Dr. Greg Wells

Be Better Blog

Be Better Blog

Rethinking Vacations: Why unplugging while on vacation is the best thing for you – and your team

April, 23rd 2018

When were you last on a truly relaxing, restorative, health-building vacation? I’m talking downed tools and time completely away from normal life. Before you answer, check all of the points below that apply:

  • You were entirely “unproductive” – you may have been engaged in meaningful and even challenging activities (running a 10K, learning how to scuba dive, cooking French cuisine), but you did not contribute toward your work life.
  • You didn’t feel stressed or worry about what was happening in the “real world.”
  • You didn’t check email or other work-related communications.
  • You made arrangements in advance to arrive back to an empty email inbox.
  • You returned home and to work feeling like a new you.

That’s the ideal, so you may not have covered all the bases. But I’m going to explain why you should be reaching toward that ideal. It’s not just to take proper care of yourself and your loved ones – which is highly important – but also to improve your work performance, that of your team, and the success of your business.

There is data to support these claims. Project: Time Off, an initiative of the US Travel Association, has conducted large surveys of Americans on their attitudes toward and use of vacation time. It has also accessed data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Bureau of Economic Analysis on vacation activity and paid time off.

Their findings are instructive. It turns out that vacation use has been in a steady decline since 2000, from 20 days per year to 16 days per year, which is nearly a full week less than in 1976-2000. This decline does not correspond with the unemployment rate or with consumer confidence. However, it does correlate with the rise of the Internet and the adoption of mobile technology.

I’m guessing you’re not surprised.

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Long form Article: BRAIN BOOSTING FOODS

April, 23rd 2018

Key points:

 1. Good nutrition is critical for your brain to function optimally.

2. Slow-digesting complex carbohydrates fuel your brain for thinking, solving problems, being creative, and instilling memories.

3. High-quality fats are used to build the structures in and around your nerves that help to speed communication between neurons.

4. Healthy proteins provide the precursors for the neurotransmitters used to communicate between nerve cells.

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What a bike ride across Africa taught me about expectations

April, 18th 2018

The impact of learning to being in the moment

When I was finishing up my doctorate at the University of Toronto, I got a call from my dad out of the blue. He was listening to an interview with a man named Henry Gold who was putting together the first group to cycle from Cairo to Cape Town, crossing the entire continent in the process. Dad knew I was really into cycling and had loved Africa ever since I visited Tanzania with my sister who worked for the UN. He said, “You have to listen to this.”

I flipped on the radio and caught the final few minutes. It sounded incredible. So I called Henry, and it turned out his office was about two kilometres away from where I worked. When I got there, he had this huge map of Africa with the route mapped out in highlighter. We talked for a while and then Henry said, “You should come with us.”

I had just the right amount of money lying around and was almost finished my degree, so I would be able to take five months off for the expedition. I defended my PhD in February in Toronto and then flew out to join the group. It was -30 degrees Celsius when I left. I was a bit late because I had to do my defense, so they had already departed. I flew into Khartoum, Sudan, in the middle of the Sahara Desert. It was 52 degrees Celsius on my first day there – an 80 degree swing in a 24-hour period.

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How to shift your approach to mental health and learn to regulate your emotions: a conversation with Dr. Bill Howatt (part 6 / 6)

April, 12th 2018

This Q&A was adapted from my podcast conversation with Dr. Bill Howatt that aired on March 8th, 2018. You can listen to the interview here: http://drgregwells.com/be-better/dr-bill-howatt/. As Chief Research and Development Officer at Morneau Shepell, Bill is an internationally recognized expert in mental health who has spent 25 years helping employees, patients and leaders achieve their potential. Bill has a PhD in Organizational Psychology, did post-doctoral training at UCLA, has developed programs with organizations like the Conference Board of Canada and the University of New Brunswick, and is author of numerous books and articles, including regular contributions to The Globe and Mail.

Dr. Greg Wells: Let’s say someone has been dealing with some mental health issues and they are beginning to realize that they are on their way toward a mental illness. Or they just begin to realize that their mental health is compromised. Or they think, “Oh my gosh, yeah, I’ve been feeling really bad for a long time.” What should they do to make a shift back towards mental health?

Dr. Bill Howatt: Great question. I’ll walk through a little bit of framework. Just like getting bloodwork done, the first thing to do is establish a mental health baseline. There are lots of tests to help you do this. It’s one reasons why I worked with The Globe and Mail to create Your Life At Work. It’s a free online tool that you use to get a baseline of your quality of life at work and at home. It’s similar to the Total Health Index we created at Morneau Shepell. It helps a person get a baseline of their coping skills.

GW: What happens next? 

BH: Step two is very much like what you did in school. There were skills you learned: your ABCs, reading and writing, the times tables. With mental health, these are what we call “developmental coping skills.” They are qualities such as interpersonal skills, emotional intelligence, self-efficacy or locus of control – the notion that you are in charge of your life. There are about eight or ten of them that we all need to apply in our lives. Those developmental coping skills are a kind of a foundation.

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Mental health vs. mental Illness: a conversation with Dr. Bill Howatt (part 5 / 6)

April, 12th 2018

This Q&A was adapted from my podcast conversation with Dr. Bill Howatt that aired on March 8th, 2018. You can listen to the interview here: http://drgregwells.com/be-better/dr-bill-howatt/. As Chief Research and Development Officer at Morneau Shepell, Bill is an internationally recognized expert in mental health who has spent 25 years helping employees, patients and leaders achieve their potential. Bill has a PhD in Organizational Psychology, did post-doctoral training at UCLA, has developed programs with organizations like the Conference Board of Canada and the University of New Brunswick, and is author of numerous books and articles, including regular contributions to The Globe and Mail.

Dr. Greg Wells: I have noticed that in the educational and corporate settings I work in, people tend to see mental health and mental illness as versions of the same thing, with mental health viewed as the more positive term. How do you break those two apart and what relationship do they have to each other?

Dr. Bill Howatt: People confuse mental illness with mental health. You can think of mental illness as one axis – from low to high – and mental health as another axis. I have seen lots of patients and employees with severe mental illness who achieve excellent mental health through supports and treatment. And vice versa; people without any kind of mental illness can be dealing with poor mental health, stress and negativity that have a significant impact on their quality of life.

GW: That is a really important distinction. 

BH: Yes. I can’t take the credit for the idea. I got it when the CEO of the Mental Health Commission, Louise Bradley, and I wrote an article together. We used Keyes Research and they did a nice job of splitting the two concepts apart.

If we think about physical health, we can ask ourselves what we do with our intention to have good physical health. The big ones are exercise, diet, and rest. Most of us know there’s something we can do for our physical health. And even if a person doesn’t do anything about it, they know how an absence of those actions or decisions can lead to a chronic disease, obesity or some other health issue. We tend to accept that something bad can happen if you’re not paying attention to your body.

GW: And that idea can be applied to mental health.

BH: Exactly. When I ask people what they did today to support and build their mental health, many of them look at me like I have three heads. I get the same response if I ask them what they did today to build their resiliency. So I try to simplify it. What did you do this morning to wake up and guarantee that you’re going to be happy and have a wonderful day?

We know happiness is an ideal state of feeling well about yourself. It’s a state of wellbeing. So, clearly there’s a thermometer where we can be negative or positive, feel happy or sad. It’s the emotional version of the weather. Sunny, rainy, cloudy, rainy. That’s your mental health.

The catch is that most people don’t realize that when they get stuck in negative emotions, there is a good chance they may not ask for help. One out of every five Canadians ends up with a mental health issue, but only one out of every three of those five will ask for help, despite the fact that reaching out for help has an 89% success rate for people struggling with their mental health. That’s partly why it is the biggest chronic disease on the planet right now. It’s a $2.5 trillion problem globally. Bigger than all cancers and cardiovascular diseases combined.

GW: So what’s the link to mental illness?

BH: In general, if a person has had mental health symptoms for more than six months, the medical criteria indicate they now have a mental illness. If people don’t get help early with their challenging depression or anxiety before it hits that point, their situation usually progresses to becoming a mental illness. The root cause may not be genetic. It could be psycho-social.

The way I try to explain the importance of getting help is to point out that delaying messes around with brain chemistry. If you don’t deal with how you’re actually feeling and thinking about the world, it can change your brain chemistry to the point where your neurotransmitters are altered. For example, a person who has severe depression is in a very difficult situation because their levels of serotonin are so low. It’s chemistry.

GW: What do you advise in terms of being proactive about mental health?

BH: I try to get people to be aware that they can deal with mental health through their daily outlook on life. I try to show them that we can protect ourselves a great deal by learning how to deal with how we think and process the world. When that doesn’t happen, that’s when people begin to face all the challenges around mental illness. It’s not all just genetic. I think that’s what people need to know. In fact, probably 35% of all the short-term disabilities happening in workplaces are basically adjustment disorders, which is a form of psycho-social stress such as how people deal with home and work.

So that’s it. I try to make sure people understand that mental health and mental illness are not the same thing, but that one can actually lead to the other.

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Getting unstuck emotionally by understanding that we all have two different brains: a conversation with Dr. Bill Howatt (part 4 / 6)

April, 12th 2018

This Q&A was adapted from my podcast conversation with Dr. Bill Howatt that aired on March 8th, 2018. You can listen to the interview here: http://drgregwells.com/be-better/dr-bill-howatt/. As Chief Research and Development Officer at Morneau Shepell, Bill is an internationally recognized expert in mental health who has spent 25 years helping employees, patients and leaders achieve their potential. Bill has a PhD in Organizational Psychology, did post-doctoral training at UCLA, has developed programs with organizations like the Conference Board of Canada and the University of New Brunswick, and is author of numerous books and articles, including regular contributions to The Globe and Mail.

Dr. Greg Wells: Bill, you have said that one thing most people don’t realize is that we all have two brains. You have talked about how this has an impact on our mental health and can cause us to get stuck emotionally. You have said that can mean we end up getting stuck. Can you explain that for us? 

Dr. Bill Howatt: We have our executive, or conscious, brain – what you can call the “new” brain. And then we have a limbic brain – the “old” brain. When you are under a lot of stress, the executive functioning kind of turns off and you get trapped in your emotions. When you are caught in them, you can be really discouraged, and it can be very hard to just pop out.

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Changing your thinking about stress: a conversation with Dr. Bill Howatt (part 3 / 6)

April, 12th 2018

This Q&A was adapted from my podcast conversation with Dr. Bill Howatt that aired on March 8th, 2018. You can listen to the interview here: http://drgregwells.com/be-better/dr-bill-howatt/. As Chief Research and Development Officer at Morneau Shepell, Bill is an internationally recognized expert in mental health who has spent 25 years helping employees, patients and leaders achieve their potential. Bill has a PhD in Organizational Psychology, did post-doctoral training at UCLA, has developed programs with organizations like the Conference Board of Canada and the University of New Brunswick, and is author of numerous books and articles, including regular contributions to The Globe and Mail.

Dr. Greg Wells: Bill, I am often asked about strategies for coping with stress. You have a unique way of seeing stress that turns conventional thinking on its head. Can you tell us about it?

Dr. Bill Howatt: Lots of folks see stress as a bad thing. In reality, there are two types, stress and distress, which are two related but different states. In general, I see stress as positive and distress as problematic.

I try to point out to folks that they experience stress when there is a difference between what they want and what they have. When that happens, there are really two ways you are going to deal with it. One is to take a problem-focused approach and say, “Okay. There is a difference between what I want and what I have. This is a problem. This is a challenge. This is a stressor. I just need to lean into it and deal with it.”

The other direction you can go is to feel so overwhelmed that you shut down and end up moving into coping exclusively from emotion, where you can get stuck. The longer you stay in emotional coping, the more you start to move away from good stress into distress. At that point, people tend to gravitate toward anxiety and either start to speed up and feel more anxious or shut down and feel depressed, sad, and blue. Both of those states are a reaction to getting stuck. Even when the effects of stress have really built up for someone, it doesn’t necessarily mean they have a mental health issue or a mental illness. It just means they are under pressure and this is how they are coping.

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The importance of failure in building mental health: a conversation with Dr. Bill Howatt (part 2 / 6)

March, 30th 2018

This Q&A was adapted from my podcast conversation with Dr. Bill Howatt that aired on March 8th, 2018. You can listen to the interview here: http://drgregwells.com/be-better/dr-bill-howatt/. As Chief Research and Development Officer at Morneau Shepell, Bill is an internationally recognized expert in mental health who has spent 25 years helping employees, patients and leaders achieve their potential. Bill has a PhD in Organizational Psychology, did post-doctoral training at UCLA, has developed programs with organizations like the Conference Board of Canada and the University of New Brunswick, and is author of numerous books and articles, including regular contributions to The Globe and Mail.

Dr. Greg Wells: Bill, you had an experience in university that changed your perception of failure. Can you tell us about it?

Dr. Bill Howatt: I was lucky enough to have a mentor in university who taught me how to drive my own bus — to understand I could make decisions for myself and wasn’t dependent on what other people thought. I started making my own choices and seeing that while I would have some failures, I would also begin to build resiliency. It’s a version of what Edison meant when he said that the only way you are going to succeed is by trying. Mastery grows out of failure.

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A deep Q&A about mental health with Dr. Bill Howatt from the Dr. Greg Wells Podcast (part 1 / 6)

March, 30th 2018

This Q&A was adapted from my podcast conversation with Dr. Bill Howatt that aired on March 8th, 2018. You can listen to the interview here: http://drgregwells.com/be-better/dr-bill-howatt/. As Chief Research and Development Officer at Morneau Shepell, Bill is an internationally recognized expert in mental health who has spent 25 years helping employees, patients and leaders achieve their potential. Bill has a PhD in Organizational Psychology, did post-doctoral training at UCLA, has developed programs with organizations like the Conference Board of Canada and the University of New Brunswick, and is author of numerous books and articles, including regular contributions to The Globe and Mail.

Overcoming mental health challenges: the story of Dr. Bill Howatt’s personal and professional journey

Dr. Greg Wells: Bill, can you start us off by describing your expertise?

 Dr. Bill Howatt: The central emphasis of my work is helping leaders remove barriers that are limiting them from achieving their potential. I focus on helping people learn to think differently, so they can positively impact their quality of life. The biggest factor is what happens between their ears. What they are capable of doing begins with what they believe they’re capable of doing. So I’m kind of in the helping people learn to believe in themselves business.

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#97 Perspective Gained from a Life Lived “All-In”: Dr. Greg Wells on Pairing Success with Optimal Health

March, 13th 2018

Hi everyone! Today I want to share an interview I did on I Heart My Life podcast with my friends Emily and James Williams. Here’s more about Emily Williams – the show’s host:

Emily Williams is a success coach, entrepreneur, and author with a seven-figure business who, at one point, couldn’t get a job at Starbucks. After experiencing a quarter life crisis, she moved from Ohio to London (where she knew no one!) and in 2014 launched her business, I Heart My Life. She made $442 in her first month—and then went on to hit six figures in six months, before her 30th birthday. She grew it to seven figures in under 18 months. Today, she works with female entrepreneurs all over the world, helping them bust through the obstacles that hold their dreams and goals hostage so they can free themselves to live the lives they want, build their own online business and hit their money goals. She’s been featured in Money, Entrepreneur, Business Insider, Forbes and Success Magazine.

 You can learn more about her here:
https://www.iheartmylife.com/

Here’s what the show covers in this episode:

You say you want success (all of us do!), but are you actually setting yourself up for success? Is your community, mindset and physical health supporting you as you create a life better than your dreams? If not, this episode will teach you how to make powerful changes in your life, so you can reach the success you desire. During this episode of the IHML Show, we talk with Dr. Greg Wells, Ph.D., a physiologist and an exercise medicine researcher at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children and a professor of kinesiology at the University of Toronto. Throughout his career, Greg has authored two best-selling books and has coached, trained and inspired dozens of elite athletes to win medals, world championships, the Commonwealth Games and the Olympics.

Greg was only 15-years-old when he was involved in a serious swimming accident. Although he was told he’d never swim again, Greg still managed to strive forward thanks to a positive mindset and supportive team environment. His miraculous recovery sparked his interest in the human body and taught him how powerful a strong mindset could be. Just after earning his Ph.D., Greg set out on the Tour de Freak, a cycling adventure that led him across the African continent. His journey left him with a new perspective on life and a passion for inspiring others to make a genuine impact on the world around them. After a serious health scare in 2012, Greg made positive changes to his diet and lifestyle, and now teaches others how to do the same. By being just 1% better each day, he believes you can achieve a life better than your dreams.

This podcast appeared originally at this link: http-//americaoutloud.com/perspective-gained-from-a-life-lived-all-in-pairing-success-with-optimal-health/

Enjoy the conversation!

If you’re interested in getting a copy of my new book The Ripple Effect you can get it here!

If you found this information interesting and helpful please consider signing up for our monthly newsletter with health and performance tips, articles, videos and other insights.

I’m on twitter, Linked In and Facebook.

Also please subscribe to this podcast in iTunes!

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#96 All about Mental Health with Dr. Bill Howatt

March, 8th 2018

Hi podcast universe! This week we’re talking all about mental health. To help us figure out this complicated and very important topic I called up my friend Dr. Bill Howatt.

With over 25 years of experience, Bill Howatt Ph.D., Ed.D., Post Doc Behavioral Science, University of California, Los Angeles, Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, RTC, RSW, ICADC, is highly skilled and qualified in strategic HR, mental health and addictions, and leadership. He has published numerous books and articles, such as: TalOp®: Taking the Guesswork Out of Management, the Howatt HR Elements Series, the Wiley Series on Addictions, Human Services Counselor’s ToolboxThe Addiction Counselor’s Desk Reference, and The Addiction Counsellor’s Toolbox. He is the author of Beyond Engagement: The Employee Care Advantage and the creator of the Quality of Work Life (QWL) methodology and survey. He is also the co-author of behavioral engineering, a strategy that is aligned to the QWL that provides guidance on how to lead employees to facilitate behavioral change.

Dr. Howatt founded and authored the Certificate in Management Essentials program and Pathway to Coping, a nine-week coping skills training program for the University of New Brunswick. For five years he authored Coach’s Corner, a monthly business column in The Chronicle Herald. Today he is a regular contributor to the Globe and Mail’s 9 to 5 business career column Leadership Lab. He has also partnered with The Globe and Mail for the national Your Life at Work Study, Quality of Life Survey, Quality of Student Life Survey and publishing of 360 In Vivo, and 13 PHS Factors on-line assessment tools. He is co-creator of V1 Coaching.com, an interactive software program used to facilitate the executive coaching process.

Enjoy the conversation!

If you’re interested in getting a copy of my new book The Ripple Effect you can get it here!

If you found this information interesting and helpful please consider signing up for our monthly newsletter with health and performance tips, articles, videos and other insights.

I’m on twitter, Linked In and Facebook.

Also please subscribe to this podcast in iTunes!

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#95: What we can learn from the Olympics - Dr. Wells on the Charles Adler Show

February, 15th 2018

Hi everyone! With the Olympics in full swing I thought I’d share with you an interview I did with Charles Adler all about what we can learn from the Olympics to make our lives better, to get healthier and to reach our potential!

Enjoy the conversation!

If you’re interested in getting a copy of my new book The Ripple Effect you can get it here!

If you found this information interesting and helpful please consider signing up for our monthly newsletter with health and performance tips, articles, videos and other insights.

I’m on twitter, Linked In and Facebook.

Also please subscribe to this podcast in iTunes!

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Globe and Mail: How to boost your creativity and problem solving skills

January, 18th 2018

This post originally appeared on the Globe and Mail.com. Click here to access the article at the Globe.

We are living through one of the greatest revolutions in human history. Microprocessors have given us the internet, mobile phones and more recently, artificial intelligence (AI).

AI has the potential to dramatically influence and disrupt the workplace in the coming years. Self-driving cars are the obvious next disruptive technology, but AI will also impact law, banking, medicine and other industries.

With the advent of AI, creative thinking becomes ever more critical.

The stream of breakthrough ideas that will make the world a better place relies on us developing novel strategies, techniques and experiences that leverage new technologies. As Bob Moritz, chairman of professional services firm PwC, said recently at the World Economic Forum’s annual summit in Davos, Switzerland, “We’re still looking for creativity, because that can’t be coded. Robotics and computers and coding actually gives you a very straight and narrow path to go down a fine course. The world we’re living in today is a lot more zig zag, and people are going to be important to that equation….”

Creativity does not happen by accident. Advances in physiological research can provide us with insights about how we can spark our own agile thinking and problem solving.

A good place to start is to sleep more, not less. When we are under pressure, it can be tempting to claw back some hours in the day. If you need to solve a problem or come up with a new creative approach, reducing your sleep hours is the opposite of what your brain needs. Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night and had a “Eureka!” moment — a deep insight? I certainly have; it’s one reason I keep a notebook by my bed. I need to ensure that I capture the insights generated during sleep.

Creative problem solving appears to happen during the REM phase of sleep, which typically occurs more in the second half of your sleep, if you’re getting the recommended 7.5 hours. In a 2009 study at the University of California, San Diego, researchers found that REM sleep “directly enhances creative processing more than any other sleep or wake state.” So, if you need to build more creativity into your life, give yourself permission to sleep a bit more.

You can also sprinkle physical activity into your day to improve your creativity and learning. Scientists at the University of California, Irvine found thatexercise can increase levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and other growth factors, stimulate neurogenesis, and improve learning and mental performance. As little as 15 minutes of exerciseimproves mental performance, so why not add this to your day, before important tasks? Go for a short walk before a presentation. Have a walking meeting if you need to problem solve. Or, if you can start your day with a workout, you’ll prime your brain for excellence and begin the process of remodeling the areas of your brain that will help you think more clearly.

If you’re wondering what kind of exercise is best for creativity, research suggests that aerobic activities like walking, swimming, cycling and running are best. Exercising in nature appears to be specifically helpful for problem solving. That can be as simple as a brisk walk in a local park.

One last idea to consider is adding deliberate mindfulness practice and meditation to your daily routine, especially on days when you need to spark your creativity. Practising mindfulness and meditation has been shown to improve attentional control, problem solving, concentration and creativity. New imaging techniques — including functional magnetic resonance imaging, which shows brain activation, and diffusion tensor imaging, which shows the neural networks in the brain — demonstrate that mindfulness and meditation can improve brain function.

Think of meditation as strength training for the brain. Just as you would lift weights to build and strengthen your muscles, you can use meditation to build and strengthen your brain and then, in addition, control and sharpen your mind. Try apps like headspace.com or calm.com to get started.

As a leader in business, you’re probably pushing the limits on a daily basis. Adopting deliberate practices that improve your creativity and mental agility will allow you to perform at a higher level more easily and more consistently. Putting these ideas into practice does require a shift in mindset and a reallocation of your priorities. It will be challenging in the short term, but the long-term benefits will be powerful for you personally and for your career and business.

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Self Magazine: Do You Really Need to Taper Before a Big Race?

November, 16th 2017

By Cindy Kuzma.

This article appeared on Self Magazine here.

You stay up late cramming for exams (or you did, when you were in school). Big presentation or performance? Be honest—you’ve rehearsed over and over, sometimes until the second you take the podium or stage. But when it comes to preparing for a marathon or other race, the best strategy is exactly the opposite, exercise scientists and coaches say.

Tapering—dialing back your training right before a big competition—can give you an edge on race day, exercise physiologist Greg Wells, Ph.D., author of Superbodies: Peak Performance Secrets from the World’s Best Athletes, tells SELF. “It’s counterintuitive, because a lot of people want to train right up until the last minute, get in that one last workout,” he says. “But the research and evidence suggest that that’s probably the last thing you actually should be doing.”

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Dr. Greg Wells Podcast #85: All about the Accidental Creative concept with Todd Henry

November, 7th 2017

This week I chat to creativity genius Todd Henry. Todd is an arms dealer for the creative revolution. His first book, The Accidental Creative, teaches people and teams how to build practices that lead to everyday brilliance. We explore the processes behind creativity in this conversation and there are loads of brilliant nuggets that will help you take your game to the next level in this interview.

You can learn more about The Accidental Creative book here. Also check out Todd’s podcast here.

Todd’s consulting firm is The Accidental Creative – which you can also check out at this link.

Enjoy the conversation!

If you’re interested in getting a copy of my new book The Ripple Effect you can get it here!

If you found this information interesting and helpful please consider signing up for our monthly newsletter with health and performance tips, articles, videos and other insights.

I’m on twitter, Linked In and Facebook.

Also please subscribe to this podcast in iTunes!

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Dr. Greg Wells Podcast #84: Inside an Inventor's Mind with Dr. Joe Fisher

October, 31st 2017

Hi everyone! This week I chat with one of my mentors – Dr. Joe Fisher. Joe is a brilliant scientist and inventor and it was a blast having this conversation.

Dr. Fisher is a co-founder of Thornhill Medical and Professor in the faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto. He is currently a Staff Anaesthetist at the University Health Network and Senior Scientist, Human Physiology & Clinical Investigation, at Toronto General Research Institute. He has published over 120 papers in peer-reviewed journals, and designed and consulted on products for NASA, Government of Canada, United States Marine Corps, and various companies. He is an inventor on over 25 issued and pending patents, including the core technology behind Thornhill’s technologies.

We do a deep dive into creativity and the process of invention.

Enjoy the conversation!

If you’re interested in getting a copy of my new book The Ripple Effect you can get it here!

If you found this information interesting and helpful please consider signing up for our monthly newsletter with health and performance tips, articles, videos and other insights.

I’m on twitter, Linked In and Facebook.

Also please subscribe to this podcast in iTunes!

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Dr. Greg Wells Podcast #83: How what you eat affects how well you think - an interview with Charles Adler

October, 24th 2017

Hi everyone! Here’s an interview I did with my colleague Charles Adler all about how what you eat affects your brain and how well you think.

Check it out and let me know what you think!

Enjoy the conversation!

If you’re interested in getting a copy of my new book The Ripple Effect you can get it here!

If you found this information interesting and helpful please consider signing up for our monthly newsletter with health and performance tips, articles, videos and other insights.

I’m on twitter, Linked In and Facebook.

Also please subscribe to this podcast in iTunes!

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Dr. Greg Wells Podcast #82: Ray Zahab on life lessons from living on the edge

October, 17th 2017

This week I talk with my friend and partner in world-wide adventures Ray Zahab. Here’s a little more about Ray.

On November 1, 2006, former “pack a day smoker” turned ultra runner Ray Zahab and two friends, Charlie Engle and Kevin Lin, both accomplished runners, set out on an expedition to cross the Sahara Desert by foot. 111 days and 7,500 kms after leaving the coast of Senegal, Africa they completed their journey by stepping into the Red Sea.

The expedition had the trio running an average of 70kms a day without a single day of rest, for 111 days. National Geographic tracked the expedition by web, as well as the documentary film ‘Running The Sahara’, produced by Matt Damon and directed by Academy Award winner James Moll, was created in an effort to raise awareness for the drinking water crisis in North Africa. After witnessing and experiencing this water crisis in North Africa, Ray decided to leverage his future adventures to help raise awareness and funding for causes, like this one, that he supports and believes in.

In fall 2007, Ray ran the three coastal trails of Canada back to back and virtually non-stop, for a total distance of 400 kms. Logistics were as much of a challenge as the run, and Ray ran The Akshayuk Pass on Baffin Island, East Coast Trail Newfoundland and West Coast Trail in British Columbia, with just enough time to travel in between.

In spring 2008 Ray partnered with the ONExONE Foundation for a unique ultra running project. Accompanied by a team of runners, Ray ran an average 80 kms per day in each of Canada’s 13 Provinces and Territories in 13 days. Once again logistics were a huge challenge. School visits were arranged along the way, students participated and communities became engaged in the run which supported the work of ONExONE, which supports various charities addressing children’s issues globally. In Saskatoon alone, several thousand students and 27 schools were involved in school rallies and a city wide relay with Ray and the team.

In 2008, Ray founded impossible2Possible (i2P) (impossible2possible.com) an organization that aims to inspire and educate youth through adventure learning, inclusion and participation in expeditions. Youth Ambassadors are selected from around the world, and then participate, at no cost, in all aspects of the expedition, from logistics and running to creating educational content and team support. All of the i2P Youth Expeditions have included various challenge based initiatives through an Experiential Learning program, in which thousands of students participate as active ‘team members’ during the expeditions, from classrooms all over the world. This program and its technology is also provided at no cost to the students or schools participating. Since its inception, i2P Youth Expeditions have included 14 gruelling expeditions; Baffin Island, Tunisia, the Amazon, Bolivia, India, Botswana, Utah, Peru, Chile, Italy, California, Greece, Death Valley and Canada. The programs and expeditions are 100% free of cost.

SOUTH POLE QUEST EXPEDITION

In 2009, Ray and two fellow Canadians, Kevin Vallely and Richard Weber, broke the world speed record for an unsupported expedition by a team to the Geographic South Pole. In the process, Ray trekked this traditional route from Hercules Inlet to the South Pole, a distance of 1,100 kms, solely on foot and snowshoes, without the use of skis. Students from all over North America joined the team on a daily basis, a program provided through impossible2Possible, as the trio continued their southern trek. The students received daily communications and actively took part in every step of the trek. Essentially becoming “teammates” of the expedition, and teammates of the Guinness World Record achieved.

In winter 2010, Ray and Kevin Vallely ran the length of frozen Lake Baikal in Siberia, 650 kms, over the course of 13 days, totally unsupported. Once again communication with satellite video conferencing to schools brought the expedition into classrooms, and classrooms onto the expedition.

ATACAMA EXTREME EXPEDITION

In February 2011, Ray ran the length of the “driest desert on Earth”, the Atacama Desert in northern Chile. Temperatures exceeded 50c as he ran 1,200 kms in 20 days with minimal daily re-supply and with emergency supplies on his back. Thousands of students joined this journey, again under his i2P organization, via live web and video conferencing.

In August 2011, Ray and Will Laughlin ran from the north park boundary to the south park boundary of Death Valley National Park, totally off-road. The 237 km run saw temps reaching over 120 degrees F.

Beginning June 23rd 2013, Ray ran over 2,000km across Mongolia and the Gobi Desert. He was accompanied by both a film crew and photographer who recorded not only the expedition, but also created an archive sharing the stories of the people and culture of Mongolia to schools around the world. The expedition marked the beginning of the “To The Edge” series chronicling the stories and people and that Ray comes into to contact with on expeditions… at the edges of the Earth!

In Winter 2014 Ray completed his 4th unsupported crossing of Baffin Island on the Akshayuk Pass (he would go on to complete 6 unsupported crossings in various seasons).

In January 2015 Ray ran 1,000km across the Patagonian Desert, and then in summer 2015 Ray did a partial crossing of Death Valley National Park, his second project in the area.

ARCTIC 2 ATACAMA EXPEDITION

In February 2016, Ray Zahab (CAN), Jen Segger (CAN) and Stefano Gregoretti (Italy) set out on a unique and challenging expedition that spanned 100 degrees celsius on the thermometer. The team journeyed from -50°C (-58F) to +50°C (120F) over 1,500km, on mountain bikes and foot, crossing both Baffin Island in Canadian winter, and the Atacama Desert in Chilean summer. This would mark Ray’s second crossing the length of the Atacama Desert.

In February 2017- Ray Zahab and Stefano Gregoretti would go on to complete the second and third stages of a three part expedition in the Canadian Arctic after a near disastrous start in which Ray broke through a frozen river in the Torngats Mountain Range. The duo rallied back to ski unsupported across Baffin Island, and then fatbike across the Northwest Territories along the Mackenzie Valley Winter Road (500km).

Ray has also found the time to write two books about his life and adventures. Running for My Life published in 2007 and Ray’s second book, geared at youth readers, Running to Extremes, which recently became a National Best-Seller in Canada. He is currently writing his third book.

In addition to being an adventurer, youth advocate and runner, Ray speaks around the world at events such as TED, IOC World Conference, Idea City, The Economist World in 2010 and 2011, World Affairs Council, and numerous Apple Distinguished Educator events internationally, and numerous corporate events. He has been interviewed and appeared on several talk and news programs including CNNi, CNN, The Hour, CBC, CTV, BBC, Jay Leno, OLN and Discovery. He has also appeared in print media globally, and has been interviewed on numerous popular podcasts.

Outside of his own organization Ray has volunteered as a board member – now an advisor to the Ryan’s Well Foundation, volunteered as Athletic Ambassador of the ONExONE.org, and SpreadTheNet. He continues to volunteer with Run For Water, and various other initiatives. Ray received the ONExONE Difference Award in 2007, and the Torchbearers Award in 2010. He is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and Royal Canadian Geographical Society. In spring 2012, Ray was invited by H.E. Tsogtbaatar Damdin (Minister of Environment, Mongolia) to join their Internal Advisory Committee. In 2015 Canadian Geographic recognized Ray as one of Canada’s Top Explorers. In December 2015 Ray was presented with the Meritorious Service Cross of Canada by the Governor General of Canada.

He continues today with life as an adventurer and as a volunteer with impossible2Possible. ‘Running The Sahara’ would begin a lifelong journey of discovery. A journey of learning that some of the greatest barriers to achieving our goals are the ones we put upon ourselves. By breaking these down, Ray has learned that we are all capable of achieving truly extraordinary things.

Enjoy the conversation!

If you’re interested in getting a copy of my new book The Ripple Effect you can get it here!

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Dr. Greg Wells Podcast #81: Dr. Greg on the Charles Adler Show

October, 10th 2017

In this episode I’ve posted my chat with  on Living with Passion, the Art of Public Speaking & Being Present. Here’s a little more about Charles:

Charles Adler is a 40-year radio and television broadcast veteran, who’s career has seen him tour Canada working in Montreal (CJAD), Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto (CFRB), London, Hamilton, and Winnipeg (CJOB).

In the U.S.A., Charles hosted a nationally syndicated radio show out of Tampa, hitting more than 120 markets, and a nightly primetime television show out of Boston, for which he won a Best TV Host for New England Emmy.

Charles has hosted national radio and television programs in Canada, including Global Sunday for Global TV, The Charles Adler Show on the Corus Radio Network, The Charles Adler Show on SiriusXM Canada, and Charles Adler on the Sun News Network. Charles has made numerous appearances on Canadian national television news and current affairs shows and he has also guest hosted in the U.S.A. for Sean Hannity on Fox News Channels’ television show Hannity and Colmes. Charles’ articles have been published in Sun Media papers across Canada, and he was a regular columnist for the Winnipeg Free Press. Charles currently is host of Charles Adler Tonight on the Corus Radio Network that is heard in Western Canada.

You can check out his show at: https://omny.fm/shows/charles-adler-tonight/ 

And learn more about Chuck on his website: http://charlesadler.com/

Enjoy the conversation!

If you’re interested in getting a copy of my new book The Ripple Effect you can get it here!

If you found this information interesting and helpful please consider signing up for our monthly newsletter with health and performance tips, articles, videos and other insights.

I’m on twitter, Linked In and Facebook.

Also please subscribe to this podcast in iTunes!

+View More