Episode 48: Sharpen your brain w/Maria Engström Eriksson

9 March, 2021 / Host: MAGNUS BILLGREN

Unleashing the Power Within

In the dynamic role of product management, staying sharp and making sound decisions is a formidable challenge. Successful product managers have honed their skills through a unique set of thinking approaches.

In this episode of The Productbeats Show, we delve into the topic of sharpening your brain with renowned neuroscientist Maria Engström Eriksson. Our brains are remarkable organs that govern our thoughts, actions, and abilities. But have you ever been amazed by your own brain's brilliance? Or perhaps disappointed when it let you down at crucial moments? In this article, we explore the potential of the human brain and discuss how understanding its needs can help us unlock its maximum capabilities.

The Adaptive Brain

The human brain has been evolving for over 200,000 years, with the current version resembling a 1.0 model from around 100,000 years ago. Despite minimal upgrades, our brains remain highly adaptable and unique among all species. One defining feature is our ability to time travel mentally—planning for the future, reminiscing about the past, and experiencing the present moment. Our brains are also socially wired, emphasizing the importance of human connections in our lives.
The prefrontal cortex, located in the front of the brain, plays a crucial role in problem-solving, decision-making, learning, and focus. However, it is highly susceptible to stress. Chronic or intense stress can impair the functioning of this brain region, leading to various cognitive difficulties. Therefore, managing stress is essential for maintaining a sharp and resilient brain.

Building a Resilient Brain

To minimize stress and enhance brain resilience, certain factors need to be incorporated into our lives. These include providing the brain with proper nutrition, ensuring sufficient sleep for brain consolidation, engaging in regular physical activity, and fostering social connections. By addressing these aspects, we can better equip our brains to handle stress and bounce back from challenges.
To optimize brain function, it is vital to incorporate three key states into our daily lives: focus, flow, and now. Each state serves a distinct purpose and contributes to overall cognitive well-being.
  • Focus: Focus involves concentrated attention, problem-solving, and learning. It is the state where we actively engage with tasks, make decisions, and challenge ourselves intellectually. While many individuals prioritize this state, it is equally important to balance it with the other two states.
  • Flow:  Flow is a state of mind characterized by letting go and allowing our thoughts to wander. It involves daydreaming, observing without a specific purpose, and allowing the mind to explore freely. This state often leads to unexpected insights and creative solutions. However, in today's screen-focused society, it is crucial to intentionally make time for mind-wandering and boredom to foster this state.
  • Now:  "Now" refers to being fully present in the current moment. It involves mindfulness and awareness of our senses, such as breathing, observing our surroundings, and savoring experiences. Practicing mindfulness techniques like meditation or engaging in activities that bring us into the present moment can have a profound impact on brain resilience and stress reduction.


  • Balance focus and flow: Cultivate a healthy balance between focused concentration and allowing your mind to wander. Both are crucial for problem-solving, creativity, and finding innovative solutions.
  • Embrace mindfulness: Practice being present in the here and now. Engage your senses, be aware of your surroundings, and savor the moments. Mindfulness enhances brain resilience and reduces stress, leading to improved cognitive function.
  • Prioritize brain health: Give your brain what it needs to thrive. Ensure proper nutrition, prioritize quality sleep, engage in regular physical activity, and foster meaningful social connections. These elements play a vital role in maintaining optimal brain function and overall well-being.

Speaking of prioritizing brain health and optimizing cognitive abilities, if you're passionate about product management and want to take your skills to the next level, there's an exciting opportunity for you. Introducing The Productbeats Product Management Certification Program, a comprehensive and innovative program designed to sharpen your product management acumen and propel your career forward. Just as we discussed the importance of focus, flow, and mindfulness in nurturing a sharp mind, this certification program is specifically crafted to equip you with the essential tools and strategies to excel in the dynamic world of product management.
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