Dr. Greg Wells

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Dr. Brynn Winegard knows what your brain needs

October, 2nd 2018

This Q&A was adapted from my podcast conversation with Dr. Brynn Winegard, an award-winning professor, speaker and world-leading expert in neuroscience and in the intersection of business and brain science. Dr. Brynn is formally educated in neuroscience, psychology, and marketing and strategy, including a BSc, MBA and PhD. In addition to her training and research, she also spent a decade in corporate marketing, working for organizations like Pfizer, Nestlé and Johnson & Johnson. While she retains several faculty positions at leading Canadian universities, Dr. Brynn has now dedicated herself to helping groups, organizations and companies learn to build better brains.

Listen to the episode here: http://bit.ly/DrBrynnPodcast

Building better brains: An overview of Dr. Brynn Winegard’s expertise and current interests

Dr. Greg Wells: Dr. Brynn, before I clicked record, you and I were talking about how you did an audit of what you love to do versus what you don’t, and that you landed on what you do, which is speaking and teaching. Can you tell us about that?

BW: I focus on business and brain science and merging the two. In the olden days, it used to be called things like “neural management,” “neuro leadership,” “neural marketing,” and those kinds of things. I consider those to be relevant, though I would say my focus is a lot broader than that. And I spend my days much like yourself, running a business, so there’s a lot of delivering that has to happen, organizing, and chasing, marketing, and some administration.

But if you think about the knowledge work I’m doing, especially this time of year, I take in a lot of disparate sciences by reading very broadly. Greg, you know this is my time to retrench myself in the literature and some of the newest science, looking at other sciences you wouldn’t necessarily think are relevant and then bringing them back to my domain or mixing them with my existing knowledge to either reproduce them in the form of video or blog content. And right now, I’m attempting write a popular press book, putting my knowledge in terms that real people and real businesses can use. You and I have that in common.

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John Foley has been to the limits of human performance

October, 2nd 2018

This Q&A was adapted from my podcast conversation with John Foley that aired September 4th, 2018. John is former lead solo pilot for the US Navy’s Blue Angels. Now a Sloan Fellow at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, John is an internationally-renowned keynote speaker in the areas of high performance for individuals and teams. He is also a gratitude guru who inspires audiences through his “glad to be here” mantra and foundation of the same name.

Listen to the entire interview here: http://bit.ly/JohnFoleyPodcast

The seeds of dreams: The origin of John Foley’s dream to be one of the best jet pilots in the world

Dr. Greg Wells: John, you have an incredible story about when you first started to dream about becoming a pilot. Take me back to when you are a kid and your relationship with jets.

John Foley: It’s really a story about my dad and jets. My dad was in the Army. I just had so much respect and love and trust for him. I wanted to grow up just like him. He showed me what integrity was by living it, not just speaking it. When I was a little kid, I would make little airplanes and put them up with thumb tacks on my ceiling. I got bunk beds, even though I was just by myself. I would sleep on the top bunk, so I could be closer to the airplanes. Every morning, that’s the first sight I saw, these fighter jets flying over my head.

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Learning to achieve the three states of human excellence

July, 30th 2018

When you are a science geek like me, you approach knowledge with a lens that can zoom in and out, seeking both fine distinctions and deep insights. Then, if you are a speaker, author and coach, you take what you have learned and sort out how to translate it into accessible and useable information.

This has been my process as I explore the realms of mindfulness, creativity, productivity, focus and joy. I’ve been reading, talking to people and doing experiments to test my thinking and apply my knowledge. This journey has helped me see that there are three distinctly interrelated states of being that we can all learn to access. One of them is pure mindfulness: complete immersion in the moment. The other two are ends of a spectrum: hyper focus for productivity and completely letting go for creativity.

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A Book in the Hand

July, 30th 2018

The power and potential of technology are well known and constantly in your face – from Apple ads to your Kindle to that app your co-worker is raving about. But when it comes to sheer creativity, there are significant advantages to leveraging the power and possibility of old school tools: physical books and pens.

Four years ago, I had a chance to spend a bit of time with Richard Branson. I know everybody references him, and it’s hard to relate because he’s hyper wealthy and has degrees of freedom that most of us don’t have. But during a Q&A session I sat in on, he explained that he always carries a notebook with him for ideas. A physical notebook. Since then, I always make sure I have one on hand. Whenever I travel, I go into a bookstore and look for a beautiful notepad. I also collect them from people I meet, like an incredible one I was given in India made from colored leaves pressed together.

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Shift from time management to priority management

July, 30th 2018

Ever feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day? Like you are chasing your tail and barely able to get it all done? Like you are paddling madly upstream but still being carried along with the current?

You aren’t alone. It’s a feeling that most people get at some point. But it doesn’t have to be that way. There is a simple mental shift you can make that will change not only how you spend time but how you feel about the time you spend.

Stop managing your time. Start managing your priorities.

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Experiment your way to creating like Thomas Edison

July, 30th 2018

Here’s an informal experiment I ran recently that you should try.

I went for a walk downtown in Toronto, where I live, through the financial district where I was meeting a buddy for lunch. As I did, I made a decision to not pull out my phone while I was walking. I just watched people.

It was unbelievable. About 80 to 90% of them were walking with their faces down in their phones.

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Identify what matters most and hyper focus

July, 30th 2018

Here’s one of the biggest tips I offer people who want to amplify their performance: identify what matters to you the most and go after it with everything you have. It’s the path to optimal performance, wellness and joy. Avoid spreading yourself around and letting your time and energy drain away. Decide what you want to accomplish and get on with it.

I’ll give you an example.

A school board recently invited me to give a talk at night to a gathering of parents about lack of focus among students. At one point, a parent put up her hand and said, “My child is working until 11 o’clock at night. It’s disrupting her sleep. It’s getting in the way of other activities. This is a huge problem.”

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Be tech smart: deliberately engage and intentionally disengage

July, 30th 2018

Sometimes, the biggest lessons we can learn really do come from kids.

My daughter Ingrid is eight, and she recently began using an iPad. My wife Judith and I know that we can’t shelter our kids from technology. We need to help them learn to use it productively. So we have established guidelines and Ingrid is learning the ins and outs of what most adults struggle with – being on and off a device.

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Addicted to distraction: are you controlling your technology or is it controlling you?

July, 30th 2018

A few years ago, I was sitting at the back of a conference session with my buddy Bruce Bowser, President and CEO of AMJ Campbell. The speaker was riveting, and we were thoroughly engaged. But at some point during the presentation, Bruce and I started to look at the audience. What we saw was shocking.

As we looked around the room, there was a significant percentage of the audience on their phones. Bruce and I exchanged glances and gestures of disbelief. Then, at a break in the session, we went outside where the crowd was lingering and discovered 98% of the people in attendance were on their devices. When the day’s sessions ended, Bruce and I headed out for a walk in this beautiful old European city, and we had to avoid colliding with several people who had their faces down in their phones and nearly walked into us.

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Think + Learn = Thrive.

July, 22nd 2018

Helping people think better is thrilling, especially when it comes to making the connection between learning and joy. In particular, I love helping people explore their ability to take in different perspectives and the positive impact it can have on their wellbeing.

Recently, while I was doing some work with a group of educators, I shared an article written by Peter Diamandis about the future of education and the impact technology will have in the classroom. It was fascinating to see how people reacted.

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You get to decide how you consume media, news and technology

July, 22nd 2018

Recently, I was giving a talk to an audience of a couple hundred people when I was asked to explain my evening routine at home. It starts at six o’clock when I spend an hour or so with my kids, followed by an hour hanging out with my wife, Judith. Around eight, we do some yoga or relax through a hot bath/cold shower combo. By nine, I’m reading fiction or biographies to help my mind wind down and prepare for a high-quality sleep.

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Making social media an asset: passive consumption versus active engagement

July, 22nd 2018

Social media: damaging distraction or fabulous connector? It’s a question I get all the time from people who are wondering about their technology use and its effect on their lives. My answer? It depends on you.

Each of us has preferences about the social media channels we use. I interact mainly with Twitter and Instagram, though I have spent more time of late on Snapchat because it is the platform of choice for the students I work with. And of course, though it’s not a main channel for me, Facebook is another major social presence, irrespective of its recent troubles. No matter what you use, you need to make choices about how you do so.

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A key lesson from mental health experts: focus on simple strategies

July, 22nd 2018

One of the incredible aspects of the worldwide effort to promote mental health is that it brings together experts from a range of professions. By comparing notes, sharing knowledge and generating collaborative solutions, we are making a difference.

As a physiologist, my entry point into any conversation about mental health is an emphasis on the body. And while that remains a central focus in my work, I have built a network of people who complement my knowledge and help me understand topics that are a bit outside my wheelhouse.

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What we can learn from athletes about how to pivot from negative to positive thoughts

July, 22nd 2018

During my career, I have learned a great deal about human performance from working with elite athletes. The challenges athletes face push them and their coaches to learn to cope with enormous pressure. Many of those techniques are useful for the rest of us in our daily lives.

One of the most powerful mental skills athletes develop is the ability to pivot from negative to positive thoughts. It is a skill they practice a great deal because no matter the sport, and no matter how successful they are, all athletes fail over and over again.

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Why are we so determined to see failure as a bad thing?

July, 22nd 2018

It seems like everywhere I go, there is talk about the importance of failure – its role in growth, building resilience, driving success, connecting people and ensuring we raise adjusted and confident kids. I’m all in on the conversation. But I have a question: why are we so resistant to seeing failure as a positive thing?

Even a cursory glance at the role of failure illustrates that it can have enormous value.

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Regret, Dying and Helping Our Kids Embrace Failure

July, 22nd 2018

In 2009, Australian Bonnie Ware was a budding author and songwriter. She also happened to have spent close to a decade working as a palliative care nurse. That year, she wrote a blog post reporting on things that her terminally ill patients wished they had done differently. The post went viral, changing her life and leading to her international bestseller Top Five Regrets of the Dying.

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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.

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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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