Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning
Functional Sports Registered Dietician Chrissy Barth on ”High Performance Fuel for Athletes”

Functional Sports Registered Dietician Chrissy Barth on ”High Performance Fuel for Athletes”

August 31, 2021

Welcome back to the Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast for EPISODE #160 with Chrissy Barth, MS, RDN, RYT, an integrative and functional sports registered dietician and mind-body expert in the field of nutrition who is passionate about teaching others about optimal health and performance by taking the confusion out of nutrition.

Episode website. 

Watch this interview on YouTube here. 

Learn more about Chrissy Barth 

Past Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast Episodes  

I'm Andrea Samadi, author, and educator from Toronto, Canada, now in Arizona, and like many of our listeners, have been fascinated with learning and understanding the science behind high performance strategies in our schools, our sports, and workplace environments with ideas that we can all use, understand and implement immediately.

I first met Chrissy Barth a couple of weeks ago, when she was asked to speak at our daughter’s gym, to help a team of aspiring gymnasts, improve their nutrition, and be sure they are fueling their bodies efficiently. I was blown away with her presentation, as I always have in the back of my head, what else can I learn to help my family and others when it comes to the Top 5 Health Staples that we have been talking about on this podcast, so I immediately asked Chrissy to join us.

A bit more about Chrissy—she is the founder and CEO of Live Breathe Nutrition, LLC and Nutrition Lifestyle Education – nutrition coaching and consulting practices in Phoenix, Arizona where she serves as a nutrition consultant to sports teams, spas, behavioral health programs, medical and training facilities, corporations, and local and national media outlets serving as a media spokesperson. Chrissy is also a Lecturer at Arizona State University where she teaches sports nutrition, complementary health care, human nutrition and entrepreneurship and serves as a mentor to many aspiring future RDs.

Chrissy has received many awards but the single highest mark of achievement as a dietitian she has received recognition as Arizona’s Young Dietitian of the Year. Chrissy enjoys giving back to her community and volunteers her time educating youth athletes on the benefits of sports nutrition.

Let’s meet Chrissy Barth and sharpen our saw with regards to high performance fuel!

Welcome Chrissy! Thank you so much for speaking with me today—I know it’s busy times with back to school and sports in full swing.

Intro Q: So I picked up in your presentation the other Friday night where we first met that you worked in MLB. Did you consult with the AZ Diamondbacks or was it another team?


I wonder, besides the comment you made about all the Red Bull drinks on the bench, what did you learn from working with a pro sports team?

Q1: I picked up so much from your “High Performance Fuel Presentation” and wanted to give our listeners an overview of this presentation, since this is one of the Top 5 health staples that we are focused on with the podcast. And who doesn’t want to learn the tips you would offer to a pro sports team! Can you share what you think are the 6 Keys to Optimal Performance and for those who have athletes in their home, what do you think is crucial for the athlete to be aware of with regards to using food as fuel?


Q2: This next question is powerful because you know you can learn something and what’s the point if you don’t implement it in your life to reap the rewards. This next question is where my 2 girls (ages 11 and 9) who were in your presentation the other night, payed attention and implemented what you taught them. I was so proud of them, because nutrition is an area that we have some weaknesses in. Can you break down what should be on an athlete’s plate? What was powerful about what you taught us was that now, on training days, my girls show me their meal plates and break down what you suggested they eat (grains/carbs vs fruits/veggies vs lean protein).

Q3: What about fats? What’s crazy to me is that if you are to ask someone to name off the items they eat that are proteins or carbs, I know they will be able to give a long list. But I notice that there is still this stigma behind eating fats (that I know was a huge paradigm for me to change a few years ago). What do you notice with fats, are people starting to see their benefits? What are some good fats vs bad fats?

Q4: This next one hit home for our household and it’s a crazy one, because I’m not the one training at the gym every night like my girls, but I’d say of everyone in my household, I eat the most “fuel” I call it. I’ve consumed more calories than anyone by 9am because I know I need it. What happens to an athlete when they under fuel? Where does it show up?

Q5: Can you explain what happens to our muscles after we work out? How do we prime them for performance the next day?

Q6: Can you give an example of the best breakfast for an athlete?

Q7: What about examples of good lunches or dinners?

Q8: We have been talking about inflammation a lot on this podcast, as it is often found in the body as a precursor to some of the major diseases.  Can you name some natural anti-inflammatory foods?

Q9: I know we mentioned the Red Bull drinks in the beginning that shocked you behind the bench when you worked in pro sports, but what about Gatorade? Isn’t that drink just a whole bunch of sugar ang dye? What other foods should we be aware of as dangerous for our health?

Chrissy, I have learned so much from the time we spent together when you spoke at Aspire Gym, and now the additional time on the podcast. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge with us. For those who want to learn more about your work, is the best place your website?[i]



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Dr. Dale Bredesen

Sheena’s Place Eating Disorder Clinic in Toronto



100,000 Download Episode Dedicated to Listeners ”What‘s Your Vision?  Using the Queen Mary Ship as a Symbol to What you Are Building”

100,000 Download Episode Dedicated to Listeners ”What‘s Your Vision? Using the Queen Mary Ship as a Symbol to What you Are Building”

August 30, 2021

Welcome back, to a BONUS Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning episode that I want to dedicate to YOU, the listener. It took this podcast a bit over 2 years to hit the 100k download milestone, and like any goal we have (whether a sales goal or something you want to do, it might seem so far off, you wonder how you’ll ever get there).

If you are reading these notes on iTunes, click here to see all images.

In February of this year, when we hit the 50k mark, it wasn’t hard to project the download numbers and guess when we would hit this milestone, but it still seemed like a moonshot goal, difficult to imagine, and August (when we projected, we would hit this goal) seemed so far away. Do you know what I mean? Do you have something you are working on where the gap from you are now and where you are going seems like an impossible goal?

Even when you have the belief?  Even when the evidence is there? I could hear how the episodes were helping people around the world thanks to the messages you sent me, but a part of me had just an ounce of disbelief, and I thought “is this really happening?” wondering if the momentum would continue to build. But the numbers never lie. They kept going up, and each month, we would surpass our monthly goal target.


This weekend, while away with the family in Long Beach, CA, I look out of the window and can see the Legendary Queen Mary Ship[i] in the port as I watch our statistics graph project upwards (see image in the show notes) as we break records with our monthly downloads since launching, and surpass the 100k download mark, with the next milestone on our list to hit 1 million downloads which seems much more difficult but yet not impossible as we break this down into smaller targets.

The Queen Mary ship is a symbolic metaphor to look at this weekend as “This iconic ship is now a floating museum, and tourist attraction.”[ii]  Sadly, the hotel is currently closed but my husband had an opportunity to stay on the ship on one of his work trips, and he took me on a tour on FaceTime, where I asked him to show me all of the rooms that had mystery and intrigue surrounding them. If you are like me, and love a good ghost story, look up the history of The Queen Mary that was named one of the “Top 10 most haunted places on earth”[iii] and look up the story of Stateroom 340B. The scariest thing we noticed was that there was no room 340B. Where it should have been, it was boarded up and no longer accessible for the public, unless things have changed, but we might not ever know this, as we mentioned this spooky hotel is currently closed to the public due to COVID-19.


The Queen Mary's Stateroom 340B was boarded up. 


The Queen Mary Hotel Rooms, just no 340B Stateroom. 


Andrea Samadi standing in front of the Queen Mary in Long Beach, CA. 

This retired British ocean liner sailed on the North Atlantic Ocean from 1936 to 1967 from Southampton, a port city on England’s south coast, just 2 hours from where I lived in England before my parents immigrated to Canada. 

On the Queen Mary Ship’s website, I saw a quote written by King George V that made me think about anything new that goes out into the world. When you’re create something out of nothing, like The Queen Mary before it was named, was known only as “Hull #534”[iv] which was the yard number where it was being built. Whatever it is that you are creating, the hope is that it makes an impact within your local community, rippling that impact throughout your state, country, nation, and eventually throughout the world. Listen to this quote and think about whatever it is that you are creating and I hope it energizes you, like it did for me.

"Today we come to the happy task of sending on her way the stateliest ship now in being. It has been the nation’s will that she should be completed, and today we can send her forth no longer a number on the books, but a ship with a name in the world, alive with beauty, energy and strength! May her life among great waters spread friendship among the nations!"[v]

– King George V on the Queen Mary launch

The Queen Mary Heritage Foundation is now developing a museum and educational facility to preserve and enhance the ship’s remarkable story” and is an incredible reminder for all of us building our own Queen Mary Vision. This weekend, as I was walking around Long Beach, where we were staying for our daughter’s gymnastics training, I was speaking with Julianne, another gymnastics Mom, who shared with me that Winston Churchill was on board the Queen Mary, 3 times, and along with this new knowledge that I just love learning, I also thought about how the Queen Mary spread “friendships” across the nations, and as I walked with my new friend in Long Beach,  thought about how new ideas really do bring people together, and make the world a smaller place.


Winston Churchill on the Queen Mary Reference: 

My vision for this podcast has always been to make some sort of lasting shift with education (with the implementation of simple neuroscience connected to social and emotional learning) and the history of The Queen Mary Ship reminds me that nothing happens overnight, without hard work and dedication. Looking out of the window at the ship was nothing compared to standing right next to it. I’ll post the images in the show notes but had to include this metaphor to show you that whatever you are working on can have a global impact, and it just takes one person (like you) to begin and create something.  As long as the numbers continue to trend upwards on this podcast,  I’ll keep putting in the effort behind each episode and really am grateful for the opportunity to host this show and share everything I’m learning in this new field of educational neuroscience with you. 

So, this 100,000th download episode is dedicated to you, the listener. I want to thank you for tuning in and sharing with me how you are using this understanding of simple neuroscience in your schools, workplaces, and personal lives. It does help when you send me messages on social media or tag me when an episode is useful. Also, a sincere thank you to all the incredible guests who gave up their time to share their knowledge, ideas, and strategies with us, giving back in such a generous manner. 

Sleep scientist Antonio Zadra from episode #104[vi] said it best as he mentioned “of course it’s the listeners who decide such things” when we hit the 90k mark, and that’s when I realized that the key to long-term success in anything is to “find a need and fill it” as Norman Vincent Peale quoted and I think of the entrepreneurs I’ve met over the years who have used this motto to guide them. 

Here’s The Top 4 Lessons Learned from Launching This Podcast to See if These Ideas Can Help You With Your Goals

  1. Where There is No Vision, The People Will Perish”[vii] (Proverbs 29:18)

Even if your vision is shaky in the beginning, keep going! When we launched the podcast in June 2019, with a need in mind, I wasn’t sure if this idea would take off. With any goal, being able to see where you are going is important and following the tips of those who’ve already achieved what you want to do is important. On our 50k milestone episode[viii] I talk about Lewis Howes from the School of Greatness Podcast[ix] who said ‘I built up my podcast through consistently providing quality valuable content and constantly being open to my own growth without being attached to the end result.” So we use this model of providing quality valuable content, keeping an eye on the downloads, remembering to not be “attached to the end result” but to just keep moving forward and applying what we are learning.

  1. There Will Be Problems and Challenges 

I remind myself with other great stories, not to forget that with any worthwhile goal, there will be challenges. Presidential historian Doug Wead[x] said it often. “When you get up and do something, there will be problems” and this comes with the territory of taking action with big goals. The history of the Queen Mary reinforced this idea as although the Queen Mary attracted elite passengers, it was the government that kept her afloat. 

“With the onset of the worldwide Great Depression, construction on the Queen Mary came to an abrupt halt. Eager to spur on the sluggish economy, the British government agreed to give a loan that would allow construction on ship #534 to continue, but only if Cunard and White Star would merge. (Like Cunard, White Star—famous as the owner of the ill-fated R.M.S. Titanic—had fallen on hard times.) In 1934, the new Cunard-White Star Line was born, and construction on the ship immediately resumed.”[xi]

Nothing worthwhile comes without problems.

Anticipate problems and challenges. I remember my first interview for the podcast with Ron Hall[xii] from Valley Day school where for some reason we couldn’t figure out why we couldn’t hear each other. After trying every possible setting on his end, we found the problem on my end, and thank goodness we didn’t give up on that interview. It was a powerful one connecting me to many other speakers in the future.

Problems will be unexpected, and they will keep coming---I think to see how dedicated you are to your vision. Will you give up at the slightest challenge, or find a way forward?

  1. Be Consistent and Relevant to Your Listeners. 

I’ve mentioned that as long as the interest in these episodes continues, I’ll continue to research, learn new ideas in this field, and produce content, with the hopes that it can help you to sharpen your saw with the understanding of how our brain impacts our learning, results and productivity, with this understanding of neuroscience made simple. I watch the numbers for each episode and know what parts of the world are listening. Thank you for keeping me in the top 100 iTunes Charts in the US, Great Britain, Canada, Finland, Australia, Russia, Spain, Mexico, Ireland and many others where we come in and out of the charts.


  1. Being Transparent with My Own Learning 

This year, I noticed that as I’m diving deeper into this content, that the more I’m learning, the more I realize just how little I know. But with each interview, each strategy can be gleaned and applied for an improved life. I know that the topic of neuroscience could seem intimidating especially when most of us have not studied this at school, but I hope that by being open with places it overwhelmed me, helps you to be patient with your own learning. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and some ideas and concepts might take a few listens to sink in. I still go back and listen to some episodes on topics I’m struggling with and learn something new, and I hope this transparency reassures you that we can all learn anything, I really believe that, if we take the time to learn and apply it. Life really is about pushing ourselves to grow and learn from the lessons we experience along the way.

If you look in the show notes, I have a METACOGNITION graphic that I created (adapted Dr. Andrew Newberg and Mark Waldman’s Spectrum of Human Consciousness Model) that shows how learning takes place in the brain, and we will dive deeper into How Learning Works[xiii] this week with Douglas Fisher, Nancy Frey and John Almarode’s new book but understanding how our brain adapts to learning something new, until we hit those Aha! Moments is important.


When we learn something new, we go through different stages on the way to metacognition, where we are aware and in control of our knowledge. It begins with Instinctive Learning, where we study and learn with curiosity and desire. We experience positive emotions when we attain success. Next, we move to Habitual Learning, where we form study habits. It is very important we develop proper study habits or else we will only get by until the work becomes challenging. Intentional Learning is where we will spend most of our logic, reason, and attention when solving mental problems. The challenge here is that we are working with our short-term working memory, which contains limited information. It is easy to get distracted at this level of awareness. Worries, fears, and doubts also operate at this level and can interfere with decision-making strategies. We must learn strategies to move forward in spite of fear and focus on the positive side of situations, taking a proactive approach to learning, instead of giving up at the first signs of a challenge. Finally, we arrive at Creative Learning, where all of the magic happens for decision making and goal setting. This process is strenuous on the brain and requires frequent brain breaks to reset our neurochemistry. We must have strategies for practice, study, and learning and be able to find a way to relax their brain and body. During these resting states, remarkable activity takes place, allowing the brain to creatively solve problems. When creativity is integrated with logic and reason, research shows we can solve conflicts and improve academic success. Metacognition occurs when we are aware and in control of the knowledge we are learning. When we reach this level, we begin to have “Aha!” experiences, where we gain insight what we are learning. This is the true magic of the learning process and proves that with the right strategy in place, but eliminating all distractions, we can all learn anything.

Thank you again and stay tuned for our new episodes this week. We have Chrissy Barth on High Performance Fuel for Athletes and as I mentioned, 2 returning guests, Nancy Frey and Douglas Fisher, with John Almarode on their new book How Learning Works, that explains the science behind how we learn.

Next month we are looking forward to diving deeper with American psychologist and Chief of Stanford’s Addiction and Medicine Clinic, Dr. Anna Lembke on her new book Dopamine Nation, and the following month, will finally get to speak with Dr. Bruce Perry on his new book with Oprah, What Happened to You that discusses conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing.

Stay tuned and thank you for helping us to achieve this milestone! 


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See past episodes here 

11 Facts About the RMS Queen Mary by Kim O’Connell June 8, 2018





[iv] "Four-Leaf Clover Propeller to Drive Giant Liner 534".


[vi] Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #104 with Sleep Scientist Antonio Zadra on “When Brains Dream: Exploring the Science and Mystery of Sleep”

[vii] The Bible King James Version

[viii] Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #109 “Achieving Quantum Leap Results Using Price Pritchett’s You Squared Book”





[xiii] How Learning Works: A Playbook by John Almarode, (James Madison University, Douglas Fisher (San Diego State University) and Nancy Frey (San Diego State University).


Dr. Michael Rousell on ”The Power of Surprise: How Your Brain Secretly Changes Your Beliefs”

Dr. Michael Rousell on ”The Power of Surprise: How Your Brain Secretly Changes Your Beliefs”

August 26, 2021

Welcome back to the Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast for EPISODE #159 with Dr. Michael A. Rousell, PhD[i] a teacher, psychologist, and professor emeritus at Southern Oregon University who has studied how random events transform us. After studying formative events, which are moments that define us, or strongly influence us, for over three decades, Michael Rousell discovered that most of them took place during a spark of surprise and serve as a mechanism to instantly change our beliefs.

Watch the interview on YouTube here.

Learn more about Michael Rousell and The Power of Surprise Book (coming out Sept.15) 


I'm Andrea Samadi, author, and educator from Toronto, Canada, now in Arizona, and like many of our listeners, have been fascinated with learning and understanding the science behind high performance strategies in our schools, our sports, and workplace environments with ideas that we can all use, understand and implement immediately.


In today’s episode, we will speak with Michael Rousell about his new book, The Power of Surprise: How Your Brain Secretly Changes Your Beliefs.[ii] Michael will show us how surprising events produce invisible influence because they open a window to spontaneous belief change with no warning or conscious awareness. You’ll see how a seemingly minor feature of surprise can be devised to strategically enrich someone’s life (personally or in the workplace) and create positive mindsets, for students or employees while maximizing your influence for those in leadership roles.


You can dive deeper into The Power of Surprise by watching Michael’s TED TALK.[iii]

30% DISCOUNT ON The Power of Surprise BOOK use CODE RLFANDF30 (by Sept. 30, 2021)


Here’s what people are saying about Michael Rousell’s new book: 


“Fascinating read chock full of lots of truly novel information and ideas. A must-read for anyone interested in enriching their lives and finding new ways to expand their mind.”—Andrew Newberg, MD, best-selling author of Why We Believe What We Believe.

“A fascinating book. The Power of Surprise shows what most of us miss about moments that change us.”—Jonah Berger, New York Times best-selling author of 3 Books, The Catalyst, Contagious, and Invisible Influence

In today’s episode you will learn:

  • What happens in the brain when we experience surprise?
  • Why random events transform us, and how they secretly change our beliefs.
  • How to use this understanding of surprise at the brain level to enrich/transform someone else’s life dramatically and instantly (in the workplace or classroom environment).

As you are listening to this episode I encourage you to think about where surprise has shown up in your life. Has someone ever said something to you that caught your attention, and made you think? What did you do with this new information? Did you use it? Did that moment change or transform you in some way, like Jonah Berger’s testimonial offered or did you just dismiss it, never to think about it again? And finally, have you ever wondered “what just happened there?”

I hope that we can dive a bit deeper and see if we can uncover some meaning behind the element of surprise in your life and offer you a framework to intentionally impact those around you, on a deeper level, with the Power of Surprise.

Let’s meet Michael Rousell.

Welcome Michael, it’s wonderful to see you again--thank you so much for speaking with me today. We set this interview up months ago, and August seemed so far away at the time! Doesn’t time fly!

Q1: I know that if we all think about it, we can come up with a time in our life where we experienced a surprise that had a profound impact on us, but most of us don’t think that deeply about something like this. We plan surprise parties, love surprise gifts, but what makes a surprise so special?

Q2: What drew your attention to study the impact that surprise has on someone’s life and belief system? Was there an experience that surprised and changed you? When did you first notice The Power of Surprise?

Q3: What can we learn from The Power of Surprise? Are there Aha Moments of learning that can be revealed to us if we are self-aware, or paying attention? Are surprises like epiphanies?

Q4: What does emotion have to do with surprise? (Positive or negative emotion?)

Q5: We all know how powerful the neurotransmitter dopamine is, and its connection to the motivation centers in the brain, but when did science discover the role of dopamine when we experience surprise?

Q6: Can you give an example of how to use the element of surprise in the workplace to transform one of your team members who you notice might be having a difficult time. Can we really transform someone’s life with surprise, and will we notice the impact immediately?

Q7: Can you give an example of how an educator could use surprise to change a student’s mindset in the classroom and how surprise can impact a student’s ability to learn?

Q8: What’s the difference between being startled and surprised?

Q9: Can I surprise someone and impact change if they have a strong belief?

Q10: Have I missed anything about the Power of Surprise? Any final thoughts?

Today’s listeners will receive a 30% discount on the purchase of Mike’s book, The Power of Surprise: How Your Brain Secretly Changes Your Beliefs. Just hit the link for the discount that you’ll find it in the show notes.

For those who want to learn more about Mike and the Power of Surprise, go to, or find him on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.


FOR A FREE EBOOK on The Power of Surprise in the Practical NeuroWisdom series, click the link below.
Surprise: The Neurological Spark to Personal Transformation

Thank you very much for speaking to me today, and sharing your decades of research of formative events to help us to all impact change, and transform those around us, whether we are a teacher in the classroom, looking to impact our students, or those in the workplace, the understanding of how we can use the element of surprise to influence others is something I know could positively influence others, as we watch those around us flourish, with an understanding of the unexpected. Thank you!


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Wolfram Schultz

2017 Brain Prize Award Winner Wolfram Schultz




[iii]Surprise! How Your Brain Secretly Changes Your Beliefs| Michael Rousell TEDxSalem Published on YouTube March 18, 2019

Dr. Howard Rankin and Grant Renier on ”Intuitive Rationality: Predicting Future Events with the New Behavioral Direction of AI”

Dr. Howard Rankin and Grant Renier on ”Intuitive Rationality: Predicting Future Events with the New Behavioral Direction of AI”

August 24, 2021

Welcome back to the Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast for EPISODE #158 with a return of our popular guest, expert in psychology, cognitive neuroscience and neurotechnology, Dr. Howard Rankin from episodes #146[i] and #152[ii] with Grant Renier, who started his venture into ‘Intuitive Rationality’[iii] 30 years before Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman published his groundbreaking book, Thinking, Fast and Slow[iv] creating a company that uses Intuitive General Intelligence (a knock off term like Artificial Intelligence)  to predict near and future events, while taking into account the fundamentals of human behavior. So basically, he has created a predictive technology that can peer into the future of sports predictions, health and medicine.

Watch the interview on YouTube here. 

Learn more about Grant Renier and Dr. Howard Rankin's artificial intelligence system 

See past episodes here 

In Today's Episode, you will learn:
✔︎ How to Improve Our Strategic Decision-Making Process with the Most Common Cognitive Biases in Mind.

✔︎ How Grant's AI System (that can be used by anyone) can predict sports wins, medicine and financial markets.

✔︎ How Howard and Grant wrote their book, Intuitive Rationality to explain the future of decision-making, through the lens of Artificial Intelligence.

I'm Andrea Samadi, author, and educator from Toronto, Canada, now in Arizona, and like many of our listeners, have been fascinated with learning and understanding the science behind high performance strategies in our schools, our sports, and workplace environments with ideas that we can all use, understand and implement immediately.

Dr. Rankin and Grant Renier will discuss their new book, Intuitive Rationality, that brings to light the fact that humans are not entirely rational but instead are influenced by several factors in arriving at decisions, like subconscious and environmental processes, and a need for emotional comfort and ideological consistency. These are “heuristics” which are defined as “mental shortcuts” designed to reduce the energy involved in critical thinking and complex processing, showing that pure rationality is almost never practical or possible for human beings and that even the most seemingly rational conclusions are at best probabilities based on the currently known data, which would almost certainly change over time.

While these notions are not new, they have appeared in a new context, the 21st century where technology is prevalent and social connection has never been greater. These contemporary processes mean that the various ways that people think have never been more important. Understanding cognitive biases is now critical for anyone in being more aware and efficient in not just their own thinking but also that of others. I know that local police departments now train their employees on cognitive bias, so officers are aware of how their thinking impacts their decision-making on the job, and cognitive bias is an important concept for educators to think about in the classroom, as well in any workplace environment for that matter.

Which biases and heuristics are programmed into Intuitive Rationality and how are they incorporated? This new book  and our interview  will answer these questions, as well as demonstrating the proven success of such a system that is a new direction in artificial intelligence logic. Grant and Howard will introduce this fascinating and paradoxical[v] connection between Intuition and Rationality to help us better understand the strategic decision-making process, to understand how and why we make the decisions that we do, how our world is defined by them, and show how this new approach to artificial intelligence can shift its development to a more human behavior-based logic, leading to a new field of AI-Intuitive General Intelligence.

I like the sounds of this! Who doesn’t want to figure out new ways to improve their thinking, and strategic decision-making with this new understanding while also getting a glimpse of the future? I think this concept could help us to stay one step ahead of the crowd.

Let’s welcome Dr. Rankin back for a third time to the podcast, and meet the co-author of their new book, Grant Renier and let’s see if we can learn the concept of Intuitive Rationality together.

Welcome Dr. Rankin and wonderful to meet you, Grant.

Q1: For Grant: I’m fascinated with the system you created years before Daniel Kahneman’s groundbreaking book, Thinking, Fast and Slow, for many reasons, but mostly because I’ve always wondered about incorporating “gut feelings” or intuition into our decision-making process. Now that I’m studying practical neuroscience and have spoken to Howard a couple of times now, he’s convinced me that there’s a problem with the way humans think.

Can you explain what is Intuitive Rationality, your intuitive General intelligence system, and how it works (financial markets, sports. Elections and medicine?)  taking into the account of human decision-making?

1B: Howard, taking Grant’s work into account, and the idea that you have a podcast called How Not to Think[vi], What should we all know about “how we think and make decisions?”

Q2: Can you share some of the insights you write about in Chapter 1 about your visit to Walmart that are metaphors to help us to understand “how we think?” Can we talk through each of the examples of human thinking?

  1. Dan— “According to Aristotle, all human actions have one or more of these seven causes: chance, nature, compulsion, habit, reason, passion, and desire.” You mention in your example that you had chosen the long life 100-watt light bulbs with a combination of chance, nature and habit as per Aristotle via Dan. In my studies so far, I have come across Jaak Panksepp[vii], an American neuroscientist who says we have seven networks of emotion in the brain that begin with seeking—we are always looking for something new, and the brain releases dopamine when it finds it. How do we make decisions here? Looking for something new, or choosing what we are used to and like?
  2. Maria— “As Buddha says, we are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world.” I understand this one, probably from my work with the speaker Bob Proctor who taught me the importance of guarding my thoughts, since our thoughts, feelings and actions control our results/conditions, circumstances, and environment.  How important are our thoughts in your opinion and how does our thinking tie into decision-making?
  3. Aloysius—As Fyodor Dostoyevsky said, “One may say anything about the history of the world--anything that might enter the most disordered imagination. The only thing one can't say is that it's rational.” What role does our imagination play with decision making? 
  4. Crystal —Sigmund Freud said “unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive and will come forth later in uglier ways.” We could talk about this one for a week!! A month…maybe a year!! Before I start this one, I wonder, when making decisions, how can we keep emotions out of this process?

Andrea’s Thoughts: I’ve uncovered that Research shows that “emotion has a substantial influence on the cognitive processes in humans including perception, attention, learning, memory, reasoning and problem solving.”[viii] This happens because our amygdala “is activated by emotional events. The amygdala boosts memory encoding by enhancing attention and perception and can help memory retention by triggering the release of stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol, to boost arousal.”[ix] How can we keep our emotions out of decision-making, or when can we become aware of how they are impacting our decisions?

Q2B: How can you predict sports wins? What data is pulled?

  1. Maggie—“as Daniel Kahneman says, ‘We are very influenced by completely automatic things that we have no control over, and we don't know we're doing it.’” Dr. Carolyn Leaf on our interview in March of this year told me that our emotions show up in our behavior, and often times when we have a behavior we don’t like, we can just take some time to identify the emotion attached to the behavior (or the root cause) that remains unforgotten in the non-conscious mind from something that happened to you in your childhood and making the connection between the emotion and the behavior explain why you are doing something “without control.” Is that what this means?

Q3: It wasn’t even 2 seconds into chapter 3 (A Starbucks Encounter) where you meet Sherlock Holmes for coffee (which sounded like an incredible idea) where he introduces risk aversion bias, confirmation bias, and availability bias. I have seen a list of the top 50 cognitive biases[x] but how many are you aware of, and how is it possible that we check ourselves against these biases during decision-making?

Q4: Can you explain a few of the most important of the 12 core cognitive biases in Intuitive Rationality? (Availability, anchoring, confirmation, symmetry, risk-avoidance, memory decay)?

Q5: How do these cognitive biases fit into AI and how would a system like what Grant has developed take into consideration Theory of Mind, or respond to different human cues like emotions?

Q6: What should we all take away from Intuitive Rationality?

I want to thank you both for your time today, and for explaining Intuitive Rationality to me and the listeners. I know these lessons and ideas will help us all to think clearly, and take a bit more time with our decision-making process.

For anyone who wants to learn more about you, Grant, what is the best place?

Intuality AI Website

Grant Renier 

Dr. Howard Rankin  and 

To read the book?

Thank you!

Join the Intuitive Rationality Facebook Group to Learn More and Stay in Touch with Grant and Howard.


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Neuroscience Meets SEL Facebook Group  




[i]Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #146 with Dr. Howard Rankin on “How Not to Think”

[ii]Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #152 with Dr. Howard Rankin Interviewing Andrea Samadi


[iv] Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman Published Dec. 19, 2012

[v] The Interplay between Intuition and Rationality in Strategies Decision-Making: A Paradox Perspective Published July 29, 2016 by Guilia Calabretta, Gerda Gemser, Nachoem M. Wijnberg

[vi] Dr. Rankin’s How Not to Think Podcast


[viii] The Influences of Emotion on Learning and Memory Published August 24, 2017 Chai M Tyng, Hafeez U Amin, Mohammed N M Saad, Aamir S Malik

[ix] What Makes Memories Stronger?

[x] 50 Cognitive Biases in the Modern World

Brain Fact Friday ”Overcoming Digital Addiction Using Neuroscience”

Brain Fact Friday ”Overcoming Digital Addiction Using Neuroscience”

August 19, 2021

Welcome back to the Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast for Brain Fact Friday and episode #157 on a topic that I think we should be aware of: Digital Addictions: Do You Know What’s Happening to Your Brain When You are Using Certain Apps on Your Smartphone, or Using Your Smartphone at All?

EXCITING UPDATE: Stay tuned (early September) for an exclusive interview with Dr. Anna Lembke, Professor and Medical Director of Addiction Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine who inspired this episode.

I'm Andrea Samadi, author, and educator from Toronto, Canada, now in Arizona, and like many of our listeners, have been fascinated with learning and understanding the science behind high performance strategies in our schools, our sports, and workplace environments with ideas that we can all use, understand and implement immediately.

This week’s Brain Fact Friday kind of snuck its way into my schedule, as I wasn’t planning on writing this topic and think there are many other podcasts that cover the subject of addiction[i] more thoroughly than I ever could, but it all started last Friday night when I was out at dinner with my husband and our two friends that we met on the hiking trails, Scott and Ruth. Scott, a business consultant who travels for his work, was home for a change, so we met up at a local restaurant and chatted about life, and what was on our minds that day. The conversation took a turn towards our phones, that we never have out at the table, and social media, and how addictive some of the apps are for the human brain. Scott mentioned he rarely uses social media, and I think I said something along the lines of “That’s really smart” remembering the Netflix Documentary Social Dilemma[ii] that scared the living daylights out of me. I wrote this down (on my phone) while watching the movie that “Magicians were like the first neuroscientists” What do magicians and neuroscientists have in common? Both are concerned with how the brain works. In magic, people try to fool the brain and in neuroscience, they are trying to understand the brain and this documentary will show you how the creators of technology apps have designed their software to trick or fool the human brain, just like magic, into addiction.

When we can use an understanding of neuroscience, or how our brains work in these situations, we can take a powerful stance towards being in control, instead of being controlled by these apps. I was blown away when I heard one of the app developers in this movie, say that he had to develop a code to break his addiction to Reddit. I don’t use Reddit, but completely understood what he was saying.

The next morning, we hit the hiking trails as usual, and we ran into Scott and Ruth along the way. Scott told me that he saw an article in the newspaper that might interest me about our conversation last night, and he had put it on the windshield of my car. “Sounds good” I said, forgetting what we were even talking about the night before, and then at the end of the hike, sure enough, he had pinned The Wall Street Journal on my windshield with an article called “Digital Addictions Are Drowning Us in Dopamine[iii]” by Dr. Anna Lembke (who also appeared in the Netflix Documentary Social Dilemma) with a headline that would catch anyone’s attention these days “Rising rates of depression and anxiety in wealthy countries like the US may be the results of our brains getting hooked on the neurotransmitter associated with pleasure.”

I read the article written by Dr. Lembke, a psychiatrist and professor at Stanford University and saw that this article was an essay from her forthcoming book (coming out next week-August 24th) called Dopamine Nation: Finding Balance in the Age of Indulgence[iv] that was about a young patient of hers who came to her with debilitating anxiety and depression and what was interesting is that instead of prescribing him antidepressants like she would have done 20 years ago, she uncovered that he was playing videogames every day, and prescribed him with a 30 day dopamine fast. She explains that the problems she is seeing in the world today is because of “too much dopamine in the brain, a neurotransmitter associated with the feelings of pleasure and reward” (Lembke) and that “when we do something that we enjoy—like playing video games,—the brain releases a little bit of dopamine, and we feel good. But one of the most important discoveries in the field of neuroscience in the past 75 years is that pleasure and pain are processed in the same parts of the brain and the that the brain tries to keep them in balance. Whenever it tips in one direction, it will try hard to restore the balance, which neuroscience calls homeostasis, by tipping in the other.” (Lembke)

This is the part that caught my attention because I know we’ve all heard of the fact that dopamine is the pleasure neurotransmitter, and too much of it is not good for the brain, but for this week’s Brain Fact Friday, did you know that “as soon as dopamine is released, the brain adapts to it by reducing or downregulating the number of dopamine receptors that are stimulated. This causes the brain to level out by tipping to the side of pain, which is why pleasure is followed by a feeling of hangover of comedown” Lembke explains. “If we can wait long enough, that feeling passes and neutrality is restored. But there’s a natural tendency to counteract it by going back to the source of pleasure for another dose.” (Lembke)

When it comes to addiction, I have always wondered, why on the earth would someone do something that they know is not good for them? I finally understood addiction, with brain science in mind. When you do something over and over again (whatever it is—video games, drugs, alcohol, or a certain behavior) dopamine is released until you keep the pattern going and “The brain’s setpoint for pleasure changes” (Lembke) and you have to keep doing the thing that once brought you pleasure, just to feel normal.  The minute you stop whatever it is you are doing, you feel the withdrawal symptoms that make you crave for that addictive thing. Dr. Amen has a graphic that explains the “Cycle of Addiction[v]” to help us to recognize the process and feelings at each stage.


IMAGE REFERENCE:The Cycle of Addiction Graphic by Dr. Daniel Amen

Just try to take away someone’s smartphone and watch what happens to them. “The smartphone is the equivalent of the hypodermic needle for a wired generation.” (Lembke)

In some of the past episodes, I have spoken about ways to break bad habits you don’t like by replacing the bad habit with a new, healthier habit, but this crosses a line that is much deeper than just wanting to replace a cup of coffee with some lemon water, like I suggest in EPISODE #35 (Jan. 2020) How to Use Your Brain to Break Bad Habits.[vi] Dr. Lembke explains that “it’s hard to see cause and effect when we are chasing dopamine. It’s only after we have taken a break from our drug of choice that we are able to see the true impact of our consumption on our daily lives.”

Dr. Lembke suggests taking a break from whatever it is that you think is taking up too much of your mental real estate. Self-awareness is important here. I couldn’t tell you what this might be in your life, but I surely can see it in my own. Dr. Lembke’s 30 day detox idea “gives enough time to allow the brain to reset its dopamine balance” and she is seeing people feel better than they have in years with this reset. She even suggests that after the 30-day reset, that you can go back to whatever it was like you enjoyed (videogames being an example) if you are able to limit the time and be sure that it’s not interfering with your day-to-day life. “Not everyone plays video games, but just about all of us have a digital drug of choice, and it probably involves using a smartphone-(Like we’ve mentioned before) the equivalent of the hypodermic needle for a wired generation.” (Lembke).

To Review This Week’s Brain Fact Friday

Remember that whatever your digital drug of choice is, that the minute you use it, that  you will become “drowned in dopamine” like Lembke explained in her article, “causing the brain to level out by tipping towards the side of pain—which is followed by a feeling of hangover or comedown” and if we want to avoid this feeling, the most effective way is to reset the brain with a 30 day digital detox “to reset the brain’s dopamine balance.” (Lembke).

What makes this week’s episode more interesting, is that after I had started writing this episode, I looked at some of the podcasts I follow at the start of the week, and I was just referred to Dr. Andrew Huberman’s Podcast by Greg Wolcott, and his Monday’s episode was surprisingly with Dr. Anna Lembke on “Understanding and Treating Addiction”[vii] that I highly recommend. This episode takes a deeper dive into addiction, how to beat it, resetting dopamine, and many other fascinating associated topics.


If you have never taken a good look at areas of your life you could improve with this dopamine fast, I highly suggest trying it, as it builds mental strength, autonomy and like Dr. Lembke mentioned, her patients were never happier after this type of detox. Dr. Huberman says it really well on his podcast, “Be prepared, because the first 10 days will suck”[viii] and I couldn’t have said it better myself, until you are able to reach the end of the detox and look back and learn some valuable lessons that you could never have seen while your brain was flooded with dopamine.

To close out this week’s Brain Fact Friday, I want to encourage anyone who wants to learn more on this topic to visit Dr. Andrew Huberman’s podcast with Dr. Anna Lembke and to take a look at her book coming out next week, Dopamine Nation: Finding Balance in the Age of Indulgence.

I’ll end with two thought-provoking Quotes from the Social Dilemma Movie[ix]

Think about this:

”If you’re not paying for the product, then you’re the product.” (thinking about the data collected from you while using an online product and how little attention we pay to the keystrokes we make on our computers).

”There are only two industries that call their customers ‘users’: illegal drugs and software.” This one has new meaning to me after seeing the close correlation with drug and tech addictions.

See you next week where we have more interviews than I was ready for, but let’s see how many we will be able to release to help us to all sharpen the saw with our thinking, nutrition, and teaching, all with a deeper understanding of how our brain works.


  1. Howard Rankin and Grant Renier on their new book Intuitive Rationality[x] where we will look into an Intuitive General Intelligence system that predicts near and future events, while taking into account the fundamentals of human behavior.
  2. Michael Rousell on his new book “The Power of Surprise: How Your Brain Secretly Changes Your Beliefs[xi]” with the powerful effects that surprise has on the human brain.
  3. Chrissy Barth, the Brainy Dietician on High Performance Fuel for Athletes.
  4. Returning guests (from our successful interview on High Quality Distance Learning[xii] Douglas Fisher, Nancy Frey and John Almarode on their NEW book How Learning Works[xiii] that unpacks the science of how students learn and translates this knowledge into principles and practices for the classroom.

See you next week!


YouTube Channel:  




Neuroscience Meets SEL Facebook Group  




Dopamine, Smartphones and You: A Battle for Your Time May 1, 2018 by Trevor Haynes  

Social Dilemma Netflix Documentary featuring Dr. Anna Lembke  


[i] 15 Best Addiction Podcasts for 2021

[ii] Why The Social Dilemma is a Must Watch by Harleen Kalsi Sept. 15, 2020

[iii] Digital Addictions are Drowning Us in Dopamine by Dr. Anna Lembke. (Saturday August 14/Sunday August 15, 2021)

[iv] Dopamine Nation: Finding Balance in the Age of Indulgence by Dr. Anna Lembke August 24, 2021

[v] The Cycle of Addiction Graphic by Dr. Daniel Amen

[vi]Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #35 “How to Use Your Brain to Break Bad Habits”

[vii] Dr. Andrew Huberman’s Huberman Lab Podcast

[viii] IBID


[x] Intuitive Rationality by Grant Renier and Howard Rankin PhD

[xi] The Power of Surprise: How Your Brain Secretly Changes Your Beliefs by Michael Rousell  Sept. 15, 2021

[xii] Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #77 with University Professors Doug Fisher and Nancy Frey on “Developing and Delivering High Quality Distance Learning”

[xiii] How Learning Works: A Playbook by John Almarode, (James Madison University, Douglas Fisher (San Diego State University) and Nancy Frey (San Diego State University).

Brain Fact Friday on ”Boosting Your Immunity by Optimizing The Gut Microbiome”

Brain Fact Friday on ”Boosting Your Immunity by Optimizing The Gut Microbiome”

August 13, 2021

Welcome back to the Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast for Brain Fact Friday and episode #156 that takes us back to the Top 5 health staples that we introduced at the end of 2020[i] when I was asked to speak at Podbean’s Wellness Week[ii]  with Dr. Carolyn Leaf. I’ve listed a reminder to these 5 health staples in the show notes and think it’s important to revisit them using the principle of “spaced repetition” since “where our attention goes, energy flows” (James Redfield) with the idea that as we move in the direction of our goals this next year, that we do so with our physical and mental health in mind.

I'm Andrea Samadi, author, and educator from Toronto, Canada, now in Arizona, and like many of our listeners, have been fascinated with learning and understanding the science behind high performance strategies in our schools, our sports, and workplace environments with ideas that we can all use, understand and implement immediately.

Medical Disclaimer: Just a reminder—I would consider myself a researcher, sharing preventative and supplemental ideas and strategies related to the most current research on the brain, health and wellness education. In addition to studying directly with Mark Robert Waldman, a leading neuroscience researcher and expert on communication learning and the brain, I spend my evenings, weekends and spare time making connections with our past speakers, so that I can share these ideas to help bring more awareness to the advancements made in this fast moving field.  Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have about your health and remember that you should never disregard medical advice or delay seeking it because of something you learn through this podcast.

Back to our episode—You may have noticed the shift towards health and wellbeing at the end of 2020 as we were a good year into the Pandemic, and who wasn’t looking for ways to improve their mental and physical health to improve cognition, productivity, and results. When I look at the top 5 health staples, I know that some of them I can put a check next to, and say “making progress here” and some areas I know I have completely forgotten about, and if these 5 health staples are important for future brain health, mental health and Alzheimer’s prevention, I know it’s important to keep learning as much as possible to further optimize these areas. As I am researching and learning, I will share anything important and relevant on our future Brain Fact Friday episodes.


This week I wanted to focus on Health Staple #4 “Optimizing our Microbiome” because I still have questions myself about best practices in this area and making a stronger case for the gut-brain connection as we figure out the best ways to fix, repair and rebuild our body so that we can be the best possible versions of ourselves. To do this, I wanted to share some key findings from Jonathan Otto’s recent documentary Autoimmune Answers[iii] with some ideas that he brings to light to help everyone understand that strengthening our immune system is the key to disease prevention and health, and how understanding Autoimmune Diseases (like Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Fibromyalgia, Multiple Sclerosis or Type 1 Diabetes) all begins with an understanding of the gut-brain connection.


We all know the toll that the Pandemic took on our mental health, and I was reminded today with a post on Instagram from Amen Clinics[iv] that “suicide hotlines have seen a significant increase in calls due to (the) Coronavirus” and that “we must continue navigating the challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.” I think back to my interview with Dr. Carolyn Leaf[v] who I hosted Podbean’s Wellness week with last December, and her most recent book that we covered on a bonus episode this past March reminds us that we must “Clean Up Our Mental Mess” since “unmanaged toxic stress puts our body into low-grade inflammation which can accelerate the aging process”[vi] among other things we will take a closer look at on this episode. Dr. Jon Lieff on episode #143[vii] reminded me that “inflammation is the precursor for chronic disease.”

Which brings me to this week’s Brain Fact Friday.

I mentioned I wanted to focus on health staple #4 this week (optimizing the microbiome) and this week, I came across a documentary created by Jonathan Otto called Autoimmune Answers[viii]  that caught my attention because someone I know has been struggling with health issues for some time now, and every time he visits the doctor, he is told—your blood work looks fine, so it’s got to be an auto immune disease. 

I started hearing about automated immune diseases from Ari Whitten from his Energy Blueprint: New Science of Energy Class[ix] where he went deeper into the causes behind common illnesses that he would say showed brain-related symptoms like chronic fatigue, brain fog, depression, anxiety, fibromyalgia, and loss of resilience that he attributed to “neuroinflammation” or chronic inflammation in the brain. He said that some of these illness were caused by a leaky blood-brain barrier (that should let in glucose, amino acids, and hormones, but keep out toxins and pathogens) and this is similar to a leaky gut.  His course explains how the powerhouse of the cells, the mitochondria go into defense-mode when stressed (lack of sleep, poor inflammatory diet, toxin exposure) which is at the root of inflammation. I will put the link to his course in the show notes, as I have learned so much from Ari, but it was here that I decided I had better watch Jonathan Otto’s documentary if I wanted to get a better understanding of Autoimmune Disease and the gut-brain connection.


I wasn’t even 5 minutes into episode 1 of Jonathan’s Autoimmune Answers and guess who appears as a doctor giving advice? Dr. David Perlmutter who taught me the top 5 health staples with his Alzheimer’s Science of Prevention Documentary[x]. I know that we all know that when we feel “off” we can usually look at the top 5 health staples and see if there’s a starting point to make improvements.  We have covered these staples extensively, but here’s a quick review.

  • How is your aerobic exercise? John Ratey on EPISODE #116[xi] made a clear case for the connection with aerobic exercise and improved brain structure and function along with fitness expert Luke DePron on EPISODE #90.[xii]
  • How is your sleep? If you need help here, visit EPISODE #72[xiii] with Dr. Shane Creado on “Sleep Strategies That Will Guarantee a Competitive Advantage” or EPISODE #120[xiv] where I share how the Fisher Wallace Medical Device Improve My Sleep.
  • What about eating a healthy diet? We all can sway towards eating a certain diet, but Dr. Daniel Stickler took diet, nutrition, and our future to a whole new level on EPISODE #96[xv] and Dr. Perlmutter says it loud and clear in EPISODE 1 of Autoimmune Answers that “making good food choices will help us to make better decisions”[xvi] in our everyday lives.
  • Are you optimizing your microbiome? We will dive into this one today, but Dr. Vuyisich was the first to talk with me about the importance of optimizing our microbiome for reversing chronic disease on EPISODE #93.[xvii]
  • Have you tried Intermittent Fasting? Ketogenic Diet and Intermittent Fasting Expert Jason Wittrock covers this topic on EPISODE #94.[xviii]

Other than taking probiotics at night, or making sure I’m eating a healthy diet, I don’t pay much attention to optimizing my gut microbiome. Do you? Let me know if there are other ideas that you know of, that can help others.

This brings me to this week’s Brain Fact Friday:

DID YOU KNOW THAT “70-80% of your immune system is found in your gut tissues?” (Dr. Gerenger and Dr. Kan from Autoimmune Answers, explain this in detail saying that many people who feel “off” visit their doctor only to be told that their labs are normal because “the inflammation that began in the gut, has not attacked the glands yet” (Autoimmune Answers, EPISODE 1)[xix] Dr. Daniel Amen (America’s leading psychiatrist and brain health experts) calls our gastrointestinal tract our “second brain”[xx]  that is “lined with about 100 million neurons—more neurons than you have in your spinal cord” and he believes that “when you have problems with your gut, you’re more likely to have mental health issues.”[xxi]

We have also heard before that there does appear to be a hidden relationship between Alzheimer’s disease and the microbiome in our gut and that “an imbalanced gut microbiome (dysbiosis) could lead to Alzheimer’s disease and wider neuroinflammation through the gut-brain-axis. Promoting ‘good bacteria’ relative to ‘bad bacteria’ in the gut may be important in maintaining good digestive, immune and neurological health.”[xxii] This is still a developing field but taking prebiotics and probiotics[xxiii] are the best way to promote a healthy gut/brain balance.

If 70-80% of my immune system is found in my gut tissues, I think it makes sense that I learn as much as I can about optimizing my gut microbiome. I do recommend watching the Autoimmune Answers documentary by Jonathan Otto, but in the meantime, here are my main take-aways from this documentary.

3 Tips for Optimizing the Gut Microbiome to Improve Your Immune System

  1. Know what helps your gut microbiome: Did you know that our gut is made up of trillions of bacteria, fungi and other microbes? This microbiome plays an important role in our health by helping to control digestion and benefitting our immune system. Taking a probiotic daily, remaining active, eating a healthy diet and avoiding foods that disrupt our microbiome[xxiv] (processed fried foods, sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, and artificial sweeteners), are important for our gut/brain health. This makes sense to me, but I still sometimes forget to take my probiotic at night.  I did learn that taking digestive enzymes were a good idea to help break down your food so that the nutrients could be better absorbed. I’ve been taking digestive enzymes for over 20 years after a trainer said it would be a good idea, but now they have a new purpose. I did learn about the importance of taking fulvic acid to fight inflammation and improve my body’s ability to be resistant to disease, but I haven’t started this one yet.
  2. Know what hurts your gut microbiome: Antibiotics were designed to kill bacteria but they also “kill good bacteria in the gut” (Autoimmune Answers EPISODE 1) but so do oral contraceptives, NSAIDS, stress, sugar, high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, and toxins”[xxv] I always think really hard before taking something that I know will have a damaging effect on the health of my body, even if I think it will help me in the short term. I’m not perfect in this area, probably because I can’t see the damage I’m doing so it’s not always easy to make the best decisions here. Even though we sometimes know better, we still do things that we know are not good for us. What I learned from Autoimmune Answers that changed my thought process here a bit was that the stomach lining is “one-cell thick” from Dr. Vincent Pedre from EPSIODE 4[xxvi] so it’s not difficult to damage the lining of our stomach, making it permeable to pathogens that come in and create what is called “leaky gut.”
  3. Add Aerobic Exercise: It Fixes Everything. Dr. Perlmutter reminded us that “aerobic exercise increases gut bacterial diversity”[xxvii] Researchers say “they noticed changes in the gut microbiome after six weeks of exercise. The gut makeup returned to normal after the exercise was dropped.”[xxviii] There are so many cases for adding aerobic exercise to your daily routine and now we can add gut health to our list. 


When our podcast took the turn towards Health and Wellness at the end of 2020, in addition to the focusing on the science behind social and emotional learning, I decided to launch Brain Fact Fridays—with a goal to provide a brain tip that ties back to how our brain works. If I can also tie this Brain Fact to one of the Top 5 health staples, I think this reinforced, spaced repetition of ideas will be helpful, for all of us. Let me know what you think of this episode. Send me an email to or connect with me through social media.

At the end of last year, we learned how important the top 5 health staples were from Dr. Perlmutter’s Alzheimer’s Science of Prevention Documentary[xxix] but what about Autoimmune Disease? Have you or someone you know just felt “off’ for some reason, and you’ve gone to the doctor, taken some blood tests, and they all come back fine, yet you intuitively know something wasn’t right? This has got to be the most frustrating situation. If you’ve ever had this happen, you will know what I mean, and if you want to watch Jonathan Otto’s Autoimmune Answers, be sure to click the link in the show notes. I am not affiliated to Jonathan Otto in any way, nor is this an affiliate link, I just think his documentary could help someone who is struggling with their health to find some answers.

I’m sure you can see that the implementation of these ideas is important, and what I love about hosting these podcasts (in addition to how much I am learning personally) is hearing that some of these high-level performers, like Dr. Carolyn Leaf, mentions she doesn’t have it all together, all of the time either, and often uses the principles she teaches to help calm her brain and mind down during her work day. When I see these ideas being implemented in this way, I think it makes them more relatable for others who can see that no one is immune from life’s challenges. We will all face challenges, but the key will be—to think—do you have the tools that you need to suffer the inevitable adversity and challenge less, and get back on track so that you get to where you are going in one piece with your physical and mental health intact?

As we are interviewing high-level speakers, working on ways to improve productivity and results in our life, whether we are a teacher in the classroom, or someone looking to take their results to the next level in their workplace, I want to make sure that we all get to where we are going that we have exceptional health when we get there. When I’m sitting at my desk, and look up on my wall, I see a list of values that drive me on a day-to-day basis, and Health is at the top of this list. What would be the point of doing these podcasts, getting excited about the new strategies we are learning and implementing from all these powerful speakers, and hearing about how people around the world are implementing these ideas in their schools, classrooms and workplaces, without addressing the importance of our physical and mental health along the way of this journey.

And with that, I wish you a wonderful weekend! See you next week.


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Neuroscience Meets SEL Facebook Group  




Therapeutic Potential of Fulvic Acid in Chronic Inflammatory Diseases and Diabetes by John Winkler and Sanjay Ghosh Published Sept.10, 2018

Dr. Peter Kan, DC

Dr. Cathleen Gerenger, DC 


[i] Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast BONUS EPISODE December 2020 with Andrea Samadi on “The Top 5 Health Staples”

[ii] Podbean’s Wellness Week



[v] BONUS EPISODE with Dr. Carolyn Leaf on “Cleaning Up Your Mental Mess”

[vi] (Day 10)

[vii]Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #143 on “The Secret Language of Cells”




[xi]Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #116 on “The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain”

[xii]Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #90 with Luke DePron on “Neuroscience, Fitness and Growth”

[xiii] Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast BONUS EPISODE #72 with Dr. Shane Creado on “Sleep Strategies That Will Guarantee a Competitive Advantage”

[xiv] Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #120 with Andrea Samadi on a “Personal Review of the Fisher Wallace Wearable Medical Device”

Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast  EPISODE #96 with Dr. Daniel Stickler on “Expanding Awareness for Limitless Potential” [xv]

[xvi] (EPISODE 1 Dr. Perlmutter)

[xvii] Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #93 with Dr. Vuyisich on “Improving the Health of Your Microbiome: Reversing Chronic Disease”

Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #94 with Jason Wittrock on “Health, Nutrition, Intermittent Fasting and the Ketogenic Diet[xviii]

[xix] (EPISODE 1 with Dr. Cathleen Gerenger, DC and Dr. Peter Kan).

[xx] Does My Gut Affect My Mental Stability? Dr. Daniel Amen October 1, 2019

[xxi] ibid

[xxii] Alzheimer’s Disease and the Microbiome by Oman Shabir

[xxiii] What is the Difference Between a Prebiotic and a Probiotic

[xxiv] 11 Ways Your Life Can Disrupt the Gut Microbiome

[xxv] Does My Gut Affect My Mental Stability? Dr. Daniel Amen October 1, 2019

[xxvi] Autoimmune Answers EPISODE 4 Dr. Vincent Pedre

[xxvii] Autoimmune Answers EPISODE 4 Dr/ Perlmutter

[xxviii] Researchers Say Exercise Also Improves Your Gut Bacteria Written by Elizabeth Pratt, September 24, 2018,reason%20to%20exercise%2C%20try%20this.


NEW REPORT “How to Sell SEL: Parents and the Politics of Social-Emotional Learning” by Adam Tyner, The Fordham Institute

NEW REPORT “How to Sell SEL: Parents and the Politics of Social-Emotional Learning” by Adam Tyner, The Fordham Institute

August 11, 2021

Welcome back to the Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast for episode #155 with Adam Tyner from the Thomas Fordham Institute[i] (an organization that promotes educational excellence for every child in America via quality research, analysis, and commentary) on his newly released report How to Sell SEL: Parents and the Politics of Social and Emotional Learning.

Watch this interview on YouTube here

Access the Online Report here

Access past episodes here 

On this episode, you will learn:

The TOP 5 Findings from Adam Tyner's NEW REPORT "Parents and the Politics of Social-Emotional Learning"


I'm Andrea Samadi, author, and educator from Toronto, Canada, now in Arizona, and like many of our listeners, have been fascinated with learning and understanding the science behind high performance strategies in our schools, sports, and workplace environments with ideas that we can all use, understand and implement immediately.

We do this by covering the science-based evidence behind social and emotional learning (for schools) and emotional intelligence training (in the workplace). Our podcast provides tools, resources and ideas for parents, teachers, and employees to improve well-being, achievement and productivity using simple neuroscience as it relates to our cognitive (the skills our brain uses to think, read, remember, pay attention), social and interpersonal relationships (with ourselves and others) and emotional learning (where we recognize and manage our emotions, demonstrate empathy and cope with frustration and stress).

This past week, as I was researching and learning new ideas for upcoming episodes, I saw a notification come through my phone from Twitter that caught my attention. It was from Victoria McDougald, from the Fordham Institute in Washington DC and she let me know that they were about to release a new report that explores how parents view SEL and how they want it taught in schools. We have all seen how the mental-health challenges imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic have made it more urgent to better support students’ social and emotional learning needs while also advancing their academic learning, so I put down what I was doing and wrote her back immediately. This topic is urgent, timely and important. Every day I see emails about trainings in our schools to support our students SEL needs and the challenges we have all faced are not going away, they are changing and persisting in a way I don’t think any of us imagined. The challenge that I have seen from the very beginning of watching SEL being implemented in schools across the US (starting in 2014 with just 8 States to our present day where all 50 States have some sort of SEL implementation plan) is that educators saw the importance of SEL, but didn’t know where to begin, they weren’t sure which program to use, how to integrate the SEL competencies into the curriculum. Following many of the early SEL webinars, I noticed this was a common theme. This is why we launched The Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast in June 2019 to gather ideas, strategies and best practices for those interested in learning more about this topic, with easy-to-understand implementation strategies and ideas for our schools and workplaces. The topics we cover on this podcast were going to be an Introduction to SEL Course with a well-known educational publisher, but when this direction changed, I decided to put this content out into the world, for free, to help support educators and those in the workplace.

I had no idea that this podcast would gain a global following, going into 153 countries and approaching 100,000 downloads (over 8K downloads/month) as we noticed that educators and those in the workplace were looking for new ways to sharpen their saw—with these skills that are not new, but are newly important. If this is how educators were feeling as these skills were being implemented into our schools, or employees in their workplaces, I wondered what parents would be thinking and feeling? Does the everyday modern parent know what social and emotional skills are? Since launching the podcast, I have had constant feedback from people around the world how these topics are helping people, whether it’s from Superintendents in our schools running their District, Principals running their school sites, teachers running their classrooms, or parents looking to find new ideas to inspire themselves at work, or with their own children.

As you can see from the topics we cover, these skills (that we have tied the most current brain research) are not just about teaching our next generation to be responsible citizens, or to be respectful. There are 6 competencies that we focus on, based on the research from[ii] and implementing these competencies is an important task not only for our students, but also for our teachers. I saw this emerge as a clear hot topic with my interview with Chey and Pav on their Staffroom Podcast[iii] (they are 2 phenomenal educators from Toronto who cover educational topics to improve our next generation of teachers/students) and it became clear that teachers can see the importance of modeling these skills in our classrooms of the future, integrating them into core subject areas, but what do parents think?

That’s what we will explore on today’s episode.

I looked closer at Victoria’s message to me on Twitter, and she reminded me that “as we enter another pandemic year, the results of this first-of-its kind survey will help educators, policymakers and philanthropists gain stronger parental support and better help students navigate this exceptionally challenging time” and my response to her was “how soon can we speak?”

The report, written Adam Tyner, and the Foreword and Executive Summary by Amber Northern and Michael J. Petrill shows 5 key findings that we will dive deep into with our questions starting with the premise that “America’s hard nosed focus on academic achievement in recent decades has not improved schools nearly enough” (page 1 How to Sell SEL” and that the Common Core wars taught us that “mishandling communication about education reforms can derail good intentions.” (page 1 How to Sell SEL) so the Fordham Institute partnered with YouGov, a global public-opinion firm to develop a nationally representative survey of 2,000 parents “to gain greater clarity on what parents of K-12 students think about SEL, how they understand it, whether they see it as more help or hindrance, and whether they have concerns about its implementation.” (page 1, How to Sell SEL)

**** Since there is a political angle to the report, I wanted to mention that I am a new US Citizen (September 2018) and have only voted once (born in Great Britain, grew up in Toronto, Canada, and moved to  AZ, USA a few months before 9/11/01—with a vision to make an impact with education after the Columbine Tragedy—with SEL skills as my motivator).

I’m really interested to dive deep with the report author, data analyst and project manager, Adam Tyner, on the results and findings, to see if we can bring more clarity for educators and parents on the future of SEL in our schools, and demystify these “social and emotional skills” that I have dedicated my life’s work towards, with the hopes that some change occurs in our schools, and communities of the future.

Welcome Adam Tyner, thank you for meeting with me so quickly after the release of this report. I’m sure you can see that I recognize how timely and important this topic is.

Before we get to the questions, and the top findings of your report, I have to ask you “How was your honeymoon?” as I know you’ve just returned!  Congratulations on this new milestone in your life. Life isn’t all about work, or we would all burn out fast, so I think it’s important to recognize and celebrate this time.

Adam, let’s dive into your “How to Sell SEL” Report. I wanted to go through each of the 5 key findings of the report and discuss each one to perhaps bring more clarity around each of the areas you have uncovered as important for parents of K-12 students. How does that sound?

Q1: For Finding #1: There is broad support among parents teaching SEL-related skills in schools, although the term “social and emotional learning” is relatively unpopular. (Page 1)


I looked at figure-1 and see the SEL skills that were measured in the survey, and my first thought was. Are parents clear what social and emotional skills REALLY mean? I looked at the survey questions and the term social and emotional learning was defined as “The process of developing self-awareness, self-control, interpersonal skills, responsible or ethical decision-making and civic awareness.” (page 34)

I mentioned in the backstory that SEL is not just about teaching our next generation how to hold open doors for each other, or to be responsible citizens. These are character traits that I agree need to be taught (and I saw one character trait being measured)—prepare students to be an active and informed citizen. When conducting this survey, I think there were still some grey areas that could use some clarity for parents to grasp the importance of these skills, that has proven with their research[iv] to provide an 11-percentile point gain for students who learn and implement these SEL skills.  With this first finding, I wanted to break down the skills that you measured so that parents, educators, and policymakers can see which skills are social and interpersonal, which ones are emotional and the skills that are cognitive. This way, it takes the emphasis off the term “social and emotional skills” that people might have their own cognitive bias with--and look at these skills broken down into these 3 categories, so that we can then see which categories parents place more value on.



To break these skills into 3 clear categories, I’ve used a report developed by Hank Resnik for The Aspen Institute called Integrating Social, Emotional and Academic Development: [v] where he  brings clarity to the term “social and emotional learning.” From looking at the 3 categories in Hank Resnik’s report, it looks like parents in your survey

  1. Valued Setting Goals and Working Towards Achieving Them (93%) which is listed as a Cognitive Skill
  2. Approaching Challenges in a Positive Way (91%) which I think would fall under Social and Interpersonal Skills.
  3. Parents next valued students Believe in Themselves and Their Abilities (91%) which I would put under the Emotional category.
  4. Navigate Social Situations (Social-Awareness-Social and Interpersonal)
  5. Respond Ethically (Social-Awareness-Social and Interpersonal)
  6. Prepare to be an Active, Informed Citizen (Social-Awareness-Social and Interpersonal)
  7. Understand, Express and Control Their Emotions (Self-Management-Emotional)
  8. Empathize with the Feelings of Others (Social-Awareness-Social and Interpersonal).

Question 1: To me, when we break down the competencies into these 3 sections (cognitive, social and interpersonal and emotional) it seems like parents put the most value on setting goals and working towards them, which is a cognitive skill, Social and Interpersonal Skills (Mindset, Social Awareness) next, and emotional skills last (empathize with others/stand up for people of different backgrounds). What do you think about these findings? When we put the competencies into clear categories, what do you think about the fact that parents value setting and achieving goals over standing up for people with different backgrounds and empathizing with the feelings of others? If page 11 of the report noted a quote about the importance of our citizens to empathize with others, why did empathy show up last in the first findings, do you think?

Horacio Sanchez, the author of the Poverty Problem--Empathy plays a critical role in reading comprehension. Low empathy, low comprehension.


  • Setting/Achieving Goals (93%)




  • SELF-MANAGEMENT-Understand and Manage Emotions (82%)
  • SOCIAL-AWARENESS-Empathize with the Feelings of Others (81%)

Figure 2: Integrating Social, Emotional and Academic Development (page 3)

Social and Interpersonal Skills like:

  • How to navigate social situations
  • Resolving conflicts
  • Showing respect towards others

Emotional Skills like:

  • Recognizing and managing one’s emotions
  • Empathy: the ability to understand the emotions and perspectives of others
  • The ability to cope with frustration, disappointments and stress

Finally, there’s Academic or Cognitive Skills, the core skills our brain uses to think, read, remember, reason and pay attention. Skills like:

  • Focus
  • Setting goals
  • Planning and organizing
  • Perseverance
  • Problem solving

I have followed Stephanie Jones from Harvard[vi] over the years and her work on SEL Frameworks defines the domains with the three we mentioned (cognitive, social and emotional) in addition to values, perspectives and identity which I think are important to note as well.  


Do you think that values that include character skills, virtues and habits were clear where they fit into the realm of social and emotional learning instruction for parents? I think Values and Character are separate from SEL skills, and Identity/Mindset/Self-efficacy is important, just like your survey shows with the next findings.

Q2: For findings #2: Democratic parents favor schools allocating additional resources to SEL more than Republican parents do. 

Students should be given honest feedback for them to learn from mistakes/grown (which both parties agree on). When I see the discrepancy with students’ SEL needs must be met for them to reach their academic potential (89% for D and 75% for R) it makes me think that R are unclear of what exactly these SEL skills are. If they knew about how CASEL’s research shows that students who studied these SEL competencies show an 11-percentile academic gain, wouldn’t they all agree that students’ SEL needs must be met for them to reach their full potential?


Q3: Across the political spectrum, parents regard families as the most important entities for cultivating SEL yet there are partisan differences regarding how and where to emphasize SEL instruction.


Q3: I wasn’t surprised that the term “Social and Emotional Learning” is less popular than life skills, because going back to our question #1, I don’t think there is clarity around what these skills are.  Every single SEL webinar I attended began with someone giving a framework or clear definition of these skills so that educators began to see them in terms of SEL competencies.

Stephanie Jones from Harvard’s Easel Lab[vii] and her work on SEL Frameworks clearly defines the domains with the three we mentioned (cognitive, social and emotional) in addition to values, perspectives and identity which I think are important to note as well.  

For those who answered the survey and have their own assumption of what these skills are, will choose a term that fits what they think they are, and the problem I see, is that the survey leaves out the research behind these important skills. If we go back to Hank Resnik’s report from the Aspen Institute, life skills correlate closer to cognitive skills, but they leave out the skills that I’ve uncovered in this podcast that 58% of Employers Say Students Aren’t Learning in College.[viii]

with communication being one of them, which is a social and interpersonal skill. Adam, do you think that if Social and Emotional Learning was better defined with your survey, that all 2,000 respondents saw them divided how Hank divided them, with the research attached, and the survey that follows the importance of these skills in the workplace, that the label or term “Social and Emotional Learning” would have a wider acceptance?

Q4: Republicans are somewhat more wary than Democrats that SEL might divert schools away from academics or conflict with their own values.  This has been something I have heard for years, from students, teachers, parents, and from our publishers who wonder how important these SEL competencies are. Do these skills really make an impact on our next generation of students? 

4.png’s research says it does. I dive deep into the 5 SEL Competencies and why they are so important on a recent podcast episode #152[ix] with an expert in psychology and cognitive neuroscience, Dr. Howard Rankin, since the research is clear and shows us that students with strong SEL health “demonstrate self-control, communicate well, problem solve, are empathetic, respectful, grateful, gritty and optimistic.”[x]

“Success in life, and in college and career specifically, relies on student’s cognitive, social, and emotional development. (Integrating Social, Emotional and Academic Development: An Action Guide for School Leadership Teams[xi]) page 4

“Research shows that teaching these skills result in immediate and long-term improvement in academic achievements and are a better predictor of success than academic ability alone.” (Perspectives of Youth on High School and SEL Webinar, Dec. 11/18).[xii]

Were the parents surveyed aware of the research behind SEL impacting academic achievement? What do think of these findings? Saying they are important and instilling them in your own children are 2 completely different things.

Have they ever tried teaching these skills to their own children? I ask this because I’ve been aware of these skills since I saw them impacting a group of teens in the late 1990s, so of course, when my kids were old enough, I had them setting goals until they hit a certain age, and they started rolling their eyes at me when I would say “ok, what do you want to accomplish this year?” The yellow chart paper that used to hang up on their bedroom walls have been replaced with gymnastics trophies, and my girls don’t listen to me anymore…but they listen to their coaches at the gym. I saw that these skills were taught more effectively outside of the home. I can only reinforce these skills, like I do with healthy eating, but they stopped goal setting with me, and would prefer to do that with their coach at the gym.

Q5: Differences by parents’ race, class and religion are rarely as pronounced as differences by political affiliation and parents of different races prefer varying SEL related program names (Developing Grit/Emotional Intelligence/Positive Youth Development/Character Education).

For thing angle, I consulted with my good friend Horacio Sanchez, the author of The Poverty Problem, since our conversation on the podcast covered race and religion, and when I don’t know something, I like to ask others to gain a different perspective and he said to me “When non-political issues are politicized, it often stems from how its being portrayed and being informed” and asked “do you think the political debate concerning SEL is related to the lack of understanding of what it is?”

What do you think?


Andrea and Adams discuss these comments about the view of parents/SEL.


“Confidence is built by doing”  Andrea discusses with Adam that these skills can translate cross-curricular (math/confidence) blasting through a math problem, building confidence, but have a discussion about it so that it’s not missed that it was perseverance and persistence that helped the student to solve the problem.

Parents need to teach and reinforce SEL with their kids. Yes, we all must teach and reinforce these skills. Home/schools/sports. There are many skills I cannot teach my children (even though I have tried) but they learn them through their coaches through sport. It’s takes a village.


We must know how these skills translate back towards our academics, and think deeper about what improves our mathematical skills. (Dr. Ratey’s[xiii] work- Naperville’s Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) where they scored #1 in science and #6 in math, in the world, proving that there was something unique that Naperville had discovered with correlation of exercise and academic achievement).

Navigating relationships is important (which is why it’s one of Casel’s 5 competencies) and being mindful of behavior and consequences (brings us back to neuroscience and the brain with executive functions/thinking).


This is why teachers must be trained in trauma-informed practices and understand how the brain works. Horacio Sanchez[xiv] Dr. Bruce Perry (What Happened to You Book) and Dr. Lori Desautels[xv] all teach how the brain impacts learning.

Adam, I want to thank you very much for your time today, discussing something that I know we both agree is important to unpack a bit more.

What are your final thoughts?

For those who want to learn more about the report, what is the best way to access it? 

Thank you!





[iii] Chey and Pav Speak to Andrea Samadi about Social and Emotional Learning in our Schools


[v]Integrating Social, Emotional and Academic Development: An Action Guide for School Leadership Teams by Hank Resnik March 2019



[viii]Employers Say Students Aren’t Learning Soft Skills in College by Dana Wilkie October 21, 2019

[ix] Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #152 with Dr. Howard Rankin and Andrea Samadi

[x] SEL: The Why and Hows of Implementation in a School District (Edweb)  (April 4, 2019)

[xi] Integrating Social, Emotional and Academic Development: An Action Guide for School Leadership Teams by Hank Resnik (March 2019)

[xii] Report By Civic with Hart Research Associates Jennifer L. DePaoli, Matthew N. Atwell, John M. Bridgeland & Timothy P. Shriver

Respected: Perspectives of Youth on High School & Social and Emotional Learning  CASEL WEBINAR

[xiii] Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #116 with Dr. John Ratey

[xiv] Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE  #74 with Horacio Sanchez

[xv]Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #56 with Dr. Lori Desautels

Author and Film Producer Tom Cronin on “The Portal Book and Movie: How Meditation Can Save The World”

Author and Film Producer Tom Cronin on “The Portal Book and Movie: How Meditation Can Save The World”

August 5, 2021

Welcome back to the Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast for episode #154 with someone who travels globally presenting about something we all need to learn how to experience in today’s world--- author of 6 books and the co-creator of the Portal Film/book experience, where he teaches about the power in the stillness and the science behind the stillness—Tom Cronin, also known as The King of Calm.[i]

Watch this interview on YouTube here

Learn more about Tom Cronin here

See past episodes of The Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast here 

On this episode, you will learn:

✔︎ How Tom Cronin, from Australia, overcame a nervous breakdown by starting a meditation practice, inspiring him to share his story others with The Portal Film and Book.

✔︎ A Deep Dive into the Top 4 Meditation Styles (Concentration, Contemplation, Chanting and Transcendental).

✔︎ Tom’s thoughts on The Plane of Possibility and How to Create Something Out of Nothing.

✔︎ Why meditation is an important and timely topic to change the world during these high-stress and anxiety times.

I'm Andrea Samadi, author, and educator from Toronto, Canada, now in Arizona, and like many of our listeners, have been fascinated with learning and understanding the science behind high performance strategies in our schools, sports, and workplace environments with ideas that we can all use, understand and implement immediately.

Our guest this week, Tom Cronin[ii] spent 26 years in finance, as one of Sydney Australia’s leading bond and swap brokers. He discovered meditation in the early stages of his career when anxiety and chaos he was experiencing due to stress and poor lifestyle choices led him to a breakdown. He came across meditation, and it completely transformed his life—both personally and professionally.

Today Tom is passionate about reducing stress and chaos in people’s lives and his mission is to inspire 7 billion people to meditate daily through his Stillness Project that aims to transform and teach people the power of stillness and calm through the power of deep meditation and coaching. His work in transformational leadership and cultivating inner peace takes him around the world as a speaker, presenting keynotes, hosting retreats and teaching.

Tom has appeared on national TV, and featured in Vogue, Daily Telegraph, Sydney Morning Herald, Business Review and many other media outlets.

When I first was introduced to Tom Cronin, and looked up his work with The Stillness Project, I knew he was someone I needed to speak with and immediately recognized how important and powerful his mission is. Especially in today’s times. We have featured some speakers on the podcast who have explained meditation, and how to begin, with episode #25[iii] with Mick Neustadt on “How Meditation and Mindfulness Changes Your Life” and episode #28[iv] with Dr. Daniel J Siegel took us a bit deeper with his episode on “Mindsight: The Basis for Social and Emotional Intelligence.” I’m excited to dive even deeper into the power of meditation, exploring what we can all expect with our practice, and where and how to begin, at a time when we could all use stillness, calm and peace in our lives.

“When life is built on the stillness of being, it becomes an effortless flow.” –Tom Cronin

Let’s meet Tom Cronin!

Welcome Tom Cronin, thank you for meeting with me today—all the way from Australia! It’s incredible to speak directly with The King of Calm-just what I need today.

INTRO: Tom, before we get to the questions to dive deeper into The Stillness Project, and your Movie and Book The Portal, can you share what even brought you to start looking at meditation in the first place? Especially since it’s been challenging times for many people all over the world, and times where stress is at an all-time high, along with anxiety and depression. Can you share what happened to you that made you decide there has to be a better way, leading you to the work you are doing today and a healthier outlook on life?

Q1: I watched a few of your podcast interviews and will link them in the show notes, so listeners can go back and listen to you dive deep into the best way to begin a meditation practice, that you cover on your interview with Brian Scott[v] but I did love how took a deeper dive into the Top 4 meditation styles for people who might want to begin, and they aren’t sure of the best entry point? For these Top 4 meditation styles, can we start with what I think I know about them, and you expand them a bit?

  • Concentration: I was looking for ideas to improve my focus and concentration in the late 1990s when I first began studying with Bob Proctor. I came across an exercise with a candle to improve meditation, focus, concentration, and even use the mind to change colors.
  • Contemplation: Guided Meditation- I began using these types of meditation with John Assaraf’s Winning the Game of Money (wealth consciousness) and Business Programs (business mindset). These types of guided meditation are to help us to improve our mindset in a certain area?
  • Chanting: Andrew Newburg (professor and director of research from the from the Marcus Institute of Integrative Health) EPISODE #88[vi] talked about the power of the Kirtan Kriya Meditation[vii] (that I have not done, but his books swear by this technique for even the toughest guys he’s ever seen) and when I worked with Bob Proctor in the seminar industry, I was given a card with a Buddhist chant written on it from someone I would consider to be highly influential, who shanded me this card and said “Say this every day and watch your life change in front of your eyes.” That card has gone everywhere I go for over 20 years now. I didn’t have any training on what this chant was supposed to do, but I said it for years…what is the purpose behind chanting to improve focus/mindset or our results?
  • Transcendental: I think Dawson Church’s Bliss Brain Meditations from EPISODE #98[viii] fall into this category but I would like to learn more from you on this. I know you talk about this style of meditation leading someone to pure joy and bliss. I haven’t stopped listening to Dawson Church’s[ix] meditations since I interviewed him last December. They are all focused on finding peace, joy and happiness. How would you describe this type of meditation?

Q2: After I interviewed Dr. Daniel Siegel, when we first launched this podcast, I did a deep dive into the Science Behind the Benefits of a Meditation Practice, since Dr. Siegel highlighted so many of the proven health, wellness, and even anti-aging benefits of meditating on episode #60.[x] There is one concept that I think I’m still learning, and you covered it on the podcast I listened to with you and Brian Scott, but I wonder if you can go a bit deeper into explaining this. I have put an image in the show notes of what Dr. Siegel would call the “3 P Diagram with State of Mind” that I think is that plane of possibility that we enter during meditation where all possibilities open up. Not to say that everyone gets to this place on day 1 of meditating, but for those looking to solve problems, or gather insight about their life, can you explain some things you have learned about accessing this plane of possibility and what some people might have discovered here?


Q3: I loved hearing that you were inspired by the movie, The Secret[xi], to produce your own movie on meditation. I mention that I did begin my journey with Bob Proctor[xii] in the late 1990s and many of the Secret teachers over the years have inspired the work that I am doing today. From what I have seen with The Portal Movie[xiii] and Book with the trailer is that what you have created is equally as inspiring and life changing as the movie The Secret. How do you see this moving changing the world, helping people to find more happiness and joy and calm their minds in these challenging times?

Q3B: How can someone watch The Portal Movie?

Q4: What are some of the other programs and services you offer through your website?

Q5: Is there anything important that you think I have missed?

Thank you very much for speaking with me today, Tom. If someone wants to learn more about Tom Cronin, visit his website  or 

Thank you!



Andrea Samadi’s First Book The Secret for Teens Revealed was also inspired by the movie, The Secret, published in 2008.




[iii] Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #25 with Mick Neustadt on “How Meditation and Mindfulness Changes Your Life”

[iv]Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #28 with Dr. Daniel Siegel on “Mindsight: The Basis for Social and Emotional Intelligence.”

[v] Brian Scott Interviews Tom Cronin, The Founder of The Stillness Project on “How Meditation Can Save the World” Published August 13th, 2020 on YouTube

[vi] Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #88 with Dr. Andrew Newberg on “Neurotheology, Spect Scans and the Aging Brain”

[vii] Kirtan Kriya Meditation

[viii] Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #98 with Dawson Church on “The Science Behind Using Meditation: Rewiring Your Brain for Happiness”


[x] Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #60 “The Science Behind a Meditation Practice: Daniel Siegel’s Wheel of Awareness Meditation”

[xi] The Secret by Rhonda Byrne

Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #66 with Bob Proctor on “Social and Emotional Learning: Where it All Began”


Mark Herschberg on “The Career Toolkit Book: Essential Skills for Success That No One Taught You”

Mark Herschberg on “The Career Toolkit Book: Essential Skills for Success That No One Taught You”

August 1, 2021

Welcome back to the Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast for episode #153 with Mark Herschberg[i], the author of The Career Toolkit: Essential Skills for Success That No One Taught You.

Watch this interview on YouTube here.

Learn more about Mark Herschberg and his Career Toolkit Book here 

See past episodes here 

I'm Andrea Samadi, author, and educator from Toronto, Canada, now in Arizona, and like many of our listeners, have been fascinated with learning and understanding the science behind high performance strategies in our schools, sports, and the workplace with ideas that we can all use, understand and implement immediately.

Our guest for this week, Mark Herschberg, who has spent his career identifying and studying the skill gap that exists for what he calls firm skills, including networking, negotiating, communicating, leading, and career planning. We tend to think of many of these as situational skills, but Herschberg says they are really life skills — none of which are formally taught in school. We have been talking about these skills since the launch of this podcast 2 years ago. We call them social and emotional skills as they are known in our schools emotional intelligence skills in the workplace.

I’m extremely interested in speaking to Mark about the gaps that he sees with these skills since a recent survey that I saw and mention often showed that 58% 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. Students who learn to master these important skills will get ahead faster with less effort and frustration than those who lack these skills.

We have spoken a lot about the social and interpersonal skills, emotional and cognitive skills where there is a clear gap on this podcast. These skills do translate into the workplace to help students prepare for life after high school, into college, career and beyond.

Just to recap, there are five distinct components of Emotional Intelligence that are important in the workplace:

  1. Self-awareness: This is important in the workplace because you need to know yourself first before you can help others with your product or service.
  2. Self-regulation: There will be many times in the day where you will be tested and to be able to manage your emotions under pressure is very important.
  3. Internal (or intrinsic) motivation: What is motivating you to get up and serve each day?
  4. Empathy: is an important skill to have to connect with others. You must be able to see the world through someone else’s eyes.
  5. Social skills: are important from ordering your lunch in a restaurant, to picking up your rental car and dealing with the front desk employees in the hotel you are staying at.

If students do not learn these skills at an early age, they will struggle with their life and future career. Whatever model or SEL competency a school uses, whether it’s the Casel 5 competencies[ii] that we have modelled our work after, or something similar that Renee Adams explained in EPISODE #151[iii] with the Goleman Emotional Intelligence Training Model, the idea is that we prepare our next generation of students to thrive in this ever-changing world and that we as adults are modelling these skills.

Before we meet Mark, I want to share a bit more about the work he has been doing the past few decades, as there is always so much more to someone than meets the eye with the books they write, or their career path.

Mark is the author of The Career Toolkit, Essential Skills for Success That No One Taught You. Educated at MIT, Mark has spent his career launching and fixing new ventures at startups, Fortune 500s, and academia. He’s developed new software languages, online marketplaces, new authentication systems, and tracked criminals and terrorists on the dark web. I must ask him something about what he learned here, since my husband spends a lot of his spare time with his volunteer work with our local Sheriff’s Posse. Mark helped create the Undergraduate Practice Opportunities Program, MIT’s “Career Success Accelerator”, where he’s taught for twenty years.

Let’s meet Mark Herschberg!

Welcome Mark, I was so grateful that Howard Rankin introduced us after he interviewed you on his podcast. Thank you for taking the time to speak with me about what you have been focused on for the past few decades, that really is what my podcast has been centered around. Welcome!

Intro Question: Mark, as much as I want to go straight to asking you questions about The Career Toolkit, I can’t ignore one part of your BIO, especially as my husband spends so much of his time working in law enforcement with the volunteer work he does with AZ’s Maricopa Sheriff’s Posse Program. What did you learn from tracking criminals and terrorists on the dark web that you have applied to helping people with their career? Maybe how to stay busy and away from criminal activity?

Q1: We launched this podcast with the goal of helping educators to understand and implement social and emotional learning skills in our schools, with a focus on emotional intelligence skills for those in the workplace and I have been quoting a study that said 58% 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 and that “3 out of 4 employers say they have a hard time finding graduates with the soft skills their companies need.”[iv] What did you hear when you were at MIT[v] about these “missing skills” across the US and Internationally that inspired you to write The Career Toolkit Book?

Q2: As I am researching the top soft skills that are missing in the corporate world, (since I do get asked this all the time—why are the SEL skills that are being taught in our schools not transferring to our corporate space). I did see a PDF that released mentioning the Top 3 soft skills that are lacking are problem solving, critical thinking, innovation, and creativity (which I would agree to be lacking everywhere I have ever worked which is why I left the corporate world, tired of having a vision that no one else could see), the ability to deal with complexity and ambiguity (since the brain doesn’t like incompleteness or conflict)[vi] and communication. After 20 years of working directly with these missing skills, how would you list them, what other skills are missing, and let’s even pinpoint this down more, what would you say people are missing with something as important as Networking that will not set them up for the life-long ability to ask someone for help with whatever it is they might need, 3, 5 or 10 years down the line? I ask this with the vision to continue to produce content that reinforces the needed skills in the K-12 school market.


Image Source: The Global Skills Shortage PDF[vii]

Q3: As I was reading through your website, I saw an incredible number of FREE resources[viii] that I think are valuable and important for anyone to download in addition to The Career Toolkit Book. When I’m looking through social media these days, I can’t escape posts that are focused on “Finding Your Purpose” or even thinking about Simon Sinek’s Start With Why[ix] because this really should be the starting place when thinking about our Career Path (pick a career with meaning so you don’t mind waking up every day and spending all day working in this field. It might seem like going back to the basics, but as you say, this isn’t taught anywhere, and no one wants to wake up one day and realize they are on the wrong path with their career, and if they do, they need to pivot.  For companies who have bought your book to improve their team’s personal and professional effectiveness, what are some examples or case studies of those who have had outstanding results? Have you ever heard of people studying your work and it wakes them up to switching to an entirely new career?

Q4: Everyone loves the “Cliff Notes” version of a book to simplify the ideas you teach. I saw you have a SYNOPSIS[x] page on your website that takes someone through the 3 sections of the book (Career, Leadership and Management, and Interpersonal Dynamics) after some important chapters—Career Plan, Working Effectively and Interviewing. I have so many questions that would dig deep into each area but wanted to ask you to drill down more on Interviewing Skills, since anyone in a management position must interview candidates to fill their empty slots, but it can be extremely difficulty finding the right candidate. What are some tips/strategies that you think are crucial for a “trained” interviewer to consider when looking for their ideal candidate, so they avoid that dreaded experience of getting to the end of the hiring process and they must start over again because they weren’t able to identify the right candidate?

Q4B: What services do you offer?

Q5: I love The Career Toolkit App[xi] because it’s always fun to have tips and ideas on your phone, to put the new strategies we are working on at the forefront of our mind.  I downloaded the app and wonder what do you want users to think about, learn and take away from using this app?

5B: Can you explain the 3 parts of the book? (Career, Leadership and Management, and Interpersonal Dynamics)

Q6: Something that has come up a few times on the podcast as I’m talking to people about the post-pandemic workplace, many companies have gone through some sort of change (either in management) or even a whole new restructuring. During times of change, what would you suggest people focus on to keep moving forward, rather than get stuck in resistance of thinking they liked the old way better, or their old manager did things this way?

Q7: I know that you see how we’ve arrived at this place where these skills were missing in the corporate place, since they have not been important in our schools in the past, but they are gaining importance and making their way into the Corporate World. What would you say would be a model Corporate Workplace, using the skills and strategies in your book, and preparing the next generation of employees for a successful future career?

Q8: Is there anything important that I have missed?

Thank you very much Mark for your time today, to share these important resources with listeners.  I will put the links to connect with you in the show notes, but other than buying the book, what other programs and training do you offer?

Thank you!

Social Media and Follow Mark                                     @CareerToolkitBk              @TheCareerToolkitBook                       @thecareertoolkit


Career Toolkit App

Paul Ekman’s Work Inspired a TV Series

Deborah Tannen Talking from 9 to 5: Women and Men at Work




[iii] Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #151 with Renee Adams on “Developing Emotional Intelligence Skills Early to Guarantee Future Success”

[iv] Employers Say Students Aren’t Learning Soft Skills in College by Dana Wilkie October 21, 2019


[vi]Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast EPISODE #44 12 Mind-Boggling Discoveries About the Brain

[vii] The Global Skills Shortage: Bridging the Talent Gap with Education, Training and Sourcing  PDF by


[ix] Simon Sinek “Start With Why”



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