Archive | February, 2012

Time Management

Welcome to the More Than Sound podcast. In this episode, Daniel Goleman speaks with Anthony Gell about ways technology is challenging our ability to manage our time, and a valuable step we can take to deal with those challenges.

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Daniel Goleman- I think one of the most insidious, insidious realities of work today is how technology is destroying our ability to focus and get things done. Because every time there is a distracter, every time you get an email and feel, “I have to answer that right now,” instead of putting it aside and finishing your task, some studies have shown it can take up to 15 minutes to get back to where you were before in terms of focus. And your BlackBerry, and your email, and your texts, it doesn’t stop. That’s the problem with technology. It’s too easy for it to reach us, which means we have too many distracters.

And there’s a paradox here, which is there’s some brain systems that like to look, because you get a little hit of pleasure from some of these. It’s called intermittent reinforcement. Every once in a while an email is going to make you feel really good. Maybe this is one of those, and so it’s very seductive. That’s what makes us break our train, but once we’ve done it, we’ve lost our train of thought, we’ve lost our concentration, and so on. So, for example, when I write I go somewhere where I don’t get email, or where there’s no phone even. I’m off grid because I want to focus. And there’s some really good research coming out of Harvard that shows that people who’s job is to somehow add value, to be creative or to produce, need a cocoon of time for sustained effort where they are going to get something done. And if you get one thing done during the day you’re going to feel much better about your job, actually, than if you can get nothing done because you’ve been distracted all day.

Anthony Gell- That’s really good, so it’s about identifying the most important thing, and dividing time out in the day, that’s essential.

DG- Well I structure my day so I have protected time. And I really recommend that, and I recommend it for managers, for people who are in a leadership position who are managing knowledge workers. People who’s job is to add value by thinking, by being smart, by being innovative, by being original. They need time where they can get that done in the day.

AG- Daniel, we interviewed Edward De Bono, obviously a great thinker, and he says that not enough corporations or leaders are actually thinking, and one of the cheapest most efficient ways of beating the competition, but nobody’s doing it, is linked to what you’re talking about- it’s carving time out for that.

DG- Exactly.


The Sweet Spot For Achievement

Welcome to the More Than Sound podcast. In this episode, Daniel Goleman speaks with Anthony Gell about the sweet spot for achievement.

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Anthony Gell- You’ve mentioned this correlation between a very interesting graph in your book talking about the inverse U-shape which has got productivity and stress and the correlation. Could you just talk to us about what you call the sweet spot for achievement?

Daniel Goleman- Ah, the sweet spot for achievement. So what you’re referring to an inverted U and this axis (the vertical) is performance, how well you do, and the other axis goes from low brain arousal to high brain arousal.

It’s a very technical graph, but the sweet spot for performance is at the top of that U.  And this is where people work at their best, think at their best. Neurologists call it a state of neural harmony. It’s a state of, also, maximum cognitive efficiency. That is, we can think at our best. We’re most nimble, most flexible. In sports it’s called the zone. You know, athletes who are superb, when they’re being at their best, are in that zone. It’s sometimes called flow. But if you are at work, or if you’re doing something you really care about, anything, that’s where you want to be. If you’re managing people, if you’re leading people, that’s where you want everyone to be, because that’s where you get the most return.

AG- And on the low side you’ve just got…

DG- Well on the one hand people are completely disengaged, which unfortunately is too large a portion of the workforce on any given day at any given moment. Which means, you know, “I don’t care about this job, I’ll just do what I have to do to keep it. I’m not going to give my best, I’m just going to do enough to hold my position.” And at the other end, you’ve got people who are over stressed. The technical term for that in neurology is the state of frazzle. The brain is actually frazzled. You can’t think straight, you can’t remember, you can’t learn. Forget creativity! So disengagement and frazzle are equally bad for performance. You want people to be in the middle in the sweet spot.

Social Emotional Learning

Welcome to the More Than Sound podcast.

In this episode, Daniel Goleman discusses the value of Social and Emotional Learning for students and educators, with Drs. Shannon Dermer and Deborah Borderlon, of Governerors State University.

Wired To Connect

Welcome to the More Than Sound Podcast. In this episode, Daniel Goleman speaks about the inspiration behind his audio series Wired to Connect, with Anthony Gell of the Business Voice.

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Anthony Gell- Daniel, you are an author of many world leading books, including Emotional Intelligence and Social Intelligence, so why did you go on to create an audio series called Wired to Connect?

Daniel Goleman- I’m basically a writer and a thinker. And I like to think deeply about topics. And I got very excited about this new area of brain research called social neuroscience. Which explains that newly discovered circuits in the brain create a very intimate person to person linkage when you’re interacting with someone. This is the super highway for simpatico, for chemistry. For love. For business being effective. It has so many implications, I explored as many as I could in the book Social Intelligence, but I found there was a lot more to say when I was done with the book. This is the problem with writing books. The book ends, but your thinking doesn’t. So I wanted to keep exploring more deeply into the whole range of implications. So I realized what I can do is get together with people whose research fascinated me. Or whose thinking really pushed the edge in this area, and have a deep conversation with them and do it as an audio conversation. So the Wired To Connect series is 6 or 7 of these going into areas that include everything from the various kinds of empathy and how each of them matters or what we can do to enhance the brain’s ability to be socially intelligent. To be emotionally intelligent. And what’s the neuroscience behind creating better skills in this critical set of human abilities. What does it mean to have good work? That is, work that you feel really satisfied by? That’s intrinsically fulfilling? And what are the ingredients of that.

Another one that I found really fascinating was how does the social brain interact with the virtual world, with email, with communicating by phone. Why is it we have of our best interactions face to face, and more disastrous interactions on email? And what does that mean if you’re managing a global team? How can you orchestrate a face to face interaction versus working at a distance so that the team is a high performing team? These were many of the areas that I was able to go into, and I feel really, very satisfied with the series both in terms of being able to extend my work in social intelligence, and also I found a way to explore new ideas without having to write a whole book about it.