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How to Get Out of Your Own Way with Todd Herman

Todd Herman is an author, advisor, and entrepreneur, who has spent the last 2 decades helping professional and Olympic athletes, CEOs and boardroom executives, entrepreneurs, and leaders achieve their most ambitious goals and become more resilient, creative, courageous and confident.

Todd’s work has been featured on the Today Show, Sky Business News, Inc. Magazine and CBC National News. Todd is also the author of the recently released book, The Alter Ego Effect: The Power of Secret Identities to Transform Your Life. Originally from Alberta, Canada, Todd’s professional programs are delivered annually to over 200,000 professionals in 73 countries.

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How do you get out of your own way so you can accomplish your goals and make your dreams come true?

I’m excited to bring this conversation to you today because Todd Herman is a real high-performance coach. He’s a game-changing expert, a strategist, and works with some of the elite individuals from corporate America and athletes.

His new book, Alter Ego Effect, talks about a phenomenon of using your imagination to try on new characters to get you in different emotions and mental states that will bring you the results you desire.

Listen in, as he shares how you can activate your alter egos to get things done.

"Sometimes people are weighing themselves down with bricks that get tossed their way instead of using them as building blocks to step up."

Todd Herman

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  • For people in the Kwik Brain community who are already actively learning and striving to find new ways to activate that other self they want to put out there, the root of a lot of frustration can stem from trying out ideas that sound good and right, but on the field of play of performance actually don’t.
  • A problem with the self-help world: often the people trotting out the ideas aren’t practitioners themselves haven’t been working with people one-on-one.
  • One thing people keep missing out is telling us to tap into our real superpower: creative imagination.
  • With imagination we narrate and add meaning to things: some people create a heaven from hell, or a hell from heaven—sometimes people are weighing themselves down with bricks that get tossed their way instead of using them as building blocks to step up.
  • When people talk about getting out of their own way it’s because they know there’s a gap between what they can do, what their skills and capabilities are, and what they’re getting out on the field of play of life.
  • Todd’s job: to ensure the capabilities inside you are what is reflected on the field.
  • Best way to do this: by tapping into the creative imagination and creating an alter-ego to help you tap into a different emotion or set of qualities that are actually already inside you, but the alter-ego will help you to draw them out.


  • People might have a vision for their life but along the way they’ve self-sabotaged or tried ideas from the self-improvement industry — and because it doesn’t work for them they might feel shame or guilt, perpetuating the idea of I’m not enough.
  • You might have good intentions, and an idea might sound nice and practically correct but doesn’t work that way in the practical application of how we perform.
  • People who have gone out and done phenomenal things have consistently leveraged the power of an alter-ego.
  • Using an alter-ego is not fake or inauthentic, the idea is built into the human psyche – e.g. pretending to be Superman or our favourite athlete when we were kids—that was us playing with new ideas in our mind, seeing what it feels like, expanding our skill set and doing things that we don’t think we can do, things that other person can.
  • Using an alter-ego is healthy, but then we’re told to grow up, act our age, so we shun it and become ‘pragmatic’ and ‘practical’.
  • To be pragmatic means using the stuff that actually works, and an alter-ego works: it allows people to move more gracefully move through life.
  • University of Minnesota study on the use of alter-ego: tracked people persisting with unsolvable puzzles.
  • Self-talk would descend into beating self up, but when superhero costumes were brought out and the task is done again, grit and perseverance increased, and the self-talk changed: “Batman wouldn’t quit so I won’t quit”.


  • We can all use an alter-ego to suspend the disbelief over what we can and cannot do, whether this is due to personal narrative or trauma, can use it to meet any resistance of force head-on with willpower.
  • Things that can be behind your resistance: trauma, personal narrative, e.g. “Kwik family has never been an entrepreneur so why would I be an entrepreneur”, or, “no-one from my country has made it to achievement X”.
  • All of these things impact people on an unconscious level, they impact performance and what people can see for themselves despite the fact that internally they still want it.
  • Resistance is like a herd of elephants, willpower is a mouse in comparison.
  • A back door to resistance is our creative imagination: we can step around resistance by tapping into the powers of someone else in our mind, which infuses us with the confidence that we can go out there and do something.
  • While using an alter-ego it’s not you doing the action, as you’re suspending that disbelief — it’s Oprah or Spike Lee going out and doing it, but the true reality is: it’s still you.
  • Some people might say this is isn’t authentic, but the truth is you’re acting intentionally from the inside.
  • Faking it is when you’re trying to deceive people, or doing anything involving you trying to impress someone or create an outcome: when your motivation becomes about the outcome or other people rather than coming from the intentional inside part of you.
  • This situation creates a trapped self — avoid if possible, using an alter-ego.
  • Nothing feels more inauthentic to a human being than when you end the day wishing you had done something but didn’t, out of fear or a wish for safety.


  • A heroic self can allow you to show up like you know you can, call allow you to show another side of your self: the superhero side that’s inside you.
  • Your identity is constantly evolving anyway: at your core, you might not be those superhero things, but you can learn them over time.
  • When we’re drawing on the qualities of someone else we’re removing the negative storylines of our own selves.
  • Todd’s example: working with a 13yo dominating baseball player.
  • As he grew up his peers started hitting puberty before him, and he started paying attention to how much bigger than him they were, though he still had the skills inside him.
  • Todd told him to research Paul Bunyan, then imagine that he was going out to the plate as him—would Paul be thinking about how big that other kid is when he walked out?
  • Wanted the kid to get so emotionally engaged, learn how to think like alter-ego Paul, he went on to succeed 23 out of 23.
  • The bridge that connects thought and action is emotion.
  • Ideally want to have as much emotional resonance with the alter-ego as possible, step into the thoughts of them, not yourself.
  • An alter-ego becomes your internal ally.
  • Cary Grant: “I pretended to be somebody I wanted to be, or I became that person, but at some point in time, we met.”
  • Todd suggests changing ‘pretended’ to ‘activated’: “I activated the person I wanted to be, or I became that person, but at some point in time, we met.”
  • Your self and ideal self is like a two-circle Venn diagram: not quite overlapping yet, but the bridge can be an alter-ego.
  • Todd used Geronimo as his alter-ego when he was getting started out in business to overcome insecurities and indecisiveness, used putting on glasses to trigger stepping into a different self.


  • Don’t forget to take a screenshot of this episode, tag us both on social media (@todd_herman & @jimkwik) and share your greatest “aha!” moment from this episode with us!


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