Behavior Science Expert Chase Hughes Trains Real-World Jason Bournes on How to Negotiate, Interrogate, and Read People for Extreme Persuasion
In this series called Member Showcase, we publish interviews with members of The Oracles. This interview is with Chase Hughes, founder and president of Applied Behavior Research, which develops behavior analysis and human-influence techniques. It was condensed by The Oracles.
Who are you?
Chase Hughes: I served in the U.S. military for 20 years and have become a behavior science expert for intelligence work and now business. For the better part of 15 years, I have been developing world-first behavior skills courses and tactics for intelligence operations.
As a teenager, I had social anxiety and barely made it out of high school. I became obsessed with human behavior, and the better I got at reading people, the more human they became to me. I reached a point where I was able to see much deeper into peoples’ hidden selves than I ever thought possible.
Twenty years later, I founded Applied Behavior Research. We teach groundbreaking behavior science skills around the world, such as advanced persuasion, behavioral investigation, profiling, and nonverbal analysis. I’m also the author of the bestseller, “The Ellipsis Manual: Analysis and Engineering of Human Behavior.”
What are you more skilled at than most people in the world?
Chase Hughes: I’m a world leader in human behavior and influence. I specialize in reading human behavior and what we call “behavior engineering.” I use these skills to teach people, businesses, and government agencies on how to negotiate, interrogate, profile, and read people to create specific behavioral outcomes, so they have an extreme competitive advantage. It’s designed to make our students the most “dangerous” person in the room and have an extremely unfair advantage in their chosen field.
Most of us can agree that someone with world-class people skills wins versus the person with all the tactics and books. But for some reason, many people try to solve problems with more books, tactics, and techniques. Our training gives you the full package — the best skills and tactics, with the social element — and it’s been tested in the most extreme circumstances. Our training is deployed worldwide to the most elite end-users on earth, from executives to government agencies.
What are the core values that guide your business?
Chase Hughes: Our business is built on one core principle: We rise by lifting others. We chose this because our teachings can be pretty dangerous if misused.
We’ve even been called a “psychological arms dealer,” which is why we’re selective about our clients. But I believe most people will use it for good, like with any weapon. I firmly believe that we should leave everyone better than we found them.
What’s your favorite quote?
Chase Hughes: My favorite quote is from Aristotle: “Character may almost be called the most effective means of persuasion.” Over the years, I’ve found that a person’s character makes more of a difference in their results than their skill. I believe that a lifetime of leveling up your character will serve you much more than any book knowledge.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Chase Hughes: I would let little Chase know that there is only one important quality that successful people share: They all have the ability to calmly enjoy the things that others neglect. Whether it’s laundry, reading, or homework, they calmly approach and complete these tasks without much mental resistance.
How do you define great leadership?
Chase Hughes: In the corporate world, the “leader” and the “person in charge” are usually two different people. As a behavior profiler, I define leadership in terms of behavior, and great leadership is your ability to set the example on and off-camera.
The way you live makes you contagious; you’re able to generate “followership” through your behavior alone.
How do you hire top talent?
Chase Hughes: I like hiring people who are smarter than me. It’s also more beneficial to hire someone who prides themselves in their work than someone who might be the “best” at it.
I ask myself three specific questions when hiring someone. First, will this person stand up to me if they think I’m making a mistake? We leaders need someone to pull back the reins occasionally. Second, are their values aligned with my brand and personal values? I want to find out before I encounter a situation where our values clash. Finally, how do they talk about their previous job? This will reveal how they got along with their boss and team.
How do you prevent burnout?
Chase Hughes: Burnout sucks. I experienced it often until my mentor gave me advice that changed the game for me. I was complaining about being busy and having to be on multiple conference calls, so he asked me: “Why did you decide not to enjoy that?”
This question immediately shifted my perspective. There are people all over the world who gracefully manage busier schedules than mine. I only got overwhelmed when I decided to be overwhelmed. Whenever you get to that breaking point, imagine a CEO who calmly enjoys handling a schedule twice as busy as yours (yes, they exist).
What are you working on right now?
Chase Hughes: We just launched a course called “Tactical Behavior Science.” It teaches law enforcement officers advanced de-escalation techniques and shows them how to predict indicators of violence, which will save lives. We also launched a course to help women secretly identify narcissists and manipulators on a first date, which can help them avoid bad situations down the track.
Our business consultancy is becoming a secret weapon for many companies and venture capital groups. It’s fun to train businesses at the level of CIA operatives like the movie character, Jason Bourne. We give them tools designed for intelligence operations, so they have an unfair advantage in almost any situation.
What do you want your legacy to be?
Chase Hughes: I want to be known for setting an example for my children on how to live.
We will be working on building schools for girls in Afghanistan, as well as a few schools in Ecuador, and I would like my kids to take over that work someday.