Ralph, the CEO and Thought Leader of Learning Optimized, has spent 24 years in ontological leadership, performance based consulting, diversity awareness, and youth mentoring to thousands of people in the United States. After a successful 23-year career in the business arena, where he was the CEO of one of the largest insurance agencies in South Florida, as well as co-founding two separate leadership training and development companies, Ralph branched out on his own to create his dream job. His focus concentration areas are any sales team, young adults, CEOs, healthcare, academia, government, and non-profits. All of his workshops are geared to have participants understand and experience that producing extraordinary results has no limits.
Ralph is a graduate of Morehouse College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing. He has been listed in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade Counties, as one of the 50 Most Powerful African Americans in 2012, featured in articles by Gold Coast Magazine, Las Olas and South Florida Business Journal, a graduate of the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth leadership course, “Building a High Performance Business”, Leadership Florida XXVII, Leadership Broward XXII, Community Hero Honoree by his local national newspaper, the Sun-Sentinel, and was honored by Broward County public school system, by way of a proclamation, for corporate citizenship. Ralph is a native of Key West, Florida, a proud father of twin boys and resides in Coral Springs, Florida.
1. You are the CEO and Thought Leader of Learning Optimized. Can you tell us a little bit about what Learning Optimized does and how you became passionate about challenging the way we have traditionally approached learning?
To answer your first question, I must share my WHY: To leave a positive mark in peoples’ lives so that, together, the difference we make for others can never be erased. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. I was fortunate to be reared by life-long learners all my youth and early adult life. I am the proud product of my nurturing family: a selfless single mother and three Rockstar sisters, all of whom have their PhDs or a JD. Yes, I guess you can say they all are Learning Optimizers!
Learning Optimized is a direct consequence of my family and my why. We are a cause; not a company. We are driven by the opportunity to optimize people who have chosen “a bigger life paradigm” in which to enhance how they perform in areas of their lives that matter most to them.
We have two distinct divisions: Performance and Learning. On the performance side, we work with individuals and companies who are on a quest to elevate their performance to extraordinary and sustainable high levels of achievement. What does that mean and look like? Fundamentally, it’s answering the questions few ask: why do people do what they do? And what are they doing when they are doing it? Why they do what they do is simple: How people perform, at anything, is directly connected to how they interpret each situation; each situation occurs to all people through language – the said and unsaid, and future-based language transforms or alters how situations occur to people. What they do – the how – shows up inside of various topological frameworks.
Having this meta self-awareness now available, the floodgates begin to open to performance expertise. This isn’t my point of view, however, it’s the theory’s point of view based on extensive quantifiable data for well over a century in the study of optimal human performance. The practical framework that illuminates this phenomenon includes mastering the principles of Personal Intelligence, The Predictive Brain, Mindset Intelligence, Emotional Literacy, and Emotional Intelligence.
Our learning division, targeting individualized learners, is grounded in scientific, evidence-based learning strategies that solve for mitigating the natural forgetting curve. We argue, and are not alone, that the status quo standardization of learning information, read, read, and reread, is antiquated and outdated. We, as a society, are great at updating everything in our lives, accept new and more effective proven ways to learn.
2. One of your main goals is to democratize retrieval-based learning. Can you explain what that is and how it improves our ability to understand and retain information?
Retrieval-based learning or retrieval practice is the most effective learning strategy in the world. To cognitive scientists this isn’t new. To most learners, it is. When high school, undergrad or graduate students are asked to rank their top three to five learning strategy preferences they utilize to retain, recall, and reinforce information, retrieval practice, the most effective one, based on hundreds of published papers, spanning over a century, doesn’t even make the list. They always list, without exception, rereading, highlighting, summarization, keyword Mnemonic, and imagery for text as their top choices. Yes, the status quo bias and cognitive dissonance in how we are taught and instructed to learn is alive and well in 2019!
Grounded in over 100 years of research, retrieval-based learning is a learning strategy in which calling information to mind increases and accelerates learning. The focus is on getting information out of one’s head, not keeping it in. As one retrieves information, understanding or memory of that information is strengthened and forgetting it lessons.
The benefits include:
Strengthening of long-term memory and meta cognition
Identifying gaps in learning
Improvement of students’ complex thinking and application skills
Improvement of students’ organization of knowledge
Improvement of students’ transfer of knowledge to new concepts
Learning Optimized is on a mission to incorporate retrieval practice at all levels of our learning society. Today, it is mainly in higher academia or private institutions. It is available, but unfortunately, not widely or evenly distributed. We are committed to changing that
3. You are in the middle of a project called “Conversations with Heroes” where you are attempting to interview 100 heroes in the next year and a half. What inspired this project and what has been your most memorable experience working on it?
I have always been curious about people and their unique stories. As I have matured and aged, the stories and the curiosities have only grown. I wanted to meet people who didn’t make the books or the funky podcasts. Unique people that I had to find, research, vet, have the courage to ask, and then come up with questions that would spark some valuable insights and stories. I wanted to capture Heroes and share them with anyone who is connected to the internet.
What has been the most humbling for me is to finally get that we all are born with dignity: Our inherent value and worth. Dignity doesn’t have an age, social status, gender, race, geography, language, sexual orientation or a religion. It says we are equal and open to each other’s humanity. Through their stories, I am reminded of the honor and privilege it is to serve others.