Brain Trust

brain trustWhat is Brain Trust? When do we recognize an empathic trigger for decision making? Is there a thought process that takes place to make this happen? Or do we go with our gut feeling?

To neurophilosophy pioneer, Patricia Churchland, Brain Trust argues that:

“Morality originates in the biology of the brain. She describes the “neurobiological platform of bonding” that, modified by evolutionary pressures and cultural values, has led to human styles of moral behavior.”

I’m going to touch on a couple of areas that I feel to be key points in which allow us to make decisions. All three comparisons are very similar but each unique to their own.

Intuition vs. Intellect

Intuition is defined as the ability to acquire knowledge without inference or the use of reason. This is a feeling in which we will posses for a very short period of time. A period of time that will either make or break the outcome based on our action(s). Most people I’ve discussed this with tend to refer to their “gut feeling” when we discuss this. A feeling. A heartfelt feeling that comes from the inside. Something personal and real. Most who are aligned with this often refer to a divinely guided source; faith based and often a very spiritual “pointer” or “marker” allowing them to come to a conclusion.

Intellect is often defined as the power of knowing as distinguished from the power to feel and to will: the capacity for knowledge. Now, I can’t say that I completely agree with this, as I’ve always been under the impression that it’s a matter of one’s capacity of knowledge (facts) but not necessarily anything to do with actual wisdom or what’s more commonly referred to as “common sense”. This kind of compares to what I recently posted about my “IF, THEN, and GOTO” philosophy. The use of intellect when making decision

Emotion vs Logic

I think most of us know the bodily feelings we get when emotion kicks in and I’m convinced that it’s the primary force in which guides us. And if not, it needs to be. More often than not, I see people over-think and over-analyze a situation (God know’s I’ve done this… a lot!) and create a very complex (and often busy, inaccurate) decision based on knowledge and noise they’ve gathered over the years. This is often self-sabotaging and damaging to others involved. We’re creatures of the heart and possess a certain amount of morality. I believe this to be something very personal and very natural for all of us and think we need to embrace it more than any other attribute assigned to us.

As far as logic is concerned, I believe this to have one place and one place only: To make a decision based on black and white. If there is something proven in an area that is not influenced by human opinion and has a solid basis, something proven in the area of science, then by all means… use it. Working extensively with technical professionals, and very recently being involved in an intimate relationship with a scientist, I’ve noticed one thing in common. Whether we want to admit or not, we all think we have a profound answer to all situations. Whether it’s something we’ve stored in our own little God-given storage banks or a reference we have access to. We believe we have all the answers and overlook one small detail: Emotion; one thing that has no predictability.

Do you think decision making is a methodological or humanistic approach?

Using Simplicity To Stimulate Innovation

steve levitt wbf2010Co-author of the bestseller Freakonomics, Steve Levitt, took the stage at the World Business Forum to share stories about tax fraud, passing gas, and prostitution. This was definitely not a typical economics discussion, but a great storytelling experience. He expressed how some of the best ideas in business today are also the simplest ones.

“The best ideas are the simplest ones, and after you hear them they’re totally obvious, yet they evade us for years and years and years. You don’t have to be Albert Einstein or Stephen Hawking to have great ideas. You just have to think and keep your eyes open.” ~ Steve Levitt

He said the problem most businesses have is that they don’t make time to step back and think about things like academics within the organizations.

“As an academic, I do nothing,” Steve said. “I am in the classroom 60 hours a year. Other than that I can do whatever I want and can think about ideas. In most workplaces, people have jobs to do and that gets in the way of thinking and creating innovative ideas.” One company that bucks that trend is Google, which encourages employees to spend 20 percent of their time on new ideas. This has led to Google Maps and other tools for the company.

Also, academics dedicate their time working on one question incredibly well. In business, people have hundreds of questions to answer by the end of the week. With that much volume, it’s hard to answer each question well. In some cases, just an answer is sufficient.

Levitt said he is jealous of businesses because they have their own data to work with. “Businesses create their own data,” he said. “As an academic I have to sit back and wait for it.” While businesses have a lot of data, many companies tend to make big decisions without feedback or metrics in place to learn about what they’ve done. He recommends that for every decision, companies should answer the question, “in a month, will I know if that was a good decision or bad decision?” Otherwise the data is just data, not insight.

The most striking difference between academics and business in Levitt’s view is that academics come from a perspective of “I don’t know,” he said. “Meanwhile, the phrase “I don’t know” is the least common phrase in business. It seems that everyone’s job is to pretend they know the answer.

He challenged the audience at Radio City Music Hall to repeat the phrase to themselves at least once a day, and to also encourage employees to do it. Once they say it, it allows them to step back and experiment with new ideas. “If you can never admit you don’t know the answers to questions, you can never get better.”

Something I found interesting and brave (to say the least), was that he left the audience with brief personal story. A story about his meeting with a call girl (for business purposes), and how he advised her to raise her fee with no adverse impact on business. She just needed to take a step back and think about it.

Take a moment to step back and look how you can simplify your innovative passions. How would you do it and how would you help others simplify their goals?

Income vs. Wealth

income wealth“The average American millionaire realizes significantly less than 10 percent of his net worth in annual income.” – Thomas J. Stanley, William D. Danko

I’ve come to terms that most people think that once you become a millionaire, all your worries will be over.

Until I had the privilege to work with some of the wealthiest professionals in the country, I too used to think the exact same thing. It wasn’t until after sitting down with and having talks over coffee about what it means to have a sense of financial freedom that I realized it’s not about how much income someone has come in, it’s about having the wisdom to handle it. With that said, it reminds me of a talk from Randy Haugen where he said: “If you can’t manage your finances with 40k a year coming in, then you are going to be flat out dangerous if/when you have a million!”

Stanley and Danko, authors of the best selling business classic, The Millionaire Next Door, conducted a twenty-year study of how people become wealthy in America and found some surprising results. Annual income does not translate to net worth automatically. Smart entrepreneurs use their income to give their company the resources it needs to grow. The average millionaire then looks for ways to decrease income, pay lower taxes, and use what money is left over to increase net worth.

A story is related in their book about a Texan who had done so well in the business of rebuilding diesel engines that he was taking on British partners. The Brits flew to Texas to meet him and were rather taken aback by his ten-year-old car, his worn jeans, and his modest home in a lower-middle-class neighborhood. In fact, on meeting him, they thought he was one of the company’s truck drivers. Then he showed them his spreadsheets, and they were blown away!

Besides hard work, accumulating wealth requires discipline and sacrifice, and that might mean living below your means. Keep your eye on the prize and don’t be influenced by keeping up with the Joneses.

Verbal And Non-Verbal Communication

verbal nonverbal communicationBelieve it or not, all of us speak to the world without having to say a word through non-verbal communication. Almost every facet of our personality is revealed through our appearance, our body language, our gestures, our facials expressions, our overall demeanor, and our posture and movements.

In our professional and personal lives, we’d like to think we could make friends and influence people if we verbally articulate our message with optimism, enthusiasm, charisma, poise, and charm. However, did you know that the verbal impact of communication only accounts for 7% of your overall message? The bulk of our communication comes across in our appearance and body language, comprising 55%. Tone, speed, and inflection of our voice make up the remaining 38%.

Since non-verbal communication encompasses 93% of our overall message, here is a closer look at what that entails.

It can include your attire, tone of voice, clearing your throat, rubbing your eyes, crossing your arms, tapping your toes, scratching your nose. Eye contact, or lack thereof, gestures, crossed legs, open arms, and the scent we transmit are all forms of non-verbal communication. Through your choice of clothing, hairstyle, glasses, accessories, and makeup if applicable, your appearance also communicates a strong message. The way you dress plays a vital part in how listeners receive you and how others respond to you.

According to author John T. Molloy, who is responsible for Dress for Success, clothes are used as a tool to control how others react to you and treat you.

In an interview situation or during a business meeting, it is very important that you send out the right signals. Always look attentive and interested in the opportunity or conversation – do not slouch in your chair. If you fib, your body language, the tone of voice or choice of words will probably give you away. Classic body language giveaways include looking everywhere other than the person you are speaking to and concealing your mouth behind your hands while speaking.

Not only is it important for us to be aware of our own body language, but it is as important to understand what body language means so we can effectively assess and react to others. For example, we may pass a negative judgment on someone because they slouch, fidget, or pout. If we are aware of why we made the judgment, we can filter out our biases and understand what their body language means and what it is telling us about that individual.

The most significant fact you should remember is that non-verbal signals have five times the impact of verbal signals. When the verbal and the non-verbal parts of the message are congruent, the listener believes your message. If they are not congruent, usually your words are saying yes, but your body language is saying no.

Always remember, actions speak louder than words.

What kind of experiences have you had with comparing verbal and non-verbal communication?