“Focus on what you will do.” With Beau Henderson & Dr. Evian Gordon

Retirement offers the unprecedented stage of life to boost the quality in the moment experiences, deepen existing social connections and choose new ones that nurture the brain, mind, soul and purpose. I had the pleasure to interview Evian Gordon MD, PhD. Evian is Chairman of the Board for Total Brain. He has over 30 years’ […]

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Retirement offers the unprecedented stage of life to boost the quality in the moment experiences, deepen existing social connections and choose new ones that nurture the brain, mind, soul and purpose.

I had the pleasure to interview Evian Gordon MD, PhD. Evian is Chairman of the Board for Total Brain. He has over 30 years’ experience in brain research and considered to be one of the originators of field of integrative neuroscience. He has authored more than 300 peer reviewed publications.

Thank you so much for joining us Dr. Gordon! Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?

MyPhD was focused in serum lipids and heart attacks, in the days when cardiology was the golden highway of medicine. I was on a roll. And by chance, my PhD supervisor showed me the “missing link” fossil of the first hominids (primates) that stood upright. He pointed out to me that in the past 5 million years, the hominid brain has tripled in size. No other species has done anything like this.

I completed my PhD and switched my medical and science goals to set up a Standardized International Brain Function and Performance Database and use the insights from the database to build tools for self-transformation. That has remained my daily mission for 30 years.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

Most of my early “applied integrative neuroscience” team had science and medical backgrounds. We were immersed in rational thinking and built a system to simultaneously measure electrical brain function, heart rate variability, sweat rate, breathing and response time to a range of activation tasks.

Tasks included nonconscious presentation of face emotions that were presented so rapidly (in a hundredth of a second) that the viewer was not aware of what was being presented.

We “showed” the viewers all the different face emotions (fear, disgust, sad, happy etc.) and analyzed the brain-body measures.

The first time we saw that nonconscious fear stimuli, it was processed 30 thousandths of a second faster than other emotions, we realized two shocking things:

  1. The nonconscious emotion brain drivers were not just a concept
  2. We had opened the door to explicitly study the nonconscious brain

Ever since that moment, those discoveries put a different lens into how we approach the function of the brain. More so, it shifted the focus to the motherload of the brain’s operating system — how to best align nonconscious emotion intuition and conscious rational thinking.

Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?

I always thought I was the smartest person in the room.

The lesson I learned, was how little I knew then. And more so now.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Peter Cooper is the Founder of Cooper Investors, a $12 billion equities fund that only invests in long range opportunities (and whose team has interviewed over 1,000 CEOs to select their long range “value latency” strategies).

My company had set up the world’s largest standardized brain database (over a million datasets and featured in 300 publications) and built an online brain fitness platform to better understand your key brain capacities, train and track new habits, and generated what is likely to be the first objective test to predict treatment response in depression. We succeeded beyond our expectations, with over 30 highly-respected US companies using the online product.

However, by under-resourcing along with experiencing slow revenue growth, it resulted in stretching the company in too many directions to keep the mission on track. Therefore, it was leading investors to run out of patience and the company was running out of money.

Peter introduced me to Louis Gagnon and persuaded him to become the CEO of Total Brain. Louis has not only scaled the company but has brought fresh approaches to help destigmatize mental health around the globe.

What advice would you suggest to your colleagues in your industry to thrive and avoid burnout?

Work strategically harder.

But with a focus on finishing tasks!

Burnout is not about hard work.
It’s about being too stretched and a lack of finishing tasks.

And I would also advise them to only work with people with whom you are authentically aligned. Misalignment is the motherload of burnout.

If it’s not aligned, cut the chord as soon as possible.

What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?

3 things:

1) A differentiated mission — real differentiating ideas matter.

2) People alignment and be vigilant about not hiring self-righteous opportunists.

3) A growth mindset and a respectful, deep understanding of innovation and implementation of groundbreaking ideas.

With that in place: a differentiating product, a good product-market fit and the quickest paths to sustainable revenue, are more likely to happen.

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. Retirement is a dramatic ‘life course transition’ that can impact one’s health. In some cases, retirement can reduce health, and in others it can improve health. From your point of view or experience, what are a few of the reasons that retirement can reduce one’s health?

  1. Lack of a purpose or mission
  2. Stress eating to self soothe
  3. Focus on regrets rather than on new opportunities

Can you share with our readers 5 things that one should do to optimize mental wellness after retirement? Please share a story or an example for each.

We live in the era of increasing awareness about age related memory mental health deterioration. There is however, growing evidence that although the brain diminishes in some tasks as it ages, it gains in other ways. Here are five factors that can help improve mental health after retirement.

1. Self-Awareness

Retirement inevitably increases the opportunity for self awareness and self reflection. The insights can be enhanced by a check-in of brain capacity strengths and mental health challenges, to magnify strengths and protect against mental health negativity.

2. Emotion Regulation

The widespread negative reality is that memory usually declines with age. However, neuroimaging evidence shows that emotional stability and negativity bias improves with age. The increased personal bandwidth of retirement provides an opportunity to magnify that strength.

3. Wisdom

The ability to see the patterns that matter increases with age. This ability allows an enhanced ability to make rapid and effective decisions that could increase the ability to savor one’s retirement new opportunities. It is not coincidental that many great inventions and artistic outcomes have occurred late in late.

4. Quality Time and Social Connections

Retirement offers the unprecedented stage of life to boost the quality in the moment experiences, deepen existing social connections and choose new ones that nurture the brain, mind, soul and purpose.

5. Gratitude

The “Positive Psychology Movement” have highlighted the benefit to mental health of magnifying strengths, a positive solution focused attitude and the power of gratitude. When better to immerse in gratitude for what worked, than in retirement?

In your experience, what are 3 or 4 things that people wish someone told them before they retired?

1. Focus on what you will do, not what you won’t do.

2. Don’t generate self limiting age related beliefs. Go for it.

3. It’s time to use your life learnt wisdoms.

4. Have deep gratitude for what is working for you, in health and life.

5. Stay on your life’s mission.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?

Daniel Khaneman (2011): Thinking Fast and Slow. Macmillan.

I was shocked to discover the extent to which nonconscious emotions, intuition and biases drive most of our decisions.

In this book, Nobel Laureate Kahaneman and his collaborator Amos Tversky highlight through simple but elegant experiments, how unambiguously small random” nudges” nonconsciously shape most of our decisions.

This book has helped many people think afresh about how to best be aware and align their nonconscious intuition and their rational conscious thinking, to make better decisions.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Democratize the brain.

By providing the most engaging, impactful, intuitive and concrete online brain platform to align your nonconscious and conscious brain powers.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

“The only good is knowledge.

The only evil is ignorance.”

Socrates (469–399 BC).

This was one of the earliest seeds of the current brain revolution. It regularly inspires me on my 30 year journey, since I set up the world’s largest standardized brain function, performance database and applications — Total

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

Jim Kwik.

Because his mission is to create a smarter and more caring world by helping you rebuild our brains.

What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?

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