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Volume 5, Issue 29

September 2013 


What's your see? squeegie


I'm a funnies person and I'm not ashamed to admit it. It's the first thing I read in the morning (unless something work related gets in the way) and sometimes I think the funnies are the only reason I keep getting a daily newspaper. I'm not a fan of reading the funnies online. One of my favorites is "Pearls Before Swine" by Stephan Pastis. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that Pastis is a former litigation attorney which may, in part, account for character Rat's acerbic quality. I want to share this morning's strip with you. Take a peek and rejoin me.


I agree with hubby penguin. Perspective is a tricky thing, the peephole that each of us gazes through in order to make sense of the world around us. We look at every situation, person and event through our own individual point of view and these POVs can be wildly different. (How else to explain why some people go crazy for Honey BooBoo?) But I think what makes perspective tricky is that it's so narrow and we can sometimes cling to it so fiercely that we're unable to unshackle the spirit of free inquiry. (Okay, I know that's a bit over the top, but sometimes phrases come to me and I can't resist using them. Forgive?) The bottom line is that our own personal perspective isn't the only one that matters. Margaret Wheatley (among others) said that diversity lies at the heart of an organization's ability to innovate and adapt. And to exploit this diversity, we have to open ourselves up to others' perspectives. We need to invite them to share with us how they see the world.


It's critical that organizations seek out the perspective of their employees. If they don't, there's a good chance they'll lag behind their competition.


Is your organization reaching out for your perspective? If not, we can help open that door.   


On another note, I've recently launched my new blog, aimed at professional women who are ready to stop sabotaging their own success. We need more women in leadership positions and I want to help them get there. Please check it out - I'd love to get your feedback.



Boldly yours,


Jennie Ayers

Senior Partner

September 2013


In This Issue
  • Brain Myth or Brain Fact?
  • Compete with USA Memory Champs!
  • Your Social Pain Threshold



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BrainTwo Brain Facts that are Total BS
Curated by Jennie Ayers, Senior Partner at BoldWork

I had another birthday last month. Don't ask me which one - it would be impolite - but suffice it to say that I'm not going gently into that good night. Once I turned forty, I became a warrior in my nonstop battle to fight the aging process. And I'm much more worried about my head than my heart. I've got great genes when it comes to aging physically (my grandmother lived just shy of her 100th birthday, still in her own home, and my father played golf well into his 80s) but a couple of other relatives developed early onset dementia. So I worry about maintaining my brain.


Fact #1


While I was still in college, the guys who lived across the hall from us were med students and cautioned us to go easy on drugs and alcohol to cut down on how many brain cells we killed. They warned us that once these brain cells kicked it, they were gone for good. (It was curious that they didn't always heed their own advice - their place was party central on weekends.) It turns out that this is a myth. In actuality, our brain creates new cells when needed and, even though this ability slows down as we get older, it never disappears. Studies from the 90's identified stem cells within the brain that can turn into any other kind of cell on demand, including brain cells. These cells are like having blank tiles in a game of Scrabble. So big sigh of relief when it comes to dead cells.


Fact #2


My other big worry is keeping up cognitively. How do we stay sharp as we get older? There was a time when neuroscientists believed that we were born with a certain level of smarts and that was that...and we could expect to lose cognitive ability as we age. Luckily, things aren't so bleak. We now know that we have the ability to be smarter...and hang on to cognitive ability longer.

The brain's innate neuroplasticity gives it the ability to change in response to stimuli. And this stimuli can be delivered in the form of games. Research studies show that cancer-related cognitive problems show improved performance when patients engage in certain brain-based games. People with certain conditions, like Turner's Syndrome which affects the ability to do math, increase their math skills by playing games. And everyday people - like you and me - can enhance memory and attention by as much as 20%, also by playing brain-based games.


Seeing our brain differently helps us let go of fear when it comes to losing brain cells and empowers us to both increase our cognitive ability and hang on to it as we grow older. Wow, I suddenly feel a little less stressed about getting older...although I'm still not going gently.


Feel like giving your own brain a little workout? Try speed match to build your processing speed and reaction time. Try word bubbles to build language skills and flexibility. If you're like me, you can get hooked on games like these. You might want to set a time. Now...GO!



Compete with USA Memory Champs 
Curated by BoldWork


Imagine for a moment that you're seated at a table and you're handed a deck of 52 playing cards that have been randomly shuffled. You're given one minute to study the deck and memorize the order of the cards. Sixty seconds later you hand the deck over and are asked to call out the cards in order. Can you do it?


Just thinking about it makes us dizzy. But this is only one feat that contestants taking part in a USA Memory Championship must complete. They're first given 15 minutes to memorize 99 names and faces, and 20 minutes to recall them. Next, contestants have to memorize an unpublished 50-line poem in 15 minutes, followed by a series of random digits, a list of random words and, finally, the challenge with the deck of cards. Believe it or not, there are people who can do this!


Do you have memory envy? We did...the minute we heard about these memory champs. What if you could remember the name and profession of every person you meet when networking? What if you could banish anxiety about forgetting parts of your presentations? What if you could be confident that you could retrieve vital information whenever called upon in a meeting? Sounds too good to be true - these memory champs must have brains that are different from yours and ours, right? these are feats most of us could never master, right?


Wrong! We can all be memory champs...if we know how. We were skeptical...until we saw writer Joshua Foer's TEDTalk and heard about the surprising twist to his pursuit of a story. Who's ready to start training? 


What's Your Threshold of Social Pain? 
Curated by Kris Campbell, Managing Partner at BoldWork


I'm sure most of you know what I mean when I talk about our threshold of pain. We all know people who have a very low threshold - stub a toe and the wails of pain sound like there's a need for 911. On the other end of the spectrum, I have a friend who broke her foot and continued hiking with friends, limping only slightly. It wasn't until that evening that she was persuaded to go to the emergency room, her foot swollen to twice its normal size. She simply wasn't in much pain.


We accept that there's a complicated and varied biology that each of us is born with that deals with physical pain. We cut one another slack and express empathy and sympathy for others' aches, twinges and pangs that we can...well, locate. The broken foot, the throbbing head, the sore muscle. We understand this kind of pain in others and most often offer patience and support. Medical professionals even acknowledge different kinds of physical pain: somatic (body), neuropathic (nerves) and visceral (organs).


pain hands over faceBut what if the pain is intense, the impact devastating and we can't point to it, touch it or x-ray it? This is the pain we experience at the emotional and social level. The pain we experience at work when we're berated by an irate manager, an uncooperative co-worker or an insensitive customer. The incident that brings on this pain can also be subtle - not being invited (ignored, rejected?) to what we perceive is an important meeting. The same significant threshold of pain exists in these cases, but we typically don't offer the same degree of support and we're more apt to suppress - and most of us hide - the intense impact of social pain.


However, recent research (2012) challenges our traditional views that have created this disparate distinction between physical and emotional/social pain. It's time for a whole new SEE regarding pain. Scientists have now discovered that our brain's neural pathways that process physical pain and emotional/social pain are one and the same. The pain from an unexpected job performance review, or a public angry outburst between you and a co-worker you consider a friend and trusted colleague can feel as painful as any broken bone. It hurts. Period.


These experiences of pain run along such a common pathway in our brain that researchers at UCLA have discovered that a well known pain reliever, acetaminophen (Tylenol), actually reduces people's emotional/social pain by acting upon the neural area that plays a role in both physical and emotional/social pain. Likewise, people who experience physical pain also experience a significant reduction in their pain when emotional comfort is offered.


This new research says it's time to cut ourselves some slack and realize that the difficulties and stress of everyday work have personal, individual thresholds. Yours will never be exactly the same as the emotional/social pain threshold of your co-workers.


Take a look at a brief overview of this remarkable research confirming the common neural pathways of physical and emotional/social pain. And the next time you see a colleague in distress, realize that they may experience this pain differently than you do...and offer some support.



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