Getting Out of Your Own Way

Quote by Everett M. Rogers from his book, Diffusion of Innovations. "Only 2.5% of people like to be guinea pigs for something new."

“Problems, the problem is you –what ‘ya gonna do, you’re a problem,” snarls Johnny Rotten on the only studio album The Sex Pistols ever recorded. While punk rock isn’t the force it was in 1977, the problem of trying to solve problems, both business and personal remains central to our daily lives. Enter Thomas Wedell-Wedellsborg with his own take on the matter. Given that only one in 25 of us is open-minded about participating in something new, our problem solving could benefit from a methodology to push us forward. 

Here is the Danish author’s in a nutshell:

  • Frame the problem– Create a written statement that avoids being too vague, too ambitious, or else not ambitious enough (because a preferred solution is implied).
  • Look outside the frame– Consider expertise outside your group, plus look to prior events and hidden influences for a fresh perspective on the problem you’re trying to solve.
  • Rethink the goal– Understand the benefit of the benefit you seek on order to arrive at a more valuable solution.
  • Identify solution sources– Are there instances where others have already solved a version of this problem? If so, learn from those examples.
  • Finally, gain perspective– Admit that you and the various shareholders interested in problem-solving have biases and may be contributing to the problem as well as blocking a superior solution. Remember that successful collaboration requires vulnerability which, in turn, requires fostering an atmosphere of trust for everyone involved.

Stop Solving the Wrong Problem

Released today: episode #29 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring Thomas Wedell-Wedellsborg, the author of What’s Your Problem? To Solve Your Toughest Problems, Change the Problems You Solve. Listen to the clip below and click on the image to get to the new episode.

Photograph of the author, Thomas Wedell-Wedellsborg and his book "What's Your Problem?" for Dan Hill's EQ Spotlight podcast

Thomas Wedell-Wedellsborg is a globally recognized expert on innovation and problem solving whose clients have ranged from blue-chip companies to The United Nations. His work has been featured in The Economist and the Financial TimesHR Magazine named him a “Top 20 International Thinker.” 

This episode covers the author’s Rapid Reframing Method for solving people-related problems in particular. Specific topics include: how emotions can either facilitate or hinder the challenging of established mental models, how reframing fits the top 3 skills of importance for the future economy, and why “vagueness” is the enemy of change.

Dan Hill, PhD, is the President of Sensory Logic, Inc

Coping with Covid-19 Related Stress

University of Phoenix Quote "68% of Americans feel that everything is out of their control"

The number of Covid-19 cases is rising quickly again in America. If Donald Trump’s post-election shenanigans mean he’s serious about running for President again in four years, then it’s time to prepare for the political equivalent of Covid-24. No wonder so many Americans feel uneasy. 

Anxiety is rooted in a feeling that you’re not up to handling the circumstances you face. That sensation can trigger profound, prolonged sadness (depression) because your situation feels hopeless.

 Fortunately, the topic of my podcast this week involves seven habits people can foster to help them cope with adversity. Depending on your personality type and existing interests in life, you may gravitate to one or more of the following habits:

  • Three ways to make physical connections: by 1) exploring nature, 2) by having a household pet, and 3) by listening to your own body through breathing exercises like those yoga teaches.
  • Three ways to enhance your cognitive appreciation through: 4) enjoying the power of laughter, 5) music, and 6) stories. 
  • The final habit is 7) spiritual: using prayers and meditation to anchor in something you do control, your own values and sense of being. 

Rewiring Your Brain to Escape Stress & Anxiety

Released today: episode #28 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring Christophe Morin, the author of The Serenity Code: How Brain Plasticity Helps You Live Without Stress, Anxiety and Depression (SAD)Listen to the clip below and click on the image to get to the new episode.

photo of author Christophe Morin and his book cover "The Serenity Code". The title to EQ Spotlight podcast "Rewiring Your Brain to Escape Stress & Anxiety"

Dr. Christophe Morinhas received multiple speaking, publishing, and research awards during his career. He holds an MBA from BGSU, and both a MA and a Ph.D. in Media Psychology from Fielding Graduate University. The episode focuses on three transformational steps: better understanding your personality and motivations, practicing self-love, and finally choosing among seven habits those that may best help sustain you and bring you more inner calm.

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

Could Workplaces Become Semi Ghost Towns?

Propelled in part by Covid-19, all sorts of changes are afoot in today’s workplace:

  • 70% of companies are offering full-time workers the ability to work from home.
  • Workers are relocating outside of major city-centers to feel safe, save money, and have more space, now that they don’t have to be in centralized offices and can work remotely. 83% of employees are in favor of relocating and 20% have done so in 2020.
  • Over 72% of workers favor a hybrid workplace model, allowing for structure and sociability (the office) while also enabling independence and flexibility (the home).

Combine these trends with the need to upgrade skills as Artificial Intelligence makes inroads, and what do we see? In the future, workers will be more on their own than at anytime since the shift from farms to factories over a century ago. In navigating change, keeping your eyes open to learning (curiosity) is going to be vital to surviving and thriving on the job.

Making Robots Our Friends, Not Our Overlords

Released today: episode #27 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring Jamie Merisotis, the author of Human Work in the Age of Smart MachinesListen to the clip below and click on the image to get to the new episode.

Merisotis is a globally recognized leader in philanthropy, education, and public policy. Since 2008, he’s served as the president of CEO of Lumina Foundation, an independent, private foundation dedicated to making opportunities for learning beyond high school available to all.

In this episode, the topics range from why and how the economy is rapidly becoming people-centered, to why the power is shifting from employers to workers as part of the 4thIndustrial Revolution. The role that academia can adapt in providing more practical, flexible life-long learning is also covered.

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

Heading into the Storm

Implicit association tests (IATs) suggest a bias in America favoring Whites over people of color

With the Election next Tuesday, America is about to see how well the “glue” holds. Can our courts and police forces provide a sense of justice being impartially served? Or will we descend into bleak partisan chaos if the voting is close?

My concerns focus on the political divide between Democrats and Republicans with regard to the Supreme Court. A majority of the current Supreme Court Justices were appointed by presidents George W. Bush, Jr. and Donald Trump, who both lost the popular vote. Chief Justice John Roberts, Brett Kavanagh and Amy Coney Barrett were all part of the legal team that aided Bush in the fight to count or not count votes in Florida. The Supreme Court eventually ruled in Bush’s favor and the Florida recount ceased, giving the Presidential victory to Bush.

Recently the Washington Post reported that white nationalists were attempting to infiltrate law enforcement . Since wide-spread racial bias seems to exist across our society, aided by stereotypes, what are the odds these extremists could find fertile soil, at times, in trying to recruit allies that give them elbowroom? 

Let’s hope for the best. But if legal maneuvering delivers an Electoral College victory to Trump, despite Joe Biden winning the popular vote, protests could erupt that will make the Black Lives Matter marches seem tame by comparison. Then how will the police respond?  Will fears of racial strife, lost lives and looting make the perversion of democracy seem like the lesser “evil”? Over the next days and weeks leading up to Inauguration Day in January, we’re about to find out.

How to Promote Peace in the Streets

Released today: episode #26 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring Thomas Abt, the author of Bleeding Out: The Devastating Consequences of Urban Violence – and a Bold New Plan for Peace in the StreetsListen to the clip below and click on the image to get to the new episode.

Abt is widely considered to be America’s foremost expert on the use of evidence-informed approaches to reduce urban violence. He is a Senior Fellow with the Council on Criminal Justice in Washington, DC. Prior to the Council, he held posts at Harvard University and in the U.S. Department of Justice.  Other media outlets that have covered Abt’s work include the Atlantic, the Economist, Foreign Affairs, the New Yorker, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, CNN, MSNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio.

In this episode, the topics range from the human and economic costs of violence, to how a focus on a limited number of bad people, bad places and bad behaviors can improve situations that may otherwise look hopeless. The interview’s final question raises the specter of whether police bias in favor of gun-toting white vigilantes could ever become a serious issue or not.

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

Three Reasons Why We Care

Evolutionary psychology suggests that being kind-hearted to those we don’t know isn’t a natural instinct. Quote by Author Michael McCullough

What’s our kindness to strangers rooted in? Look to these three R’s:

  1. Reciprocity – a social instinct to help others in hopes of receiving help in return.
  2. Reputation – a social instinct to help others though ultimately in pursuit of self-glory, i.e., appearing virtuous.
  3. Reasoning – an intellectual determination that there are beneficial incentives for doing so.

What’s the difference between the first two R’s and the last one? Reciprocity and Reputation go strictly back to “me”: either wanting to attract allies so we can be safer and happier (Reciprocity), or wanting to feel better about ourselves (Reputation). The third R, Reasoning, offers plenty of overlap with the first two R’s, but ultimately comes down to a hard-edged cost/benefit analysis, stripped of emotion. You’re after prosperity, and the more resources you have the lower will be the relative cost of helping others.

For instance, you might aid trading partners down on their luck, figuring they will then be in a position to buy more from you later on if revitalized. The bottom line, McCullough argues, is that human beings aren’t readily given to helping strangers. It often takes the addition of the harsher 3rd R to push us toward being “kind.”

The world’s great religions–and the Golden Rule–were born as the volume of people our ancestors were interacting with was growing rapidly. Today, international trade is helping to drive the value of being seen as trustworthy even higher.

The Historical Progression of Empathy

Released today: episode #25 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring Michael McCullough, the author of The Kindness of Strangers: How a Selfish Ape Invented a New Moral Code. Listen to the clip below and click on the image to get to the new episode.

Michael McCullough is a professor of psychology at the University of California San Diego. He’s a fellow of both the American Psychological Association as well as the Society for Personality and Social Psychology. This episode first covers why people practice empathy and compassion, followed by seven stages of history whereby compassion became more generally practiced, and why.

Dan Hill, Ph.D, is the president of Sensory Logic, Inc.

Be Psycho-Logical

What’s better in business, and life, than always trying to be logical? It’s to be psycho-logical. Here are five insights from Rory Sutherland’s book for you to reflect on:

  1. Gain a competitive advantage by spotting the instances where universal laws don’t apply, and rivals haven’t noticed (yet).
  2. Relying on data can make you blind to important facts that lie outside your model; after all, data reflects the past rather than shines a light on the future.
  3. Being too rationale runs the risk of making you predictable, so competitors can anticipate and prepare for your next move.
  4. Evolution doesn’t care about accuracy, only fitness. So don’t get hung up on accuracy, strive for effectiveness.
  5. Prize understanding people over measuring things. Remember to factor in unconscious motivations as well as post-rationalizations to get a better handle on people’s behaviors, which shape attitudes and not the other way around.
How do animals attract mates and ward off rivals? They signal vitality in ways that cost them physically. Guess what? Consumers do it, too.

Spreadsheets Leave No Room for Miracles

Released today: episode #23 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring Rory Sutherland, the author of Alchemy: The Dark Art and Curious Science of Creating Magic in Brands, Business, and Life. Listen to the clip below and click on the image to get to the new episode.

Rory Sutherland is the Vice Chairman of Ogilvy, a legendary advertising agency. He’s a columnist for The Spectator and a former president of the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (the IPA). His TED Talks have been viewed over 6.5 million times. This episode covers lots of ground, including how important it is to not use logic as a filter, limiting your ability to notice the quirky patterns in people’s behaviors.

How Do Animals and People Handle Threats?

We’re in the stretch drive now of the 2020 presidential race, and from the debates to other staged events what might we learn from animal nature that applies to human nature? Plenty. Do any of these survival techniques remind you of what happens among candidates and in office politics, too:

  • Exaggerating one’s ferocity (growling, baring teeth literally or figuratively);
  • Puffing up one’s capability or accomplishments (to intimidate others);
  • Being or bluffing about being poisonous (therefore all the harder to conquer and absorb);
  • Engaging in deception (through camouflaging or mimicry of a more powerful ally); and finally
  • Being colorful, bright and intense (verbally or physically) to achieve social dominance.

Never forget that evolution sadly isn’t worried about theoretical questions of right and wrong. What works, wins, and winners-take-all wasn’t invented yesterday.

Animals do it, people do it, and in this case I don’t mean “fall in love.” There are five key
tricks of the trade to coming out on top in office politics.

Or Else: The Use & Abuse of Threats

Released today: episode #22 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring David Barash, the author of Threats: Intimidation and Its Discontents. Listen to the clip below and click on the image to get to the new episode.

Barash is a research scientist and author who spent 43 years as a professor of psychology at the University of Washington, Seattle. He’s written over 240 scientific papers, written or co-written 41 books, and been named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. This episode covers three key areas: the natural world, individuals and society, and international affairs.

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

A Glut of Disgust in the 2020 Race

Joe Biden on stage in Cleveland with Donald Trump who shows lots of disgust on his face during the 1st presidential debate of 2020

Oscar Wilde’s most famous play is The Importance of Being Earnest. But I’m here today to talk about the importance of disgust. Like contempt, disgust is an aversive, rejection emotion. But the two emotions are cousins, not twins. Contempt is an intellectual or attitudinal emotion—signaling distrust and disrespect. In contrast, disgust is the single most visceral emotion—signaling that something is poisonous: literally, physically, something stinks or tastes bad, and/or is morally repugnant.

In Tuesday night’s first—and I pray only—2020 presidential debate, Donald Trump oozed disgust—showing that emotion 10 times more often than Joe Biden. So what, you might say. Well, research shows that conservative people have greater disgust sensitivity. In other words, given their tried-and-true, less experimental nature, conservatives are far more likely to reject what’s new and unfamiliar. That conservative, disgust-sensitivity bias would seem to suggest that Trump was on-track by showing a glut of disgust on Tuesday. When, though, is lots of disgust too much of a bad thing?

Here are Tuesday’s emotional results:

A chart showing the percentage of facially coded emotion Joe Biden and Donald Trump showed during the 1st Presidential debate of 2020. Disgust is dominant and threatening

In short, Trump went emotionally overboard and likely repelled undecided voters, who tend to be less interested in and, hence, more emotionally low-key about politics. Take the President’s constant interruptions of Biden and even the moderator, Chris Wallace, then add that lack of decorum to Trump’s massive showing of disgust and now you’ve got someone whose bully-dominance is telling voters intuitively, emotionally—beyond words alone—that he’s prepared to blow everything up to get re-elected. Right-wing militia types like the Proud Boys might be delighted. Largely apolitical voters as well as female suburban voters are, however, likely to be left both appalled and profoundly uneasy, tilting them in Biden’s favor.

…he’s prepared to blow everything up to get re-elected.

Does It Smell Right?

The sense of smell is the oldest, most powerful sense we have. Its even the origins of the brain, meaning it should be I smell, therefore I think – not I think, therefore I am.

Why Has Hatred Become So Prevalent Today?

Released today: episode #21 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight” podcast series, featuring Berit Brogaard, the author of Hatred: Understanding Our Most Dangerous Emotion(Oxford University Press 2020). Listen to the audioclip below and click on the image to get to the new episode.

Photo of Author Berit Brogaard and the cover of her book "Hatred" featured on Dan Hill's EQ Spotlight podcast episode 21
What is it that makes hatred so addicting?

What is it that makes hatred so addicting?

Berit is a Professor of Philosophy and a Cooper Fellow at the University of Miami. Her areas of research include the topics of perception, emotions, and language. She’s published five books, four with Oxford University Press over the past decade, plus The Superhuman Mind, published by Penguin in 2015.

Topics covered in this episode include:

  • The two-fold nature of hatred, which has both a personal dimension and a group dimension to it. Hatred runs hotter and longer than anger, having more intensity and an attitudinal element.
  • How a 6th trait, honesty-humility, is a contender to supplement to the usual Big 5 personality model because it brings into the equation the role of narcissism, and its likely relationship to contempt.
  • How it is that some relatively privileged white men could be so prone to hatred toward women and minorities, with that hatred growing in times of greater economic inequality.

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

Clues to What You Might Detect on Stage

Photographs of Joe Biden and Donald Trump with arrows pointing to emotional expressions of anger, sadness, happiness and disgust to help TV viewers of the debates make sense of their emotions.

The fantasy is that citizens carefully, rationally, sift through political messages and information, making consciously informed decisions about which candidate to support based on the issues of the day. The reality is that 75% of Americans can’t name all three branches of government, 20% believe the right to own a pet is enshrined in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and 10% of our country’s college graduates think Judge Judy is a member of the U.S. Supreme Court.

So don’t think for a moment that emotions and intuitive, gut-reactions and biases don’t drive election results. How best to spot what a candidate is feeling?

Bear in mind that in ambiguous situations—think presidential debates—how we assess what’s being communicated is 55% from the face, 38% from the voice, and merely 7% from the words. Yes, facial expressions matter. So here is my cheat-sheet guide for you to use while watching the first debate on September 29th when the 7% of Americans who have supposedly not made up their minds may instead make up their hearts.

Chart of emotional expressions to look for in the first 2020 Presidential debate of Joe Biden and Donal Trump

Special Upcoming Roundtable Edition of Podcast

Airing on October 2nd will be a special, one-hour edition of my “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight” podcast. It features a pair of political scientists, John Hibbing and Jonathan Weiler, who specialize in the emerging field of biopolitics: how our emotions, personality traits and even, perhaps, our DNA can predispose us to a liberal or conservative political orientation. This special edition will focus on how swing-voters in play may have responded to what they saw and heard during the 1st presidential debate.

Images of the book Predisposed by John R. Hibbing and the book Prius and the Pick up by Johnathan Weiler for Dan Hill's EQ Spotlight

Is It Expensive To Be Yourself?

Released today: episode #20 of my “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight” podcast, featuring Timothy R. Clark, the author of The 4 Stages of Psychological Safety: Defining the Path to Inclusion and Innovation (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2020). Listen to the clip below and click on the image to get to the new episode.

Image of the Author Timothy R. Clark and his Book The 4 Stages of Psychological Safety

How does any organization invite the true, full participation of its members?

Clark is the founder and CEO of LeaderFactor, and ranks as a global authority on senior executive development, strategy acceleration and organizational change. He’s the author of five book, and over 150 articles. Clark earned a doctorate degree in Social Science from Oxford University.

Topics covered in this episode include:

  • Why showing respect and granting permission are the keys to unlocking potential.
  • What lies beneath stunning statics like, only 36% of business professional believe their companies foster an inclusive company culture, and only one-third of workers believe their opinions count; whereas, 50% of workers report being treated rudely at work at least once a week.
  • How a leader’s “tell-to-ask” ratio relates to whether that person suffers from the narcissism that limits the effectiveness of so many leaders.

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

The Death of Tired Sales Assumptions

Black and white photo of Lee J. Cobb and Mildred Dunnock with arrows to facial expressions and their emotions expressed via facial coding, in the play "Death of a Salesman".
Lee J. Cobb and Mildred Dunnock on stage in Henry Miller’s Death of a Salesman

Two plays have most defined how we see salespeople. One is shown here, from the original staging on Broadway of Henry Miller’s classic Death of a Salesman. There’s rage, but most of all there’s sadness in a drama in which Lee J. Cobb (playing the broken-down salesman Willy Lowman) moans: “The only thing you’ve got in this world is what you can sell.” In vain his wife, played by Mildred Dunnock, tries to comfort him.  

“The only thing you’ve got in this world is what you can sell.”

Lee J. Cobb in Death of a Salesman

What’s the other play? It’s David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross. Again, rage plays a role but really the key emotion is the fear that gets instilled in a crew of salesmen. From the film adaptation that added the character of Blake, played by Alec Baldwin, here is the movie’s most famous moment: “We’re adding a little something to this month’s sales contest. As you all know, first prize is a Cadillac Eldorado. Anybody wanna see the second prize? Second prize is a set of steak knives. Third prize is, you’re fired.”

“We’re adding… to this month’s sales contest…first prize is a Cadillac Eldorado…Third prize is, you’re fired.”

Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross

Let’s broaden and update the picture. As Daniel H. Pink pointed out in To Sell is Human, we’re all salespeople. Something like 40% of our time on the job is devoted to cajoling—persuading—selling others on what we would like to see happen.

What’s the real key emotion of effective sales nowadays? It’s surprise: eyes-wide-open curiosity. As Colleen Stanley points out in this week’s podcast, a salesperson who’s constantly learning about prospects, their needs, their hopes, their fears, and how to better connect with them, including online during Covid-19, is who you actually want to hire. Yes, steak knives are for losers but not in the way Blake meant. Serving up spoonfuls of comfort and hope would be more like it.

A Few Sales Tips

Using EQ to Build a Great Sales Team

Released today: episode 19 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring Colleen Stanley, the author of Emotional Intelligence for Sales Leadership. Listen to the clip below and click on the image to get to the new episode. 

What does it take to connect successfully with somebody you’re trying to “win over”? 

Stanley is the president of SalesLeadership, a sales development firm. She’s been named by Salesforce as one of the top sales influencers of the 21stcentury and also a Top 30 Global Sales guru.

Topics covered in this episode include:

  • In hiring, what should you be on against in both yourself and the job candidate? An eye for the “something” missing that you may or may not be able to resolve is one key.
  • Exploring a variety of buyer personas, including specifically: The Poker Face prospect, The Nitpicker, and The Glad-Hander. How best to dislodge an incumbent vendor so you can make the sale?
  • What is mean by helping a person on your sales team “untell” a story that is hindering that person’s effectiveness.

Dan Hill, Ph.D., is the president of Sensory Logic, Inc.