Saturday, 20 October 2018

New Neuroscience Reveals 7 Secrets That Will Make You Persuasive



***
by Eric Barker


You can painstakingly show somebody tons of bulletproof evidence and present flawless logical arguments but often they still won't change their mind. What gives?

The problem is that the human brain is not a purely rational computer. And when we ignore that, even the best of efforts to convince others can fall flat.

From The Influential Mind:

As it turns out, while we adore data, the currency by which our brains assess said data and make decisions is very different from the currency many of us believe our brains should use. The problem with an approach that prioritizes information and logic is that it ignores the core of what makes you and me human: our motives, our fears, our hopes and desires. As we will see, this presents a serious problem; it means that data has only a limited capacity to alter the strong opinions of others.

So the human brain doesn't work by strictly logical rules -- but it does work by rules. And if we know what they are, we have a much better shot of framing our arguments in ways that other people will find convincing.

So what are these rules? Don't look at me -- I'm the guy who presents heaps of data all the time thinking that makes a difference. (Sigh.) That said, I know where we might be able to get some answers...

Tali Sharot is a professor of cognitive neuroscience at University College London and her new book is The Influential Mind: What the Brain Reveals About Our Power to Change Others.

She's identified 7 factors that influence our ability to influence. (I hope you don't mind if I try to change your mind about how to get others to change their mind.)

Let's get to it...


1) Prior Beliefs

Don't ignore a person's current stance when trying to persuade. Military strategy says direct assaults against fortified defenses are stupid. The human brain is no different. Start off by telling people they're wrong and you're already in trouble.

When our brains hear new info that agrees with our beliefs, we eagerly accept it. When we hear things that contradict our beliefs, our minds suddenly morph into defense lawyers looking for any conceivable flaw.

So a few rounds of back-and-forth jousting doesn't weaken people's opposition. Often it has a "boomerang effect" that ironically causes them to double down.

From The Influential Mind:

When you provide someone with new data, they quickly accept evidence that confirms their preconceived notions (what are known as prior beliefs) and assess counterevidence with a critical eye. Because we are often exposed to contradicting information and opinions, this tendency will generate polarization, which will expand with time as people receive more and more information. In fact, presenting people with information that contradicts their opinion can cause them to come up with altogether new counterarguments that further strengthen their original view; this is known as the "boomerang effect."

You're a pretty smart person, right?

Well, that means you're more likely to boomerang, not less. (If you responded by saying, "No, I'm a moron" then you're off the hook.)

From The Influential Mind:

...the greater your cognitive capacity, the greater your ability to rationalize and interpret information at will, and to creatively twist data to fit your opinions. Ironically, then, people may use their intelligence not to draw more accurate conclusions but to find fault in data they are unhappy with.

So how do we overcome this natural neuroscientific resistance? Don't begin by trying to prove others wrong. Start by finding common ground.

When people who believe childhood vaccination is dangerous were presented with evidence that it's not, the discussion went nowhere. When the focus was shifted to "improving the health of children" the conversation made progress.

From The Influential Mind:

Influence behavior by building on common ground instead of trying to prove others wrong. Our instinct is to try to alter people’s beliefs and actions by introducing data to prove that we are right and they are wrong. It often fails, because in the face of facts that clash with their prior beliefs, people tend to come up with counterarguments or turn away. Instead, find arguments that rely on common ground. For example, telling parents who refuse to vaccinate their children that science has shown that vaccines do not cause autism did not alter the parents’ behavior. Instead, saying that vaccines would protect their children from deadly diseases was more effective—the argument did not contradict their prior beliefs and was compatible with the common goal of keeping children healthy.

(To learn more about the science of a successful life, check out my bestselling book here.)

So taking the right angle with your logic can be critical. But there's also a way to succeed that is usually considered the exact opposite of logic...


2) Emotion

We all know that our mood affects our judgment. Neuroscience research shows that we actually understand each other better when our brains are "in sync" emotionally.

I tell a joke. You laugh. I laugh. And then the conversation seems to go more smoothly. The positive emotion synced our grey matter. This is one of the reasons that stories can be so powerful in convincing people even when rational arguments fail.

You can have the best evidence in the world, but if you're emotionally out of sync with the other person they might not even really be hearing what you're saying.

From The Influential Mind:

Lauri Nummenmaa, a Finnish neuroscientist who studies brain synchronization, writes that this may be one of the roles of emotion in neural synchronization—to promote social interaction and understanding, and to therefore enhance our ability to predict each other’s actions… Emotion equates the physiological state of the listener with that of the speaker, which makes it more likely that the listener will process incoming information in a similar manner to how the speaker sees it. This is why eliciting emotion can help in communicating your ideas and having others share your point of view, whether you are conversing with just one individual or talking to thousands.

So don't neglect to share feelings. Make a joke. Tell a story. Don't try and connect with reason until you've connected with emotion.

From The Influential Mind:

One of the most powerful ways to communicate ideas effectively is to share feelings. Emotions are especially contagious; by expressing feelings ourselves we are shaping other people’s emotional states, and by doing so we make it more likely that the people in front of us will take on our point of view.

(To learn the science of how to take naps that will make you smarter and happier, click here.)

This is all great for ideas. But how do we get people to change their behavior?


3) Incentives

If you want people to do something, emphasizing rewards is powerful.

In one hospital the staff was only washing their hands thoroughly 10% of the time. (I'll pause a second to let your horror die down a bit.)

But when researchers set up an electronic scoreboard that congratulated employees after a good scrubbing, compliance went up to 90%.

From The Influential Mind:

The researchers placed an electronic board in each room giving the staff immediate feedback on how they were doing. Every time a doctor, nurse, or other worker washed their hands, the numbers on the board went up. These figures indicated how well the current shift was going: what percentage of workers were currently washing their hands and what the weekly rate was. What happened? Compliance soared to almost 90 percent!

Anticipation of rewards usually beats fear when it comes to getting people's brains to act. This is one of the reasons why video games can be so addictive.

From The Influential Mind:

If you want someone to act quickly, promising a reward that elicits an anticipation of pleasure may be better than threatening them with a punishment that elicits an anticipation of pain. Whether you are trying to motivate your team to work harder or your child to tidy their room, remember the brain’s “Go” reaction. Creating positive anticipation in others—perhaps a weekly acknowledgment on the company website of the most productive employee or the possibility of finding a beloved toy under a pile of clothing—may be more effective at motivating action than the threat of a pay cut or a time-out.

But it's also vital to keep the other side of this equation in mind. When you want people to stop doing something, warnings about negatives prove more powerful than incentives.

From The Influential Mind:

...when your goal is to cause someone else not to do something—a child to avoid eating a cookie or an employee to avoid communicating confidential information to unauthorized individuals—warning of bad consequences may be more effective than promising rewards.

(To learn how to best use caffeine — from a neuroscientist — click here.)

Focusing on rewards is a much better way to tell people what to do. But, then again, people hate to be told what to do. So the answer to getting people to do what they're told is not to tell them what to do...


4) Agency

People like to feel in control. This isn't just a personal preference; we're biologically wired to seek control. It makes us happier and healthier across a number of dimensions.

From The Influential Mind:

...all else being equal, cancer patients who have a greater perception of control survive longer. Lower risk of cardiovascular disease has also been associated with a greater perception of control. This is not surprising; the sense of control reduces fear, anxiety, and stress—all things that have a detrimental effect on our bodies.

Former FBI lead international hostage negotiator Chris Voss says it's critical in any negotiation to give the other side a feeling of control. And the research agrees.

So when you want to persuade, don’t give orders; give options. Don’t tell; ask and guide.

From The Influential Mind:

...giving people an opportunity to advise how their taxes should be allocated increased the likelihood that they would pay them in full. To produce impact, we often need to overcome our instinct to control and instead offer a choice… What is interesting is that the sense of control need only be that—a perception. It is better to guide people toward ultimate solutions while at the same time maintaining their sense of agency, rather than to give orders.

(To learn how to use FBI hostage negotiation techniques to lower your bills, click here.)

All of this stuff is great but it'll be useless if they're not really paying attention in the first place. So how do you make people want to listen to you?


5) Curiosity

In general, our brains seek positive information and avoid negative information. This is true to an absolutely terrifying degree...

When doctors tell people they may have Huntington's Disease, very few actually follow through on getting tested. Other studies have shown similar results when it comes to HIV testing and breast cancer screening. When the news could be bad, people often don't want to hear it.

From The Influential Mind:

When potential carriers are asked if they intend to take the test, between 45 and 70 percent say yes. Yet most of them do not follow up on their explicitly stated intention. In fact, one study reported that when approached by the registries of testing centers, only 10 to 20 percent of people at risk for Huntington’s choose to register for the test...

So if we frame the info we have as bad, people will often tune out. But if the same information is presented as positive, others often get curious. But how do you make them really curious?

When we hear something that sounds good, but the information is incomplete, your brain wants to "fill the gap." Best example?

"Here are 7 clickbait headlines that will make you more curious."

From The Influential Mind:

...consider online clickbait such as “The ten celebrities you never knew were enthusiastic gardeners” or “The three politicians you never knew got a nose job.” Those create gaps of knowledge in people’s mind that were not there to begin with. I never considered which celebrity adores plants or which politician used to have a crooked nose, but now that this gap of knowledge had been pointed out to me, I have an urge to fill it. Once we are told what we do not know, we want to know.

So to draw people in emphasize the possibility of improvement and highlight the informational gap so they start asking questions.

From The Influential Mind:

Reframe the message to highlight the possibility for progress, rather than doom. Our intuition is that if we have something important to convey, others will want to know it. This instinct is wrong. In particular, if the information is tied to a bleak message, many will actively avoid it—as was the case with preflight safety briefings. Reframe your message so that the information you provide will induce positive feelings (as the airlines did), highlight the informational gap you are filling, and show how the knowledge can be used for the better.

(To learn 6 rituals from ancient wisdom that will make you happy, click here.)

So you're emphasizing the positive benefits that can come from listening to you. That's great. Unless it's not. Because there's an exception to this rule...


6) State Of Mind

When we feel threatened, we're much more sensitive to negative information.

From The Influential Mind:

We found that under threat, people were much more inclined to take in negative information—such as learning that the likelihood of being robbed is higher than they’d thought—than when they were relaxed. The more stressed they were, the greater their tendency to alter their views in response to unexpected bad news. (Stress did not affect the ability of good news to change their beliefs.) Under threat, we automatically absorb cues about danger.

When we feel bad, our instinct is to play it safe -- even if this isn't the smart move. Research shows that when underdog football teams start losing, they play more conservatively. And this is a terrible strategy when the competition is better than you are.

From The Influential Mind:

Examining over one thousand football games from 2002 to 2006, Brian Burke, the creator of Advanced NFL Stats, a website about football and game theory, found that underdog teams, like Tedford’s, were less likely to vary their play. When they begin failing, they start minimizing risk. …a conservative strategy means underdog teams are less likely to fail grandiosely, but they are also less likely to win.

On the other hand, when we feel good we're more inclined to take risks. Researchers theorize that positive emotions make people buy more lottery tickets. When you feel good, you feel lucky.

From The Influential Mind:

Examining lottery sales in New York City, Ross Otto and his colleagues from New York University stumbled on a peculiar pattern. When unexpected good events happened, more people bought lottery tickets. A local sports team unexpectedly won a game? Purchases escalated. An atypical sunny day in the midst of winter? Sales went up. This study is correlational—it shows a relationship between variables, but we do not know whether one factor is driving another. However, one theory is that an unexpected positive event, such as a bright, sunny day, makes people feel good. When you are joyful and relaxed, your mind is more likely to focus on how things may go your way. You may then overestimate your luck and be more inclined to take a risk.

So align your presentation with the other person's mood. When they're feeling down, they'll be more receptive to suggestions that seem safe. When they're up, they'll be responsive to riskier ideas that have a big payoff.

From The Influential Mind:

A person’s emotional mind-set will affect how they react to what you have to say. There needs to be a match between the opinions we are offering and the state of the individual in front of us. The same person will ignore your guidance one day but welcome it with open arms another, simply because their favorite football team lost last night or because the sun is shining on a winter day.

(To see the schedule that very successful people follow every day, click here.)

Finally, it's important to keep in mind that when you're trying to persuade someone the two of you aren't the only ones who can affect the result...


7) Other People

We're social creatures. We love to think we act independently and aren't affected by the opinions of others, but we are. Always and forever.

This is so powerful that we follow the lead of others even when it can be life-threatening.

From The Influential Mind:

...every year, 10 percent of kidney donations in the United States go unused. It turns out that when a donation is declined by one patient, whether because of the patient’s specific medical condition or their religious beliefs, the next patient on the list is informed that the organ was previously declined but is not told the reason. That patient then assumes that the organ is faulty and passes up a potentially lifesaving operation—as will the next patient, and the next.

The flip side is just as true. When others are positive about something, we're more likely to see it positively as well.

From The Influential Mind:

Sean Taylor, who received his PhD from NYU and now works for Facebook, has studied how existing ratings and comments influence subsequent ratings. He found that if you manipulate the ratings so that the first review is glowing, the likelihood of other positive reviews increases by 32 percent and the final rating is enhanced by 25 percent!

When we frame our position as a positive and popular one it gives it more weight because, hey, all the cool kids are doing it.

(To learn the four Stoic secrets to being more productive, click here.)

Okay, we've covered a lot. Time to round it all up...


Sum Up

Here's how to use neuroscience to be more persuasive:

Prior Beliefs: Don't start with how they're wrong, start with common ground. (You may disagree with me on this but we both want to get better at persuasion, don't we?)

Emotion: Make them feel and get your brains in sync. (Look! Smiling puppies!)

Incentives: Focus on rewards, not warnings. (Incentives will get you what you want, I promise.)

Agency: Give options, not orders. (Would you like to offer them two possibilities or three? Totally up to you.)

Curiosity: "Fill the gap" and focus on the positive. (The headline of this blog post was not chosen at random, my friend.)

State of Mind: If they're feeling down, present the conservative option. If they're feeling good, focus on the riskier upside. (Before I explain this further, how are you feeling today?)

Other People: Showing the popularity of your position helps. (Every smart person I know follows this rule.)

That's all the data you need to stop being reliant on data. We didn't have statistics and research thousands of years ago but people still convinced one another.

We get the answers we need when we think like a computer.

But we get the help we need when we don't forget we're human.

Friday, 19 October 2018

CarbonChain ICO review

Most of this air pollution we cause results from the burning of fossil fuels, such as coal, oil, natural gas, and gasoline to produce electricity and power our vehicles. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a good indicator of how much fossil fuel is burned and how much of other pollutants are emitted as a result. A carbon credit is a generic term for any tradeable certificate or permit representing the right to emit one tonne of carbon dioxide or the mass of another greenhouse gas with a carbon dioxide equivalent to one tonne of carbon dioxide.

CarbonChain ICO is aiming to develop a blockchain system in order to ensure full accountability for the life of the carbon credit as it is monitored, providing an evidence blockchain ledger. This ledger on carbon reduction projects (wind farm, solar park etc) is made to assist countries to prove to the rest of the world how they are helping towards their climate change targets as per Paris Agreement. CarbonChain is a decentralized high performance and nature friendly blockchain and ecosystem built to revolutionize the carbon industry and help to combat climate change. A carbon credit is a permit or certificate allowing the holder to emit carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases.
CarbonChain monetizes the future carbon credit value on carbon reduction projects using a cryptocurrency called CarbonChain and register new projects with the United Nations which enable liquidity in the business cycle. Registered projects can generate carbon credits for up to 28 years. All sales of carbon credits are to be traded in CarbonChain token, and 30% will be purchased back from token holders via Cryptocurrency exchanges, ensuring the constant trading of the tokens. On annual basis, token holders are offered the 30% traded token back at a transaction cost only. 

CarbonChain token -why to use a token? Because then you will benefit of the closed decentralized system, reflection of value (total market cap) and full transparency.

Token symbol: CCT
Token price: 1 CCT = 10 cent USD in ETH
Total supply: 550.000.000 CCT
Technology: ETH (ERC20 compatible token)
Token utility: Purchasing carbon credits
CarbonChain project token


Token symbol: CCTP
Token price: 1 CCTP = 1 CCT
Total supply: determined by the carbon credit trades
Technology: own e-wallet


Distribution of the token:
  • 22% private sale
  • 40% participants in the cloud
  • 13% executive panels
  • 3% team members
  • 7% CarbonChain founders
  • 4% partners
  • 6% bounty, influencers and referrals
  • 5% pot ‘A’ company


The token will have a private pre-sale with a hard cap of 7.26 millions USD, 121.000.000 tokens will be offered with 40% discount and 10% bonus, with a minimum of 0.01 ETH and a maximum of 50 ETH. The pre-sale objective is to fund the marketing for the crowd sale, the accepted payments can be done in ETH and fiat, and the initial price will be 1 CCT=0.006 USD. The soft cap is 490.000 USD and if it will be not reached, the funds will be returned. The crowd sale will have a hard cap of 22 millions USD, with minimum 0.01 ETH and maximum of 50 ETH, and the objective of the crowd sale is to fund the CarbonChain blockchain.



Funds allocation:
  • 30% project registration;
  • 10% business development;
  • 15% marketing;
  • 5% advisers;
  • 15% admin;
  • 15% ERPA;
  • 10% blockchain development.

Why would you buy CCT token? CarbonChain has created an incetivising global carbon emission reduction program through acquiring carbon credits directly from the registered projects. CarbonChain will allow to this project to create a sustainable business practice in which to operate, through the investment into the registration and issuance costs of the mitigation project, creating carbon credits instead of buying them. The carbon credits acquired in this project will be sold at discounted price by CarbonChain, via its blockchain powered e-wallet and CCT. Token holders can take part in the trade of the token, for carbon credits sustainability, carbon credit buyers will receive 20% discount. The demand for carbon credits is starting in 2020 after the introduction of the Paris agreement. Unlimited amount of projects will be available for registration, increasing the number of carbon credits.

CarbonChain users will be:
  • token holders whom want to make a difference in the world;
  • large companies with carbon tax liabilities;
  • developers of renewable energy projects;
  • countries under pressure to achieve their carbon emission reduction targets.
The CarbonChain ecosystem, according to the White Paper, is made by the CarbonChain token and the Exchange. The CC token is issued through the Ethereum smart contract system, to be utilized as an electronic store of value for the CarbonChain Exchange (CCX). For the wallet, participants in pre-sale and CCT generation event can use it to receive their CCT and CCTP tokens, can hold and/or buy/sale CCT, CCT, BTC and ETH and they can also receive loans using their cryptocurrency as collateral. The Exchange (CCX) is managed by CarbonChain, offers carbon credits for sale to government and companies needing to reduce their carbon footprint. We also have a members-only exchange, at the completion of each carbon credits trade, CarbonChain is holding CCT that have been purchased by the carbon credit buyer via exchange, and these CCT are placed on member only exchange (pot B).

This is an interesting ICO, with a different motivation than most of them. Actually this is an idea worth following to see what will happen next. 

(Disclaimer: This article was created in exchange for a potential token reward through BountyOx. BountyOx username: Heruvim78)

Block66 ICO review

Block66 is a mortgage lending platform. They aim to build a blockchain enabled marketplace for mortgages, for institutional and private lenders to offer loans to borrowers, from origination to facilitation. Loans will be transformed in tokens as tradeable securities with the ability to be traded as fractions, reducing the fees to make it an attractive investment vehicle. This way different problems, such as the need for bank account, geographical lending restrictions and counterparty risks, are overcomed. On the platform the lenders can access a marketplace of vetted borrowers looking for mortgage finance. Everything is public, transparent and highly automated. Each loan is using a pool of Proof of Loan (PoL) tokens that can be individually resold to provide lenders with liquidity. Each loan has his own smart contract, doing its own minting and selling and tracking the ownership of their PoL tokens. Block66 will run on the Ethereum network and it will be implemented as and decentralized App. 
Who are the users of this platform? First of all, the borrowers, looking for better mortgage offers, then the brokers, searching for bigger pipelines to make up for the compressed margins, private investors looking to reduce exposure and lower the risks and institutional investors also, to address some of the risks exposed by the latest 2008 financial market crisis. Then we will have the solicitors, because once the borrower and lender(s) have been matched, we need professionals to check what conditions need to be satisfied before the application can progress. Underwriters also, as a group of Block66 vetted professionals, will be present, and their fees will be paid by either the broker or the borrower. 
According to the White Paper, there will be two phases, first, in the Phase I, they will have a matching engine for borrowers and lenders, with an advantageous three fold saving on conventional mortgage application times, and all loans will be on the blockchain, with funds used via Smart contracts. In the Phase II a platform of choice for lenders will be created, in order to make tokenized mortgage-based securities on the blockchain. This will have as a result a platform that matches private and institutional lenders with borrowers and make a secure mortgage loan agreement. First will be tested in US and Canada, and later will be implemented globally. 
The Block66 token (B66) is used to produce Block66 network tokens (BNET). The Block66 network tokens are used to pay for services on the Block66 network and they are ERC20 compatible. PoL tokens (Proof of Loan) are generated once a mortgage is fulfilled . All the network fees are to be paid exclusively in BNET tokens. This part sounds a bit complicated, so we have three types of token. Let’s find out more!
Block66 Token symbol: B66
Hard Cap: 12.285.000.000 USD
Platform: ERC20
Token supply: 300 millions
Circulating supply: 135 millions 




Tokens breakdown:
  • 46% (138 millions)held by Block66
  • 10% (27 millions) for team, advisers and bounty
  • 44% for sale out of which 40.5 millions for pre-sale with 33% discount at 0.07 USD and 94.5 millions for crowd-sale at 0.10 USD.
The token pre-sale will start at 6.9.18 and the end date is to be discussed. The minimum amount for the bonus is 500 USD. The supported cryptocurrencies are: Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH) and BitcoinCash (BCH) and the value for each currency can be seen in the next tab.




The budget allocation is as following:
  • 30% business development
  • 40% engineering
  • 15% marketing
  • 15% operations.




Now we will take a look at the Road Map. Everything started in the first quarter of 2017 with the inception of the project, White Paper draft and the contact with the early advisers and initial team members. Next steps where:
  • Q4 2017 -User journey and matching engine operating flow was designed;
  • Q2 2018 -Token generation event, the office was built out, wireframing and prototypes for the platform were produced;
  • Q3 2018 -Design and distribution phase. The Block66 Alliance of customers was created. Product was planned and designed.
  • Q4 2018 -Build phase. The Alpha testing was done with the help of the first customer users on the platform. Block66 Alliance first report. 
  • Q1 2019 -Release of the Phase I, MVP launch, first batch of on the chain loans funded and distributed via network. 
  • Q3 2019 -Release of the Phase II, loan tokenization available, network users can trade on-chain securities of a fractional basis, with smart contracts ensuring that loan repayments are distributed to all token holders. 
The project seems solid, the White Paper is self explanatory and you can always check the website for more informations. As a person who went through the experience of trying to get an mortgage, i can only say that i welcome this kind of application on the blockchain. 

(Disclaimer: This article was created in exchange for a potential token reward through BountyOx. BountyOx username: Heruvim78)

How To Have More Energy: 3 Powerful Secrets From Research



***
by Eric Barker




The world might be all go-go-go but that doesn't mean we are...

When Gallup researcher Tom Rath surveyed 10,000 people only 11% said they felt like they had a lot of energy.

From Are You Fully Charged?:

When we surveyed more than 10,000 people to see how they were doing across these three areas, we found that most people struggle on a daily basis. For example, when we asked them to think about their entire day yesterday, a mere 11 percent reported having a great deal of energy.

Luckily, Tom and his team didn't go take a nap. Instead, they poured over studies and talked to experts to get some answers on why renewable energy is a big thing everywhere but inside our bodies.

From Are You Fully Charged?:

To discover what creates a full charge, my team and I reviewed countless articles and academic studies, and interviewed some of the world’s leading social scientists. We identified and catalogued more than 2,600 ideas for improving daily experience.

They found there were three factors that separated your supercharged days from your "low battery" ones. Tom summed up their results in his book, Are You Fully Charged?: The 3 Keys to Energizing Your Work and Life.

We're going to look at some of what he found and learn how to have more energy.

Alrighty, let's get to it...


Meaning

Everybody wants happiness -- but that little bugger can be quite elusive and fleeting. As Viktor Frankl once said, "Happiness cannot be pursued; it must ensue. One must have a reason to 'be happy.'"

But if we seek meaning in life, we often get happiness as a bonus. So what's "meaning"?

It comes down to doing stuff that benefits other people. Research shows what makes us happy in the moment is often kinda selfish. And here's where things get a little weird...

Because neuroscience studies demonstrate that while focusing on meaning ends up making us happier, pursuing our own happiness can make us -- believe it or not -- unhappy.

From Are You Fully Charged?:

A 2014 study followed a group of teenagers for a full year to see how their brains reacted to self-fulfilling (hedonic) acts versus acts that created meaning (eudaimonic) using fMRI scans and questionnaires. While the participants were in the fMRI scanner, researchers posed scenarios to them about keeping money for themselves versus donating it to their families. The researchers also followed up at the end of the year to review any changes from the teens’ baseline levels of depressive symptoms. The results revealed that teenagers who had the greatest brain response to meaningful actions had the greatest declines in depressive symptoms over time. In contrast, teens who made more self-fulfilling decisions were more likely to have an increase in risk of depression. Meaningful activity essentially protects the brain from dark thoughts.

But happiness feels good, right? Isn't that why they call it happiness? Well, oddly enough, it doesn't feel good to your body if there's no meaning. The bodies of people who are cheery but lack anything deeper actually show higher levels of inflammation.

Happiness without meaning is the physical equivalent of being stressed out.

From Are You Fully Charged?:

When participants in a study led by the University of North Carolina’s Barbara Fredrickson were happy but lacked meaning in their lives (defined as pursuing a purpose bigger than self), they exhibited a stress-related gene pattern that is known to activate an inflammatory response. They had the same gene expression pattern as people dealing with constant adversity have. Over time, this pattern leads to chronic inflammation, which is related to a host of illnesses, like heart disease and cancer. Fredrickson noted, “Empty positive emotions... are about as good for you as adversity.” Unfortunately, 75 percent of participants in Fredrickson’s study fell into this category; their happiness levels outpaced their levels of meaningfulness. In contrast, participants who had meaning in their lives, whether or not they characterized themselves as happy, showed a deactivation in this stress-related gene pattern.

And when we feel we're making progress in meaningful work we're 250% more likely to be engaged at the office.

From Are You Fully Charged?:

My research suggests that the odds of being completely engaged in your job increase by more than 250 percent if you spend a lot of time doing meaningful work throughout the day. To discover what leads to better work and lives, Harvard Business School’s Teresa Amabile and psychologist Steven Kramer sorted through 12,000 diary entries and 64,000 specific workday events collected from 238 workers across seven different companies. Their conclusion from this research was: “Of all the events that engage people at work, the single most important — by far — is simply making progress in meaningful work.”

Okay, so how do we find this meaning stuff? Well, you don't find it. You create it. Research in the area of "job-crafting" shows that if we tweak how we work, we can enjoy a lot more meaning in those hours at the office.

What activities give you a feeling of engagement, warmth and pride in what you do? Find a way to spend more of your time doing that stuff and less of the other stuff. Talk to your boss and co-workers to try and shift duties around if you need to.

And speaking of co-workers, who makes you feel good versus stressed? How can you spend more time with the former and less time with the latter?

Small changes in how you work can make a big difference in how you feel.

From Are You Fully Charged?:

This research, led by a team at the University of Michigan, found that you can craft existing jobs to significantly improve the meaningfulness of your work. Effective “job crafting” starts by looking at how much time you dedicate to specific tasks that give you energy each day. It also entails looking at the way your relationships at work and your perception of what you do create meaning for others.

I know what some people are thinking... they can't change a thing about what they do or who they work with. No, you're not screwed.

The most important factor here is perception -- how you feel. And everyone's work benefits someone else. By thinking more about who your work helps and making a little effort to see those results, you can dramatically increase the level of meaning in your life.

When university call center employees who were asking alums for donations got to meet the scholarship students who benefited from their work, productivity, enthusiasm and the amount of money coming in went up dramatically.

We're often focused on our well-being above all else. Put a little more effort into your well-doing and your well-being often takes care of itself.

(To learn more about the science of a successful life, check out my bestselling book here.)

Okay, so meaning can help fill your tank. What else do we need?


Interaction

When Tom looked at the research something became quite clear: across the board, people greatly underestimated how much little daily interactions affected how they felt.

You may dream about winning Oscars or slaying dragons but those won't be the moments in life that you'll look back on most fondly. People consistently said that the most positive times in their lives all had to do with belonging and connecting -- not achieving.

From Are You Fully Charged?:

When researchers ask people to reconstruct the most positive and negative experiences of their lives, they consistently describe social events as their most influential memories over a lifetime. Across a series of four studies, participants recalled the moments when close relationships began or ended, when they fell in love, or when the loss of another person broke their heart. One of the study’s co-authors summarized, “In short, it was the moments of connecting to others that touched people’s lives the most.” Participants consistently rated events with other people as more influential than solitary experiences. Independent events or individual achievements, such as winning awards or completing tasks, did not affect participants the most. Instead, the researchers concluded, social experiences "gain their emotional punch from our need to belong."

And this is true day-to-day as well. When you have positive interactions with people throughout the day your chance of feeling good quadruples.

From Are You Fully Charged?:

My team’s research found that people who reported having great interactions throughout the day were nearly four times as likely to have very high well-being.

How can you guarantee that? Make close pals at work. But how do you know if you're really friends with someone at the office?

Ask yourself how much you share your personal problems with each other.

From Are You Fully Charged?:

Gallup’s research has shown that people who have “best friend”-caliber relationships at work are seven times as likely to be engaged in their job. When researchers asked employees how they formed a close workplace friendship, they found that it takes about a year for an acquaintance at work to become a friend. The telltale sign of a friendship between co-workers was the amount of time they spent talking about topics unrelated to work. Then the next phase, a very close friendship at work, was marked by something less intuitive: sharing problems from one another’s personal and work lives. This self-disclosure was the central element of the strongest relationships.

And how do you improve all of your interactions? Be 80% positive. Make sure 4 out of 5 things you say or do are about the good stuff, not the bad stuff.

From Are You Fully Charged?:

We need at least three to five positive interactions to outweigh every one negative exchange. Bad moments simply outweigh good ones. Whether you’re having a one-on-one conversation with a colleague or a group discussion, keep this simple shortcut in mind: At least 80 percent of your conversations should be focused on what’s going right. Workplaces, for example, often have this backward. During performance reviews, managers routinely spend 80 percent of their time on weaknesses, gaps, and “areas for improvement.”

Yeah, I know: evaluating and counting interactions isn't very realistic. Fine. Fine. Then just take a second and do your best to make someone smile. Yes, it's that simple.

From Are You Fully Charged?:

...according to a recent study from Stanford and Harvard Business School. As part of a series of experiments, one group of participants was assigned a goal of making another person happy, while a second group was told to simply do something that made another person smile. The results showed that small, straightforward actions to make someone smile were far more effective than broad, nebulous attempts to improve overall happiness. The study’s authors wrote, “Acts with small, concrete goals designed to improve the well-being of others are more likely to lead to happiness for the giver than are acts with large, abstract goals — despite people’s intuitions to the contrary.”

(To learn the two-word morning ritual that will make you happy all day, click here.)

So your life is meaningful and your life is filled with positive interactions... What else? Well, doing things to make sure your life doesn't end prematurely is quite powerful too...


Health

Eat better. Move more. Sleep longer and deeper. That's what it takes.

We talk a lot about eating too much, but turns out the quality of food is important too. Just because you don't eat too many Pop-Tarts doesn't mean you should be eating Pop-Tarts.

From Are You Fully Charged?:

A landmark Harvard University study that tracked more than 100,000 people over two decades makes it clear that the quality of what you eat is more important than quantity alone. This study revealed that the types of food you consume influence your health more than your total caloric intake. Consuming 300 calories’ worth of spinach is not the same as eating a sugar cookie with 300 calories. Yet most people I speak with continue to believe the age-old myth of “everything in moderation.” As the study’s lead author Dariush Mozaffarian put it, the moderation myth is really “just an excuse to eat whatever we want.”

And the type of food you eat also affects your mood. Studies show processed foods with lots of sugar increase laziness. Trans-fats increased aggression.

And "comfort foods" don't comfort you -- they can make you depressed.

From Are You Fully Charged?:

A 2014 study suggests that highly processed foods with added sugar may also contribute to laziness. One experiment on this topic found that people who consumed more trans-fatty acids were more aggressive and irritable as a result. These findings were so pronounced, one of the researchers suggested that places like schools and prisons should reconsider serving unhealthy foods because they might be dangerous for others in these environments. Even “comfort foods” like baked goods actually have the opposite effect of comfort and are likely to make people more depressed.

Most people now spend more hours sitting (9.3 on average) than they do sleeping. The NIH says that even if you did 7 hours a week of exercise that much time on your butt still doubles your chance of a heart attack.

Get up and move. Right now. I'll still be here when you get back, I promise.

From Are You Fully Charged?:

A 2014 study estimates that every two hours of sitting cancels out the benefits of 20 minutes of exercise. When researchers from the National Institutes of Health followed more than 200,000 people for a decade, they found that even seven hours of moderate to vigorous physical activity a week was not enough to protect against the hazards of excessive sitting. Even the most active group they studied — people who exercised more than seven hours every week — had a 50 percent greater risk of death and doubled their odds of dying from heart disease if they were also in the group that sat the most throughout the day.

When people exercised moderately for 20 minutes they felt better... for up to 12 hours. So get to the gym early and you can boost your mood for almost the entire day.

From Are You Fully Charged?:

When researchers assigned one group of participants in a study to do 20 minutes of a moderate-intensity workout, they found that the participants had a much better mood immediately following the exercise than a control group who did not exercise. What surprised researchers was how long this increase in mood lasted. Those who exercised continued to feel better throughout the day. Even two, four, eight, and twelve hours later, they were in a better mood than the control group.

Everybody knows about Anders Ericsson's research that showed it takes (roughly) 10,000 hours to become an expert at something. But that's not all the study showed. The experts also slept. A lot.

Yes, I literally just said that spending more time in bed is one of the keys to expertise. You're welcome.

From Are You Fully Charged?:

While many concentrated on his findings relevant to 10,000 hours of deliberate practice, the other factor that differentiated top performance was sleep. The best performers in these studies slept for 8 hours and 36 minutes per night on average. The average American, in contrast, gets just 6 hours and 51 minutes of sleep on weeknights.

But it's not merely an issue of sleeping more. You also want to sleep well. When people cut back on hours of sleep they tripled their likelihood of getting sick. But people who had poor quality sleep more than quintupled their chance of catching a cold.

From Are You Fully Charged?:

Study participants who had lower sleep efficiency over the 14-day period before exposure to the rhinovirus were 5.5 times as likely to develop a cold. This compares with the threefold increase based solely on duration of sleep. As with other areas of health, quality of sleep beats quantity by a wide margin.

(To learn the secret to never being frustrated again, click here.)

Okay, we've covered a lot. Time to round it all up and learn one more thing you can do to help all of the above boost your energy even more...


Sum Up

This is how to have more energy:
Meaning: Do things that benefit others. (It doesn't have to be me but I appreciate the thought.)
Interaction: Be 80% positive. (I am 99% certain of this.)
Health: Eat better, move more, sleep long and well. (And if I did all those things I'd have enough energy to write a funnier joke here. Blogger, heal thyself.)
Want to turn the above into habits that stick? Then help someone else start doing them. Supporting others in their goals isn't just awfully neighborly of you; it also makes you more likely to achieve them yourself.

From Are You Fully Charged?:

Research from one of the largest clinical trials in alcohol research found that 40 percent of alcoholics who helped other alcoholics during their recovery were successful and avoided drinking in the year following treatment. In contrast, only 22 percent of those who did not help others were able to stay sober. Helping someone else with a similar problem nearly doubled success rates. A subsequent study found that 94 percent of alcoholics who helped other alcoholics experienced lower levels of depression.

So being healthy produces energy. And part of that means good sleep. But other than those two, did you notice what everything else has in common?

To have more energy, don't do less. Do more. Of the right things.

And for you to feel more alive, you shouldn't focus on you. Focus on others.

Rest is only a small part of why you feel energized.

It's more about what you do and how those around you make you feel.

Sunday, 14 October 2018

Microbiome study - Omics Techniques

OMICS approaches stand for collective characterization and quantification of pools of biological molecules. A gram of feces contains 10 to 12th of microbes. Not all of them are the same, with some of them being present in higher quantities and other in lower quantities. If you visualize them as a ping-pong balls, 10 to 12th  of the room is occupied by them balls, each of them of different colors, each color representing a microbial species. If you pick 10 balls, you cannot have an accurate representation of the composition, but if you pick one million, you can be close to it.

OMICS techniques in microbiome research are doing that. By taking a sample and analyzing, you can get a snapshot of the composition at a certain point. The most widely used technique to study the microbiome is 16s rRNA DNA profiling, and by using primers to amplify the 16s rRNA gene of all microbes, you can create a database of DNA sequences. From one fecal sample, you can generate 1000 to 1000000 of 16s DNA sequences. The microbe most abundant in the sample will be found back the most in terms of 16s DNA sequence reads, the microbes that are not very abundant will be not detected or will generate only few of those 16s DNA sequences. This can be used to find out what microbes are there, what microbes are well represented and what microbes are present in low numbers.

To study the genetic potential of the microbiome we can use the information of the complete genomes of all microbes in the fecal sample. This technique is called metagenomics, where a set of primers is used to amplify any gene of the microorganism, in this case all the ping-pong balls are colored by gene, with many more different colors. After sequencing, a database of DNA is generated, that can hold again millions of reads. The reads can be grouped in batches, depending on the information you are interested like in batches of similar genes, for example. This way you could tell how much antibiotic genes are present in the microbiome. Another advantage of metagenomics is that the genes can be used to assemble genomes. This way you can extrapolate complete genomes from your fecal sample. This also makes it possible to discover complete genomes of bacteria that are not yet cultured. The genome information could be used again to understand what a microbe needs for its physiology, and this information can help to design a culture media for an uncultured microbiota member.

Another approach is used with metagenomic databases, to compare set of genes of microbiome between groups of individuals. This way differences in microbiota composition can be taken to the next level, you can compare health individuals with ones having diabetes and see the difference, for example. This can help to understand the functional role of the microbiome in states of disease. The creation of big microbial databases products, by sequencing DNA, RNA, proteins and metabolites, can be done if needed.

Each of this different approaches can give us clues about the function of microbiota, it will tell you what is the most abundant microbe and what are the differences between samples. But we do not need to forget that the generated results are just predictions based of a snapshot of a certain sampling moment. OMICS approaches are techniques that generate big databases of molecular data and are a big advantage in culture independent studies of the microbiome.

Next post will be about microbiome research and causality.

Have a nice day!
G.





Saturday, 13 October 2018

Poins ICO (review)


Poins.io is an innovative ICO with the motto: Three platforms, one coin. What they want to say with that? Poins platform is based on the blockchain technology using Scrypt algorithm for high transaction speed, and they offer a complete trading platform (Poinsdex), a trusted payment platform(Poinspay) and a startup incubator platform (Poinsku).
The trading platform will have a developed website integrated with a high level of security, advanced technology and many different features. The integrated website will have different levels of trading, like Beginner (offering 24/7 trading account, easy to open, tutorials and training videos, in-depth F.A.Q. and many bonuses and airdrops) or Expert (with trading conditions -offers, rules, policies, crypto-trading analysis, charts, TV Poins feature with news and links, specialized trading platform). Promotions will happen often (contests, promotional material, official sponsoring and Poins Star products). The crypto service will have crypto-trading, API client cabinet, Crypto Copy System (following succesful traders), browser web trader (classic -with instrument list, trend direction, price changes and trader position, dashboard and charts -candlesticks, OHLC charts, tick charts), trading investment system (collective investment tool with two clients categories -investors and managing traders), Crypto-bot (to perform automatized transactions using Auto-Bot techniques with API features and another supporting script), a Poinsdex wallet that will take us to the payment platform, partnership features with an affiliate program and Crypto-community (forum, company blog, crypto-portal, humor section and social media links).
The crypto payment platform has a multi-functional wallet accepting altcoins for a flat fee of 0.5% (trey aim to decrease the fee in time as they gain traction) and full integration for shopping carts as plug-ins for E-Commerce, with added world class security. The features offered are:
  • Poins Flash -instant transfer of supported cryptocurrency via Bit Go Instant, protected by Multisig technology;
  • Poins Freeze -to lock your coins safely;
  • Mobile app -to access account, receive payments and change coins, Android and iOS supported;
  • Poins fiat settle -withdrawal direct to your bank account;
  • Poins auto-conversion -no need to exchange for some supported coins;
  • Poins POS -simple POS interface to receive transactions directly;
  • Connect exchange account -connection to your registered account on the trading platform;
  • Connect wallet -connects with other altcoin wallets.
The Trading Platform and the Payment Platform are interconnected.
The Poins incubator offers a vast opportunity to finance your ideas as a start-up company, and you have analysts team to check every project and guide you through the early stages. The incubation program has several stages and degrees of involvement.
Poins coin has the following characteristics:
Name: Poins
Symbol: PIN
Algorithm: Scrypt
Total supply: 90 millions
ICO: 30 millions
Mining: 60 millions
Reward: 50 PIN/block
Price: 1000 PIN = 1 ETH
ICO minimum purchase: 0.5 ETH
Accepted payment: ETH, BTC.
What are the advantages of buying Poins coin:
  • If it is obtained from the ICO it will be calculated as a temporary shareholding of the company;
  • Your idea can be applied as a start-up in the project incubator using Poins coin;
  • Instant transactions using Poins wallet;
  • Can be used as a voting tool for each project;
  • Can be exchanged with fiat or other cryptocurrency;
  • Will be used in Airdrops to increase awareness of the coin;
  • Will be used to pay for online products or services that receive the crypto using the plugin of Poins wallet at Poinspay.com;
  • Coin holders will obtain various discounts or even eliminate the transaction fee made through Poins wallet;
  • The coin is a digital asset that allows mining by everyone and everywhere.
Let’s talk about the Roadmap. The main dates on it are:
Quarter 1 2018 -the formation of the team;
Quarter 2 2018 -concepts, prototypes and strategy creation, White Paper;
Quarter 3 2018 -Poins website;
Quarter 4 2018 -start the ICO, web wallet offered for Linux and Windows;
Quarter 1 2019 -Distribution (Instant and Plus), Poinsdex.com trading platform launch, version Alpha for internal market, entry of Poins coin to external market and CoinMarketCap.
ICO phases
The ICO will have 3 phases. Phase 1 will start in 08.10.2018 with 5.000.000 coins distributed in 15.12.2018, the discounted price will be 2000 PIN = 1 ETH. Phase 2 will start in 29.10.2018 with 10.000.000 coins distributed in 30.12.2018, the discounted price will be 1800 PIN = 1 ETH. Phase 3 will start in 01.12.2018 with 5.000.000 coins distributed in 10.01.2019, the discounted price will be 1200 PIN = 1 ETH.
Coin allocation
The money they raise through the ICO will be allocated as per following:
  • 50% technology;
  • 25% marketing and operational costs;
  • 15% business development;
  • 5% legal costs;
  • 5% emergency fund and other expenses.
The White Paper is quite thorough, with extensive knowledge of the basics of the blockchain, cryptocurrency and ICO definition, and a detailed exposition of the project.
Their contact info are:
(Disclaimer: This article was created in exchange for a potential token reward through BountyOx. BountyOx username: Heruvim78)

Studying Microbiome

In 1665 Robert Hooke and Anton Van  Leeuwenhoek discovered the existence of tiny microorganism using microscope magnifying x 25 to x 250 . The microscope was used to understand microbes. Much later other techniques were discovered, such as culturing (the isolation of a specific type of bacteria which will grow on a specific media that supports its growth). Culturing will enable you to find out how  does it look like and what does it produce, and to test its sensibility to certain antibiotics. Not all bacteria can be cultured yet, as , as we do not know what certain microbes need to grow. , From the human macrobiome, we are able to culture only 30%. Today culture independent techniques are used to study the microbiome, making use of the DNA, proteins and/or metabolites from the microbiota to understand what microbes are there and what they are capable of doing. A fecal sample can tell you how your microbiota is interacting with your body and ( using informations from proteins and metabolites). You can find out about your food digestion and vitamin production of your microbiome. One of the most used techniques to find out what microbe we deal with is the one using the 16s rRNA gene, a gene found in bacteria and archaea, but missing in humans and other eukaryotes. It has a conserved region that is common to all bacteria and a variable part, specific to every species, and can be used to tell species apart. Using 16s rRNA gene, we can find out which bacteria is present in the sample. Using culture in dependent molecular approaches we can see what they are doing in our bodies.

Another more important group of techniques are known as Omics Techniques. We will find more about these in the next blog post.

Wish you a nice day!

G.