Month: February 2018

Thinking – How Do Dog’s Do It? Part One

If you are like me, you really do not spend much time wondering about how your dog thinks or if it thinks at all. You are aware that certain things get your dog’s attention and other things make it behave in a certain way, but in all honesty, we rarely give much thought to the “thinking our dogs do.”

During a slow period of thinking on my own, I decided to do some research on dogs and their brainpower and discovered some interesting things that I would like to share with you.

Did you have any idea that a dog’s brain and spinal cord start to develop a few days after the sperm and egg meet? This development continues through the fetal stage and through the first year after birth. In the beginning the brain makes many more cells than it initially needs and will remodel itself during the first year, according to the environment the puppy is involved in.

The brain requires stimulation in order to develop and this is why “puppy socialization” is so important. If a puppy is exposed to people, new environments and other dogs in a positive manner the chances are, it will be smarter, more adaptable and develop a more sociable attitude toward people.

When a puppy is born its brain resembles a smaller version of an adult brain. But, as it is going through that first year of development outside the womb, it continues to change and refine itself according to the puppy’s experiences, and will continue to some extent, throughout the dog’s life.

There are many interesting parts that make up a dog’s brain, which is similar to ours. The cerebral cortex which is comprised of many hills and valleys, acts like the hard drive of a computer. Memories, associations and instincts are stored in the cerebral cortex. The cerebral cortex is divided into five sections or lobes, which are:

  • The olfactory lobe, located near the dog’s nose, this receives the scent and relays it to other parts of the brain.
  • The frontal lobe sits behind the olfactory lobe and controls the dog’s emotions, reasoning, movement and vocalization. The frontal lobe makes the dog’s tail wag and is in charge of most of the things your dog does.
  • The parietal lobe is found sitting behind the frontal lobe and responsible for such senses as touch, pain, taste, pressure and temperature. This particular function reminds your dog to run to the kitchen when it smells dinner cooking and practice looking very hungry.
  • The temporal lobe is on the other side of the cerebral cortex and is in charge of hearing, memory, learning and meaning.
  • The occipital lobe processes vision and allows your dog to recognize things. This lobe allows your dog to see the leash, so it will know it is going out for a walk.

Now this is not enough to get our dog up and running there is more to a dog’s brain, and so we will continue to learn what makes our dog work.

There is a cauliflower-shaped object that lies behind the cerebrum called the cerebellum this coordinates the dog’s movements and balance. A dog with an injured cerebellum will walk with jerky steps and its feet will be far apart in order to keep its balance.

Beneath the cerebrum is the brain’s relay center, this is where the messages from all the other sensory organs and the rest of the body come, before being sent to the appropriate part of the cerebral cortex. The basal ganglia and thalamus are what form this memory center, sort of like the random access memory (RAM) of a computer. A dog’s reaction to a circumstance can be transmitted to these to sites within a few thousandths of a second and be sent to the proper place and result in the correct reaction for the dog.

Next we find the parts that have the on/off switch in your dog’s brain the midbrain and the brain stem, these are like a computer’s central processing system. They determine whether or not your dog is awake or asleep and take care of all the bodily functions such as breathing, blood circulation and the beating of the heart.

Now there has to be a way for all this information to travel to all the parts of the brain and to do it quickly and there is. Neurons do the job and there are about 100 billion neurons in a dog’s brain. They are so small that 30,000 of them can fit on a head of a pin.

Neurons are polar, which means they have to ends each with a different function. One end is called the dendrite, this end gathers all the messages from the other neurons. These dendrites are attached to a neuronal body, where the cell’s life functions are taken care of. Protruding from the cell body is a thing called the axon, which transmits the signal to the next cell.

Neuron communicate with each other through neurotransmitters, a small molecule, that is secreted by the axon called a synapse, which in turn binds it to the dendrite of another neuron. Once it binds to the recipient neuron an electrical charge is developed and causes the signal to travel down the axon to cause the secretion of another neurotransmitter.

The nervous system uses a mixture of electrical and chemical signals that makes it incredibly fast, so fast your dog can feel the touch of a nail clipper and withdraw its paw, while you stand there wondering about the action.

Recent studies have shown that the neurons are not staid cells, but can actually shrink and disappear. This is how you can teach an old dog a new trick by reinforcing a new behavior, the old one will eventually disappear and the new behavior will take over.

For instance, if your dog has a bad habit of barking at the mailman, it is possible to teach your dog to go to specific location to get a treat every time the mailman comes. After a few times, the dog will automatically go to the location for a treat, when it sees the mailman. The neuron that saw the mailman and triggered the barking will eventually shrink and disappear.

This is called synaptic plasticity; it is the ability of the connection between two neurons to change in strength. The neurons are constantly signaling each other and through this exchange can remodel themselves, this is how learning occurs. It is the method in which old dogs learn new tricks and/or behaviors.

In case you did not know it, dogs are extremely smart and they have the ability to communicate not only with us, but also with other species. No other species is better at understanding human facial expressions and communicating to us through body language, than our canine friends are.

Scientists are just beginning to understand the extent, in which dogs can understand the human language. Some dogs understand and display knowledge of up to 200 words and have the ability to go directly to a toy or object when directed by a single word even after weeks of not hearing it.

A dog’s brain is a wondrous organ. It is the most active organ in the dog’s body and consumes over 20 percent of the oxygen in the blood. A dog’s brain is so soft you could cut it with a butter knife and yet, it works faster and is more complex, than the world’s most powerful computer.

In another article, I am going to venture into the world of canine emotions, it is said that dog’s do not have emotions, however, I beg to differ, so please join me in part two of “Thinking – How Do Dogs Do it.”

Storytelling For Leaders – Ten Steps to Inspire Action

Do you remember watching the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing? It was compelling television – I found myself staying up later then I normally would to watch swimming, a sport that I typically wouldn’t have much interest in. NBC said that its broadcast, featuring Michael Phelps’s eighth gold medal win, was its most-viewed Saturday program in 18 years. From 11 to 11:30 p.m., when the Americans swam in their medal-winning medley relay, 39.9 million viewers were watching, according to Nielsen Media Research.

What keeps us engaged is the drama of the competition. A drama that is skillfully created by the media, through the use of stories that build a more personal connection to the athletes, and the athlete’s families. Beyond national pride, its the drama that make us care who wins and loses.

We don’t just watch Michael Phelps win gold medals, we see the emotion of his mother as she wills him on to victory. We hear about the hardships of being a single mother. His achievement is truly amazing but it is made more compelling and memorable by the stories that are told around the competition.

Why is this relevant to leadership?

Because skilled leaders also know how to use drama or stories to connect with people in the same way. If you want an employee or colleague to change a behavior you need to do more then just instruct them to act differently. Telling them just doesn’t work. Even logical persuasive arguments that clarify the benefits are often not enough.

Personal stories capture attention in a way that instructions, or logical arguments, do not. People relate to stories at an emotional level, lowering their resistance and connecting with the storyteller.

The top ten tips below will help you build storytelling into your leadership repertoire, to inspire others to action.

1. Engage your audience. To influence your audience you need to demonstrate that you understand their concerns and interests, while giving them reason to listen to you. One way of capturing their attention is to begin with a provocative question. Provocative, because the topic is of real interest to them and the answer is not obvious.

2. Use a story early. A story will have maximum impact at the beginning of your message. A good story builds connections with your audience at an emotional level, allowing you to engage their hearts as well as their minds.

3. Keep a log of stories. Your life experiences provide a rich tapestry of stories. Everyone has the right stories, but you need to capture them and use them. Keep a written log of experiences that created “aha” moments for you, either your own, or the experiences of others. Refer back to your notes when you are planning your next presentation.

4. Select a story for each audience. Pick a topic that your audience can identify with and is of interest to them. ie don’t use a baseball story with a group of European business women. The ideal story should capture a struggle or predicament that parallels the situation that your audience faces. Remember your goal is to get them thinking and collaborating with you.

5. Be specific but don’t ramble. Provide just enough detail to engage your listener. Details make a story interesting and allow a person to relate to what you are saying. Too much detail can cause a person to tune out.

6. Be authentic. You need to be believable. The real world is messy and unpredictable and people will learn as much from adversity and failure, potentially even more from failure then success. Don’t restrict yourself to stories with happy endings. The truth is better than a made up story that makes your point but sounds canned and artificial.

7. Deliver your message with emotion. Deliver your message with candor. Revealing your own emotion will help build connections with others. Emotion is conveyed through your words but also with gestures, expressions and in the pitch, volume, tone and speed of your words. Think about your presentation style as well as the content of your message.

8. Engage all the senses. People think and learn differently. Some people will benefit from you painting a picture with the words or diagrams. Others can learn by listening to someone talk or by reading. Some need to experience a practical demonstration of the concept.

9. Use visual aids with care. Often people rely on a slide deck of small font text to tell their story. While visual aids do focus attention, use them sparingly. Less is more when it comes to PowerPoint slides. Remember a picture is worth a thousand words.

10. Practice and test your stories. Storytelling is a skill that takes time to develop. Practice, practice, practice. Make sure you test your story on a friendly crowd before you take it out for prime-time coverage.

By Doris Kovic, Business and Executive Coach of Leading Insight.

Leading Insight is a management consulting company, based in San Clemente, California. Its purpose is to provide services that help companies increase the effectiveness of their people, resulting in greater productivity and revenues. We provide a range of services from leadership coaching and team development, to visioning, business planning, and a variety of workshops on leadership and management.


Stop Smoking Now!

My wife just walked by and said, “What are you doing?”

I said, “I’m writing an article on smoking. I’m against it!”

Smoking is a habit that is hard to break. Some years ago I stood by with a man’s son and watched his father gasp for air as he passed on to the great beyond. He had quit smoking, but too late. His vital capacity was too far gone.

Vital Capacity is determined by measuring the amount of air you take in with each breath. In the test you take a deep breath and then blow it out into a device that tells your doctor the volume of air dispelled. The more you smoke, the lower your vital capacity. This limits your activity when your lungs no longer expand enough to take in sufficient vital oxygen from the air that has only about 19% to begin with. That’s why my friend’s father was breathing pure oxygen in the hospital. Still, he could not get enough oxygen to save his life. We had said our goodbyes to a good father and a good friend.

Cigarette smokers double their risk of heart attack. They are at even more risk from sudden cardiac death. Stroke kills more young smokers than nonsmokers.

The American Cancer Society said some years back that when you stop smoking:

Within 15 minutes: Blood pressure, pulse rate, and body temperature of hands and feet return to normal.

Within 8 hours: Carbon monoxide level drop to normal and oxygen level increase to normal. (Carbon monoxide is a deadly poison.)

Within 24 hours: Heart attack risk decreases. Now isn’t that good to know? You will be able to say, “I quit smoking yesterday and I’m probably not going to have a heart attack today.”

Within 48 hours: Nerve endings start regrowing and your ability to smell and taste increases. Did you know that cigarette smoking stops nerve growth? Neither did I.

Within 2 weeks to 3 months : Circulation improves, walking is easier and LUNG FUNCTION increases up to 30%. Now, that is a great benefit, isn’t it?

Within 1 to 9 months: Coughing, sinus congestion, fatigue, and shortness of breath decrease. Cilia regrow in the lungs with increased ability to handle mucus, clean the lungs, and reduce infection. It takes a while if you’ve been smoking a long time, but the relief must be wonderful. My friends that have quit say it certainly is.

Within 1 year: Excess risk of heart disease is half that of a smoker. That’s good.

Within 5 years: Lung cancer death rate of a FORMER one-pack-a-day smoker decreases almost one-half. (Stoke risk is reduced to that of a nonsmoker after 5-15 years.) Risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, and esophagus is half that of smokers. I’ve had friends that had to speak with a device or from their stomach after cancer surgery on their throat and esophagus. It’s very sad to see that in light of that it could have been prevented. Some comunities have stopped chewing tobacco companies from giving chewing tobacco away at rodeos where it easily can get into the hands of children. Can you think of anything worse than mouth cancer?

Within 10 years: The lung cancer death rate is the same as nonsmokers. Precancerous cells are replaced. Risk of death from cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, kidney and pancreas decrease. Did you get that? Precancerous cells are replaced. With good cells, I presume.

Within 15 years: Risk of coronary heart disease is that of a nonsmoker. So now you are back to normal.

The other night I saw a young woman on television who said that she stopped smoking for financial reasons.

Think about it.

If you put $600 dollars each year into a stock mutual fund, annuity, or other financial instrument that generates 5% annually, you will have over TWENTY GRAND after 20 years. That’s if you add it in one chunk each year. The $600 figure assumes that you are spending $50 each month on cigarettes. I know that many are spending a lot more.You will have more if you invest $50 monthly rather than saving until you get $600 at the end of the year.

Okay! I know human nature. You won’t save the money.


I read on the internet that Phillip Morris® has licensed two Chinese companies to make their cigarette brands. The Third World Market is what the cigarette companies are after.

Don’t be taken in by the Phillip Morris® television ads that tell you to go to their site to learn how to quit smoking. Television ads are used for two purposes. They either sale product or they enhance brand name recognition. It is illegal for Phillip Morris® to sale product. So what are they doing with their ads? You guessed it!

(Okay, so go to the Phillip Morris® site. Maybe you will learn something. They have links to health organizations that will help you to quit. [])

Well, it looks like I got sucked into the Phillip Morris® ad after all.

Stop Smoking! It takes guts.

It pays off big!


Verona – A City To Discover – Loved From The Tourists Of All The World

Yield famous and popular all over the world from the famous tragedy of William Shakespeare ” The Most Excellent and Lamentable Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet” , it is a coveted destination from the tourists of every corner of the world.
Indeed, the capital of Veneto, offers a lot of opportunities starting from the cultural point of view, to the culinary and the entertainment.

In particolar, who wants to visit Verona for a short time (also of 2-3 days), cannot miss some fundamental appointments that characterise this laughing city in the heart of the Veneto region. In these terms, we can list what the tourist/visitor of the weekend must absolutely see and try for really living the spirit of the city:

o Arena di Verona: “small” masterpiece of the roman architecture, it is still in good conditions and is used for concerts and other manifestations

o Piazza delle Erbe(Square of the Grass): it rises where the ancient Roman Forum resided, is the heart of the city

o Palazzo del comune (Palace of the Municipality): with a nice romantic garden

o Palazzo della prefettura (Palace of the Prefecture): ancient residence of Scaligeri

o Santa Anastasia: ghotic church erected from the Dominicans

o Duomo (Dome): elegant construction dedicated to Santa Maria Matricolare

o Balcony of Giulietta: small, but somewhat evocative where also is found the famous statue of Giulietta

o Arc of the Giovi: another direct evidence of the Roman domination

o In the pauses, to be based calmly in a tavern and to savour a Recioto di Soave (typical white wine of Verona) with cold cuts and the typical polenta of Veneto region.

Where to sleep in Verona

Of course, there are many touristic structures that allow to sleep in Verona or near the city.
To such purpose, the Gardenia Hotel is situated in San Michele area, ideal for passing days or vacations around Veneto, above all for visiting Verona without having to spend the night in a hotel of the city center.

This 3 stars hotel, offers refined services like cable TV, safe in each room and air conditioning, a part from the prestigious inner restaurant.

The Gardenia Hotel has a comfortable private parking and offers cordiality and hospitality to all its customers, both to businessmen and families on vacation. Moreover, the hotel website offers the chance to the Internet customers to reserve on-line directly their own rooms for the night’s passing also at the Hotel San Michele (at Verona periphery, near to the historical city center).