Not a Fair Fight

Quote from Germinal by Emile Zole: “I’ve got enough coal inside this carcass of mine to keep me warm for the rest of my days.”

In America, since 1900, over 100,000 coal miners have died in industrial accidents. Lately, though, Appalachia has been seeing far worse. The opioid crisis hit the region hard. Black lung, a disease that Congress tried to curb in 1969 by passing legislation meant to force coal barons to do a better job protecting the miners’ health, has increased. Pitting the miners’ pride and fear against the greed of wealthy coal barons, this is a story about a hard-pressed region struggling to stay afloat.

Released today: episode #37 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring Chris Hamby, the author of Soul Full of Coal Dust: A Fight for Breath and Justice in Appalachia.  Listen to the clip below and click on the image to get to the new episode.

Image of Pulitzer Prize author, Chris Hamby, and his book:  Soul Full of Coal Dust, A Fight for Breath and Justice in Appalachia for Dan Hill's EQ Spotlight podcast. Digging In: Coal Barons, Injustice, and Resistance

Chris Hamby is an investigate reporter at the New York Times. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting in 2014 and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in International Reporting in 2017. A native of Nashville, he lives and works in Washington, D.C.

This episode explores the experiences of a workforce, primarily male, that has long been exploited by those in power in West Virginia’s near-feudal economy. King Coal rules, and miners’ health and lives have been shortchanged in the process. Hamby documents how a few good-hearted people have fought for justice against mine owners, lawyers, and doctors only too eager to dismiss the miners’ legitimate health claims. It’s a parable that fits our era of looming economic inequality.

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

Fair is Fair

Meetings eat up the workday of most office employees.  But how efficient—and fair—are those meetings? Meetings often involve vague agendas, without a clear sense of purpose or outcome. When that problem of inefficiency happens meetings can feel like a long-winded story without a dramatic climax or pay-off. The story lumbers on until time runs out and everyone goes on to the next tedious meeting.

Beyond that problem, however, is another, ultimately even more corrosive problem: fairness. Often, meetings aren’t inclusive. Women in particular aren’t getting an equal chance to speak or, when they do, find themselves being sidelined. Men tend to speak 75% of the time, even though they rarely constitute 75% of the people in the room. Men also tend to interrupt women, co-opt their ideas, and leave them to do the “office housework,” i.e., things like taking meeting notes or bringing attendees refreshments. As a result, women can feel disregarded, disrespected and less motivated on the job, and who could blame them?

“Work smarter, not harder” has become a cliché. “Work more fairly” should take its place.

Why Gender Equity Is a Men’s Issue

Released today: episode #36 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring David G. Smith and W. Brad Johnson, the authors of Good Guys: How Men Can Be Better Allies for Women in the WorkplaceListen to the clip below and click on the image to get to the new episode.

David Smith is Associate Professor of Sociology in the College of Leadership and Ethics at the U.S. Naval War College. Brad Johnson is Professor of Psychology in the Department of Leadership, Ethics and Law at the U.S. Naval Academy, and a Faculty Associated in the Graduate School of Education at Johns Hopkins University.

This episode explores the experiences women have at work and how to improve matters, especially if male allies provide some help in changing office politics and how organizations behave. From situational awareness to acknowledging that sexual harassment is a man’s issue, so much can and should change. 

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

Working up a Sweat

Quote: Between 1965 and 2009, the amount of time Americans sit around increased by 43%. Daniel E. Lieberman

It’s a typical New Year’s resolution: you’re going to get in better shape. To do it, you’ll eat less or healthier and you’re also going to exercise more. Here’s the math. For the average adult American weighing 180 pounds, total daily energy expenditure is about 2,700 calories. Maintaining our body, i.e., our resting metabolism, will cover only 1,700 of those calories.

Where can you “pick up the slack” by expending another 1,000 calories each day? You might still be growing. You might be sexually active. You might be otherwise physically active, i.e., exercise. Those are your options. Otherwise, that extra 1,000 calories will go towards storing energy, i.e., getting fatter.

Human beings have not evolved to use up extra calories through exercise, even though that would be healthier. We inherited a survival strategy based on reserving our extra calories, a trait that has helped us stay alive and reproduce in the past. If we have not inherited an instinct to help us work up a sweat, what will motivate us? The answers is making it fun, including: exercising with friends, doing so while entertaining yourself, as part of a game, in a nice setting, and adding variety to exercise routines. Finally, set realistic goals in order to stay with it. Use those tips to make your life span and health span overlap.

Despite Not Evolving to Exercise, It’s Healthy

Released today: episode #35 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring Daniel E. Lieberman, the author of Exercised: Why Something We Never Evolved to Do Is Healthy and RewardingListen to the clip below and click on the image to get to the new episode.

Photo of Author Daniel E. Lieberman and a photo of his new book: Exercised Why Something We Never Evolved to Do is Healthy and Rewarding. Episode 35 of Dan Hill's EQ Spotlight podcast "Despite Not Evolving to Exercise, It's Healthy"

Lieberman is the Lerner Professor of Biological Sciences in the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University. He received degrees from Harvard and Cambridge Universities. This episode isn’t about how to exercise (more) but, rather, why exercise is important and the myths that surround it. A key part of the conversation is a comparison between Westerners and non-Westerners, especially in Africa, to offer insights of what kind of historic lifestyle patterns Americans now run the risk of violating.

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

Nature vs. Nurture

It’s a debate that’s been around since Sir Francis Galton, a relative of Charles Darwin, coined the term “nature versus nurture.” Does one factor matter more than another? In my interview with IQ scholar Russell Warne, he couldn’t say precisely how much each factor contributes. 

Nevertheless, a couple of other statements from his book give guidance. First, as we age, the degree to which our environment (nurture) influences our development and behavior recedes in favor of what we inherited though our genes (nature). Second, with adults in positive environments in industrialized countries (typically the West), the heritability of intelligence is about 80%. In other words, ultimately, nature wins for many of us in America.

It’s the holiday season at the end of a very bleak year. The chances are higher than usual that you haven’t been gathering with your parents this gift-giving season. But if you are, this might prove an opportunity to reflect on what you inherited from them: one’s IQ level to a fair degree, no doubt, but personality traits and behavior and habits as well. Here’s to wishing everyone well, and a better 2021!

An Accessible Guide to Being Smart about IQ

Released today: episode #34 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring Russell T. Warne, the author of In the Know: Debunking 35 Myths about Human IntelligenceListen to the clip below and click on the image to get to the new episode.

Warne is Associate Professor of Psychology at Utah Valley University. He earned his PhD in education psychology from Texas A&M in 2011. Dr. Warne has published two books and nearly 60 scholarly articles. The publisher of In the Know is Cambridge University Press. This episode covers the specific ways in which IQ can be bolstered (mostly physical factors) versus hyped interventions. The episode also touches on how “intellectual meritocracy” is unfortunately contributing to the country’s polarization.

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

Dark Moon on the Rise

Quote "Across history, what creates the risk of political instability is the behavior of elites." by Jack Goldstone and Peter Turchin

Yesterday’s New York Times includes an editorial, “America, We Have a Problem,” that cites three core ingredients putting America at risk. The ingredients consist of “othering”, “aversion”, and “moralization”: basically, ingredients that denigrate a person or political party that holds opposing views, rather than finding common ground.

Punitive intolerance and anger are often found in tandem, as my latest podcast guest explains more fully. Mix in money, power, and race; then add media-stoked anger and you have a recipe for an explosion.

Calling it the “Turbulent Twenties,” the scholars Goldstone and Turchin have modeled economic and demographic trends that suggest a political crisis is brewing in America, on par with the Civil War era. When the country’s elites are keen on protecting their own selfish happiness, the risk is great that the general public’s feelings of disappointment and distrust will turn to rage. Almost 30 years ago Goldstone predicted the rise of a figure like Donald Trump. Now would be a good time for another Lincoln or FDR.

Anger, Politics, and the Health of American Democracy

Released today: episode #33 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring Steven W. Webster, the author of American Rage: How Anger Shapes Our Politics. Listen to the clip below and click on the image to get to the new episode.

Webster is an assistant professor of political science at Indiana University. His research and writings focus on the role of anger in American politics, including the growth of “negative partisanship” in our country, and the ever greater polarization separating Democrats and Republicans.

This episode covers the behavioral implications of anger in American politics, from increased intolerance, blame, and aggression, to an ever-deepening lack of trust in government’s efficacy. Among the topics being addressed is the role of the media and internet in stoking anger; how democratic norms are threatened by partisan taunting; and the way anger invites loyalty to party over country.

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

Of Changes & Values

From David Bowie to Tupac Shakur and others, songs about CHANGES abound. More prosaically, however, change proves hard to pull off. Since individual behavior changes must also happen for larger, company-wide initiatives to succeed, let’s turn the focus to individual change. Sustained personal change depends on tapping into deep-seated, inner motivations, which brings us to a person’s values system. 

Forget hackneyed corporate vision statements. What’s your own vision statement? If you had to choose, what five values might you select as most important to you? And if you created a bucket list of things you want to accomplish, personally and professionally, what 12 items might be on that list and why? In other words, how might those items or goals reflect your values and help you change and develop as a person, closer toward what you consider your ideal self?

Inspiring Sticky Change

Released today: episode #32 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring Ellen Van Oosten, co-author of Helping People Change: Coaching with Compassion for Lifelong Learning and Growth. Listen to the clip below and click on the image to get to the new episode.

Photo of Ellen Van Oosten and her book Helping People Change for Dan Hill's EQ Spotlight Podcast.

Van Oosten is an Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior and the Faculty Director of Executive Education at the Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University. She is also the Director of the university’s Coaching Research Lab. This episode investigates not only what one wants to do in life, but also what one wants to be? To sustain change, be positive. Hunt for gold, not dirt, Oosten writes, and identify heroes from various stages of your life in order to help focus your dreams.

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

What Growing the Pie is Really About

I’ve been busy writing and crowdsourcing diabolical definitions for my latest book, The Devil’s Dictionary of Work Life & Commerce. Art Markman, my guest for the 14thepisode of my podcast, gave this entry for NEGOTIATIONS: “A dignified discussion held by people dividing the pie, all of whom channel their inner five-year-old because deep down everyone wants the whole pie.”

Guess what! In wanting the whole pie, we blow the deal, and negotiations expert Leigh Thompson knows why and also what the better options are. First, the shortcomings consist of 1) being either soft as pudding and avoiding conflict or being tough as nails and pounding our fists to get as much of the existing pie as possible; 2) taking the even-steven route and dividing the pie 50/50%; and/or 3) making compromises because neither party explores where mutually advantageous agreements might be realized.

What’s a better outcome? The answer is growing the pie by finding the sweet spot(s) where trust can built up by not asking the other party to sacrifice. Instead, find out where one party’s gain isn’t actually the other party’s loss. Thompson’s book covers 41 “hacks” to avoid the “traps” negotiators typically fall into. Her favorite is The Dessert Tray, i.e., offering the other party an array of options of equal value as far as the first party is concerned and learning from that hack where the real opportunities for a win/win reside.

Negotiating at Home, at Work, and Virtually

Released today: episode #31 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring Leigh Thompson, the author of Negotiating the Sweet Spot: The Art of Leaving Nothing on the Table. Listen to the clip below and click on the image to get to the new episode.

Thompson is a Professor of Dispute Resolution and Organizations at the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University. This is the latest of her 10 best-selling books. The episode covers the differences between scripted and unscripted negotiations and how expressing disappointment, rather than showing anger, helps make negotiations turn into a success.

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

The Digitization of Psychology

An assumption is often made that knowledge can or will bring about change in human behavior. That viewpoint ignores the reality that emotions play a major role in changing behavior because there are so many knots in the wood of human nature.

In my interview of Amy Bucher, I asked her about live experts vs. avatars vs. chatbots. For consumers interacting with a digital product online, which of these three approaches is most successful in effecting change?

What her research suggests is that avatars serve as an ideal middle ground between a mechanistic approach (chatbots) and a costly, fully human approach (live experts). Why? The answer lies in emotions. By using an avatar’s face on screen, an intimate enough connection is simulated. At the same time, online users don’t feel at risk of being condescended to by a live expert. In other words, the emotion of trust—of being shown respect—gives the nod to avatars, and a reason for live experts to improve their EQ skills.

The Psychology of Using Design to Motivate Change

Released today: episode #30 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring Amy Bucher, the author of Engaged: Designing for Behavior Change. Listen to the clip below and click on the image to get to the new episode.

Amy Bucher, PhD, works in Behavior Change Design at Mad*Pow and previously worked at CVS Health and Johnson & Johnson. She received her A.B. from Harvard University and her M.A. and PhD in organizational psychology from the University of Michigan.

This episode addresses both the barriers and levers to achieving behavioral change. Among the barriers are cognitive biases, like a Status Quo Bias, as well as growing both emotionally and mentally exhausted by changes that require too much willpower on behalf of the user. Opportunities to promote change include having accountability buddies to help guide you, and avatars that have proven highly effective in providing information in a trust-building, nonjudgmental manner.

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.