Applying Brain Science For Leadership Development

Our brains are critical to everything we do in our lives.  Here are several resources I reference in my work and recommend to you to learn more about applying brain science for your leadership development, or to use as you coach leaders.

Dr. David Rock, consultant and author, coined the term NeuroLeadership in 2006. From the NeuroLeadership Institute website:

“NeuroLeadership is an emerging field of study focused on bringing neuroscientific knowledge into the areas of leadership development, management training, change management, education, consulting and coaching.”

“The NeuroLeadership movement is intended to help individuals and organisations of all types fulfill their potential through better understanding how the human brain functions at individual, team and systemic levels.”

Since 2007, Dr. Rock hosts the annual NeuroLeadership Summit and has developed the post-graduate Certificate in the Foundations of NeuroLeadership. He has written several books including  Coaching with the Brain in Mind, with Linda Page, and Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long. Learn about the format and some concepts from the first few chapters of Your Brain at Work in my podcast. I invite you to participate in interesting discussions as a member of the open LinkedIn group, NeuroLeadership.

You can also explore the connection between brain science and leadership with Your Brain and Business: The Neuroscience of Great Leaders by psychiatrist, brain-imaging researcher, and executive coach, Dr. Srinivasan S. Pillay.

There is even a “Dummies” book on this topic. Check out The Leadership Brain for Dummies by international educational neuroscience consultant and adjunct professor, Marilee Sprenger.

If you are passionate about your own leadership development and that of your clients, you owe it to yourself, and those you lead, to explore the powerful applications of brain science to leadership. I invite you to share your experiences with neuroscience and leadership, and to share your recommended resources in this arena.

May you choose to create an amazing day as you continue to make a positive difference in the lives you touch!

Melanie Hoffner

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Mental Exercise is a Brain Booster

Looking for a brain booster to improve your attention, problem-solving or memory? You have likely heard the phrase, “Use it or lose it!” in reference to your mental agility and memory. Let’s explore Alvero Fernandez’s second pillar of brain health:  Mental Exercise.

What kind of mental exercise are you including in your life, and how do you know if it is really effective mental exercise? Doing the same kind of mental problem-solving every day, like crossword puzzles, is less stimulating to the brain than learning something new. 

Fernandez notes, “‘Use it or lose it’ may be mis­lead­ing if we think that ‘It’ is just one thing. The brain is com­posed of many dif­fer­ent areas that focus on dif­fer­ent things. Doing a cross­word puz­zle only acti­vates a small part of the brain. The 3 key prin­ci­ples for good brain exer­cises are: nov­elty, vari­ety and con­stant chal­lenge. Not that dif­fer­ent from cross-training our bodies.”

Go to to read more of Fernandez’s “Brain Exercise and Brain Health FAQ’s” and explore the Teasers tab to enjoy some fun mental exercise. You could also take a class to learn ballroom dancing or origami. Whatever you choose, have fun with mental exercise as another brain booster!

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Kindness and Good News: Healthy Brain Boosters

How often are you reading or hearing about kindness and good news? We are bombarded by bad news and wonder why we feel stressed or discouraged. Read on to enjoy a healthy brain boost.

The other day I had stopped at a stop sign as I was leaving a store parking lot.  I wanted something from the back seat and since no one was behind me, I shifted my minivan into park, got out and opened the sliding back door. To my surprise, a binder and two file folders fell to the ground and the loose papers began to scatter with the wind.

“No, no, no!” was all I could say as I frantically grabbed the  binder and papers that were still at my feet, threw them into the back seat, turned off the ignition, put on my hazard lights, and began to pick up the dozens of pages lying in the next lane.  Two vehicles had now pulled up behind me and I waved them around me, as I bent down to pick up more pages. When I next looked up, the people in those vehicles were outside picking up papers! A woman and a teenage boy each handed me a stack of papers. “I don’t think they are in order,” she joked and smiled.

“That’s okay. If I have them, I can reorganize them. Thank you so much. Thank you both!” As I turned to go, she added, “I think he got the furthest ones,” pointing to a man across the open area of the lot. He was jogging toward us with a handful of papers. 

“I think I got them all,” he said as he handed them to me with a smile.  

“Thank you so much. Thank you. Thank you for your help.” I smiled and kept repeating, “Thank you.”

We all got into our vehicles smiling. These acts of kindness gave all of us, as well as anyone who saw them, a brain boost of serotonin, the chemical that creates a feeling of satisfaction, well-being, or “Ahhhh.” 

Not only did I have the papers, I also had a story of good news to share to help us remember that there is so much good happening around us every day. To read more good news, I recommend I invite you to create good news with a random act of kindness today and enjoy your serotonin boost as well as the knowledge that you made a difference!

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Do You Have Your Best Brain?

Do you care for your brain like it’s yours for life? The bad news is that since you were never provided an owner’s manual for your brain, you are probably making lifestyle choices that impair your brain’s performance, or worse, actually damage your brain! The good news is that because your brain is resilient, making healthier lifestyle choices can improve your brain’s health and performance.

Alvaro Fernandez, with, has identified four pillars of brain health. Let’s start with the pillar of Physical Exercise, which has a number of positive benefits for your brain including increasing oxygen flow which increases mental sharpness, increasing BDNF which supports the growth of brain cells, increasing the creation of blood vessels in the brain and … click here to learn more from Dr. John Medina, author of Brain Rules: 12 Rules for Surviving and Thriving at Work School and Home.

Oh, and thirty minutes of aerobic exercise just twice a week reduces your risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia by 50%!

I hope you can enjoy a walk today.

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Accountability: From Buzz Word to Action

There is a lot of buzz about the concept of accountability. If you ask five people to define accountability, you are likely to get five different interpretations. That is one part of the challenge of building a culture of accountability in the workplace, an organization, or even a family.

Are you committed to accountability? How accountable are you? Take a mini-assessment at for some personal insights. I encourage you to consider the power of accountability in your life.

As  a Certified Trainer of Accountability That Works!®, I appreciate opportunities to share Linda Galindo’s powerful model. I am excited to be facilitating a seminar  on Tuesday, April 5, 2011 from 8:30 – 11:30 am at the NICC Town Clock Center, 680 Main Street in Dubuque, IA in Room 106.  It is sponsored by The Employers Council of Northeast Iowa (ECI) in partnership with Dubuque Area Labor-Management Council (DALMC) and Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC) Town Clock Center forProfessional Development.

The seminar description includes: “If you could, would you end “the blame game” in your organization? Would you enjoy improved supervisor-to-subordinate or peer-to-peer relationships? Would you benefit from improved teamwork on projects? Would you rather focus on agreement management instead of conflict management? If you responded “yes!” to any of these questions, register for the program “Accountability: From Buzz Word to Action” and gain insights and strategies to improve responsibility, empowerment, accountability, and the use of the powerful tool of clear agreements. This training will provide a strategic framework upon which to build a culture of accountability.”

If you are in the area and interested in attending this seminar, it includes 3.0 HRCI general recertification credits. Pre-registration is required and to register for Course #2055, go to or call (563) 557-8271 ext. 380.

If you are too far away to join me and are interested in learning more, check out one of my podcasts about accountability at  And stay tuned because  I am excited to interview program creator, and author of The 85% Solution, Linda Galindo, soon on my SPARK talkradio show

May you enjoy the power of accountability to create more success in your life!

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Saving Superwoman: Your Success Sanctuary

Many women are juggling so many roles, tasks and responsibilities that we look like Superwoman to others – and we may feel like it ourselves. Yet, we may also be feeling exhausted, overwhelmed and in dire need of time or space to take off the cape, breathe, and feel safe to ask for support, ideas, or even share laughter as we realize that we are in the company of other amazing women.

I found such a sanctuary with two successful fellow superwomen, Life Strategist Lynette Patterson, and Dr. Lisa Van Allen, The Biz Doctor. From our circle of coaching one another, we came together as a trio and realized the power of synergy we created in our “sanctuary.” We could pull back the curtain and share our mistakes, fears, and challenges in the safety of compassionate support. Often we laugh because two, or all three, of us “tripped on our capes” in a similar way, and we each thought it had happened only to us. We also share strategies and resources that we have discovered, or created, that may help each other to move through challenges.

We soon realized that other superwomen could benefit from a “success sanctuary” to catch their breath, regroup, collaborate, strategize, laugh, re-energize and more, to continue to achieve and create success. How could we share the experience that was so helpful to us? Saving Superwoman was born!

See if Saving Superwoman could be your “success sanctuary” by going to While you are there, you can sign up for a free Success Map and check out archived recordings of our weekly 30-minute podcasts. (Our most recent podcast is also in the player to the right of this blog.)

Most importantly, I hope that you take great care of yourself – mind, body and spirit – so you can enjoy your Superwoman success!

May you choose to create a great day as you continue to make a positive difference in the lives you touch!


P.S. We also have men who have shared that they are listening to our podcasts because they want to be Superman or because they want to better support the superwomen in their lives.

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Are You Making “Brain-Busting” or “Brain-Boosting” Choices?

mel char Are You Making Brain Busting or Brain Boosting Choices?We are at the point in January where the majority of New Year’s Resolutions have fallen by the wayside. You can re-engage your commitment to reach your success destination this year. A critical component of your planning, actions and success is your brain, and yet many of us give it little attention.

Your choices about what to eat or drink, what to think, whether or not to exercise, how much sleep you’ll get, and more all have a powerful impact on your brain’s health and performance. Many of us make “brain-busting” choices because we never learned how these choices can enhance or impair our brain.

Starting today, you can commit to learn about what your brain needs to be at its best and then make more conscious “brain-boosting” choices. I love to help people have their best brains at work, school and home and I commit to sharing information, websites, seminars and more so you can make more “brain-boosting” choices. A good place to start for a wealth of high- quality information is Dr. Daniel Amen’s site.

What do you want to learn or understand about your brain? Share a comment…

May you choose to create a great day as you continue to make a positive difference in the lives you touch!

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A Key to Unlock Your Metabolism: Leptin and Your Brain

I wanted to share this powerful information with you, so I invited Strategic Life Coach Lynette Patterson to be my first guest blogger.  Enjoy! ~Melanie

When you are in the weight loss game, getting leptin on your team is essential.  This powerful hormone is produced in fat cells and is a primary force in weight management.

Communicating directly to your brain, this hormone surveys the state of your internal affairs and instructs the brain as to when you are full and how much fat is in storage.  When working properly, all is well.  You eat until satisfied and excess fat is burned up with ease.

Unfortunately… things do not often work as they should.  And when leptin stops working, food cravings, overeating and a sluggish metabolism are the result.

I recently had the great pleasure of interviewing Dr. Jennifer Dyer, endocrinologist , on the subject and am re-releasing the recording on my new Healing with the Experts site.

If you are struggling with hunger and feel like giving up, listen to this interview right away. Dr. Dyer provides strategies to help make your leptin work better so that losing weight isn’t so hard.

To access the call, go to

A Little About Leptin

As I mentioned above, fat cells produce leptin and one would think that extra fat cells producing extra leptin would equal a sense of being full most of the day.  However, just as insulin resistance occurs, so does leptin resistance and the brain no longer “hears” the “I’m full” signals and urges the body to eat more.

Worse, because the brain senses that a famine has occurred (because it is no longer “hearing” the leptin signals),  it slows down the metabolism to conserve energy (including lowering thyroid production).  This creates a vicious cycle of lowered energy and increased hunger which create more fat cells that produce more leptin and on and on and on.

As leptin is a protein hormone, you can not boost or support your leptin levels with oral medications as it will break down and become ineffective in the digestive system.  Plus, for most people, the problem is that they have too much leptin, adding more leptin is simply counter productive.  So don’t spend money on the leptin supplements begin sold.

The best you can do is help your leptin work better by eating omega 3 rich foods,  lots of fruits and vegetables and exercising most days of the week.  Eat real food, not chemically created faux foods.  Drink adequate amounts of water and teas and use stevia or xylitol as a sweetener,  if you must.

Again, the call with Dr. Dyer is at


Lynette Patterson

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Focus on Progress Rather Than Perfection

Have you been thinking about doing something but haven’t started – or finished – because, well, you don’t think it would be good enough? I have enjoyed several powerful conversations this past week that sparked insights and reminders I want to share.  

To start, take a deep breath, smile, and say with enthusiasm, “I am committed to excellence and I make new and different mistakes every day.” After I share that statement in seminars or with coaching clients, I often see wide eyes and hear gasps!

I then comment, “Because we are human beings, we will make mistakes, right?” And they agree.

Finally, I ask, “Why not commit to learning from our mistakes so we can avoid repeating them and make new ones instead?” They then laugh and agree. This is one of my personal mottos which reminds me to focus on progress rather than perfection.  Since we are going to make mistakes, let’s learn from them as we go so we can make new mistakes and have more learning opportunities. 

For a discussion of more strategies to “Focus on Progress Rather Than Perfection!” listen to my online talkradio show, SPARK. It is archived and I invite you to listen to the 10/9/10 segment at BlogTalkRadio to help you shift your thinking, get started, and get done!

Finally, take ONE action on something you read – or hear if you listen to the recording – to spark a positive change in your life!

May you choose to create a great day as you continue to make a positive difference in the lives you touch!
~Melanie Hoffner

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Passions and Dreams!

In the past week over 60,000 people have taken Chris and Janet Attwood’s Passion Test profile
and watched the fr*ee video series based on their NY Times bestseller. If you haven’t yet done this quick passion assessment to see if you have a firm foundation for your success, you can still go to

You can ask your questions on passion, purpose and prosperity to authors Chris and Janet Attwood today (6/15/10) LIVE on UStream video during their Passion Marathon from 11 AM to 8 PM Pacific Time at . (For your local time conversion, go to )

During their broadcast they will be joined by a number of their friends throughout the day, including:

- Marci Shimoff, author of “Happy for No Reason”
- John Assaraf, author of “The Answer”
- Lisa Nichols, author of “No Matter What”
- Vishen Lakhiani – co-founder of Mind Valley & FinerMinds
. . . and they indicated that there would also be some surprise special guests

I hope you are able to stop by sometime during this amazing broadcast. I will be there this evening.

There is another exciting learning opportunity I want to share with you. The first ever Virtual DreamU Camp, hosted by Marcia Wieder, America’s Dream Coach, and Dream University® is being held from June 21 – June 26. This FR*E global teleseminar event features 30 inspiring teachers of personal transformation (including Janet Attwood) over six days and will help you achieve any dream. You can listen to up to seven top transformational leaders a day speaking for 30 – 60 minutes, up close and personal on their hot topic. You can call in, listen, and get the support and inspiration you need to change your life. Whether your dream is to start your own business, get healthy, fall in love… in just one week, you’ll learn a lifetime of lessons. You can also find virtual campfires, Dream Coaching, and an international network of new friends.

Check out the line-up which includes Marcia Wieder, Janet Attwood, Dr. Bruce Lipton (The Biology of Belief), Mike Dooley (Thoughts Become Things), and 26 others at You may register with this same link.

Here’s to living your passions and dreams! ~Melanie

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