How to Influence Your Customers to Buy Using Neuroscience with Glen Hellman


Glen Hellman is a business expert and strategist that writes and presents on the topic of “How To Pitch to the Reptilian Brain.”  It’s an approach grounded in neuroscience that is designed to influence others and move them to action.  In this interview, Glen shares his insights on how to use these principles to sharpen your business’s sales pitch and how they can improve your leadership and business in general. 


"We talked, and I changed your thinking.  Because when we had that conversation, I used neuroscience as an outline for how we discussed things. It was designed to change your opinion or to make you take action. An understanding of neuroscience helps to influence people."

"Without pain, there is no change. It's in our DNA and if we can't drive pain we're not going to drive change."

"We are very risk-averse and therefore if you don't cause pain, I'm going to stay steady state.  And even if you do cause pain, the pain you cause must be greater than the risk of changing my behavior."

"Stay concrete, talk about real things that are important. Don't use jargon words. Talk to benefits."

"A well-constructed pitch is constructed around “hurt and rescue.”  So you talk about the pain before you talk about the solution."

"You don't want to overwhelm them with all the things that your solution can do, you only want to present to the needs. So you don't “spray and pray.” You understand what their needs are, and you pitch to the need."

"Buying introduces risks. So sometimes we need to be pushed to make a better change."

About Our Guest

Glen is a Business Strategist who provides coaching, training, and facilitation services to businesses through his company, Driven Forward LLC

He's founded companies, joined early teams, been a general manager of a Fortune 500, directed organizations to multiple IPOs including a $360M IPO of Progress Software in 1991, mergers, acquisitions including a 2001, $92M acquisition of Call Technologies by 3Com.

Hellman spent over a decade as a hired-gun turn-around executive in the employ investors who lost faith in portfolio company management, He founded Driven Forward to dedicate his time to preventing companies from requiring a "Turn-Around" of any kind. 

Glen was trained as a certified Vistage CEO Peer Group Facilitator and Executive Coach and was a Vistage Rookie of the Year.  He's a former board member of The University of Maryland, Dingman Center for EntrepreneurshipAngel Investor and advisor to CEOs all over the world. In 2012 Glen was voted the #1 Angel Investor by Tech Cocktail readers. He's a Top Rated, Global 100 Mentor out of 3,500 mentors for the Founder Institute, and is frequently quoted in print and broadcast for his views on business and entrepreneurship and served as a business analyst for ABC7, WJLA.

You can catch his musings on his blog, Forward Thinking.


Seth:  Alright. Hey, everybody. Thanks for joining us here on Modern da Vinci for our latest interview. Our goal is to help our small business clients get unstuck and to grow with speed and purpose. And we recently did a post on that very topic talking about three places where small businesses get stuck. And one of the key areas we mentioned was flat-lining sales due to having a “stale pitch.” And for those of you that saw that post we shared some tips based on a very exciting and innovative concept called “How to Pitch to the Reptilian Brain” and lucky for us we have the expert behind that topic on here with us today. So I'm very pleased to introduce Glen Hellman.

Glen is a business strategist.  Glen has done it all from founding companies to working in large Fortune 500 companies, to helping launch multiple IPOs, he's worked as a turnaround executive, and in the last couple of years has worked as an adviser and coach with Vistage where I met Glen, and now he's currently offering executive consulting and executive peer support through his company Driven Forward. You can check that out at We'll have links on the interview page on our site. You can subscribe to his blog Forward Thinking there, and Glen has been featured in the Washington Business Journal as well as on ABC channel 7 here in the area and just a few weeks ago had the privilege of seeing Glen when he presented on this topic here in the Northern Virginia area. So Glen, awesome to have you on, thanks for being here today. How are you doing?

Glen:  I'm doing well. Thanks for having me, Seth.

Seth:  My pleasure. So, Glen, I saw you a couple months ago maybe, and you started telling me about this topic, and immediately it connected for me. You gave me some feedback very specifically on some things related to the idea of a business pitch, and it really got my mind going. And it kind of fundamentally changed some of the things that we thought we were going to do with Modern da Vinci even in terms of, how do we tell people what it is we're trying to do and how do we draw them in?  And so that was shocking for me, and then I actually had the chance to come see you speak on this again. So that's where this topic came up and got me so excited. So before we get into the details, let me step back. Why is having an effective pitch so important?

Glen:  Well, in your introduction just now you underlined why it's important when you said: “we talked, and I changed your thinking.”  Because when we had that conversation I used neuroscience topics, or I used neuroscience as an outline for how we discuss things. It was designed to change your opinion or to make you take action. And that's what understanding of neuroscience helps people do and influence people.

We are, while we are logical beings, we do not make decisions logically. There're tons and tons of studies about this, much of our behavior is guided by the same part of the brain we share with reptiles. It was developed 280 million years ago, it has no capability for abstract thinking, for logic, for language. And therefore, if we understand that we have a much better chance of influencing people. And the main thing in the brain of reptiles, of all vertebrates, is we avoid pain because pain means we're going to die. Without pain, there is no change. It's in our DNA and if we can't drive pain we're not going to drive change.

Seth:  So when we sat and talked, Glen, I mean you tapped into that concept of fear both in terms of talking about how this could work with any potential client or somebody we want to influence, but it also tapped into the fear for me that, "Oh, my gosh. If I do this wrong, this entire business venture is at stake, and my livelihood and our interest in serving small businesses through this vehicle are all at stake." I felt that fear, it became very really for me in that moment.

Glen:  And the other thing I try to do is ... we're also programmed to avoid risks, to avoid new things, to avoid new concepts. So our two major directives that are programmed into our DNA is 1) avoid pain it may kill you, and 2) avoid new situations because if you haven't seen it before, it may kill you. And therefore because of that, we are very risk-averse and therefore, if you don't cause pain I'm going to stay steady state and even if you do cause pain, the pain you cause must be greater than the risk of changing my behavior. So you've got to mitigate risk, and you've got to create pain.

Seth:  So Glen, so if we're thinking about ... we're looking at our clients or potential clients, we want to move them to action, you're touching on two really key topics - one – we’ve got to decide what's painful for them so we can speak to that, and we also have to understand how do we make this something that, from that risk proposition, becomes more valuable to them than staying where they are today. So these are two sorts of core concepts to this pitch.

Now before we go further to the pitch, if we kind of take the traditional approach of coming up with a sale pitch, and we aren't mindful of these sort of tactics or strategies, and we go to the logical brain, which what we maybe naturally think we're supposed to do, what are some of the mistakes that you see businesses make when they take sort of that old school route?

Glen:  So number one is being too abstract. So remember our reptilian brain, that non-human part of the brain that's going to make the decision doesn't understand abstractions. So for instance if I go into a hardware store or somebody, Black and Decker's trying to sell me drills, if they're selling me features, e.g. “that it's the best in class construction tool,” if they're selling to abstractions, well, I don't need “best in class, I don't need it to rotate thousands and thousands of rotations per second." Those are abstract thoughts.

When I go in to buy a drill, I'm buying holes, and therefore taking an engineering solution and just pitching to the abstractions, the features of this product, I'm not going to motivate somebody because they don't need a handheld device that can turn a drill bit around at X amount of rotations per minute. They just want to know, "Can I drill holes? Will it be fast? Will it be easy?" It's not being at that abstractions level or pitching to the abstractions level. That's one thing. So stay concrete, talk about real things that are important. Don't use jargon words. Talk to benefits.

The next one is people tend to prematurely prescribe a solution. So if I start telling a customer for instance or a prospect what they need; this is what you need a drill that does this, this, this. Then I am prescribing before I've uncovered or actually confirmed what their pain is. So a well-constructed pitch is constructed around hurt and rescue. So you talk about the pain before you talk about the solution. So what I would do is say, "Hey, you've got a new home, you're putting up shelves, you're doing a lot of work. It looks like you're going to need to drill a lot of holes, you're going to want a lot of holes. And the kind of work that you're doing, is it so much work that you're going to need a lot of time, can you afford to plug it in or does it need to be battery?" It's probing for the pain, making them think about it, and understanding.

And if you walk into a doctor, and the doctor says, "You know what you need? -Aspirin” before they ask you any questions or discuss with you your problems, then you're going to believe, "Hey, this doctor must be an Aspirin salesperson." You want them to ask you a bunch of questions, even if they're going to go back to Aspirin, so that you feel better that Aspirin is the solution.

When you're pitching you want to ask people and probe for pain, and even if they've come in to buy your product you still want to ask them those question before you make a recommendation and talk to them about what those solutions will be. So being abstract, premature prescribing and the last thing is spray and praying. So you haven't done any needs analysis, you don't really understand what the customer wants, and you talk about everything your product can do.

So back to Aspirin, if the customer has a headache, you don't need to tell them after you've found out they have a headache, and that's their only problem and their head hurts, and they can't work, and they can't sleep. You want to talk to them about why Aspirin is going to be good for the headache. You don't want to go in there and say, "Oh, and it also will thin your blood, and it will reduce inflammation, and it will reduce your possibility of a heart attack." You don't want to overwhelm them with all the things that your solution can do, you only want to present to the needs. So you don't spray and pray. You understand what their needs are, and you pitch to the need.

Seth:  Alright, so I mean a lot of this does run counter to what I think people assume is the right way to pitch, that you go on a traditional website or even see marketing that shows up in print or on TV. There is not a listening aspect to it. It jumps right to a solution. It tries to overwhelm you with all these different features, and a lot of those like you said are abstract. “It will make your life better; it will make your business faster,” whatever it is. And so what you're telling us is it just does not compute, it's just in the brain of the person that's receiving that message, it's not going to hit those aspects that actually get them excited or ready to actually take action.

Glen:  Great point. And that's why a well-constructed website will have... you'll go to the website it will have a short description of Aspirin, and then they'll be three boxes underneath - one says Aspirin for your headache, Aspirin for swelling, people who have inflammation problems, Aspirin for people with heart problems. And so that the user can say, "Oh, wait, heart problems, that's me. Go to that page and get a heart problem pitch. Not a pitch about all the other things I don't need."

Seth:  Right. Okay, so we're honing in on a couple key things, listen for the pain, provide a solution that helps alleviate that pain in a very tangible way, try and reduce the risks. Now there's another aspect of this that I know you'd talked about which is making things relative, so people understand, “what is the scope of what's being offered?” Can you talk about that a little bit?

Glen:  Right. So actually the way our brains work, we see things really black and white. And when our brain tries to put them together and describe relative differences, we contrast one solution over another, and it gets closer and closer. Maybe a good example, and this is a good way to manipulate people, maybe unfairly. But if any of you have seen the movie Fried Green Tomatoes, classic chick flick, one of my favorites. That chick flick thing.

So in the movie, one scene that highlights the power of relativity is, there's a young boy maybe 13, 14 years old. We know the kid, we watched him be born and grow up, we love the kid. His foot gets stuck in a train track. And as that happens and you see him pulling his foot and not able to get it out, you hear a train whistle and all of a sudden you see the train barreling down on him. And the whistles keep blowing and the train is getting closer, and you hear the wheels screeching against the track, iron on iron, and everything gets quiet, screen fades to black.

Next scene, there's a funeral going on in town, and that's very sad. We're thinking how sad this is, and the camera zooms in on the coffin. The coffin is too small to hold a person and, what has transpired is, the boy lived. He lost an arm and everybody in that audience says, "Wow." Breathes a sigh relief. Cause the kid only lost an arm, which in relations to losing his life, which is the alternative, in that scene was a horrible thing. But as a parent, I can tell you that if you told me my son was going to lose his arm, that would be a horrible thing to me.

Seth:  Sure.

Glen:  This parent, thought they were blessed. That's the power of relativity. And it's something that you must use when you're presenting in terms of ... if you're talking about pricing, maybe ... so a men's clothing store might sell a $2,000 suit and give you two suits for the price of one. And that's a great deal. And they'll make a little bit of money off of that. But where they're really going to make money is…because you just spent $2,000 on two suits, when they show you a $200 shirt, you're not going to blink; you're going to pay full price for the shirts, the ties, the other things because relatively it's not much difference in money.

We have time for another example?

Seth:  Yeah, sure. Absolutely, yeah.

Glen:  Here's another one. Let's say that you are buying an expensive car - a $70,000 vehicle. And you had the options of driving to the dealership to pick it up for an hour and driving back or having it delivered to your house. When you get it delivered to your house, it's $70,000. When you drive to the store, it's $69,500. Most people surveyed, over 90% will say, "Heck, $69.5 and I got to drive an hour and an hour back. Bring it to my house. I'll pay $70,000."

Seth:  Right, yup. So would I.

Glen:  Now would you drive an hour for $500? Yes.

Seth:  I sure would.

Glen:  Yeah, two-hour drive, there back, $500, yeah. It's the same $500.

Seth:  It all comes down to how my brain is perceiving the value of that in the context of where you're showing it.

Glen:  Yes. So and a business example of that is, if an employee thinks they're going to be losing their job, but what you have to do is reduce their salary they much rather have a 10% salary reduction than a 100%, which is what they thought they were getting.

Seth:  So as a business ladder both in terms of pitching or even just understanding this result, you're taking on the responsibility of coming up with a strategy to say, "Okay, for what it is that I am offering you I need to make this relative for you in a way that the value is on the side that's going to move you to action." As opposed to just in a vacuum what we might traditionally do is just say, "Hey, here's the price on this thing."

Glen:  Right. So how you price it competitively against your competition, you may want to take out some features so that your less money, that are not valued, and sell them separately at a higher ... so that the total cost might be higher or you may want to offer a make your own ... you may want to develop a very high priced offer while you're talking to people and talking about the high price offer. So you may have, my solution normally as a $30,000 solution and you talk about $30,000, $30,000, $30,000. But that thing is so loaded that you know they don't need everything in it. And so when you show them the $25,000, solution they'll like it.

Seth:  All of a sudden it seems like a great deal.

Glen:  Yeah.

Seth:  And now, so Glen, there's another ... this was really interesting when I heard you talk. This was something that stood out to me; I think it's related to this. But it's also related to the abstraction piece, and it's how you can use analogies to help people feel more concrete and reduce risk and also this whole relative thing. And you used a really neat example about, you have a choice to get on two airplanes, and you were talking about the idea of a company that would pitch something that was like a preventative solution. Was it a company that would do like a cyber security and it's the kind of thing that, "Well, you only need that if something bad happens and why do I want to pay for something unless I know something bad is going to happen?" You're trying to convince somebody that. And you used that airplane analogy. Do you remember that? Do you mind talking about that for a second?

Glen:  Yeah, this takes a lot of sort of neuroscience concepts and puts them into one. One is to take something that's abstract and make it personal and understandable so that I can relate to it. The other concept though is to make something that's totally new, we're programmed to avoid new. If we haven't ... if we've seen something before, there is a good chance it hasn't killed us. And this is in our programming to avoid new. So when you're presenting something new like this cyber security company was presenting in a new arena they need to make it seem more familiar, less risky.

And the way to do that is ... so what their product does is it basically creates a fire drill for a cyber security attack. And it simulates all different ways that a company can be attacked so that the staff can ... we can test and see how they operate together, they can recognize patterns, they can do things better. But selling that to an IT director or a chief security officer who are risk-averse in this new concept may not get that. But what they will get is, they have been on airplanes, they understand the threat of being on an airplane and some of the things that can happen.

So instead of talking about what your product does, start with ... make this person feel the pain of being in a similar situation. You're on an airplane and it's just gotten hit by a lightning. Three of the four engines have gone out, the electricity is out. Would you rather be in a plane where this has never ... where the pilot has never encountered anything like this before, or would you rather be in a plane with a pilot who has had thousands and thousands of hours of simulation training and has seen this exact situation three or four times so that when it happens just like motor memory they just go in action, they know what to do. Which plane would you rather be on?

Seth:  Well, considering that I'm already a slightly skittish flyer and I'm going to be traveling this weekend, I can tell you a thousand times out of a thousand I'm getting on that plane with the guy who's prepared.

Glen:  And that's why the FCC requires pilots to go through thousands of hours of simulation training and testing, so that you feel better. Well, as a CSO, as a chief security officer, an IT manager, your career is at stake, just like when you're on an airplane. If you want to be the next cover of the Wall Street Journal as the company that's been hacked and ruined the reputation of the company and canned your career then you can't afford to not have the kind of pilots or a security team who can recognize these patterns quickly and go into action.

Seth:  Yeah, so I mean, this is a really good example because I'm sitting here I'm trying to imagine myself sort of in the chair of this person that's being pitched to, and if you come in in that traditional method and say, "Hey, we sell this product. It's got all these great features. It's world class in terms of its ability to simulate attacks." I nod my head. That sounds interesting, maybe I'm interested, maybe I'm not. But you're hitting me really where it hurts when you have me literally imagining myself choosing between these airplanes that I had to get on. I mean, it is evoking a real emotional reaction and then the example of being on the front page of the paper as the guy who was the one who dropped the ball, I mean, that right there is hitting me in the pain point.

Glen:  Right, so it's taking a very ... everybody knows about airplane simulation and everybody can easily understand the value of it and now we're just transferring that to this person's career. So an old recognized concept for a new one. Because when you go into that person to sell a simulation system what they're going to tell you is, "We have a firewall, we have all these anti-threat software, we have the latest and greatest of all the software." And you're going to hear that and you're going to listen to it in that probing part, in the discovery part - the part where you're probing for pain.

And then you might ask, "You know those are the same tools that the CEO of Walmart had or the CSO of Walmart had. And they're great tools and they work only as good as the team who can react and understand what's going on and how quickly they can react. So 15 minute reaction time may be the difference when somebody has hacked in. So finding out you've been hacked is great, but being hacked and finding it out and not being able to shut it down for an hour is a threat. And having a well-coordinated team that understands exactly what happens and what to do once you have been attacked." So they are feeling safe usually. If you're in a Fortune 500 selling a solution like that, they're feeling safe. But I guarantee you every single other company who's been hacked felt safe.

Seth:  So yeah, so I mean at that point you're doing a couple different things, you're making it feel real to them and tapping into that feeling of, "Ugh." I mean, you're making them uncomfortable and then you're rescuing them.

Glen:  And I know I had demonstrated this to you and others, but anybody who's been caught in traffic, going to be late for a meeting, and traffic's not moving has that irrational fear and feeling where they start hitting the steering wheel, yelling, sweating, breathing hard, in the animal kingdom that's fight or flight response. That means that while you're sitting in that car you believe you're going to die and what that means is that you've made this transfer, "If I'm going to be 15 minutes late for this meeting, customer going to be mad at me, customer's not going to buy, I'm not going to win the deal, my boss is going to fire me, I can't get another job, I won't be able to afford food I'm going to die." We equate our careers, money, these things; we actually take that and illogically turn it into life and death situations, subconsciously.

Seth:  So our job being able to pitch effectively is to really be willing… it's interesting you said something earlier, almost like you could use this to manipulate people and I think this strategy is powerful and when you spend time thinking about whatever your own business is and how you solve problems for your customers…when you run through this it brings up so much. Do you feel like there is a little bit of a manipulative aspect of this, I mean, kind of are you treading into dark territory when you seek to tap into the fears of people in order to move your product?

Glen:  Absolutely. But you know it's like any superhero, you can use your powers for good or you can use your powers for evil. And I mean that. When we look at things like Trump University which appears, I'm not going to say it is, but appears to have been taking people's money. If you're working for Trump University and using these things, that's evil.

Seth:  Right, cause the product you feel genuinely isn't serving your clients well, so you're using it to manipulate them to sell them a phony solution.

Glen:  That's right. But if you're selling, for instance let's go back to this fire drill product which there's nothing like it in the market and it is the ... relatively it's not expensive versus the alternative of getting hacked and if it truly can make your team work better and close down breaches more quickly then the problem that humans have, all of us have is ... You know, every single person listening to this has a product that you really want, that you thought about buying, and that you haven't bought.

Seth:  Sure.

Glen:  And not every one of those products should you buy. But buying introduces risks. You may not be happy, it's changed, I have it now and therefore I don't buy it. So sometimes we need to be pushed to make a better change.

Seth:  Absolutely. Okay, so I'm with you. I mean, it's like what you're saying is if you have a genuine belief that you have something that will help that client or assuming most people in business do have that intention and that purpose driving what they do and that they're not in the business of pitching scams. And so therefore this is important because it's just a set of tools that allows them to tap into what really does motivate the client, not manipulate them so much but open their eyes through a way that otherwise we might not know to do to the value of how we can help and then of course the conversation continues from there.

Glen:  Exactly. And it's very similar, you coach people, I coach people. We know that we will not get them to change harmful behavior unless they recognized that it's harmful, unless they're feeling, unless it's causing pain. And therefore to get them to change a good coach probes for the pain and gets them to admit. The first step of a 12-step program is to admit you have a problem. That's what driving pain is, is getting them to admit they have a problem. And you know what? If you don't have a problem, it's going to be harder to use this for evil.

Seth:  Yeah, Glen, that actually really resonated with me what you just said. Because it's true, I mean, if I'm coaching someone on leadership and they come in with the mindset of, "Hey, things are pretty good. I'm a little curious about this coaching. But things are good." It really is hard to inspire that person or connect or to create change cause to them, things are fine. There is compelling reason. Now things become very different when they come in with either, "I'm nervous about losing my job or I've gotten some feedback," kind of what we say like a slap upside the head, a wake up call.

And maybe even if it's not negative there's something they really want, maybe a promotion or to grow a business, whatever it is and they can't see the path to get there, and that also gives them that same feeling of discomfort. You're right that's what we kind of latch onto and say, "Alright, now that you're serious, now there's something that you want to accomplish, there's pain point. Now we're ready to work." And that's the exact type of thing I feel like you're describing that we can tap into with the pitch.

Glen:  Exactly. And I've been fortunate; I've never had to sell for a company a product that I didn't believe in. And if you believe in your product then getting people just as if when you believe in the ... a coaching solution or an action that a mentee needs to take, getting somebody to move off of steady state, the no change mode is a good thing. But it is we are programmed without pain there is no change. I don't need to change unless I feel some pain.

Seth:  Yeah, we take the responsibility to help create that. So in some way it's like ... it's not manipulating it's just helping tap into a different perspective in a new level of awareness over what is that pain and oh, by the way, I can help with that.

Glen:  Yeah. And you know if there really is ... I don't believe you can create pain where there isn't pain. Now unfortunately for the Trump University people, most of those people were out of work, were worried about their careers that didn't have marketable skills they thought, and therefore they were susceptible to an “evil” pitch of this will change your life, this will make you money. There it's completely used wrong.

Seth:  Yeah. What was the ... there is some famous psychic that was ... there is a whole series of articles on her. I can't remember her name of course. But it ended up being a multi-million dollar scam where they mail people, they tap into their fears and of course ask for money and then the reason you know it's a scam is they never provided any follow up service whatsoever. They just scared you, took your money, and that was the end of it. That's the evil version of using a tactic like this.

Glen:  Right, exactly.

Seth:  So let me ask you this. So Glen, I mean, kind of a quick recap here, I mean, we look for the pain, but we listen, we want to understand the pain point, we want to speak to how we help them move away from that. We want to de-risk what it is so that it doesn't feel like it's something new, so they feel safe with it. We compare it to other things they understand so it makes it relative and they can see the value in that. You've done so much in terms of working with businesses, consulting, working with leaders, but what drew you to this? I mean, why does this stand out for you and something you really embrace now, kind of featuring in the way you work with your clients?

Glen:  So I'm 60 years old. I started working in 1978 and as a salesperson, and from that time for the first 20 years of my career I'd noticed patterns and I could learn from those patterns and I could ... a lot of these things I sort of knew intuitively that they would work. And then after about 20 years I started doing turnarounds, working for VCs, going in the companies - venture capitalists, going into companies that had the staff were completely demoralized, everybody's worried about their jobs. And it was my job to turn it around. And I was able to use some of the things I learned, patterns I saw, and things I intuitively figured out overtime to make things work.

But it wasn't perfect. And I stumbled onto a book by a Dr. Cialdini called Influence. And it fascinated me because what it did was take these things that were mythical and intuitive and started to codify them as fact. And so I started reading more and more about neuroscience and the science and influence. And science moved on so much that we really have an understanding of the human brain and why things work the way they are.

And the best way to give you an example or analogy which is a neuroscience technique of what I'm talking about is before when ancient man look at the sky and thought that the earth was the center of the universe and the moon and the son and the stars revolve around the earth, that was based on what they could observed. And they could make some predictions based on behavior but they weren't 100% accurate. Once we understood the actual way the universe was constructed and we in the solar system, the solar system worked, then all of a sudden we could predict and understand lunar eclipses, we don't have to start prescribing them to one of the gods.

And when I found neuroscience it was, "Oh, okay. That's why this happens." And what it allows you to do is instead of reacting to a pattern that you've seen before, and only patterns you've seen before, you can use this science and apply it to new situations. So you see something new and you say, "Why did that happen?" You could say, "Well, because the moon is over here on the earth and the sun is over here and therefore ..." The same thing with the brain, you can say, "Oh, I know why that happened. I know why this person will not make the decision even though I know this is a great decision for them. They won't do it because they're only thinking about how much it will make them versus how much they lose each day that they don't move forward." Because again, one of the things we're programmed for is we're really programmed to avoid lost so much that the risk of lost is why we might not move towards the game.

So an example of that would be if I have a product that will save a company $12 million a day, if that person's thinking, "Oh, I can make that decision tomorrow and get that $12 million a year." That's one thing. But if they're thinking, "Oh, wait. Every month I don't do this cost me a million dollars?" They'll sweat more. They'll feel some pain about not acting.

Seth:  Yeah. It's a subtle difference. But what I'm hearing you say is after observing in all these different business settings over time, that subtle difference and the fact that science has sort of validated that there is something to do this, it's not just an intuition is that it could be the difference for a business owner or whoever leader in, do they influence people? Do they get what they need? Are they able to put their product and message out there? Or are they just out there spinning their wheels and sort of never quite being able to take things to the next level cause they're lacking the understanding of this core concept.

Glen:  Yeah, in the way I define this there are eight core stimuli to get somebody to move. And if you understand what those eight stimuli are you should be able to devise a strategy to get people to move in any situation. And you know what? If you can't devise a strategy using these eight stimuli, then you probably don't have a prospect who will move.

Seth:  Yeah. Right, so there's a way to look at this. I mean, not everybody is a prospect.

Glen:  Right.

Seth:  So Glen, let me ask you this. This is all exciting, I know you're incorporating this again with the way you work with your clients, what's next? Where do you go next with the reptilian brain concept?

Glen:  So I'm going to finish the book on pitching to the reptilian brain and I've started a series of presentations on using that too for leadership and developing a culture of high performance. And the reptilian brain and how it works is evident in how we choose our leaders. In the last 150 years we have had only one president who was shorter than average, every other one was taller. Does that mean tall people make good leaders? No, that means that in our tribal brain alpha males who can lead a tribe in a kind of battles that we don't run anymore, we pick leaders through the same bias reptilian brain for a world that doesn't run that way. And so short ugly people like me who don't have square jaws are at a disadvantage.

And so what we need to do as short ugly people to make up for the rest of the world is we need to be able to model behavior and put systems in place that make people feel like, "Oh, I am safe with this person. Oh, I will go to war with this person. I do share his values." So it's how do you develop that persona and a consistent message and a culture where you can lead a high-performance culture.

Seth:  Wow, okay. So now you're taking this and really transferring it not just to the sales pitch. I mean, that's one sort of narrow application of this, but that entire domain of leadership. The impact of this is huge not only ... I heard you say almost like crafting leaders, but in an organization how it creates a leadership culture.

Glen:  Exactly. Yeah, I mean, because management culture ... I've always compared this when we have ... and you have children more than I. When you have kids that are under five you're a manager, and that's hard, arduous work. When they get older, start driving, not under your purview all the time, we can't protect them, we need to become leaders. We lead them. It's a lot easier. Well, that same concept of how we model those behaviors and what we want to get out of our children so that when they are driving late at night we know they're not drinking, that they're responsible.

That kind of behavior we do with our children, we need to figure out how to do that at work so that being the CEO of a company is easy because my managers know what I would do if I was in ... If I'm not there and they don't have me to ask, they know exactly what I would do and they're on the same page, they agree with it, they buy into this system, and they can do it without me. And the more you spread that out, the more easy being a CEO is and the more fluid and effective your organization will be.

Seth:  That's a great sort of point to put an exclamation point on this entire discussion. Because one of the major things, I mean even going back we said I was excited to talk to you because this was an area where businesses get stuck and this was a strategy that could help reenergize them, and one of the other areas we talked about getting stuck especially in a small business setting is you as a leader are unable to transfer what you're talking about which is a set of values and understanding of purpose, a belief and accountability to a certain set of behaviors.

When the leader is unable to do that they become the one who has to do everything. They can't trust other people to basically act on their behalf or in the best interest of the organization. So this is really at the heart not only of, "Hey, improve your sales pitch but you have to adapt this entire mindset if you really believe that “I want to grow my company. Otherwise you really do hit a ceiling and you can't break through it."

Glen:  Exactly.

Seth:  Well, Glen, I want to thank you for your time. As always it's fun and entertaining. Maybe we could do another follow up sometimes cause there's so much here. I know we probably could have kept going and covered it even more. What we'll do we'll have the page on the site to go along with this interview, we'll have your website up there where people can come over and check you out at Driven Forward. They can come sign up and subscribe to your Forward Thinking blog where they can keep up with your latest. And any other plans to do speaking in the area where people locally might be able to come see you?

Glen:  I have no short terms ones. I just did one yesterday at GW, but nothing in the short term. I really have to hunker down and get this book finished.

Seth:  Okay, which is not an easy thing to do.

Glen:  Right.

Seth:  Okay. Well, I just want to thank you again, Glen. This has been great. As always appreciate your wisdom but also the insight on this and look forward to staying in touch.

Glen:  Well, thank you, Seth. I always appreciate your help and anything I can do to help you, I'm on your side.

Seth:  Alright, man. My pleasure.

Glen:  Talk to you later.

Seth: Talk to you later.

  Glen Hellman  Business Strategist

Glen Hellman
Business Strategist