Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Your Brain, Your Business, Your Life

I like my brain.

It's been very good to me, despite those four-and-a-half years of intensive neuron slaughter, otherwise known as college.

So I really liked the book, Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School.

Author John Medina, a molecular biologist with a gift for clear writing, shares the latest science and its implications for your brain, your business, your marketing, your family, and your life.

Here are three takeaways from the book, which can help you improve your business from the inside ...

1) Exercise boosts brain power

Your brain evolved to survive in jungles and prairies, after our early ancestors routinely walked an average of 12 miles a day in search of (and in avoidance of becoming) food. As a result, your brain is NOT meant to sit in a cubicle or a classroom for 8 hours a day.

Think about it: The smartest senior citizens you know are probably the most active. And most of history's greatest thinkers were physically active: Aristotle, Immanuel Kant, Napoleon Bonaparte, Albert Einstein, and Douglas MacArthur all had a habit of pacing as they thought or taught, for example.

If you do nothing more than aerobic exercise, 30 minutes at time, two or three times a week, your brain will benefit. But don't stop there. Break up your workday with physical activity, such as walking, biking, or stretching.

2) Sleep well, think well

A lack of sleep retards your ability to pay attention, remember, reason logically, solve problems, or do any other thinking. For best results, your work schedule should match your productive times, whether it be morning, evening, or someplace in between.

And -- here's the fun part -- your businesses should encourage a nap in mid-afternoon, when productivity sags for almost everyone. So, instead of a Red Bull at 3:00, try a 20-minute siesta.

3) Vision trumps all other senses

Our brains see and think in pictures. Visual processing dominates how we interpret the world, with about half your brain power devoted to vision. As a result, pictures are easier to remember than words.

This has vast implications for your marketing and presentation efforts. Here are two:
  • Include pictures in your ads. Research shows that the eye is always drawn to pictures and  remembers them better than words alone. (A tough pill to swallow for a copywriter like me who loves words!)
  • Delete your presentations and start over. The typical PowerPoint business presentation has almost 40 words per slide. More pictures and fewer words would capture and hold an audience's attention far better.
There are way too many more useful tidbits than I have time to share here. If you love your brain, you owe it to yourself to read this book soon :-)

Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School
Oh, and in the spirit of including pictures, here's one of the book ...

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