The Hazards of Waterparks and the Lizard Brain

By Angela Noel

March 1, 2018

My lizard brain recently freaked out.

In his 2010 book, Linchpin, Seth Godin writes, “The lizard brain is hungry, scared, angry, and horny. The lizard brain only wants to eat and be safe. The lizard brain will fight (to the death) if it has to, but would rather run away. It likes a vendetta and has no trouble getting angry.” I would not want to meet my lizard brain in a dark alley.

The limbic cortex, aka the lizard brain, is the part of our gray matter responsible for making it very very hard to be our best selves sometimes. It wants to keep us safe, help us survive, even help us win competitions at work or at play. But all it knows is how to react, not how to respond reasonably and in appropriate proportion to a given situation.

And this is where my freaking out begins.

Continue reading “The Hazards of Waterparks and the Lizard Brain”

Awesome Nuggets: Thanksgiving Edition

by Angela Noel

November 23, 2017

It’s Thanksgiving!

Weird thing about gratitude: In the act of calling to mind all the good things we have in our lives, we’re actually receiving a powerful benefit. As Alex Korb Ph.D discusses in The Grateful Brain, studies have shown that calling to mind what we’re grateful for has a direct effect on depression and an indirect effect on anxiety. As we express gratitude our brains increase dopamine production, making us both feel good, and increase our activity levels–a kind of “more of that, please” response. So offering thanks for the gifts we’ve been given is also a gift to ourselves. Continue reading “Awesome Nuggets: Thanksgiving Edition”

Co-Parenting: Confessions of a Part-Time Mom

by Angela Noel

August 31, 2017

It happens every time. Jackson waves good-bye to me and walks with his dad into the car or into his dad’s house. I drive away or close the door and get on with my day. Then, about an hour or two later, I feel it. A physical pang, like hunger mixed with loss, strikes me. The twinge lasts only a few seconds, but I’ve come to know it well: I miss him. Continue reading “Co-Parenting: Confessions of a Part-Time Mom”

Sharing the Good: It’s not You, It’s Me

By Angela Noel

August 17, 2017

Remember in February when I said I’d created a weekly way to share the good called Awesome Nuggets? No? Of course you don’t. Why would you? I didn’t do a good job with it at all. I kept it up for a month and when a thousand people didn’t immediately start posting little gems of goodness on my Facebook page I gave up. Shame on me. Continue reading “Sharing the Good: It’s not You, It’s Me”

Becoming Invincible

By Angela Noel

January 26, 2017

One dark December night in the late 1980s, I pulled a pair of rollerblades on and slipped out the front door of my childhood home in Southern California. Not typically the fearless type, the notion of racing around my block in the middle of the night thrilled me, even as I worried I might come home bruised and bloody. The moment the wheels hit asphalt and I gained speed down the gentle hill not far from my house, I reveled in the speed. I was invincible, pure motion and spirit in that moment.

That’s how it feels to talk to Hadley Barrows, children’s book author, publisher, and changemaker. To know her, is to feel as if all things are possible. Continue reading “Becoming Invincible”

I am Adopted

A Love Letter by Dana Mason Womer

January 12, 2017

I am adopted. This is a phrase I have said hundreds of times in my life. When I’m at a new doctor and they want my family history: I am adopted. When my kid’s doctor wants a family history on his maternal side: I don’t know. I’m adopted. When someone comments on how I look nothing like my little sister: It’s because I’m adopted.

Don’t get me wrong–I love talking about it, I love telling people my story. It’s just my way of life. These simple words have opened up so many different conversations and connections and pathways for me. There has never been a time in my life when I didn’t know I was adopted, that I was chosen.

My story is a simple one. Continue reading “I am Adopted”

A Particularly Special Guy’s Night

By Angela Noel

December 1, 2016

One night, a couple of guys went to McDonald’s for dinner. Already, it was a special event.

The younger of the two went to the restroom, emerging just in time for their chicken nuggets and Big Mac to arrive. On his way back to the table, his hands still wet from washing, he noticed something. Continue reading “A Particularly Special Guy’s Night”

What Makes Us Perfect

By Angela Noel

November 3, 2016

Pain is God’s megaphone to rouse a deaf world . . . You see we are like blocks of stone out of which the sculptor carves the forms of men. The blows of his chisel, which hurt us so much, are what makes us perfect.“-  from the movie Shadowlands

Jayme Sisel ran her first marathon in 2007 and her first half-Ironman that same year. “One was for me, the other one was for my mom. I forget which was which.”

Pushing herself to her physical limit — lungs burning, feet pounding — gets all the bad energy out and lets the good stuff in. Running was Jayme’s solace when her mother lay dying of cancer. Continue reading “What Makes Us Perfect”

The Makings of an Innovation Commando

by Angela Noel

October 27, 2016

Galileo Galilei disrupted the status quo, challenging the beliefs of some of the most powerful people of the day — including more than one Pope. Considering Galileo lived during the time of the inquisition, ticking off the Vatican was kind of a big deal.

Along with pushing scientific boundaries, he developed mathematical instruments to either sell to the military or for uses in engineering. Solving problems and posing theories using observation, data, hard work, communication, rhetorical argument, and grit made Galileo a successful entrepreneur. Running afoul of the prevailing authorities of the day, the Catholic Church, made his story into a cautionary tale for all those who would speak truth to power.

Dipanjan Chatterjee could be the intellectual descendant of Galileo. He and others like him, hired by corporations to be an EiR or Entrepreneur in Residence, must find the courage to speak truth to their “corporate overlords” without losing their heads. They must bring new products and processes into systems fundamentally designed to reject anything that challenges the comfortable stability of the past in order to drive progress. Though the modern day Inquisitor is less likely to wear a robe, and more likely to shop at Brooks Brothers, EiRs face many of the same troubles Galileo did 400 years ago.

For example, Pope Urban VIII initially liked Galileo, supporting his ideas overall while asking him to go easy on the whole “earth revolves around the sun” thing. Unfortunately for Galileo, when his resulting book came out, Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, the Pope found reason to be offended, hauling Galileo to Rome to defend himself. Dipanjan, as far as I know, hasn’t been called on the carpet by a religious official, but he continually faces the Sisyphean task of attempting to convince huge corporations to try something new without losing his job or his mind.

Luckily, he’s been preparing for this job all his life.

Continue reading “The Makings of an Innovation Commando”

Wanted: Best Big Sister Ever

A Love Letter by Julia Zhang

October 13, 2016

I was a two-year-old preparing for the most important role of my life: Best Big Sister Ever. My parents told me it was my job to take good care of my little sister because she would look up to me, which is a big responsibility.

I relished responsibility. I loved to show off how great I was at doing jobs for my parents, like fetching my dad’s sandals for him, or helping my mom break the ends off string beans . . . taking care of a little sister was just another job that I could get pats on the head and praise for. I read stories with my mom like this one extolling the virtues of sharing, and practiced taking care of a baby with my dolls. As much as I rehearsed for my role, when baby Jenny came into the world, I was wholly unprepared for one thing – how much I would absolutely adore her. Continue reading “Wanted: Best Big Sister Ever”