Leading a High-Stress Team: Former Police Constable Discusses Merits of Meditation

The tech industry painted a stereotype of a play-filled office with air hockey and ping pong or calming communal workspaces with sleep pods and yoga mats. For most of us, that remains a dream. For police and other first responders, it can’t even be a fleeting thought: from “Karens” to crooks, it’s a high-stress day every day.

Rob Elkington, Assistant Professor, Trent University, and Les Sylven, a Leadership Studies PhD candidate in the Faculty of Education at the University of Victoria. His doctoral research project explores police leadership with senior Canadian police officers who regularly practice meditation and mindfulness. Les was a police officer in Canada for over 30 years, on the ILI podcast Law & Order…& Leadership This episode was produced in partnership with the International Leadership Association as part of their 25th Annual Global Conference held in October 2023. Dan Mushalko, ILI Executive Producer, shared this article as a companion to a podcast. 

Listen to the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership: Co-Creating Our Future via Apple PodcastsTuneInSpotifyAmazon MusicAudibleiHeartRADIO, and NPR One.

Let’s face it: high-stress jobs aren’t disappearing anytime soon.

In reality, plenty of jobs still put people under high pressure. As their leader, you may not be the one putting the pressure on them, but you can provide a little relief – and lead them more effectively. Our latest podcast guests – researcher Rob Elkington and retired police chief Les Sylven – have five tips to improve stress under police leadership…tips that you can adapt to your work environment, too!

1) Embrace Servant Leadership (and other new leadership approaches)

A leader’s job boils down to one critical element: providing the resources and guidance for the team to succeed. That’s really the crux of servant leadership. This principle obviously applies to any sector, but there’s an added irony for police leaders. Officers swear an oath “to serve and protect.” That oath doesn’t disappear when they’re promoted into leadership positions! From sergeant to chief, the job now is to serve the officers under their command. Add to that the copycat concept: just like kids watch their parents and imitate their behavior, so do teams watch their bosses. “Do as I say, and not as I do” doesn’t cut it anymore. Your team does as you do. In police leadership, if you want your officers to truly serve the community, model it by truly serving them.

2) Lean Into Emotional Intelligence

Simply put, lead with compassion. Heaping stress on top of someone who’s already stressed out clearly doesn’t help. Quite the opposite: it eventually leads to breakdown and failure. More than ever, people across industries are coming to work with stress and trauma on their shoulders. Realize that, show a little empathy, and you’ll figure out the best practices to motivate each individual to attain success. For first responders, in particular, the job means facing life-threatening trauma every time they clock in. As a leader, are you helping…or pushing your team closer to the edge?

3) Practice Mindfulness

Mental health issues have been rising at work across sectors. Is that really a surprise in high-stress environments? Mindfulness practices can significantly reduce the impact of stress on both mind and body. In fact, former chief Sylven is currently doing research on the benefits of mindfulness for law enforcement as part of his PhD studies, and the results are pretty clear. It enhances present-moment focus, self-awareness, and mental resilience in the face of trauma. From simple deep breathing to full-on meditation, mindfulness helps you and your team.

4) Mentor and Coach

This is another step that applies to leaders in any sector; ironically, old-school policing understood this: that’s why cop shows have the stereotype of the new rookie being assigned to the seasoned old veteran on the force! Whether it’s a mentor’s wisdom from experience or a coach’s objective perspective, getting guidance from others helps us better analyze ourselves – to build on our strengths and bridge our weaknesses. Stress creates a kind of tunnel vision, restricting your team’s view; solutions slip by unseen. Receiving that outside perspective helps broaden their view, encouraging reflection and, often, self-care. As a leader, you can be a mentor and coach yourself…but also look to other leaders, consultants, and professional programs who can resonate well as guides for your team’s members.

5) Make Debriefing Routine

As with the military, any major incident in policing is followed by a full debriefing – an analysis of what happened, why it happened, and what can be learned from it. It’s a wise route to take in any business sector, yet surprisingly few leaders take the time to do this. Without it, though, no wisdom is gained. To maximize wisdom, make debriefing routine: on a regular basis, meet with each person on your team to go over the events of the week, month, or quarter (Annual reviews, frankly, are nowhere near frequent enough to be of any real use in improving performance). You may be surprised at the gains you’ll see in both performance and morale over time!

Each of these steps is more about practice than price. They won’t require huge budget boosts – the big change rests in how you see your role as a leader. It takes personal effort, but the benefits begin to show rapidly, and their effects can last a lifetime.


Thank you for reading Innovative Leadership Insights, where we bring you thought leaders and innovative ideas on leadership topics each week.


Ready to measure your leadership skills? Complete your complimentary assessment through the Innovative Leadership Institute. Learn the 7 leadership skills required to succeed during disruption and innovation.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership: Co-Creating Our Future on your favorite podcast platform, including Apple PodcastsTuneInSpotifyAmazon MusicAudibleiHeartRADIO, and NPR One.

The Deathline: Stopping the #1 All-Time Killer of Human Potential

Karen Tilstra, PhD., author, award-winning innovator, and psychologist, shares this article as a companion to her podcast None Shall Pass: Crossing the Deathline

Podcast intro from “Faux Mo:” an ILI AI experiment:

Link to the entire interview:

Listen to the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership: Co-Creating Our Future via Apple PodcastsTuneIn, Spotify, Amazon Music, AudibleiHeartRADIO, and NPR One.

“Knowing your deathline is your lifeline.”

Want to know the secret to being an effective leader and reaching your full potential? In theory, it’s quite simple: it all comes down to knowing and confronting your deathline. What’s a deathline you ask? Let’s find out.


“Whatever your deathline may be, we do any and everything to make sure we don’t cross these lines.”

A deathline is an imaginary line we draw, vowing never to cross. A physical deathline works to keep us alive. It’s what prevents us from jumping out of a plane without a parachute. Physical deathlines are universal and easy to understand.

We also live with social deathlines. Unlike the ubiquitous nature of a physical deathline, social deathlines are both highly personal and based on individual experience and personality. Social deathlines are based on a strict set of cultural expectations and norms. Whatever our deathline may be, we do any and everything to make sure we don’t cross these lines.


“Stifle our ability to act with emotional intelligence and think rationally.”

When it comes to being an effective leader and unleashing your full potential, physical and social deathlines aren’t the biggest factors. It’s personal deathlines we should be most concerned about. These deathlines are deeply personal, not governed by the antonym and physiology or the deeply ingrained social norms. Personal deathlines live deep in our subconscious. They are self-imposed boundaries we believe keep us emotionally safe and secure. Meant to help us survive, personal deathlines evolve from a place of need, but at some point, they stifle our ability to act in a proactive manner. When left to their own devices, deathlines take control, overshadowing our ambitions and stifling our gifts.


So, what exactly does a personal deathline look like?

Deathlines are simply fear. But this fear is the silent puppeteer controlling our deathlines. Many leaders are haunted by the fear of being fired or someone finding out they don’t have all the answers, thus activating a delimitating deathline.  And yet, beneath this veneer of self-doubt lies a wellspring of creativity and leadership acumen. When fear, aka a deathline, becomes the overriding emotion, it obscures our true capabilities, stunting growth and suppressing innovation.

Examples of a personal deathline are fear of failing, being rejected, or being perceived as incompetent. It may manifest into a scenario like this: in department meetings, you don’t speak up for fear of sounding unqualified despite being highly trained and experienced. You could be recognized as a brilliant team member, but you will never know because you let your deathline control you. Opportunities are missed, killing your potential.


The risk of leaving a personal deathline unchecked.

I have a friend whose deathline, “I cannot upset my boss and get fired,” thwarted his professional growth. The hoops he would jump through just to keep in his boss’s good favor could have earned him an Olympic medal. By his own admission, he was never honest with his boss and always played it safe. So, when it came time for a promotion, his boss skipped right over my friend. As you can imagine, my friend was crushed. When he worked up his courage to ask why he didn’t get the promotion, the boss responded, “I just didn’t see you were ready for advancement. You always stay on the safe side, and I needed someone who could tell me the truth, someone with courage.”  If he had only known about deathlines and how to navigate through them, he might have earned that promotion.


“Who does she think she is?”

As a young girl, the dominant voices around me shaped my perceptions. I recall my grandmother’s sharp retort to anyone she perceived as arrogant, asking, “Who do they think they are anyway?”  I can’t count the times I heard her say those seven words. Such seemingly innocuous remarks etched a deathline in my psyche. It took years of self-reflection and courage to challenge this self-imposed boundary. For I never wanted anyone to say about me, “Who does she think she is.”  It was a real deathline. In fact, ironically, I struggled with this while writing my book about the deathline. What if no one read my book, or a slew of bad reviews appeared on Amazon? This was a real deathline.

We all have deathlines holding us back. That’s why we must deal with them.


The Tollbooth Technique

Identifying one’s deathlines, however crucial, is merely the first step. The next is to challenge and navigate through them. And for this very purpose, I developed a metaphor I call the ‘Tollbooth Technique.’ Visualize your mental journey as a highway. Every time a deathline is activated, you come to a tollbooth. Now, you must pay the toll. So, just like a real tollbooth, where you slow down, pause, and pay the toll, when dealing with your deathline it’s the same. You pause, breathe, and ask the mother of all questions: “What’s really going on here?” This simple Tollbooth Technique creates the space needed to manage your deathline. Now you can more objectively decide whether to push ahead or retreat.


“Ace” Words: Space, Grace, Pace, Place

Managing deathlines beyond the Tollbooth Technique involves what I call ‘ace’ words: Space, Grace, Pace, and Place.

  1. **Space** – Create new mental space for fresh thinking. *Have I created the new mental space necessary for fresh perspectives and decisions?
  2. **Grace** – Extend compassion and forgiveness to others and myself. *How can I extend grace to encourage progress within myself and others?
  3. **Pace** – Discovering the proper pace needed. *Have I considered the right pace for the situation?
  4. **Place** – Place informs behavior. *Am I in the optimal place to foster collaboration, honesty, and creativity?


Embrace Your Deathline to Unleash Your Potential

Reflecting on my professional journey, a standout leader I once worked with epitomized what it meant to deal with one’s deathlines. One day she completely forgot an important meeting. I knew she was embarrassed, yet she admitted her mistake, which humanized her and created a safe environment. Such leadership isn’t about appearing flawless; it’s about being genuine. This was a positive outcome of identifying and dealing with our deathlines.


In closing, to unlock the doors to unparalleled success and personal growth, it’s imperative we recognize, challenge, and transcend our deathlines. I urge you to embark on this introspective journey today, to unearth, confront, and ultimately liberate yourself from the shackles of your self-imposed boundaries – deathlines!

Remember – Knowing your deathline is your lifeline!



Karen Tilstra, PhD., is an author, award-winning innovator, psychologist, and super fun person. She has led hundreds of human-centered design projects, runs innovation workshops, and builds innovation labs for universities, healthcare systems, pro-sports teams, and government agencies. Her two books, The Deathline: Stopping the #1 All-Time Killer of Human Potential and 101 Activities to Ignite Collaboration, Boost Creativity, and Fuel Innovation, help leaders and team members unlock the creative potential that lies within all of us.


Thank you for reading Innovative Leadership Insights, where we bring you thought leaders and innovative ideas on leadership topics each week.


Ready to measure your leadership skills? Complete your complimentary assessment through the Innovative Leadership Institute. Learn the 7 leadership skills required to succeed during disruption and innovation.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership: Co-Creating Our Future on your favorite podcast platform, including Apple PodcastsTuneInSpotify, Amazon Music, AudibleiHeartRADIO, and NPR One.

Beyond Mental Health: The Evolutionary Frontier of Intentional Psychedelic Medicine Use in Curated Ceremonial Settings

Ehren Cruz, founder of The SpArc: a groundbreaking coaching approach that utilizes rites of passage immersive experiences to elevate awareness, embodiment, and impact dramatically, shares this article as a companion to his podcast Changing Leadership Mindsets – Psychedelics. 

Listen to the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership: Co-Creating Our Future via Apple PodcastsTuneIn, Spotify, Amazon Music, AudibleiHeartRADIO, and NPR One.

Across the world, the walls of psychedelic prohibition are rapidly crumbling as the momentum of what often is referred to as the “Psychedelic Renaissance” continues to gain steam. Fueled by the alarming needs of a nationwide mental health crisis, compounds once considered taboo are now being celebrated as “breakthrough medicines” from Oprah and Aaron Rodgers to Deepak Chopra and Prince Harry. With over 1400 peer-reviewed journal articles, 25,000 op-eds, and 300+ universities establishing psychedelic research institutes worldwide, the momentum is clearly not showing any sign of slowing down. It’s safe to say we have approached the dawn of a new Era in the acceptance of the therapeutic efficacy and importance of psychedelic medicine. Yet, although mental health is the preeminent driver of this contemporary resurgence in psychedelic interest, it is far from the original reason these “plant medicines” have been utilized by humans since time immemorial.


For deeper insight, we’ll have to take a look back into what researchers at the Center of Psychedelics and Spirituality from Emory University call the “Deep Time” of psychedelic use. The ceremonial path, that is, the utilization of plant medicines as sacramental catalysts in curated rites of passage experiences, can be traced back nearly 40,000 years to prehistoric cave paintings in Northern Spain, France & Africa. The late great Terrence McKenna, his brother Dennis, and prominent mycologist Paul Stamets have proposed the “Stoned Ape Theory,” a time period when homo-sapiens sapiens made a radical elevation in creative and cultural expression likely spawned by the ingestion of psycho-active compounds. The ongoing use of these compounds by subsequent civilizations for “self-actualization, creative inspiration, and spiritual connection” has persisted to this day at the heart of some of the world’s most celebrated traditions.


In Ancient Greece, for over 1700 years, the Eleusinian Mystery Cult served the Kykeon, an ergot-infused psychedelic brew that, when paired with sacred theater, taught of the “Immortality of the Soul”. In Egypt, hieroglyphics of mandrake, psilocybin, and bluewater lilly can be found in depictions of arcane ceremonial rites at the temples of Karnak & Luxor. The Aborigines have long used the Pituri Bush to access dream-like trances for divination and spiritual communion. In the Far East, Vedic ancient Indian temple art reveal the Gods Indra, Vishnu & Shiva dancing atop mushrooms falling from the heavens as they “praised the soma” (a lost elixir) for its divine qualities. Psilocybin is highly documented as a sacred right in Druid, Celtic & Nordic traditions, while peyote, huachuma, and ayahuasca have been central to Indigenous ceremonial use in North & South America for thousands of years. In Ancient Meso-America, Teonachtl (Flesh of the Gods – Psilocybin) was central to the cosmology of the Aztec, Olmec, Maya, Toltec, and Mazatec civilizations, who later regifted it back to the West through Maria Sabina in 1957. There is even great evidence of the use of a psychedelic eucharistic by Gnostic Christians in catacombs pre-council of Nicea in 389 A.D.


What makes psychedelics such a powerful catalyst of radical transformation? To understand this, we look to contemporary scientific research that analyzes the amazing neural-adaptive properties of psilocybin. Psilocybin is a serotonergic compound whose main active alkaloid psilocin connects directly to the 5H2A serotonin receptor. This receptor has a tremendous amount of expression in the neocortex, which governs the ability to change attitude, mood, thought processes, and perceptions. The thalamus, which is the mind’s weigh station for informational exchange, dramatically broadens its sensory information flow, greatly increasing integrative communication. Psilocybin also stimulates the production of Brain Derived Neurotropic Factor (BDNF), a protein that nurtures existing neurons and promotes the genesis of new ones. Increased neuroplasticity, along with pyramidal dendritic sprouting, supports the breakdown of maladaptive connections and the fortifying of positive ones. This is why powerful realizations made in the journey experience are seldom one-off insights and instead persist into sustained new pathways of thought, influencing decision-making far beyond the scope of immediate experience. And this is only the beginning; after nearly a 50-year moratorium on psychedelic research, the eruption of interest is leading to more and more novel therapeutic applications at an unprecedented rate.


Yet psychedelics go far beyond helping the unwell reestablish a baseline quality of life. In the annals of history, it’s frequently overlooked how many brilliant discoveries were made under the influence of psychedelics. The nobel prize-winning geneticist Francis Crick reportedly discovered the structure of the double helix under the influence of LSD. In biochemistry, Kary Mullis developed the PCR test from insights gleaned on psychedelics. Steve Jobs, while on psychedelics, was inspired to shift “prioritizing quality & synergy in products over revenue generation.” Ralph Abraham credits his groundbreaking insights on chaos theory to psychedelics, while the creation of “cloud” storage by Andrew Wiggins and advances in quantum gravity theory by Carlo Rovelli were paradigm-shifting additions to their respective fields. And, of course, we can’t forget the miraculous no-hitter pitched by the great Dock Ellis in 1970 while under the influence of a high-dose psychedelic experience.


Access to creative genius is not confined to adept scientists, nor is it solely about novel discovery. It’s important to remember another key facet of the psychedelic experience includes the release of oxytocin, a chemical often associated with breastfeeding that creates deep and sincere feelings of self-worth and self-love. This, along with serotonin and feelings of deep contentment and interconnection, often leads to powerful gestures of empathy and compassion towards the self and others. In my own work, I recently facilitated a curated psychedelic immersive experience for three YPO Billionaire leaders who own a software security engineering firm and were in the middle of an equity rollover into a newly formed entity. While in a place of deep reflection on how to divvy up a $20,000,000 surplus mid-journey, they came to the powerful realization of the genuine love and care they held for many employees who were not shareholders and thus did not have guaranteed positions in the formulation of the new organization. Instead of dividing their windfall between the three of them, they decided at that very moment to provide each employee in the organization a $50,000 cash bonus, a guaranteed position in the new organization, and options to buy shares in the new organization no matter how large or small the investment. In one brief moment of compassionate realization, they changed the life trajectory of 400 earnest employees who went from a period of great trepidation in potentially losing their positions to a life-affirming capital investment in their future.


In supporting dozens of curated retreats and masterminding psychedelic ceremonial experiences, as well as upwards of 150 one-on-one self-actualization journeys, I’ve seen countless shifts in integrative thinking release clients from self-imposed limitations while opening them up to new thresholds of potential. Time and time again, accessing these transpersonal states of consciousness has resulted in dramatic life-affirming decisions that have had a profound impact on families, communities, and organizations. When you let go of who you think you are, you open up into who you truly are; and there are no bounds to the creative potential of a psyche that is free of the confines of social and cultural conditioning.


As psychedelic science reveals in countless studies since the landmark Johns Hopkins research led by the legendary Dr. Rolland Griffith, there is a direct correlation in the power of transcendental revelation leading toward lasting therapeutic outcomes. From my many years of guiding ceremonial journeys to impact professionals, leaders, and entrepreneurs, there is no doubt accessing mystical states in a supportive intentional container can lead toward profound elevation in personal and professional capacity. This insight and healing directly correlate to a dramatic rise in emotional intelligence, innovation, and compassionate servant leadership.


In our contemporary culture that is bursting at the seams with complex problems, we need provocative solutions to expand our perception into new creative outcomes. As Albert Einstein famously said, “You cannot solve a problem with the same mind that created it.”  Enter psychedelics. With the right preparation, navigation, and intentional integration framework, these powerful compounds can provide you with a surefire way to discover “How to Change your Mind” for the betterment of us all.



Ehren Cruz is a historian & anthropologist, Third Wave Psychedelic Certified Coach (CCP1), CTA & ICF Professional Certified Coach (PCC), Master Ceremonialist, Trained Harm Reductionist, loving husband & proud father. He is devoted to the healing & self-actualization of self & others in all facets of his life.

For over a decade, Ehren has dedicated his life to the creation of experiences that ignite the mind, inspire the heart, and empower our communities. From reimagining organizational culture to transforming the face of festivals & events, his success is rooted in the fostering of environments that welcome and encourage self-actualization, team synergy, and inspire creative expression. Between 2009-2019, Ehren produced, curated, and served as Master of Ceremonies for events welcoming over 300K patrons, hailing from 80 different nations, including 5400+ performers, 3000+ individual shows, 1650+ workshops, and countless immersive experiences – setting a new bar for what’s possible when converging visionary art, music, culture, & spirit into the alchemy of intentional festival settings.

After a decade as an award-winning producer & high-performance team builder, netting over $100M in gross regional income through festivals & events, in early 2021, Ehren founded The SpArc: a groundbreaking coaching approach that utilizes rites of passage immersive experiences to dramatically elevate awareness, embodiment, and impact.


Thank you for reading the Innovative Leadership Insights, where we bring you thought leaders and innovative ideas on leadership topics each week. 


Ready to measure your leadership skills? Complete your complimentary assessment through the Innovative Leadership Institute. Learn the 7 leadership skills required to succeed during disruption and innovation.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-Creating Our Future on your favorite podcast platform, including Apple PodcastsTuneInSpotify, Amazon Music, AudibleiHeartRADIO, and NPR One.

The Third Day: The Decision That Separates The Pros From The Amateurs with Dre Baldwin

Dre Baldwin, author and host of the Work On Your Game Podcast shared this article as a companion to his podcast Ignite Your Leadership Game

Podcast intro from “Faux Mo:” and ILI AI experiment:


Link to the entire interview:

Listen to the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership: Co-Creating Our Future via Apple PodcastsTuneInStitcherSpotify, Amazon Music, AudibleiHeartRADIO, and NPR One.

I worked as a membership salesperson (and sometimes personal trainer) at Bally Total Fitness in Cheltenham, PA, shortly after college. My friend Trelana wanted to get in better shape but didn’t know how to go about it. I offered to train her and show her some stuff she could do on her own.

From the first day, it was clear that Trelana wasn’t too thrilled about any aspect of working out. Nonetheless, she soldiered through the first two sessions. I introduced her to burpees and planks and showed her how to use many of the machines in the gym.

Trelana texted to tell me she wouldn’t be making our third session. Unlike most people who missed gym sessions, Trelana offered no excuse or explanation — just a simple “I’m not coming.” When I finally got in touch with her two weeks later, Trelana told me the deal.

“I don’t like working out, Dre. I make myself do it. The first couple days are OK, but that third day is when I just don’t feel like it anymore.”

Trelana was the first to articulate this to me, but she wasn’t the first (nor the last) to go through it. If you’ve ever joined a gym or re-started your workouts after some time away, you know The Third Day.

The First Day

You feel great.

New gym clothes, new sneakers, a new trainer, a 20-session pack of boot camp classes… new everything!

The workout is tough. You’re out of shape. But it’s fun to be back and doing something for your health.

You drag yourself to the bathroom mirror afterward and enthusiastically say, “I’m DOING this!”

The Second Day

There’s soreness in body parts that you didn’t know could be sore.

Your body is reminding you of how long it’s been since it worked this hard.

The second-day workout kicks your butt. Combined with the first-day fatigue, it’s even harder. But you push through it, and you’re still excited about this new experience. It’s only the second day, after all. A new car still smells new on the second day.

You drag yourself home afterward and say to yourself (with just a bit less enthusiasm), “I’m DOING this!”

The Third Day

Already, things are… different.

You snooze your alarm a time or two. Your workout sneakers — set next to your bed, as the motivational blog post told you to do — feel like they’re made of cement.

At the gym, you barely acknowledge the happy, bubbly front desk attendant. You don’t want to hear your trainer’s mouth. Your body and mind are not feeling this discipline thing right now. You seriously consider quitting this whole getting-in-shape scheme. You remember that you’re still within the 10-day no-questions-asked cancellation period for the gym.

Your discipline (or lack thereof) is saying (loudly), allow me to reintroduce myself!

The Third Day isn’t confined to the gym. The Third Day is any situation where you know there’s work ahead of you, and you question if you’re willing to be fully present and do that work.

You Know It’s The Third Day When…

● Your alarm clock goes off — and you’re not quite done sleeping…
● You had a rough day at work, and you know the next day will be even rougher…
● You accomplish a goal, realizing that it was a lot harder and took a lot longer than you initially expected. Now you have to decide if you’re willing to put yourself through it again to repeat your success…
● Your child wakes up crying in the middle of the night, and it’s your turn (or always your turn) to quiet the baby…
● You had a tough game or practice last night, and there’s another one today…
● You have a trainer, and the warmup alone is harder than the full workouts you’re used to doing on your own…
● Expectations are higher and more ambitious than what you’re comfortable with…

It’s much easier to be motivated to handle challenges when your mind and body are up for it. Nobody feels motivated about work every single day. When you’re a professional, though, the work is every single day, and it’s not optional. Your job can be one long Third Day in and of

That’s what you signed up for. Are you in or out?

From The Third Day: The Decision That Separates The Pros From The Amateurs by Dre Baldwin.



In just 5 years, Dre Baldwin went from the end of his high school team’s bench to the first contract of a 9-year professional basketball career.

While playing professional basketball, Dre pioneered new genres of personal branding and entrepreneurship via an ever-growing content publishing empire.

Dre started blogging in 2005 and began publishing videos on YouTube in 2006. He has published over 8,000 videos to 137,000+ subscribers, his content being viewed over 73 million times to date.

Dre’s daily Work On Your Game Podcast MasterClass has over 1,700 episodes and more than 3 million downloads.

Dre has given 4 TEDxTalks on Discipline, Confidence, Mental Toughness & Personal Initiative and has authored 29 books. He has appeared in national campaigns with Nike, Finish Line, Wendy’s, Gatorade, Buick, Wilson Sports, STASH Investments, and DIME magazine.

A Philadelphia native and Penn State alum, Dre lives in Miami.



Maureen is on the radio! If you’re in the Cleveland area, tune in to WKSU (89.7 FM) this Tuesday night at 10 pm EDT for the radio version of our Innovating Leadership: Co-Creating Our Future podcast. They’re broadcasting Maureen’s first interview with Pauline Koelbl about her ShEquity venture in Africa.  Far from Cleveland? Listen to WKSU’s live stream at https://www.ideastream.org/listen-online.


Thank you for reading Innovative Leadership Insights, where we bring you thought leaders and innovative ideas on leadership topics each week.


Ready to measure your leadership skills? Complete your complimentary assessment through the Innovative Leadership Institute. Learn the 7 leadership skills required to succeed during disruption and innovation.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-Creating Our Future via Apple PodcastsTuneInStitcherSpotify, Amazon Music, AudibleiHeartRADIO, and NPR One.

The Human Energy Crisis at Work: The Impact of EQ

Joshua Freedman, author, Master Certified Coach (ICF), and the CEO and co-founder of Six Seconds, the global community for EQ, shared this article as a companion to his podcast, The Human Energy Crisis at Work

Podcast intro from “Faux Mo:” an AI experiment.


Link to the entire interview:

Listen to the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership: Co-Creating Our Future via Apple PodcastsTuneInStitcherSpotify, Amazon Music, AudibleiHeartRADIO, and NPR One.

The brutal fact: People are disengaging because companies are failing their people. We’re in a time of profound complexity and chaos, and it seems this mess IS the ‘new normal.’ It’s a test, and few companies are passing it

If half of your people are burned out, how well will your business handle the next stress? The data is clear. In global studies from Microsoft, Six Seconds, Deloitte, and Gallup, research says “employees are struggling.”

As David Minze puts it, one of the most essential steps is for leaders to confront reality – the signs are there, but leaders are ignoring them: “Laziness, apathy, and dissidence are merely symptoms of bigger problems that can affect employee performance. And by the time many of those symptoms surface, remediation to improve employee engagement might be impossible.”

Do you want people to follow you out of fear — or trust?

The human brain is Not a Fan of uncertainty; we treat it as danger – and one of the most common reactions is attempting to control. You can see it as some senior leaders create ‘back to work’ mandates or call for ‘get back to the grind.’ And that reactive, controlling stance is a recipe for failure that comes from a common confusion:

Motivation and compliance are not the same thing.

Motivation is driven by trust, purpose, commitment, belonging and growth. The fire is on the inside.

Compliance is driven by fear. The fire is on the outside.

Motivation is relational. Compliance is transactional. Motivation is about engaged people going beyond. Compliance is about doing the minimum.

The lack of engagement is exacerbated by larger trends – for example, around the world, people are more lonely and isolated. That isolation is significantly worse for younger people, amplifying issues of generational differences in the workplace, and impairing future success.

The focus on compliance, the lack of purpose and connection, and weak management, are all rooted in poor emotional intelligence, and it’s costing businesses billions of dollars.

How to solve the “human energy crisis”

Get your head out of the sand. The first step, according to Jeff Kinsley – America’s Director for EQ Biz, and former senior HR Director for LAC at FedEx, is to stop denying the problem. “Companies are pushing themselves to the point of no return by not engaging themselves to, at the minimum, do a temperature check on their people.”

Kathleen Hogan, Microsoft’s Chief People Officer, says to ask better questions: Instead of asking “How are you,” ask questions that get to the essence of energy, such as, “Do you feel like you are doing meaningful work?”

In Six Seconds’ research on high-performing teams, we found three simple, powerful, renewal sources of human energy at work – which we can measure in minutes… and it’s all about emotion:

Teams that experience more joy at work are 10x more likely to be high achieving.

Scores on trust predict over 70% in variation of performance outcomes.

And teams that celebrate both success and failure are 25x as likely to have long-term success.

Some readers will say, “That’s too touchy-feely,” but maybe it’s time to rethink that bias. After all, it’s what’s led us to the state where less than 2 in 10 employees are engaged…maybe it’s time to stop pretending people are just rational – and get smarter about feelings at work.



Joshua is the author of five books, articles, case studies, and psychometric assessments related to emotional intelligence (EQ). He’s a Master Certified Coach (ICF) and the CEO and co-founder of Six Seconds, the global community for EQ. Six Seconds is the world’s first & largest network of emotional intelligence practitioners and researchers, with 25 offices globally. As a consultant, facilitator, or coach, Joshua’s clients include FedEx, Intel, Etihad Airways, Amazon, Microsoft, the UN, and all branches of the US armed services. Joshua co-developed Six Seconds’ EQ Certification Training which he has delivered on five continents as a master trainer to thousands of professionals seeking practical tools for learning and teaching emotional intelligence.


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A Brain Is A Terrible Thing To Waste: Understanding The Inner Workings Of Your Brain

Innovative Leadership: Moving Beyond Resilience To Antifragility

Greg Moran, a C-level digital, strategy, and change leadership executive with extensive global operations experience, shares his experience in this podcast, Recession Prep 101:  Planning Is Everything.

This article is written by Christoper Washington, a learning ecosystem designer who serves as Executive Vice President and Provost of Franklin University

Over the past two years, the destabilizing effects of the pandemic and other socio-economic, geopolitical and technological headwinds have made it difficult to harmonize plans, infrastructure, resources and programs with the changing needs of stakeholders. Changing stakeholder needs and differences in leaders’ responses to disruptive forces in higher education resulted in an uneven recovery from the pandemic, with some colleges struggling or even shutting their doors, others resiliently bouncing back to pre-pandemic operating levels, and some even growing stronger in achieving their mission. With regard to the destabilizing effects of change, it was the 20th-century pugilist Mike Tyson who said, “Everyone has a plan till they get punched in the mouth.” For many nonprofit and educational leaders, the pandemic was a sucker punch.

According to the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) 2022 Global Risks Report, the pandemic is much more than a temporary and single bump in the road. Researchers at the WEF suggest that organizations will increasingly encounter, and be challenged by a “volatile, fractured, and increasingly catastrophic” outlook that includes social cohesion erosion, geo-economic confrontations, cybersecurity failures, misinformation and digital inequality, among other factors.

I think it’s time for leaders to move beyond their initial reaction to the pandemic’s sucker punch and begin to plan for the next rounds of disruption to come. In a recent article, Maureen Metcalf, my fellow Forbes Councils member and a colleague I work with on podcasts, articulates an innovative leadership framework that explains how leaders can develop more complex perspectives as a way to manage complex challenges. One such lens that enables leaders to conduct situational analysis and realign elements of the system to achieve growth during periods of disruption is put forth by Nassim Nicholas Taleb in his book Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder. This lens accounts for the impact of stress on organizations over time and articulates an action logic that can result in strengthened systems. In relation to stressors, Taleb classifies organizational systems in one of three ways:

Fragile: Systems that break under pressure, where the results of the organization decrease in value due to the negative asymmetry with the operating environment.

Robust: Systems that stay the same under pressure, or are resilient and have the ability to return to a state of symmetry and balance with the operating environment.

Antifragile: Systems that get stronger under pressure (up to a point), where the results of the system increase in value due to positive asymmetry with the operating environment.

Taleb suggests that these three states are relative to a given situation, and not an absolute property of a system. For example, a glass may be robust enough to hold hot water, but fragile enough to break if it is dropped. One can also determine if an object or system feature is more fragile than another and predict which one will last longer in a given situation. For Taleb, antifragile systems are strengthened by introducing them to a modicum of harm, challenge or stress. Think weightlifting for muscle strength or vaccinations for disease immunity.

The action logic and related decisions leaders make in response to disruption can either make organizations more fragile, resilient or antifragile. Taleb calls professionals who cause systems to be more fragile over time the “fragilista.” I think this type of thinking is reflected in responses to change for many non-profit and educational organizations that have experienced a loss in value during the pandemic. These fragilista organizations:

  • Are unwilling to consider competitive forces and to respond accordingly.
  • Define all disorder as “bad” or as roadblocks to goals.
  • Refuse to look objectively at low-performing programs and to take appropriate action.
  • Maintain and defend the “status quo” rather than experiment with alternative approaches that may be more effective
  • Choose not to keep pace with emerging risks such as digital security and cyber-threats
  • Have inadequate cash reserves or resources to invest in more promising options.
  • Restrict the use of staff and resources rather than engage all resources and the collective intelligence of people in resolving problems and pursuing new opportunities.

Developing A Fresh Mindset

Alternatively, more innovative leaders can think beyond resilient approaches to antifragile approaches that respond to disruption in ways that increase the performance value of their organization. Presented below are eight ideas for leaders who are interested in developing a more antifragile mindset.

  1. Heighten awareness of changing situations by regularly reading reports such as the WEF’s Global Risks Report mentioned earlier.
  2. Set financial growth goals, develop plans to achieve them and work to assure that the value of intended accomplishments exceeds the cost of pursuing them.
  3. Seek to detect fragilities in organizational systems and minimize them, rather than avoid addressing the necessary cuts that can potentially drain critical resources away from more valued initiatives.
  4. Encourage creativity and risk-taking that supports growth strategies. This can include entrepreneurship activity, running pilot projects and conducting program experiments.
  5. Collaborate with partners who are willing to grow with you and to put “skin in the game,” as suggested by Taleb. In this way, partners are invested in the outcomes, more likely to think long-term and less likely to be affected by disruption.
  6. Consider what Gervase Bushe and Jacob Storch call “generative images” when communicating about changes to your team. Metaphors of organizational transformation can offer fresh insights and change one’s ideas about what is possible and desirable to achieve.
  7. Pursue interdisciplinary learning by tackling problems that don’t fit neatly into a disciplinary area, connecting ideas across disciplines, learning from experts in different fields and taking field trips to learn about other complex organizational systems.
  8. Participate in innovative leadership development programs. Across industries, there are plenty of such programs designed for leaders.

Leaders can expect to face multiple sources of disruption in the foreseeable future. It is reasonable to think that disharmony and disruption on the horizon will penalize more rigid and inflexible leaders and their organizations. Alternatively, those leaders willing to develop an antifragile mindset can be well positioned to adapt their plans and approaches to emerging realities and grow through the stress and disorder.



Christopher L. Washington, Ph.D. serves as Provost and Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs at Franklin University. He is a Fellow of the Innovative Leadership Institute, and serves on the America250 International Advisory Council.



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  1. Read the Forbes article Are You A Future-Ready Leader– free
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Coaching, the Secret Code to Uncommon Leadership

Ruchira Chaudhary, leading executive coach and adjunct faculty at several top-tier business schools, provided this article as a companion to her podcast Coaching, the Secret Code to Uncommon Leadership

This insight and interview are brought to you in collaboration with WBECS by coaching.com. WBECS speakers represent some of the most brilliant minds and most innovative thinkers in the business and executive coaching space. WBECS provides the most impactful training and resources for professional coaches globally.

In June 1966, Robert F. Kennedy said in a speech in Cape Town, ‘Like it or not, we live in interesting times. They are times of danger and uncertainty; but they are also more open to the creative energy of men than any other time in history.’ You may be familiar with this apocryphal Chinese curse that sounds like a blessing or a warm wish but is used ironically to indicate a period of chaos or disorder. I cannot think of a better analogy to describe the uncertainty of mammoth proportions we face today, caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. On the work front, virtually overnight, the economic shock gave rise to a new reality that caused much stress and anxiety, leaving everyone bewildered. The work from home (WFH) phenomenon is now becoming our new normal; we may have settled into a routine of sorts, but the underlying duress, angst and the occasional panic attack is not going away. Today, more than ever, leaders must discern, adapt to and shape this shifting terrain. It is about balancing many fronts: A leader needs to focus on employee well-being yet drive business results; he needs to provide clarity despite not knowing enough and, above all, he needs to project confidence despite knowing harsh business realities. It’s also a time for displaying resilience, bouncing back and building agility that will help weather this storm professionally and personally.

A Time for Uncommon Leadership

Bouncing Back and Leaping Forward

First, leaders need to build higher levels of resilience in themselves and their teams by taking charge of how they think about misfortune, crisis and adversity. Defined as the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties, or the ability to deal with a crisis situation or to quickly attain the pre-crisis status, resilience is perhaps the most essential ingredient in this leadership mix today. Resilient managers need to be nimble and show swiftness in taking decisions (even when they do not know the answers) and move from analysis to a plan of action (and reaction). It’s about shifting your thinking gears from what caused this crisis to how we fix it. Essentially, it is about moving from cause-oriented thinking to response-oriented thinking where the focus is strictly forward-looking.

Defining the end goal or destination first and working backwards to execute the plan will help employees envision the future and is emotionally stabilizing, suggests Punit Renjen, global chief executive officer, Deloitte. He adds, ‘Throughout the pandemic, organizations around the globe have demonstrated remarkable agility, changing business models literally overnight: setting up remote-work arrangements; offshoring entire business processes to less-affected geographies; initiating multi-company cooperation to redeploy furloughed employees across sectors. In each situation, the urgency for results prevailed over traditional bureaucratic responses. These organizations managed to do this because of the resilience of their leaders.’

Building Reservoirs of Trust

Second, leaders have to strengthen the trust equation. Trust, a seemingly abstract, ethereal concept, is critical for you to forge genuine bonds with the teams you lead. In times of crisis, as you lead through uncertainty, you need people to follow, and that can happen only if they believe in you, are inspired by you and are nurtured by trust. Research demonstrates that trust yields real results in terms of economic growth, increased shareholder value and innovation, greater community stability and better health outcomes. ‘From an employee perspective, consider that more than 60 per cent of workers say senior management–employee trust is paramount to their satisfaction. That’s because high-trust environments allow people to be their true selves, and when people can bring their whole selves to work, they are not only more creative, but more productive as well.’ Many leaders have done a phenomenal job of gaining this trust by deftly navigating the pandemic, despite the chaos, the unknown variables and the conflicting guidance at the start of the outbreak. They can continue to earn this trust by thinking of how they can rebuild a safe space for their people when they return to work (literally and metaphorically), how they stretch themselves to find the time to coach and guide in these uncertain times, and how they do their best to preserve jobs rather than cutting organization costs in the face of imminent losses. Therefore, trust is as important in a professional relationship as it is in a personal one. When leaders, despite their crazy schedules, find the time to check in on their people, they create with them a personal equation, based on trust.

Topics like grief are seldom discussed at work. In fact, more often than not, we don’t even know if we should discuss such topics. Leaders, mental health experts and coaches are now all telling us that it is okay to say you are not okay. Feelings of grief, loneliness and disconnection are real. It’s okay to respond by saying, ‘Actually, I am going completely crazy handling work, household chores, a young child and caring for the elderly.’ Perhaps the most troubling aspect of this pandemic is the open-endedness of it. If it were a temporary state, we could say aloud, ‘This too shall pass, hang in there.’ If we knew that there was light at the end of the tunnel, and we would eventually emerge from the long dark tunnel and soon there would be bright sunshine, things would have been very different. As a leader, it is a testing time for you. It is about maintaining the right balance and remaining focused on moving forward amid destabilizing uncertainty. That means helping your employees navigate complex emotions—grief, stress, loneliness—that most of us simply are not accustomed to in the workplace, at least at the scale we are experiencing now.

Extracted from Coaching: The Secret Code to Uncommon Leadership (authored by Ruchira Chaudhary) with permission from Penguin Random House India


An alumna of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, Ruchira Chaudhary straddles the corporate and academic worlds – she is a leading executive coach, adjunct faculty at several top tier business schools and runs a boutique consulting firm focused on organizational strategy solutions.

Ruchira has a diverse and eclectic functional background in mergers and acquisitions, organization design, culture and leadership, coupled with two decades of experience in emerging markets in Asia, the Middle East and North Africa. During her corporate career, Ruchira held leadership roles in Medtronic and AIG in Singapore, Qatar Telecom (now Oredoo) in Qatar and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) in India. 

Ruchira teaches and frequently coaches MBA students and senior executives as affiliate faculty at several top business schools. 

Her book Coaching: The Secret Code to Uncommon Leadership (PRH) has been critically acclaimed by so many luminaries – corporate leaders, sports captains and academics.



Ready to measure your leadership skills? Here is a free assessment provided by the Innovative Leadership Institute that will measure the 7 leadership skills required to succeed during disruption and innovation. Click HERE

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future via iTunesTuneInStitcherSpotify,  Amazon Music,  AudibleiHeartRADIO, and NPR One. Also, stay up-to-date on new shows by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.


Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

The Science Behind Our Yes!

This week’s article is by Lou Zenteno and Jim Ritchie-Dunham as a companion to Jim’s podcast  The Science Behind Our Yes!

The evidence is clear.  When we start with a Yes!, we are far more productive, creative, and engaged.  When we start with a No!, we are far less productive, creative, and engaged.  The evidence is in social media everywhere, in our work with 1,000s of groups in 43 countries, in our teaching at leading universities, and in our survey research with over 100,000 responses in 125 countries.

Along with the recent shake-up of the world as we knew it, brought on by the pandemic, comes the opportunity to self-assess where we are putting our energy in our day-to-day activities. While this isn’t new, the changes and uncertainty we have experienced, both firsthand and through our groups, have created a more obvious space to reflect on it. We have new situations that require new daily decisions.

If we make 35,000 choices per day, or 2 per second, 99% of them are taken unconsciously [1]. It is in this unseen space where we have the opportunity to find our real Yes!  We can avoid running on autopilot, shifting from reacting blindly to being consciously aware.

Choosing our Yes! is an acceptance; affirmation and confirmation of our human creativity. It is an acceptance of ourselves that enables us to access what we hold true. It is an affirmation of our capacity to choose, through our will, where we want to direct our attention and intention. It entails the affirmation of other agreements that are intrinsically connected. And perhaps, most importantly, it is the confirmation to the external world of where we are choosing to channel our energy.  This shows how we enter into our relationship with the world.

As leaders, you might be thinking, “How can I ‘know’ this for myself?”  Easy!  You know this.  You are constantly receiving feedback about your choices through your experiences. Our work with leaders shows that there is a common denominator–you know when you are resonating in your Yes!, when you are engaged in creative flow, in synergistic collaboration within a group, reaching high impact together.  You also know when your efforts, your attention, and your intention, are not aligned with your Yes!, when you accepting a No.

While easier said than done, the truth is that not choosing your Yes! has huge implications.  Falling asleep, not being aware of where you are making your choices from, the perspectives and agreements you are accepting unconsciously are dangerous, expensive, and very inefficient.  It’s not only ineffective for organizations, it is also an energy-draining experience for you and your colleagues. Companies are struggling today to get the talent they need. They are having trouble finding accountability, creativity, and self-initiative in their collaborators [2].  It is easier to attract talent to highly engaging, creative, productive experiences than to disengaging, improductive experiences.

It is your decision.  You can choose and shift your agreements.  You can align with your Yes!  Groups with a deeper Yes!, a deeper shared purpose, have more healthy interactions, far greater outcomes, and achieve much more impact. This has been shown to be true in fieldwork from the Institute for Strategic Clarity (ISC) with over 1,000 groups in 43 countries, surveys with over 100,000 responses in 125 countries, and our research network including the ISC, Harvard, Oxford, UCT, EGADE, and Boston College.

So finally, something to reflect on: What gets your Yes!?  Where are you giving your creativity? For the love of what future do you give your will? This creative contribution, which is unique to you, is yours to give.  Yours to engage.  We invite you into daily practice, asking yourself, “Is this a Yes! for me?”  If it is not, then, “Am I accepting a No?”  “Can I shift this to a Yes!?” You can also ask this within a group. Is this the Yes! that we want? Are we happy with how this is going? Is this engaging us? Is this bringing our best creativity? Can we shift it to a Yes!? If we can’t, can we still accept this No, even when knowing this is not our Yes!?  What is the cost of staying engaged with a No? Why would we stay?

Here is your easy cost-benefit analysis. What is the cost of you Yes! and the cost of your No?  When you accept the No, you give up value creation and impact towards the business’ purpose.  Value and impact that can be derived by choosing our Yes!

In the end, it is your choice. Your choice to collapse and accept your No, or engage your Yes!

You can find out more about the work with organizations, the free Agreements Health Check survey, and our research at isclarity.org, where you can also contact us to connect to our network for a full assessment of your organization.



1 https://go.roberts.edu/leadingedge/the-great-choices-of-strategic-leaders

2 https://go.manpowergroup.com/talent-shortage

About the Authors

Jim Ritchie-Dunham is president of the Institute for Strategic Clarity, affiliated with Boston College, Harvard, EGADE Business School, and UPMadrid, co-author of Ecosynomics (2014) & Managing from Clarity (2001). He blogs regularly at jlrd.me. He has a BSPE (UTulsa), MIM (Thunderbird), MBA (ESADE), and PhD Decision Sciences (UTAustin). Ecosynomics: The Science of Abundance shows (1) you prefer abundance-based agreements to scarcity-based ones, (2) lots of people have figured out how to live this way, for decades, with far better results and experiences, and (3) you can choose to shift your agreements, experiences, and outcomes to abundance-based. [Get the book at https://bit.ly/ecosynomicsbook.]

Lourdes Zenteno is a systems thinker, a creative integrative professional, and a purpose-driven strategist. She is trained as a Systems and Industrial Engineering with a major in Quality (Black Belt Six Sigma); holds an MBA from Grenoble Ècole de Management, France, and a M. Phil. in Ecosynomics from the Institute for Strategic Clarity, USA.  She is Co-founder of ConnexAre, member of the Institute for Strategic Clarity Community and a founding member at Intergen. Her 10+ years of experience with international organizations have been mainly around socio-ecosystem design, process improvement and transformation, and collaborative processes that move individuals and groups towards flourishing.

Photo by Drahomír Posteby-Mach on Unsplash

Building a Culture of Brain Health, Growth, and Effectiveness

This week’s article is provided by Dr. JJ Walcutt, scientist, innovator and author, and Jason Armendariz as a companion to JJ’s podcast Building a Culture of Brain Health, Growth, and Effectiveness.

Here is a short clip from Maureen and JJ’s interview:



Recent years have passed without the typical fanfare of annual celebrations of reflecting upon the sunsetting year and looking forward to the new year with goals, resolutions, and a vision of what a person wants to achieve in the new year.  Each new year enters with a renewed focus on challenges and building a road map to accomplish them.  For instance, if the goal is a new body weight, learning a new sport, or even setting the goal of running a marathon, one might expend resources on a training plan, gym membership, or a trainer to strengthen their bodies in preparation for their goal.  As common as these are, unfortunately, a lot of these lose steam, gym memberships go unutilized, and visions go unrealized.  And no one bats an eye.  It is a societal acceptable failure.

According to  US News report, Americans have spent more than $60B on trying to achieve this goal of losing weight.  Tom Van Riper points out in this 2012 article that the cost to train Olympic athletes can cost a range of $13K-$25K per year, monies that do not see a tangible financial return on investment.  Corporations, less focused on Olympic athletes, are focusing on the health and wellness of their employees paying for gym memberships or installing smaller health clubs in their offices.

Have you found yourself or your company seeking, similarly, how to gain the next competitive advantage? Like many, searching for an edge when it comes to reaching their physical goals hiring experts or coaches, has your business sought a workshop to hone and sharpen skills?  Have you found a gap in your knowledge or desired to gain momentum in an area that may not be your strength?  If so, you’re not alone.  However, there is an angle that most do not know about nor consider when it comes to self-improvement or improving individual performance. Training the entirety of the person – mind, body, and brain.

The skills that tomorrow’s workforce needs to thrive in uncertain, changing, and chaotic situations will not be met by the installation of a health club, but by a deliberate focus on training the most important organ in the body – the brain.

Meet the Accelerate program which combines the latest and emerging trends in cognitive psychological research, developed by Dr. JJ Walcutt.  Dr. Walcutt combines her experience from academia, industry, and the US Government to concentrate training for businesses, teams, and individuals to gain the most out of personalized training and accomplish a higher level of performance.


The foundation of this elite-level training centers around the findings of cognitive psychology.  Educating participants on the cognitive processes and how the brain system works to process information and understanding choices can drive toward optimal performance.  Working to understand resilience can enhance your ability to recover from stressful moment’s compartmentalize, and function with clarity. This can help productivity as well as work towards innovative solutions by enhancing your ability to clearly analyze the problems at hand. The current workforce faces challenges and deadlines which often force personnel to juggle multiple tasks.  Accelerate discusses agility and leads participants to improve their ability to switch efficiently and effectively between tasks.  These focal areas of training are unprecedented in today’s corporate training but will be key for those corporations, teams, and individuals who want to be ahead of the curve of tomorrow’s challenges.  In his book, A Whole New Mind, Daniel Pink points out the importance of developing skills and the mind for skills in which the future will require a human in the loop.

Preparing an individual to be this human in the loop leverages the training that Dr. Walcutt has developed for the accelerate program.  Like the algorithms that suggest the next song on your chosen music platform, personalized learning will help corporations, teams, and individuals achieve greater success through optimized training.


Accelerate spends time honing the understanding of information processing as individuals and across teams.  As a foremost expert in cognitive load theory and unmatched experience in team dynamics from her time doing DoD research, Dr. Walcutt transfers the understanding of working memory to participants.  This allows program participants to learn how to harness the information, increase their ability to hold it, and be able to enhance the speed and accuracy of applying that information.  Having pertinent information at hand may then translate to the ability to process information more rapidly and allow teams to exponentially collaborate on issues.

Part of any corporate success is the ability to get ahead of competitors.  The same may be true of individuals looking for that promotion, edge, or gain that will put them in the driver’s seat for their career.  Getting ahead means being able to make sense of information, connect the dots, and ultimately make decisions that will be impactful for the future.  Dr. Walcutt’s design of Accelerate will allow participants to learn how to best anticipate, assess, and then act to make key decisions efficiently to achieve desired outcomes.


Most organizations, whether corporate, military, private, or even academia have goals that translate across domains.  Accelerate is the one program that delivers elite-level training that deliberately addresses these.  80% of leaders feel they are “time poor” and wanting more hours in the day to accomplish duties and tasks.  Accelerate will demonstrate methods that will allow a reduction in time to do tasks, improving efficiency.  Once time is mastered, the next logical step is to then master the ability to work through multiple tasks and learn specifically how to switch more effectively between skills and settings.  Finally, quality is the concern across all domains.  Through Accelerate, increase your quality of output, learning to accomplish more tasks at a higher level.  Increase the number of good decisions of your corporations, teams, and individuals.

Many Americans spend countless hours exercising the body.  Accelerate wants to know – do you exercise your mind?


About the Authors

Dr. J.J. Walcutt is a scientist, innovator, and learning engineer that specializes in strategic development and reform across education, military, and government. Her current work focuses on optimizing human cognition and performance across a wide spectrum of learning programs that promote optimization. Dr. Walcutt has served in the U.S. Government as a Director of Innovation for distributed learning optimization and as a Human Innovation Fellow. In her role at the Pentagon, she also served as a U.S. Delegate to NATO, Partnership for Peace, and as a national and international keynote speaker. Dr. Walcutt has over 20 years of experience in research and development for training, education, and human optimization.

Jason Armendariz is a cognitive scientist with a lifelong learner attitude and a true passion for training, education, and leadership.  Jason started his path in learning as a high school educator prior to joining the military.  During his time in the military, he rose to serve as a trainer in tactics, communications, and leadership.  He has experience in research and development efforts to improve cognitive skills, learning, team dynamics and human performance. Jason has studied cognitive science, human systems interaction, and adult education and strives to build the capability of others to succeed by integrating research into programs and plans to improve learning.

Photo by Fakurian Design on Unsplash