Category Archives: EI Blog

INC Magazine: How to Outwit Your Brain Chemistry

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When faced with fear and failure, the brain is wired to quit.  But it’s possible to outwit brain chemistry by activating the reward pathways and tricking yourself into persevering.  Read my latest column for INC Magazine

Adam Carolla: Learning to Bet on Yourself

monicamehta adamcarollaLoved chatting in studio with Adam Carolla about my father’s struggles immigrating to America, how he made it big, the research behind taking risks, and the importance of betting on yourself.   Adam ends the show with a huge rant about terrible kids’ programming.  Listen at AdamCarolla.com

Entrepreneur Mag: Train Your Brain to Overcome Fear

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Entrepreneurs have to take big risks in order to succeed, but even well-known leaders are often terrified to leap.   You don’t have to be a natural risk taker in order to succeed, and learning how fear works can empower you to overcome it.  Fantastic story from Entrepreneur Magazine’s Nadia Goodman featuring tips from yours truly.  Read more at Entrepreneur.com

10 Superfoods That Super Charge Entrepreneurial Performance


Conquering the world can get tiring.  What better to power the tireless entrepreneurial superhero than stress busting super foods.

A large part of your entrepreneurial success results from your ability to handle stress. By practicing controlled breathing, positive self-talk, and yoga you can train your brain to interpret stress more effectively. You can jump start this process by incorporating these foods into your day.

1.  Almonds
2.  Fish
3.  Broccoli
4.  Whole-Grain Rice Or Pasta
5.  Sushi
6.  Milk
7.  Cantaloupe And Cottage Cheese
8.  Beef
9.  Fortified Breakfast Cereal
10. Blueberries

Read more about these dietary essentials at  AskMen.com

Day Dream Your Way to Success. Really! My latest INC Mag Column

What we can learn from Susie Crippen, who used visualization to quit her waitressing job, get out of debt, and build a jeans empire

For the entrepreneurial underdog, day dreaming with your eyes open can hold the key to realizing the seemingly unachieveable.

Your mind actually has a hard time distinguishing things you are doing now from actions you anticipate and memories of the past. That’s why visualization is so powerful. As you visualize yourself accomplishing a goal, your brain can’t really tell if you’re remembering something you’ve already done or planning for something you will do.

When our mind believes we’ve achieved something desirable, the brain experiences a release of dopamine. That not only motivates us, but can trigger the side of the brain that learns from repetition

Read more at Inc.com

What Arnold Can Teach Us About Grit, Visualization and Impossible Success


In recent years, University of Pennsylvania psychologists that specialize in the study of success have pinpointed the traits most closely linked with exceptional achievement.  More so than talent, IQ or even self control, they determined it’s persistent passion or the ability to stay on track for a very long period of time when the going gets tough.

In their study of underprivileged kids that beat to odds (to graduate from HS and go onto college), 300 geniuses that realize their potential, West Point cadets that survive grueling training, it’s the same trait or what they describe as Grit that leads to exceptional success. Grit is a theme that popped up over and over in my interviews with self made entrepreneurs as I conducted research for The Entrepreneurial Instinct.

I was fascinated to see the same themes pop up in a new short film about Arnold Schwarzenegger’s early years. Before he was a body building champ, actor and politician, he was a teenager in Austria with a vision that no one could quite understand.  Listen to his conversation with  Grantland’s Bill Simmons:

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My Forbes Interview: Training Your Mind to Become Entrepreneurial


By Dan Schwabel

Her new book is called The Entrepreneurial Instinct: How Everyone Has the Innate Ability to Start a Successful Small Business. In the below interview, she talks about how anyone can be an entrepreneur, lists the top traits of all great entrepreneurs, and more.

How do you define the entrepreneurial instinct? Can anyone be an entrepreneur?

The entrepreneurial instinct is the mental toughness that is required to make something from nothing. It is the mindset that allows you to take smart risks, thrive in ambiguity and bounce back from failure. It’s the reason why the team that looks good on paper doesn’t always win and why the drop out becomes a billionaire – we hear that story over and over again.

The idea that we are born knowing how to handle the greatest challenges of life is a theme that runs throughout eastern and western cultures in the major myths, religious texts and popular stories of our time. Some people just know how to tap into instinct. Others are put into situations where they are forced to draw from it. And for the rest of us, making the most of our innate talents and physiology comes from a process of discovery and practice. Instinct is universal; it doesn’t care where you come from. Anyone with a willingness be an entrepreneur and a persistence to keep at it when the road gets rough can do it

What would you say the top 3-5 entrepreneurship traits are? Which ones do every entrepreneur have in common?

Entrepreneurs are impulsive and adaptable. In business, impulsivity translates to a bias to action. When counterbalanced with a personality that is adaptable or knows how to roll with the punches, it is a winning combination for taking risks for gain. The ability to take risky bets is actually what researchers at Cambridge University identified to be the key differentiator among entrepreneurs and people of equivalent IQ and experience that find success in the corporate world. Entrepreneurship is a career path in which evolution is the norm and failure is a given. Persistence, optimism and resourcefulness are traits that popped up over and over again in interviews with the dozens of successful entrepreneurs I interviewed for the book.

Why do you think more young people are becoming entrepreneurs despite economic setbacks?

Necessity is the mother of invention is an old adage but one that holds true today. Youth employment is at a 60 year low. Young people face a dearth of opportunities, and some of them are taking it upon themselves to pave their own way. The generation of entrepreneurs to come out of the abysmal job climate may be the silver lining of these tough economic times.

How do you train your mind to be more entrepreneurial? Is it possible?

Understanding the physiology that drives motivation can go a long way in helping anyone become a better risk-taker. For most of us, it is a knee jerk reaction to experience a fear of loss when faced with an ambiguous circumstance. Fear is 2.5 times more powerful than reward. When the brain’s loss aversion pathway is activated, our brain chemistry pretty much ensures we will not take action. Some of the basic decision making techniques we are taught like contingency planning our way around risk only further engrain the brain in loss mode.

Read more at Forbes.com

How to turn that frown upside down using positive psychology

Positive psychology isn’t just for hippies anymore. Research conducted by Shawn Achor of Harvard University suggests that there’s a biological basis of happiness and we can physical rewire our brains to achieve that state more often. By slightly changing your perspective you can trigger your brain to be more reward focused.  Anchor refers to this practice as the ‘happiness advantage.’

Try this simple technique to prime your brain to achieve the happiness advantage. With the increased dopamine you’ll feel more energetic, problem solve efficiently, and think more creatively.

1.  Write down three things that you’re grateful for every morning.

2.  Write down one positive experience you had in the past 24 hours.

3.  Send one positive email to a friend or family member who supports you.

Watch Achor explain rewiring for happiness in this TED talk

This is Your Brain on Yoga


The ancient practice of yoga is said to cure depression, reduce anxiety, and increase overall happiness. This post will explore how yoga changes the brain and how you can benefit most from it- even if an hour-long yoga class isn’t in the works.  As noted in a Sept 2011 post in Psychology Today:

First, the things you do (your actions) and the thoughts you have physically change the firing patterns and chemical composition of your brain. Second,   actions as simple as changing your posture, relaxing the muscles of your face, or slowing your breathing rate, can have a profound positive impact on how your brain deals with stress.

Neuroscientist Alex Korb, Ph.D. was convinced to attend a first yoga class with his father a long time practitioner. He made some interesting observations about the practice and the brain. According to him yoga is about breathing and attention. It is not about how flexible you are. Many of the poses require you to exert all your energy in order to hold that pose. Yoga teachers tell you to breathe through the pain and smile. The positive effects of yoga occur not because the practice is relaxing but because the practice is stressful. It is your attempt to remain calm during that stress that gives rise to yoga’s greatest neurobiological benefit.

You don’t have to commit to a whole practice to gain the positive benefits. By breathing deeply and slowly, relaxing your facial muscles, clearing your head of anxious thoughts, and focusing on the present you can begin to implement the benefits of yoga into your life.

Dr. Korb suggests that over time you will start to retrain your automatic stress reaction and replace it with one more conducive to happiness and overall well-being.

Remember without the sustained intentions of focus on the present and calming the mind going to yoga class is literally just going through the motions. By identifying stresses in your own life and taking a minute to breathe deeply and smile you can reap the neurobiological benefits that yoga offers starting now.

Ten Brain Boosting Superfoods


Dopamine plays a critical role in regulating your mood, emotions, ability to make smart decisions, and sleep.  An easy way to stimulate your brain to produce more of this wonder chemical is to eat the right snacks. Understanding the effects of food on our mood and ability to make smart decisions is the first step to seeing results.

Saturated fats, for example, reduce dopamine levels as well as clog arteries. Stay clear of McDonalds and Oreos.  This will have a profound effect on your mood.  While coffee is necessary to get the cognitive juices flowing be aware that caffeine boosts the production of serotonin while lowering dopamine levels. Aim for one cup a day.

Make sure to eat fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants. Free radicals lower dopamine levels in the body and foods rich in antioxidants will keep these levels high.  Incorporate these 10 foods into your day to boost dopamine levels naturally and quickly.

1.  Bananas
2.  Red Beans
3.  Blueberries
4.  Cranberries
5.  Artichokes
6.  Prunes
7.  Strawberries
8.  Raw almonds
9.  Sunflower seeds
10. Sesame Seeds