Love Letters to Ourselves

What amount of selfies get posted to social media daily? The choices are 100 million, 500 million, and 1 billion. What’s your guess?

The correct answer to this week’s quiz is 100 million. As a percentage of the 2 billion images uploaded daily to social media daily, that’s only 5%. Nevertheless, 100 million is a lot of selfies in an era when it’s also estimated that every 3rd photograph taken by an 18-24 year-old person is of themselves. In 2006, Time magazine’s person of the year was “You.” That same year, Facebook became available to anyone with an email address and the selfie-stick was invented. Every selfie has been described as a “love letter to yourself,” and Rod Stewart has sung that every face tells a story. Bringing all of these—and more—fascinating strains together regarding what is happening within popular culture is Jessica Helfand in her fascinating, visually-rich book Face: An Visual Odyssey. Check it out!

Released today: episode #58 of my podcast series “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring Helfand and her book published by MIT Press in 2019. Click here to get to the new episode. 

Image of author Jessica Halfand and an image of her book "Face: A Visual Odyssey" for Dan Hill's EQ Spotlight Podcast episode #58 "Love Letters to Ourselves".

Jessica Helfand is a designer, artist, and writer. She taught at Yale University for over two decades, and has had additional roles at a variety of institutions ranging from the American Academy in Rome to the California Institute of Technology. Helfand also cofounded Design Observer.

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Dan Hill, PhD, is the president of Sensory Logic, Inc.

Why Superfund Toxic Waste Sites and Offices Are Often Alike

Image of this question: What amount of money does the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) spend annually on cleaning up toxic waste sites in America? The choices are $100 million, $1 billion or $10 billion. What’s your guess?

The correct answer to this week’s quiz is $1 billion, almost the entire budget for the EPA (which has been cut in half by Congress in recent years). Also, perhaps worth knowing, companies that caused the problem often avoid paying the clean-up costs: most often because offenders can’t be identified, no longer exist, or claim they can’t afford to contribute. 

How do toxic waste sites compare to offices? Well, with over 25% of all bosses qualifying as bullies, and burn-out rates in various occupations running in the range of 50% or more, hazards abound. People’s lives feel contaminated by undue and/or uncompensated stress. Who’s to pay up? Just like taxpayers shouldn’t have to compensate for the ill-gotten gains of companies polluting our environment and using citizen’s taxes to finance Superfund clean-ups, why should stressed-out employees be left holding the bag? When will Vice Presidents, Directors and Managers have their pay and career advancements influenced by metrics such as the employee retention rate in their departments along with other metrics like the absenteeism rate vs. the company average, and an accounting of the degree to which the mental health needs of employees reach a chronic level?

Released today: Episode #57 of my podcast series “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight” features Paula Davis, the author of Beating Burnout at Work: Why Teams Hold the Secret to Well-Being and Resilience.  Click on here to get to the new episode.

Image of Paula Davis and her book: Beating Burnout at Work. For Dan Hill's EQ Spotlight Podcast episode 57

Paula Davis JD, MAPP is the founder and CEO of the Stress & Resilience Institute, a training and consulting firm. She’s been featured in The New York Times, O (The Oprah Magazine), and The Washington Post; and she’s also a contributor to Forbes, Fast Company and Psychology Today

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Dan Hill, PhD, is the president of Sensory Logic, Inc.

How Well Do Books Compete with Your TV set?

As Covid-19 struck, did the amount of books Americans buy go up or down? The options in this pop quiz are a) down 10%, b) flat, no change from 2019, and c) up 10%

The correct answer to this week’s quiz is number 3) because sales rose 8% compared to 2019 book sales.  That’s the “good news,” as people were generally stuck at home while the pandemic raged. The bad news, if you’re a bookstore owner or employee, is that bookstore sales were down 23% versus 2019 given that they were either shuttered or often had limited operations. The bigger picture “bad news” for the book industry is that the percentage of people who read a book on a typical day has declined from 26% to 19% from 2003 to 2017. In comparison, TV / streamed viewing is an activity consuming 10x more of people’s time than cracking open a book. The fear that books may become less relevant in a world driven by TV et cetera was, Joanna Scott says, one of the underlying concerns motivating her latest book, a collection of short stories about the often blurry line between fact, fiction, and the fantasies that play in our heads.

Released today: a pair of podcasts. Episode #56 of my podcast series “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight” features Joanna Scott, the author of Excuse Me While I Disappear. Click here to get to the new episode. While on the web site, slide over into the Biography channel to listen to my episode with author Nelson Johnson regarding his book Darrow’s Nightmare: The Forgotten Story of America’s Most Famous Trial Lawyer.

Joanna Scott is the author of 12 books, including Arroganceand Various Antidotes, both PEN-Faulkner finalists, and The Manikin, a finalize for the Pulitzer Prize. Her awards include a MacArthur Fellowship and a Guggenheim Fellowship. She teaches at the University of Rochester.  

Nelson Johnson is a retired New Jersey Superior Court Judge and the author of four previous books including Boardwalk Empire, which inspired the HBO series about Atlantic City.

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Dan Hill, PhD, is the president of Sensory Logic, Inc.

On the 1st Anniversary of George Floyd’s Murder

Photo from Exhibit 17 from Derek Chauvin’s trial was a still-frame image of the police officer glaring at onlookers while his knees rested on George Floyd’s throat. What was Chauvin’s facial expression saying? The answer is both anger (tense lower right eyelid, wide open right eye and lowered eyebrows) as well as fear (eyebrows raised, creating a large wrinkle across Chauvin’s forehead) and Disgust  (curled upper lip and protruding lower lip)

This week marks the first anniversary of George Floyd’s death under the knee of Derek Chauvin. Much has been written about that tragedy, including an article a month ago by John Blake of CNN.

The thrust of Blake’s article—about the harm that indifference to injustice causes—I agree with. As an expert in analyzing facial expressions, however, I couldn’t disagree more with how Blake describes the look on Chauvin’s face as being “one of bored disinterest,” with the “only flicker of emotion” being “annoyance at the crowd” gathered to plead for Floyd’s life. This still-frame image (Exhibit 17 in Chauvin’s trial) actually tells a far different story. There isn’t just annoyance on display; there’s very real anger in how strongly Chauvin is glaring at the crowd. There’s fear, too, as at some level Chauvin must have known that having video bear witness to what was transpiring could put him in legal jeopardy. 

Finally, there’s a hint of a third emotion as well, namely disgust given how Chauvin’s upper lip curls a bit while the lower lip pushes down slightly. Disgust with the victim his knee is suffocating? Disgust with the crowd? With the idea that anybody would dare contest a policeman’s actions? Who’s to say. Disgust is an emotion Chauvin certainly won’t own up to as he appeals a guilty verdict as it would reveal a repugnance for the very people he was sworn to protect and serve.

What inspired you to write the book?

Released today: episode #55 of my podcast series “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight” on the New Books Network. The episode features Carla Diana, the author of My Robot Gets Me: How Social Design Can Make New Products More HumanClick here to get to the new episode.

Carla Diana is a robot designer responsible for the creative aspects of Diligent Robotics’ new hospital service robot named Moxi. She created and leads the 4D Design masters program at the Cranbrook Academy of Art, wrote the world’s first children’s book on 3D printing, Leo the Maker Prince, and she cohosts the Robopsych Podcast.

Dan Hill, PhD, is the president of Sensory Logic, Inc.

Image of New Books network and Dan Hill's EQ Spotlight podcast logo

Dan Hill, PhD, is the president of Sensory Logic, Inc.

Game Face: Signature Expressions and Feelings

Disgust best describes Nadal, whose nose will often wrinkle and his upper lip flair as if the very thought of being a mediocre player smells and tastes “toxic” to him. In turn, surprise as in paying hyper-intense attention is what most defines Djokovic. Look at how wide his eyes go as he prepares to receive serve. Therefore, the answer to today’s pop quiz is that happiness best fits Federer. He glides around the court like a ballet dancer showing a subdued smile and mirth given his delight in playing the sport well. So much for the fits of anger or prolonged tears that plagued his days as a junior player. The exception: it’s when Federer receives serve, for which he ranks a mere 16th on the ATP tour these days (compared to #2 under pressure and 5th for having the greatest serve among active players).

Released today: episode #1 of my podcast series on the New Books Network’s Biography channel. The episode features Dave Seminara, the author of Footsteps of Federer: A Fan’s Pilgrimage Across 7 Swiss Cantons in 10 ActsClick on here to get to the new episode.

Dave Seminara is a writer, former diplomat, and passionate tennis fan. His writings have appeared in The New York TimesThe Wall Street Journal, and dozens of other publications. His two previous books are Bed, Breakfast & Drunken Threats: Dispatches from the Margins of Europe and Breakfast with Polygamists: Dispatches from the Margins of The Americas.

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Dan Hill, PhD, is the president of Sensory Logic, Inc.

What Women Show That Men Don’t Notice

Actually, the answer was the women’s faces about 80% of the time, with the remaining 20% split more or less evenly between the women’s bust lines and the products on sale at various price points. Surprised? You shouldn’t be. Faces reveal a lot, if you’re paying attention. For instance, in Nicole Tersigni’s book that pairs 17th-19thcentury paintings of men and women together alongside snarky, pointed captions, what are the women being portrayed in the paintings feeling as they listen to the men hold court?

When the topic is mansplaining, it’s often anger—perhaps due to men trying to control how the women should “see” the world. When the topic is men pretending to be concerned, it’s often contempt—perhaps due to the women not trusting that the men have their needs and wants most at heart. And when it’s men giving guidance regarding sex and deportment, it’s often fear—perhaps due to the women’s discomfort with having their private space violated by men making insinuating moves in their direction. Do the men in the paintings notice how the women are reacting? No, they don’t; instead, the men are mostly smiling—at ease, despite failing to comprehend, or perhaps enjoying that the women in their company feel uncomfortable.

Released today: episode #53 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring Nicole Tersigni, the author of Men to Avoid in Art and LifeCheck out the audio link below to get oriented or click on here to get to the new episode.

Nicole Tersigni is a comedic writer experienced in improv comedy and women’s advocacy. She lives in metro Detroit with her husband, daughter, and two dogs. 

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Dan Hill, PhD, is the president of Sensory Logic, Inc.

Is It Time to Retire the Saying “Bully for You”?

Given the difference between bias and prejudice, what’s the best counter-response to prejudice. Is it an “I” statement, an “It” statement or a “You” statement?

First, let’s clarify that prejudice is a consciously-held bias against others based on gender, race, religion, or other factors. As for our little quiz, “I” statements may work best in responding to people not even aware that they have a bias problem. The reason is that telling these people how their bias impacts you personally, as a victim of bias, increases their awareness, and makes them take responsibility for the bias rather than (falsely) attribute that bias to others. A “You” statement is a way to get bullies who are being mean-spirited and exercising power to back off – in very personal terms. You’re fighting power with the power that your response will have consequences for the bully in question. That leaves an “it” statement as your best tool in countering prejudice because you’re dealing with a fixed attitude, a bias or essentially, an unmovable object that must be called out objectively for what it is: a cancerous problem.

Released today: episode #52 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring Kim Scott, the author of Just Work: Get Sh*t Done, Fast & Fear and her business partner, Trier BryantCheck out the audio link below to get oriented or click here to get to the new episode.

Kim Scott and Trier Morgan co-founded the company Just Work to help organization and individuals crate more equitable workplaces. Scott was previously a CEO coach at Dropbox, Qualtrics, Twitter, and other tech companies. She’s been on the faculty at Apple University and led various teams at Google. 

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Dan Hill, PhD, is the president of Sensory Logic, Inc.

Tesla: The Poster Child of Context Marketing

The correct answer is C because for the Model 3, for instance, Tesla has spent about $6 on advertising for every model it’s sold. How is that possible? The answer is that Tesla leads the way in changing the business model from build / market / sell to market / sell / build and market some more. Tesla does so by having a values-based purpose out ahead of the traditional value proposition, i.e., Tesla aims to rid the world of fossil fuels. That positioning earns Tesla free media and buyer loyalty. And Tesla goes further by inviting consumers to provide input on where its showrooms are located, how they want to configure their own cars based on guidance from an owner advisor, and a referral program with a $1,000 cash incentive to both the owner and the friend who purchases based on a referral. The result is that Tesla has 22% of the electric car market, Mercedes-Benz 5%. 

Released today: episode #51 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring Mathew Sweezey, the author of The Context Marketing Revolution: How to Motivate Buyers in the Age of Infinite MediaCheck out the audio link below to get oriented or click here to get to the new episode.

Mathew Sweezey is the Director of Market Strategy for Salesforce. Mathew is the host of the award-winning podcast The Electronic Propaganda Society and an accomplished author, having written for The EconomistForbes, the Harvard Business Review, and AdAge

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Dan Hill, PhD, is the president of Sensory Logic, Inc.

What’s Your Unpacking List Look Like?

“If you’re looking to challenge yourself and change your life, where might you visit? Option A is Las Vegas, where “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” Option B is for you to decide.

It’s been said that tourists visit, travelers explore. A journey that has both an external and internal component means taking a hard, realistic look at the habits and characteristics of your current life and daring to imagine how you might transcend the status quo to reach a more ideal self. To do so requires “unpacking” to make room for new learnings and growth. Some journeys pose physical challenges. Others might pose challenges that are more emotional, spiritual, social or mental in nature. Everyone has a bucket list. Take your top 5 destinations and put them to this test: which best qualifies as posing the fullest challenge possible along all five dimensions for you?

Released today: episode #50 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring Eric Rupp, the author of The Transformational Travel Journal: Your Guide to Creating a Life-Changing JourneyCheck out the audio link below to get oriented or click on here to get to the new episode.

Eric Rupp is a founding partner at the Transformational Travel Council, and runs an insightful naturalist guiding company. He’s a traveler, storyteller, engineer, carpenter, designer, and woodsman. After building traditional stone houses in Spain and running a small university in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, Rupp currently splits his time on- and off-grid around Seattle, Washington.

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Dan Hill, PhD, is the president of Sensory Logic, Inc.

Making Company Culture Something Real

AN image of the question "Tell me about something you’ve invented” a the question Twilio CEO Jeff Lawson asks of job candidates wanting to join his company.

In the book, The CEO Test, which executive “aced the exam”? I would vote for Jeff Lawson, the CEO of Twilio, a cloud communications platform company. Why? Lawson allows for very little daylight between Twilio’s espoused values and how the company actual operates. Here is how Lawson pulls off that feat:

  • First, the company’s values were formulated based on broad input from current employees, not just as an exercise controlled by the c-suite.
  • Second, those values are carried forward to future employees by being front and center during the hiring and onboarding processes. The “invention” question above is but one example, given the goal of ensuring every employee likewise has a “builder mentality,” which is one of Twilio’s core values.
  • Third, quarterly and annual employee awards, as well as all promotions, involve honoring employees who embody the company’s values. The converse is that violating those values is cause for the firing of even high-performing “culture felons.”

Released today: episode #49 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring Adam Bryant, the co-author, along with former Amgen CEO Kevin Sharer of The CEO Test: Master the Challenges That Make or Break All Leaders. Check out the audio link below to get oriented or click on https://newbooksnetwork.com/category/special-series/dan-hills-eq-spotlight to get to the new episode.

Image of Author Adam Bryant and the cover of his new book "The CEO Test: Master the Challenges that Make or Break All Leaders" For Dan Hill's EQ Spotlight podcast "The X-Factors That Set the Best Leaders Apart" episode 49

Adam Bryant is managing director of Merryck & Co, a leadership development and mentoring firm. Before that gig, Bryant was a journalist for 30 years, including at the New York Times where he authored the “Corner Office” column. In addition, he’s a frequent contributor on CNBC.

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Dan Hill, PhD, is the president of Sensory Logic, Inc.