Surprise Unveiled: A Pulp Fiction-Meets-Mr. Rogers Tale

First, thank you for being on this journey of “SURPRISED: The Science & Art of Engagement” with me. Now, let’s talk about a Surprise I just encountered myself.

My intended launch was today. However, thanks to an ‘Unexpected Outcome Surprise,’ we’re moving the launch date to October 6th. And you know what? That’s perfectly okay.

While writing this book, a realization hit me: We often label events as “failures,” “mistakes,” or “errors.” But aren’t they, in essence, just Surprises? Times when we didn’t have the complete picture, when unexpected factors came into play, just like this book release date I’d set for today. Instead of feeling disappointment, my deep understanding of Surprise has given me resilience and clarity. Instead of seeing them as missteps, moments that take us by Surprise are golden opportunities to reflect, reframe, and act.

Upon personal reflection, this is precisely the kind of real-world benefit that understanding Surprise can offer anybody. This book is not just theory but a practical tool that can change how we see and react to events unexpected, foreshadowed, positive, negative or neutral. We all need this superpower.

Before the book officially reaches your hands, I wanted to share this personal discovery. It’s my hope that as you delve into the pages, you’ll find your own applicable insights about the power of Surprise, how it shapes our lives, and share this knowledge with others.

And as a special gesture, I’m inviting you to enjoy Tales of Insightsville, I’m confident you’ll enjoy an early taste of the book presented as a captivating narrative. Imagine if ‘Pulp Fiction’ and ‘Mr. Rogers’ collaborated to craft tales where an entire town collectively undergoes the many facets of Surprise. It’s not just a story; it’s a masterclass in understanding how you process a Surprise. Register for access and you’re in.

Thank you for your understanding and patience. Embrace the Surprises in your life, the moments that follow are a gift.

With appreciation,
Rich Carr, BcID

‘SURPRISED’ Releases Monday

Come Monday, my latest book, “SURPRISED: The Science & Art of Engagement,” goes live! Here’s what I’d appreciate: When I send the link Monday, kindly buy, gift, or simply forward it to your network with a catchy, “This will Surprise you!” note.

Because you’re loyal to these emails, sneak a peek at the book’s ‘Start’ HERE. It’s surprising!

Seeking A Rising Star?
Meet Kevin Campbell, a Brain-centric grad boasting a deep L&D experience. He’s eager to connect and seek new roles. Reach out via email ( or LinkedIn. Bonus: He might even share his experience from “The Price is Right”!

SURPRISED: The Science & Art of Engagement

🎉”SURPRISED: The Science & Art of Engagement” – Launching September 25! 🚀

Have you ever stood at the precipice of a revelation, I mean, right there between what you know and what you know you’re about to discover? That exhilarating feeling is about to take ahold of you again!

I’m totally jazzed (and yes, “Surprised”) to announce the upcoming launch of my book, “SURPRISED: The Science & Art of Engagement”, set to hit shelves and digital platforms on September 25th 🙂

📖 What’s the Buzz About?
Surprise isn’t merely an emotion; it’s a handy-dandy bridge between an engaged person and an unengaged person. This book explores the instant power availed when you wield Surprise for effect, and how it elegantly spans the chasm between the engaged & not-engaged audience. In the same vein as Brain-centric’s transformative frameworks, this work focuses on the application of Surprise and its specific influences on engagement, personally and professionally.

📌 But Wait, There’s More!
Before we step into the official release, I have a surprise box of insights and sneak peeks planned for you:

  • Exclusive Excerpts & Insights: Stay tuned to your inbox as I share glimpses into the pages of “SURPRISED,” providing a taste of what’s to come.
  • Live Webinar: Join me for an immersive session where we’ll explore the nuanced dance between the Science & Art of Engagement, all through the lens of Surprise. It’s a deep dive you won’t want to miss!
  • Early Bird Specials: Be among the first to access online training sessions and one-on-one consultations, tailored to integrate the principles of “SURPRISED” into your world.

Here’s to new opportunities and that delightful feeling of being pleasantly Surprised!

Keep it cognitive,

Rich Carr, BcID
Author | Emergent Thinker| Cognitive Explorer

Why Neuroscience? Why Now?

We are facing a skills shortage.

The world of work is changing rapidly, and businesses are struggling to find workers with the skills they need.

The Learning Sciences in Cognitive Neuroscience help us to identify the skills that are most important for success in the future, and to develop programs that help people to acquire those skills.

If you take a good look around, you’ll see a lot of what surrounds you, shapes you, and guides your future is artificial.


Businesses and organizations are increasingly looking for evidence-based approaches to learning and development and Cognitive Neuroscience provides this evidence the Brain-centric model.

How would work change around you if everybody you work with had the skills to get what you do done?

Businesses are facing increasing competition and are looking for ways to improve employee performance because, get this, they now see happy people, happy business.

Boost Performance and Productivity

Improved Employee Engagement

Deep, lasting knowledge versus Memorizing facts

The amazing benefits of embracing different ways of thinking and how that guarantees innovation and creativity.

Developing human capital – including investing in education and skills – is a core theme of the World Economic Forum.

As companies continue to navigate the challenges of the 21st-century workplace, such as remote work, rapid digital transformation, and increasing diversity, cognitive neuroscience offers valuable tools and insights.

The Most Potent of Surprises

How can making your audience uncomfortable help you succeed?

Answer: When you know what you’re doing.

Disequilibrium is a powerful instrument in learning and communication. But, like nuclear power, it can be used in many very bad ways. Revising your communication and teaching approach to the Brain-centric frameworks ensures the successful application of this remarkable learning instrument.

Disequilibrium in communication refers to a state where a person’s existing knowledge and understanding is challenged by new information or experiences that don’t fit into their current understanding or schema. This results in a sense of imbalance or discomfort, as they try to reconcile the new information with what they already know.

It happens in an instant, and you must manage the other side.

The concept of disequilibrium originates from the work of Jean Piaget, a Swiss psychologist known for his work on child development. Piaget proposed that learning is a process of achieving equilibrium, or a state of balance, between what we already know and what we are learning. When we encounter new information that doesn’t fit our existing understanding, it creates a state of disequilibrium.

Why should you keep reading?

Because when you are communicating to another – selling, facilitating, managing, parenting – you are doing so for a reason. You may not have literally defined the Big Idea, but you are expecting some sort of change of behavior or action to take place.

And this is where you are wrong.

Back up a couple of sentences to ‘literally defined the Big Idea’ and know that I implore all future communications not only have a defined action or behavior you expect the audience to walk away with (Big Idea), but you need to also define how you know were successful at achieving that resolve.

Disequilibrium is then very easy to implement because when you know what you want them to walk away with when you are complete with this communication, you can easy insert – at the proper time – what you want them to walk away with in it’s most unstable state.

Example: I’m teaching people to deep fry a turkey for Thanksgiving.

Disequilibrium would be to show them a house on fire. Deep frying a turkey at its most unstable state in :56-seconds of deep fried turkey accidents:

If you watched the video above, you might of thought to yourself, “Dumbasses,” “Morons,” or even, “What in the hell were they thinking?”

The great part is for you even to have one of those thoughts, you were thinking about deep frying a turkey in a safe and more informed way and their way of doing it instead of the way you would do it, even though you might not know how to do it.

Television News LIVES by this technique.

It’s the lure of every magician everywhere.

It should be in every communication that you have a well-defined goal, what they audience will walk away with, and also know how you know you were a success at doing so.

As a key learning instrument in the Brain-centric frameworks, Disequilibrium is a part of nearly every communication, strategically to align with how the brain processes information and these other key cognitive benefits:

Stimulates Learning: The discomfort or cognitive tension that comes from disequilibrium can motivate individuals to resolve the tension by seeking new information, exploring different perspectives, and learning more about the topic at hand. It essentially acts as a driver for learning.

Facilitates Deep Learning: When learners are in a state of disequilibrium, they are more likely to engage in deep learning processes, such as critical thinking and problem-solving, to resolve the inconsistencies and achieve equilibrium again. This promotes a deeper understanding of the material, rather than just surface-level learning.

Encourages Adaptability: Disequilibrium helps learners to become more adaptable and flexible in their thinking. In the process of resolving disequilibrium, learners often have to re-evaluate their existing beliefs or understandings and modify them to incorporate new information. This enhances their ability to adapt to new situations and challenges in the future.

Promotes Cognitive Development: According to Piaget, cognitive development occurs through a process of adaptation (adjusting to new information) and organization (structuring that information into a coherent understanding). Disequilibrium plays a crucial role in this process, as it signals the need for adaptation and reorganization of knowledge.

Neurons Are Like Legos

Why didn’t school inform us that Neurons were like Legos?

Nobody ever presented Neurons as these things that make up our brain that, we could connect together and build incredible things out of?

Things like memories, understanding, adaptive expertise, problem -solving.

No. They pointed to this brain, made us memorize goofy names of things we’d forget about the next day or after the next test.

How would your life be better if you could build understanding of things like Legos?

Just like Lego blocks, neurons can be combined in a variety of ways to create complex functions.

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For example, neurons can be combined to create circuits that allow us to see, hear, and move. They can also be combined to create circuits that allow us to learn and remember.

“Can be” is always stated, but you’re thinking, “That’s cool. But how do I do it? I wanna do it!”

You are halfway there by even thinking this way!

You have now started connecting neurons around the thought, “Neurons are like Legos?”

That starts your brain doing all kinds of crazy things relating to Legos, and how you can learn knew things by snapping neurons together.

When you here somebody saying they ‘learned this new skill’ or ‘I didn’t know that!’ – which means they just learned “that” – you’ll be thinking, “Those neurons are just slapping together now!”

Then you’ll want to learn how to do it with all your communications, just slap neurons together, and live happily ever after knowing what you are putting out there is getting picked up on by everybody.

Being Brain-centric develops intelligence, not artificial intelligence.

Intelligence is the ability of a system to learn, adapt, and solve problems in a way that is analogous to the human brain.

Your brain is your system. Your choice.

I See Brain People

Here’s something wild: Have you ever really thought about, at the end of the day, we’re not communicating with older people, millennials, women, men, LGBTQ, or disabled people.

We’re communicating to a brain, or a bunch of brains, all wrapped in whatever labels we’re using, altering that communication to our ideal.


As a species, we humans have developed quite a noggin.’ That noggin,’ our brain, is the ONE organ we communicate to.

All the other organs muse off this organ.

“The brain is the one organ we can communicate to!”

Rich Carr

Emmi right?

All the more efficient is that most of our brains process communication pretty much the same way.

All the experiences and input we pick up along the way make us who we are.
OUR operating system is Brain

What we place in that operating system, our ‘content,’ and what we do with it, makes us who we are.

Not knowing this operating system is, you know, blue screen.

Could I walk through tomorrow communicating only to brains?

Do it in whatever way works best for you, but wander through the day assuming everybody has a brain and knows how to use it.

It may be different than the way you do it.

Like, chili. You make chili, I make chili, but we both make different bowls of chili, and that’s cool.

Sometimes so cool I ask you for a recipe to pump up my chili with that secret thing you do.

I understand what I do differently because you gave me new information that improved my position.

Brains are brains. Like chili, we agree on what it is, and we all have our own unique ingredients.

Be a non-conformist, communicate with that brain over there, or the brains you work with, lead, follow, or commune with.

The next person you speak with face to face, look past the wrapping and communicate with that brain.

Guaranteed, it knows something you don’t.

Memory Versus Understanding

Memory versus Understanding.

Memory is like a grocery list, reminding you of what items to buy, while understanding is like knowing how to cook a meal using those ingredients.

Understanding is more beneficial because it allows us to make connections between different pieces of information, solve problems, and adapt to new situations.

When we understand something, it’s like a lightbulb turning on, illuminating a dark room and helping us see the connections between different objects and ideas.

What is the best way for me to understand something?

You don’t forget 80% of what you understand.
You forget 80% of what you memorize.

Rich Carr

The best way to answer that question is to forget HOW YOU LEARNED in school.

You know, the sit-down, shut up, listen to a lecture, ask, “Any questions?” model.

That model, called the Behaviorist Model, is what most people imitate today when they exchange new information with another. It’s the only WAY they know how to do!

Think about it…
Sales Pitches…

Lecture, then Test. Apply a label.

The Behaviorist Model is rote memorization. Recall. Search engine stuff.

This three pounds of goop up here called a brain….

It thinks.

If you know how to think, that thinking can bring you anything you think of.

But here’s the rub:

You’ve never been taught to think—only TOLD to think.

And, what to think about. Think about that!

Memory is just you remembering facts like names, dates, and facts.

Understanding is about how these facts relate to each other and how they solve problems or answer questions.

How do you want on your team? A memorizer or a thinker?

Humankind now has the framework of how the brain processes new information and how people love to make it their own.

‘Learning to think’ has become business’ most valuable asset – from learning and development to management – in the face of bots, databases, and artificial intelligence, getting Brain-centric is table stakes today.

The primary difference between memory and understanding is that memory is the ability to store and recall information, like facts or events, while understanding is the ability to make sense of that information and apply it in different situations.


That’s One Right Answer

As a proponent of Brain-centric Design, I firmly believe that individuals can unlock their full potential by embracing a growth mindset. One statement that can be incredibly powerful in promoting this mindset in others is “That’s one right answer.”

At its core, this statement encourages individuals to think critically about a problem and consider multiple solutions. It acknowledges that there is not always a single “right” answer and that there can be value in exploring different perspectives and approaches.

When we embrace the idea that there can be multiple solutions to a problem, we open ourselves up to new possibilities and opportunities for growth. We become more curious, more creative, and more willing to take risks.

In contrast, a fixed mindset sees problems as black and white. It believes that there is only one correct answer, and failure to arrive at that answer is a sign of incompetence. This type of thinking can be limiting and discouraging, leading individuals to shy away from challenges and opportunities for growth.

“That’s one right answer” is a statement that can be applied in many contexts, whether we are working on a complex project, tackling a personal problem, or engaging in a group discussion. It can be a powerful tool for promoting collaboration and innovation, as it encourages individuals to share their perspectives and ideas without fear of judgment.

By embracing a growth mindset and encouraging others to do the same, we can create a more positive and supportive environment that fosters learning, growth, and innovation. So the next time you are working on a project or engaging in a discussion, remember that there can be multiple right answers. Embrace the opportunity to explore different perspectives and solutions, and see where it takes you.