10 Quick Tips to Boost Productivity During Brain Awareness Week

Here are 10 tips to boost productivity during Brain Awareness Week

When it comes to productivity, your brain is your best ally—but are you ignoring the most important signals it’s sending?

Considering this week is Brain Awareness Week, now’s a good time to start paying attention to your mental energy and learning how to manage it to boost your productivity.

After all, it’s hard to be productive when your mental reserves are tapped, and today’s energy-draining environment is fighting you at every step. The typical response to declining energy and productivity levels is to try time management techniques so that you can catch up and stay on top of your workload. But most of those techniques are destined to fail when your energy level falls through the floor.

Increase productivity for Brain Awareness Week in less than 38 hours a day

Instead of thinking of productivity as a time management challenge, try viewing it as an energy management issue. Because while you can’t recover time—those wasted hours are gone forever—you can recover energy.

And here’s where your brain comes into the equation.

We often let this phenomenon of energy gain and drain happen by accident, but your own mental processes play a huge role in your energy throughout the day—at work, at home and with every person you meet. In fact, your energy levels have a lot more to do with what happens inside your head than what happens outside. Becoming conscious and intentional about this aspect of your life can unlock new levels of productivity. The key is to manage your mental filters, not your time. Read more

On-Demand Webinar: Developing Leadership Agility for an “All of the Above World”

What’s your biggest leadership challenge?

Engaging employees?

Preparing emerging leaders to step up?

Building high-performance teams?

Developing a leadership mindset across the organization?

If you’re like most training leaders today, the answer is “all of the above.” The good news is, you and your leaders already have the best tool for navigating an “all of the above” world—the brain.

Even better news: Kevin Sensenig’s webinar for Training Magazine has the practical strategies and steps you need to take full advantage of your brainpower and consciously shift your thinking when the situation requires it.

The webinar recording and follow-up resources for Developing Leadership Agility for an “All of the Above” World are available now for on-demand access.

Take a moment to check it out and download the materials, because particularly as the world grows more complex, the time you spend now getting your thinking in order will pay off exponentially in 2015.


5 Reasons to Laugh at Stress (and Why Your Brain Will Thank You)

Let’s face it. If you’re like most people today, you’re stressed. From the intensity of the business environment to unpredictable, constantly changing world events to the fast-approaching holiday season, there are plenty of reasons to feel the pressure—to buckle down and get serious.

It’s also a good time to answer the age-old question, What do you call a bee who’s having a bad hair day?

A Frisbee.

That’s right. It’s a good time to laugh (even if you’re somewhat annoyed at yourself for laughing at a particularly dumb joke).

From a thinking standpoint, laughter can be an instant antidote to ambiguity and tension because it shifts your mindset. It’s a “pattern interrupt” for your brain—a way to hit the pause button on habitual negative thinking.

Here are five more reasons you should take the time to laugh:

  1. You need to remember something: The stress-busting properties of laughter have been shown to shift brain wave activity toward the “gamma frequency,” which could help improve memory and recall.
  2. You need others to remember something: When it’s funny, it’s memorable. Humor makes ideas “sticky” because people remember what they find funny. That’s why we like to incorporate cartoons, funny videos and images into our presentations.
  3. You need to exercise your mental muscles: Research shows that working through jokes can be a kind of mental workout, enhancing your ability to learn. Anything that requires you to stop for a minute and get conscious about your thinking is great for your mental agility. Even better when it has the added mood-enhancing benefits of laughter.
  4. You need the team to collaborate through conflict. Just as sharing laughter and a good joke will help you strengthen your connections with others, humor is a good way to relieve tension, take away the potentially threatening edge of certain information or conflicting opinions, and put people in a more positive frame of mind so they can stay focused on the task at hand.
  5.  You need some mental distance. Humor promotes resilience. When you laugh, you gain a sense of detachment and control that allows you to remain resilient, even when things are going rough.

This list is truly just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the benefits of this simple, free and readily available strategy for reducing stress while working out your brain.

So the next time someone asks, “What’s smarter than a talking dog?” You’ll know the answer.

(A spelling bee, of course.)

Lighten up! Your brain will thank you!

Build Your Thinking Agility with “Strategy at the Speed of Thought”

It’s one of the top priorities and concerns we’re hearing across industries and professions: To keep today on track and stay ahead of the pace of business, you have to find a way to sharpen your short-term focus while maintaining a strategic eye on the long-term view.

At the New Jersey Human Resource Planning Group’s event on May 15th, Ann Herrmann-Nehdi will show participants how to build their thinking agility so they can better manage their strategic and talent plans for success both today and tomorrow.

Ann will demonstrate an easy-to-apply, brain-based framework for quickly analyzing business objectives and their human capital implications, and for identifying and managing the diverse cognitive resources needed to create and execute high-value strategies.

This is a great opportunity for New Jersey-area HR professionals—whether you are an internal or external practitioner—to learn how to take advantage of all the brainpower available to you so you can synthesize wide-ranging issues and maintain a strategic mindset.

And there’s an added bonus: All participants will have a post-event opportunity to complete the HBDI® assessment and receive a complimentary personalized HBDI® Profile and application debrief—a $300 value!

NJHRP offers a variety of options for both members and guests to receive a reduced rate on attending this event. Check out their website for more information and to register.

Event Details:

The New Jersey Human Resource Planning Group presents
STRATEGY AT THE SPEED OF THOUGHT: 4 Steps to Building Your Thinking Agility
Featuring Ann Herrmann-Nehdi

Date: Thursday, May 15, 2014
8:00am – 8:45am Registration, Continental Breakfast, Networking
8:45am – 12:00pm Program
12:00 – 1:00pm Lunch

Location: Bridgewater Marriott
700 Commons Way
Bridgewater, NJ 08807

Register now.

4 Steps to Developing the Thinking Agility of Today’s and Tomorrow’s Leaders

We have to be faster. We have to be more flexible. We have to constantly balance the long term and the short term, and quickly rearrange what we’re doing and how we’re structured to deal with today’s and tomorrow’s big challenges.

The question is:

How will you adapt? 

Find out how thinking agility—the ability to consciously shift your thinking when the situation requires it—can provide the antidote to an increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world. 

Whether you’re responsible for developing leaders, are a leader or aspire to be one, Ann Herrmann-Nehdi’s recent webcast for, 4 Steps to Developing the Thinking Agility of Today’s and Tomorrow’s Leaders, will give you strategies and actions you can immediately put into practice to claim the thinking space necessary to adapt and be more agile every day.

Here’s what one participant had to say about the webinar:

This was EXCELLENT! I love webinars that share a little bit of knowledge along with a lot of action items and resources in an organized fashion.

View the webinar and then share with us:

What are the few critical competences your organization needs to focus on to help people get mentally “unstuck” so they can adapt?

Snapshots from Training 2014

We had the opportunity to mix and mingle with some of the sharpest minds in the training profession at the Training 2014 Conference earlier this month in San Diego.

We enjoyed learning about the latest trends in training and development, and from our booth in the Expo Hall, we had a chance to catch up with a number of you who shared how Whole Brain® Thinking is playing a role in your development, performance and business strategies.

In case you missed it, Ann Herrmann-Nehdi presented two sessions at the conference, Getting More Done with Less: 4 Steps to Leadership Agility,” and “Thinking and Learning Agility: 10 Steps to Maximizing Learning Outcomes.” If you’d like more information about these topics, please let us know.

In the meantime, we’d love to hear your thoughts: Agility, social learning, new technologies, employee engagement, measurement…What tops your training agenda for 2014?

“Living Agile Thinking” at Swisscom

On a recent visit to Swisscom in Bern, Switzerland, Herrmann International CEO Ann Herrmann-Nehdi explored some of the ways the telecommunications provider is integrating Whole Brain® Thinking into its culture to build the thinking agility and flexibility necessary to better serve the needs of its customers.

Watch the video to learn how Swisscom is preparing for a changing world by “living agile thinking.”

Effective Sales Coaching: Whole Brain® Thinking Required

“Thinking? Why focus on thinking? I am interested in changing behavior!”

– A frustrated sales leader discussing how to address the organization’s challenges of improving top-line revenue growth, conversion rates and forecasting accuracy

In the sales world, we often focus on behavior and not the thinking that drives it, and as a result we often fail to get any kind of long-term change. Behaviors are situational and can be affected by many external factors, but thinking is at the heart of who we are, impacting how we process information, make decisions and learn.

As our VP of Sales, Orin Salas, puts it, “You can change your thinking without changing your behavior, but you can’t change your behavior without changing your thinking.”

We’ve found that sales manager/coaches who understand how they and their sales reps think and process information, and know how to apply this to the coaching process, are able to quickly cut through the noise and “get through” in a way that works most effectively for the coachee to drive the desired behaviors and results.

They can also help sales reps use their own thinking preferences more deliberately, and stretch to other styles to meet specific competency requirements. Ultimately, this means both the manager and the rep are able to spend coaching time and attention where it will deliver the biggest payoff.

Regardless of the sales coach’s own thinking preferences, all aspects are important, which is why the most successful sales coaches have the thinking agility to move beyond their comfort zones and filters, and avoid becoming trapped by their mental blind spots.

For best results, sales coaches must spend time in each of the four thinking quadrants. Here’s a Whole Brain® checklist to get you started:


What would you add to the list?  For more tips on applying Whole Brain® Thinking to optimize sales performance, download the free white paper, The Mind of Successful Sales Leadership.


The Case for Slower Management: Agility Isn’t Just About Speed

There’s a famous line from the movie The Princess Bride that could easily refer to the way so many of us define what it means to be agile leaders and managers:

“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

When I hear the word “agility,” my first thought is always: Speed. I need to constantly be moving fast, staying nimble in the face of continual changes and complexities. It’s as if the old playground game of “Think Fast!” has become the daily battle cry, and I have to not only stay ahead of the pace but also be ready to shift on a dime when the unexpected comes up.

But I’ve also come to realize there’s a real cost to this kind of thinking, particularly when it comes to my role in developing strategy. How can I be effectively agile in my thinking and decision making if I haven’t taken the time to process what’s really going on around me and what it will take to get where I need to go?

We’ve become conditioned to believe that agility always equals speed, that slowness in management is always a bad thing, and that the “left brain” concepts of step-by-step planning and deliberateness are somehow no longer really necessary in a fluid, uncertain world, one in which novelty and edginess seem to rule the day.

After all, what’s cool about critical analysis?

When it comes to agility, being fast is only part of the equation. Speed and nimbleness may be “sexy,” but they don’t replace the basics, what we know to be true about good management. An either/or approach to thinking — this idea that if you have enough speed, it cancels out the need for deliberate planning and other management essentials — will fail every time. If anything, greater levels of speed demand higher levels of managerial competence in all areas.

In other words, to be successful at going fast, you have to be successful at being slow, too.

This is a paradox managers have always had to deal with to some degree, but the tension has never been greater than today. We’ve become accustomed to moving rapidly in many different directions at once. This year we need to resolve to make the time to get more deliberate, to go slow, too.

To increase your agility:

  •  Banish “either/or” thinking: Swift and deliberate, open minded and decisive, consistent and adaptable – agility requires embracing an “and” mentality.
  • Get back to basics: Good management never goes out of style. Especially in a complex, challenging environment, the basics not only have to be mastered, they need to be second nature.
  • Use Whole Brain® Thinking: Regardless of what seems “cool” or where your thinking preferences lie, remember that all thinking styles are essential to getting the best results. If you want creativity and collaboration to flourish and succeed, you have to have a clear understanding of the facts and an effective process in place to get you there. Ultimately, it’s about finding the right balance.

Are you missing the time to go slow? Is it affecting your results? Share with us how you’re dealing with the managerial paradox of going faster while become more deliberate in your thinking.


Developing Managers? Start With Their Thinking.

“Agility” has become one of the hot buzzwords of the workplace today. As we settle in to a reality of rapid changes, continual uncertainty and new circumstances that have very little precedent and no clear-cut answers, everyone is feeling the pressure to adapt, to flex, to shift on a dime.

In many organizations, it’s the managers and emerging leaders who are on the front lines of this pressure. As Tom Davenport of Towers Watson put it, “Creating a resilient workplace that can deal with trauma and come out engaged on the other end is not a senior executive’s role. It’s a line manager’s job.”

Ultimately, managers are the ones responsible for bridging strategy and performance, for taking the organization from Point A to Point B faster and more effectively, even when it seems as though there’s always too much work and never enough time or resources to get it done.

A recent Forbes article describes agile leaders as those who can “handle any curve ball thrown their way. Leading through this new business environment requires the capability to sense and respond to changes in the business environment with actions that are focused, fast and flexible.”

The question is, are your managers up to the task? Between putting out fires and managing the daily workflow, getting people to bring their best thinking to work while optimizing communication time and managing relationships up, down and across the company, it takes a whole new level of intensity and skill to keep up.

Thinking is the catalyst for greater manager agility.

In essence, where agile managers outshine all the others is in their ability to successfully deconstruct today’s complexities to take advantage of the right resources for the job, and by doing so, get better results faster.

Our research has shown that the way people prefer to think impacts how they approach interactions, decisions, problems and every other aspect of work and management. By understanding and then optimizing their thinking for the situation, managers can increase their agility and overall effectiveness exponentially across the board.

Here are just a few questions to consider as you look at your management development activities in the context of building thinking agility.

  •  Do your managers know how to stretch beyond their thinking preferences when necessary to execute where you need to go?
  • Do they know how to leverage their own brainpower and the brainpower around them in the most efficient, optimal ways?
  • Do they understand how to best manage and allocate the thinking resources on a project or initiative?
  • Do they know how to optimize and shorten communication time, regardless of whom they are interacting with?
  • Can they quickly adapt to the communication needs of others?
  • Much of management’s focus in the past has been on individuals, but effective collaboration is becoming more important for better, faster and more innovative results. Do your managers know how to encourage collaboration, bring together the best cognitive resources for the task at hand, and participate in a collaborative way to make sure objectives are achieved?

To get the “Agile Leader’s Toolbox: 4 Key Areas to Increase Agility Through Better Thinking,” download our new white paper, Navigating in an Unpredictable and Complex World: Why Thinking Agility is Critical to a Manager’s Success.

What about you? Have you seen a need for greater agility in your own role? Is it impacting the way you approach the job?