"The old corporate paradigm of extreme hours, little sleep, endless meetings, and nonstop travel is dead. No one wants to go back to that. It's bad for performance and for everyone's mental and physical health. The future of business is hybrid and requires a flexible new paradigm that helps everyone reach peak performance: the brain-friendly workplace." (Friederike Fabritius)
✔ How to create a workplace of the future. A Brain-Friendly Workplace.
✔ How an understanding our brain-type, can help us to be happier and more productive in the workplace.
✔ What is causing the "Neuro-Gap" and why is it important to have different brain-types represented at the higher levels of corporations or organizations.
✔ How can someone with ambition and persistence, move forward into a management position? What should they be prepared to show if their brain-type isn't often represented in these higher level positions?
✔ What is lateral or creative thinking, versus linear thinking, and why are both important in the workplace?
✔ Where do those "flashes of insight" come from, that creative people can see? Can science prove this type of thinking to be useful?
✔ What are the 4 brain types, or neurosignatures, and how can we be sure we understand them for ourselves, and for others?
✔ Why is understanding our optimal level of stress important for our workplace productivity and happiness?
✔ An example of when Friederike used her neurosignature under pressure.
✔ What to expect from some of the interviews in The Brain-Friendly Workplace
✔ An important tip from John Medina on the "power problem" that happens at the brain level, for people in positions of leadership.
There’s much more to this new workplace, overriding old, outdated paradigms, than meets the eye, and Friederike Fabritius’s NEW book, The Brain-Friendly Workplace is FULL of ideas to help all of us adapt our workplace, so that our brains will work at their best.
Welcome back to The Neuroscience Meets Social and Emotional Learning Podcast where we bridge the gap between theory and practice, with strategies, tools and ideas we can all use immediately, applied to the most current brain research to heighten productivity in our schools, sports environments and modern workplaces. I’m Andrea Samadi and launched this podcast to share how important an understanding of our brain is for our everyday life and results. My vision is to bring the experts to you, share their research, books, ideas and resources to help you to implement their proven strategies, whether you are a teacher working in the classroom or in the corporate environment. Be sure to listen to the EPISODE prior to this one, #257, as I do cover a DEEP DIVE to put us all in the right mind-set, or should I say, brain-set, for today’s interview.
I’m so very excited for today’s interview, EPISODE #258, as we have a returning guest, from one of our early episodes, #27[i], Friederike Fabritius, all the way from Germany, who dove deep into her book, The Leading Brain: Neuroscience Hacks to Work Smarter, Better, Happier when we first launched our podcast back in 2019. What was crazy about finding Friederike back then, is that I found her on YouTube, from a presentation she did on Leadership and the Brain, and it really helped me to understand the chemicals involved in the brain during peak performance, and what it looks like when the brain is involved in FLOW, which is something I think we all want to master.
What Friederike might not know, is that I watched her presentation many times over, back in 2017, taking notes OVER my notes, as it helped me to understand why people perform the way they do at work, why some people excel, and others seem to be missing something, and why certain people gravitate towards certain positions based on the chemicals predominantly in their brain. What became clear to me from this diagram, from this presentation where you can watch Friederike[ii], on “Fun, Fear and Focus” is that some positions in the workplace (at the beginning of the curve) are routine, and require people to do the same thing every day, (and some people are wired this way) but for those who are not, they will find themselves to be under-challenged and bored, without a brain strategy in place. Similarly, some positions that require NEW daily challenges are designed for those workers who enjoy constantly putting out fires and would be bored if their work was routine, the same way every day, but these positions often lead to burnout, without a brain strategy in place.
We ALL need to find our optimal stress point, so that our work challenges us just the right amount, leading us to that place of optimal workplace happiness. I could see clearly with this example, why I was very unhappy when I left my “exciting” job in field sales, covering Higher Education/University Campuses in the southwest region, moving to “inside” sales where I sat at a desk, and was bored and under-challenged until I figured out that I needed to offset my desk time, with exercise.
This diagram also comes into my mind when I see someone working very hard, or burning the candle at both ends, as Friederike cautioned that this type of work pattern isn’t sustainable and can lead to depression, burnout and even changing the brain to where people under these high levels of stress begin to see stress in places where there isn’t any, or experience “hyper arousal.”
I’m always looking for productivity tips that we can all use, and it’s clear that stress in our workplaces is at an all-time high, globally. We know that “2/3 of people report being stressed at work, to the point they can’t sleep at night”[iii] so I was thrilled to see that Friederike’s new book was focused on changing the workplace, not the employee, to create the best environment for happiness and productivity.
Let’s welcome back, returning guest, and my friend from EP #27 Friederike Fabritius[iv], a neuroscientist, author and public speaker, who works with leaders to help them to understand how their brain works, and like I mentioned from that first presentation I saw with high level business executives, she will share how we can all find our optimal stress points, with the secrets from her NEWLY released book, The Brain-Friendly Workplace that hit #3 on The Wall Street Journal Best-Selling Books List, and remains on this list today, and show us how we can all adapt our workplaces, for optimal productivity, health and happiness.
Welcome back Friederike! It’s incredible to see you again. Congratulations on your new book hitting the Wall Street Journal’s Best-Selling List!! That’s AWESOME!!
INTRO Q: So, I was reading your book, and you know, I feel like we can think we know someone, but when you read their book, you get a whole new layer of understanding behind someone with knowledge you might not have known before. I felt like I knew you fairly well from studying everything I could find online about your work, interviewing you with your first book back on EP #27, and then I’m reading your NEW book, preparing for this interview, and I come to the part in the Introduction on “Happy to Be Fired” and I knew you came from the Max Plank Institute[v] where all the Nobel prize winners came from, but I had no idea why you left. Your story gave me so much insight into my own neurosignature, or what I need to be happy with work, and I think this understanding is a HUGE missing link in the workplace. Can we start with why you were “Happy to be Fired” and why understanding our brain is the first step towards being happy with our work?
Q1:. My next question is kind of long, but it will help set up how to Address the Neuro-Gap from Chapter 1 of your book. Can I share how I see the “Neuro-Gap?”
I’m always learning something, and trying to make connections with this learning. Last week I took this fascinating course called “How to Think Like an FBI Profiler”[vi] with Special Agent John Douglas who they created the Netflix Series Mindhunter after his cases. I learned so much from him, but one part that stuck out to me was he spoke about how he brought creativity, intuition, keeping an open mind to solving his cases, something that the FBI lacked before he came on board because women were under-represented in the FBI.[vii] He talked about solving a case when a female investigator said she wanted to go with her gut, and blow up a note from a murderer and place it on a billboard to see if anyone would recognize the writing. Creative, out of the box thinking wasn’t a usual strategy within the male dominated FBI agents, but he was known for his out of the box thinking, and went with this woman’s idea, and this method is how they identified their criminal and were able to put him behind bars. Is thiswhat you call “The Neuro-Gap?” (overrepresentation of high dopamine/high testosterone brain systems, and systems thinking, at the executive level) that would have ignored this type of creative thinking to solve problems that came from this one female agent?
Q1B: Of course, I saw the Neuro-Gap in the corporate world when I was there. My creative, intuitive ideas for building curriculum that covered social and emotional learning connected to neuroscience was something that our curriculum team couldn’t even fathom 13 years ago, when I worked in the publishing field, so I had to leave, and highlight this space on this podcast years later. What about others in different fields? Women in sports? Female actors? Or even like the example I used with female agents in the FBI? How do you see change occurring here in our present-day workplaces? Not everyone can just quit and start over like we did. How can people move forward if their brain signature is not what’s usually at the top?
Q1C: Can you give some examples of lateral thinking vs linear or systems thinking and perhaps ways that you’ve seen creative thinking emerge in The Brain-Friendly Workplace? I was definitely told my ideas were lateral. Can you explain this type of thinking and why it’s important to embrace people who think this way in the workplace?
Q1D: Where do these flashes of insight come from? Can science give us some insight to why some people can “see” things that others might think to be crazy?
Q2: What’s a quick and simple way to discover what our neurosignature is? I know that my brain is high with dopamine, as I get bored easily, need autonomy, and challenge on a daily basis, and there’s also this intuitive, creative side to me, that’s the estrogen/oxytocin signature that I think is the same as yours? How can we pinpoint what our signature is?
IMAGE CREDIT: Carolin Nischwitz
Q2B: I had to laugh at the Testosterone Signature, because it’s my husband to a “t.” Not to name call or anything, but I would take out direct and put the word that starts with an a in there. It’s actually something I admire in strong people (male or female) because I wish I was like this more myself. The strong drive to succeed at any cost even if they come off as being abrupt, I like people who are decisive and direct. You say that 1/3 of women have a high testosterone brain, yet women don’t make up 1/3 of corporate leaders. How would you suggest women with this neurosignature embrace their brain and move into leadership positions to change this in the future?
Q3: Can we review your incredible presentation that I mention in the backstory, where I first found your work back in 2017 with what we should all know and understand about ourselves, to achieve peak performance/find our optimal stress point?
Q4: When I got to Chapter 4 of your book, and you were talking about your first-ever TEDx talk, I had to look through my LinkedIn messages, as I thought I remembered chatting with you just BEFORE you went onstage for that event as we were planning our first interview, and you mentioned that your technology had failed. How did your neurosignature help you in this situation? This has been the STORY of 2022 for me.
Q5: Your book is something I’m going to be studying for some time. I could ask you a question on each chapter, each interview, and each brain tip but we’d be here for a long time. I loved seeing some of the researchers I most admire, like Dr. Andrew Huberman, from Stanford, and Mathew Walker, the Sleep Diplomat, but I most loved seeing your interview with John Medina, as I remember you asking me for his contact information. I was thrilled to see him in there in Chapter 7 and so glad you were able to reach and connect with him. I forgot how absolutely funny he can be, but also, he covers a serious topic, of some brain “power problems” that I think are important to understand for those in positions of leadership. What would be one “power problem” John Medina mentioned, and how can those in leadership positions mitigate this problem?
NOTE: Andrea asked John Medina if there's a way he would suggest this "power problem" could be mitigated. He said:
"You pose a great question, and I have one piece of bad news and two pieces of good news to share in response. To date, there is no randomized blinded trial of which I am aware that has been shown to successfully force someone to understand the consequences of their actions, especially when they think normal rules don’t apply to them.
The first piece of good news is that the research world isn’t clueless about the issue. Connecting one’s behaviors to the consequences of those behaviors is the hallmark of a cognitive gadget called executive function. There is a wealth of solid behavioral work discussing how to improve executive function.
The second piece of good news concerns the concept of prophylactic education, essentially warning people in advance of what is likely to happen to them if they’re not careful. Prophylactic education can go along way towards neutralizing certain bad behaviors, from reducing the number of medical malpractice lawsuits in surgical units to reducing sexism in the workplace." John Medina
This was exactly what Friederike suggested as a solution. Make people aware of the consequences of their actions. John Medina called this "prophylactic education."
Q6: Is there anything important I’ve missed?
Friederike, I want to thank you very much for coming back on the podcast for a second time, and for creating such an engaging and important book that I know will help all of us to become happier in the workplace. For people who want to reach you, is the best place your website? Thank you!
About The Brain-Friendly Workplace
The Brain-Friendly Workplace[viii] envisions a new kind of office where thought-diversity is acknowledged, invited, and supported. Complementing racial and gender diversity, and coinciding with shifting employee trends following the Great Resignation and remote work revolution, “diversity of mind” can lead to better employee retention, higher innovation and creativity, and increased sales.
In The Brain-Friendly Workplace, Friederike Fabritius makes the case for a radically different kind of environment that recognizes the unique “neurosignature” of each person and supports employee wellbeing by shifting from “hustle” to “outcome” culture. These cultural and environmental changes naturally create pathways for more diverse executive leadership. Especially for women who have long had to choose between high-impact careers and having a family.
Where “lean-in” trainings and countless DEI initiatives have failed to make material differences in corporate diversity, The Brain-Friendly Workplace is a science-backed, field tested approach with proven impact at leading companies like EY (formerly Ernst & Young), thyssenkrupp, and Boston Consulting Group. Rather than approaching diversity from a numbers perspective, Fabritius demonstrates that supporting neurodiversity naturally leads to better gender and racial representation at the top.