Clarity Conversations: The CEO of Your Brain

brain science vlog Feb 18, 2022

How do you promote the CEO of Your Brain?

In leadership development, we are always striving to be better. We are wanting to move the needle and get past the places that "get us stuck." The good news is we have that exact ability with our brain's neuroplasticity. We can rewire, adapt and change. 

During our most recent Clarity Conversation, we take an in-depth look at the executive functioning area of our brain - the Prefrontal Cortex (PFC).

Dr. Jeff Snell, of QLI, joins in a conversation to help us learn about the intricacies of this area of our brain, how the PFC can impact our mindset, thought patterns, and how we have the ability to get "unstuck". 

Please join us in this conversation on how we can learn to help promote our own CEO.

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Introducing: Clarity Conversations

habits vlog Jan 28, 2022

Welcome to Clarity Conversations, our new vlog focusing on providing clarity for leaders. Every month we will examine how brain science affects our effectiveness as leaders. We will be providing brain based insights and solutions - brain hacks - for the common challenges we face as a leaders.

This month, we welcome Dr. Jeff Snell who is the Director of Psychology and Neuropsychology Services at QLI. With the new year ramping up, we discuss the brain science of habits. We will take a deeper look at how habits are formed, why can habits be so challenging to commit to, and what are some tools we can use to increase our effectiveness.

Come join the conversation. How can you be a part of the small percentage of people getting their habits to "stick"?

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3 Key Actions in Habit Formation

habits Jan 27, 2022

Activation Triggers, Decision Distress, and Habit Resilience

If you're like me at all, you want to end up with the 11%.  I want to be with the 11% who follow through with all or most of the commitments we make at the beginning of the year – personally and professionally.

Each year my husband, Mike, and I invest a few days completing Michael Hyatt's Best Year Ever course to:

  • Conduct an After Action Review on the previous year
  • Establish goals for the new year

Mike and I are together A LOT! We lead both and Emsick Architects, a commercial design studio with a niche in the auto dealership industry.  And corny as it sounds, since we began an annual planning process, we've consistently been able to celebrate the habits we've developed and stretch goals we accomplished.  As each year passes, we are measurably healthier, our businesses are measurably more successful, and our relationship is more and more aligned. We can honestly say, it keeps...

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Brain Science and New Year Habits

habits Jan 20, 2022

Since the wheels of 2022 lifted off from the runway, I've been laser focused on restoring pre-COVID habits. Perhaps you can relate. There are good habits to resume (like my A-Game Rhythm, or consistently engaging in our team collaboration platform). And, there are good habits to begin, like writing these new, weekly, 5-minute Clarity Sparks.  Or, there can be bad habits to break. Today, we’re focusing on the power of re-engaging good habits.  

Re-engaging my A-Game

Our brains thrive on routine, which is why (re)engaging a habit can actually gain more early traction than starting a new habit.

Why: because we’ve done it before and our brains hold onto the wiring, even though we stopped. 

For instance, over the past five or so years, I came to the realization that my best days begin when I'm on the elliptical by 5:15 in the morning. When I'm on the elliptical by 5:15am, all sorts of other really powerful and productive little things fall into...

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Coronavirus, Complexity & Dad's Broken Ribs: Choosing Gratitude

Wow. It’s been a rough four months.  Hasn't it?

When it Started:

Friday, March 13, 2020 was the day THE COVID REALITY sunk in and I understood my life and work was going to change. . . immediately.

The next morning I wrote Clarity in Crisis,  back when my priority concerns were canceled events and canceled vacation reservations - plus my dad’s pending non-essential heart procedure. 

In the beginning, my mindset was "for a few weeks."  I recall my eyes nearly popping out of their sockets when a colleague suggested I plan for what then seemed a incomprehensible: 12-weeks of being confined at home.  

Probably 10 weeks, but plan for 12. 

Just in Case.  Incomprehensible.


It Didn't Get Easier. . . 

In late May my heart ached and my gut knotted-up as the US moaned and mourned and clenched its fists and took a stand via a variety of responses to a suffocating knee on the neck of George Floyd as he gasped...

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Clarity in Crisis

Uncategorized Mar 14, 2020

As I’ve received requests from coaching clients to help process the past week, I began to think about how what else I could do to be helpful in a season that feels so out of control.

During this international crisis, executives are experiencing profound tension between professional leadership imperatives and their own personal realities.  As humans, we often benefit from help in processing in order to fuel focus and calm.  

As an owner of two small businesses, I get it.  Professionally, in the past 72 hours I’ve been required to cancel two signature events I host each Spring.  I’ve held proactive conversations with team members about safe working arrangements.  I’ve received emails from two universities where I teach graduate courses instructing me to be prepared to convert any live course into an online format.

Personally, I was scheduled to fly to Chicago next weekend for my 13th annual Easter Lamb Cake decorating with my two...

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A Lesson on Leadership . . . from a Crown Cork Bottle Cap

My favorite Saturday morning plan is brewing a pot of dark joe from freshly ground beans - with the goal of settling in with my cozy pajamas by around 8:00 am to watch a favorite news show.  If my husband isn’t golfing, he grabs a plate of fruit and joins me.  I love my laid-back Saturday mornings.

This past weekend, while waiting for Mike to get his cup of coffee, I turned to the wrong channel and caught a “The Mo You Know” survey on Mo Rocca’s Henry Ford Innovation Nation

His survey question displayed the picture below and asked what it was called. In my mind, I answered “Bottle Cap!”  And, after waiting through a commercial, I discovered I was right.


Mo shared a bit about the bottle cap inventor, William Painter.  And suddenly, I didn’t miss my news program at all! 

William Painter was a civil-war era, self-taught engineer working in the carbonated beverage industry – beer bottlers.  At...

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A Lesson on Change Leadership. . . from a High School Wrong-Way-Play

The infamous 1964 Jim Marshall Wrong Way Play has been redeemed.

Ranked #5 in NFL Film’s 10 Top Worst Plays, the Running-the-Wrong-Way playbook has been rewritten by Fairfield, CA High School football Team Captain, Kah'Ron Thrower!  The story landed on my iPhone’s news stream last Saturday evening while watching the Huskers battle an undefeated Minnesota team. It wasn’t pretty and I welcomed the distraction!

Jim Marshall was one of the Vikings’ historic Purple People Eaters whose motto was “Meet You At The Quarterback.” Today, Marshall still ranks 2nd in the NFL for most consecutive starts – surpassed only by my Chicago Bear’s rival, Brett Favre.

But in 1964, Jim ran the wrong way and he is still remembered for this, rather than for his significant accomplishments.  55 years later, High school senior Kha’Ron Thrower provides a leadership best practice for all of us who get confused watching a...

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An Executive Lesson on Courage... from a Kid

It’s 9:02am, Monday, January 11, 2016. I’m focused on the new emails in my inbox when my cell phone beeps. It was a two-word text from my little brother in Chicago.

It's cancer.

My just-turned-12-year-old-niece -- who at the adorable age of 3 decided I should call her Munchkin 1 and her elder sister Munchkin 2 -- my little Munchkin 1 had been diagnosed with rare, advanced stage synovial sarcoma. Life for all of us changed immediately.


This Sunday, June 23, 2019 we’ll remember her last day of intravenous chemo, celebrated in this photo of a beautiful, bald, beaming Warrior Munchkin and the posters she created the night before to mark the milestone.

It was Tough But I was Tougher

“It was tough. But I was tougher.” The wisdom of a 12-year-old.

Ally’s first cancer-free scan was the day after the Cubbies won the 2016 World Series - Holy Cow! And today she is thriving as a high school student. 

So What Does This Have to Do with...

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So You and Your Executive Coach are Not a Match

So you’re feeling a mismatch with your executive coach.  It’s time to bring clarity to the relationship - and to your investment of time, resources, and trust.   

Steps you can take 

If your relationship with your coach isn't working, it’s a waste of time and resources for you – and for your coach.  The ACTS Cycle for Change that Sticks will help you move from frustrated to realigned.  

1. AspireExpectations Clarity 

It’s frustrating when our current reality isn’t meeting up with our expectations.  There is something you expected that isn’t happening the way you thought it would.  In Step 1, Aspire, take a quality moment to envision your ideal coaching relationship and your expectations.  The question to ask is:  If this coaching relationship was working great today, what would be ...

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