Spencer Greenberg is the CEO and Founder of Spark Wave, and is my boss for my work there.
He has been an incredibly positive influence on my life. I first heard him on a podcast episode of Action Design Radio and thought to myself, "oh my gosh, I need to talk to him. He thinks how I think and how I aspire to think." He runs a behavioral science based Startup Foundry. How cool is that? As I describe in Hyper learning, that is an ultimate ambition of mine. This means he's about 10-20 years ahead of me in a career vision I didn't know others held.
He asked the question, "If someone had a gun pointed at your head and asked you to find the true answer to a question, would you have other ways to do it besides running an experiment?" This is something that had long been running through my mind in some form, and he put words to it. He declared that he is a collector of tools, and every research method is a tool that has its own usefulness and caveats. He taught himself behavioral science!
He is creative and autodidactic, striving for accuracy in his beliefs and efficacy in his decisions to maximize his impact on the world. It’s interesting - he’s simultaneously a fox applying many contextually useful theories as tools, while attempting to develop his own hedgehog theories of everything psychology. While I’m generally skeptical of theories of everything, if anyone is going to do it, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s him. Maybe that sort of convergence is just the evolved end state of advanced fox thinking.
So after I listened to that podcast, I sent him a message on LinkedIn, set up a call, and during the call mentioned that I wanted to work for him. He wasn't explicitly hiring, but was interested anyway and wrote a job description for me. I was shocked by how well he captured my strengths when he described the different sorts of projects I might work on after just one conversation. He gave me a trial project and then hired me part time so I could simultaneously develop my independent consulting practice. My consulting has only improved as a result of my work with Spark Wave.
Before I started working with Spark Wave, I didn't really have other behavioral scientists to bounce around ideas with and ask advice. I was pretty much figuring out behavioral product strategy and gamification on my own through my research and client projects.
Spencer has been an incredible mentor for me. His experience and knowledge is immense, making him an excellent thought partner. He can sniff a weak argument or under-evidenced claim from a mile away, and suggest alternative points or methods to validate my ideas. He’s also great at pointing out when an idea doesn’t actually need validation, saying things like “the potential downside is low but the upside is high so we might as well” or “We don’t need more validation to just do that, the principles are sound.” He's changed my mind multiple times and I have changed his.
As a manager, he gives me autonomy and respect in my projects, describing the goal, letting me figure out my approach, and then providing guidance when I need or ask for it. The projects he has given me with Thought Saver, Mind Ease, UpLift, GuidedTrack, and internal Spark Wave projects have enabled me to hone my craft in a supportive and experimental working environment.
Working with Spark Wave has been an incredible sandbox for my personal and professional growth, and I have Spencer to thank for it.