Ben Bernstein, PhD

43: Ben Bernstein, PhD – Performance Psychologist & Coach Shares His Journey, Insight, and Career Advice to Psychology Graduate Students

If you want to get to know Dr. Ben Bernstein, you need to look at his history growing up as a young child in New York City. Dr. Bernstein’s father was a very well-respected clinical psychologist and his mother directed plays for the Parent Teacher Association (PTA). At 9 years old, Dr. Bernstein was cast as a child psychologist in one of the original plays his mother directed. Dr. Bernstein was also a prodigious piano player. He loved music and immersed himself in Mozart, Beethoven, and Bartok yet when he performed in competitions and recitals, his hands and knees shook so playing the piano became a nightmare. During our discussion, Dr. Bernstein shares these and other experiences that led him to become a performance psychologist and earned him the title “Stress Doctor.”

In this podcast, Dr. Ben Bernstein, known as “Dr. B,” shares his academic, professional, and personal journey in hopes that it helps anyone interested in the field of psychology. Dr. B attended Bowdoin College in Brunswick, MA where he studied English literature and sociology and graduated with honors. He shares a story of how he got involved in new educational developments that were happening in England and how he was invited to teach and run a research project at the University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada where he received his MEd and PhD in Applied Psychology. An educator for the last 50 years, Dr. B has taught at every level of the educational system. Originally trained in London, in the progressive British infant schools, he received major grants from the American and Canadian governments for his work.

Dr. B recognized early on that he was a “natural psychologist” in terms of listening, observing, and feeling compassion for people. He shares the events leading to opening his own private practice and eventually realized “I wasn’t suited really to sitting and listening to people all day” so he found a supervisor and mentor to help figure out why. He states, “I went to see her and in pretty short order, she said to me she said, ‘well, the reason you’re so unhappy is because you’re acting like you think a psychologist should act, and it’s not you.’” Dr. B shares that he is talkative and likes to be very engaged and interactive with his clients. He states, “And you know that style of therapy, although it has changed certainly over 40-45 years, was not really in vogue at the time.” This experience along with a few other significant experiences that Dr. B shares during our discussion eventually led him to discover that he loved performance coaching and why not combine it with his education and experience as a psychologist to become a performance psychologist.

Before doing this, however, Dr. B realized that he wasn’t fulfilling something for himself and that was his engagement with music. Therefore, the year he and his wife, Suk Wah, got married, they moved back to California and he got into a graduate program in music composition at Mills College in Oakland, CA where he received his MA in Music Composition. Though he already had two licenses (one in Connecticut and the other in New York), in order to keep his psychology work going, he had to apply for licensure in California. He states, “California had its own particular requirement after EPPP, after your 3000 hours of postdoctoral experience, to have an oral exam. And so, I had to take the oral exam and I joined a study group where people practice giving answers. And I came to find out that the pass rate for first time takers of this oral exam, the penultimate requirement for licensure in California, the pass rate was 18%. So this was astounding to me because in that group, people were answering questions, very adept clinicians, very sensitive, very complete. So, what was happening that they would cross the threshold and they would fall apart?” He was able to coach all of the people in the study group and everyone passed so this became his whole niche, working with people who take tests and underperform on tests.

Dr. B states, “all of my work is based on the science of how stress affects human performance. That’s why people call me the ‘Stress Doctor.’” He further explains “stress is really caused; your experience of stress is caused by your reaction to those things. And simply put, stress is a function of disconnection.” He has authored multiple books including “Test Success” in 2009, “A Teen’s Guide to Success” in 2014, “Stressed Out! for Parents” in 2015, and “Crush Your Test Anxiety” in 2018 which is #1 in its category on Amazon. He also has multiple Masterclasses available on his website including one to help prepare those studying for their Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP). The course is called “Crush The EPPP” and he explains that he developed the course “because I’ve been working with many candidates over 30 plus years with the EPPP who have trouble passing it as many as seven or eight times and this is a very directed course to people who are taking the EPPP.”

Dr. B provides very practical advice to those interested in the field of psychology. One of the thoughtful and reflective bits of advice he shares in our discussion is “I think if you’re going to choose this field, you really have to be interested in people and in your own growth in working with them.” For those deciding on what to do for your dissertation, he says, “please consider doing something that’s meaningful to you that has legs, that really touches you emotionally and mentally, you know, intellectually and socially, because this is something that you really are setting yourself up for a career that will have meaning.”

Dr. Bernstein is also working on another book called “The Well-Trained Husband” which was born out of his experience as a husband for over 30 years. Dr. B describes it as “a how to manual for men who want to be better husbands.” So, if you, or your wife, would like (you) to become a better husband, look for this book in the next 1-2 years or simply reach out to Dr. B to find out more.

Connect with Dr. Ben Bernstein: Twitter | Facebook | Linkedin | Youtube | Instagram | Website
Connect with the Show: Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn

Interests and Specializations

Dr. Ben Bernstein has been a Performance Psychologist for over 44 years. He is a licensed clinical psychologist and an educator, trainer, and speaker who specializes in human performance enhancement. As a performance coach he has worked with Academy Award, Tony Award, and Pulitzer Prize winners as well as CEOs, business owners, athletes, dentists, attorneys, physicians, parents, opera singers, and actors.


Bachelor of Arts (BA), English/Sociology (1969); Bowdoin College, Brunswick, MA.
Master of Education (MEd), Applied Psychology (1977); University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Master of Arts (MA), Music Composition (1995); Mills College, Oakland, CA.
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Applied Psychology (1979); University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Other Sources and Links of Interest

Dr. Ben Bernstein: Psychology Today
Crush Your Text Anxiety: Amazon
Crush Your Text Anxiety: Online Course

Podcast Transcript

00:00:13 Bradley
Welcome to the Master’s in Psychology Podcast, where psychology students can learn from psychologists, educators, and practitioners to better understand what they do, how they got there, and hear the advice they have for those interested in getting a graduate degree in psychology. I’m your host, Brad Schumacher, and today we welcome Dr. Ben Bernstein, otherwise known as “Dr. B”, to the show. Dr. B has a doctorate in applied psychology and has been a performance psychologist for over 44 years. He is a performance coach and a webinar leader in stress reduction and, as such, he has become known as the ‘Stress Doctor.” He is also an educator and author. Today, we will learn more about his academic and professional journey, learn more about his career and his forthcoming book, “The Threefold Path to Optimal Living” and hear his advice for those interested in the field of psychology. Dr. B, welcome to our podcast.

00:01:08 Ben
Thank you, Brad. I’m delighted to be here.

00:01:11 Bradley
Well, I’m glad that you’re taking the time out of your busy schedule to talk with us. First of all, tell me a little bit about your undergraduate studies and when you first took an interest in psychology.

00:01:22 Ben
Well, I’ll start with the latter part of that question. I, uh, my father was a very well-respected clinical psychologist. So, I think there is a, you know, there’s a big back story there. When my mother, my mother directed plays for the Parent Teacher association, they were kind of original plays and in one of them, it featured a child psychologist and I was cast, at 9 years old, as a child psychologist. So, so it has quite a history to it. My undergraduate studies were in English, in English literature and sociology. I took a couple of courses in my undergraduate years in psychology, but that was not my main focus.

00:02:08 Bradley
I think you attended Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Massachusetts. Is that right?

00:02:13 Ben
Bowdoin, yes, the W is silent. Bowdoin College.

00:02:15 Bradley
Oh, OK, OK.

00:02:15 Ben
That’s correct.

00:02:17 Bradley
Well, good. And then after that, you know you received your bachelor’s degree, as you said, in English and sociology. And then after that, at what point did you kind of decide, hey, I want to continue my graduate degree and, and did you decide that while you were in undergrad, or did you know all along that you wanted to continue your graduate studies?

00:02:40 Ben
No, I didn’t at all. It’s a great question. When I was graduating from college, it was 1969. It was the height of the Vietnam War and I had planned to and was applying to schools in drama. I was a very active in acting and directing theater at Bowdoin and, uhm, but I was highly draftable at the time. I had a low lottery number and I really do and still do believe in national service. Most unusually, there was an option for men my age. If you didn’t want to join the military, then you could teach in what were then called ghetto schools in major metropolitan areas. And I was from New York City and that would be equivalent to going in the army so. I actually it just by, by phage, I guess would be the word, switched to this program that put men my age, young men my age in the public schools. And a part of that program was enrollment in graduate program in education. And so, you were simultaneously put in a classroom and then you were also engaged in this graduate studies in education. So that became, that started my involvement in education and it was from that that I got involved with new developments in education, mostly that were happening in England. I got, I’m really cutting this story short, but I, I got invited to teach and run a research project at the University of Toronto. And part of my contract was I asked them to get me enrollment in the graduate program in psychology. Now, I don’t know if I can really adequately answer well, like what that was all about other than I think, you know, from what I’ve learned of myself over the last 50 plus years that I am, I would call myself a natural psychologist in terms of listening and observing and being able to feel compassion for where people are at, but more particularly, and this came later, being able to be very sensitive to where I sensed that they were actually going where they were headed and what was blocking them from that. So, it was through that that program while I was actually running the research project that I got into a graduate program in psychology and I got the Master’s degree and that led directly into the PhD.

00:05:25 Bradley
So that’s how you ended up at the University of Toronto.

00:05:29 Ben
That’s correct.

00:05:32 Bradley
And so, thank you for that back story. And I should mention to our audience that you received your Master of Arts, and your doctorate, in Applied Psychology, but as an aside, and this is kind of a different theme in your, in your personal background as well as your educational background, as you also have a Master of Arts in Music Composition. So, we’re going to talk about kind of that side of your experience a little bit later on, but one thing. Yeah.

00:05:59 Ben
Thank you for bringing that up. The masters at the University of Toronto was a master’s in education (MEd), and then much, much later, I got the MA in (music) composition.

00:06:10 Bradley
Thank you. Thank you. Yes, I even have that on my cheat sheet but I was looking at that I, I was looking at that music composition as the MA. So, thank you for correcting me. I should mention that you, you just mentioned that you’re, you’re skipping ahead a little bit and I don’t want to skip ahead too much because you have had extensive involvement in performing arts. And for those who want to learn more about your story, you have a nice About Page my story, and as a young child, you were a prodigious piano player and you were trained actually by Viola Spolin and he created and publicly produced original films and plays with psychiatric parents in Australia and US. But the other thing that I found interesting when I was researching you was you you’ve been an educator for over, you know, like you said, very early age, and that equates to over 50 years now, but you also have worked with people as a performance coach and we’re going to talk about that a little bit later too. One other interesting thing that I wanted to mention was that you actually have some history going overseas and helping out the education with, with people over, I think you already mentioned over in. You you’ve taught entry level and. You know all the different levels of the educational system and I think I read someplace that you were originally trained in London and then, yeah, and then with the British infant schools in the late 60s. And then you received some major grants from both America and, and Canadian governments for some of this work.

00:07:48 Ben
Correct. Yeah. That’s correct. When I started teaching in Brooklyn as part of this program, I was very shocked, actually, to see how little the schools have changed since I was a child. And particularly teaching in a very impoverished area of Brooklyn, Bedford-Stuyvesant, the conditions were just terrible and the way I felt the children were being treated, I really knew that there was something better, and I had a, I had a grant actually from the then Department of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW). And the, that grant was given to just a very small selection of men my age were in this kind of program to do good in American education. And I appealed to my draft board to go to London, where the schools there was a lot of write up at the time about these very advanced progressive schools in very poor neighborhoods in London. So, I got the grant and got permission of the draft board and I went to London to actually be trained and then in fact, to teach in the school in which I was trained.

00:08:59 Bradley
It’s interesting that you’ve, you’ve been, you’ve traveled a lot, you’ve trained a lot, you’ve educated a lot.

00:09:07 Ben

00:09:07 Bradley
I I usually like going into your career a little bit later. Let’s go back to your educational journey for a second.

00:09:15 Ben
Of course.

00:09:15 Bradley
After you attended the University of Toronto in Ontario. Can you tell me in, kind of in, retrospect, what you liked about the university and the program, even though you, you, you almost made a deal with them? Hey, if I’m gonna work with you and for you, please get me into this graduate program. Now, looking back, what did you like about the university and the program?

00:09:39 Ben
Yeah, well, I didn’t almost make a deal. I made a deal and.

00:09:43 Bradley

00:09:44 Ben
So well, the program that I was in at the U of T was in, housed in the School of Education at the University of Toronto ON Institute for Studies in Education, and there was a lot of very interesting research work being done there. That’s what I was hired to do a research project there. And they had a program in applied psychology, PhD in applied psychology there and so one of the things that I liked was just the level of interest and commitment to innovative research and my research project was actually one of those projects. The other thing that I liked a lot was the engagement in my internship. So, because it was a clinical program, clinically oriented program, we had to have an internship and I really lucked out on that one to be assigned to a one of the foremost clinics in Toronto for child adolescent and family therapy. And the exposure and training that I got there was simply exceptional. The team of people, their care, their commitment, their engagement in what they were doing, it couldn’t have hit me at a better time because I was very open and wanting that kind of thing. I would say that the coursework, and this and this is really not a slight on the U of T or the program, it’s really more about North American education, the academics of the program were not particularly engaging for me. I have lots to say about North American education generally. And how it’s kind of like get through it mentality to just go from one thing to the next to the next. And not, generally not, really absorbing what you’re being taught, which is all valuable and necessary and meaningful, but because it, particularly because they had the exposure to most effective teaching methods I’ve ever encountered since then since the late 60s and early 70s. And then in a certain way almost everything else pales by comparison, because that level of that type of education was all based on engagement, on action, on being involved in what you were learning, not simply sitting there and receiving it. There’s a Chinese proverb “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.” So that led me to, I think, another part of your answer to the question, because when I got to writing my dissertation and had to propose a topic. The general consensus and advice that I got was just choose something super simple. Do a really easy research study. You know, like make it really simple. Get out of here. And I thought to myself, and I remember this very distinctly, I thought to myself, I’ll be darned if I’m going to finish my whole education of, you know, public school and undergraduate and graduate with something meaningless to me. And so, there was some very interesting research at the time coming out of England, also about studies in psychology where the researcher was part of the research, in other words, the researchers experienced the researcher’s reflection, and I thought this sounds perfect to me. I, I would like to do a study, not a statistical study, but I’d like to do a study of particular engagement. You mentioned Viola Spolin. Viola Spolin was the progenitor of, uhm, improvisational theatre. She wrote the book on improvisational theatre, and I was part, very fortunate to be part of a very small group of people that she trained personally in what are called theater games and very widespread now. And I proposed to run a research study of me doing the theater games in four classes of educational disadvantaged children in the Los Angeles school system. And it was going to be a study of the behavioral and emotional changes that the students went through. These were mostly about 4th grade, 5th grade, 4th grade students. It ended up being a study of what happened to the teachers when I started playing the games with the students because and it was a perfect, I don’t know, I’m losing the word now, but it was a perfect dispersion of teachers from a teacher who was thoroughly engaged, got down on the floor, really into it, to a teacher as soon as the kids started having fun. She stopped the games, so it was. It was perfect for what I wanted to do, which was to show teacher engagement, student engagement and the, the bottom line of this is, is that the challenge was to find a supervisor, thesis supervisor, that would back this because there would have been no, there had been no dissertation, certainly the U of T written in the first person. It is an unheard of thing to write a US psychology dissertation in the first person. And lo and behold I approached a professor who had a stellar reputation as an experimental psychologist. Dr. Study. I mean, he was. And he, he was also very aware of this trend toward more personal engagement. And he became my thesis supervisor. So again, I was so fortunate to have somebody with his background to be my, to be my, one second, I’m getting some kind of message here to be my, my supervisor. So yeah, so those were the things that were prominent in my, in my graduate education. I ended up writing a study that was very controversial. I was literally raked over the coals at my oral exam. But it has stood me instead for the last 50 years because everything has sprung, that I’ve done since, has basically sprung out of that work. So, I if you, if part of this podcast is to give advice to essential graduate students in psychology, please consider doing something that’s meaningful to you that has legs, that really touches you emotionally and mentally, you know, intellectually and socially, because this is something that you really are setting yourself up for a career that will have meaning.

00:16:26 Bradley
Well, you actually answered my next question was basically at this point in our discussion, do you have any advice for those who are interested in the field of psychology and the advice that you gave Dr. B actually could be applied to anybody going into any graduate program, do something that is meaningful for you.

00:16:41 Ben
Yes, yes.

00:16:44 Bradley
You, we’ve mentioned a couple of areas or branches of study in psychology, applied psychology. You mentioned somebody who was known for experimental psychology, and my next question for you for our audience is many grad students and even undergraduate students considering going to grad school try to decide, hey, how do I know which branch or field of psychology I should be going into and I’m sharing just a website that actually shows some of the major branches and of course applied is, is what you received your doctorate in as well but any advice for those who are wondering “How do I decide which branch or area of psychology I should go into?”

00:17:28 Ben
Well, it’s a great question. And I would say anybody watching this podcast should directly go to your website because I, it is so comprehensive as a first step to just understanding the differences in these different programs and I would bet that simply taking the time to read through what you’ve got on this website which truly is exceptional, you, your, your compass needle would start to point in of a selection of these, which then you would narrow down by a couple of ways. One is to do some further reading. It can be easier now you know with, with Google and Web, and then potentially look for programs and then the programs start to interview people, you know, yourself. Maybe you can connect with somebody in the department to find out more or before then actually just do your research on the program itself at the university. Is it in the location that you would favor? Are the people there doing research in this particular area? But I think that the question is such a good one, because I do really believe that we have an inner compass that is actually underdeveloped, and this is part of my thing about American North American education, just education generally. That we don’t really work to develop this inner compass. Like what’s speaking to me about myself in relationship to the world. So, you know you have an interest in psychology, but there are, as you’re showing all these different potential branches, all of which make a contribution. And I think one way of waking up to your inner compass and the needle that it’s pointing to is to just simply read through what you’ve written. It’s a terrific resource.

00:19:23 Bradley
Well, the other…thank you. First of all, thank you for that. The other thing that I would suggest too is if you are interested in a, a certain type of question, answering a certain type of question that also may lead you down the path to figure out, hey, I’m always interested in these questions. They all seem to fall under this area and then the other thing that, you know, speaking to my other previous podcast guests is don’t be afraid to reach out to a researcher who’s actively looking at some of those same questions.

00:19:53 Ben
Oh, absolutely.

00:19:54 Bradley
So, anything else that comes to mind while we’re kind of brainstorming for other people to help figure out where is their niche.

00:20:04 Ben
Well, nothing. Well, I mean something that occurs to me is, is that it’s probably going to land somewhere in your own ballpark of, of your life, like something that has engaged you or interested you along the way. And you know, because psychology is such a personal feel, you know, in many ways, more so than many other fields. And this is not disparaging other fields at all, but it is about the person and you know, the word psychology is the science. Psyche is of the soul. You’re, you’re tuning into something that’s important to you. And I would say pay attention to the things that that spark you that are interesting to you, I would say also to turn off the volume on negative voices like, oh, you can’t get a job in this and that’s not going to work. And you know, you know, but there are so many negative voices surrounding us and that we’ve been, we’re being impounded, right. But the other part of your question has to do with selection of program and I think because graduate education can be very expensive, I think you also have to be mindful of what you’d be able to afford, what kind of debt burden you, you might be able to carry and who provides financial assistance. Because there is financial assistance and, you know, I’m going to say, put in a special plug for people who are less advantaged who may want to pursue a program in psychology and believe me, the world really needs you to help, to mentor, encourage further people who you could have direct contact with based on your background. I’m, I, my background is being an inner-city kid, so I’ve always had a connection to inner city, though my parents were in more privileged position. But I think that’s another consideration, you know, are also the people that you want to work with. What you want to do with them. All of those things factor in and you may not have answers to all of them right at the beginning, but part of the business, education, education just been writing about this. The word education comes from two Latin words. One is “educare” and the other is “educere” and they mean to draw forth and to train. So, if you think about it for a minute, mostly what we do around the world is to train. We don’t draw forth and drawing forth means really drawing forth from the individual who he or she is, where he or she may be going, what attracts him or her, and then to train.

00:22:39 Bradley

00:22:50 Ben
So, you know, when I look back on my background. I had to really do the drawing forth myself. Fortunately, I had terrific mentors and teachers, and as I said, my supervisor, my thesis supervisor, so they assisted in, in that process. But you also want to connect with, and this goes back to your earlier question about considering programs, you also want to connect with people, particularly educators. But they could also be people in your family who know you, who see you, who want to encourage you to be yourself, to really find your way in the world. This is in short supply in our culture and civilization generally, where we’re very focused on getting ahead, competing, making money, all of these things which have certain importance, but they’re not as critical ultimately as how you’re going to serve the greater good. That should be really, that should really be the focus of education. How you are going to serve the greater good? Well, we’re all here to serve. I’ve heard of an interviewer, philosopher recently who said we’re built to be givers, not takers. So, a, a, a more in-depth answer to your question is how can you give? What’s the best way for you to give? And that can really help to direct you in your choices and in your scope of your interest.

00:24:14 Bradley
And the best way to discover how you can best give is look at all the opportunities that are out there, different programs and you even mentioned funding as well. So, let’s talk about that for a second. On previous podcast interviews I’ve mentioned and discovered through my interviews, most of the time you’re going to find more funding available if you apply directly to the doctorate program versus applying to the master’s program. And so, if you know you want to go on after your masters, most of my guests and I would encourage you to go ahead and apply to the directly to the doctorate program and instead of going to the master’s and then trying to apply for some funding, what are your thoughts on that?

00:25:00 Ben
My thoughts are you probably know a lot better than I do at this, at this point in time what the best advice is. So, my thoughts are take your advice.

00:25:08 Bradley
OK, alright, now I, I should mention I see your nameplate on the nice bookshelf behind you, so I know when you went on for your doctorate back then I don’t think the PsyD existed, but now the PsyD does exist. So, if you have any thoughts on or suggestions to our audience about how do I decide if I want to go the PhD route or the PsyD route, do you have any thoughts on that?

00:25:33 Ben
I don’t, I mean the only thought I have because I’m, it wasn’t, it wasn’t around then, and I certainly have worked alongside of people with PsyD degrees. I have also coached people with PsyD degrees for say the EPPP, you know, the exam toward licensure. I, I and I’ve taught in a couple of programs as an adjunct teacher, a couple of PsyD programs. I don’t really know the difference and I haven’t done, you know, it would be ingenuous for me to say, well, it I just don’t really know what the difference is and I don’t think I could advise someone beyond saying to them go, go talk to the school, go talk to you know, the head program. If there is a Dean, talk to her or him about what the difference is and see which one may appeal to you more. That’s about the best advice I can give at the moment with this.

00:26:33 Bradley
No, that’s good. And I’ll, I, I’ll add to that based on my experience and, and discussions with other uh podcast interviewees and guests. Number one, at the very beginning when PsyD came out, they thought that this was more leaning toward those who wanted to go into their own private practice, get out of academic, get off the academic route and, and do your own thing or government, consulting. It’s more of the applied side of psychology. And then it slowly has evolved where there’s there, the, the line between the two has become blurred, where people are now becoming professors who have a PsyD and those who have a PhD are now going into their own private practice and, and doing things outside of academic. And so, when I was going through my Graduate School, that’s how I was told about it, and then it slowly has evolved. And so, it really comes down to what you just said. Talk to your advisor, supervisor, your mentors, and, and get their opinion and maybe seek out those who received their PsyD and those who received a PhD in psychology and ask them their opinion because it is slowly changing and even by the time you hear this six months, a year from now, again, it might even change even more from now until then. So that’s one thing that I’d add, and then the last thing that I’d add is really, you know, get back to I, I’m gonna, I’m gonna combine this with your recommendation of think about how you can contribute to the world and contribute to the field and do meaningful research. What do you want to do after you have your graduate degree and that will help, almost help you decide should I go the academic route, PhD, non-academic, PsyD, but you can still change your mind. I have, I’ve had two guests on my program where they had a PsyD and they’re still in the academic world and so it, it is kind of blurring the, the difference between the two now so.

00:28:36 Ben
Yeah. The other thing I would say, Brad, in relationship to this issue is just, you know, one’s life is a, is basically a story of growth and we’re, we, we, we’re each growing more and more into who we are, so that, uhm, you don’t have all the answers right away and you know what comes to mind is, is that I was in a clinically oriented program. My internship was in a, in a psych, psychological psychiatric clinic. But my second postdoc in my, my postdoc internship was in a small psychiatric hospital and I was hired as a therapist. But what I did was in the evenings I held a, a group for creating theater, so they gave me the space to do something that I really wanted to do and that became then the starting to develop the pathway into what I’m doing now and that was unexpected but welcome. That led to another experience where I was hired to come, go to Australia and work with the teenagers in a psychiatric hospital there and, uh, ended up making films with them. So, you know you want to look for opportunities within any structure that you get engaged with that may be more creative if the powers that be are open, you know, to that. And so, this is all by way of saying that that you may have a very definite idea of where you want to go and you may not have such a different view of most people, probably somewhere in between, but being able and open to where the doors are opening or closing, or where your heart is leading can all be very helpful and, and instructive in how you, how you grow, how you develop.

00:30:42 Bradley
I should add one thing, very good experience to share there and I’m going to get back to what resulted as a of your work. You mentioned psychiatric patients in Australia and as a result of that work, you were invited, I believe, to be a resource artist at the Robert Redford Sundance Institute to collaborate with some writers and help realize their creative ideas as well and so. You have an intensive background in the performing arts, not only being a prodigious piano player, but you came back to it as well and, and kind of found your passion and, and been able to utilize that passion. Before I switch and talk about that, though, I don’t want to forget about one other question that I had. A lot of, a lot of students going into their graduate program have to go through an interview and a lot of times they put so much pressure on themselves. Oh, I have to know what I want to study, who I’m going to study with, how long it’s going to take. What are my subjects? Almost have to think about that ahead of time. One of my more recent interviews with a a podcast guest actually went into that interview and was honest and said honestly, I don’t know what I’m going to study. I don’t have enough information yet about the field that I’m interested in. As I go through this program, my hope is that you and the other teachers and professors are going to help me discover my passion and my interests and the, he, he got through that interview and what is accepted into the program. And I remember when I went. And I went through my interview. I thought in the back of my mind I had to know interpersonal communication, and I want to study with Dr. Wheeler and I want to do this and this and this and, in retrospect, it’s OK to be honest and say I’m not sure because I don’t have that information yet and so hopefully I will find that out when I go through the program. And so, I wanted to kind of ease everybody’s tension or anxiety. You don’t have to have all the answers. Just be true to yourself and answer honestly.

00:32:53 Ben
I think that’s a great point. Recently I was engaged to work with a cohort of, of 10 fourth year medical students who were, have been identified as the potential leaders in the field of medicine. And they, very diverse group, and each of them is interested in a different field of medicine, and in one of the things that 4th year medical students face is getting matched to the right, getting matched, it’s called “the match” to a, a residency, and there’s so much nervousness related to the interview. So, I called on a colleague of mine who was the provost of one of the top medical schools in the country and I said, tell me, I’m going to meet these group of students, tell me what I should say to them. And he said, be honest. Be yourself. There are no perfect answers. If you try to make it sound perfect, it’s gonna make, you’re making it sound perfect. And they have huge antennae for this. Just be honest, you know. I think doing some research, having some clarity of course is essential, you don’t want to be clueless. But I think just being honest about what is it that attracts you to the field? What is it you want to pursue and you want to look into? This is really, they’re looking for the person, they’re not looking for the answer. They’re looking for the person who would be a good contribution to their program and also remembering too that you can’t be all things to all people, any program is going to be also looking for a mix of the people that have applied. So, they’re, you know, if they have 100 applicants and they can only take four people, they’re going to be thinking very hard about what the mix of the four people are and you have no control of that. Because that this is something that you really can only be yourself, and if, if that fits their criteria, fine, but you can’t prejudge it. You just don’t know. Just have to go ahead.

00:35:00 Bradley
Very good advice yourself and, and you control the controllables is another way to say that and and relax. I do have to ask this question when you were working on your graduate work and, and going through your PhD, did you have an idea in the back of your mind what you wanted to do immediately after graduating with your doctorate, or did that kind of evolve while you were going through grad school?

00:35:28 Ben
No, I didn’t have an idea. I mean, the only idea that I had was basically a kind of conventional idea. I’m in a clinical program. I’m going to be a clinical psychologist, but it wasn’t, it wasn’t that I was set on that. It was just, well, this is where I’m headed. So no, I didn’t really have an idea. It much more evolved subsequent out of what happened before, meaning my educational experience, particularly in the training in England, the, the dissertation and my working with Viola and I started to see these different parts coming together and that started to have more sense of where I might be headed. And these internships that I had, postdoc internships, that I had of, you know, getting patients to write plays and then producing them for the public and making the films it all started to emerge in a certain way and became clearer as I went, as I went ahead, but I wanted to say something about that too, because I think the answer to your, real answer to your question is, is that you, you may know and you may not know, but know that you’re headed somewhere. And you want to be attuned to what’s speaking to you? What’s meaningful to you? What’s moving you? What you want to know more about? How do you want to contribute that’s already inside of you? Some, some people would say that that’s a done deal. In other words, where you’re headed is already a known thing. I actually believe that, but I don’t think there were schools in that direction. So, stay open stay, you know, furious, stay questioning, stay challenging and you know I would not have had those opportunities to do the plays or make the phones if I didn’t open my mouth and make the suggestion, you know, and I was ready to be told. You know, I was brought to Australia to do clinical work with these teenagers and four days into it, I said to the director of the of the clinic who was a very esteemed psychiatrist. I, I’m afraid you know, you brought me here all this way and all this expense and it’s this is work that I don’t think this is what the, the, the kids in this place need. And she was open to that. And she said, well, what do you think that they need? And I said, I said, I don’t know, but can I have a few days to think about it? And she said yes. And I was able to talk with the person who had brought me over and do a little more exploration. And then this answer rose out of nowhere, seemingly nowhere I should say. So, stay open, you know, stay curious, stay available and be bold. This is your life. This is your opportunity.

00:38:11 Bradley
So, at what point did you know that you wanted to open your own private practice?

00:38:16 Ben
Well, when I finished my, when I, I’m, I’m in here chuckling here because my stay in this my work in the psychiatric hospital ended after I had produced some very, very interesting work public that we performed for the public and then I was called in to the Directors Office and I was very politely invited to resign. And why was I being invited to resign? I hadn’t done anything, you know, bad or wrong. But the truth is, is that the patients were getting better. Now, this sounds like a really, you know, it’s a really tough thing to talk about, but they, you know, they were, they weren’t really interested in the patients getting better. I know that sounds just awful, but it was true. These, these kids, they were all in their early 20s, very wealthy families. Uhm, it was a cash cow and, uh, it was known, you know, we knew that. They were heavily medicated, most of them, but when we finished this experience, they wanted to go to a Community College to study, you know, to do theater. They wanted to get into sound design, they wanted to exercise their creativity, and the hospital had no means to do that, and that was not their interest, truly was not their interest. And we had to part ways. So, the next, the next step was for me to open a private practice, which I did in the neighboring town. But I quickly found that this was just not, uhm, it just didn’t suit me. I didn’t. I wasn’t suited really to sitting and listening to people all day. And I was in my own analysis at the time and my analyst thought I should get supervision. So, this was a very, very intelligent move. He recommended a supervisor for me and I went to see her and in pretty short order, she said to me she said, well, the reason you’re so unhappy is because you’re acting like you think a psychologist should act, and it’s not you. And I knew she said something truthful, but in a certain way, I didn’t really know what it meant or implied, but what it implied was I’m a much more active guy. I like to be. I like to be very engaged. I’m talkative. I like to interact. And you know that style of therapy, although it has changed certainly over 40-45 years, was not really in vogue at the time. I also had this background working with the artists as you mentioned at Robert Redford’s place and working with people to draw out of them, again the word education, to draw out of them what was nascent inside that wanted to emerge. And I thought, well, this is, sounds this is more of me. This is more who I am to have some kind of sense or vision about what it is that wants to emerge from this person. What’s blocking them and how can I assist to work with them to keep moving in the direction that they want to move in? And it was out of that that the whole business of performance coaching emerged so one thing about that is that we tend to associate performance with being on stage or, you know, being on a ball field, but performance really is about action. It’s the performance needs to act. So, it’s how you can more freely, more engagingly, if that’s the right word, act in the world how you can again your service. So that’s how I got more along, along those lines. And that really developed more and more. Uhm, the, the. That developed a particular niche because after I was licensed in Connecticut and New York, where I had my private practice, I realized that I wasn’t fulfilling something in myself, that there was something that was un, unformed and that was my my engagement with music. And that’s when I decided to stop my work in psychology and do what I wanted to do was to go to music school. So, the year my wife and I got married, we moved back to California and I got into a program, a graduate program in music composition, but I had to keep my psychology work going and the way that happened. And this is kind of this, I, I hope this is instructive to listeners. This is just following the train of where life is taking you and what’s engaging for you, but at that time, even though I had two licenses, California had its own particular requirement after EPPP, after your 3000 hours of postdoctoral experience, to have an oral exam. And so, I had to take the oral exam and I joined a study group where people practice giving answers. And I came to find out that the pass rate for first time takers of this oral exam, the penultimate requirement for licensure in California, the pass rate was 18%. So, this was astounding to me because in that group, people were answering questions, very adept clinicians, very sensitive, very complete. So, what was happening that they would cross the threshold and they would fall apart? And I was able in the group to coach people because I could see what was happening, that they just disconnected from themselves. The conditions of that exam were horrendous. It was it was administered in hotel bedrooms, usually by two older white men. So, if you were a woman, or if you were a woman of color, or if you were a woman of color over the age of 40, your chances of passing that exam diminished exponentially. And it subsequently got litigated against and got removed, which was the most intelligent thing. But I started coaching people all over the state to pass that exam and and my study group, everyone went on to pass the exam and I failed it. And the reason I failed it. You could go listen to your tape, which I did in Sacramento, and I knew in the first 2 minutes why I failed. Because I was giving encyclopedic answers and they didn’t want to hear Encyclopedia. They just wanted you to answer the darn question. So, I went back, you know, cost a lot of money. I was very angry, frustrated, all the things that everybody goes through who fails an exam that they’re entitled to pass. And I, you know, flew through the second time and then punched people all over. So that became this whole niche in working with people who take tests and underperform on test. So, that’s the title of my second book which is “Crush Your Test Anxiety.” And I’ve developed an online course for that now, called Crush Your Test Anxiety which is interactive and very, it’s a very robust course and I hope people get to know it and take it because it’s a real way you can help yourself.

00:45:18 Bradley
Well, you said a lot there and I, I, I’m trying to remember 2 follow up questions while you were talking there.

00:45:23 Ben

00:45:24 Bradley
First, before I before I do that though, I’m gonna go ahead and share my screen and since this was the most recent, I’ll go ahead and share your website and here is your book “Crush Test Anxiety: How to Be Calm, Confident, and Focused on ANY Test.” And not only the book, but you have some other related books out here that we’re going to talk about shortly here. But as you mentioned, this one has become a very well-known book and actually read someplace that it was number one in its category on Amazon as well and it’s like.

00:45:56 Ben
That’s correct. Brad, could you, could you hit the courses thing in the nav bar? Up there, hit that. OK so here are the two courses that have just gone up and one is called “Crush The EPPP” because I’ve been working with many candidates over 30 plus years with the EPPP who have trouble passing it as many as seven or eight times and this is a very directed course to people who are taking the EPPP. I don’t cover the content. That’s very well handled in some of the courses that have academic review of prep, other courses. And “Crush Your Test Anxiety” is a more comprehensive course generally for test takers.

00:46:44 Bradley
Well, the other thing that I wanted to mention here is of course you can explore his about page gives you your story a little bit and, and it’s actually a fascinating personal story how you overcame your own anxiety as well performance anxiety to be more specific. But since I had these ready for you, here’s Mills College where you received your master’s degree in music composition and then here was where you went to your undergrad. And then where you went for your doctorate as well, University of Toronto. So, we’ll put these links up when we go live as well. But the other thing that I wanted to mention is that when you do look at your courses, you can Scroll down and you can actually see a little bit more about you and then your social media Dr. B Your Best. I like that incorporating your B Your Best in there. Twitter is on here as well, and then you have your LinkedIn here as well. One thing that I should mention is if you are interested a little bit more learning more, here’s a more recent YouTube video that you had a discussion on how to improve your mental health and then you do have your YouTube channel here. That does talk about some other things on here as well, so I wanted to highlight that for our viewers and our audience members.

00:48:10 Ben
Thank you. Yeah, thanks.

00:48:12 Bradley
The one thing that we should get back to is we’ve been talking about you as a coach and educator and a psychologist and a performance psychologist as well. And so, I should mention that as I look through and did my research on your about page, when you were a young child, you were a prodigious piano player. We’ve already mentioned you immersed yourself in Mozart and is it called Bartok? Bartok yet, yet when you were forced to perform in recitals and competitions, you even alluded to this when you were talking about your, your colleagues in that study class, they were just rambling off and you knew they knew what they were talking about. But when they got to the actual, you know, interview something in them, you know, forced them to break down and not be themselves. And so, you found your niche in, in helping them overcome that and so. You have been a performance psychologist and, and coach for over 44 years now, and you’ve helped Academy Award, Tony Award, and Pulitzer Prize winners. Your list, as I did some research, includes CEOs, business owners, athletes, dentists, attorneys, physicians, parents, everybody, all the way from opera singers to actors as well. What kind of help do your clients request the most?

00:49:32 Ben
Well, it’s such a good question and I’ve thought about this since you were helping me prepare by knowing the questions. All of my work is based on the science of how stress affects human performance. That’s why people call me the “Stress Doctor.” So, any any student who’s listening to this podcast has probably heard of the Yerkes-Dodson Curve, which is, is a bell curve, where if this is it, it studies the relationship between stress and performance. And when stress is too low or too high, performance suffers. So, I have really made an inroad into creating a training program that does two things. It trains people to become aware when their stress is building and they’re sliding over to the side of too much stress and performance is suffering. Training them to be aware and then also giving them tools, 9 tools, to get back into that middle bit. That middle bit is what athletes call “The Zone.” When athletes talk about it, they tend to talk about it in terms that one of my teachers called Misty Moisty. Ooh, wow man into the zone. It’s not. It’s a state of conscious attention to what’s actually going on inside of you. So, all of this is also based on a different definition of stress that I have been working on for years, which is stress is not the things that are happening outside of you. That’s called life. The EPPP, your children, taxes, the government. You, you can’t change all of that. That doesn’t work. Stress is really caused; your experience of stress is caused by your reaction to those things. And simply put, stress is a function of disconnection. So, when people crossed over the threshold for the oral exam, this is the first time I saw it. And then I actually applied it to myself, the stress level went sky high and they got disconnected from who they are. They were facing 2 examiners who stared at them, you know, like this or made faces. So, the examiners would go things like, you know, and uhm they got disconnected. So, stress went way up, disconnection, and then they had no tools to get themselves back. So, what I did was create a very robust, scientifically driven training program that people can get into and stay in the zone.

00:52:08 Bradley
It, it looks like you know, we’re going to get to your other books here, and then your forthcoming book as well. One thing I should mention is that when we talk about your, I think it’s called a “Masters Class” or what was it called? It was called the Master, “Master Class.”

00:52:27 Ben
Yeah, that was given to by the social media group that I think it’s called the “Master Class.” I said, I guess it’s a good term. I haven’t really processed that one yet, but. You know to take advice from people much younger than myself.

00:52:40 Bradley
So, the “Master Class” is the Crush Your Test Anxiety on that page that we talked about, the Dr. B’s courses. Do you have any other master classes that you have done, and if so, where would we find those?

00:52:53 Ben
Well, so the other one, of course, is Crush the EPPP. Because this model is really applicable to everybody because it is scientifically driven, I would like to produce more courses for athletes or for business executives or for dentists. All the people that I’ve worked with that I’ve applied the same model to. So what would change are the situations the vignettes that would be incorporated into the course so people could see themselves in their situation, their life situations reflected in the course. So, I would say there are any number of courses down the line. Creating a good course, as I discovered, is very, very time intensive create. You know, it requires a lot of thought to be comprehensive and to be useful to the people who are taking it. So, but I would say I just, basically, to answer your question you could, anybody could enroll in Crush Your Test Anxiety or read the book, because that’s the model. It’s, it’s very well-articulated in those two places. So, I’ve given the book to, or recommended the book to, other people, attorneys or dentists because you just have to take the word test and think about it as crush your performance anxiety or crush, you know, whatever anxiety you have about that. But that’s why people come because they’re, they’re, they’re getting stressed out. They’re not performing to their potential. They’re not enjoying their work as they could or should. And it’s about getting them back on track.

00:54:37 Bradley
Well, I should share the screening again. I mentioned you have a couple of other books out there and I actually like them because one of them is talking about test success and then “A Teen’s Guide to Success” was in 2014 and then the following year, 2015, “Stressed Out! For Parents.” And so, if you have any teenagers that you need to help or yourself, and maybe I’m wrong here Dr B, but the Crush Test Anxiety is kind of a culmination of both these other books in addition to applying the knowledge that is out there in the field to help you overcome your performance anxiety as well.

00:55:18 Ben
Yeah, I would say turn around a little bit rather than being the culmination, it’s the seed from which the others sprung on.

00:55:25 Bradley

00:55:26 Ben
And as I said, they’re going to be other courses that are going to be based on the same model.

00:55:32 Bradley
Well, that sounds good. That leads me to my next question about I know you’re working on another book and it’s called, “The Threefold Path to Optimal Living” which will be, which will, I believe, be released in 2024. Tell us a little bit more about this book.

00:55:48 Ben
Well, uhm, so what I’ve discovered through my own experience, training, and I’m a deeply spiritual person meaning that I’m a student of the Indian scripture, the Vedas, and this book goes a step further, which is how what, what leads to optimal living. And the answer is pretty simple. It’s a simple progression. It’s accept, grow, and serve. So, what does that mean? Very briefly, accept means when you can accept what comes to you in life. And not fight it, not wish it were different, not try to change it. Just accept it. And accept doesn’t mean like or love. It just means I accept this. This is what’s happening right now. Then it opens the door to considering this question, “how can I grow from this?” Because if we think of it, we’re part of nature. Everything in nature is in the process of growth and we are always in a process of growth. So, my my belief and experience is, is that everything that happens to us can contribute to our growth. If we ask the question, “how can I grow from this?” Not “why is it happening to me? What did I do to deserve it?” Not that. “How can I grow from this?” So, when I work with people who are, say, taking EPPP and fail multiple times. That’s one of the first things that I handle with them. How can you grow from your experience rather than moaning and and and go on and on about like it’s costing too much money, and I don’t want to do this anymore and all those things are true. But that’s not the helpful way to to progress. Which is to say, how can I grow from this and with every single person with every challenge, there’s an opportunity for growth. Every challenge they can be big opportunities or small opportunities, it can be as simple as learning how to stay more in touch with your breath so that your, your, your anxiety does not get triggered to how you become more organized in your preparation, whatever it is. And then the last step. So, it’s accept, grow, and the last step is to serve because we’re all meant to serve. So, our own growth implicit in our own growth is it’s leading us to serve other people. And when we get that progression going, it just works and this is not, I didn’t invent this, this is this is scriptural actually. So that’s what that’s about. I am also working on another book I have to say, which actually has taken a lead for a little while. It’s called, “The Well-Trained Husband” and it’s a, it’s a how to manual for men who want to be better husbands. So, this is born out of my own experience as a husband for 30 years. And my, a lot to do with my own background on the family situation and I’m, I’m, I’m married to a Chinese woman and it’s the combination of a Jewish husband and a Chinese wife is a little bit of a recipe for mixing oil and water. And we have really, we’ve come a long way in the 30 years and it’s because of our commitment to this working. So that’s what’s on the, that’s what’s on the books right now.

00:59:08 Bradley
Well, I am hoping that you finish that book sooner rather than later. I am actually engaged to be married with a Vietnamese woman and so I’ve already experienced the differences in views and culture, and I definitely want to become a better husband for her too, so.

00:59:15 Ben
Oh, beautiful. Right. OK, I’ll send you a complimentary copy Brad.

00:59:27 Bradley
I appreciate it. So, did you ever think, Dr. B, that you would become an author? While you’re going through your undergrad and graduate studies, did you ever think that you’d become an author, a well- known performance psychologist and coach, and even more so, a recognized keynote speaker? I haven’t even talked about that. You, you go out and you’re a keynote speaker as well so. That’s kind of a, a facetious question but it’s kind of reflecting on your career now that you’ve been doing this for quite a long time and it’s very successful and you found your niche, it sounds like and you were able to recognize who you are and that advisor actually almost challenged you and said the reason you’re unhappy is A, B, and C and it made you think so.

01:00:06 Ben
That’s right. That’s right. No, I didn’t. I I didn’t imagine this. A sort of outgrowth, if we reverse engineer it from serve, to accept, right, to grow, to accept. Uhm, all the things that I’m doing or engaged with, with the service. And, uhm, I uh, so no, everything grew, everything grew out of what, what happened before. Uhm, the one part of my life that is still in the process of really growing is the music side because I got derailed, as you mentioned at 14, I didn’t like performing. No one helped me with it, with the anxiety that I experienced. And so that stopped very abruptly. And even though when we came to California 30 years ago, I got into this program, I couldn’t turn my life into being a composer because we were newly married and I was 46 years old, but I opened a nonprofit for singers and I’m, I’m getting back into music in a bigger way. So, what I have dreamed about is doing more in the world of opera and musical theatre and the things that I, that I love doing and love working with people more.

01:01:27 Bradley
I should mention that in my research I found that you have directed theater at Juilliard School and the National Academy for Dramatic Art in Sydney. And as you just mentioned, you are an award-winning composer and a master coach at the San Francisco Opera. You’re the founder and artistic director of The Singer’s Gym which you mentioned was the nonprofit training workshop for professional singers to have more vitality, spontaneity, and connection in their work. You’ve also not only helped people outside of your family, but I read that you also helped your three younger siblings with their successful artistic careers: your sister Didi (Frenchy in Grease), for those of you who can relate to that; your brother Andrew is a senior photographer for the NBA; and then your youngest brother Richard leading roles in in Metropolitan Opera. And you already mentioned your wife, Suk Wah, is a novelist I believe. So, I just wanted to give you a little bit more background there. What do you love most about your job, Dr. B?

01:02:29 Ben
Oh, I just love people being happy. I love people fulfilling their, their, themselves, you know, as being fulfilled as learning how and learning what has gotten in the way of that and that and not going into those old habit patterns because we’re all habits. That’s what we are. But some of our habits are, I don’t call them good or bad, they’re unproductive. And I, I really love working with people to identify the unproductive habits so that you can start to put a productive habit in place. You know, a non-productive habit, for instance, would be say for a test taker. I’m a, I’m a terrible test taker. Right. So that, that belief system has actually become a self-fulfilling prophecy. So, you know a simple fix on that to start with is how about saying to date I’ve had trouble taking tests. That’s very different from only terrible test taker. So, you know, I love seeing how people, when we, I’m gonna say we because I’m doing this all the time, when we’re when we’re into an unproductive habit that’s leading us to a dead end of feeling crappy, miserable, you know, unfulfilled, frustrated that we start to step back, witness what we’re doing and then get the assistance that we need and then start making tracks. You can’t just stop an old habit. You have to replace it with a different habit that then becomes the habit. So, what I love most about my job are two things actually. I love seeing people progressing and, and becoming fulfilled because they’re, they’re really nurturing their, their deepest self. But I would also say what I love about my job is it’s constantly challenging me on my unproductive habits. One, that analyst I mentioned, he said in the one of the first sessions, he said your problems are going to walk through the door and I didn’t really understand it, but it’s been absolutely true. If I looked at every person that I have coached over the last 40 plus years, there’s something about that person that’s challenging me to grow, and I would say, you know, to, to sum up here that getting into psychology as a profession is very challenging and you have to be ready to take on the challenge of your own growth. It’s not a one done deal. It’s not like you learn something and then you can just keep applying it to people. It doesn’t work that way, I don’t think. I think that if you want to be consistent with what’s coming out of your mouth with what you’re giving somebody, you want to be consistent with what you’re doing yourself, because that inconsistency, if there is one, is going to be felt and the, the, there is a break in integrity. So, I would say it’s so important if you’re considering a field being in the field of psychology to be ready to take on the challenges of your own growth. And some of this happens in graduate programs, and some of it doesn’t happen in graduate programs. So that might be something else you would look into like what kind of supervision you would have. Is there a requirement for you to be in therapy? What are the services available to you? All of those things, because they’re important.

01:05:48 Bradley
And what other training can you develop in yourself to become better at what you’re doing?

01:05:53 Ben
Good point.

01:05:54 Bradley
I know when I was going through Graduate School, I was actually helping people overcome their performance anxiety for public speaking, and we went through. I trained myself in SD or Systematic Desensitization and visualization. And one of the things that a lot of students going through grad school or even undergrad. That is, I’m so nervous when I take my tests.

01:06:16 Ben
That’s right.

01:06:17 Bradley
Well, there’s certain things that you can do, and one of them is visualization…

01:06:19 Ben

01:06:20 Bradley
…and/or do you know where you’re going to be taking the test? Go to that place…

00:06:22 Ben

00:06:23 Bradley
…sit down and see where you’re going to be seated so you can visually see yourself taking that test and passing it.

00:06:31 Ben

00:06:32 Bradley
…and going forward with that as well so. Educating yourself and training yourself and and becoming better at what you do is going to help you and the people that you’re coaching as well. Near the end of all of our podcast Dr. B, I like asking a couple of fun questions, and so I’ll start with one that is, I’ve already found out some unique stuff about you, but I’m going to ask you tell me something that is unique about yourself.

01:06:58 Ben
Well, let’s see what comes to mind is I’m 74 years old and six years ago we gave up our car. So, I go everywhere on my bicycle so. And it’s great, we save a lot of money. I’m getting some exercise, you know, it’s, it, it surprises people when I arrive at big meetings and whatever on a bicycle, but that’s I think that’s kind of unique.

01:07:27 Bradley
Well, here is your Instagram account and I did see this picture here.

01:07:32 Ben
Oh yeah.

01:07:33 Bradley
And here is one where you’re riding around on a bike, and then even before then, I think you’re biking around and eating in this one. But there are a bunch of other pictures out here. Here’s when you came out with your Crush Your Test Anxiety book and, and a lot of good feedback there as well. It’s fun to look through different pictures. This might or might not be your current bike that you have you might as well.

01:08:00 Ben
Yeah, that’s my bike on the on the BART, which is the San Francisco Bay underground. That bike got stolen. I miss it.

01:08:09 Bradley
Oh no, did you? Did you replace it? You, you must have a new one.

01:08:12 Ben
Oh yeah, sure, definitely.

01:08:14 Bradley
OK. All right. Well, that’s good. That’s something unique as well. I don’t know if I could give up my car. My, my, I, I don’t think my wife would be happy or soon to be wife would be happy saying oh, we got to take public transit or bike every place.

01:08:26 Ben
No, my wife, but fortunately my wife doesn’t drive so that isn’t a source of contention.

01:08:32 Bradley
Well, the other difference between where you are and where I am Dr B is you’re in California, I’m in Minnesota. So big difference.

01:08:37 Ben
Oh, big difference. Huge.

01:08:39 Bradley
Another fun question that I asked my guests is what is your favorite term, principle, or theory and why?

01:08:50 Ben
Term, principle, and theory. What comes to mind is that it was a question that a doctor in India asked, which he said, “are you living in an ‘I’ world or a ‘we’ world?” And if you think about it for a minute, we’re all living in a “we” world. But there’s such a significant part of the world population that lives in an “I” world, which is part of why we have so much strife and contention and, and difficulty in the world. So, I would say a favorite term is that you start living in a “we” world.

01:09:38 Bradley
That’s a nice answer. I I I that’s a unique answer as well. What’s one of the most important things you’ve learned in your life so far?

01:09:52 Ben
Uhm, well, uh, one of the most important things is. I would say I’m thinking of how to say this. It is to be limitless. I didn’t want to put it in a negative way. Like, say, don’t put limits on yourself, but be limitless. Be open to possibility, be open to ideas you talked about doing guided imagery, so everything goes on in our imagination before it emerges in the world. Everything that you’re looking at or touching started in someone’s imagination, and so if we were limited, we wouldn’t have all the things around us that we have. But think about that on a personal level. If we are limitless then who knows what we’re capable of? That’s for us to discover.

01:10:44 Bradley
I like that answer. Do you have any other advice for those who are interested in the field of psychology or, in particular, applied psychology?

01:10:55 Ben
Well, I mean it, it sounds very simple or even simplistic, but you really do have to love working with people. For all of our and let’s say they are for all of our limitations, for all of our hang ups, and glitches and everything really have to have a lot of heart in wanting to, to see people move, to see people develop, to see people be fulfilled. You know, some people are not people-oriented. My wife is one of them. We’re totally different that way. She’s a writer, pretty much lives a hermit type of existence. Uhm, not really interested in socializing and there’s, you know, for a while I had some big judgments on that. I don’t anymore, but just different. But I think if you’re going to choose this field, you really have to be interested in people and in your own growth in working with them.

01:11:51 Bradley
So, Dr. B, if you had the time or money to do one project, or go on one trip, what would you do?

01:12:01 Ben
Well, I’m doing it. I’m working on a Broadway musical for my sister. So yeah, I’m, I’m doing it. I think I got disconnected here.

01:12:11 Bradley
No, you’re here. I can hear you. Oh, actually now I, I think you got disconnected. I heard you a second ago.

01:12:20 Ben
OK, so the question was if I had one thing to do was that it or.

01:12:25 Bradley
Yeah, if you had the time and money to complete one project, or go on one trip, what would you do?

01:12:31 Ben
Well, it will be to complete this Broadway musical that I’ve been working on for my sister. Remains to be seen if she wants to do it, but I want to complete it.

01:12:43 Bradley
Well, that’s good. Any anticipated date of completion?

01:12:49 Ben
No, let’s just say in this lifetime. How’s that?

01:12:52 Bradley
OK. Alright. Well, I applaud you for doing that. That’s going into a realm that I haven’t even, uh, even discovered, I’ll put it in a positive note, discovered yet in me. So maybe it’s there or not. Hey, Dr. B, is there anything else that you would like to discuss or bring up in this podcast?

01:13:12 Ben
No, I’m very, thank you for asking. I’m, you know, from the time that you invited me, and I looked at the website and I wrote to you about this is a much-needed resource, you know, certainly was not around when I was considering, you know, going into this program and, you know, basically fell into it. But you’re providing an extremely rich resource. I mean again that page of all the different programs and the descriptions is so, is so rich, you know, it’s so good. So, I just want to applaud you and thank you for what you’re providing because you really are giving back in a very, very genuine way.

01:13:50 Bradley
Well, I appreciate the compliment. We’re ever increasing the content on the website as well. And our overall goal is to hey, if you’re interested in the field of psychology at all, go ahead and go here and we want to be the first place where you can start researching and finding out where your niche may be so.

01:14:07 Ben
Terrific, no.

01:14:08 Bradley
Ben, thanks again for your, sharing your story and your advice with us. I really enjoyed talking to you more and learning more about your background and your journey. Thanks again for being on the podcast.

01:14:19 Ben
Totally pleasure for me. Thank you, Brad.

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