How You Can Become Your Agency’s Black Mamba
Could your ego be standing in the way of your agency’s success? Do you want to perform at peak level but struggle to break through an invisible ceiling? It might be time to reinvent and put energy into a mindset that helps you get there. There are a lot of people claiming to know the “secret to success” but most ignore the core issues of the mental game. Today’s guest has been the coach to pro athletes, public figures, and leaders by helping them improve performance by starting with improvements to their mental game.
Todd Herman is a global leader, speaker, author, and mentor who helps amazing talent, like Kobe Bryant, reach a new level in their careers. He coaches elite pro athletes, leaders, and public figures on the topics of performance, strategy, mindset, and execution. Todd is an insider in the thought process of not only elite performers but legends in their fields.
In this episode, we’ll discuss:
- Overcoming ego death by developing an alternate persona.
- Separating the different sides of your identity.
- Being authentic and intentional as your identity superpower.
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The Path of the Mental Coaching Game
Todd got his start in 1997 coaching high school football players and got really good results by helping them with their mental game. Back then, mental game coaching wasn’t really an industry, a market, or even a niche. Nevertheless, he got results and parents started reaching out to pay for private coaching lessons.
Since his coaching career started in the world of sports and being a big believer in mentorship, he reached out to Harvey Dorfman, a giant in the mental game industry. With Harvey, he got to go behind the scenes and see what it’s like to work with professional athletes. This is how he started moving more into the world of peak performance and mental game coaching.
Since then, Todd has improved his methods and moved on to coaching Hollywood and Broadway talent, and top CEOs. Whatever his clients are trying to conquer, he usually goes back to the principles of the inner game, strategic game, and execution game. With this, he builds programs and systems to tackle their goals.
As Todd’s coach, Harvey had a huge impact on his career. His best advice was that you don’t need to act a certain way in order to deliver value. He didn’t need to be the kindest or the most aggressive or appear a certain way to help his clients. He just needed to be honest and use everyday words, without the need to posture with big words.
Overcoming Ego Death by Developing a New Persona
Todd met Kobe Bryant when the athlete reached out to his coach Harvey while going through a difficult time due to a public scandal. It was 2003 and Harvey described it to Todd as Kobe’s “ego death” or an identity challenge. Harvey referred Kobe to Todd at that time, as he specialized in that kind of crisis for athletes.
As Todd explains, when an athlete needs to step into a new world or new type of challenge, like a college athlete going to a professional league, they need to shed some of their old identity. The longer it takes them to do that, the greater the chances they’ll never succeed in that new area.
At that time, Kobe was going through a moment that forced him to shed his image as a young, naïve player. This was the source of his crisis and he needed to figure out a new identity to get back in the game. Todd worked with him to cultivate a new image of Kobe, both ON and OFF the court.
With Todd’s help, Kobe developed an aspirational persona of a stone-cold killer who never gives up — The Black Mamba. Naming the persona is an important part of the process that helps people tap into their alter ego. Kobe attributes his moment of clarity to the movie Kill Bill where he discovered the black mamba and instantly felt inspired and connected to it.
Developing Your Own Alter Ego Persona
People tend to think they can get to the same success level by modeling their life exactly like celebrities. In reality, the idea is to look at them as sources of inspiration. If you take Kobe and The Black Mamba as the source for your alter ego, you won’t see similar results. An alter ego has to inspire you with its attributes and qualities; then customize that to your current ambitions.
Any person looking to build their alter ego should be very honest about what they want. The problem is that many people don’t know how to articulate it. This is the basis of the alter ego you end up creating. In Kobe’s case, the black mamba was created to help him get through a very specific moment in his career. It was meant for a specific role — not every aspect of his life.
If you think about the roles in your life, which one is giving you the most challenges and struggles? Which one do you feel the most trapped by? There should be some element of playfulness and creativity in building your persona.
If you’re an agency owner who’s feeling trapped, what’s an area in your life where you could be more playful?
The Importance of Separating the Different Sides of Your Identity
The black mamba was only one part of Kobe’s identity created exclusively for the basketball court. This is how we should approach high-performance alter egos. They are meant to help us excel in a specific area where we’re struggling and remain separate from other facets of our lives.
Your alter ego helps you reach very specific goals in one area but it is not who you are.
If you’re an agency owner, maybe you need an alter ego for that side of your identity. Maybe you need an alter ego for being an author or podcast host. Seeing yourself as just an entrepreneur is what makes it so difficult for some people to exit the business and give up control. This mindset gets in the way of agency growth because owners don’t know who they are outside of the business.
As human beings, we love to attach labels to ourselves and label others, as well. Labels can be very empowering. However, when you’re about to make a shift make sure you have the right narrative of yourself. For instance, Todd recommends switching the entrepreneur label to “I am entrepreneurial”. This way, if you sell your agency you don’t lose your identity. An entrepreneurial nature is something you can take anywhere, into anything.
Being Authentic and Intentional as Your Identity Superpower
Nowadays we hear a lot about authenticity and how it’s the best way to succeed. However, Todd believes there’s an argument to be made about the results you get when you adopt a persona that helps you get ready to perform at the level you want to be.
Todd believes intentionality with identity is a superpower. If you’re a public speaker, the person who’s on stage catching the audience’s attention won’t necessarily have the same energy as the one answering their questions after you leave the stage. And that’s okay.
In a study conducted at the University of Minnesota, a group of grade 1 and 2 kids were tasked with grabbing a set of keys and finding the correct one to open a padlock. In reality, the test was about resilience. The key was not there but how long would it take them to give up?
The second part of the test included the same exercise but this time, the kids got to dress up as either Batman or Dora the Explorer. The time they spent trying to open the door increased drastically. In their normal clothes, they gave up quickly. However, as a dressed as a character they had a mindset shift. That is the power of an alter ego.
As you step onto the stage, in front of a camera, or whatever your platform — adopt the identity of a winner or a fighter who gets the job done.
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