Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning
Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence Founder,  Marc Brackett, on his new book “Permission to Feel”

Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence Founder, Marc Brackett, on his new book “Permission to Feel”

September 23, 2019

Watch this interview on YouTube here.

Marc Brackett, Ph.D., [i]is the Founder and Director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence [ii]and a Professor in the Child Study Center of Yale University. He is the lead developer of the RULER approach,[iii] (the 5 skills of emotional intelligence). RULER is an evidence-based approach to social and emotional learning that has been adopted by nearly 2,000 pre-K through high schools across the United States and in other countries and the approach is seeing huge success.[iv] He also serves on the Board of Directors for the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (known as CASEL)[v]. Marc’s new book, Permission to Feel (Celadon/Macmillan) inspires a new mindset around the power of emotions to transform our lives. Instead of the idea that our “emotions get in the way of our success, they are actually the key to it.”[vi] Using science, passion, and lively storytelling, this book serves as a guide for understanding our own and others’ emotions, as well as provides innovative strategies for developing emotional intelligence in adults and children so that emotions help, rather than hinder, our success and well-being. I haven’t been able to put his book down because it captivated me! 

Welcome Marc!

Q1: I am thrilled, excited, motivated, and inspired to be speaking with you—all of those yellow (high energy and pleasant feelings) on your Mood Meter Chart—that tool you developed to help people become aware of their feelings—that’s in the first few pages of your book. I actually watched your Talk at Google[vii] and learned so much—before I had started to read “Permission to Feel” I thought I would introduce this concept of “how do you feel” to my girls (ages 10 and 8) and that it would be just like how we added Growth Mindset into our homework slot. But I had an eye-opening situation that showed me we are not as emotionally literate as I had thought in my household. Can I tell you the story of what happened to get your point of view on the situation? So, a couple of weekends ago we went to see the movie, Lion King, and my two girls were the only kids in the theatre bawling their eyes out when Musafa, the Dad, dies. I thought, let me see if I can give them “Permission to Feel” and implement Marc’s book —so I say, “Why are you crying?” expecting they would say “because the Dad died and I don’t want my Dad to die” and we would start a conversation about that but my oldest just grunted and pushed me away, and the youngest was crying too hard to say anything at all. I realized that we could be doing a better job with talking about emotions in our home. Marc, what happens when we deny the “Permission to Feel” and where would you suggest anyone begin when implementing your RULER approach, whether we are a parent, teacher or employee in the workplace?

Q2: Now that I know this approach—and know that knowledge and application are poles apart, can you explain what are the biggest things we should avoid, and what should we watch for to be sure we are properly implementing the RULER approach?  

Q3: When I first opened your book “Permission to Feel” and saw the Mood Meter Chart I went straight to where I hang out most of the time. (Upbeat, cheerful, lively, focused, and joyful) that’s me—but to get here—takes daily work (meditation and exercise) that has taken some time to figure out what I must do to be my best self. Then I thought about some other people in my world working in high stress careers who hang out in stressed, anxious, frustrated, and worried with different work responsibilities and priorities. What are some strategies you suggest helping people who might be hanging out in the red quadrant who are pressed for time to create this work/life balance?

Q4: Can you give a quick background for why this book is so important and timely with such a rise in mental health issues these days? We all know the shocking statistics for our nation’s youth with the current suicide epidemic, and depression and anxiety being common in kids at young ages these days. How did we arrive at this place where we still struggle to talk about how we feel—how even the most educated in this field could use some help, especially with the first 3 strategies of recognizing, understanding and labelling our own and other people’s emotions?

Q5: Self-regulation is always the most requested topic I hear when I’m working with a school. I heard you mention how important this skill is even for those in the workplace. In one of your most recent interviews, you mentioned that “people don’t lose their jobs because of their abilities in the cognitive areas, it’s usually because of their inability to regulate.”[viii] What does the research tell us about the parts of our life that emotions drive so we can improve these life skills and increase our performance? How can we learn the language and strategies to better manage our emotions?

Q6: What is your vision for “Permission to Feel” and the work you are doing with the Yale Center of Emotional Intelligence and anything important that you would like to add that we might have missed?

Thank you so much Marc for writing this book the way that you did, sharing your true self, to show the importance of feeling the emotions in our lives, so that we can truly reach those higher levels of achievement. If anyone wants to reach you, what is the best way? To buy the book you can go to  I also saw that you are starting a new blog to help people to become emotion scientists. Where can we find more about this? I will be sure to follow the blog and keep you posted on our results as we implement the RULER approach in our home. Thank you Marc!







[vii] Marc Brackett Emotional Intelligence as a Superpower Published July 31, 2017


Filmmaker Spencer Taylor on his Educational Documentary “The Death of Recess”

Filmmaker Spencer Taylor on his Educational Documentary “The Death of Recess”

September 18, 2019

You can watch the interview on YouTube here. Today we have someone I have been watching, cheering on, supporting and giving him all the love I can possibly imagine because when I first heard about his goal to create an educational documentary to impact change on our struggling schools, I knew he would be the one to accomplish this. Spencer Taylor is a filmmaker, the co-founder of Vybesource (a movement of conscious thinkers dedicated to mind, body and soul) and he has spent the past 3 years traveling the world from the US, Canada, Finland, and China, to interview leaders in education for his upcoming documentary “The Death of Recess.”

Welcome Spencer from the road…on your way to LV!  It’s great to have you here to share what you have been up to the past 3 years.

Q1: Can you give some background on your vision for this film that you have been working so hard on, and why you saw the need to get this information into the world? Also, how will this documentary be different than what we are used to watching on Netflix?

Q2: What are some of the challenges you have learned about from this interview process and how will someone watching your film be able to make changes?

Q3: What are some of the main differences you saw going from the US to Canada and into schools in Finland—where their educational system is labeled as the best in the world with school hours cut in half, little homework, no standardized tests, 50 minute recess and free lunch[i]. What changes do you think we need to focus on here?

Q4: What other issues does the film covers and what do you hope to accomplish with the release of this film?

Q5: Who was the most impactful interview you did and why?

Thank you so much Spencer for taking the time to share the vision of this documentary. This is important work and I know you are beyond busy. I appreciate your time, and all you are doing. What is the best way to support the release of the film moving forward? Contact if you are a school with an innovative story that you would like to share.

Thanks Spencer!


Coaching a Growth Mindset: Strategies for Overcoming Obstacles and Cognitive Biases

Coaching a Growth Mindset: Strategies for Overcoming Obstacles and Cognitive Biases

September 16, 2019

Welcome back to the “Neuroscience Meets SEL Podcast” EPISODE 20 this is Andrea Samadi. I want to thank everyone who has been tuning into these episodes. In just a few short months of launching, we have reached 20 countries and the feedback has been incredible. Not only am I hearing that the topics are relevant and applicable, but the need is very clear to continue to interview new leaders in this field of social and emotional learning/emotional intelligence and neuroscience and continue to offer ideas and strategies that can be implemented immediately. If you do have feedback or want to reach me directly, you can find me (Andrea Samadi) on LinkedIn or Twitter or send me an email to 

Our initial goal with this podcast was to close the gap recent surveys show exists in our workforce where 58 percent of employers say college graduates aren’t adequately prepared for today’s workforce, and those employers noted a particular gap in social and emotional skills. Research shows that social-emotional skills like social awareness, self-regulation, and growth mindset (the skills that we have been covering in the past episodes) are crucial to college and career readiness. The outcomes of developing these intelligences are vast as they impact our performance, leadership, personal excellence, time management, and decision-making.

As we have progressed, these episodes are bringing together leaders and practitioners in the field who have programs, products, books, and ideas to share, with an urgent need to get this message out to impact our schools, communities, and workplaces.  As Clark McKown, the President of xSEL Labs, SEL Assessment mentioned in our podcast interview EPISODE 10, “it’s important that we bring people to have conversations (around SEL/emotional intelligence) to propel us forward—bringing the different strands of the SEL movement together—and having them coordinate is going to be (the) key. There’s potential for a whole that’s greater than the sum of its parts.”[i]  I hope that you agree with me how important this work is, and if you are finding these episodes helpful, please do share them on your social media so that others can gain access.

So far, we’ve covered five of the six social and emotional learning competencies to dive deep into and tie in how an understanding of our brain can facilitate these strategies. The sixth social and emotional competency, Mindset, fits in to the Social and Emotional Track with the ability to understand your own emotions (when you feel like something might be difficult and you become frustrated and ready to give up) as well as the Cognitive Track, using the executive functions of our brain—with the needed ability to persevere, problem solve, and come up with a different strategy. 

With each competency, we investigate the best practices that you can use to develop and improve your own SEL/Emotional Intelligence and well-being practice, before extending these strategies to your districts, schools, classrooms, workplaces and communities. We must first of all practice the concept ourselves, before we teach others because if we haven’t developed a practice ourselves, our students will pick up on the lack of authenticity and won’t take the concept seriously either. The interviews are designed so that you can hear directly from experts in the field who are using these skills on a daily basis. We want the ideas you take away with you to be actionable whether you are an educator working in a school, an employee or manager in a corporation, or someone just looking to take their skills to the next level. Be sure to look for the resources in the show notes section if you would like to dive deeper into this topic. 

Moving onto the topic of “Mindset” it’s important to notice that ten years after Carol Dweck’s essential finding that for “children who have a “growth mindset” their intelligence can be developed (and students) are better able to overcome academic stumbling blocks than those who have a “fixed mindset” (who think) that intelligence is predetermined  (or they must be born with a certain set of skills that can’t be changed)— (these findings are) as relevant as ever.”[ii]  Dweck’s work has reached thousands of schools, students and teachers, around the world and her research has been recognized and honored as she was the recipient of the $3.8 million Yidan Prize, the world’s largest international prize in educational research and development.

Applying growth mindset has proven to be something that has not been simple or easy to do—whether in the classroom, workplace, or even in the field of athletics. In the next few sections we will look at the obstacles behind the application of growth mindset in each of these three fields with some suggested strategies for a successful implementation. John Hattie, Professor and Deputy Dean of the Melbourne Graduate School of Education, answers the key question of "WHEN is the appropriate situation for thinking in a growth manner over a fixed manner?"[iii] In the following situations, having access to growth thinking helps resolve the situation, move the person forward, and not lead to resistance, over reaction and fear of flight into a fixed mindset. The major situations for growth mindset are:

  • When we do not know an answer
  • When we make error
  • When we experience failure or
  • When we are anxious.

In each of these situations, having a strategy to help us to pivot, try a new angle, so we can learn from what did not work last time, will help access those breakthroughs, and those Aha! Moments of learning that can only occur when we persist and persevere instead of giving up. Our end goal is to work towards changing our belief in ourselves, giving us confidence and hope, that comes with time, effort and with each new experience where we overcome a struggle. 

Let’s Examine the Obstacles Behind the Application of Growth Mindset in the Classroom:

An Education Week survey found that “the vast majority of educators believe that a growth-oriented mindset can help improve students’ motivation, commitment and engagement in learning. But the study found that applying those ideas to practice, and helping students shift their mindset around learning, remains an elusive challenge.”[iv]

Key Findings from the Education Week Survey[v] showed:

∙           Educators believe growth mindset has great potential for teaching and learning.  Nearly all teachers (98%) agree that using growth mindset in the classroom will lead to improved student learning. 

∙           Teachers see a strong link between a growth mindset and a range of positive student outcomes and behaviors.  More than 90 percent believe growth mindset is associated with excitement about learning, persistence, high levels of effort, and participation in class.

∙           Practices thought to foster a growth mindset are consistently used in the classroom.  The majority of teachers report praising students for their effort on a daily basis or encouraging them to continue improving in areas of strength or to try new strategies when they are struggling. 

∙           However, putting growth mindset into practice poses significant challenges.  Only 20 percent of teachers strongly believe they are good at fostering a growth mindset in their own students. They have even less confidence in their fellow teachers and school administrators.  And just one in five say they have deeply integrated growth mindset into their teaching practice.

So, what’s happening to yield such a gap with theory and practice? 

Carol Dweck has expressed “concern that teachers are placing emphasis merely on students’ efforts instead of their learning strategies”[vi] and wants to remind us that the real purpose behind growth mindset was to boost student’s learning. All of the effort in the world will not yield results if it’s the wrong strategy for the student.

Three Strategies That Build Growth Mindset in the Light of These Obstacles

  1. Have students try different learning strategies for different subject areas. While preparing a book report, “one student may find a graphic organizer to be a helpful tool for citing evidence, while another prefers to highlight supporting points in different colors. Another might list every possible option for evidence and cross out the weakest ones.”[vii] They may have an entirely different strategy for studying for a science test that would involve mnemonics and memorization, and rote practice of math problems for a math test.  Whatever method they choose to use, they will need to monitor and observe how this strategy is working for them and make adjustments when needed.
  2. Be sure that teachers are not labelling students “as difficult to teach based on their perceived mindsets.”[viii] It might be easier to suggest that a student has a “fixed mindset” rather than identify a learning challenge with a student. Be sure that all options are explored for each student with the proper interventions put in place.
  3. Be careful of a “false” growth mindset. We all want to believe that we have a growth mindset all of the time, but the truth is, that we all go back and forth, depending on what we are doing, and the different circumstances in our lives. Dweck herself notes “we are all a mixture of growth and fixed and need to understand both in ourselves. (She) particularly notes the reactions we have when we face challenges, are overly anxious, in fight or flight. [ix]  Self-awareness comes into play here as we learn to identify the skills in our life that we have a desire to change, and perhaps the ones that we are happy with where they are.

What About Obstacles Behind the Application of Growth Mindset in Athletics

The Rover Soccer Training Academy, one of the top teams in the UK Soccer League, whose Director of Team Performance, Tony Faulkner, came to visit Carol Dweck to find some answers to the problem he was having with some of their players not reaching their highest potential. The problem existed because the British culture held the belief that “soccer stars are born, not made” and if you believe this, and have incredible talent, then the belief would impede this player from seeing the point of daily practice to improve their craft.

Before we can see the benefits that having a Growth Mindset yields, we have to hold the belief that we can in fact change with effort, hard work, practice, persistence and perseverance and because of the British culture, this team needed to do some work with their core beliefs and Cognitive Biases.

What are Cognitive Biases and How Do They Work?

A cognitive bias is “a type of error in thinking that occurs when people are processing and interpreting information in the world around them.”[x]  There are over 200 known cognitive biases that cause us to think and act irrationally[xi] and are the result of our brain’s need to simplify information, helping us make decisions quickly.  When we are making decisions, we must take in information quickly, and the brain does this by way of a mental shortcut called heuristics that can be accurate, but can also sway us a certain way, causing us to make poor decisions based on our own limited thinking.

Learn more about a few of the most common types of cognitive biases that can distort your thinking.[xii]

  • Confirmation Bias: This is favoring information that conforms to your existing beliefs and discounting evidence that does not conform. A confirmation bias is a type of cognitive bias that involves favoring information that confirms your previously existing beliefs or biases.[xiii]
  • The Bandwagon Effect: This is the tendency for people to do or think things because other people do or think them.
  • Availability Heuristic: This is placing greater value on information that comes to your mind quickly. You give greater credence to this information and tend to overestimate the probability and likelihood of similar things happening in the future.
  • Halo Effect: Your overall impression of a person influences how you feel and think about his or her character. This especially applies to physical attractiveness influencing how you rate their other qualities.
  • Self-Serving Bias: This is the tendency to blame external forces when bad things happen and give yourself credit when good things happen. When you win a poker hand it is due to your skill at reading the other players and knowing the odds, while when you lose it is due to getting dealt a poor hand.
  • Attentional Bias: This is the tendency to pay attention to some things while simultaneously ignoring others. When making a decision on which car to buy, you may pay attention to the look and feel of the exterior and interior but ignore the safety record and gas mileage.
  • Actor-Observer Bias: This is the tendency to attribute your own actions to external causes while attributing other people's behaviors to internal causes. You attribute your high cholesterol level to genetics while you consider others to have a high level due to poor diet and lack of exercise.
  • Functional Fixedness: This is the tendency to see objects as only working in a particular way. If you don't have a hammer, you never consider that a big wrench can also be used to drive a nail into the wall. You may think you don't need thumbtacks because you have no corkboard on which to tack things, but not consider their other uses. This could extend to people's functions, such as not realizing a personal assistant has skills to be in a leadership role.
  • Anchoring Bias: This is the tendency to rely too heavily on the very first piece of information you learn. If you learn the average price for a car is a certain value, you will think any amount below that is a good deal, perhaps not searching for better deals. You can use this bias to set the expectations of others by putting the first information on the table for consideration.
  • Misinformation Effect: This is the tendency for post-event information to interfere with the memory of the original event. It is easy to have your memory influenced by what you hear about the event from others. Knowledge of this effect has led to a mistrust of eyewitness information.
  • False Consensus Effect: This is the tendency to overestimate how much other people agree with you.
  • Optimism Bias: This bias leads you to believe that you are less likely to suffer from misfortune and more likely to attain success than your peers.
  • The Dunning-Kruger Effect: This is when people believe that they are smarter and more capable than they really are when they can't recognize their own incompetence.

The Rovers soccer Training Academy in the UK was definitely suffering from the Bandwagon Effect—the tendency for people to do or think things because other people do or think them since most people believed that “soccer stars were born and not made” and that daily practice and drills wasn’t important for certain players. They had to work on looking at their belief system to make changes in the results of their players. Dweck gave advice for the Rovers Soccer Training Academy that holds true for anyone stuck in a fixed mindset. “Changing mindsets is not like surgery,” she says. “You can’t simply remove the fixed mindset and replace it with the growth mindset.” The Rovers are starting their workshops with recent recruits — their youngest, most malleable players. The team’s talent scouts will be asking about new players’ views on talent and training — not to screen out those with a fixed mindset, but to target them for special training.[xiv] 

Tips for Building a Growth Mindset with Cognitive Biases in Mind

  1. The first step is to be aware of the fact that cognitive biases exist and that we must challenge our own thinking and beliefs.
  2. Pick ONE cognitive bias and look at where we might be making flawed decisions based on your beliefs. Having discussions on the bias can help bring more awareness to how other people think.

Why is Growth Mindset Important in the Workplace or Your Organization?

We know that developing emotional and cognitive skills like growth mindset yield noticeable results in the workplace with the ability to recognize our emotions when we are becoming frustrated with something we are working on, and then having the ability to try another strategy, angle or plan for success to overcome the challenge.  

So, what are some things that you and your organization could be doing to develop a growth mindset? Carol Dweck’s research outlines the main attributes that create a growth-mindset environment. This includes;

  1. Presentation skills are learnable.
  2. Conveying that the organization values learning and perseverance, not just ready-made genius or talent.
  3. Giving feedback in a way that promotes learning and future success and presenting managers or coaches as resources for learning. (Dweck, 2007)
  4. Promoting time to think and reflect.


IN SCHOOLS: A review of the key findings from Edweek’s survey that once the theory and practice of Growth Mindset are implemented,

  • Nearly all teachers (98%) agree that using growth mindset in the classroom will lead to improved student learning.
  • More than 90 percent believe growth mindset is associated with excitement about learning, persistence, high levels of effort, and participation in class.
  • The majority of teachers report praising students for their effort on a daily basis or encouraging them to continue improving in areas of strength or to try new strategies when they are struggling.

IN ATHLETICS: As we saw with the Rovers Soccer Training Academy, once the players were able to adopt a Growth Mindset, the entire organization was able to align their values and beliefs behind consistent daily practice for success and infuse these beliefs into the future of the academy.


Did you know that employees in a “growth mindset” organization are: [xv]

47% likelier to say that their colleagues are trustworthy,
34% likelier to feel a strong sense of ownership and commitment to the organization, and,
49% likelier to say that the company fosters innovation (HBR, November 2014).

Whatever reason you might be interested in learning more about Growth Mindset, just keep in mind what Carol Dweck herself suggests, that we cannot just remove a Fixed Mindset and replace it will a Growth Mindset. It will take time and practice to develop a Growth Mindset in your brain, but just like anything we do, with practice, those pathways form and eventually become habits, yielding us the results that we have worked so hard to attain.

Thank you for staying right to end of this episode. I’m grateful for your support and interest in these topics and look forward to sharing some of the most successful leaders in the field and social and emotional learning and emotional intelligence to help put this theory into practice. Stay tuned for my next guest…he’s someone who won’t need much of an introduction if you are in the field of education. I can’t wait to share his most recent book and work…see you next time. 


“Mindset in the Classroom: A National Study of K-12 Teachers” by Education Week Research Center


[i] Clark McKown, President of xSEL Labs “Neuroscience Meets SEL Podcast Interview) August 2, 2019

[ii] “Why Mindset Matters” by Marina Krakovsky (Oct. 20, 2017).

[iii]Misinterpreting the Growth Mindset: Why We're Doing Students a Disservice by Peter DeWitt June 28, 2017

[iv] “Why Growth Mindset Still Has some Growing to Do” by Rupa Chandra Gupta Nov.12, 2018

[v] “Mindset in the Classroom: A National Study of K-12 Teachers” by Education Week Research Center

[vi] “Mindset in the Classroom: A National Study of K-12 Teachers” by Education Week Research Center (page 5)

[vii] “Why Growth Mindset Still Has some Growing to Do” by Rupa Chandra Gupta Nov.12, 2018

[viii] “Mindset in the Classroom: A National Study of K-12 Teachers” by Education Week Research Center (page 5)

[ix] Misinterpreting the Growth Mindset: Why We're Doing Students a Disservice by Peter DeWitt June 28, 2017

[x] How Cognitive Biases Influence How You Think and Act by Kendra Cherry September 7, 2019

[xi] Infographic

[xii] How Cognitive Biases Influence How You Think and Act by Kendra Cherry September 7, 2019

[xiii] How Confirmation Bias Work by Kendra Cherry Sept. 8, 2019

[xiv] “Why Mindset Matters” by Marina Krakovsky (Oct. 20, 2017).

[xv] Growth Mindset—Why is it Important for Your Organization? By Lisa Everton Nov.7, 2018

Bob Jerus, Author, Psychologist, University Professor and Founder of the EIQ-2 Emotional Intelligence Training Program on “World Suicide Prevention Day”

Bob Jerus, Author, Psychologist, University Professor and Founder of the EIQ-2 Emotional Intelligence Training Program on “World Suicide Prevention Day”

September 10, 2019

Welcome back to the “Neuroscience Meets SEL Podcast” EPISODE 19 this is Andrea Samadi. This interview will be broadcast on YouTube as well as on the regular podcast channel, so be sure to look for the YouTube link in the show notes if you would like to view the video.

Today we have Bob Jerus, author of “Mind Matters: Applying Emotional Intelligence for Personal and Professional Success”[i] among five other books on the topic of communication, leadership and sales.  His focus is on making performance, teamwork and organizational development happier and more result driven. He’s a certified human resource professional with over 30 years of experience in staffing, development, engagement and organizational development. He founded Success Dynamics International and developed the EIQ-2 Learning Systems. As a university professor and administrator, he developed, taught, administered, delivered and assessed both curriculum and courses at graduate and undergraduate levels for traditional, adult education and on-line programs. He’s taught marketing, management, HR, adult development and psychology with a focus on measurable, sustainable results.

Bob has been a trusted advisor for the work we do with Achieveit360, and someone I reach out to often for advice with his in-depth knowledge in a wealth of different areas.

Welcome Bob! It’s great to speak to you face to face for a change.

Q1: It’s interesting and timely that we are speaking on World Suicide Prevention Day since the one of the last times I reached out to you for advice was to get some help in this area with some challenges I was seeing in our local schools. Can you provide some background on where you started your career and perhaps any words of advice on suicide prevention, since this is your area of expertise?

Q2: We see a movement these days to implement social and emotional learning/emotional intelligence programs in our schools and workplaces. Why do you think programs like this are so important right now?

Q3: Your book “Mind Matters: Applying Emotional Intelligence for Personal and Professional Success” explains every facet imaginable for success using Emotional Intelligence for Personal and Professional Success. I love how it’s written in a how-to style, connecting the brain and the most recent neuroscience research, with many graphics and visuals to guide the reader towards implementing the wisdom in each chapter. Can you explain why you wrote “Mind Matters” and what is your favorite/most important concept this book teaches? 

Q4: Self-regulation (managing one’s emotions) is always the most requested topic I am asked about when working with schools. Obviously, this is a skill that must be trained, but in your experience, why is it so difficult to perceive, understand and manage our emotions so that we can find that balance of self-leadership that’s so important in the workplace?

Q5: What is your current vision now for your work with Success Dynamics and bringing Emotional Intelligence into the workplace? 

Q6: Is there anything that I might have missed? Any final words of wisdom that you would like to leave with us to help us to stay focused on applying emotional intelligence for more success in our life?

[i] Mind Matters: Applying Emotional Intelligence for Personal and Professional Success”


Robert Jerus Article from LinkeIn “Suicide: The Final Answer?”

Emotional Intelligence Training with Bob Jerus

Psychologist, Educator and Author Kenneth Kohutek Ph.D. on his new book “Chloe and Josh Learn Grit”

Psychologist, Educator and Author Kenneth Kohutek Ph.D. on his new book “Chloe and Josh Learn Grit”

September 9, 2019

Welcome back to the “Neuroscience Meets SEL Podcast” EPISODE 18 this is Andrea Samadi. This interview will be broadcast on YouTube as well as on the regular podcast channel, so be sure to look for the YouTube link in the show notes if you would like to view the video.

Today we have someone I have been friends with for almost 10 years. I’ll never forget seeing the review he left for my first book[i] on Amazon and when I saw his interest in what I was doing, I reached out to him to learn more about how he was using books like mine in schools, to see how I could improve.  Dr. Kohutek has spent his adult life working in the fields of psychology, neuropsychology and education. Through the experience of working with a myriad of students in settings ranging from Charter, Title I, Parochial schools, residential treatment centers, and psychiatric hospitals. He’s able to provide examples of situations which many elementary and middle school students experience in today’s educational system.

I’ve been interested in his books[ii] over the years, and this is our second interview. We spoke many years ago about enhancing children’s cognitive abilities, years before educational neuroscience was so prevalent in our schools.  I was thrilled and honored when he asked me to write the Foreword to his most recent book, “Chloe and Josh Learn Grit and Resilience with Grit Gal” volume 1, available this week at Barnes and Noble[iii] and Amazon[iv] Welcome Dr. Kohutek, who is on campus today at St. Dominic Savio Catholic High School in Austin, Texas. 

Q1: I love this book, especially with it being the first Foreword I have ever written, thank you for this opportunity! Can you tell me what inspired you to write a book on Grit, Mindset and Resilience?

Q2: For years I envisioned tools and books like this in our classrooms and am excited to see the results it will produce. What made you intertwine the social and emotional competencies with the cognitive capabilities—which is exactly what I am doing here on the podcast? 

Q3: I love how the book covers these skills connected to stories because our brain looks for and stores memories based on emotions and stories are one way to elicit that emotion. Was there a particular student who made you think of Grit Gal providing the insight to overcome each of the seven stories?

Q4: Why do you think the discussion questions with each chapter are so important? How can you see each chapter helping a student whether they are working with their teacher in the classroom, or at home, with their family?

Q5: Why do you think this book is so timely? Why do most people never develop Grit?

Q6: What is your vision for this book? I see that you are already working on Volume 2. What topics are coming up next?

Q7: What are your final words of wisdom for us on this topic? Anything that we might have missed that you think is important to share?

Q8: Where is the best place for someone to find your book? How can they reach you with any questions?

Thank you very much for taking the time out to speak with me today and share this new book. I’m excited to hear about the results it creates for students and teachers as well to follow this series. Best of luck and thanks for all you are doing for students and schools. I know it’s not easy to write a book with a busy schedule of working in at



[iii] Barnes and Noble

[iv] Amazon

Harvard Researcher Jenny Woo on “The Latest Research, Brain Facts and Myths, Growth Mindset, Memory and Cognitive Biases”

Harvard Researcher Jenny Woo on “The Latest Research, Brain Facts and Myths, Growth Mindset, Memory and Cognitive Biases”

September 6, 2019

Welcome back to the “Neuroscience Meets SEL Podcast” EPISODE 17 this is Andrea Samadi. This interview will be broadcast on YouTube as well as on the regular podcast channel, so be sure to look for the YouTube link in the show notes if you would like to view the video.

Today we move into our Cognitive Track with Jenny Woo the founder of award-winning Emotional Intelligence games, 52 Conversations and 52 Essential Relationships and Harvard Graduate School of Education researcher of social and emotional learning. With her game, "52 Essential Conversations,[i]" Jenny has created a tool for parents, counselors, and teachers to support children's social-emotional development that comes with her own podcast channel “52 Conversations to inspire children for life”[ii] where she has in depth episodes on topics that match the lessons in her cards. I have both sets of cards here and have been using them with our family the past few weeks and have been having a blast with them. 

The game is designed for ages 5 to adult, covering six categories (That align to Casel’s competencies[iii] that we have been covering here on this channel)  (self-awareness; relationship skills; self-management; social awareness; responsible decision-making; and diversity, equity, and inclusion) and ask questions such as What is fairness? or What is luck? They can be used in a multitude of ways — as conversation prompts during dinner or daily errands, or in place of playing cards in a game of Go Fish. I used the cards to help stimulate discussion with my own children (ages 7 and 9) on the topic of friendship when my youngest was struggling with this at school. We all gave examples of what being a good friend means, and the examples I am sure will extend outside of our family discussion into her daily life. We all had a blast with the cards and look forward to learning more as we implement them.  Her game allows parents and children to learn about one another while developing life skills and preparing them for the world. These cards are used in over 40 countries, all 50 States, in schools and in the workplace, so you can see why I jumped at the chance to speak with Jenny Woo.

Welcome Jenny! Thanks so much for taking the time to be here today. As we move into our cognitive track on the podcast, I was looking for experts to interview and was so excited when we connected on Linkedin.

Q1: Can you give us some background to how you went from the Corporate world in management consulting to Harvard’s Graduate School of Education and how this switch helped you to find your true calling and create such a timely product to help develop social and emotional skills for children, as well as life skills for adults?

Q2: “We’ve seen tremendous advances over the decades in the learning sciences but there are still so many myths out there.  Can you help clear up some of the most common myths? For those of you interested, please visit Jenny’s website (in the show notes) for a quiz to see your knowledge of these brain myths.[iv]

  • We only use 10% of our brain.
  • If a child cannot sit in a classroom by 3rd grade, then he/she has an undiagnosed learning disability?
  • The brains of boys/girls develop at different rates?
  • Academic achievement can be negatively affected by skipping breakfast?
  • Some children are born naturally creative.
  • Children learn best when information is presented in their preferred learning style?
  • Some people are left brain/right brain, and this explains how we learn best?
  • Listening to classical music increases children’s cognitive reasoning ability?
  • A common sign of dyslexia is seeing letters backwards.
  • Teens circadian rhythms cause them to sleep/wake up later?

Q3: From your research, can you give some strategies that you’ve incorporated into your game to help students/adults with their mindset, knowing that there are days we are all thrown off course?

Q4: I recently posted something on Instagram on Cognitive Biases. It was a graphic where I quoted “Did you know there are almost 200 known cognitive biases and distortions that cause us to think and act irrationally.”[v] Someone posted in the comment section “Where do we even begin? I didn’t even know I had these.” Can you explain what cognitive biases are, and what we can do about them, so they don’t negatively impact our decision-making and life? 

Q5: When I first began to study with a neuroscience researcher, there was a brain fact about working memory that stuck with me. It was the fact that “the conscious mind can only hold 7-10 words in our working memory.” What does this mean for students and learning? With this in mind, how do you recommend students study for their spelling tests where they have 30 words or more to remember? What are the best strategies for memorization? 

Q6: Is there anything else that you think is important that we have missed? 

Thank you so much Jenny, I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know you and your work. I’m looking forward to hearing how the Casel Exchange goes for you in October and continuing to support and share your work. Thanks for sharing your time and knowledge today.


Follow Jenny Woo on Social Media:

@mindbrainparenting for Facebook | Instagram 

@mindbrainparent for Twitter 

LinkedIn (LinkedIn is the best way to contact). Not sure if I should include my email? It's

Bio: A Harvard-trained educator, neuroscience researcher, and mom of three, Jenny’s career has been dedicated to developing big and small human beings. Jenny founded Mind Brain Parenting and developed 52 Essential Conversations, an “anytime and anywhere” game that builds social and emotional life skills. It won the 2018 Parents’ Choice Awards, featured by CASEL and Harvard University, and used in over 40 countries.













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