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 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

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.

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.

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.