and machine learning
  4. Consumer product design to understand how to package things that people want

Various organisations have combined some of these disciplines to build compelling products. For instance Silicon Valley giants like Facebook and game design companies have leveraged behavioural science, technology and product design to build habit-forming apps. Consumer finance companies use behavioural science and product design to build “why wait” credit products. We have even seen some relatively simple examples of all of these used in apps like Duolingo and Melodics, that whilst not fundamentally focused on changing behaviour, do help people to learn a new skill.

What we haven’t witnessed so far is the successful combination of all of these domains in order to change behaviour. What we bring to the market is the combination of an uncommon experience set and a mission to build BQ and well-being.

How we package BQ so people want it

People’s motivation and desire for something better kickstarts all new endeavours to build a better life. It provides not only the trajectory of effort but also the energy to realise it. If you want to help people to change their behaviour you need to meet them there so you can help them do what they already want to do.

“Learning matters most when you want to close the gap between where you are and where you want to be.”

Much of what people are dissatisfied by in their lives is the effect of bad or unconscious habits. In addition people repeatedly set goals for themselves that they fail to realise. The value proposition and “packaging” of our product is the difference people want in their lives. We are packaging BQ in a variety of different “programs” centered around the typical changes people want in their lives.

Our approach

The name we give to our philosophy and approach to developing BQ is called “Self Authorship”.  Self authorship is the ability to consciously choose one’s behaviour and experience in order to be more effective in getting what you want. Our solution to building BQ lies in our 5 Axis framework; five crafted components, executed together in an integrated digital experience.

1. The core curriculum is state-of-the-art

Underlying all fundamental change is new ways of looking at ourselves and the world around us.  New distinctions and understanding are fundamental to this and the first axis of our solution is a general model of competency together with a curriculum to deliver this.  The foundation of Self authorship is a system of 10 “meta” skills based upon the latest cognitive science. These skills are configured into a core curriculum and then packaged and delivered via a range of programs.

2. The programs are market-demand-driven

New year’s resolutions are typical content for which we are planning to build a range of programs (available throughout the year).  Our first programs will include life goals such as “losing and maintaining weight”, “exercising more”, “better managing money” and “better managing stress”.  There are a countless number of programs we could develop as we scale up our program development and delivery capability.

3. The community enhances retention

Getting started on the path to new behaviours is relatively easy, but staying on the path is much more difficult.  One of the essential components of Rehabit is the community of people sharing a similar path to you.  The community provides a combination of practical advice through sharing experiences, emotional support to help keep people engaged, and the shared identity of people on a journey together to build better futures. Collectively this provides a “sticky” experience that enhances persistence and retention.

4. The platform is powerful and accessible

The fourth component is the digital platform that cost-effectively delivers the value proposition to the end-user. The platform takes the potential in the curriculum, program and community and transforms that into an digital execution. On launch we plan to release iOS and Android apps, and shortly thereafter a web-based app.

5. Persuasive technology is our super-power

Underlying the 5 Axes Framework is the combination of behavioural science and the emerging new powers of digital age; machine learning and data science. The promise of “Persuasive technology” is to combine the psychological insights of behavioural science to influence behaviour with the scalable interactivity of digital technology.

  1. Practical insights from behavioural, cognitive and motivational science is a lever we utilise to tip the scales of possibility in the favour of the participant.  The domains of science above, as well as Behavioural economics and Game design help us to give the participant an edge they wouldn’t otherwise have by augmenting their motivation and diminishing the inertial factors of change.   

2. Machine learning and Data science are emerging technologies that are opening new possibilities to understand complex patterns of data.  This in turn helps us to create practical and increasingly powerful predictive models around people, their behaviour, their outcomes, and what works to help bring these together.

The market is big, growing and ripe for disruption

Our launch markets are the “Wellness” and “Self improvement” markets which between them have a global Total Addressable Market of over four trillion dollars.


1. The “Wellness” market needs new approaches to behaviour

The wellness economy is more than half the size of all global health spending and estimated to be worth US$4.2 trillion (5.3% of global economic output). It encompasses all activities which promote physical and mental wellbeing: from yoga to healthy eating, personal care and beauty, nutrition and weight-loss, meditation, spa retreats, workplace wellness and chronic condition programs.

“In the last few years, wellness has become a dominant lifestyle value that is profoundly changing consumer behaviour and changing the markets.” 

Fast Company

Healthcare costs are rising faster than GDP and in the face of rising chronic disease, stress and unhappiness the industry is forecast to experience strong growth in the coming decade. In addition it is becoming increasingly recognised that behaviour plays the largest part in health and well-being1“What’s the biggest driver of health care costs?”, UC Berkeley School of Public Health. Most non-communicable diseases are preventable through proper nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle habits.

The challenge for the healthcare sector is that its traditional approach is based upon the authority of the expert and focus on dispensing pills rather than changing behaviour. Sustainable behaviour change on the other hand requires the exact opposite and this creates a market opportunity for a scrappy young start-up like ours to bring innovative new approaches.

The most sophisticated players in this market are those organisations providing digital wellness programs directly to consumers.  This is through employee well-being programs or through physical well-being agencies  representing at-risk patients who have conditions like diabetes or hypertension.  Examples of these organisations include Omada Health, Mango Health and Melon Health.

The competitive advantage we bring to this sector is a more sophisticated integration of the four disciplines; behavioural science, human development, digital technology and consumer product design.  We discuss this further in the section on Competitive advantage in the appendices.

2. “Self-improvement” industry trends point at us

The self-improvement market in the US alone is estimated to be worth about US$12 billion. Self improvement is about developing one or more facets of your life.  The self-improvement market encompasses a wide variety of products and services including books, online courses, coaching programs, webinars, conferences and mobile apps etc.

The biggest trends in the industry are shifting demographics, the growing role of digital, and the increasing focus on convenience and cost.

Millennials are driving the growth of the self-improvement industry.  They spend twice as much as baby boomers, and digital technology plays a much more significant role for them. 

The largest players in this market are only leveraging one or two of the four disciplines and are ripe for disruption. Mobile apps are a relatively small but fast-growing sector. The most successful of them are the meditation apps like Headspace and Calm. Between these two alone they generate nearly US$200 million in annual revenues and whilst not representing direct competition do demonstrate the ability to generate substantial subscription-based revenues in this sector. We believe there are significant opportunities for an innovative new player to steal market share as well as grow the market altogether.

The Kittyhawk of Behavioural intelligence

Growing Behavioural Intelligence entails developing mastery in motivation, awareness, mental modelling, capacity for discomfort, learning, self-belief and perseverance.  Solving for these challenges requires an approach which goes beyond traditional and contemporary models of learning and development and the available tools and solutions.  

We are still in the early days of understanding how to positively influence BQ.  One of the stories that inspires our mission is that of the Wright Brothers trying to build the first successful airplane.  The critical breakthrough in their story was the creation of the three-axis control system which enabled the plane’s roll, yaw and pitch to be adjusted.  Together with refinement of the power-to-weight ratio in the plane chassis this led to a new possibility that revolutionised transport in a way that was never previously imagined.  We believe our 5 Axis Framework in conjunction with the rest of our novel IP has the potential to also be revolutionary in building Behavioural intelligence and well-being.

New Zealand as a global leader

Our country is recognised by overseas visitors as one that places a relatively greater emphasis on well-being, and related values like work-life balance. In fact we are the first western country to design its entire budget around well-being priorities. New Zealand’s Minister of Finance, Grant Robertson says;

“Wellbeing means people living lives of purpose, balance and meaning to them, and having the capabilities to do so”

We agree, and think that Behavioural intelligence is the most essential component of these capabilities.  We think that innovative and scalable products that deliver BQ are the essential pathway to well-being. We believe that together with our innate pioneering spirit and natural inclination to innovate, New Zealand is well positioned to be a global leader and innovator in well-being. Rehabit is a part of that story.

A personal request

“Other than being a father and life partner, this project means more to me than anything else I have done in my life. I think its ambitious potential to make a meaningful global impact is too good to be ignored.”

The time is right, now!

  • As a species we need to urgently develop new ways of meeting challenges to personal and planetary well-being
  • Newly emerging technology and science, in conjunction with the recent ubiquity of mobile smartphones makes scalable BQ impacts now possible
  • There is a window in the market now to leverage first mover advantage opportunities
  • Two of the things that makes life meaningful are that it is indeterminate and it requires our participation. We don’t have the luxury of deferring or not taking punts on promising new approaches.

Can you help me?

I need your help to find the group of people who will be a part of fuelling our burn through to launch and 12 months beyond. I would appreciate your help in any of these ways:

  • Sharing this webpage with anyone you know. Perhaps someone who is making investments in social enterprises, or is connected into social impact investment and philanthropy networks
  • Share with anyone who you think might be interested in what we are doing
  • We gratefully welcome any other offers of advice or time to contribute in any way to boost our chances of success
  • OR, invest in this project 🙂

Thank you

February 2020


  1. Shortell, Dr Stephen M., “What’s the biggest driver of health care costs?”, UC Berkeley School of Public Health