Oct. 23, 2022

WATCH THIS To Improve Your Mental Health | Mental Health Podcast

In this episode, these amazing guests – Moran Cerf, Dr. Caroline Leaf, Avigail Gimpel and Don...
See show notes at: https://www.thinkunbrokenpodcast.com/watch-this-to-improve-your-mental-health-mental-health-podcast/#show-notes

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In this episode, these amazing guests – Moran Cerf, Dr. Caroline Leaf, Avigail Gimpel and Don Hutcheson- will bring so much value and learnings today!

Moran Cerf talks about neuroscience methods to understand the underlying mechanisms of our psychology, behavior change, emotion, decision-making, and dreams.

Dr. Caroline shares what happens in your brain when we're looping into negative thought patterns and growing in the healing thought patterns.

Avigail dive into what ADHD means, how to navigate it, how to combat it as a parent, how to deal with behavioral issues with your children, and discipline, conversation and empathy.

Don Hutcheson will discuss how to know who you are, discover your true talents and abilities, and figure out how to use them.

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Moran Cerf - Can You Trust Your Own Brain? - Here's What Science Says

Michael: One of the things I'm curious about, so many of the people that I've spoken with who are lucid dreamers, and I don't know if there's an association here, so I'm just throwing something at you to see what your thoughts are. Is that they had traumatic childhood experiences. I also had traumatic childhood experiences and what I'm wondering is are in any capacity, lucid dreams, a defensive mechanism for survival so that you don't go like all the way into deep sleep so that you are aware of your surroundings while sleeping to stay safe?

Moran: So, I'll say one, just thing that I wanna collect on the previous point, and then I'll answer about the trauma thing. First, all should collect dreams are like movies so while time in a dream is perfectly aligned with time in reality, it also allows you to cut and move forward. So, you know, in movies you can see the person when they're a five-year-old, cut now they're 15, cut now they're 20, same thing happens in your dream. So, it's not that if you see a dream of you. You have to wait 17 years to become an adult in your dream you can jump like this. So, in that sense, dreams allow us to jump in time but when you're going through, when you walking in the street, it'll be the same pace that you walk in the table.

So, that's just a collection to what I said before. Time is time, but you can still cut the dream, whatever you want and speed up things or slow down things if you want.

To trauma. So, first of all, we don't have any evidence that Lucid dreams are more likely among people who have trauma, it's actually pretty random like people who can lose dream there anywhere. I also will say that what we call deep sleep is actually not the dream state. Dream state is closest to being awake, in fact, other than the fact that your eyes are closed, if you look at the brain of someone when they're dreaming general, not even listening, when they're dreaming, their brain looks like it's awake.

So, the only way we know that they're dreaming is that they are still asleep, that their eyes are still closed, they have this thing called the rapid eye movement where the eyes move. And that's a signal that they're in the re stage, but in a way, dreams look like awake state. And brain wise, it's very much similar like all the systems in the brain think you're awake, they don't even know that you're in a simulation right now, they think you're in the real world. So, what you call is actually a different stage night that happens just before your dream, it's stage three, it's like the slowest part of the night.

So now to the trauma thing, while we have no evidence that trauma has to do with lucid dreaming or anything, what we do know is that lucid start people with trauma who became able to control their dreams. Lucid dream is able to navigate the trauma because two things happen. One is if you have a nightmare, you can just get out of it. So, a lot of the studies we do are studies that take people with trauma and we just give them the power through dream and then in their dream, they can fix things. So, imagine that you were in Afghanistan and attack exploded, and you have a trauma of this explosion again and again, we can now give you essentially the power to change the movie. We wake you up so to speak during the redreaming of the explosion in Afghanistan. But this time you save your friend or this time you run out of the tank. So, in a way we give your brain a chance to create a different VR experience where things are better. So that's one use.

The other one is of course; we can just wake you up.

We can just say, okay, if you're going through a nightmare and you just don't wanna be there instead of enduring it, we can make you get out of it, just wake up that that's a control that you can have when you lose doing. And the third thing, that's the most loose one, but that's the one we explore the most right now is because we know that during sleep, the brain essentially kind of reprogram itself, the brain changes thing we can essentially help your brain eliminate trauma entirely. We can shuffle memories or strengthen memories or weakened other experiences so that when you wake up, the nightmare is no longer as powerful, not just in a simulation. So not just can we use little dream to make you have better dreams. We can also use them as a way to fix things so that when you wake up the same nightmare, looks less terrifying to you as an awake person.


Dr. Caroline Leaf - How to Build a Wealth Mindset

Michael: One of the things that I fear so many people have come through traumatic backgrounds like me is they go I have no control over and my life is a disaster this is how God made me and I must suffer and I argue well that's not actually necessarily true. But one of the things in the lack of control is we seek to find it and unfortunately especially in this society we seek to find it through prescription medication, we seek to find it do things that are not actually to our betterment, through the vice, to the drugs, the sex, the alcohol the things of that nature. Where does control of your own mind really play a role in this?

Dr. Leaf: So, this is also you asking amazingly the good questions. The control is one of those words that being someone in and you can really relate to this and anyone who's listening who's been in a dark place and including and we've all got our stories. When you're in the depths of despair the last thing you feel like you have is control you know and that's often where support from others comes in but then there might be cases where you in a situation which I don't know your full story but just knowing working in years of two people, sometimes there is no support and so if you really are on your own and you can't really see things and in at that moment you do feel complete I mean a child is constantly being used to going to the most things, where's the control day and so that then is a child that will go into adulthood with most likely the coping mechanism to protect one oneself which is you know maybe they had to learn you find back as you say the pain with anything that takes away they pain and then interest into our current society where people stories are no longer really heard except a few environments like, the work I do, what you do etcetera, you go to into the traditional biomedical system of which know I've been part but not in differently obviously as a bit practicing coming from a different angle but the traditional system is one of okay, we'll tell me your symptoms and let's find you a diagnosis and let's give you a treatment, that works beautifully for cancer and diabetes and you know brain tumors and things like that.

When it comes to a complex childhood, where it's been excessive trauma just giving you a label and a medication is not going to fix a problem because you have a whole bunch of these in your head that make you feel overwhelmed and out of control. So, it is a slow process of educating and learning to dive deep retrospectively into your wires mind; the wires mind that in knowing that got you out to where you are now where you know are so in a state of wire mind Michael that you reach out and help others. And so, is a process of empowerment and it's a cyclic thing that happens over time and it can be multiple ways either someone comes in your life and actually starts helping you or you reach that rock bottom point and you managed to actually help yourself and pull out these different ways that will happen but hopefully most people reach.

And according to the research, three quarters of people will actually reach the point that you have where they've gone through complex tumor and we'll get through with lingering effects but those lingering effects do not have to be effects that live with you for the rest of your life because our current medical model messaging is okay or you are the depressed because of a broken brain; your brain is damaged and that's it for life so therefore put need medication to fix it. If you have diabetes, you need insulin, so type one diabetes so you get insulin restores it heals the body. If you have a pathogen like a virus like covid virus we now have antiviral that can start fighting it so we can find like that. When you have a toxic bunch of toxic experiences it's as real as the covid virus – covid virus has made a protein so is this experience it becomes a protein tree structure your brain. So, your immune system is going to factor this just as much as it would fight the covid virus so, this is very deep what I'm saying. Experiences from any stage of your life don't, I wish she go away things they are physical structural protein chemical changes inside of your brain that look like trees this is a thought tree that has lots of roots and branches which are memories. So, memories of the experiences coalesce into a thought structure, so this is a collection of a lot of data of what happened to source over there and the processing and interpretation the different parts what happened, how you've process that and coat anything to interpretation and how that shows up in your signals.

So, when this is dominating when look at last users, we do feel out control and the control comes back in as we realize that point and it's different for everyone and quite different as I mentioned sometimes it's a person that says somebody to read something. You know people have said they've been on a train and they've seen it sign in a subway or someone said something to them at a shop or they just one day just had, I don't know exactly what your revelation was but this is something that shifts and when you get back shift this instead of this there's a little bit of this and then you start coming up and what I've tried to do with my work is help people to do that climbing in a way that doesn't make them go back with an way of understanding because to rewire the networks to take the power out of this and make it small and rebuild healthy new thoughts where you still remember your story but no longer does it control you, you are controlling your story which is evidence in your life.

That's not gonna happen in one day or with a medication; the medication is not going to fix this, that you don't have a brain disease obviously your brain's affected you know I've got a ton of research in my latest book, I do explain this and had images and I show my clinical trials in a very simple way and I have a very simple way of explaining how to do all the stuff I'm telling you but essentially this is not going to, this is not that a cause the calls this in your brain's not the cause it the cause is what happened to you, this is the manifestation. So, the thing happens the mind experiences the experience that goes in the brain and the brain and body show up in a mist way obviously everything you have the mind needs to use the brain experience so, obviously you're going to fit it but it's not the cause, it is the response.

So, as we manage our causes as we identify structure, we concept the causes so we rewire the brain also circle go back to you one of your first questions which was neuroplasticity because of the neuroplasticity to the brain this work telling you will we focused our signals to the store to the root, we reconstruct etcetera daily fifteen to twenty-five, forty-five minutes a day over time and I'll tell you the time in the moment that is rewire the brain.

Neuroplasticity for trauma has which is the main focus and for anything building habits, breaking habits etcetera works in cycles of sixty-three days not twenty-one, not one, not five minutes. The medications like the cycle drugs they're not even medications actually drugs and they drugs said numb your pain or numb those feelings but they're not fixing anything, they're making structural changes in the brain that may make you feel better and may help you cope for a time but they're not going to solve the problem. You know, they may ease it for times that you can face and start dealing with issues but you need to know the side effects and sometimes the side effects are create more problems than what you actually need, now you got more problems brain change damage, problems on top of the original issues.

When it comes to sake traffic it's really important that you fully understand what you're getting into and that you ask your doctors for the document that they should be giving you of exactly what these are, how they work, their the addictive properties because they all addictive and how do withdraw with dual fix and to understand that when as you are going through a process of facing stuff it is painful and knowing that's not gonna help you, you've gotta go through the pain it's called the treatment you effect, you're going to get worse before you get better. I had some patients that let's start this process and this actually one of the stories in my book at make one of my patients in my clinical trial who at day one no identity to boost at long story we short by day twenty-one they were saying things like, I'm not depressed anymore, day one undepressed with the identity, life supporting apart everything you can imagine going wrong. During this work daily for fifteen to forty-five minutes and we can talk about in a minute what it is, by twenty one they were saying things to us when we bought back into the clinic to do the evaluations and saw on the brain blood narrowed everything they were saying I'm not depression, I am depressed because of it's a massive growth then they also said this but I feel more depressed and more anxious and I'm having panic attacks and I'm breathing but it's different. I'm actually feeling human emotions and those are very questions because they starting to see what the pain was from, they had suppressed childhood trauma in this particular cases person who gone to terrible childhood trauma managed to suppress it for all these years and kind of function that was falling apart and because these are volcanic eventually they will explode your life, if you've eventually these things will explode, you can suppress for certain amount of time but they will eventually explode and that's what it happened in as person's life.

And so, they sort of shifting by learning to get control back slowly in these cycles, they started seeing to increase the depression and grieving as an element of control because they said okay, I know I’m depressed because of I can see that what I went through so therefore I should be feeling the depressed that's a very normal human response to those terrible things that are went to childhood or whatever and grieving the loss time and I mean I'm sure you can relate to this Michael so that's growth. But in this society the minute you feel those oh, you sick, there's a disease coming back, you don't have a disease you trying to process life experiences and it will get worse before gets better but then it does start changing and this is why it's so important that you work to be beyond twenty one days so it wants to twenty one days, not twenty one days twenty one days does a major shift we'll bring things up and you'll start seeing the changes and you're start building and you way thinking and said etcetera. But if you don't push on for another forty-two days that new little thought is way too small to and to override this one.

You need the extra energy taken from this and put in so that this becomes nice and big and strong and I'm gonna put two next to each other. So, you can see it becomes nice and strong only when the new thought is nice and strong which takes another forty-two days totaling sixty-three, are you then going to remember your story but you're not gonna be functioning from your story you're gonna be functioning from the new way of thinking and that's that process brings control.


Avigail Gimpel - Let's talk about ADHD

Michael: I just can't help but think like, how many times Doctors tried to put me on medication and this was in the late eighties, early nineties and honestly, I would just throw it away, I used to give so much trouble, I'm taking this is crazy to me. One of the things that really stuck out to me about the title of your book is you labeled it ADHD symptoms and I think so often people look at this as a mental disorder. So, what I think would be very practical to start this conversation with is twofold fold, (one) can you define ADHD and (two) can we look at the symptoms as opposed to this being as disorder?

Avigail: Excellent question, I love that because it really puts into focus for anyone who's listening that we really have to drill down and see what's going on with the kid.

ADHD is a list of symptoms – real symptoms definitely exist the kid is struggling, the kids having a hard time. The symptoms are caused by many different things which is why I said before it's extremely simplistic so in my case not being able to focus was coming from it stress at home and the minute, I was able to work that out my focus came back into order and I was able to get going and really rise to the top of my class.

I was actually absolutely valedictorian in graduate school it took a long time to get there. But what we're seeing with kids with ADHD symptoms is difficult symptoms and what we're not doing is asking the question why – why is this child struggling? And there are so many different reasons why a child struggling. And when I listen to your story, I'd say to myself wow, I would have said about you that sounds like a gratification personality because that's a person who's interested in being active things that in everything around him is draws him in, he likes to build things, create things and all that but they're sticking him into a box he doesn't fit in. Of course, usually ADHD comes with multiple causes it could be trauma plus an instant gratification personality. We can throw into that screen addiction or other addictions which are crashing to kids and we have lack of nature, lack of movement and exercise which is really bad. And another big one that I see all the time especially with younger kids is the kids are just not physically healthy, they're not doing well physically, you see running noses and bad skin and headache, a stomach ache, asthma, allergies, autoimmune conditions and instead of saying well, maybe what's going on is physiological we're saying, oh, he has asthma and a comorbid ADHD well what came first and what's causing what and that's something that we're not asking the questions of.

So, when we look at the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual) we just looking at a checklist and it's kind of like odd to me and as a mom, I kid my oldest was diagnosed I said, well how did you diagnose her? Well, you see, you filled out this checklist and the teacher filled out this checklist and therefore she's got ADHD which is neurological condition. And where'd do you get the checklist from and what does that means? It means that we're seeing external symptoms but shall we ask why she's having these external symptoms, this a kid who moved to three different countries, she's trilingual at the time that she was diagnosed reading and writing in three different languages maybe we want look at for backgrounds and see what else might be going on along the way. So, the symptoms are real and what I think is hurting children the most is that we never asked the question, why, and that's a real shame.

Michael: Yeah. I totally agree. You know, I think about quite often this idea that we kinda get pigeon hold into these boxes based on list that really have no foundational evidence on your particular DNA and I think about the idea that people doctors particularly and I'm not trying to like throw doctors under the bus, I promise but you know you're in this situation where maybe you're ill, you're sick or something's wrong and they go, oh, it's in your family, it's in your DNA, it's in your genes and I'm like, well, what gene is it? Can you tell me? Can you give me the exact gene that this has been traveled down through for generations that led me to this place? And they can't because for many things I just don't think it's true. Now that said like, I definitely think that I'm kinda you mentioned something about an instant gratification personality definitely fascinating to me. What I'm curious about is there other personality is that kind of fall within these different chasm?

Avigail: Well, every personality is different and personalities are healthy. When you look at yourself you say, okay, who I'm more similar to my mother, my father, my aunt, my uncle; you're gonna find yourself in the family not perfectly because you're a different combination of person but we are gonna find ourselves as within the family. All personality types are healthy variants of a personality and therefore we have to look at it and say, okay, what are the strengths and weaknesses of this personality?

I see mainly that instant gratification is we're gonna see more ADHD symptoms that with that kind of personality that's that type that's just wants everything here and now and fast and interesting and fun and slightly dangerous. I know my kids were always the ones that climbed to top of the monkey bars first and we're just kind dangling off of it with one leg so there's that. Of course, you're gonna have the ADHD which is the more passive type the kid is whose kind of unengaged but they're not unengaged there in a dream world where everything is fascinating for them and they're escaping this here in now world but they're finding something that interests them. They're always finding something else that interests them because they don't wanna be where they are right now. So, I think those are two are very similar although and I always just example that let's say, you have a kid who's kind of a shy kid. So, a shy kid might do great at tasks that require real good focus and other things like that but that shy kid is going to struggle when it comes to engaging their environments and making friends. So, they have their strengths and then they have their challenges. ADHD which is when it is caused by an instant gratification they have their strengths and they integrate with their environment very quickly; that's the kid who's gonna walk over to a stranger and ask the question and learn something new very fast and that's the kid who's going to find novelty and I say, that this will be an inventor, a scientist, a someone who's in high tag and entrepreneur someone like you kind of, you know, getting out there and spreading your voice and your story and helping people out and in a very unique way. So, those people are the ones that are gonna shine there whereas as someone who doesn't engage us quickly because their shy is not gonna do as well in that kind of environment. We have to look at each environment and figure out what we're gonna build, we love that novelty, we love that you're looking for, new things all the time and seeing things other people don't see. But we're having trouble with the fact that when you do that, you don't develop habits because you're not doing things over and over again because you're always jumping from one novel idea to the next. Once it gets boring and you have to dot the eyes and across the t's, you don't wanna do it anymore.

The two things we're learning is okay, we've gotta to work on habits and number two, we've gotta pair you up with somebody who's good at that. Nobody lives in a vacuum, we're in a kind of a weird world, where everybody kinda lives for themselves and expect and is expected to be this kind of perfect being but that's not the way we're meant to live; we're meant to live with within community, where one person has a strength in getting out to the forest and finding the food and the other person as a strength in organizing it when that person brings at home now obviously, I'm going back a couple of generations here. But that's an example for what we would talk about that we are meant to work together. So, one kids in accountants and the other kids in entrepreneur let's put them together they're gonna make great team.


Don Hutcheson - Discover Your Talent - Do What You Love 

Michael: How do you really understand your innate abilities and what call it God gifted whatever you're born with that gives you the ability to create success, power, longevity in the life that you wanna have?

Don: About thirty one years ago, I was the partner turned out to be a successful advertising agency I had brilliant creative partners and I happened upon an assessment this was literally in 1998 and I happened upon an assessment that was created by this genius general electric in Baltimore O’Connor and that assessment was designed to help you understand how you're hardwired what you're uncommon good at, it's not out cute, it's not skills, it's not interest on any of those factors. He created a series of assessments nineteen of them but you can tell when he was doing it there was seven hours and you can take these four work samples and those nineteen aptitude match up to all the occupations and professions on the planet and then he's been doing this or his organization has been doing this for ninety-nine years. So one of our superstars purchase my had secret the time had been through this and she had gone to a good school and she went off to an abbey school and ended up at our place. And she was quite extraordinary and we were in a cook out to July forward that year and I said how did you make your way? How did you figure yourself out? And she told me about this assessment and how similar it wants to her. So, about two weeks later they happen have an office that got eleven officers around the country that happened to have an office in Atlanta and I took this assessment and it was a eye opener because it literally told me how I'm hardwired and what I mean by that is I was then in my early forties and when I was going through school, I was a good student and my dad wanted me to look at dental because it was show the medical school. Well, I got into my freshman year of college and realized that I didn't have the slightest idea how chemistry works; in high school you can memorize the formula behind college you've got understand it. So anyway I ended up dropping chemistry picking up philosophy in German and making a four and I would have locked out, so I end up going like I told you, I go back memory I get on the army and became in entrepreneur. But I find out twenty five years later back to the building abilities; my abilities in science are tenth percentile they measure those, so you know if you have the abilities are use to be a public professional based on how your mind works and what I did find out is that I have high idea productivity and I'm a high specialist and the several other abilities that make me an inventor and a writer and a creative guy and I ended up by the grace of the great spirit following those instinctively getting into publishing right out the school with no experience and we're well and that and been getting into advertising doing one of that. But I could have found that out at forte and anybody could find that out at fourteen, imagine now-right now in this complex world where know people are trying to get into the best colleges or technical schools and looking to follow their interest but they don't know if they have capacity to do that, it does if you don't, it doesn't mean you can't, do it. It just means my favorite metaphor is this genius named Michael Jordan who was a genius and then he went off to try to play baseball, do you remember that story?

Michael: I do.

Don: Well how was he baseball?

Michael: Not that great.

Don: He was all and he's a genius. So he couldn't hit a curve ball so in fact he was on the cover of much to grant sports spread with some deadline that said come on Michael well now he went back to the NBA once several more in the championships, now he's a billionaire and a great businessman. But you don't want to be Michael Jordan playing baseball; you wanna be Michael Jordan in the flow playing basketball. And so this ability assessment was being the starting point for that. Again that I was in the army with for few years was a brilliant psychologist, we added other factors to that equation in fact that she pulls us over here when we studied the bring women and then scientist over the over the decades if you can see that shows up but there are other factors that play into this whole person model. So you've got your buildings that I just shared but then what you learned your skills, your interest or passions you care about your personal style your values, your goals what you are and all of that comes into this equation of what makes you and allows you to develop a blueprint at whatever age fourteen or eighty four where you can actually base your decisions from the inside out; that's why I call it the who instead of the outside in. So that's the executive summary, we've done this for tens of thousands of people and the assessment has been used over a million people and the empirical results are if you did this things we did one study with fortune five hundred companies and if you do these things your satisfaction, your performance, the teams performance next year, you know being in the flow increase exponentially.

Michael: I love that and I've had the benefit of spending time and working for fortune five hundred and even fortune ten companies of being exposed to information like you know Franklin Covey and Sigma six and things of that nature, right? What I'm always interested though more so is because I know that a lot of people listening to this show, you know they've come through this place which is a place where I used to be of not being clear concise and understanding on who they are. And then they go and they take one of these assessments, they get some ideas, you know maybe they even do the corporate training but they still feel trapped or even worse they feel scared, they feel the fear of like owning that. So Don, what does one do to like really step into taking ownership of this newfound knowledge?

Don: Well it's probably one of the great questions of our existence, right? I mean, I think and you know as well I mean you have to be in your own space the power of now is totally talks about it instead of being short term oriented and successfully in and out of directed you just have to get come to peace with yourself. And there are many modalities for that there's been one perfect modality everything from just being quiet, meditation, yoga, all kinds of different whatever your spirituality is it doesn't matter. But until you can be with your own self and and trust your own instincts which as you said earlier in the show people are so caught in the matrix and are looking outside themselves it's impossible to trust your instincts and until you to you do whatever programs you do, whatever introspection, whatever tools you can learn but then get out there and experience with your innate abilities and your skills and your values they experience new informational interviews through internships and find out when you are in the basketball flow instead of the baseball flow; is Michael Jordan found out. And it's a lifetime journey, I mean I don't care if you're making minimum wage or a billionaire. I'm one does you think that Bezos went into Spanish, I don't know but he's still looking, right? I mean he's done pretty well financially; he's got a great company but he's still exploring. And so you know I think it's one of the the seminal tasks that we have while we live on this point of existence.

Michael UnbrokenProfile Photo

Michael Unbroken


Michael is an entrepreneur, best-selling author, speaker, coach, and advocate for adult survivors of childhood trauma.

Avigail GimpelProfile Photo

Avigail Gimpel

Author, Mother, College Lecturer, Teacher

Avigail was born in 1974, the 3rd of eight children.
She got her first teaching job in 1996, in a school for immigrant children in queens New York.
That same year she ran a Sunday school for Jewish public-school children.
She got her BA from Touro College and completed her graduate studies at Touro college graduate school for Special Education in Manhattan, New York.
She married Daniel Gimpel in 1998 while teaching in an all-boys orthodox elementary school. In this school, she developed an intervention program for students struggling with ADHD symptoms.
She and Daniel moved to Israel soon after their marriage. Avigail continued her education there, earning advanced degrees in teaching reading to children with Dyslexia and cognitive education for children with ADHD symptoms.
In 2003, she and her husband, with three small children moved to Moscow, Russia. There she taught in three different schools and headed up the English department in one of the schools.
Upon our return to Israel, she emersed herself in studying and developing treatment options for ADHD for her own six kids and many struggling students. She collaborated with her father-in-law, Dr. Amnon Gimpel (psychiatrist and neurologist), and developed a parent training program. She moved on to develop a teacher’s training program. Avigail teaches in Hertzog college as well as lectures in Israeli schools and to parent groups all over Israel. She works in private practice, training parents to become ADHD coaches to their children, and spouses to learn a new love language to communicate with respect.
She recently published her first book “HyperHealing”, based on many years of research and practice both as a mother of a good number of kids diagnosed with ADHD, as well as a classroom teacher of children struggling with ADHD symptoms. Her second book HyperHealing, Show me the Science is expected to be published in the next few months.

Don HutchesonProfile Photo

Don Hutcheson


For 48 years I have been an entrepreneur, coach and author. Except for the three years I served in the U.S. Army as a Russian Linguist, I have never had a “boss” and been fortunate to have created six innovative companies in the fields of career planning, publishing and advertising.

One question that has always fascinated me is: “What makes people successful?”

Why do some hugely talented people seem to bomb out of life, while others who seem less gifted lead lives that are so much more productive and fulfilling?

And regrettably, many people go through life with the strong suspicion that there is some valuable part of themselves that never finds expression.

Ongoing research into the topic and direct experience with thousands of individuals over the last 27 years has led my associates and me to conclude that the vast majority of highly successful people understand and actively use their innate talents and abilities in the work they do every day.

Natural talents and abilities are what an individual does innately well. If you work against them, work becomes laborious. If you work with them, you are far more engaged and fulfilled. They are not acquired through training or experience and are very stable over a lifetime from the age of 15 on.

I launched The Discover Your Talent Program to help individuals understand their natural talents and abilities and develop a personal vision and strategy for their education and career to live a life of success, satisfaction and freedom on their own terms. The foundation of this work is the Highlands Ability Battery (HAB), which is owned and administered by The Highlands Company LLC.

The HAB is an assessment that objectively measures your natural abilities and is the starting point to identify the education and career options best suited for you.

Each participant in The Discover Your Talent Program also benefits from the experience and insights of members of The Talent Team—all Highlands Certified Consultants. As veteran coaches and consultants, they will share their ideas and knowledge in the online Private Membership Group.

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Dr. Caroline Leaf


Dr. Caroline Leaf is a communication pathologist and cognitive neuroscientist with a Masters and PhD in Communication Pathology and a BSc Logopaedics, specializing in cognitive and metacognitive neuropsychology. Since the early 1980s she has researched the mind-brain connection, the nature of mental health, and the formation of memory. She was one of the first in her field to study how the brain can change (neuroplasticity) with directed mind input.

Dr. Leaf is also the bestselling author of Switch on Your Brain, Think Learn Succeed, Cleaning Up Your Mental Mess, and many more. She teaches at academic, medical and neuroscience conferences, and to various audiences around the world.

Dr. Leaf is currently conducting clinical trials using the 5-step program she developed while in private practice to further demonstrate the effectiveness of mind-directed techniques to help relieve mental ill-health problems such as anxiety, depression and intrusive thoughts. The primary aim of these trials is to make mental health care more affordable, applicable, and accessible worldwide, and to reduce the stigma around mental health.

Moran CerfProfile Photo

Moran Cerf


Moran Cerf is a neuroscientist and business professor at the Kellogg School of Management and the neuroscience program at Northwestern University. He is also a member of the institute on complex systems (‘NICO’) and the Alfred P. Sloan professor at the American Film Institute (‘AFI’).

His academic research uses methods from neuroscience to understand the underlying mechanisms of our psychology, behavior change, emotion, decision making, and dreams.

His works address questions such as: "How are conscious percepts formed in the brain?", "How can we control our emotions?" and “How the brain judges content as engaging?"

Prof. Cerf holds a Ph.D. in neuroscience (Caltech), an MA in Philosophy (Tel-Aviv University), and a B.Sc. in Physics (Tel-Aviv University).

He holds multiple patents and has mentored over 50 students and published over 70 academic papers in journals such as Nature, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and the Journal of Neuroscience, as well as popular science journals such as Scientific American Mind, Wired, New Scientist and more. Prof. Cerf’s work has been portrayed in numerous media and cultural outlets such as CNN, BBC, Bloomberg, NPR, Time, MSNBC, and dozens of others. He has been featured in venues such as the World Economic Forum, the Venice Art Biennial, and China's Art, Science and Technology Association gathering, and has contributed to magazines such as Forbes, The Atlantic, Inc., and others.

He has made much of his research accessible to the general public via his talks at PopTech, TED, TEDx, Google Zeitgeist, DLD, and similar venues, and via his appearances on shows such as Netflix Explained, PBS NOVA, Curiosity Stream's "Psychology of Con Artists", and many more, garnering millions of views and a large following.

Additionally, he is the beneficiary of several awards and grants for his work, including the Carnegie Corporation Award, the Templeton Foundation “Extraordinary Minds” award, and the prestigious Presidential scholarship for excellence. He was recently named one of the "40 leading professors below 40".

Prior to his academic career, Prof. Cerf spent nearly a decade in industry, holding positions in cyber-security (as a hacker), pharmaceutical, telecom, fashion, software development, and innovations research. Currently, Prof. Cerf is on the board of a number of neuro-tech companies (Nervanix, X-Trodes, VR Americas, BestFit, and more) and is the Co-founder of ThinkAlike. He is also the founder of the non-profit organization B-Cube which applies neuroscience to help society.

Prof. Cerf is a consultant to various Hollywood films and TV shows, such as CBS' “Bull” and “Limitless”, USA Network's “Falling Water”, and others.

Most importantly, he is right-handed.