Posts Tagged ‘mentors’

Brainpower boosters? Not so fast…

Posted on: December 1st, 2015 by Steve Robbins presented by How To Mentor Toolkit No Comments

Happy BrainBeing in the self-help space to some degree, I see an awful lot of products designed to “boost your brainpower.” This is an interesting value proposition, but it’s incomplete. You need to ask: how will you use the boosted brainpower? What will you expect it to do that your current brainpower isn’t doing?

This is an extremely important question. In my experience, brainpower is NOT what holds people back. What holds people back is not brainpower, it’s how the brainpower they have is organized. Brainpower is secondary to the ability to take action, align actions in mutually reinforcing ways towards a goal, and use feedback from the world to make mid-course corrections.

For example, if your primary attitude towards life and the world is a “victim mindset,” do you really want to boots your brainpower? You’ll be that much more effective at finding ways to explain why you’re a victim and not in control of your own life.

Boosting brainpower without making sure you’re using it for something worthwhile is like putting in a high-horsepower engine without making sure your car is pointed in the direction you want to go. What determines where you end up is the direction of the car. The horsepower only affects how fast you’ll get there.

FIRST choose a worthwhile direction.
THEN boost your brainpower.

Want to change yourself? Change the system.

Posted on: August 1st, 2015 by Steve Robbins presented by How To Mentor Toolkit No Comments

While reading “The Lucifer Effect,” it’s becoming increasingly clear how much of behavior is a product of situations and systems. I think that coaches and psychological change agents are missing this piece, big-time.

I have many people tell me that “if a person just gets clear on their big passion, they’ll make the change they need to make.” Or if they “just have an inspiring vision,” that’s enough. And yet that simply hasn’t been my experience. People go to a change agent, come back all pumped up, and six weeks later are back where they started.

(Besides, do you want a surgeon who has passion, or a surgeon who has training? There really is more to life than just having passion. Indeed, there’s research that says passion often comes from doing something you don’t like and growing to like it.)

Yes, not having an internal change will often keep you stuck. If you sabotage yourself at every turn, you’ll be stuck wherever you are. But my new opinion is internal change only works if it gets you into action. But not just any action; action needs to help create a new situation or new system that will support the new identity or new vision, or the change will eventually die out.

You don’t hear that side of the story, though. When a change agent fails with a client, they don’t trumpet the failure from the mountaintops and examine what happened in detail, to find out if their (the change agents’) models of change are insufficient. And the clients who don’t change don’t trumpet the story for obvious reasons.

My new formula:
change = change in mindset (identity, role) + change in actions + change in systems

In my NLP training and my coach training, identity has been considered a powerful shaper of behavior change. And it is, it just turns out that Situation and System can be even more powerful than identity. It also turns out that identity is shaped by behavior, even if the behavior is undertaken for neutral reasons1.

The Power to Change

The Lucifer Effect


  • Changing a system or a situation is the most powerful creator of change, because it forces behavior to change.
  • Changing behavior is the next most powerful, when done in a way that reshapes identity.
  • Changing identity is the least most powerful of the three, but still very powerful, because it can provide intrinsic motivation which can lead someone to change their action and their systems.

What’s your industry? The answer may surprise you.

Posted on: May 1st, 2015 by Steve Robbins presented by How To Mentor Toolkit No Comments

The way people define industries is really quite interesting. I’ve once again been asked to be a judge for the Harvard Business School New Venture Competition. They asked what industries I’m comfortable commenting on. It’s a surprisingly hard question to answer, because it’s quite unclear what an “industry” is. Here are a sample of a few things that people call industries:

  • B2C internet
  • B2B internet
  • Health Care
  • Medical Devices
  • Energy
  • Financial Services

What makes these an industry? Is it that all members of the same industry share the same markets? Is it that all members of the same industry share the same employee skill sets? Is it that all members of the same industry produce the same kind of products?

Every definition I’ve tried has glaring exceptions, which makes me wonder whether thinking in terms of “industries” really makes as much sense as I’ve always assumed.

Perhaps it makes more sense to think in terms of:

  • companies/products who serve a given market
  • companies/products that require certain kinds of distribution
  • companies/products that require certain specialized knowledge on the part of employees

What do you think?

How to Ensure a Successful Corporate Mentoring Program

Posted on: January 23rd, 2013 by Mentoring Talent presented by How To Mentor Toolkit No Comments

Today, best-in-class organizations understand the benefits of corporate mentoring programs, but many organizations get “cold feet” when they think about how to manage a program successfully. As mentoring is a seemingly abstract activity within the ever-abstract realm of employee development, how do HR and other business leaders ensure that your valuable mentoring programs are truly as successful as they can be?

Judy Corner, Mentoring Subject Matter Expert at Insala, offers these suggestions on how to do it:

  1. Define specific measurements for program success
    As the old saying goes, “if you can’t measure something, you can’t manage it.” In order to set proper success measurements, it’s critical to understand exactly what your organization’s objectives are, and exactly how your mentoring program will be instrumental in accomplishing one or more of those objectives. Then, very importantly – document program metrics from the point of view of three separate stakeholders: the mentees, the mentors, and your organization overall. This way, when your mentees and mentors are successful, you know that your organization will automatically be successful. For organizations that are really serious about gleaning the benefits of mentoring, building a strong business case for mentoring is critical. At Insala, our mentoring readiness workshop your organization define appropriate metrics and set their programs up for success.
  2. Obtain qualified and well-trained mentors
    Good mentors are naturally the bread and butter of your mentoring program. But what makes a mentor “good”? Two things – qualification and training. First, create a role profile outlining a mentor’s required competencies and the responsibilities she will take on. Next, qualify and select suitable mentors based on the competency profile you create. Third, provide competency assessments to your mentors to identify their areas of expertise, which they can then impart onto the mentee. Finally, provide mentoring training that prepares both mentors for the role they will play in the program and partnership.
  3. Ensure the best possible mentor-mentee matches
    Last but not least – your mentoring program will be well on its way to success if your participant pairs work seamlessly together to achieve personal and program goals. To generate effective mentor-mentee matches, you’ll need to pair individuals based on at least 3-4 key criteria such as job function, location, and skills/competencies that can be exchanged. If you’re planning a smaller mentoring program, you should be fine matching and pairing by hand or using a spreadsheet. But if you have a program with 100 participants or over, implement a technology tool that automates and accelerates the matching process – enabling you to save valuable time while enhancing program capacity and pairing success. Insala provides mentoring software that facilitates efficient and ideal matching and pairing for larger mentoring programs.