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Scott Peltin

A saying I hear tossed around all the time is “I have your back”. It's a phrase people say to each other in both professional and personal situations, but few stop to think about what it truly means to have someone's back. When we work with our clients to develop their Performance Mindset skills, this idea of having each other’s back is often a key quality for both their individual and team mindset. When I hear this, I always dig deeper to see what it really means to the individuals of the group.

Having spent a significant portion of my life running into burning buildings with a team, I have a clear image of what "I have your back" means from an individual and team perspective. Unfortunately, when we lead team discussions about this topic, I am often surprised that the phrase is commonly used with very little clarity about what it means. In my experience, it combines elements of leadership, followership, and teamwork. When fully developed, it is one of the qualities that separates good teams from great teams, teams that work together from teams that change the world together, and teams that win a few games to teams that win a championship. However, simply saying “I have your back” doesn’t do much if the individuals of the group don’t have an understanding of how they will apply it to both themselves and their teams.

From an individual perspective, there are several things I must do to develop this "I have your back" quality. First, I must commit to excellence by creating the attitude and generating the effort necessary to achieve it. To do this, I need to do my share of the work while being open, willing, and proactive to fill gaps wherever I can. I need to display exceptional humility because my personal accolades are secondary to the greater achievements of the team. I have to keep an open mind with a commitment to learning and growth. This requires that I give and ask for great feedback. I must be accountable for my actions and take ownership of my commitments, my behaviors, and my mindset. Finally, it means that I have to prepare for the work we face, so I have the energy, resilience, mental agility, and stamina required to actually "have your back".

Great leaders “have their team’s back”. This means they protect their team from the proverbial poop running downhill and provide their team with the resources, support, vision, and energy necessary to succeed. Great followers “have their leader’s back” by doing what they say they will do, by proactively asking questions to fully understand the nuance of the work, and by paying attention to the details so the leader can focus on the bigger strategical decisions and actions. Great teammates “have each other’s back” by checking in to see how each other is doing, by helping each member take the recovery required to sustain their performance, and by proactively reaching out to support a team member even when their pride may prevent them from asking for help.

From a team perspective, having your back doesn't mean that I will cover up your mistakes or compromise my integrity to keep you out of trouble. If I truly have your back, I won’t need to make these compromises because we won’t need shortcuts or coverups; we will do the hard work to create great results. Teams who have each other’s backs show up, speak up, and create a culture where vulnerability is expected and supporting each other is the norm. On great teams, it's not extraordinary to display this "having your back" quality; it's what they do every day.

"I have your back" means I assume the best about you, and I don’t bring you down behind your back. It takes courage, effort, and Sustainable High Performance. On the flip side, there is nothing more powerful than your teammates having your back and them knowing you have their backs in return. When we truly have each other's backs, great things can happen. As always, I’d love to hear what you think.

By Scott Peltin
Founder/Chief Performance Officer


Jogi Rippel

One of my passions is to study the little differences that separate the good from the great, the amateurs from the pros, and the one-time winners from the legends. When I do this, I account for the things that are out of their control and focus on the things they habitually do to separate themselves from other competitors. I look for commonalities that cross all sectors of business, professional sports, the performing arts, and the elite military operators.

Recently, when I was watching the PGA championships, one of these difference makers jumped out at me. Why do all of these pro golfers have coaches? Aren’t they masters of their craft? Don’t they know much (if not all) of what these coaches are teaching them? Haven’t these golfers been playing this game since they were kids? What could coaches possibly offer these high performers? These questions rattled in my brain and intrigued me. After all, these pros already know the proper technique when it comes to swinging a club, which means there must be more to hiring a coach than gaining knowledge.

Maybe the problem is not a knowledge problem. Maybe it's more of problem with the application of knowledge (even simple knowledge) and the ability to apply this knowledge to the how, the why, and the when. This is exactly what great coaches do for great players. This coaching technique also holds true in the business world. While business schools may do an exceptional job of teaching the frameworks of business, we are seeing more and more of the best performers turn to coaches to stretch themselves and stay at the top of their game.

After 14 years of leading Tignum, I have definitely hit many obstacles and challenges along the way. Even as an expert in Sustainable High Performance, I have needed a coach to help me make adjustments, face the truth, rebuild my plans, and apply what I know when it matters most. When I look at our superstar clients (the ones who are true Sustainable High Performers, who maximize their impact, and push themselves further than they ever imagined both at work and at home), I notice their openness and acceptance of coaching. They realize that knowing something and being able to apply it on a consistent basis are quite different. In fact, I have met many extremely smart leaders who shook their head and acknowledged that they knew a lot about Sustainable High Performance but never applied a thing, never accepted any coaching, and, subsequently, never improved.

Whether it's a golf coach, a presentation coach, an executive coach, or a Sustainable High Performance coach, this is what I have seen great coaches do to make an impact:

_They hold your information with impeccable confidentiality to build the trust needed for you to be authentic and vulnerable.

_They bring empathy to every encounter with you because they truly care about you.

_They help you purposefully and consciously develop a self-image that will stretch you, so you can become the best you can be.

_They provide insight to you outside of your circle of comfort, which helps you see yourself accurately when it comes to your strengths, shortcomings, weaknesses, opportunities, and more.

_They recognize what you need and give it to you, whether it's a nudge, a push, a hug, or a look in the mirror.

_They meet you where you are, help you shape a clear vision of success, and efficiently help you identify how to connect these two.

_They adapt their methods and their style to what you need rather than the other way around.

_They are constantly learning and sharpening their skills to take you to even higher levels and give you unique insights.

_They help you transition from knowing to doing.

Excellence doesn’t happen by luck; it has to be a choice, and it must be developed by design. The world is complex and overwhelming at times. If you want to win, you have to stretch yourself. For this reason, beside almost every high performer is a great coach. 

As always, I’d love to hear what you think.

By Jogi Rippel

Founder & Chief Executive Officer


Patti Milligan

One of the things I love most about being a nutritionist is that the field is constantly building upon our existing knowledge of how food affects a person’s day-to-day performance. In the early days, an equal ratio of calories in to calories out was the gold standard of metabolic efficiency, and we were taught that this gold standard helped us regulate weight control. We’ve since expanded our thinking and realized this concept of metabolic efficiency isn’t so straightforward. In fact, the type of calories we consume (i.e., carbohydrate, fat, and protein), not simply the number of calories, influence our metabolic efficiency more than we ever understood in the past.

One study in particular by Dr. Shannon Casperson and her team really caught my eye because it shows how adding just one sugary drink to a meal has an immediate impact on the way the body metabolizes food. Just one sugar-sweetened drink with a meal decreased the body’s ability to metabolize fat and decreased the energy required to metabolize the meal, which resulted in a surplus of calories (about 1/3 of the meal's calories were not metabolized). Not only did this one drink affect the body immediately, it also increased cravings for salty, sweet, and savory foods hours after eating.

This study creates a unique awareness about how just one drink, such as sweetened tea, soda, etc., can affect how your body processes food both now and in the future. Instead of having that sweet drink on the side, try opting for fruit-infused water, unsweetened green tea, or ginger tea. These options not only have the flavor boost you want from a sweetened drink, they can also increase your metabolic efficiency and alleviate food cravings.

Here are a few fruit-infused water ideas to get you started (we recommend using 4 to 8 cups (1 to 2L) of water for each cup of fruits/vegetables used):

Orange and Blueberry
2 mandarin oranges cut into wedges
1 cup blueberries

Watermelon and Mint
1 cup watermelon
4-8 mint leaves, lightly crushed to release oils

Strawberry, Lime, and Cucumber
1 cup sliced strawberries
1 cup sliced cucumbers
2 limes, sliced
4-8 fresh mint leaves, lightly crushed to release oils

Mixed Melon
1 cup cantaloupe pieces
1 cup watermelon pieces
1 cup honeydew pieces

Pineapple and Ginger
1 cup fresh pineapple pieces (crushed for a sweeter taste)
1 inch piece of ginger, thinly sliced

At Tignum, we value the idea of combining enjoyment, awareness, and an understanding of the "why" we are eating. Dr. Shannon Casperson's study adds even more knowledge to why we might feel different after having that sugary drink with our meal. I hope this awareness adds to your ability to link what you eat, how you feel, and how you perform. As always, I'd love to hear what you think.

By Patti Milligan
Director of Nutrition


Scott Peltin

With NFL preseason games around the corner and American football teams right in the middle of training camp, it’s that time of the year again for teams to reconnect, reevaluate, and recharge. These training camps offer opportunities for the entire team to work together to develop new players, new coaches, and new strategies as well as revamp strategies and techniques with veteran coaches and players. This year, as I walk around and watch the coaches inspire and transform team members, I notice how many similarities there are between great NFL coaches and great leaders. I can't help but wonder about the opportunities annual training camps could bring to companies.

Much like a typical business structure, an American football team is made up of several smaller teams commonly called units. The three units of football represent the three phases of the game: offense, defense, and special teams. Within each of these units there are multiple positions, each with specific talents and deliverables, to make the team successful as a whole. Because each position holds such a critical role within the team, there are specific position coaches. This is similar to a business unit having its own leader/coach. These position coaches are responsible for making sure their individual players are at their best when it matters most. The best position coaches are excellent communicators, teachers, and mentors. They approach each player as an individual while teaching and inspiring them to contribute to the team. They build players’ belief in themselves and in their teammates. These position coaches teach us the importance of recognizing that each player on our own team has a unique skill set that benefits our team as a whole. Communicating our vision clearly and helping each player contribute his/her skills is paramount to our team's success.

At the football team’s next level, the coordinators are responsible for one of the three units. For these leaders, it’s all about collaborating, creating the right culture for their unit, role modeling a clear vision of excellence every day, and supporting their position coaches so they can be successful. If these leaders are too overbearing and micromanage, they won't develop the full potential of their position coaches. If they are too hands off, position coaches may go in their own direction which could create chaos and disconnection on the field. These leaders are responsible for instilling trust among their coaches and players as well as developing big-picture strategies their units will use to bring their best to each game. These leaders can teach us the value of communicating a clear vision, developing and trusting our direct reports, and role modeling leadership.

The head coach of a football team, just like the CEO of a business, often has a plethora of duties on his plate. His job is to give direction, inspire excellence, give energy to the staff, and constantly paint the picture of success for the entire organization. The way head coaches treat their direct reports and their players immediately becomes the accepted norm. They must show amazing emotional control, discipline, and strategic thinking. This leader is responsible for making sure that each detail within the organization reaches the desired level of excellence, which helps build the team's belief that it's a winning team.

When coaches at each level of the team are at their best and apply their Sustainable High Performance strategies, they maximize their impact at every practice, in every interaction with other coaches and players, and on game day. When they are mentally sharp and agile, they catch more teachable moments. When they are emotionally intelligent, they communicate to their players in a way that builds the players up instead of tearing them down. When they have a growth mindset, they are constantly trying to improve, which sets up a role modeling opportunity seen by their players. When they are great problem solvers, they are always coaching forward by clearly and concisely showing the players what excellence looks like.

Professional sports are very competitive and so is business. If you want to be a Super Bowl Champion (best company to work for, industry leader, nationally recognized, internationally recognized, etc.), you have to lead and coach like a champion. This means having great self-leadership skills. This means making sure you and your team can unload, reset, and refocus after every big push. This means doing all the little things that a champion does, even when nobody is looking.

Tonight, ask yourself, "What did I do today to deserve winning my Super Bowl?" As always, I would love to hear what you think.

By Scott Peltin //

Chief Performance Officer


Chris Males

Have you ever had a huge presentation - one where you really wanted to (and needed to) deliver the perfect performance but you weren’t sure where to start? You started to prepare, but the more you prepared, the more you got lost in a cycle of memorization and focusing on creating slides with more and more information. As you worked harder and harder to memorize your presentation materials, you started to feel more and more uncertainty and nervousness. Before you knew it, you were doubting your own expertise and having images of being a failure. If this situation sounds familiar, don’t worry, you aren’t alone.

This preparation cycle is a common pattern we see when we are coaching our clients to prepare for their biggest and best performances. It comes from a place of wanting to do a great job but not really knowing how to prepare properly. In this void, you default to what you know best - memorize, memorize, memorize, then info dump on your audience. Unfortunately, the real difference maker here is actually preparing your body and brain for a must-win performance so you can enter your presentation with a clear and uncluttered mind. This high performance state allows you to effortlessly connect yourself, your audience, and your content in order to successfully deliver on the day of your event.

I recently worked with a client to design a preparation plan for one of the biggest presentations of her career. While each person's preparation can be highly individualized, the routine we developed for her can be applied and adapted to most of your big events.

Here's how you can use a plan like hers to prepare for your next presentation:

_Start by writing down 3 simple intentions you have for your presentation by answering these questions: How do I want to be perceived? How do I want the audience to feel? What do I need them to know?

_Next, visualize how the room will look, how you will use your energy, and various ways the audience might respond to your message. If a feeling of anxiety pops up, embrace it by viewing the feeling as natural and potentially helpful. See yourself reacting confidently as these feelings arise.

_For the 3 days leading up to the presentation, purposefully increase your sleep by 1 hour.

_When it comes to food, the day before your presentation, try removing all processed foods from your diet and focus on staying hydrated. The evening before, have a go-to high performance meal such as broiled salmon on a bed of quinoa spinach salad. The morning of your event, prepare a high performance breakfast and a small snack consisting of complex carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats.

_The day of the presentation, outsource your distractions. For example, delegate any urgent emails to your assistant the morning of your presentation.

_The morning of the event, start your day with Movement that activates your entire brain and makes you feel energized and pain free (Tignum Daily Prep, Yoga, a short jog, a short bike ride, Tai Chi, etc.). Take a short walk just before your presentation. During this short walk, you can reflect on your 3 intentions and use mental imagery to pre-play a successful delivery of those intentions. See yourself in the flow and rhythm of a great presentation. By combining your Mindset and Movement techniques, you will increase your left/right brain balance and, therefore, your brain synchronization.

_Stay hydrated throughout the day and consider the strategic use of caffeine. One way to do this is to avoid caffeine all day until you have a cup of green tea, black tea, or coffee 30 to 60 minutes before your presentation.

This preparation plan combines small yet effective strategies in Mindset, Nutrition, Movement, and Recovery to give you control of your own performance so you can break your previous cycle of uncertainty before a presentation. Not only can it help you successfully prepare for your biggest performance yet, you now have a foundation for your own individualized plan in place so that you will never be caught unprepared again. Remember, Sustainable High Performance doesn't happen by luck, it happens by choice, and it improves with design. 

As always, I'd love to hear what you think.

Chris Males

Director of Performance Coaching

For strategies on how to use your feelings of nervousness, click here.


Scott Peltin

It's that time of year again when most of you are about to take your summer vacation. Sadly, our experience tells us that over 60% of you will get sick, over 85% of you will work on your vacation (not necessarily a bad thing if done correctly), and about 70% of you will return from vacation as tired or more tired than when you left.

Most of you will plan the days of your vacation (when), the location of your trip (where), and maybe even the things you plan to do on your vacation (what). The question is, do you know the "why" of your vacation? I know it sounds simple, but we have found that almost 3 out of every 4 of our executives fail to plan this part of their time off.


Executives often ask us, "How long does a vacation need to be in order to recharge?" Well, that depends on what you do and whether or not you connect this "what" of your vacation with a clear "why." When a person makes recharging their number one priority and plans all of the events of their vacation accordingly, they may be able to physically recharge in as little as 3 to 5 days.

Unfortunately, what often happens is people don't connect the "what" to the "why" and end up taking a week-long vacation with 15 or more planned, high intensity activities. If they have kids, they hit all the amusement parks, zoos, and museums while sprinting from line to line eating nothing but amusement park fast food. They fill their nights with even more activities and, come Sunday, they are exhausted. When we ask them what their "why" was to their time away, they pause and usually say something like: "I just wanted to relax, recover, and reconnect with my kids and spouse and also have some fun." This intention could have easily been achieved with 2 days of those high intensity activities along with some quiet family time playing games, going for walks, doing some family exercise, and hanging out together.


Once you are clear with the "why" of your vacation, the next critical step is to have a transition into and out of your vacation. Without this transition, you will bring your work self on vacation (unable to turn off, completely connected to work, somewhat detached from the family, etc.) and you will bring your vacation self (kicking back and not fully engaged, going with the flow without a plan, etc.) back to work after your vacation. This self-image trap can be avoided by creating a transition where you first ask yourself, “Who do I need to be to maximize my effectiveness?” both going into vacation and coming off vacation. You should also spend a little time visualizing yourself as that person so your brain can actually believe that you can make it happen.


One common question that comes up in our coaching is whether to work or not work during vacation. The truth is that it really depends. If you would feel better by being able to just check in and cut off any potential critical items, you may want to adapt the 60-minute work sprint in the morning during vacation (followed, of course, by 23 hours of being fully off). If, on the other hand, you can’t turn your mind off once it gets turned on during vacation, it may be better to fully delegate your responsibilities, perform a thorough handoff at least one day before leaving on vacation, and then staying shut down throughout your vacation. Both of these situations can work, but they must be designed to fit you. If you leave it to chance, you are leaving the door open for work creep and potentially creating a huge source of conflict with your family.


It's critical to plan the "why" part of your vacation because, once you do, it becomes a lot easier to align the "what" of your trip to the vacation you're really looking for. Here are a few questions to help you get what you want/need as you plan this year's summer vacation:

_Why am I taking this vacation (e.g., recharge my batteries, reconnect with friends/family, change the scenery, have fun, go somewhere I've never been, cross something off my bucket list, get back in shape, work on my golf game, finish my manuscript)?

_When I return from my vacation, how do I want to feel (e.g., relaxed, energized, pain-free, focused, passionate, creative, in love, reconnected to my family)?

_What would it look like if I felt that way? How would I stand, walk, interact with others, etc.?

_What do I need to do on this vacation to make this vision of success a reality?

Sustainable High Performance doesn't happen by luck or chance, it happens by design. Connecting the what, when, where, and why of your trip is necessary to design your best ever summer vacation. I bet your 4th quarter results will show the difference after getting what you really want and need from your break. As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts.

By Scott Peltin //

Chief Performance Officer


Scott Peltin

The brain loves clarity - it craves black and white situations where the right and wrong answers are right in front of us. This starts from the time we were kids and our parents tried to teach us through experiences that defined the boundaries of what is right and what is wrong. While right and wrong clearly still exist, as does black and white, the world is becoming increasingly gray, which can be quite challenging to any mindset. I have seen this mindset challenge over and over again in our coaching sessions with executives.

Recently, I was with a friend and VP of HR from Unilever, Mike Clementi, when I asked him what he thought was the biggest challenge for today’s leaders. Without hesitation, he said, “Without a doubt, it is dealing with the paradoxes of today’s business world.” As he started explaining what he meant by this, I had to smile because I had been feeling the same way, but I hadn’t yet captured the exact description of the problem. As we continued to talk, several clear examples surfaced, which are becoming more and more common. These include:

_A leader sees new trends and opportunities which require investment, but they need to continue to invest against their core business. If they don't spend against their core business, it may fade, but they need to also be on trend for what is coming.

_A CEO wants to do the right thing for the shareholders and curb expenses, while, at the same time, he wants to invest in the many things that make his employees feel valued and create a highly supportive and energized culture.

_Even as parents, we want to give our kids the freedom to explore and learn, but we are concerned about monitoring their activities in this ever changing world.

The list of these paradoxes continue (we didn’t even touch the intracompany and world politics), and leading through such paradoxes requires the highest level of Sustainable High Performance. No longer is the role of a leader to set strategy and manage tradeoffs, rather it is to consciously live between the polarities. A leader who is operating in survival mode (what we describe as sinking or floating in our book, Sink, Float, or Swim) won’t be able to fight through the noise and distractions. They will lack the mental agility required to develop the best solution among a list of not-so-great options. They will become frustrated by the complexity and ambiguity that truly exists, and this frustration can quickly lead to withdrawing and missing the nuances of true leadership.

To succeed among these paradoxes, leaders need to develop and exhibit their Performance Mindset skills of empathy, listening, concise communication, openness, collaboration, purpose (driven by values and ethics), courage, emotional control, and vulnerability. They need to diligently prepare for their key interactions both internally and externally. They need to manage their energy and resilience by consistently investing in their Performance Nutrition, Performance Movement, and Performance Recovery strategies. Leading through these paradoxes requires leaders to be their best so they can bring their best to the many challenges they will face - this includes bringing their best home after work to those they love.

At Tignum, we've been able to work with many leaders. The best leaders bring calmness to chaos. They help others sift through complex issues to find the most important areas of focus. They provide, and clearly communicate, a picture of success. They stay highly aware of the many distractions while keeping everyone on track to tackle complex problems one step at a time. They give energy and optimism to everyone around them by extinguishing drama and staying focused on the small solutions in front of them. Great leaders stay grounded and authentic so they can help their teams realize that there is no perfection in a world of paradoxes, but this doesn’t have to mean that there is no hope, action, or solution.

Leading is hard, even in the best of times, and leading through a business world full of paradoxes can feel impossible. At the same time, paradoxes create many opportunities, but only if you develop your leadership and personal skills, and only with the catalyst of Sustainable High Performance. In fact, when you are proactively investing in your Performance Mindset, Performance Nutrition, Performance Movement, and Performance Recovery, you may just find that your Sustainable High Performance is one of the few things you can actually control.

As always, we would love to hear what you think.

By Scott Peltin

Founder/Chief Performance Officer


Patti Milligan

I love food. I love what it does for people’s bodies and brains. I love its role in culture and relationship building. Unfortunately, as a registered dietician and a nutritionist, I realize that I am constantly consternated by the typical gut (no pun intended) reaction people get when they hear the words, “nutrition talk”. I realize this can be expected since the all too common approach when speaking about nutrition is that of deprivation, guilt, pain, and the overall absence of pleasure.

This is why, when we first started designing our Tignum Performance Nutrition approach 14 years ago, I wanted to make it clear that we had to embrace the pleasure that we as humans get from eating. It had to be founded on the idea that when we combine enjoyment, awareness, and an understanding of the “why” we are eating, that beautiful things will occur. It had to provide tangible, practical, and pragmatic strategies to help our clients make effortless change.

Recently, while in Philadelphia with a company who is leading the way in Sustainable High Performance, Franklin Square Investments, I was reminded of one of my favorite ways to eat - as a family. Growing up in the midwest of the US, mealtime was always a special time. To me it was special because it was a time of sharing. We shared in the cooking, the setting of the table, and my favorite - the passing and enjoyment of the food. This experience was probably the foundation of many of our Tignum Performance Nutrition principles such as: eat a variety of colored vegetables, feed your gut bacteria (a concept we didn’t know the science of but our ancestors had figured out), eat smaller portions, eat slowly, and enjoy every bite.

One common challenge that many of our executives share is the challenge of following these principles when they have to eat out, attend a business dinner, or even attend a family function. A great solution is to employ family style dining. Rather than ordering an entry for each person, order 3 entrees for 5 people. Add some variety, order a few salads, and maybe share just one appetizer. When the food comes, pass it around, take a small portion, and pass it on. Before you know it, you are discussing the food, you are trying foods you may never have tried, you are eating less, and you are enjoying your meal more. You have combined the big three of family style eating: connection, awareness, and pleasure. Additionally, you've avoided overeating and you've avoided throwing away a bunch of wasted food.

The next time you are eating out, think: order less, share more, and enjoy every minute. Before you know it, you may just learn to love food as much as your Tignum nutritionist. As always, I would love to hear what you think.

By Patti Milligan

Tignum Director of Nutrition


Chris Males

Have you ever been ready to give a super important presentation and suddenly felt your heart pounding in your chest? More than likely, you branded this feeling as anxiety tied to your fear of failure or, at a minimum, your fear of looking foolish. What if you were wrong? What if the anxiety you were feeling was actually a hyper-excitement to the anticipation of a great, successful presentation?

The truth is, nervousness is neither good nor bad. In fact, many high performers admit to feeling “nerves”, sometimes to the extent of being physically ill before their biggest and most successful events. This has been studied extensively by a colleague of ours, sports psychologist Dr. Debbie Crews from Arizona State University. While her initial research around this phenomenon was focused on professional golfers who choked, her findings can apply to anyone looking to perform at their best.

In Dr. Crew’s research, she noticed that it isn’t whether you feel anxiety or not, but actually whether your brain shifts to an “approach” mindset or an “avoid” mindset. Her research revealed that when you are looking forward to the challenge of the upcoming event (approach mindset), your brain activity becomes more synchronized (a balanced state between right and left hemispheres, front and back regions). While most people think you need to calm all nerves and reach some kind of zen state in order to perform your best, Dr. Crews suggests that it’s actually the synchronizing of different parts of the brain, and not just a lowering of brainwave activity, that often leads to optimal performance.

She also found that often the best performers weren’t in a meditative zen state, but were actually operating with high levels of arousal across the entire brain. In simple terms, the technical and analytical parts of their brains were being balanced by their creative, intuitive, and appreciative parts of the brain.

These findings correlate nicely with Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s findings about performing in the state of flow. The flow state doesn’t happen by avoiding stress or eliminating anxiety. It happens by mastering the stress and anxiety, and enjoying the thrill of the challenge. In other words, using the high stress situation combined with an approach mindset to create high performance.

The next time you are feeling really nervous before a big presentation or meeting, you may want to try the following to help you shift into an approach mindset:

_Set some clear intentions about how you want to be perceived in this event.

_Perform some equal breathing with an inhalation on a count of four and an exhalation on a count of four (this can be very useful to balance the excitement of the event without becoming overly anxious).

_Visualize yourself delivering the performance that creates the perceptions where you are excited at the opportunity to impact the crowd.

With the right preparation, you can turn your nervousness into high performance.

As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts.

Chris Males

Director of Performance Coaching


Scott Peltin

Have you ever been working on your computer and notice it is sluggish and difficult to work with? And every time you try to do something, the spinning wheel (or your OS version of this) just pops up and says, "I'm thinking!" What do you do? You hit the restart button to reboot the operating system and start fresh.

Recently, I was watching a match between Coco Vandeweghe and Lucie Safarova at the BNP Paribas tennis tournament. Coco won the first set 6-4 and was up in the second set, appearing to be in position to claim her win. Suddenly, Lucie started stringing points together, Coco came unglued, and Lucie won the second set 6-4. Coco erupted in anger at letting the set slip away and started smashing her racquet against the ground as she stormed back to her chair. In the next set, Coco was unable to let go of her anger and frustration (a situation Lucie was happy to exploit) and she went on to lose the final set 6-1 and ultimately lose the match. I thought - she really needs a reset button.

Have you ever felt this way? Maybe it was a day at work where something got under your skin and you just couldn't shake it or something at home that you couldn't let go of and it ruined the rest of your evening. Having played a lot of tennis and golf, as well as having been under the influence of fatigue and travel at work, I know I have felt that way and wished I had a racquet to destroy. So what is the answer? The key in these situations is to have a reset strategy that reboots your brain so you can start fresh with a new perspective.

There are three critical steps to mastering this reboot:

1. Awareness - The first step is to be aware when you are starting to lose it. What do you feel when suddenly you can't change your perspective? Do you know on a 1-10 scale at what number you no longer can use your normal calming strategies to regain control? Do you recognize the precursors that set you up for this position of no control (fatigue, pain, frustration, hypoglycemia, busy schedule with no breaks, etc.)?

2. Stop Strategy - Once you have noticed that your wheel is spinning, indicating your self-control and ability to master your focus (purposeful placement of attention) are slipping away, you need to have a peaceful, non-aggressive (smashing racquets in the office or your kitchen are a bad idea) way to disconnect. This may be literally stepping outside and going for a short walk, it may be going to the bathroom and splashing cold water on your face, it may be stepping into a stairwell and sprinting up a flight of stairs, it may be taking a huge inhalation and then performing 10 forceful exhalations until all your air is gone, or it may be as simple as using an anchor like a rubber band on your wrist that you snap to quickly alert your brain that it is time to quickly reboot. The key is to have a couple of options that you can use in different settings.

3. Start Strategy - This is the most important step and the one that almost everyone misses. In this step, you need to have a very clear image of who you are, what you look like, and what you feel like when you are rebooted back to your best self. If you don't have this clear self-image, your brain will simply keep returning to where you just were. Remember, the brain doesn't do anything by mistake and, therefore, for some habitual reason it thought that melting down was the right answer.

Whether it's playing a game like golf or tennis, performing your best when your day is turning sideways, or making sure that you are not thrown off-track by a moody teenager at home, the key is to have a really good reboot plan and to practice it. If an anchor like the rubber band on your wrist or a special photo on your desk helps, you may want to use this. The key is, when you feel your wheel starting to spin, and you may be getting off-track, be sure to master your reboot.

As always, I would love to hear what you think.

By Scott Peltin

Founder/Chief Performance Officer

Shhhh - What Do You Hear?

Scott Peltin

Every time we work with a high-performing team and we help them define the skills they want in their High Performance Mindset, two skills that typically show up are self-awareness and listening. To us at Tignum, these two skills are intricately linked because turning your listening skills inward is critical to developing your self-awareness.
Many years ago I attended a mindfulness class in Big Sur where one of our exercises was to sit outside in total stillness and listen to nature for an hour. At first I thought this would not only be simple, but to be honest, I thought it would be a waste of time. To my surprise, this exercise was extremely difficult and less about what I would hear in nature but more about what I would hear in my own mind. Over the years, I have often thought about this exercise and how difficult it is to listen to ourselves in our busy, constantly distracted, and outward-looking day-to-day grind.

When I look at our most successful executives, one of the commonalities is their passion for improving their self-awareness by expanding their listening skills. Here are some of the questions they ask to do this:

_What do others say about me (my commitment, my authenticity, my compassion, my openness to feedback, my pursuit of excellence)?

_What are my thoughts telling me? (Are they optimistic or pessimistic? Are they full of anger or frustration? Are they solution-oriented or full of drama?)

_What are my stories saying about me? (Are they about how busy I am or are they about my impact? Are they about personal growth or status quo? Are they about hanging on to the past or about creating a great future?)

_What are my gut and heart telling me? (What drives me? What do I care about? What makes me uncomfortable? What makes me sad? What makes me happy? What fulfills me? What scares me?

In our busy lives, making the time to listen to ourselves is not always easy but I've grown to really appreciate the many benefits it provides. Listening is a performance skill and as with all skills, the more you practice the more efficient and effective you get at it. At the same time, as you learn to pay attention to what you hear, the more you will expand your impact and potential.

As always, I would love to hear what you think.

By Scott Peltin

Founder/Chief Performance Officer



The Grind vs. The Strategic Approach

Jake Marx

Over the years, I've had the privilege of coaching and supporting hundreds of professional athletes. During that time I've learned that there are many ways to physically prepare and to personally create optimal performance. I have found that what works for one athlete is often not the best way to train another athlete. I have grown to really appreciate these nuances. This year’s Australian Open tennis finals (both men’s and women’s) demonstrated some of these nuances perfectly.

On one end of the spectrum you have the hard-driving work machine who simply is driven to just outwork their competition. Everything they do is intense, long, and punishing. He or she is driven by the belief that if they work harder and longer than everybody else, they will always come out on top. When things don't go their way, they double their physical efforts.

On the other end of the spectrum you have the strategist. They are strategic in how they spend their energy and they try to apply the “right” amount of intensity to each task. They reflect on what they do well, they calculate the cost of their effort and approach, and they maximize what they do well. They see the big picture when it comes to the stress/recovery curve and would rather undertrain than overtrain so they have some extra gas in the tank if they need it in their competition.

As we work with executives, athletes, coaches, and special operators, we also see these two approaches. There are those who grind day in and day out and others who approach their work strategically and intentionally to spend their energy, time, and effort where it will make the greatest impact. Both of these approaches can be highly effective but our experience has shown us the latter is more sustainable.

What is your personal preference? Has this approach changed as you’ve gotten older? Would you sometimes benefit from applying both approaches? Is your approach sustainable? Does your approach optimize your strengths so you can maximize your impact?

As I stated in my opening, I am fascinated by the nuances of working/training approaches. At the same time, I am passionate about making sure your approach gets you the Sustainable High Performance results you want. In athletic terms, I want you to be an energetic, mentally agile problem-solver who can win in tough competition while remaining injury free.

As always we'd love to hear your thoughts.

Jake Marx
Tignum Performance Coach


Scott Peltin

In business today, there is a huge gap between those who talk leadership and those who actually walk leadership. In my previous career in the fire service, I quickly realized how important leadership was. When we were operating on a fire scene there was nowhere to hide and those who only talked a great leadership game were quickly exposed. The fire scene quickly demonstrated a leader’s calmness, clarity, and the ability to concisely communicate and it impacted everyone. There was no room for the leader who was having a "bad" day, who left their best mindset at home, or who on that day just didn't have the energy to give to others or the resilience to quickly bounce back or adjust to a setback. A leader couldn't tell everyone else how important these things were and then not live them because they instantly lost all credibility.

To me, one huge bridge that quickly closes this gap between talking leadership and walking leadership is Sustainable High Performance. While some leaders may be able to get a lot out of their teams for a short confined time, it is too often at the cost of exhausting their best talent, of driving key people into the ground, and of role modeling risky and unsustainable behaviors. These leaders too often are unfocused and undisciplined and grab onto every new shiny trend and cliche rather than role modeling, inspiring, and leading with Sustainable High Performance. On normal quiet days (something that is quickly disappearing in most businesses), these leaders can skate by but when a tough day hits and true leadership is required, they are exposed. 

I reached out to the Dun and Bradstreet Chief People Officer, Roslynn Williams, to ask her to describe what Sustainable High Performance leadership looks like during the highest stress, must-deliver circumstances knowing that their leadership team had just gone through one of those times. Here are some of the keys to what the very best sustainable high performance leaders have:

1. The most successful leaders are not super human and they know this. They feel frustration, anger, disappointment, worry, and exhaustion just like everyone else. They are highly aware and willing to be vulnerable, but they are constantly resetting, reframing, and recharging themselves so the situation doesn't get the best of them. They know that they don't have to do this alone - leaning on their support network to lift them. True Sustainable High Performing leaders allow themselves to be human, leveraging humor, compassion, and grace to relieve the stress for themselves and those around them.

2. They can travel the long and hard journey and they know that their body is the vehicle. Most of these leaders use movement (even if it is quick and short) to unplug and destress - it is their quiet time to think. Similarly, they know that their brain and body need the right fuel and they appreciate how this impacts their decision-making and peak performances. They rarely leave their movement and nutrition to chance. 

3. They create a personal support network. Tough grueling situations require perseverance, resilience, and stamina. There is little opportunity to let down and a network of people who believe in them and who they believe in becomes essential. Great leaders build their own and everyone else's self-image.

4. Most importantly, the very best leaders have an exceptional mindset. During the highest pressure, they are mindful of how their energy, words, tone, and actions deeply affect those around them. They know that this will either lift or deflate the team. They are intentional in what they do and they do not allow the emotions of the situation to control them. They are deeply humble and often laugh at themself even in the heat of the battle. This authentically reduces other's stress and provides a needed perspective. 

5. Lastly, they take time to reflect on their successes. For some, this might be the hardest element to find time for as they are often brutally hard on themselves and eager to move on to the next challenge. These unique leaders use these moments of reflection to celebrate, help strengthen their mindset, and quickly recover. It’s an opportunity to grow and strengthen their self-image, to deepen their sense of gratitude, and build deeper roots with their key relationships.

When the @#$% hits the fan, it may be too late to suddenly become a Sustainable High Performing leader who not only can bring out their personal best but also the best in those around them. Tough times will bring out the best in great leaders or the worse in lesser leaders. It's your choice, which do you want to be? 

As always, I would love to hear your thoughts.

By Scott Peltin

Founder/Chief Performance Officer


Scott Peltin

Here we sit again at the beginning of a new year. New dreams, new challenges, new goals, and probably some new projects await you. You took a couple of weeks off (if you were lucky), you ate some great food, you hopefully slept in a little to catch up on your sleep, and here you sit facing a new mountain wondering, "How am I going to pull this off?" You may even be thinking, "Here we go again." It feels like deja vu all over again.

The reason you may be feeling this way is because although some things have changed, you are starting the year with the same old habits. This means it doesn't feel like a "new" year, it only feels like a "next" year. Of course you have set some new goals and promised to do some new behaviors but if you haven't fundamentally updated who you are, aligned it with what you want to achieve, and connected it to why making these changes will be beneficial, you really are not doing anything new. It's the same old way of approaching your performance and expecting to get different results.

The key to really making this a "new" year rather than making it just the "next" year after your last year is to ask yourself some different questions and rewrite who you need to be to be a Sustainable High Performer. Here are a few suggestions:

1. Visit or revisit our recently published blog about the Team Sky approach to spending energy wisely. Where is the best place to put your energy this week, this month, this quarter?

2. Who are the people you need to influence the most to maximize your impact?

3. What can you do every single morning to be sure you bring your best to the events that require your best?

4. How will you recharge your focus and energy throughout your toughest day so you can be up for the challenges you will face?

5. What do you need to do differently so you can walk in the door at home at the end of a busy day and be fully present, engaged, and happy?

If you haven't already done it, you may want to spend a little time this weekend asking yourself these questions. With the opportunity of a new year ahead, the big question is: What do I need to do to build my Sustainable High Performance so I can be ready for every challenge I face?

This year we look forward to helping you challenge your own status quo and build your Sustainable High Performance so you can bring your best to those things that matter the most to you. As always I would love to hear what you think.

By Scott Peltin

Founder/Chief Performance Officer


Scott Peltin

So here we are again. It’s the end of another year and we at Tignum want to see how you are doing. Are you sliding or crawling into the end of the year with little or no energy left or are you swimming (fully energized, focused, resilient, and ready for the next challenge)? This is not a question about criticism or guilt, it’s a question to review your habits and what got you to this point.

Here is a list of questions to reflect upon and to help you learn from last year.

1. How is your energy level right now? What have you done over the last 4 months to create this? Is this what you want to do more of next year or would you like to do something different?

2. If you compare your mindset today to your mindset the same time a year ago, what has changed? Is your mindset where you want it to be? What one or two mindset skills do you wish you had more of?

3. Did you make the impact you wanted to make last year (think of both at work and away from work)? What contributed to your answer?

As you shut down at the end of the year, we would like you to think of this transition/celebration in three phases. Phase one is to unload from last year. This is the process of taking off your armor, dumping your backpack, and allowing yourself to be free again. Phase two is to reset. This means celebrating what you have achieved, recalibrating your adrenal /stress system, and resetting your expectations for yourself and your team. The final phase is the restart. This phase should probably start right before the new year where you get clarity around your own Sustainable High Performance, your first steps you need to take at the start of the new year, and the self-image you want to enter 2017 with. Here are few questions to help you reflect.

1. If you were to describe yourself at your best in 2017 (building on who you were in 2016 and stretching yourself), what would you say about yourself?

2.If you were going to stop one behavior/habit from 2016, what would it be? What would be the benefit of you doing this?

3. If you were going to adopt one new behavior/habit in 2017 to improve your mental agility (the ability to quickly make great decisions under pressure), what would it be? What would be the immediate and long-term benefits of doing this?

From all of us at Team Tignum, we want to thank you for your support all year. Our passion is helping you become a Sustainable High Performer and we know that this is always a work in progress. For us, 2017 is going to be our best year yet as we continue to develop our content, strategies, and coaching but also our digital platforms to best support you. As always, we would love to hear what you think, what you need, and how you’re doing.

By Scott Peltin

Founder/Chief Performance Officer