Keynote: Dave Birss on “How to Release Happy Chemicals in People’s Brains.”

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Dave Birss is a creative expert who helps people and organizations boost their creativity
and innovation. Dave is obsessed with creativity: what it is, where it comes from, its role in
history, its place in our future, and what makes some people more creative than others.

His main role is running RIGHT Thinking, a company based around a thinking system.
Dave developed to help people apply the right kind of thinking at the right time.

As well as being an advertising creative director, he’s been a film director, radio
broadcaster, poet, stand-up comedian, session musician, record producer, illustrator, and
university lecturer. Dave is currently working on a handful of films and more books.

In this keynote presentation, Dave talks about the importance of effort and friction in creating value and triggering the release of ‘happy chemicals’ in the brain. Despite not being present due to a flight, Birss recounts his journey from fear of public speaking to becoming a confident speaker through practice and perseverance.

He challenges the pursuit of frictionless experiences, suggesting that such ease has made humans lazier, with adverse effects on physical and mental health. The talk addresses how technology has led to a reliance on external devices for memory and decision-making, advocating for reintroducing friction into our lives to improve cognitive abilities.

Birss examines the psychological impact of friction, relating it to the release of chemicals like adrenaline, dopamine, oxytocin, and serotonin. He explains how these chemicals influence behaviours and emotions, discussing both good and bad types of friction.

Using examples ranging from cake mixes that require adding fresh eggs to exclusive customer experiences like Kylie Jenner’s makeup line and a child-free holiday resort, Birss illustrates the power of exclusivity and effort in enhancing perceived value and emotional investment.

He also explores the business success stories that have leveraged exclusivity, such as Kylie Jenner who became a billionaire after selling her stake to Coty Makeup. The talk delves into various realms, including the dynamics of online dating platforms like eHarmony and the psychology behind certain jobs and clubs that are deemed exclusive.

Birss advocates for deliberately adding friction to create challenges that lead to the release of happy chemicals, such as adrenaline and oxytocin, through anticipation and effort. He offers a free course called “Creative Boot Camp” aimed at improving idea generation at the end of the talk.

You can read or listen to the transcript of his talk here.

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Like Minds is a global thought leadership platform delivering world class events on business development, knowledge and insight aimed at entrepreneurs and business leaders to engage, stimulate and empower them to become global businesses of the future. We also offer a bespoke service for corporate clients and training programmes under the Like Minds U brand. For more information please email