Archive for May, 2012

Consciousness is a “duty cycle”

May 27th, 2012 Kevin No comments

What is this post about?

Here I suggest using the term “duty cycle” to replace the word consciousness. When people are “mindful” and “present,” their duty cycles are on. When not, the cycle is off.

What does “duty cycle” mean?

Duty cycle is an engineering term that identifies how long a product like a cell phone or computer will be on during a particular cycle, for example, five hours in a day.

What’s wrong with using the word mindfulness?

Nothing, except when you try to understand what it means. More familiar is “attention span,” although it is not sufficient. Intent, focus, and bandwidth can be in there too.

Say some more?

Well, as a kid my mother would say, “Kevin! Pay attention.” Problem: I had no idea how to do that well. Intent was scarce, focus non-existent, and bandwidth questionable. Doh.

Are you challenging your mother’s desire for you to pay more attention?

No. I get that she wanted me to be fully conscious. Instead, I wandered off absent-minded and got into lots of trouble. Knowing consciousness is a duty cycle would have helped me.

You wanted mom to say, “Kevin, turn on your duty cycle,” right?

Sure. If she taught me what duty cycle meant I could have broken down my efforts, kind of like starting in one corner to clean a dirty room, I could check in with bandwidth, then attention, etc.

And the higher the duty cycle number, the more fully conscious we become?

You got it.

Did Buddha have a really high duty cycle that was on all the time?

I have no clue.

Mindfulness requires intent and focus (i.e., attention span plus bandwidth)?

Yes. The more of each of those we have, the more fully conscious and mindful we become.

How is duty cycle like mindfulness?

First, consider this formula:

Mindfulness = intent x focus (attention span x bandwidth).

Now consider the same formula with a slight difference:

Duty cycle = intent x focus (attention span x bandwidth).

It turns out it is easier for us to consider consciousness as an engineering term that we can break down into several parts, instead of calling it mindfulness, which sounds like a spiritual term that causes confusion the same way the terms faith and belief can be confusing.

Can you tell us what each of the components of your formula mean?

Sure. Intent refers to your conscious intent, attention span is the amount of time you can hold on to your attention, and bandwidth is how much you can take in at any one instant.

Can you give us an example?

Say you have intent to listen to a child talking. The problem is you are absolutely fatigued so your attention span is non-existent. That means your duty cycle is going to be 0 because when attention span is 0, any intent you have, no matter how high, gets cancelled out by your lack of attention (any number of intent x 0 = 0).

Will you show me it as a formula again?


Duty cycle = 100 [intent] x focus (0 [attention span] x 7 [bandwidth]) = 0.

I made intent = 100, which means I am 100% intending to talk to the child. I use bandwidth = 7 because that is about as high as we go mostly (seven bits of information in one instant kept in short term memory). The trouble is, if my attention span = 0 then my duty cycle = 0, despite a great bandwidth and intent. That kid can talk all he wants, I simply will not be able to connect with him.

Remind me why I should use the term “duty cycle” instead of “mindfulness?”

Engineers use the term to measure when a thing needs to be on or off. I find the term more precise then the concept of mindfulness when I need to consider if someone is “fully present.” Since it is an engineering term it makes sense to break it down into the component parts of consciousness.

Is there a reason we should purposefully turn off the duty cycle at times?

Absolutely. Having our duty cycles on all the time wears us out. Consciousness is resource intensive (e.g., uses more glucose) and redirects how our brain communicates with itself in a way that can cause the brain to explain, “Hey, I don’t like this effort all that much!” This is precisely why will power is fleeting: it takes lots of energy to summon our will power and the brain usually tries to conserve as much of energy as possible.

And your point?

So, sometimes what our brains want and what the conscious “we” want conflict with one another. Reducing that conflict is a good idea. One way to do that is to learn how to turn off our duty cycles on purpose. Doing that can be a wonderful trick for calming down, relaxing, and rejuvenating. Although I strongly suggest doing something other than TV.

What’s wrong with TV?

Watching TV increases the risk of cognitive impairment. Perhaps brains find TV too convenient, as the TV appears to reduce brain function when it is on.

What good is knowing the parts of the duty cycle formula, like bandwidth?

You can work on the parts you know are keeping you from being fully conscious, if that’s important to you. Bandwidth issues tend to be a short term memory problem, which you can improve with practice. Same with attention span and intent. All of the elements can be worked on, email me for more on that:

Knowing consciousness is a duty cycle can help us understand how we can be more fully conscious and present in the moment?

You bet. Good luck using the concept of “duty cycle” to increase your attention and focus.


Kevin Leahy

Austin, Texas

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Neuro-selling: What’s Going On Inside The Buyer’s Brain?

May 14th, 2012 Kevin No comments

Is it really all about the reptile brain?

You may have heard that buying decisions are driven by our “reptile brains.” While this idea is not completely accurate it is a helpful way to think about the brain, particularly the nonconscious parts. Have you heard of neuromarketing? Spell check no longer marks it in error. Not so neuroselling… here it comes.

Top 10 List of Neuroselling Tactics and Strategies

1. The buyer’s brain leans either toward your sale or away from it during every single split second.

Brains scan environments for threats about every 1/5 of a second. Because selling can be threatening it pays to work hard and create positive conditions. That way the buyer will lean toward your product or service instead of away from it. “Great sales people are always on” because it only takes 1/5 of a second to blow the deal.

So what? Stay on. Your sales cycle is every 1/5 of a second, your goal is to get the buyer’s brain to lean towards your offer, and your risk is that you trigger a threat response. Reduce your threatening behavior by seeking permission, building rapport and trust, expressing solutions, and remaining patient, among other things.

2. The wiring of the buyer’s brain and not the consciousness of his or her mind drive motivations.

Nothing new here. Brains wire to seek gain and avoid pain. That happens in the context of the need for mastery, affiliation, autonomy, and purpose. Fringe motivations include control, power, and risk-taking. Because brains bias toward avoiding pain, pain-focused needs are more common than gain-focused ones. Sell to them.

So what? Get to know the buyer’s motivations. Does he or she light up at the idea of reducing pain? Or tell more stories about gain? Depending on what motivates him or her, help him or her feel the pain or gain and connect your product and service with ridding the pain or increasing the gain as they think of those sensations.

3. Emotions are the building blocks of the buyer’s motivations.

The conscious mind rarely knows the origin of its own motivations. This is particularly true with urges and impulse buys. Many people buy based on an emotional response that flies under the radar of conscious thought, at the subconscious level. This is why feelings can often power decisions that leave rational thought in the dust.

So what? Trigger emotional responses as you sell your product or service. Make those responses align with the buyer’s motivations. Be careful not to trigger the wrong emotion because that will cause the buyer to lean away from, and not toward, your product or service. Watch the buyer’s face and tone to pick up the emotional cues.

4. The brain hates to process too much, too soon.

You know that saying, “Your eyes are bigger than your stomach?” Well, the mind’s appetite for information is bigger than the brain’s ability to handle all of it. Researchers used to think we could handle up to seven things at once in short term memory. They’ve revised the number down to three or four at most (and one is a contender).

So what? Connect what’s in the buyer’s brain to what you offer. Avoid numbers, abstract concepts, or time-related issues with choices. Give the brain what it wants now, in simple terms, using a clear call to action. Offer metaphors to frame your product or service and if the buyer has a favorite metaphor or two, use them.

5. Help guide the buyer’s attention.

The brain leans in or out in part to avoid attending to unnecessary things. Attention is a critically precious commodity today and it turns out we do not multi-task, we time share. This means when the buyer is not paying attention, he or she is not following your sales process.

So what? Make sure you have the buyer’s eyes and ears. The dead giveaway for where attention lands is where the buyer focuses his or her eyes and ears. Use movements that keep eyes on target, and make sounds that help ears stay where they belong too. Choose places with less distraction and offer relevant information only.

6. Connect your product or service to the buyer’s past associations.

The brain pays most attention to the past. It leans toward or away from things based on how it calculates what happened in the past. That’s why most people reject new things until they can assess them from a familiar perspective. This is also why most folks need to experience things seven times or so before they finally “get it.”

So what? Make what you sell appear familiar. Analogies help, for example, use words including “like,” “similar,” and “same” that help compare your product or service with things the buyer already understands.

7. Connect the buyer’s need for instant gratification with your product or service.

The urge to take a pill before building a skill is the reason instant gratification is king. Some people will remove pounds surgically before working them off with sweat equity. The majority of the brain’s functions serve the interests of “now” instead of hoping for mid term or long terms gains. Connect now; sell more.

So what? Make success clear with stories, customer testimonials, and a proven track record. Frame and orient the buyer’s mind so that your product fits the buyer’s current and pressing needs. Help the buyer imagine himself or herself with your product or service in hand, already receiving its benefits.

8. Primacy (first) and recency (last) make a huge difference.

“First impressions count.” You bet, particularly with the brain. It tires and bores easily and is designed to conclude the buyer is fine and needs nothing that you offer. How we begin and end anything alters everything.

So what? Anchor the most important part of your sale first (use a story, metaphor, or sensory explanation). Orient and frame the buyer’s brain quickly. Repeat your message with a call to action at the end. Use the buyer’s own metaphors and language to remind him or her of the opportunity you offer to him or her.

9. Make it visual.

The buyer’s brain processes images faster than written or verbal messages. It also has a more expansive network of visual associations than other sensory associations and tends to categorize and separate out visual cues far more rapidly than other sensory messages like sound, taste, touch, or smell (bad smells aside).

So what? Look good, first of all. Second, draw what success looks like when the buyer uses your product or service. Make the drawing literally with pen and paper. Or, explain it visually in a way that the buyer can see with his or her mind’s eye. Let your buyer see the benefit you offer to get him or her much closer to closing the deal.

10. During the close compare prices and establish value.

The brain experiences “pain” when prices seem unfair. For the brain, price fairness depends on, and really demands, a comparison. For example, instead of offering one set price, frame the price in ways that help the buyer understand the price’s fairness as well as its value. Never offer your price without a context for it.

So what? Offer the price of your product or service compared to a normal price, or to a discount for some reason, or explain how the price is 10% below market. Help the buyer clarify the relative price and emphasize its value. This means you may bundle things together, offer things in increments, or offer payment plans.

Summary: reduce threats as you frame the buyer’s instant success.

Brains avoid harm at all costs. As a matter of fact, social and mental harm fires up the same regions in our brains as physical pain does. Instead of harm, offer success and know that the brain wants success now! If you threaten the buyer the chance of blowing your sale goes way up. Instead, build a protective feeling with rapport and trust. Use affirmative, positive, and protective stories, metaphors, and words that encourage positive familiarity with your service or product. Choose to mirror the customers words, movements, emotions and sensory experiences to help build rapport. Gain trust by reducing threats as you show how your product or service meets the buyer’s needs, solves his or her problems, and ramps up his or her opportunities.

Do these things and watch your close rates skyrocket. Remember, it’s all about emotional ties, the buyer’s ability to pay, and his or her willingness to do so. These things are qualifications that the buyer’s brain is ready, willing, and able. Now, go forth and win over not just their hearts and minds, but also and most importantly, win over their brains.

I wish you the best of luck.


Kevin Leahy

Austin, Texas

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10 Practical Ways to Control Your Brain on Purpose

May 9th, 2012 Kevin No comments

Did my brain just happen to me?

Did your brain just happen to you? Have you ever wondered, “Did my brain just happen to me?” My friend Christine just shared that wonderful sentiment with me today. As in, where did my brain come from, anyway? Have you ever wondered what relationship you have with your brain? Did your brain just happen to you or by any chance did you happen to it?

Looking for the top ten list of things to do to control your brain?

Skip to the bottom of the blog. Otherwise, enjoy some stories first.

My Roman chariot

I used to drive around Los Angeles in a vintage 1993 Toyota Tercel I named Agnes. When I did so I felt special. The reason? Simple: I paid no attention to the sport cars around me and instead I compared my ride to the best ancient chariot Rome had ever seen. I was the top dog gladiator with my shiny, brand-spanking new Fire Engine Red, hot Toyota Tercel (my friends would later call it a “Turdcell,” and never mind them).

Mindset is everything

I now know why that little trick of thinking about ancient Roman chariots helped me. My brain let me feel better by using that perspective. We can do other tricks with our brains too. For example, my friend Rich was the best dater I knew in high school. Most of us were still malformed kids, pimples and all, and he was no different. Yet he had a miraculous way with “the ladies.” He was so composed, so sure and confident of himself, he bordered on “cocksure” (look, it’s in the dictionary, although more funny in context).

How does he do it?

“What’s with you and the ladies,” my friend Eric asked Rich one day. “How’s it possible you do so well getting all those dates?”

“Oh, it’s nothing,” Rich replies nonchalantly. “They are all lesbians.”


Did he just say, “They are all lesbians?”

What we pay attention to matters

You bet, he told my friend. His tactic: reduce all self-inflicted pressure of “scoring” with the ladies by approaching them as if they were not interested in him one little bit. This placed him at complete ease with himself and them.

What does all this have to do with controlling my brain on purpose?

I simply wanted to feel at peace in one of the showiest car cities in the world and Rich wanted to date pretty women. Control over our brains with these tricks helped us avoid low self esteem (me) or the anxiety of getting shot down by a disinterested woman (Rich).

These tricks let us resource our brains on purpose

Now that I have studied how our brains work, I know why the tricks we used to deal with potential envy or heightened anxiety worked. The tricks helped us to resource our brains differently then they would by themselves. In other words, we resourced our brains with our minds, on purpose, to help avoid negative outcomes and achieve positive ones instead.

Ten practical ways to control your brain on purpose

Here is a list of brain resourcing tactics you might recommend to some folks. These are things you can do to take control over from the “brain that just happened to me.” Good luck trying them out.


Kevin Leahy

Austin, Texas

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10 Things You Can Do To Control Your Brain With Your Mind


When you ruminate on negative thoughts, remember instead to calculate math equations.

You take away energy from some of your language centers when you do math and stop self-talk in its tracks.


When feelings happen, remember to name them.

Labeling our feelings as emotions directly dampens their impact and allows time to reflect and reappraise.


When you are driving and someone invades your space, remember to lift your eyebrows up.

You cannot stay angry with your eyebrows up since that gesture resources different areas than anger.


When you are feeling anxious, remember to lean forward to move mental energy into the front brain.

Moving energy from the middle brain to the front brain reduces your brain’s ability to generate anxiety.


When you need to focus, remember to lock your vision and hearing on the same target.

Attention and focus follow what we see and hear so directing both on purpose keeps us on point.


When alarmed, remember to exhale for as long as you can and do that a few times.

When we practice long, purposeful exhales, it helps us activate our calming parasympathetic system.


When you need to recenter, remember to tap your tongue 10-20 times at the spot above your front teeth.

Tapping your alveolar ridge helps refocus you and may also release thymosin, a helpful immune response hormone.


When you need perspective quickly, remember to purposefully look from side to side for 30 seconds.

Focusing from side to side likely stimulates both sides of our brains, which helps memory and gains perspective.


To remember a person’s name, remember to create a network of information connected to that name.

Our memory systems work best when we can store information as a series of connections or associations.


To stop self-focused thoughts, remember to imagine playing your favorite sport for a minute or two.

Imagining physical activity moves energy from self-oriented regions to the motor and sensory regions.

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