Currently from Michigan, Maurice Moses’ parents originally met at University of London during graduate school – his father is a retired physics instructor and my mother was an accountant. She passed away on November 22, 2013. Maurice’s father is 90 years-old. His father’s homeland is Spain, his mother was from Rangoon Burma. Maurice Moses was born in Rangoon, Burma on March 30, 1960. He lived in Burma until he was 4 years old and they literally snuck out of the country due to military dominance and inhumane violence towards the Burmese citizens. He spoke fluent Burmese and no other language.
Maurice Moses and his family then moved to Bangkok, Thailand when he was 4 years old due to violence towards the people of Burma. They lived in Thailand from 1964 to 1968. At the time, he spoke fluent Burmese, Spanish, and Thai. They moved to the U.S. because of the ripple tension from the Vietnam War, potential violence, and the lack of predictability. Moses only started learning to speak English 6 months before moving to Michigan. In 1968, the Vietnam War was expanding and becoming less predictable, so they decided to move to the United States. The culture shock was unbelievable – they moved from Bangkok Thailand to a small town in central Michigan (Roscommon). The experience of moving from a large city to a small rural town in Northern Michigan where 99% of the population was Caucasian had a significant impact on his perception of the world and his personality, in general.
Maurice Moses graduated from Roscommon H.S. in 1979. He attended a catholic college (Aquinas College) in Grand Rapids and transferred to Michigan State University in East Lansing in June of 1982. He then completed his Bachelor’s in Science from MSU in May of 1984. He worked full-time as a behavior specialist at Clinton-Eaton-Ingham Community Mental Health. His job duties included: working with children and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Emotional and Psychiatric Disorder, and individuals with developmental disabilities.
In addition, Maurice worked at St. Lawrence Psychiatric Inpatient Unit on a part-time basis for 5 years (1985-1990). CEI CMH sponsored and endorsed a full-time scholarship to graduate school at Central Michigan University in Clinically Psychology. Upon graduation, he owed them 2 years of full-time work.
When he graduated with a Masters-degree in Clinical Psychology in 1990 – CEI CMH promoted him to a Senior Psychologist – overseeing and monitoring 4 M.A.
Limited Licensed Psychologist and 2 Behavior Specialist ~
CEI CMH provided additional incentives to keep him at their agency by: providing him with contractual work involving OBRA screenings, Children Waivers (working with children with Autism), Probate Court Guardianship Evaluations and Hearings, and approved 28-30 administrative leave days a year from 1990 to 1995 to serve as a State and National Trainer in Positive Behavioral Intervention Supports. The federal fund paid for his travel, food, and honorarium to reimburse his human health agency.
He was appointed by the State Mental Health Director (Patrick Babcock, and later James Haveman) and Director of Special Education of MI (Ed Baldwin, Jaclyn Thompson), and Shari Falvi (Director of Children’s mental health services) and Deb Millhouse (Children’s Waiver director) to be a co-director of Positive Behavioral Intervention Supports for the State of Michigan. His appointment was from 1995 to 2005 (until Federal and State funds were depleted and they got a new governor who did not want to invest the money into schools and human health agencies).
In October of 1995, he resigned from his job at Clinton-Eaton-Ingham CMH to provide contractual services to schools on a full-time basis.
Where did the idea for your career come from?
Many of the schools I consulted with encouraged me to start my own business. I first started working with schools as an independent behavioral consultant and mediator. Because I had full support from school attorneys, school districts, parent advocacy groups, attorneys representing parents and their children, and State of Michigan mediators I would be frequently asked to assess presenting problems and conflicts from both sides to assist in finding agreeable resolution.
Schools and parents started to recognize the following patterns: (a.) they would file a due process and the school often were unsuccessful in finding mutual resolutions; (b.) schools would spend on the average 40,000 to 150,000 and eventually find themselves in a “logjam” situation; (c.) they would call me as an independent behavior consultant and mediator and we would have the conflict resolved within 1-2 weeks at a cost of $2000-$3000, (d.) parents strongly encouraged me and schools promised to commit to independent behavioral contract services, (e.) many schools wanted to be proactive and asked for professional staff training and development, including consulting with schools and parents on the most challenging students, and (f.) by 2000 we had retainer contracts with over 100 school districts in Michigan.
While I did not make as much financially as attorneys ($100/Hour vs. $300-$400/Hour), I felt satisfied and positive about resolving differences between parents and schools, and students were the “winners.” Given my personal experiences in elementary school, it made me feel “good inside” and I felt a strong sense of accomplishment.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
The most interesting aspect of my job is each day is literally different – Monday I might be providing an all day workshop on Brain-Compatible Learning Strategies; Tuesday I could be working with K-5 classroom staff, conducting classroom observations and meeting with instructors during their planning periods to provide feedback/training; Wednesday I might be working with 9-12 classroom teachers, conducting classroom observations and meeting with teachers during their group planning meetings or after school staff meetings; Thursday I could be training and working with Building Leadership Teams to provide advanced training in Brain Research on Autism and Psychiatric Disorders, and Friday I might be scheduled to meet with administrative staff to review school, teacher goals and objectives, office discipline referrals (Are they going down or up?), and review statistics and data to determine if our school-wide strategies show a positive trend. This is a time we retool, problem-solve, and look at alternative ideas and strategies.
How do you bring ideas to life?
We reached our apex in 2006 – we were retained by over 185 school districts in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Ohio. We had 100% success rate in due process hearing and mediation (200 + success, -0- failures). Our total income from 2006 was $925,000. Each year (1996-2008), I would provide a minimum of 55-60 workshops per year (1/2 days, Full-days, 2 days). However, because of the many false allegations made by 3-4 highly jealous Full- Licensed psychologists (Grand Rapids, St. Ignace, Saginaw, and Tawas City Michigan) to the Board of Psychology our revenue, credibility, and business has taken a significant hit in the past 11 years. I want to remind you I have never met or worked with these psychologists. Have gotten phone calls, voice messages, and emails stating that they were going to “ruin” my reputation and “tear my business down to the ground.”
These individuals have “bombarded” the Board of Psychology with fraudulent allegations and made false accusations (claiming I was in ill health and had a quadruple by-pass surgery in 2009 – my 79 year old father at that time had the surgery, they claimed I was going around telling people I was a medical neurologist, psychiatrist, and a fully-licensed psychologist – all blatant lies), they made these claims on State-Wide internet message boards (Michigan Psychological Association, Michigan Association for School Psychologist, Michigan Association for School Social Worker, Michigan Association for School Administrators, and made phone calls to district superintendents in charge of my employment). In addition, they supplanted friends and colleagues on the Board of Psychology to taint my credibility and reputation.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I’m working and trying to integrate brain scans, the inexpensive ones, the portable brain scans and biometric scans.
Low tech, for example, would be teaching teachers to recognize micro facial and body gestures and teaching students more about self-awareness and body awareness when they are getting upset. How the brain learns. Regions of the brain responsible for strong emotional responses (ranging from happiness to depression, anxiety, OCD, anger, and rage). Understanding the functions and role of prefrontal lobe, midbrain, and backbrain.
There are different devices that actually calm you. They are electrical stimulation that you can put on your neck, for example. There is one that I think is about $40. It’s pretty new. You put it around your neck, and you get just low, calming electrical impulses that relaxes your neck. When you are stressed, a lot of people’s shoulders and neck get tense, and that targets the shoulder and neck. That excites me.
I often use heart rate monitor wrist watches (Fit Bit) or blood pressure portable wrist watches to monitor both HR and BP. The devices have a built-in silent or audio alarm systems to signal to staff/parent/student when vital signs are escalating. We teach adults and students to decode stressful body signals (internal, external, and thoughts) and brain compatible strategies to reduce excessive brain stimulation (stress responses).
One of my top guiding principles is: ATTENTION DRIVES LEARNING, AND EMOTIONS DRIVE ATTENTION. If you can regulate emotions, if you are feeling safe, you are feeling comfortable, you are feeling calm, rested, you are going to be attentive, reason,, memorize, synthesize, and generalize learning. .
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I have important skills that are needed as far as people skills. I am skilled at interacting with people, listening, trying to meet their needs, and filling in gaps that would help their students and teachers to be more productive and happy, have lower turnover rates, and help kids with poverty, stress, and trauma issues. I set up different school-wide programs.
For example, a school in Wisconsin, we were there for 12 months and had a lot of success. They had a grant and we set up every month, actually twice a month, we were able to motivate parents to come to these lunches if they signed the student’s homework and have it completed and brought back the next day because at first we found out that less than 5% of the kids were doing their homework. This was 6th through 8th graders. They are the ones we want to get ready for high school. We simply said if you signed it every day, they finished the homework, they showed improvement in learning, you would get a $25 gas card plus a $50 gift certificate for groceries, and they would have a luncheon in honor of the students who met those goals. It was amazing. You would look at the faces of the kids and parents. Every two weeks these kids would really work hard because they seldom had positive moments with their parents and to receive high density of positive feedback . Many of the parents, I heard over and over again, “I didn’t know you knew about algebra”, “I didn’t know you could do this”, “I didn’t know you could do that”, and “I’m so proud of you.” We were able to phase out some of the funding the next school year and the skills learned became more internalized. Those strategies are highly effective, and I see it working across the board. Using positive reframing statements and strategies, instead of saying “don’t”, “stop”, “you’re a loser”, “you’re going to end up in jail,” we teach teachers to provide feedback with statements and corrections in a positive way so that it does not make the students feel shameful, hurtful, rejected, different, stupid, dumb, or anything like that. That makes a huge difference.
My relationships with people and being able to connect with them, to understand their needs, and to provide them with solutions to problems, these are the habits of mine that made me productive in this line of work.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would have started working with the schools sooner because I find it to be so rewarding. I also wish I would have finished my Ph.d. I could have done that. I had three years in. All I needed was another two additional years. I was so close. I should have done it years ago. It would have given me more respect and credibility in the profession and perhaps I have had an even larger impact and helped more students.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
My background helps to explain what inspires me to help students that struggle. When we moved to Roscommon, Michigan in 1968, we were one of the few minorities in town. It was a significant culture shock and of course I had to learn English, but I think it made us more resilient. My experience in elementary school inspired me because the teachers did not know how to provide compatible instructions. Instead, they labeled me with ADHD, Speech and Language Disability, and Learning Disability in all academic domain areas. I had a speech therapist work with my brother and I (one-year younger than me) 3-4 times per week for four years. I felt stigmatized, labeled, and judged – in terms of academics I felt “stupid and dumb.” But a lot of the social prejudices, alienation, and bullying went over my head because of the lack of cultural awareness. The social ramification did not hit me “full-force” because of my lack of cultural identity. These experiences and variables have been the foundation that inspires me to help children who face similar challenges at school.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
In the book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen R. Covey, talks about trying to understand before being understood, listen and backtrack and verbally demonstrate that you truly understand. Don’t just go back verbatim or repeat what they said, but actually put it in your terms and let them know that you understand what they are saying. That proves to them that you’re listening to them. That is about the most important thing I consistently encourage to my staff, myself and people I come in contact with in school settings.
The last thing a teacher wants to hear is that I am questioning whether they have tried various techniques or strategies. “Yes, I have. Yes, I have….” You want to be heard. I ask them what is going on and what are the three big issues that they have in the classroom. Being there and listening and getting a true sense and feeling of what’s going on is the very first thing that I do. I think it’s critical to let them know you understand what their needs and wants are, and then ask them their thoughts on solutions as well – remind them they are the experts on their students. I wait for them to ask what I think. That is when I start talking. I need to be able to get a confirmation or validation before I jump in. It’s an invitation. They are ready to hear some affirmations of what they are doing effectively, and open to new suggestions. If you hurry and you say the wrong thing, you have lost them. First impressions are everything. You want to make sure that you’re not guessing and you’re not saying the wrong thing that’s going to offend them. I avoid the use of clinical or therapeutic terms and prefer using a story-like format that piques their curiosity, interest, relatability, and encourages them to participate.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Word of mouth has always helped me. I never had a website until recently. I don’t think I put one up until 2011. Prior to that, my phone number was unlisted. So primarily word of mouth and success is what helped me to obtain additional work. Success will lead you to success. It is a small community when you work within the school system. Everybody knows everybody. Once people trust you and you have credibility, things flow from there. It is just doing the very best that you can and having the students’ success at heart.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I learned the importance of being on-time, following through with commitments and promises, and never taking positive relationships for granted. I let them know that I will come back again, and they can see me as much as they need to see me. I would be there on a regular basis in order to help them, and I would follow through on that. When they see it, they believe it? The follow up, modeling, demonstrating, I do a lot of that. If you expect them to do this, you must be able show and demonstrate that it can be done. Otherwise, what good are you? As a practitioner or consultant you have to constantly be “making deposits in teachers/parents/students/clinicians/administrators emotional bank accounts.” Emotional equity is the key in all relationships.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
If people could use apps to collect and track good positive behaviors that would be helpful. For instance, if we could track positive behaviors in order to meet a goal of 5 positive behaviors in the school day to reward/reinforce students for asking relevant questions, paying attention, helping others, showing empathy and compassion – students will engage in behaviors adults pay most attention to (if we focus on negative behaviors students will increase in frequency of challenging behaviors – oppositely if we emphasize positive classroom behaviors we will see a rise in skill building responses that matches students’ learning abilities – both in social/emotional development and academic skills.
I have a training program (including survey scales, inventory, data-driven measurements) for teachers that helps them recognize students that can be potentially violent, for instance, students who show a high probability tendency to bring weapons, firearms, instigate physical fights, verbal aggression, high intensity bullying behaviors, levels of empathy and compassion for others, and social interests. An app to help track these kinds of behaviors would help teachers to recognize this and get help for those students. Kids that engage in violent behaviors are often smart and may have friends and are not always easily identified as students that are bullied. We have to also consider that they may hurt themselves, and we need to recognize the students that need help.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
It was a little bit more than $100 but it was an online workshop on brain and trauma. It went over a lot of research on how to retrain and heal the brain through psychotherapy. It included effective strategies to build self-awareness, mindfulness, self-regulation, and research-based coping strategies for students in school and community settings. They also talked about computer biofeedback tools.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I use the PBIS (Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports) SWIS (School-Wide information System) Suite. This is a web-based information system that schools and professionals use to keep track of office discipline referrals, where the behavior occurs, how frequent, the consequences given, what was done before so that when you go through you know what the antecedents are, what triggered it, and what was going on. As soon as a student has five office discipline referrals, this data kicks in. The program helps to identify the students that need help.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I recommend Patricia Wolfe’s book, Brain Matters: Translating Research into Classroom Practice.
What is your favorite quote?
Attention drives learning, and emotions drives attention. That is how powerful emotions are. If you don’t know where you’re going to sleep tonight, if you’re anxious or scared or worried about getting beaten up tonight by your dad, I think learning is the last thing on your mind.
● I would have liked to have started working with schools earlier because it means so much to me to help students.
● I would have liked to have finished my Ph.D. because it might have helped me to have a larger impact.
● I am now more driven to write a book. I have written 35 different manuals ranging from 50 to 350 pages.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.