Todd Herman | How to Use Alter Egos to Improve Your Performance in Business and in Life

actually enjoying the process of going through life and he’s worked with Olympic athletes. He’s worked with leaders, entrepreneurs, and he’s also the author of the new book, the alter ego effect the power of secret identities to transform your life. So we’re going to be asking all asking him all about that. It’s also been featured on all kinds of large media publications all over the places getting the book is getting a lot of attention. He lives in New York City with his wife and three young kids now first, before we get into this interview, his podcast is brought to you by rise 25 media which is our done for you boutique marketing agency, helping b2b businesses to get a steady flow of new leads, prospects, referral partners and strategic partners coming in the door, month after month, and rise 25 media was created by myself and my business partner, Dr. Jeremy Weiss. And it’s part of our mission to make the world a smaller place by creating connections helping to connect more entrepreneurs and business owners with the ideal prospects and referral partners they love to work with. So to learn more about it, go to rise 25 dot com or book a call with us at rise 25 dot com slash call all right now under this show is an

mentioned our guests is Todd Herman. Now, Todd, you’re probably going to cringe when I say this. But this book is about self improvement, right? It’s about improving you as a person, how to improve your performance, where you show up in life. But it’s also really clear in the book, that you have a lot of disdain for the touchy feely self help books and gurus out there. So I want to just ask you straight up. Yeah, on the one hand, you’re saying you don’t like the touchy feely self help gurus out there. On the other hand, you’ve written a book that is about self improvement. So how do you draw a distinction where, you know, how is this different?

Todd Herman  2:40

I draw the distinction between someone who is repackaging ideas to someone who’s been a practitioner on the field of play, working with people toes to toes, nose to nose, belly to belly. And, and that really matters I think, for the listener, because there is a lot of information books.

articles, videos that are constantly and consistently shared from people who have never once dug into the garden of someone else’s performance and tried to actually extract, you know, the seeds of new levels for them. And, you know,

when you’re working with people, like toasters, like if I’m working with, you know, this is what you guys do you and Jeremy, I mean, you do this in your, in your business, I mean, you’re, you’re they’re truly getting people a new result with their marketing their performance that matters. Because, you know,

there are a lot of wonderful ideas that are shared in self help books that tastes great. They sound like they should work, they sound like they’re really nice and wonderful. But on the field of play, they don’t work. They don’t actually, you know,

change someone’s results. And I think that really matters for people because for the longest time, there’s been a lot of ideas that have been shared from self help gurus that actually work with people one on one and and they just say

regurgitate old ideas that have never been proven out on the field of play. A great example is affirmations. Okay? You know,

I hate to break it to people, but affirmations cause depression for more people that use them than they do help you scientifically proven. And so, you know, there’s all these people who love to share all these wonderful quotes on Instagram about, you know, affirm your manifested life or whatever the case is. But if you actually don’t have a belief right now, that that is a part of your current identity, and you start affirming that to yourself, categorically, it will cause you to be more depressed. You know, however, where affirmations do work, is when you’re actually already confident with something and you start to affirm it. What that does is it actually reinforces that and strengthens it, that duality that matters to people. And so, you know, in my book, I didn’t write this two years after I started my business, john, you know, like, this isn’t 20 years in. This is This isn’t my first book so that I can position myself as some expert I’ve already been

Done that I’ve written that book. I’m done. Like, you know, I’ve scaled up, I work with Olympic athletes. I didn’t write the book to get to Olympic athletes. I’m already there. And so now I’m on the other side of it. And I’ve worked with some of the top performers on the planet, people that you would see on the ESPN highlight reel, every single night of the week. And I’m just here to tell people like listen, this is how people who are truly successful actually think this isn’t you know, I’m not serving up cotton candy and popcorn I’m serving up mean potatoes. Yeah. Now the book is the alter ego effect, which is one of the concepts that you’ve talked about for a while I’ve followed your work for a while. You and I have known each other through different I guess we’ll say online entrepreneurial circles through the years, we’ve hung out in person. Why did you choose of all the different concepts you talk about? Why did you choose the alter ego effect as the you know, the main say that the main principle that you’re going to write about? Well,


Was it’s kind of been the secret sauce inside of my business for a really long time. I mean, I’m sort of more known, especially in the sports side of things as the the quick hit artist, like when you need when someone is playing at the US Open out here in New York City at Flushing Meadows on Saturday. And,

and they haven’t been performing to their capabilities for whatever reason. And it’s a Wednesday.

I’m the guy who would get the call, because I can come in very quickly and shift someone’s performance because I attack things at the identity level. Once you start once someone starts to see themselves differently, or starts to associate themselves with a new self, all of a sudden all those other layers that caused someone’s or shape someone’s identity or the way they see themselves, the belief layer, the layer of like your behaviors and your habits and your actions and things like that automatically changes. So sometimes people take an outside in approach they want to handle and change your behaviors and your habits which of course, those things work.

But nothing works faster than having someone start to act through and associate themselves with something different. So the alter ego effect is probably my biggest idea. It’s the thing that I’m well known for. And then, you know, john, it’s really hard to turn down. So the book set a record and publishing nonfiction and fiction for the most publishers ever interested in purchasing a book, which was 19 publishers. So that may be and that isn’t because of me, again, I didn’t invent alter egos. It’s part of the human psyche. It’s someone that every single person that’s listening has already used. So there’s no denying it. Like it’s just, it’s just based in scientific fact that every single human being when you were young, especially when you’re tapped into your creative imagination. You played with the idea of, you know, what could I do if I jumped off my sofa? When if I’m Superman, how far Could I jump if I was Batman, or black panther or Wonder Woman or whatever, it allows us it’s just us playing with the new idea of what could I do if it’s the same thing as like when you’re trying to pretend to be your favorite, you know, athlete. You know,

you’re trying to adopt their traits and their quality.

So that you can go out there and win. And yet as we grow up, we start to act more serious. And we start to tap into our more frontal lobe, which is where creative are, which is where reasoning and judgment and logic sits. And we end up trapping ourselves, you know, when it comes to really up leveling our performance, because really peak performance, which is the area that I care about flow and zone state can only be accessed through your creative imagination can only be accessed. And so I needed to come up with tools and strategies to help people access that and the alter ego effect was one of the absolute best ones that I could. You know, when I was growing up, my brother had a poster on his wall famous black and white photo of the two sports star Bo Jackson. He was just an icon at the time. We had his book lying around he you know, he was it was famous, and you had this great story about him about Bo Jackson. You running into him backstage. Can you tell us about that? Yeah, sure.

John Corcoran  9:00

And by the way, that story is probably what got me

more interested in the book than anything else because people were just fascinated with, with his alter ego. So what kind of I mean, that’s amazing, you know, just proof to the concept is, will you tell the story? Yeah, yeah, sure.

Todd Herman  9:16

So I was I was at a sports event down in Georgia and I was backstage kind of in the you know, quote unquote green room but you know, anyone who’s ever been in a green room it’s typically like a closet. Right sizing this, it was more like a bit of a smaller cafeteria area, because it was this talk was at a at a school.

But so I’m back there kind of just, you know, pacing back and forth, getting ready for my talk and just sort of, you know, running through some things in my head. And all of a sudden, like, to the to the door comes like this absolute physical human specimen. And I’m like, Oh, my god, there’s Bo Jackson. I played him a ton when I was playing Nintendo as a kid. And so he kind of Beeline it over to me, because I’m the only one in the room and he said, you know, Hi, I’m Bo Jackson said, Yeah, I know who you are. An idiot. I’d be an idiot in sport, if I didn’t know who the greatest athlete ever was. You also want me a lot of games on tech mobile as a kid. And he’s like, he just started laughing. He’s like, yeah, you’re not the first one to say that. And so so you’re talking today? And I said, Yeah, I’m going to talk to the, you know, coaches and athletes about the mental game, but specifically going to talk about, you know, using alter egos as a way to really bring your your best performance capabilities out on the field. And he kind of looked at me squinted his eyes and cocked his head and said, Bo Jackson never played a downer football his entire life. And, and inside, I’m getting all super excited, because he’s, you know, just another another example, an affirmation of the of the work that I did. And I said, Okay, tell me more. And he’s like, well, anyone who knows my backstory knows that I was a pretty angry, you know, kid growing up, I had a lot of emotion. And while that sounds like it would work for you on the football field, it didn’t actually get take some bad penalties. I was a little bit uncoachable. And then one night, I was watching this movie. And I saw this character Come on the screen. And he was like, methodical, and calculating and unemotional. And I thought to myself, wait a second, why don’t I take that out onto the football field. So I’m not so emotional. And it was Jason from Friday the 13th. And I was like, Wait a second, here’s an angry kid. And he decides to be Jason the serial killer. But that wasn’t his takeaway is he wasn’t taking the traits of serial killer, he was taking the traits of like unemotional, cold, calculating methodical out there. And when he would, when he would go out, and he would activate his Jason, alter ego, all that anger would go away, and it was just almost robotic, I am going to, you know, seek and destroy anything, I’ve gotten my path. And that’s what he actually said, He’s like, I’m sure going to talk to the kids about goals. But he’s like, I really didn’t have any goals. It was I just had a mission, my mission was to destroy anything that got in my path. And but without emotion. And so even in that, that’s a great little lesson in when you’re when you’re searching for that altered self, which is really the root of it comes from Cisco, Cisco was the first person who kind of named the word alter ego or term Alter Ego back and 44 BC. And its root means the other eye or trusted friend. And, and, you know, for me, helping people try to navigate the six inches between their ears in a really healthy way, it’s a really healthy way to, you know, we all know the power of relationships, I know that you and Jeremy are big on know, relationships as well. And so we all know that, you know, the more and higher quality people we have around us, the easier that life becomes, comes to navigate, right. And yet, we don’t do that between our own ears, we sort of live in this self sealing logic of our own self, or this merry go round effective self talk. And yet, when you have that powerful super ego, that alter ego, that you bring internal to help you navigate life’s challenges, or to go and pursue the things that you really want to pursue, but sometimes, you know, for whatever reason, resistance gets in the way, whether it’s from personal trauma from your past, or whether it’s from just some self doubt worrying about what other people might think of you. You know, my family has never been an entrepreneur. So why could I be an entrepreneur, all these sort of negative beliefs that you then take on as your identity, the moment you step into another identity, you’ve just now unshackled yourself from that storyline. And now all of your capabilities, all of the hard work, the skills, the abilities that you built up over time, start to flow out of you. And that’s what happened to Bo. And you know, is that why he became the greatest athlete of all time? You know? No, you mean, he had a lot of physical assets. But that definitely helped him and mean, he couldn’t stop chattering to me because he was just so blown away that here was someone standing in front of them that actually got paid to build alter egos. For other athletes. He thought it was kind of more his secret sauce. He knew other athletes that use alter egos, but he didn’t realize just how much of a performance accelerant it was for people.

John Corcoran  13:59

Huh? I was watching another interview you did. And you said even though we should develop alter egos, and it’s going to help us with our performance, we shouldn’t develop them in all areas of our life. So how do you do that? How do you bifurcated those two? And how do you decide you maybe you say, Okay, I’m doing fine at home? Or I’m doing fine in my relationship with my spouse that espouse they don’t need an alter ego in this area?

Todd Herman  14:23

Yeah. So I mean, when I say that, I don’t mean it, that we can’t have alter egos in every area, because we can’t we actually already do. We actually already I mean, the idea that we have this is the one challenging part in this is that this is an example of why I will kind of rail against the self help industry a lot is because for the longest time, they tried it out this idea that we have one identity, we have one self psychology world did this. And it’s been, you know, it’s proven that we don’t, in fact, the fastest growing field of psychology now, is multiple self theory, which is the, which is the known fact that we as human beings have many cells, we have many identities, that we play out these roles that we play out in life. And it’s actually very unhealthy for you to think of yourself just as one identity like I am this, and I am going to be that way on all these fields. Well, you know, being someone a good example, is someone in the book who has a really high value on fairness. And that would trap them on the court, you know, she was an exceptionally good tennis player. But the moment that she would get on the court, and she would start to beat someone badly, that fairness value would kick in, and she start to feel bad for that other person. And, and then she would take the foot off the proverbial pedal, allow that other person to get back into the game. And sometimes she would end up losing when she should have destroyed the person on the other side of the court. Well, that was her acting with just one identity on all of her fields. And I started to, you know, contextualize her life for her. And she started finally performing to her abilities. So what I’d say to you is, whatever area of your life right now, whether it’s in business, or whether it’s your role as the leader in your business, or whether it’s another role inside your business, which is the salesperson or speaker, whichever one is challenging you to right now, or the one that you want the most up level yourself, that’s a perfect opportunity for you to start to, you know, shape, a new identity and draw inspiration from someone or something else.

John Corcoran  16:21

I can’t help but draw parallels between the work that you do and your own personal story. So you know, you’ve talked about you were sexually abused as a child at age 12. And you also come from a small town you come from Edmonton, Canada, you moved to New York, you’ve gone from working with smaller athletes, to bigger athletes, to Olympic athletes, entrepreneurs to CEOs, you’ve been constantly up leveling yourself getting on bigger and bigger playing fields. How is the work that you help others with also helped yourself?

Todd Herman  16:54

Well, I mean,

it’s so funny, like, john, you know, the power of the kind of origin story of someone like where it goes, where someone goes, Oh, that makes sense as to why that person got into that work. I mean, for me, I got into mental game stuff and trying to master my own psychology out of just necessity because I needed to I was 12 I was at a church camp and and again, I an amazing fam, I come from a big farm and ranch in in southern Alberta Shuler, Alberta is where I come from Edmonton is where I went to, you know, university and played football. But that I went away to this church camp. And over the course of two days, two men kind of singled me out and sexually abused me over the course of those those days. And, you know, for a kid who grew up in a, you know, almost Pleasantville type environment that, obviously will, it’s going to sort of Ruin anyone’s psychology, and, you know, ended up battling, you know, suicide as a young kid, and all that kind of stuff. And, and so, me finding any sort of a tool I could use to sort of, you know, just navigate the six inches between my own ears and, you know, still pursue, I still have never lost the desire in life to go and do, you know, great things for myself. And, you know, using an alter ego to help me for those moments where there’s the football field, whatever the case was, helped me just get past that. Those challenges now, it wasn’t, I’m not, I would never say that this, this replaced therapy, because therapy was, you know, that final kind of event horizon for me to to overcome it. And what makes it easier for me to talk about it publicly like this, it doesn’t, you know, trap me anymore. And it’s not a shame, like I used to used to hold. But yeah, it totally got me into that mental game world. And then what it did do, it gave me a great superpower of like, being very compassionate towards other people. That’s why I get so riled up, you know, around the self help stuff that’s out their personal stuff. And now you’ve got, you know, because now everyone can be their own media a channel, right. And, you know, there’s just a lot of, you know, bad information that’s constantly propagated out there from people who want to act like they know it all, I kind of try and stay in my lane, I talk about a very few, very few things. And I know I’m very good at just a couple of things. And this, this is one of them. And so, you know, I don’t try to share stuff that isn’t, you know, factual or true or anything like that. And alter egos. I mean, it’s, it’s just proven, it’s so powerful. And it’s not limited to just people in entertainment, like, you know, Beyonce, us, Sasha Fierce, or Bo Jackson, us, Jason, or, you know, Martin Luther King is another great example. I mean, he’s, he’s the inspiration for the glasses that are on the book, those are a replica of glasses that he used to step into his alter ego when he was doing his writing.

John Corcoran  19:44

Hmm. You mentioned the origin story, you mentioned staying in your lane, these are ideas that have resonated with me, I kind of feel the same way. You know, you stay within your area of expertise, you know, I find with some people the idea of their origins story, people have trouble simplifying it, they have trouble. They over contextualize their story. And they want to tell their complete story, which confuses others and confuses the mission that they’re pursuing, if that makes sense. So how do you help people to figure out, not the full complete origin story, because we all live complete lives that have Yeah, you know, have so many different tangents that if you go down all of them, it just gets confusing. So how do you help people distill down their origin story, like, for me, it was telling people that my, my father been laid off three times when I was a kid, we had to move 3000 miles away, every time I moved to New School, had to meet new friends. And that’s how I got better at building relationships. And that’s how I got the opportunities that have come to me in my life. And it but it took a long time to realize that that was my story. So how do you help people to, to get to that clarity for their own origin story?

Todd Herman  20:57

Yeah, I think, you know, it’s that classic idea of, its really hard to read the label when you’re inside the bottle, right? Like, I mean, I do it with myself. I mean, there’s, you know, of course, I’ve lived my life. And there are any one of 1000 different rabbit holes that I could go down to give you some sort of context around why I do what I do and why I care about what I care about. But there there are some kind of overarching themes. And so I’m, I’m a big, I like to challenge people with like, if there was a word that would describe this one single word that you think that your life would be about, or your life in business would be about because life might be too much for this role that you play. You know, what would that maybe be? And that’s what helped me, you know, because when I, when I think about that one word for me, it sort of goes back and forth between mindset and performance, those two things, because I think that once you not, I think, I know that when you give someone clarity, like they’re finally free of the fog, that they’ve been dealing with, about uncertain about what their strategy should be or uncertain about, you know, how they should approach their game or approach the next 90 days of their business and find that one goal for themselves. Once you’ve removed that fog, and you’ve given someone a target, I’ve just seen it like you, you automatically just released the governor, that’s on people’s abilities. And so everyone goes and tries to chase productivity stuff. And I’m like, No, that’s the effect. That’s this. That’s like the third phase of how you help someone truly perform to add on at an elite level, the first phase is about getting someone clarity. So, you know, unpacking someone’s origin story? I don’t you know, that I have, you know, the process in the book about lots of different questions that you can ask yourself, but, you know, what are the what are the three major? What are the three major sort of impacts that happened to you, when you were, you know, under the age of 20, that might have shaped your life? I mean, you had, you know, you talked about just one of them, which was, you know, the constant move on ground. That was a theme that repeated itself. So we’re looking for, you know, we’re looking for themes, just like this is like reading a comic book story. It’s classic, it’s the same thing, what’s the theme that runs through it? Right. And that can tell you a lot about what your origin story is, because your origin story ends up carrying through, like, what you really care about, I care about family, deeply, it’s a huge part of how I operate. You know, I run I have big events. And I have three little kids. You know, Charlie’s to Sophie is almost five and and Molly six, the moment they turn to they have to be on stage. And they have to recite a poem, sing a song. And like I said, I want to integrate my kids, because I grew up on a farm. I grew up in an integrated life. There’s no separation of family and work there. It’s all one thing. And yet, people really struggle with that in their own lives trying to separate their business self in their home self. I don’t I just Mike, my kids are involved in my business.

John Corcoran  23:53

Mm hmm. What was it like for you making that transition from working with athletes to working with entrepreneurs and CEOs? And exactly it is? And were there any stumbles initially, did you did a natural transition? Or did you find like, you know, okay, this works for the athletic field. Did you find any challenges with when you started to work with the business folk?

Todd Herman  24:16

Well, from a personality type side of things, very, very similar. There’s, there’s not much difference on that side of things. And even there was a study that was done about five years ago on the categories of people in vocations that have the highest level of risk tolerance. So the highest level of risk tolerance are generals in the military. And tied for second are entrepreneurs and athletes. And so you find, like, they’re just, I could get off the phone with you, and then talk to one of my athletes who’s, you know, competing in the NBA Finals, and it would be a very similar conversation. The only exception to that was once I got into the entrepreneur world, was just athletes are often birding inside of a field of play that has borders around it, right? the basketball court has lines, you know, there is a very defined goal that’s out there, there’s a hoop that you throw the basketball through there, as a net, you shoot the puck into there is a football that you get across the line. It’s very, very obvious what the main goal is. And in business, I found entrepreneurs would get really confused about what their main goal would be. And, you know, I have this sort of training series that I call the right thing right now. Revolution training series, which is, hey, gang, like when you don’t overcomplicate what businesses about businesses about there’s only really one goal you can have in business, everything else chunks up to it. And that’s going to be about revenue, sales, or profits, one of those three variations of it, I mean, the only reason you’re doing anything is because it’s going to impact any one of those three things. And so, but I will say that in entrepreneurship, there are so many more variables, so many more uncertainties that you’re dealing with, that even though athletes could be, you know, a stressed out group of people, it was a lot easier to sort of manage that group of people, entrepreneurs, a lot harder to wrangle, as you know, when it comes to let when it came to like, getting them to truly appreciate that their peak performance was going to be found in focusing on the process and not so much on the outcome of whatever it was that they were focusing on.

John Corcoran  26:28

interested in because athletes are conditioned to know that the performance is critical on the on the playing field, whereas Yeah, with entrepreneurs is 24. Seven, or they don’t appreciate that there is a playing field.

Todd Herman  26:39

Well, no, it’s that they, they get into such I would say bad parent or bad habits of comparing themselves consistently against other people that are not even playing the same game is that like, you know, it’s in the world looking at someone

John Corcoran  27:03

way above them? That’s way above

Todd Herman  27:05

them. That’s in a completely different field is them right, like I mean, it’s the you know, comparing yourself against Ilan musk? Well, I mean, if you’re a coach and a consultant, you don’t even have the same business model as that person. So it’s a terrible person to even compare yourself against. And again, comparison is a frontal lobe activity, high level draws, draws up the beta brainwave state, which typically pulls you more into a stressed out individual. And so I’m trying to constantly pull people back into, you know, areas that they that they can control that they can focus on. And that’s typically the process. And one of the ways to do that is to help people and you know, once I can help people get really clear about what their strategy is, they would start running their own race a lot of times. So, yeah, there’s just in entrepreneurship, there are just so many more variables than there are in sport. Definitely. I mean, you can talk to any athlete, any athlete will tell you categorically, I’ve never had one of them, who’s transitioned out of sport and into the world of business. That is, that is not said, business is way harder than sport, they much rather go back and, you know, get smashed on a punt return or a kickoff return. Deal deal with sometimes the days that

John Corcoran  28:14

days, they haven’t business, it is amazing to me because I played I played football in high school. And I remember get I was the one who was getting smashed on those returns. And that was not fun at all. Entrepreneurship can be up and down. But getting hit on a on a punt return, especially when you just receive the ball. Not fun. Yeah. All right. We’re running low on time zone wrap things up. Yeah. And this last question actually touches on something which I didn’t get a chance to ask about during the interview, which is, let’s pretend we’re at an awards banquet, much like the Oscars and the Emmys or the SBS. And you’re receiving an award for Lifetime Achievement Award for everything that you’ve done up until this point, but I want to know is who do you think are the mentors with their friends? Were the peers who are the coaches, that’s what I didn’t get to ask you about you as a coach to athletes as as you know, a mentor to athletes, who are the people that have helped you navigate through your career over the 20 plus years that you’ve been doing what you know?

Todd Herman  29:02

Well, I mean, I’m going to go with this standard, you know, Mom and Dad, you know, my dad for showing me the value of hard work and work ethic and being just a quiet leader, very much a classic rancher man of very few words. But he gave me a great piece of advice when I was leaving the farm, going off to college university said, we were working across one day, and we took a break. And he said to me, so you see that piece of cow shit over there? And I said, Yeah, I see that. And he said, you know, you can take a piece of cow shit wrapped in a red ribbon, but it’s still a piece of cow shit. And then he walked away. And all the man was he knew that I was going to be the kid who walked went away and traveled around the world and did business or whatever. But he just wanted me to make sure I look past the red ribbon of people like you know, it could be just a three piece suit. But is that just hiding, you know, a piece of shit. So you look I look for substance, you know, my mom for teaching me just like you the value of you know, meeting people talking to people. She’s so outgoing and isn’t afraid to talk to anybody. And I definitely get that trade from her. Harvey Dorfman is my, one of my mentors. He wrote literally the Bible of the mental game industry called coaching the mental game. He’s known as the Yoda of baseball, he’d be someone i’d think. And then of course, I you know, thank my my, my wife for being my biggest fan and biggest supporter and being there on, you know, bad days and great days and still cheerleading along the way and then my three kids for being just sources of awesome inspiration.

John Corcoran  30:25

That’s great. The alter ego of effect is the name of the book, The Power of secret identities to transform your life and people can check it out. They can buy it on Amazon, or your local bookstore, where else can learn about you, Todd?

Todd Herman  30:39

Well, Todd is my home base on the web and they can see all the stuff that I’m up to to help business owners find their one thing to focus on and then Alter Ego effect. Calm has, you know more videos and links to all the places they can buy the book, along with more resources for them.

All right, excellent. Alright. Thanks so much. Thanks, john.

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