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My Adventures Up Close & Personal With Neuroscience

An explanation of why I keep cancelling public appearances.



I’ve debated about this post for awhile now, but circumstances have forced my hand; I’ve had to cancel too many scheduled public appearances (most recently my speaking appearance at ARF re:Think and chairing the Insight Innovation Exchange event in Sao Paulo) and I’ve decided that I should share with you why that is.

Over the last few months I’ve been dealing with a neurological condition that still isn’t fully diagnosed.

Now some of you may not be shocked to hear that I have some trouble going on with my brain; in fact you might have been thinking that my brain was troubled for some time. However, this isn’t a cognitive issue, it’s more of a physical one. The symptoms are basically seizures and muscle tremors.

It sounds way more scary than it is; it’s really more frustrating and annoying than anything, although it certainly isn’t particularly pleasant.

The consensus from the Doctors is that it isn’t serious in a “life threatening” or “degenerative” kind of way, and we’ve already ruled out a long list of the scarier possibilities through various testing; hopefully over the next few weeks we’ll rule out the rest and be able to zero in on a fairly benign and treatable diagnosis.  I think we’re close to to that and by late Spring I’ll be back to normal (or at least as normal as I ever get!).

The real challenge is that it does make travel a bit troublesome (airplanes and seizures are not a good combo) and it certainly is… well, embarrassing.  More than anything it’s my vanity that is impacted; I just don’t want to be in front of a lot of folks doing my own version of the Harlem Shake. Minus the obligatory horse’s head costume, of course; the other end is probably more appropriate for me anyway.

On the flipside, I do have a new theme song: “A Whole Lotta Shaking Going On” which could be cool for my personal brand building when I do decide to start making public appearances again.


To be clear, this isn’t slowing me down much from a work standpoint or limiting my ability to do all the things I do, although I am trying to carve out a bit more time in my schedule to de-stress. I’m still juggling a hundred different projects and deeply engaged with trying to help our industry transform; for the time being though those efforts are going to be virtual rather than in person.

One interesting aspect of all this is that I am quickly getting a crash course in neuroscience. I’ve had an MRI, EMG, NCV, EKG and even wore a mobile EEG set-up for a few days.  eeg2

I’m learning more about the structure and functioning of the brain and the neurological system than I ever really wanted to, and what I am increasingly finding is that the focus on these sciences from a research perspective is spot on. Yes, there are certainly technical and logistical limits to many current approaches, and of course we’re still in the early stages of really understanding how this complex system works, but I am convinced that this avenue of research has the potential to yield far greater impact than any attitudinal or even observational approaches. Whether that advance will come from neuromarketing, cognitive neuroscience, biometrics, metaphor analysis, behavioral economics or some synthesis of all of them remains to be seen, but without a doubt it will come.

Here are a few examples to think about:

Your Brain Scans Show Who You’re Thinking About

 Scientists scanning the human brain can now tell whom a person is thinking of, the first time researchers have been able to identify what people are imagining from imaging technologies.

Work to visualize thought is starting to pile up successes. Recently, scientists have used brain scans to decode imagery directly from the brain, such as what number people have just seen and what memory a person is recalling.

They can now even reconstruct videos of what a person has watched based on their brain activity alone.


Play A Game To Map The Brain

EyeWire is a game where you map the 3D structure of neurons. By playing EyeWire, you help map the retinal connectome and contribute to the neuroscience research conducted by Sebastian Seung’s Computational Neuroscience Lab at MIT. The connectome is a map of all the connections between cells in the brain. Rather than mapping and entire brain, we’re starting with a retina.



Why Obama wants to map the human brain

The New York Timesreports that in the coming months, the White House will announce the Brain Activity Map Project, an unprecedented, federally funded, multi-billion-dollar effort to unravel the inner-workings of Mother Nature’s most powerful processor. The initiative will be spearheaded by the Office of Science and Technology Policy, with support from the National Institutes of Health and other government agencies. Officials are hoping to tap into a network of neuroscientists from top-tier institutions from all over the world to focus on a singular, decade-and-a-half goal: To build the first-ever working model of the mind.


That is all very cool and inspiring stuff whether you are a fan of neuromarketing or not. For someone dealing with a more personal connection to the topic it is downright riveting.

Since I now am developing an up close and personal relationship with neuroscience driven by self-interest you can count on my sharing pieces of my own journey with you, but more importantly sharing information I uncover along the way that may be of interest to the insights community.

My apologies to everyone that I have had to cancel some of my engagements and meetings with. I am sure you can understand why I made those choices. I’m pretty bummed about it myself; I was looking forward to each of them and to meeting more of my colleagues (which is always a high light of events for me).  Hopefully this will just be a very temporary situation and I can get back to being a social butterfly.

In the meantime, I’ll be thinking of you…

Please share...

31 responses to “My Adventures Up Close & Personal With Neuroscience

  1. Leonard:

    Hang in there! Your journey this far has got to be scary and frustrating. I am amazed how much more we have yet to learn about our brains. It will be interesting to see where the future leads us. I am sorry you are having to personally learn this for medical, and not marketing reasons.

    I had 3 friends who had brain tumors within a two year period; one lost her life, one lost his short-term memory, and one escaped almost without damage. I wish we had known more for their sake. I also had a Westie dog who had brain surgery as a puppy; and had seizures for his full 13 years of life. They scared me each time he had them.

    Know you will get thru this with help of brilliant Neuroscientists. And you will be certainly very educated on the mystery of our brains! Look forward to catching up soon.

    1. Thanks Michelle and David; I appreciate your support and thoughtful comments.

      I’m not so sure about “fearless” @David, but I appreciate the compliment!

      @Michelle, I especially appreciate your sharing your personal experience too; connections drive our brains and our relationships don’t they? Let’s touch base when we can and discuss brain stuff more. 🙂

  2. Facing something like this really shakes up your priorities but some say that is the silver lining. 🙂 Best wishes for a speedy recovery Lenny!

  3. Lenny – best wishes for a speedy recovery and the doctors being able to nail down what’s going on! Remember to try and take it easy – and juggle at least one less than 100 projects at a time : )

  4. Lenny,

    Wishing you a speedy recovery! I’ve been down the MRI road with some family members and it’s not easy. Nor is having to deal with symptoms whose cause can’t easily be diagnosed! Hang in there.

    1. Thank you Joe; I really appreciate you reaching out and extending well wishes; it means a lot! This is just a blip on the radar in the big scheme of things, but it is nice to know I have the support of great folks in the background.

  5. Lenny, I wish you a fast recovery and that we can have you back into your “normal” state shortly. 😉

    I look fwd to seeing you soon in Philly!

    Take good care.

    1. Thanks Adriana! I know you’ll do an awesome job in Sao Paulo and next year I’m looking forward to being there myself. Thanks for all your support; you and eCGlobal are fantastic friends and partners!

  6. Lenny –

    Sorry to hear about your present situation. As you know, Steve Sands and I have been involved in the neuroscience research community for decades and happy to make introductions if you want second opinions or just discuss any of the findings / process. It sounds like you are in good hands and they are running lots of excellent tests.

    Give me a shout if we can assist in any way.

    All the best,

  7. Lenny, thanks so much for sharing your story and for turning these challenges into a learning opportunity. Please know that when difficult times appear, there are plenty of people (friends, soon-to-be-friends, and strangers) who are working and hoping for your success.

  8. Thanks Lenny! I couldn’t agree more with @David’s words. Nothing happens without a reason and there are always learn and growth in all experiences we pass through, specially the most difficult and challenging ones.

    1. Thanks so much @Adriana, @David and @Ron; much, much appreciated. The outreach of support wasn’t why I “went public” with this, but it has been a very nice and welcome by product.

      @Ron, that thought has crossed my mind, especially when I was wearing a mobile EEG head set for 4 days! I very well may take you up on the offer. Thank for putting it out there.

  9. Lenny – best wishes for a an accurate diagnosis and a clear path forward. I admire your decision to advise us of your situation, and the reporting you’ll be doing on your experiences and their implications for your health, our work, and our lives. Your loving family and many friendships will be a source of strength; I look forward to seeing you fully engaged with us soon.

  10. Lennyism, I have always thought that your brain was large and impressive. Perhaps this is just what you are going to have to deal with as a consequence. You are in my heart. I admire your courage and your candor, and we will miss you in NYC.

    1. Aww! Thanks Diane; that is very sweet!

      I’m beginning to think of this kind of like a super power; my brains works really fast, it’s the rest of my body that is too slow to keep up which causes the problem. 

      Whatever gets us through the night, right?

      I do appreciate it Diane. Have a great time at ARF and talk to you soon!

  11. Lenny – anyone who met/heard you at forums cannot miss the energy you have and I am sure that will help you get better. Thoughts and wishes with you!

  12. Lenny, I’m so sorry to hear about the challenge life has thrown at you. Hope you’ll find a way of dealing with it in the near future. In the mean time, please don’t hesitate to reach out when there’s anything I can help you with. Take care.

    1. Thanks @Reineke and @Sameer; I’m truly touched. Honestly I’m overwhelmed by everyone being so supportive; it’s very, very cool. This too shall pass, but it’s great to know my colleagues are sending good vibes while I’m going through it.

  13. I thought we told you when the guys in the mountains sell you that clear likker, it’s not vodka and you need to be careful.

    Best wishes for a speedy, successful, and painless recovery.

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