• February 2015

Investigating the Science of Sex

Each February we talk about the power and importance of Love when it comes to operating a powerful, successful business. This year we thought it would be fun to feature a scientist who focuses not just on our professional lives, but also on our personal ones.

That doesn’t mean the research that Andrea Kuszewski does has no connection to our companies. Rather, the science she studies has turned up some fascinating facts that cross the line between work and play. Intrigued? Scroll down to read our Q&A. And click here to listen to our podcast interview on the Inkandescent Radio Network.

That’s not the only way we’re turning up the heat this month.

  • “Soul Mates” is our Book of the Month, in which Thomas Moore teaches how to honor the mysteries of love and relationships.
  • You’ll learn 5 tactics to accomplish the impossible in our Empowerment column.
  • Will your marriage last? Find out how your instincts know what your future love life will bring in this month’s “Intuition Rules” column.
  • You’ll also find loads of additional practical advice when you meet Stephanie Phillips, director of client relationships at the Richmond Chamber of Commerce. Hiring expert Barbara Mitchell shares tips for hiring well from her book, “The Big Book of HR.” And when it comes to Estate Planning, don’t miss this month’s installment of Lisa Hughes’ advice.

We leave you with this parting thought from “Soul Mates.” “The heart is a mystery — not a puzzle that can’t be solved, but a mystery in the religious sense: unfathomable, beyond manipulation, showing traces of the finger of God at work.” — Thomas Moore

Sending you and yours wishes for an open heart and endless amounts of love this Valentines Day. May you always be incandescent. — Hope Katz Gibbs, publisher, Be Inkandescent • Illustrations by Michael Gibbs

Andrea Kuszewski on the Science of Sex

YOUR
BRAIN ON INTIMACY:

ANDREA KUSZEWSKI GIVES US
A LOOK
INSIDE OUR
HEARTS, AND
OUR MINDS

By Hope Katz Gibbs,
Publisher
Be Inkandescent

Illustrations by Michael Gibbs

Research scientist Andrea Kuszewski (pictured here) is a behavior therapist and consultant who treats children and families with autism spectrum disorders, specializing in Asperger’s syndrome. Her writing is regularly featured in Scientific American, Discover Magazine, Qualcomm Spark, and WIRED UK, among other national and international publications.

What makes her work universally popular is that Kuszewski is an expert on a topic that we hold near and dear to our hearts: She studies what makes us feel loved and desirable, and why we’re attracted to some people and not others. And she shows us what we can do to make our love and work lives richer, fuller, and more satisfying.

I can’t think of a better cover story for our Love Issue: February 2015. Scroll down for my Q&A with Andrea Kuszewski. And click here to listen to our podcast interview.


THE SECRETS BEHIND THE SCIENCE OF SEX

Be Inkandescent: Let’s get down to the heart of this topic. What’s the science of sex?

Andrea Kuszewski: It starts with the neuroscience of what is going on in the brain, and how that relates to behavior. One of the biggest myths out there about neuroscience surrounds dopamine and oxytocin.

Dopamine is considered the pleasure molecule, and more specifically it’s a pleasure neurotransmitter. What we have found out in recent years is that it is actually more related to the pleasure of anticipation rather than just pleasure. It’s not that you experience something and it gives you a hit of dopamine; it’s that you know something you like might be coming.

Be Inkandescent: So the anticipation triggers dopamine in different ways. What about oxytocin?

Andrea Kuszewski: Oxytocin, which some people call “the cuddle hormone,” turns out to not be just about bonding. It is the release after an orgasm when you get this hit of oxytocin. And what it does is help form attachments, or strengthens attachments and bonds that are already there.

Be Inkandescent: Can it also have a negative effect on our relationships?

Andrea Kuszewski: It can! There is actually a big myth about oxytocin that I want to clear up. Researchers have found that oxytocin also strengthens stereotype behaviors.

So if you are prejudiced against some group and you get a sudden spray of oxytocin, you are not going to start liking that group. In fact, you are more than likely going to want to be even more distant and separate from them.

Be Inkandescent: The research you do not only impacts a person’s love life — it shows that neuroscience is relevant to all of our relationships, including the bonds we develop with employees, colleagues, customers, and vendors.

Andrea Kuszewski: This really is a fascinating topic, and it’s also the reason why relationships are hard. In fact, even though the science behind sexual attraction and pleasure is so new, we already know that it’s difficult to always be doing the right thing at the right time to get the outcome we want — in our professional and personal lives.

For instance, when we are stressed-out, and we are looking for some sense of peace, our brains seek out symmetry. It is very calming to our brains, because symmetry puts us at ease, pulls us together, and puts us in that nice grounded state.

Be Inkandescent: When you talk about symmetry, what do you mean? For instance, does it describe someone who has symmetrical facial features, and objects that have symmetrical shapes?

Andrea Kuszewski: Yes, that’s right. Specifically, studies show that symmetrical faces are pretty rare. The average person has an asymmetrical face, but some people come really close, like actor Denzel Washington (pictured here). You look at him and can’t help but think, “Yeah, he is an attractive man.” So if you want to relax, pop a picture of Denzel up on your laptop or Smartphone.

But if you are looking to get excited, take a look at actor Joaquin Phoenix (shown below). He has that scar above his lip, and he has got that one eye that is a little more open than the other one. And he is one hot guy!

The research explains why, since it suggests that asymmetry is actually more attractive because it offers a little bit of something different. And, it triggers dopamine.

So the key here is novelty, mystery, things that don’t quite fit. When there is that little bit left hanging, it makes you wonder a little bit, and you get a hit of dopamine. It is the anticipation of pleasure that triggers that reward system.

Be Inkandescent: Is that why some people are attracted to the “nice guy” or “girl next door” versus the “bad boy” or woman with an edge?

Andrea Kuszewski: Yes. The nice person is calming, predictable, and offers nothing out of the ordinary, which is good for some people. But then you have the bad boy and maybe he is kind of a jerk, but you never know what he is going to do — which can be exciting.

You don’t know why you are drawn to this person, but you can’t seem to walk away. The good news is that there are ways to get the novelty without having to go through chaos and negativity.

Be Inkandescent: You just have to be aware of it, and realize that it’s your brain chemistry at work. And we can take comfort in the fact that we are not perfect, but that might actually work for us in the romance field.

Andrea Kuszewski: Yeah! The key is knowing yourself and your own preferences, and then finding someone who brings that to the table. Not everyone likes novelty, of course. Some people really like peace, calm, and predictability.

But even those people like a little novelty. And then there are people way on the other end of the spectrum, who by nature are thrillseekers. They are usually more attracted to risk takers or the kind of people who you never know what they are going to do. Everyone is unique.

Be Inkandescent: How does this play out in the workplace?

To find out, click here to read more in our February 2015 Tips for Entrepreneurs.

Mastering the Science of Sex: 3 Tips to Guide You

Once you understand the science behind how your brain is working when you feel emotions such as love, lust, attraction, and repulsion, how can that information help you master relationships — in the bedroom, and in the boardroom?

That’s just one of the questions we asked research scientist Andrea Kuszewski (pictured here) to shed some light on. Scroll down for our Q&A.


Be Inkandescent: When it comes to managing your relationships well at work, what are the three most important things to think about regarding the science of sex?

Andrea Kuszewski: Here are my top three.

  1. If you are trying to motivate someone to change their behavior, don’t focus so much on pleasure and what people like. Instead, think about the anticipation of pleasure as a reward. So if you can find a way to create anticipation, then motivation will increase. It is the carrot to the stick. You don’t want to make it too easy for someone — even yourself — to get what they want. Create a little bit of a challenge to attain what you want. It’s not manipulation as much as it is the way our brain is set up to learn and respond.
  2. When it comes to relationships — romantic and professional ones — if you want to be happy and successful, you need to be honest about what you prefer. A lot of people may assume they should want stability and say, “I am looking for a nice guy or a nice girl.” But if you really are drawn to novelty, and you are a thrillseeking kind of person, then you can have a partner or friend who is nice — but what will really make you happy is being with someone who lives on the edge a bit. And remember, boring doesn’t always mean nice, and bad doesn’t always mean exciting, even though those traditional associations can hold true.
  3. Similarly, if you want to keep other people — a lover or colleague, or even a boss — interested and tuned in, you have to be interesting yourself. So if growth in your job is your goal, be sure to excite people a bit. Add a bit of novelty and unpredictability to what you do on the job.

Be Inkandescent: So the key to being successful in our love lives, and at work, is to harness the power of the neurotransmitters, dopamine, and oxytocin?

Andrea Kuszewski: Yes. Driving up anticipation as much as possible is one of the best ways to keep motivation and satisfaction high because you are constantly going toward something. It also ties in with how we learn and how we are driven to complete goals. So, the best thing to do is to set goals that are challenging yet achievable. That will result in the highest level of dopamine possible. Once you do achieve that goal, you experience the satisfaction of feeling good about yourself and accomplishing something. You are actually more compelled to set another goal and jump right into the next challenge. So the key to high success is to constantly be setting new goals for yourself. This keeps achievement, motivation, and pleasure high.

Be Inkandescent: Are we just slaves to our neurotransmitters?

Andrea Kuszewski: In a way we are. But knowing what they can do, we can kind of “hack” it for our own personal purposes. We can harness that energy; I do this all the time. Right now I am working in my home office so I have a lot of freedom, but not a whole lot of structure. In order for me to stay motivated and keep performing at a high level, without any of the traditional structures in place that I’d typically have in a workplace, I have to create them for myself. So if something good happens — say that I find out that something I wrote is going to get published — I will not permit myself to feel or think about it, much less celebrate it, until after I have completed whatever difficult task I am working on. I will purposely hold back so the anticipation builds. I purposely set it up so that there is this little bit of tension.

Be Inkandescent: That makes me think of the part of your research that you call a “neurological orgasm.” Tell us about that.

Andrea Kuszewski: This relates directly what I was talking about regarding dopamine and oxytocin. Basically, not every orgasm or pleasure response is the same. Chemically it is, but the amount of time spent and the levels of neurotransmitters being released are all based on the situation. If you know that the anticipation of something makes it more exciting, it triggers more dopamine. If we can draw out the anticipation for as long as possible before we allow ourselves to reach orgasms, physically and emotionally, we get that hit of oxytocin and are actually gong to have a stronger response. There won’t necessarily be more oxytocin released, but the bond will be stronger because of that long, drawn-out pleasure response.

Be Inkandescent: Is this true when it comes to physical pleasure, as well?

Andrea Kuszewski: Everyone has had good and bad sex. If an orgasm happened in 30 seconds, maybe the sex was good for that 30 seconds, and maybe you had an orgasm … but you can probably look back at other times where it felt different. Most likely, a lot more dopamine was involved in those other times because the anticipation of climax was greater. Even though physically you still had the orgasm in the first instance, the second will be more enjoyable because of all the elements involved. The longer you can prolong that release of dopamine, the greater the pleasure response will be.

Be Inkandescent: Is it true that dopamine is primarily responsible for motivation?

Andrea Kuszewski: There have been a lot of studies to suggest that. Researchers studying the amount of dopamine in the brain had people engage in some sort of stimulus — doing something that they liked — and every time they preformed a simple task they got a reward, such as an M&M. Right before they get the reward, they anticipated that they were going to get it, so there was a spike of dopamine. If you repeat this 20-50 times in a row knowing you are going to get that reward, the dopamine will steadily dwindle because now you know the reward is coming and it starts to get kind of boring. So with another group, researchers gave the test subjects the reward only half of the time, and they didn’t know when they were going to get it. If you are dong something difficult and you get a reward every time, you would think that it would be pretty motivating and that you would keep doing it. But if you’re doing a difficult task and you may or may not get a reward this time, but at some point you will get a reward, would you think that dopamine would spike higher or lower? Most people would think lower, but it is actually higher.

Be Inkandescent: A boss could use that to his or her advantage with employees.

Andrea Kuszewski: Absolutely. Create some perks or incentives, but be sure there is a bit of a challenge involved. It’s the basic idea behind Christmas and birthday presents: You know that you are going to get something because it’s a holiday, but you don’t know what it is. When there’s an aspect that’s somewhat secret, it is more exciting because you don’t know what is coming.

Be Inkandescent: Now for our last question. Since we have a networking site, “www.InkandescentNetworking.com,” and espouse the power of connecting, we were fascinated by your research about the fact that networking makes you smarter. Talk a little bit more about that phenomenon.

Andrea Kuszewski: Networking is one of the five principles I have came up with that increase intelligence and cognitive ability. It’s not that networking alone will make you smarter, per se. It’s more that we learn best when we teach other people. So if we want to learn something just for our own good, we will likely learn it if we are interested in it. But if you have to teach it to other people, you will actually learn it better. When you explain something to other people, you are looking at it through different angles, and you think of examples. Plus, any time you get feedback on something or engage in a conversation about something, or talk about your field of expertise, those are all conditions for cognitive growth. By networking with other people, you are allowing those things to happen all at once over a prolonged period of time. So that makes you smarter.

Don’t stop here! Listen to our podcast interview with Andrea Kuszewski on the Inkandescent Radio Network.

And learn even more about Kuszewski at www.andreakuszewski.com.

Entrepreneurs are willing to roll the dice with their money or reputation on the line in support of an idea or enterprise.”

– Victor Kiam

When we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard or welcomed. But when we are silent, we are still afraid. So it is better to speak.”

– Audre Lorde

Just don’t give up trying to do what you really want to do.
Where there is love and inspiration, I don’t think you can go wrong.”

– Ella Fitzgerald

The man who acquires the ability to take full possession of his own mind may take possession of anything else to which he is justly entitled.”

– Andrew Carnegie

Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”

– Anais Nin

A man without a smiling face
 should not open a shop.”

– Chinese Proverb

That which does not kill us makes us stronger.”

– Friedrich Nietzsche

Don’t wait for someone else to lead you to your right life; that privilege—and responsibility—is yours alone.”

– Martha Beck

I’m not afraid of storms,
for I’m learning to sail my ship.”

– Louisa May Alcott

Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid.”

– Basil King

Whatever you do may seem insignificant, but it is most important that you do it.”

– Gandi

Tolerance and patience should not be read as signs of weakness. They are signs of strength.”

– The Dalai Lama

Do you have the desire to create something new; the strength of conviction to believe your creation will be successful, and the reservoir of energy necessary to thrust it into the marketplace?”

– Steven Schussler

When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.”

– Jimi Hendrix

Once you find something you love to do, be the best at doing it.”

– Debbi Fields, Mrs. Fields Cookies

Persist and persevere, and you will find most things that are attainable, possible.”

– Lord Chesterfield

No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself, or to get all the credit for doing it”

– Andrew Carnegie

When you are asked if you can do a job, tell ‘em, ‘Certainly I can!’ Then get busy and find out how to do it.”

– Theodore Roosevelt

In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.

– Robert Frost

The goal of Life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe, to match your nature with nature.”

– Joseph Cambell

Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any one thing.”

– Abraham Lincoln

Passion makes perfect.”

– Eugene Biro

The music is all around us. All you have to do is listen.”

– August Rush

A person who learns to juggle six balls will be more skilled than the person who never tries to juggle more than three.”

– Marilyn vos Savant

A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night and in between does what he wants to do.”

– Bob Dylan

Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”

– T.S. Eliot

Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence.”

– Robert Frost

If you do work that you love, and the work fulfills you, the rest will come.”

– Oprah Winfrey

We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.”

– Winston Churchill

There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”

– Leonard Cohen

Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.”

– Groucho Marx

Anything not worth doing well is not worth doing.”

– Warren Buffett

It is only with the heart that one can see rightly,
 what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

– Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Everyone is a mirror image of yourself—your own thinking coming back at you.”

– Byron Katie

Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly. Hold fast to dreams, for when dreams go, life is a barren field frozen with snow.”

– Langston Hughes

Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity.”

– Ray Bradbury

We are all of us born with a letter inside us, and that only if we are true to ourselves, may we be allowed to read it before we die.”

– Douglas Coupland

It is easier to fight for one’s principles than to live up to them.”

– Alfred Adler

The journey is the reward.”

– Greg Norman

I always maintained that the greatest obstacle in life isn’t danger, it’s boredom. The battle against it is responsible for most of the events in the world — good or ill.”

– Dr. Evelyn Vogel, Dexter

I have spent a good part of my life convincing people that a blank sheet of paper is the greatest opportunity in the world, and not frightening at all.”

– Marty Skler, executive vp, Walt Disney Imagineering

Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.”

– Eleanor Roosevelt

The good ideas are all hammered out in agony by individuals, not spewed out by groups.”

– Charles Brower, Advertising Hall of Fame

Destiny is a name often given in retrospect to choices that had dramatic consequences.”

– J.K. Rowling

Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.”

– Dalai Lama

Don’t follow your dreams. Chase them.”

– Richard Dumb

The best reason to start an organization is to create a product or service to make the world a better place.”

– Guy Kawasaki

To follow, without halt, one aim: There’s the secret of success.”

– Anna Pavlova

Do one thing every day that scares you.”

– Eleanor Roosevelt

Almost anyone can start a community, but it takes real talent and commitment to get people to show up and keep coming back.”

– Andy Sernovitz

Books

Have You Found Your Soul Mate?

Author Thomas Moore teaches us about honoring the mysteries of love and relationship.

Read more...

Empowerment

5 Tactics to Achieve What Seems Impossible

Research shows that women CEOs falter at the $1 million threshold. If that describes you, what’s sabotaging your success — and how can you overcome it?

Read more...

Estate Planning

Estate Planning: 5 Things Business Owners Need to Know About Transition Planning

If you own your own business, you can be sure that preparing a Last Will & Testament or an estate plan will be challenging. Estate planning attorney Lisa Hughes spells out the 5 things business owners need to know to ensure a smooth transition.

Read more...

Finance

Howard Pressman Named Financial Planner of the Year

“I am incredibly honored by this award,” says Pressman, who had been at a Fortune 500 firm for 12 years when he decided to reinvent his practice at an independent firm, Egan, Berger & Weiner, LLC.

Read more...

Food

Oh, Nuts!

Nuts about nuts? The good news is that eating nuts helps your heart, according to research by the Mayo Clinic. “Almost every type of nut has a lot of nutrition packed into a tiny, affordable package.”

Read more...

Happiness

February 2015: Remember Love

Now that we have explained what the Happiness Project is in the January 2015 Happiness column, we’re ready to launch into the next installment of author Gretchen Rubin’s year-long series on to help you keep moving along the path to personal bliss. This month, we learn to remember love.

Read more...

Healthy Living

Vilasi Venkatachalam Taps Into Ancient Wisdom to Help Us Heal, Transform

“I gather nuggets about cuisines, cultures, and cures,” shares this popular radio show host.

Read more...

Hiring

10 Tips for Making a Good Hiring Decision

“I wish there were a magic formula for always hiring the right person,” says hiring expert Barbara Mitchell. “And I hope I’m not the first person to tell you this: It doesn’t exist.” But you can follow her 10 tips to increase the odds of hiring the best person for the job.

Read more...

History

Louise Mirrer Shows Us the Hidden Treasures of the New-York Historical Society

From a world-class collection of Hudson River School paintings, to all 435 of John James Audubon’s extant preparatory watercolors for “Birds of America,” the New-York Historical Society has millions of objects that celebrate the history of New York.

Read more...

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Intuition Rules

Getting Married? Follow Your Gut Down the Aisle

Although newlyweds may not realize it, they may know whether their march down the aisle will result in wedded bliss or an unhappy marriage, according to researchers.

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Millennials

Welcome to the Age of Tech-Savvy Dating

There’s a downside to using an app to find friends — and potential lovers. Here, college junior Eurah Lee investigates whether it’s more dangerous to look for love online than on the street.

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Networking

3 Top Tips for Networking Success From the Greater Richmond (VA) Chamber

When it comes to networking wisely, don’t miss these tips from Stephanie Phillips, director of member value and engagement for the Greater Richmond Chamber.

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PR Rules

Do You Want to Write a Column and Host a Radio Show?

“There are few better ways to show off your expertise as a small-business owner than to show what you know,” believes author Hope Katz Gibbs. Watch her explain why on Channel 8.

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Public Speaking

Harness Your Master Performer

You want to be the best public speaker you can be, right? So why would you choose a trained performer to work to finesse your next keynote or presentation?

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Inkandescent Radio

Looking for Love in 2015?

“You can practically, and easily, harness the power of your intuition to find romance,” says internationally renowned intuitive guide Laura Day, author of seven books on the topic, including her latest, “How to Rule the World From Your Couch.” Listen to our podcast now!

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Retirement

Are You Taking Care of Your Financial Future?

Are you taking advantage of the increased contribution limits in 2015? Reviewing your insurance coverage? Re-balancing your portfolio? “Consider doing that, and more, to plan ahead for the future,” says CFP® Bryan Beatty.

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Speakers Bureau

Love Your Business? Futurist Derek Woodgate Can Help You See the Future of Your Firm

Futurist and author Derek Woodgate spent nine years as a British diplomat, 13 years as a corporate exec, and is an authority on the application of emerging and immersive technologies. See what he can teach you about planning wisely for the future of your business.

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Inkandescent TV

The Truth About George Washington: Spy Master, Superior Soldier, and Sensitive Husband

What made George Washington such a profoundly effective leader? That’s the question we asked Doug Bradburn, the founding director of Mount Vernon’s Fred W. Smith National Library. Click here to watch this episode of the Grateful American™ TV Show.

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To learn more about becoming a client of Inkandescent Public Relations, or becoming a Be Inkandescent Magazine columnist. send an email to publisher and founder Hope Katz Gibbs at hope@inkandescentpr.com.

Here’s to your incredible, indelible, Inkandescent success!