A Tale of Forbearance & Resiliency

The 2018 movie Green Book won an Academy Award for Best Picture. The real deal, however, is Taylor’s book, which involved scouting over 10,000 Green Book sites where black motorist found safe places to refuel their cars, eat and sleep while on the road. Today, under 5% are still in operation and 75% have ceased to exist since The Green Book was published (1936-1967). Some establishments were the victims of decay over time. But often there are other explanations: “urban renewal” that meant new highways plowing through black communities, laying waste to black-owned businesses; redlining bank practices; or to a lack of anti-monopoly enforcement, whereby white-owned businesses seized unfair advantages. Add in a staggering 700% rise in America’s prison population since Bill Clinton’s crime bill and the reasons why African-American commercial centers are no longer as resilient as they once were are clear.

Released today: episode #43 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring Candacy Taylor, the author of Overground Railroad: The Green Book and the Roots of Black Travel in AmericaListen to the clip below and click on the image to get to the new episode.

Candacy Taylor is an award-winning author, photographer and cultural documentarian. She’s been a fellow at Harvard University under the direction of Henry Louis Gates Jr. and her projects have been funded by organizations ranging from National Geographic to The National Endowment for the Humanities. Her work has received extensive media coverage in places like the PBS Newshour and The New Yorker

Events & Tips

Candacy Taylor was instrumental in helping the Smithsonian create the special traveling exhibit “The Negro Motorist Green Book.” First stop is the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis. For the other, future stops of the exhibit, check out the Smithsonian’s web site.

A friend of mine, David Perry, has released a book Diary of a Successful Job Hunter on the App Sumo to help get the country back to work. It costs merely $1.

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

Divergent Versus Convergent Thinking

Designed graphic of a quote by Alan Lightman. 
“The number of neurons in our brain is about equal to the number of stars in a galaxy: one hundred billion.”

Creativity is usually associated with the fine arts, not the sciences. That’s a dichotomy Alan Lightman explodes in his latest book given how mysterious, vast and everexpanding the universe is. Case in point: who can truly comprehend the one hundred billion neurons that exist in our 3.5 pound brains, or that one hundred billion also happens to describe the number of stars in the sky and the number of signals our eyes convey to our brain every second? What does consciousness even mean in relation to such a flood of information coming our way? No wonder Lightman celebrates the role of divergent thinking: exploring many tangents at once. After all, the orderly, logical, step-by-step process of convergent thinking isn’t always up to the task in a world where novelty, surprise—amazement—all inevitably play a role in scientific inquiry.

Released today: episode #42 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring Alan Lightman, the author of Probable Impossibilities: Musings on Beginnings and EndingsListen to the clip below and click on the image to get to the new episode.

Photo of Alan LIghtman and the cover of his book, Probable Impossibilities: Musings on Beginnings and Endings, for Dan Hill's EQ Spotlight podcast Episode 42. Click the image to get to the episode.

Alan Lightman is a writer, physicist, and social entrepreneur. He’s served on the faculties of both Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and was the first person at MIT to receive dual faculty appointments in science and the humanities. Alan’s many nonfiction and fiction books include the international best seller Einstein’s Dreams and The Diagnosis, which was a finalist for the National Book Award.

This episode most notably serves notice that the sun is slowly going to engulf the earth and then burn out, ending life as we know it. With the expansion of knowledge about how the universe formed and how it operates today comes a host of philosophical and religious questions that Lightman doesn’t shy away from addressing. What does it mean to live a meaningful life in a world where as Ralph Waldo Emerson writes, “there is no end to illusion”? Lightman ponders that and many additional issues during this 30-minute conversation.

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

What It Takes to Sustain a Group

what’s the key to stability and success when teamwork is involved? The answer is having a 5 to 1 ratio of positive to negative interactions

This week’s podcast is about a bluegrass band that bucked the odds. While the average band is lucky to last 10 years together, with 2-3 years the average, the McClain family band sustained itself for 18 years and toured 62 countries. What was the key to their group chemistry? Mutual respect, and the right ratio of positive to negative interactions. Drawing on a half-century of analyzing the characteristics of loving, stable marriages, John Gottmann and his colleagues at the Love Lab have concluded that a 5:1 ratio of positive/negative interactions is the key to a good marriage. And an in-depth study of work teams at EDS (Ross Perot’s old company) took that ratio even higher. That study found that high-performance teams had a 5.6 positive/negative ratio versus a 0.4 ratio for low-performance teams. 

Released today: episode #41 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring Paul Jenkins, the author of Bluegrass Ambassadors: The McLain Family Band in Appalachia and the World. Listen to the clip below and click on the image to get to the new episode.

Image of Author, Paul D. Jenkin and his book cover "Bluegrass Ambassadors" on Dan Hill's EQ Spotlight podcast #41.

Paul O. Jenkins is the university librarian at Franklin Pierce University and also the author of Richard Dyer-Bennet: The Last Minstrel and Teaching the Beatles

This episode covers a band that defies expectations. Formed in 1968, this band ran counter to the era twice over. First, they were intergenerational with their dad a key figure despite the slogan “don’t trust anybody over 30” being common then. Second, while the then two-year-old National Organization for Women (NOW) could only boast of 1,035 members across America, the McClain family band had two women playing prominent roles. The episode explores how bluegrass music varies from country music, and how musically inventive the group was. Finally, comparisons to the Beatles close out the episode.

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

The Internal Rhythms We Live By

Sharon Olds from Arias, quote: “My mother beat me to the meter of “Onward, / Christian Soldiers.” She speeded up / the tempo which dragged, in church.”

Among all the damage the Biden administration inherited and is now trying to un-do is its efforts to reunite the children separated from their parents at the country’s southern border. How long will the affected children’s psychological wounds endure? If the writing of Pulitzer-prize-winning poet Sharon Olds is an indication, the answer is forever. In interviewing Sharon nothing struck me more than learning about her use of enjambmentof words spilling over line-by-line so urgently, as a way of wrestling control over the very rhythm of her life and craft.

Released today: episode #40 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring Sharon Olds, the author of AriasListen to the clip below and click on the image to get to the new episode via the New Books Network website.

Photo of poet Sharon Olds, and the cover of her book "Arias" for Dan Hill's EQ Podcast episode 40, titled Intimate Truths about Embodying Joy & Pain"

Sharon Olds is the author of 12 books of poetry, including recently Arias (2019), which was short-listed for the 2020 Griffin Poetry Prize. Her 2012 collection Stag’s Leap won both the Pulitzer Prize and England’s T.S. Eliot Prize. She’s the Eric Maria Remarque Professor of Creative Writing at New York University’s Graduate Creating Writing Program.

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

What Two Steps Can Lift Productivity Most?

Quote by Authors Gary Hamel & Michele Zanini “Deprived of any real influence, employees disconnect emotionally from work.”

In lots of companies, the CEO’s strategic playbook now looks like this: become a de facto monopoly seeking bailouts and other, regulatory advantages through a lobbying budget that rivals the money being spent on research and development. What would be a better way forward for companies and the country alike? Two steps can most help drive innovation and lift productivity. The first is to empower employees. Working in small groups free of middle managers, they will be closer to the action and know best what needs to change. Second, link compensation to contribution. Inspire a groundswell of micropreneurs by ensuring that bonuses reflect results achieved on the ground, rather than funding golden parachutes for those in the C-suite.

Released today: episode #39 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring Michele Zanini, the co-author of The Humanocracy: Creating Organizations as Amazing as the People Inside ThemListen to the clip below and click on the image to get to the new episode via the New Books Network web site.

The authors of Humanocracy are Gary Hamel, who is on the faculty of the London Business School and has been hailed by the Wall Street Journal as the world’s most influential business thinker; and Michele Zanini who, along with Hamel, is the co-founder of the Management Lab and an alumnus of McKinsey & Company and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

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

Did the Civil War Ever End?

Quote by the American novelist William Faulkner who wrote about how the past shapes the present in Requiem for a Nun  "The past is never dead."

On January 6th, a participant in the mob storming the Capitol was seen inside the building carrying a Confederate flag defiantly. The ghost of novelist William Faulkner might have smiled at such a sight, not in support of the Rebel cause but because Faulkner believed the past gets repeated endlessly—that what was is never over. That reality applies to nations and individuals alike.

Released today: episode #38 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring Michael Gorra, the author of The Saddest Words: William Faulkner’s Civil WarListen to the clip below and click on the image to get to the new episode.

The author of Portrait of a Novel, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, Michael Gorra is the Mary Augusta Jordan Professor of English Language and Literature at Smith College and the editor of the Norton Critical Editions of As I Lay Dyingand The Sound and the Fury.

This episode touches on two of William Faulkner’s novels in particular: The Sound and the Fury as well as Absalom, Absalom! It considers the role of memory and history, Faulkner’s alcoholism, the sexual exploitation practiced by plantation owners, and the greater presence of Nathan Bedford Forrest over Robert E. Lee in Faulkner’s fiction writings. Ties to today’s reckoning for racial justice is a part of the episode, too.

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

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.