How Did I Get Here From There?
Posted: September 1, 2015 Written by: W.B. “Bud” Kirchner
I have been impressed (and flattered) with the interest in the “Exploring the Business Brain” digital library prior to launching. By way of saying “thank you” I am undertaking the challenge of responding to some of the many great questions I’ve received so far. More than once someone has asked for more details around how I became an amateur (at best!) neuroscientist/psychologist – in short – a proponent of the Business Brain Model℠ .
Throughout my career I have touched on game theory, behavioral economics and other related areas, all of which I viewed as simply tools of the business trade that I used in a one-off standalone context. Nevertheless, they were intriguing to me and if something intrigues me I have to learn more. In addition, my personal wiring predisposed me to an interest in “models” in the most general sense.
For as long as I can remember, I see models as a key to success in science and business (and life).
By definition, Encyclopaedia Britannica calls scientific modeling “the generation of a physical, conceptual, or mathematical representation of a real phenomenon that is difficult to observe directly.” In other words, models are the protocol that can help us predict (or influence) the future. And if we can predict (or influence) our future then our potential is limitless!
I touched on this when we announced the launch of the Exploring the Business Brain but all of this came together (as did so many great thing in my life) when my (eventually to be) son Christopher entered my life.
Given the nature of his (special needs) condition (Sanfilippo syndrome) I spent a lot of time thinking about cognition, communications, body-mind interactions, decision making, etc. For example, it became clear to me that a learning disability is not the same as a thinking disability.
Having seen the impact that sensory enrichment had in terms of enriching his life through neural stimulation (I will delve into brain plasticity in the future), we created the Christopher Douglas Hidden Angel Foundation (learn more at www.cdhaf.org). There are so many children around the world that would greatly benefit from access to an environment designed to meet their NEUROLOGICAL needs. To provide this opportunity to other children with special needs became high priority in my life.
There were many serendipitous results from creation of the CDHAF. Particularly relevant out of all that was the growing pool of empirical information I had at my disposal. I now had access to information regarding the importance of environment, cognitive ease and more that could help people, regardless of their limitations, to think and communicate at an entirely new level.
As the next step in my evolution, we hosted a conference designed to create a convergence phenomenon between our empirical information and so called “hard science.” Our idea was to bring together therapists, researchers and scientists who are all working in the same areas related to cognition and communication. We quickly discovered that the results of this convergence centered around “neurons in enriched environments” which is a natural linkage to brain plasticity, and other related areas.
This inspired me to no end and I immersed myself in this area from that point of view. I decided to become self-taught in the areas largely focused around behavior and metacognition which is simply thinking about thinking.
In the context of putting some of these ideas to test in the real world, I focused on two things: (1) the establishment of Tranquil Waters which is the home base of the CDHAF (TW was featured on PBS‘ The World Show hosted by Bob Scully); and (2) Kirchner Group (also featured on PBS) where we strive to be commercially successful AND socially responsible in all we do.
I will, throughout these articles, reference how both of these became relevant but for the purposes of this post let’s just say they enabled me to have a real-world laboratory in which I could see the direct impact of the Business Brain Model on the full range of people interactions, environment, decision making and more.
All along I have tried to focus on issues that do not require in-depth understanding of brain chemistry, anatomy or physiology. I have tried to take a look at things that are (largely) empirical in nature and can be digested in bite size pieces. In some we can, hopefully, find heuristics to guide us.
Throughout my journey I have found that many of the world’s greatest thinkers had many thoughts about thinking.
“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” ~ Albert Einstein
A perfect example is how the Greeks believed epilepsy was a “sacred disease” until Hippocrates came along. We all know he is considered the Father of Medicine, but did you know he was the first to accurately note symptoms of epilepsy in children? That’s right. Because he was able to think beyond what was the current thought, his work helped people change their thinking that epilepsy was divine.
Always ask “What am I doing?” and “Why am I doing it?” You owe that to yourself and your business….
Personally, I don’t want to be part of the herd mentality – I want to talk to the critical thinkers. And that is what I ask of you – don’t go into anything blindly. Always ask “What am I doing?” and “Why am I doing it?” You owe that to yourself and your business if you want to grow and thrive.
“Reading furnishes the mind only with materials of knowledge; it is thinking that makes what we read ours.” ~ John Locke
I sincerely hope the articles that you read here on Exploring the Business Brain will inspire you to consider thinking about here, there and everywhere in your life.
About the Author: W.B. “Bud” Kirchner is a serial entrepreneur and philanthropist with more than 50 years of business success. He is not a scientist or an academic but he does have a diversified exposure to neuroscience, psychology and related areas. Generally speaking, the ideas he expresses here are business-angled expansions of other people’s ideas, so when possible, he will link to the original reference.