As a global coaching agency we get the chance to work with incredibly smart people every day. These people get us thinking, challenge our assumptions and expose us to new ideas that we ponder, play with and then often apply to our 1:1 coaching programs, group sessions and workshops. We wanted to share their latest thinking with you – We know that inspire us and we hope that you get some great insights and learning from these conversations too.
Today we interviewed Nancy Salay. Nancy received her PhD in the philosophy of mind, language, and logic but, after a research fellowship and six years working as a computational linguist, she changed her focus to the philosophy of cognitive science. She teaches at Queens University, is overseeing some cool new research that you will hear more about, and designs and delivers workshops on how to maintain and improve aspects of your own cognitive capacities. We had a chance to talk to Nancy and hear about what she is working on and what she is most excited about for the future in cognitive science.
What are you working on right now that you are excited about sharing with us?
Nancy: I’m working on a couple of things right now that I’m really excited about. My research team has recently received a grant that will allow us to create a neural network model for exploring how our capacity for episodic memories, specific experiences like what it felt like to ride the Behemoth last summer, supports our ability to understand abstract concepts like justice. Getting a better handle on just how we learn such high-level ideas from our experiences in the world will mean a big step toward a comprehensive theory of cognition.
What cultural shifts are taking place today that we need to pay attention to as coaches?
Nancy: A cultural shift that we’re seeing now is the move from the domination of the corporate marketplace back to an individual-based one as, increasingly; people opt to make their economic transactions — on the internet — with other people rather than with companies. Popular sites like EBay and Kijiji have also fuelled a rise in trading and bartering and a general willingness to reuse. Success in this new, virtual world relies critically on reviews. As a result, the values of trustworthiness and sociability will increasingly play a role in our economy, something we haven’t seen since the dehumanizing influence of the industrial revolution paved the way for our current market economy. Perhaps we moving away from a throw away culture and embracing once again an appreciation for good workmanship and products that last.
If you built a time capsule today what would you put in it and why?
Nancy: This is a fun question because it makes us take a look at where we are now and what we’re preoccupied with from some futuristic vantage point. I would certainly include in that time-capsule some kind of synopsis of both sides of the global warming debate – I think the people who will be experiencing the consequences of our non-action will be very interested to know exactly how and why that state of affairs came about. I’d also include an iPhone as representative of our culture’s current love affair with telephone technology. I asked my nine year old son what he’d put in. Without hesitation he said, “Doughnuts – I think people of the future would like to know what sorts of snacks we were eating.”
Where do you find inspiration to do your best work?
Nancy: I draw inspiration from people in human history who have bucked the trends of their time and created their own life trajectories. I feel a bond with people who don’t necessarily ‘fit in’ to any categories or groups – perhaps everyone feels this way! Learning about others who have lived happy productive lives on the fringes of such groups definitely keeps me motivated to keep challenging the status quo in my own field.
Yes, she blows us away too! If you are interested to hear more about Nancy’s work and musings visit her at http://www.nancysalay.ca/