Peak Performance: Sleep, Emotional Intelligence & Organizational Strategies


Dr. Relly Nadler:
Today we have Dr. Kenneth Nowack. He is a licensed psychologist and President of Ofactor, and international consulting company providing neuromanagement based organization and leadership solutions. One of the things that we’ll talk with him about today and something he’s really excited about, is peak performance and looking at the research around sleep. He’s an expert on emotional intelligence. And then what are some of the strategies that you can use.

He has conducted research and published extensively in the area of 360̊ feedback, health psychology, occupational stress, and job burnout. He serves as the Chief Learning Officer for Envisia Learning, and is a member of the Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations. That is the group out of Rutgers that Daniel Goleman started,

He received his B.S. and M.S. degrees in educational psychology from the University of California, Davis, and then a PhD in counseling Psych at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

He also serves as the associate editor for the APA Journal of Consulting Psychology, Practice and Research. He’s the author of two books, Clueless: Coaching People Who Just Don’t Get It, and From Insight to Improvement: How to Leverage Your 360̊ Feedback.

I saw Ken speak, maybe about 3 years ago at one of the Society of Consulting Psychology Conferences. We just came back from one recently in Seattle. I really loved what he had to say, he was applied. Anybody that I get excited about, and the work they are doing, I want to be able to share with you.

Ken, welcome to the show.

Dr. Kenneth Nowack: Thank you Relly. Delighted to be here. Hope your listeners are wide awake this morning!

Dr. Relly Nadler: Well, one of the things that we are going to talk about is sleep and the power of sleep. Ken and I were talking about before the show, just as I was writing up some of the questions and reading some of his research that you are going to be fascinated about; I was not getting sleep. As a matter of fact, I was up most of the night because I had a big trip planned and had to finish some work. So, I was feeling guilty about writing the questions and also knowing Ken, that you are going to give us some good information.

We’ll start off with who are some of the people who have influence you the most. We always like to do that to kind of get a little look or biography about who has been important in your life as a leader.

Dr. Kenneth Nowack: Well certainly, it’s got to be my father who at the age of, oh gosh, 7 ½ or 8 was put on a train one night at midnight by his parents. He was born in East Berlin, during a very difficult time. The train took him to France where he was hidden for three years before he was luckily smuggled out and wound up in an orphanage in San Francisco. He never saw his family again. So a very tough upbringing. His journey really was instrumental in kind of shaping my interest and actually watching a cohort of individuals that remained friends until my dad passed away last year, that went through very similar experiences. Some incredibly resilient, some with some mental PTSD, and other types of maladies that really came out of a very challenging childhood.

For me it’s really his influence that I think shaped some of my research and curiosity around the importance of resilience, trust, and even finding meaning and purpose in life.

Dr. Relly Nadler: Wow, that’s an amazing story. So, how did he get to the United States?

Dr. Kenneth Nowack: There was a wonderful French organization that I can’t pronounce the name, that’s called OSE, and they still exist today, and they were able to move my father from dilapidated farmhouses for three years, kind of as the Nazi’s penetrated the French countryside, and just luckily they were able to get some, but not of the children out, where he wound up through Ellis Island.

Didn’t wind up knowing it for about 25 years after my dad wound up in San Francisco that literally when people were entering the United States in New York, they split the alphabet in half, and half the alphabet stayed in the New York area in orphanages there, and the other half went to San Francisco where I was born and raised.

That’s how is journey took him to the San Francisco Bay area where I grew up as a child.

Dr. Relly Nadler: So if you come up with maybe one or two things that may be take away that you got from your dad. I know when I think about my Dad, and this is always a great influence, one of the things we heard a lot was “plan your work” and “work your plan.” He would say that over and over and that has always been instrumental. Are there a couple of things—I’m sure there are more than a couple—things that you have kind of taken from your Dad as life-long learnings?

Dr. Kenneth Nowack: Well, I think it was the concept of bounce-back that my dad couldn’t really influence his journey but he certainly can influence the way he looked at that journey. Again, the contrast with a lot of his friends that grew into adults, late adulthood, and some had a very bitter and caustic, and pessimistic view of the world and kind of carried that inability to forgive.

My dad sort of put on an optimistic view that life was challenging but I grew from it. It made me a better person. Again, the whole topic in the area of emotional intelligence, a lot of that is the self-management of our emotions and how we can’t at times change our situation, but certainly we have full control over the outlook. Our self-talk, the narrator or what we say about things that totally does change the way that our mind/body influences.

To my dad, I think he was a great model of how things happen in life, but let’s take control of what you can and influence those that are the most meaningful; and that’s your own thoughts, your own emotions, your own behavior.

Dr. Relly Nadler: Well that’s huge. We know as psychologists, that these role models are less of what they say and more of what they do, and those are powerful.

Say a little bit about what you do with Envisia and your organization and then we’ll get more into the specific.

Dr. Kenneth Nowack: I would describe my role as more of a chief research officer. I’m involved in the development of new assessments, validations, research side of what we do. I do a lot of publication, a lot of writing, a lot of speaking. More of international assessment. It’s really a technology company and we deliver learning and development programs that are more online. We have offices in Santa Monica, but we are also Global. We have a live office in Cambridge, in the UK, where we are heading off to this weekend. Typically, I’m out there 4-5 times a year. We probably have about 15 global partners or associates that translate and carry and distribute some of our assessment products. We’ve been doing a lot of work in that area.

Listen to this enlightening interview above!


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