A Day on Behaviour Change

Learn how to make changes that last in 2020.

Usually, when trying to make a change, we think willpower is the answer.

If we just try harder and be more disciplined, it’ll work this time.

But very often, it doesn’t.

A 2016 study found that 80% of New Year’s Resolutions fail by the second week in February.

Whether we want to give up smoking, start exercising, or commit to a new habit, often we find our best efforts fall to the wayside, and after a few weeks we’re right back where we started.

Worse still, now we feel guilty we’ve ‘failed’ which can make us feel less motivated to try again in the future.

Could it be that most of us are just lazy and irresponsible? Or might it be that we don’t understand how our brains really work and the actual science of changing behaviour? In other words, might our common sense about behaviour change be wrong?

A growing body of research indicates that if we want to make changes that last, willpower is not the answer.

Rather, there are evidence-based approaches now being used every day to help people drop extreme addictions and develop new empowering habits.

So for your New Year’s Resolution this year, what if you tried a different approach? One that was evidence-based and scientifically proven to make changes that last – even in extreme cases?

Might you also get a different result?

On Sunday 26th January 2020, three of the UK’s leading experts on behaviour change will present lectures on:

  • Neuroplasticity and Behaviour Change; how past experiences influence your perception, personality and behaviour today, and practical neuroscience-based insights for making the changes you want in your life – Dr Gabija Toleikyte, PhD
  • How to Make Changes that Last; the truth about the behavioural, psychological and cultural factors that lead to change, and how you can apply these insights to create lasting changes – Sophie Sabbage
  • Placebos and Behaviour Change; the role of unconscious processes in change, and how we can hack the amazing power of placebos for changing behaviour; both on a personal, and societal level – Rory Sutherland

You’ll learn how these unique insights can benefit your own life, but also your ability to help others too.

Want to give this experience as a gift to someone else? Check out our gift vouchers.

Event Schedule:

  • 10:00am – 12:00pm: Neuroplasticity and Behaviour Change – Dr Gabija Toleikyte
  • 12:00 – 1:00pm: Lunch break
  • 1:00pm – 3:00pm: How to Make Changes that Last – Sophie Sabbage
  • 3:00pm – 3:30pm: Afternoon break
  • 3:30pm – 5:00pm: Placebos and Behaviour Change – Rory Sutherland
  • 5:20pm – 7:00pm: Attendee Social & Networking (Optional)

Full Day Pass: £38.25 + VAT + booking fee

Student Pass: £20.25 + VAT + booking fee


Sun 26 Jan 2020
09:30 – 17:00 BST

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26/01/2019 09:30 AM
26/01/2019 5:00 PM
University of Greenwich, London
The Weekend University – A Day on Behaviour Change

University of Greenwich,
10 Stockwell Street,
London, SE10 9BD

Lectures & Speakers

Neuroplasticity and Behaviour Change – Dr Gabija Toleikyte

Have you ever come up with amazing New Year’s resolutions such as losing extra weight, starting saving up money, starting your own business, make a bitcoin osto, exercising regularly, changing your career, eating much healthier or quitting smoking? You pumped yourself up with great enthusiasm and thought things are going to be very different this year. Fast forward – what happened a month down the line?

If you are like the majority of us, you’ve probably gone back to where you started. We form habits subconsciously without even realising it and yet we often struggle to change them. Although our brains have an enormous ability to change (neuroplasticity), following old habits require much less energy and effort. Also, our brains resist a sudden change and we get emotional conform from following the same old ways. Therefore, creating a lasting behavioural change is not easy.

If you are fed up with this yo-yo effect and want to gradually create a lasting change, then you might want to consider learning from a neuroscientist and performance coach Dr Gabija Toleikyte about what conditions does your brain need to activate neuroplasticity and create a lasting behavioural change.

In this talk you will learn:

  • Which parts of the brain are responsible for creating and maintaining old habits?
  • Which parts of the brain are required for creating a lasting change?
  • What is neuroplasticity and when is it active?
  • A brain-based explanation on why we fall back to old habits
  • Brain-based practical tips on how to create lasting behavioural changes.
Recommended reading:
Dr Gabija Toleikyte - The Weekend University

Dr Gabija Toleikyte is a neuroscientist and business coach. She completed her PhD at the University College London on the neuronal basis of memory and navigation. During her PhD, Gabija acquired a business coach qualification and worked as an internal coach at UCL for senior academics and administrative staff.

Combining coaching experience with neuroscience insights allows Gabija to develop unique seminars, where solid neuroscience research is presented in the context of the topics relevant for individuals and organisations.

How to Make Changes that Last – Sophie Sabbage

Sophie Sabbage defines ‘transformation’ as ‘the shift that doesn’t shift back again’, but that word has been so overused and under-delivered it now qualifies as a ‘jargon’ word with little substance or meaning. The personal growth arena is flooded with ‘mindset coaches’ and ‘transformational’ practitioners promising lasting behavioural change. But, in reality, this is a relatively rare accomplishment – one that requires work, courage, commitment and no small amount of pain.

In this session, Sophie will:

– Address why one of the most powerful words in the English language (transformation) has been stripped of its true meaning and power;

– Outline some of the most resisted and neglected factors for lasting change (behavioural, psychological, cultural) that she has discovered in her work with tens of thousands of individuals and some leading organisations;

– Explain why change is often necessarily incremental and why we need to embrace this instead of expecting seismic shifts that human beings are not designed for;

– Highlight some of the shadows being cast by the self-help movement in this area;

– Share personal examples of transforming in response to adversity and of changing slowly, layer by layer, in other areas of her life.

– Provide information about how you can create lasting change in your life AND accept the changes that need to unfold over time (even in our instant gratification culture).

There will then be time for questions, dialogue and a deeper inquiry as a group.

Reading Recommendations:

Sophie Sabbage - The Weekend University

Sophie is a writer, speaker and transformational facilitator who has worked in the field of human development, mindset transformation and corporate culture change for over twenty years. During that time, she co-founded an award-winning consultancy with her mentor, Dr. K. Bradford Brown, an exceptional psychologist and theologian who was a direct student of Carl Rogers, Viktor Frankl and Alan Watts–three of the most influential thinkers of the twentieth century.

Since being diagnosed with late-stage lung cancer in October 2014, Sophie has drawn on all her skills, wisdom, courage and tenacity to pull herself back from the brink of death and create her life anew. Instead of going to war with cancer she chose to listen to it, thrive with it and transform her life in response to it. This has included redefining her work so she can continue to be of service within the limits of her illness.

All of Sophie’s work is dedicated to awakening the mind and freeing the spirit through bold, authentic and creative engagement with the challenges of life. You can find out more about her work at www.sophiesabbage.com.

Placebos and Behaviour Change – Rory Sutherland

Why should aspirin be expensive?

Why are branded analgesics more effective?

The psychologist Nicholas Humphrey argues that placebos work by prompting the body to invest more of its limited resources in recovery. He believes that human immune systems evolved for an environment much harsher than the one we are currently living in, so we have evolved capabilities to ‘trick’ our unconscious into believing the conditions for recovery are much more favourable for our immune system to work at full tilt.

The ministrations of doctors (witch or NHS), exotic potions (homeopathic or antibiotic), or the caring presence of relatives and friends can all create this benign illusion. Yet policymakers hate the idea of any solution which involves unconscious processes. If you suggested that the NHS invest more in elaborate drugs packaging, they’d have conniptions.

Too little is spent researching the placebo effect in proportion to its importance. Why is this?

In this talk, Ogilvy Vice Chairman Rory Sutherland will explore how we can hack the amazing power of placebos for changing behaviour; both on a personal, and societal level.

Reading Recommendations:

  • Sutherland, R (2019) Alchemy, 1st edn., London: WH Allen.
  • Rory Sutherland (2019) Alchemy, 1st edn., London: WH Allen.
  • Miller, G (2010) Spent, London: Penguin.
  • Miller, G (2001) The Mating Mind, London: Vintage.
  • Taleb, N (2007) Fooled By Randomness, London: Penguin.
  • Beinhocker, E (2007) The Origins of Wealth, London: Random House.
  • Ariely, D (2009) Predictably Irrational, New York: Harper.
  • Kay, J (2011) Obliquity: Why our goals are best achieved indirectly, London: Profile Books.
Rory Sutherland - The Weekend University

Rory is the Vice Chairman of Ogilvy in the UK, and the co-founder of a behavioral science practice within the agency. He works with a consulting practice of psychology graduates who look for ‘unseen opportunities’ in consumer behaviour – these are the very small contextual changes which can have enormous effects on the decisions people make – for instance tripling the sales rate of a call centre by adding just a few sentences to the script.

Before founding Ogilvy’s behavioral science practice, Rory was a copywriter and creative director at Ogilvy for over 20 years, having joined as a graduate trainee in 1988. He has variously been President of the IPA, Chair of the Judges for the Direct Jury at Cannes, and has spoken at TED Global. He writes regular columns for the Spectator, Market Leader and Impact, and also occasional pieces for Wired. He is the author of two books: The Wiki Man, available on Amazon at prices between £1.96 and £2,345.54, depending on whether the algorithm is having a bad day, and Alchemy, The surprising Power of Ideas which don’t make Sense, which was published in the UK and US in March 2019.

Rory is married to a vicar and has twin daughters of 17. He lives in the former home of Napoleon III – unfortunately in the attic. He is a trustee of the Benjamin Franklin House in London and of Rochester Cathedral.

What TWU attendees are saying:

    5 star review  I found the 3 speakers to be extremely well prepared, professional, charismatic, authentic in their delivery of there content. They all had something to share. They were very clear on the "takeaways" which I found in important for such a long day. They all 3 were also very generious in spending time after their talk, to answer more 1-2-1 questions on the side of the room. Very generious. I look forward to future weekend university days.

    Anthony Lee Avatar Anthony Lee
    January 29, 2018

    positive review  A great mix of speakers - superb experience and learnt a lot! Really creative learning! Sue de Botton

    Sue de Botton Avatar Sue de Botton
    March 25, 2018

    positive review  The Weekend University was a great discovery. I attended "A day on behaviour change" where the key speakers and lectures were very inspiring and motivating. Great experience to share thoughts with people around. Thanks Naill for the great organization. Looking forward to the next one.

    Bosko Zerajik Avatar Bosko Zerajik
    February 25, 2019
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The Weekend University seeks to guarantee an excellent learning experience. If you are not fully satisfied with the day, you will receive 100% of your money back, and we will cover the cost of your travel to and from the venue.