How to “Crush It” in Business, Anywhere & Everywhere

This blog post is dedicated to anyone and everyone looking to measurably improve their business careers, and the date of its publishing marks a major transition for the Mastery InSight Institute towards focusing primarily on helping people become measurably more effective in business, with NLP.

Don't Read This Unless You're Not Yet Getting The Results You Want.

Most people who hear about NLP aren't interested in NLP for its own sake. You're interested in results. There's something you want, that you don't yet have, and you're hungry for it. You're looking for resources that will help you get it. Ideally, these resources must be proven successful, or you won't waste your time or money investing in it.

Yet the world isn't quite so black and white. If they sold promotions in a pill, everyone would be buying them. Your success in business is by its very nature going to be a more sophisticated result of a more nuanced development over time. You cannot escape that fact, so don't try. Instead, your best results will come from experimenting with things other people have found effective.

What's holding you back?

What's been holding you back is either Risk-Aversion, Oversimplification, Confusion, Poor Decision Strategies, or Fear of the Unknown.

  1. Risk Aversion: If you try to develop yourself only by reading books, that's a good start, but then you'll be 60 when you make it from your entry level job to a middle management position. If you try to do it by doing what the guy or gal next to you is doing, then you're still not distinguishing yourself from the pack. You can only do it by choosing to invest in yourself, and take managed risks. The most successful people on the planet are voracious students for life, and are notorious for experimenting, taking risks, and learning from failures. If you catch yourself not taking small risks because you're afraid of failure, you've already lost the game. Being smart about evaluating and managing larger risks is important. But if that's caused you to be risk-averse at the lowest levels... then there's no point reading further. You're not ready for this.

  2. Oversimplification:  Oversimplification happens when someone can't make sense of complexity on their own without generalizing beyond what's useful.   In other words... how comfortable with complexity are you?  Human beings love their "top 5 lists" and "top 7 lists."  If you regularly need the complexity of the world oversimplified for you, then you're definitely not at the top of your game, yet.  But if you can whittle complex situations down to "top 5 lists" for other people's consumption, that's evidence of the valuable ability to create order from chaos.  That's a valuable leadership trait; the world needs people who can simplify complexity.  The point here... is that if you're complexity-averse... you may as well sign a contract to receive the same salary for the rest of your life with no opportunity for advancement.

  3. Confusion:  This nearly always boils down to poor information gathering and/or not having the expertise to evaluate that information (whether the expertise is yours, or consulted externally).  Solving this is easy when and if you're willing to hire someone who does have the expertise and knows what information to gather, or if you know where to go to get that information.  Failure to recognize the symptom of confusion and know what to do with it... is what NLP would refer to as a lack of behavioral flexibility.

  4. Poor Decision Strategies:  Chances are if your business career is already moving forward, you've already got at least one if not several good decision strategies, and they probably serve you well in some circumstances.  The more you find yourself in unfamiliar territories, though, the more uncertain most people become about how and when to make decisions.  This sort of uncertainty and lack of direction can lead to career problems.

  5. Fear of the Unknown: You need to develop, exercise, and keep exercising, your ability to embrace the unknown, step into what it is that you don't yet know, and explore. Play. Attach a sense of adventure and fun into the process. Because if you only stay inside your “comfort zone”, and aren't open to constantly challenging your own assumptions, then you'll remain stuck inside a lie of gargantuan proportions. “So, keep telling yourself you know it all, or that your position is the right one! That'll do wonders for your career.”

The Top 3 Skillsets You Must Keep Sharpening

Regardless of your Job title or your working environment – whether CEO, Manager, Customer Service Representative, Bank Teller, Entrepreneur, Venture Capitalist, Salesperson, Financial Strategist, Attorney, Doctor, or Lemonade Stand Businesskid – your success and growth always depends upon all of these three skills:

  1. The ability to enter a situation and rapidly gather more than enough high quality information to make the best possible decision about an optimal result, moving forward.

  2. The ability to (a) determine a strategy or course of action, or (b) identify or gather choices, and then make a decision about how to move forward.

  3. The ability to execute steps towards the action or decision you've made, which may include leading, communicating, acting, and more.

The most successful businesspeople in the world – if that group doesn't yet include you – are all better at some or all the above, than you are. Every single one of these... are considered “Soft Skills.”

“Hard Skills” may have taken you from resume to interview, or from phone call to client visit, or from college degree to 1st job. The lists of hard skills are conscious check-lists. But always remember that its the “Soft Skills” that got you the offer letter, or the client, or the raise, or the promotion. It's the “Soft Skills” that led to the other decision maker's “impression” of you. And the factors that contributed to their impression are far more numerous than 7 +/- 2. Hundreds of pieces of information went into that impression, and the most important were your soft skills.

All three of these soft skills can be used to prevent or avoid or eliminate any of the above 5 areas:  Risk-Aversion, Oversimplification, Confusion, Poor Decision Strategies, or Fear of the Unknown.

Yet, amazingly, for the most part, they don't teach “Soft Skills” in college or graduate school.

An entire field of personal and professional development outside of academia has sprung up to help people improve themselves. Some call it the Self-Improvement field, which of course, is ill-named, since when you explore that field, you're still seeking advice from others about how you can help yourself.

If it were truly self-improvement, people wouldn't be quoting authors, reading books, listening to CDs, or attending training courses, to learn from other people.  Call it what it is -- learning from experts to enable growth.  And the better the teacher, the longer the mentorship relationship, the faster and more effectively you grow.

So throw away the myth of self improvement.  Find experts you align with, and learn from them in whatever ways you can.

Naturally, NLP provides profoundly effective tools, techniques and abilities for All Three Skill-sets.

There's not a person on the planet that wouldn't benefit from being able to more quickly and effectively connect with another human being. 

Everyone would become more effective in their careers if they understood themselves more accurately, and could understand more accurately how others think, what drives them, how to communicate with them, and how to motivate and influence them in ethical ways.

NLP in Business – Lessons for the USA from the UK.

I began training NLP in 1997 and rapidly began travelling overseas to the UK, Europe, Canada and Australia. In particular I visited and ran courses in the UK 20 times from 1997 to 2008, and have spoken in London, Richmond, Southampton, Oxford, Milton Keynes, Manchester, Leeds, & Glasgow (just to mention UK cities).

During these training visits, I noticed that there was widespread and increasing acceptance and fascination in the UK for using NLP in business. With the people and groups I met with in the UK, the emphasis was on developing emotional state-management, creative problem-solving, team development, personal excellence, and on effective communication skills. People exhibited an openness to accepting that their unconscious minds were as or more important than their conscious minds.... there was an openness to investing in their own development, and a willingness to play.

Perhaps equally important, the culture of business life in the UK and Europe allowed for and encouraged far more “vacation time” for just about every employee, than those employees' counterparts in the USA enjoy. In the UK, they call it “holiday” time. Employees in the UK can expect 3-6 weeks of holiday per year. Employees in the USA can expect 1-3 weeks of holiday per year, usually no more than 2 until they've become an executive or have been with a company for at least 10 years. Obviously, with less time to spare, people feel pressure to use that free time for relaxing or re-charging. In response, many NLP trainers have felt a need to keep shortening their courses in order to keep getting people in the door. They're short-changing their students – and the field.

The history lesson is only important for the purposes of reminding readers that the “Jedi-like” results written about during the early years of NLP, were mostly achieved by people who'd been trained for months, not from people who attended a 3-5 day workshop and got a piece of paper lying about their supposed abilities. The field is now chock full of people who suck at NLP and who’ve been told they're as good or effective as people who were trained 20 years ago. They're not.  The false idea that a person can get good at these skills in just a handful of days, and somehow magically transport their career into the stratosphere with that low a commitment is unrealistic at best.

I also noticed that in the UK, there are NLP study groups all over the place. In every major UK city, there are multiple NLP study groups. People make a long-term commitment to exercising and developing their skills. That only rarely happens in the USA. There's a catch-phrase in the field that says “the training begins when the training ends.” This is well exemplified in the UK. In the USA, it's ignored. If you want to get damn good at using NLP in any area – especially in business, you should actively seek out post-workshop local study groups that meet a minimum of once a month, preferably once every couple of weeks, for 2-3 hours of active exercises and/or evening presentations from visiting trainers.

By contrast with the emphasis on applying NLP to relationship-building in the UK, in the USA, the emphases has been on being pushy... on influence... on hypnotizing prospects... on 'getting a leg up over someone else...' and on getting one's own way.  That win-lose frame will leak in your communication.  And this, I believe, is why here in the USA... NLP got a bad rap, from some unsavory characters using it badly.

So that stands in stark contrast to the UK, where mentioning NLP on a business card or resume is widely valued and accepted.  It's a badge of honor -- for the right reasons.

Science vs. NLP ?

Academics and social scientists have criticized NLP for years, suggesting that many tenets of NLP are either false or unproven.  Yet in fact, science is increasingly supportive of claims made by NLP as much as 35 years ago.  Visit this blog entry to learn more about this issue (as well as how and why science does support NLP).

The Direct Response Marketing crowd are ALL aware of NLP. Many of them are NLP Practitioners, Master Practitioners, or NLP trainers.

There's an enormous direct response copywriting world out there. Years ago there were just a handful of major names in the business -- Dan Kennedy, Jay Abraham, Gary Halbert, John Carlton, Gary Bencivenga and others.

Now there are hordes of effective Direct Response Copywriters, and they ALL know about NLP, because so many NLP-trained people have been going to their bootcamps and conferences for years. Some use it more effectively than others. Some use it more or less honorably than others.

Additionally, most of the major information product (& internet marketing courses) launches over the past decade have intentionally used NLP to help cause specific emotional response chains in their mailing list readers, leading to increased 'conversion rates' and of course, sales.

Effective use of certain skills, does not necessarily equate to honorable use. Both effectiveness and integrity are what contribute to improving the reputation of NLP in the marketplace.

Real Estate Professionals

Real Estate agencies across the country have studied aspects of NLP -- though it's often done in tiny piecemeal bits (like studying “Sleight of Mouth” for 1 to 2 days). Many real estate agency owners are notoriously cheap when investing in external training; they'll try to get their agents to pay for their own training wherever possible (it's extremely short-sighted of them!).

That said, extremely smart Real Estate Agents will do whatever they must, to place themselves head and shoulders above and beyond their competition.  NLP is an extraordinary tool for enabling that result. 

Competition in the real estate marketplace is often extreme.  Many people today can't earn a living doing just real estate, which is a problem, because to do it well, a realtor often has to be "on-call" 24/7.  But taking another job can make a realtor unavailable to serve their buyers and sellers.  NLP helps you get inside the minds of your clients, connect them to you strongly, and create loyalty and referrals, for all the right reasons.


There are a select few attorneys using NLP in a variety of ways, including making a persuasive court presentation, voir dire, discovery, and more.

However, it is difficult to get attorneys to realize the value of NLP to their practice, because:

  • Many attorneys are know-it-alls. When you believe you know it all, or at least, you know better than most other people, why would you ever perceive a course outside your field to be valuable?
  • Most attorneys are extremely busy, working 60-70 hours per week, with very little vacation time. How much free time for training can a lawyer take for themselves, when they're that busy?
  • It's near impossible to offer them a targeted course on applying NLP to law, because every attorney has a different schedule.  Trying to get multiple attorneys to sit in a room together, long enough to get them really good at NLP, is a virtual impossibility.  This is why most attorneys will never get good at NLP unless or until they can take the time to invest in learning how to do it well.  (and remember, 3-5 days isn't remotely enough time, and home study on one's own isn't remotely effective enough). 
  • Most of the attorneys I know who are great at NLP learned it before starting their practice, or over 20+ years, or by making it such a high priority, that they could devote a couple of weeks per year to NLP courses.

Now, all that said, law may be one of the best professions around for using the skills provided by NLP.  But only a select few attorneys will ever get good enough at NLP to realize that potential!


This is one of the best possible areas where NLP can become extremely useful. 

There are some truly wonderful salespeople out there, and some utter frauds.  Most are on the ethical side, but not yet high performers.  Many less-than-ethical sales people have been forced into certain sales behaviors by demanding and cold-blooded sales managers who've taught them despicable tactics.  We wonder if those tactics evolved entirely because people didn't know there was a better way.

Recently, when shopping for a car, I walked out of 8 dealerships when faced with clear-cut examples of fraudulent sales tactics. That series of unfortunate experiences was fortunately overshadowed after I found the right dealer at the right dealership.

Finding honorable salespeople can be a challenge.  Why did I encounter so many negative sales experiences before finding a positive one?  What if every salesperson refused to work for an unethical sales manager -- and had the skills to identify that during their interview? What if every salesperson were so good at connecting with people and helping them make the best decision possible, that they all earned commissions for the right reasons at the right time? 

If all those things were true... what if that would enable them to (1) take better advantage of every opportunity, (2) cause their happy customers to rabidly send them more future business, and then (3) actually earn far more than they would have done, if they'd adopted a sales process with less integrity?

NLP helps you convey a sense of higher value, that people will attach... to you.


Executives need to lead.  They need to be able to influence minds both gently and strongly.  They need insightful and incisive minds.  They need to radiate charisma, listen profoundly well, and effectively communicate a strong shared vision.   They need to be able to establish, simplify and streamline a company culture, a mission, and a public message.  They need to attract the best people to their teams, and retain them by challenging and rewarding those people properly.  They need to find and project confidence in their choices and in their strategic planning.  In short, there's very little in NLP that isn't extremely helpful to executives, because NLP teaches incredibly useful skills for all of the above areas.


Most politicians don't need any reminders of the value of NLP for influencing the masses.  It's been said that Al Gore has had NLP training.  President Clinton got coaching from Anthony Robbins.  NLP books have been seen laying on tables at No. 10 Downing Street (the office of the British Prime Minister).  Many politicians actively study the more hypnotic aspects of NLP, such as the Milton Model hypnotic language patterns, and rhythmic cadence to minimize resistance, and tonal shifts during key moments of a speech.

If you're a politician or planning to run for office soon, and you don't yet know NLP, rest assured:  You're way, WAY behind.  Get yourself registered for as many NLP courses as you can, ASAP.  Your competition probably already has.

Our 2014 Course Line-Up Serves All of the Above.

Our 2014 Business NLP training schedule meets a wide range of business needs, and aims to enable you to exceed others' expectations!  Go ahead and give us a call to ask any questions you may have, and/or register online when you're ready to make plans for your own rewarding professional development!

NLP Sales Wizardry - a 2-day course exploring NLP for Selling Effectively.  You'll learn how to improve in 5 areas:  Generating Leads, Qualifying Prospects, Selling/Convincing, Getting Past or Around Objections, and Closing the Deal.

Speaking Ingeniously - a 5-day course for Compelling and Memorable Presentation Skills.  Need to craft a profoundly powerful message for your audiences?  Want to become more effective from the stage?  There's no better preparation, anywhere.

Own the Interview - a 2-day NLP course for people running interviews, and for people taking interviews.  Got interviews coming up?  Limited time and money to prepare?  This is the course for you.

NLP Business Practitioner - a 10-day course teaching not only all of the foundational skills of NLP, but giving you active practice and preparation using it in a wide array of business contexts.  This is the basis for getting ridiculously good at NLP.  If you're serious about propelling your career, this is the first longer course to take.

NLP Business Master Practitioner (Link is coming soon) - an 11-day course teaching how to use NLP to become the undisputed leader of any situation.  You'll learn how to unpack & rewire beliefs and belief systems.  You'll learn Sleight of Mouth for extremely influential reframing skills, you'll learn advanced metaprograms (personality patterns and preferences) so that you can tune your communication to every listener's unique personality and communication style, and develop an operational real-time creative flexibility for entering, owning, and leading any situation from wherever you found it, to wherever you want to take it.


author: Jonathan Altfeld