Use Your Head | Neuroscience of Entrepreneur Success
We are here today with Tanya MFK. And she is going to share with us the amazing secrets of neuroscience for entrapreneur success. So welcome, Tanya to our podcast!
Hello. I'm super excited about sharing this all today.
We're so excited to have you here. So, Tanya, she's a ‘break all the rules’ business coach and life strategist for overdoing and underwhelmed entrepreneurs, and she teaches how to unbusy your life, untangle your business and unleash your vision by building a strategy around your uniqueness. No cookie cutter BS here. With over 18 years in global business development with Fortune 500 companies, million dollars startups and Grammy nominated artists and a degree in applied neuroscience, she was nominated Central Europe's founder of the year and both 2020 and 2021, massive congratulations on that. After losing her husband to cancer at the age of 25, this recovering workaholic also began a mission to eliminate that hustle culture that poisons entrepreneurship and focuses on teaching others to enjoy life while creating a clear road to success. Tanya, we can't wait to talk about all things neuroscience and entrepreneurship today.
So, Tanya, we are excited to have you here and we can't wait to dive right in into this, you know, amazing subject which we know is very broad and complex. But you know, just for the sake of trying to narrow it down a little bit. How can you start you know at least on a macro level, beginning to harness the power of neuroscience while building a business as an entrepreneur?
You know, as we're going through this process of entrepreneurship and mindset. we get these conflicting messages all the time, right? There's hustle, repeat, get it done, do whatever it takes. And those the other side that's going: be here now, feel the joy. And either side, it's like what does that mean today? What does that mean right now? Is nice to say like ‘don't let it stress you out or get on and get motivated.’ But when it comes down to action, what do I actually do? And that's where the power of actually understanding the science of your brain and how it works can bring us to a place of balance. And so, I know a lot of us may think it's you know, we can do meditation and all this- which we can- but when we understand the science behind how it works, we can really kind of bridge this concept of self-development and neuroscience to master ourselves in order to master our business. And as we step into that I just want to kind of let people know like, why science? This is really about bridging these two places to make it so much easier and understandable, to really step into that space.
Right. And I love what you what you touched upon just now because it is true. A lot of people feel that maybe science belongs more to a classroom or more in the in a laboratory where you're doing some sort of tests, but in real life science applies equally or if not as much to anything and everything and these are laws that are operating regardless of where we are in life or what we're doing, you know? The law of gravity, for example. It applies to us no matter what, no matter whether we're good people or bad people or we're three years old or 50 years old. We are subject to these laws. And so, what I gather from what you were saying is that our brains are also subject to certain laws. And if we learn how to harness those laws, we're able to, as you say, strike the right equilibrium when it comes to knowing what to do and when to do that. So, can you tell us a little bit more about that? How you apply it into the world of entrepreneurship?
Absolutely. Well, as we know, you know, in entrepreneurship as we're building our businesses, goals, you know, all of these things are really what we're working towards there's all kinds of goals and tasks and programs or projects that we're working on and trying to figure out. And we're battling focus. We're battling distractions. We're battling lots of different things that come our way. Ups and downs, ebbs and flows mindset. And most of us are stepping into it through sheer willpower. And, and it's tough, willpower isn't always reliable. So, as you mentioned, if we step into the laws and really have this self-awareness of how our actual brains are wired and work, we can harness that for our success. And so, the first thing to really look at understand is harnessing the concept of neuroplasticity to create connections in your brain that will serve your goal. So really quick, neuroplasticity is just a fancy way to say the ability of the brain to rewire itself as the result of an experience. Okay, so this again, I'll just say that the ability of the brain to rewire itself as a result of an experience. So, this goes for rewiring based on the experience of traumas, all the way down to simple everyday habits, like driving home or opening the fridge. So, all of the things that you do, or don't do, things that you might be avoiding, these actions create a connection, a wiring in the brain that says, Okay, we're going to make this part of this. This is just kind of what we do now. We can see this kind of rewiring in extreme cases of someone losing their eyesight. In a situation like this, the brain may rewire itself to enhance other areas, right we have better hearing or better smell, in order to compensate for the loss of eyesight. But the brain can also solidify the connection of your habit of binge watching two hours of Netflix while eating chips. So the brain is gonna say, ‘oh, you know what, let's make this easier and solidify it as a habit.’ Because now we know, every time we watch Netflix, we always watch for two hours and we definitely need chips. Boom, we have habit. We've now solidified a neural pathway, like yay, science. It works in both ways. And our brain is there to make things easier for us, right? A brain is a survival tool. A lot of times we think our brain is there to make the best choices for us. It's to make things easier for us to survive.
Yes, it's not, and I've read articles on this as well, that and part of what I've studied and what I do is the same thing as I explain to my clients as well. Your brain is not here to make you happy. Your brain is here to allow you to survive and to keep you safe, right? And it’s going to do that in the most efficient way that it can find and as you say, strengthens these connections and these neural pathways, so that the next time is just effortless and easier, right? It's just like you turn on Netflix and then you reach for the chips because it goes together. It's a combo.
Yeah, it goes together because now your brain is free to notice. If a bear walks into the kitchen and say, ‘Hey, there's a bear and pay attention.’ As opposed to going ‘I have to focus on chips and Netflix.’ The brain is like ‘don't worry, we got that’ that's a habit. Now, we're going to create a connection so you don't even have to worry about that.
It’s like an autopilot.
Yes. So when the bear comes in, we can see it. So it's really for that for something survival it’s there to make it easier for us, but too often we're sending the wrong message to the brain of what we want. So what we want to do at this point is kind of switch it and learn how to harness this for our betterment,
But not through sheer will, right? That's what you mean to say: it's not that you cannot just say from one moment to the next I'm going to will myself I'm not having this craving for chips the moment that I sit down to watch Netflix. What is the next step then when you're in that in the crux of saying like, ‘okay’,
So we want to figure out how to use this knowledge of neuroplasticity to enhance our success. So what we need to do when we step into this idea and go, ‘Okay, well, I need to consciously choose the habits I want.’ It's one thing to recognize what we don't want. Too often we go ‘I don't want to do this. I don't want to eat the chips, but we need to go ‘what do I really want instead? What do I want my Netflix habit to be?’ Do I want it to be two hours with chips? Do I want to be one hour? Do I not want at all? What does that look like? So ideally, we're wanting to look at a habits that serve us, serve our goals, who we want to be, habits of focus, confidence, loving skills, but we need to identify these goals and practice them with consistency, so it can lead both to structural and functional brain changes, brain changes that get us to where we want to go. So in short, we need to train our brain to help us do what we want.
It's a pattern of repetition.
Yes, exactly. And as you actually said that, the requirements to make this work is having a clear goal. You have to have effort full practice, like conscious practice, like I am going to consciously work on you know, I don't know, replacing the chips, whatever you chose the goal to be, and repetition. As you said, I have to be interested in wanting to do it. If you're doing something and you're like ‘I don't really want to do this, like I want to practice to run a marathon but I really don't want to run a marathon’ like we're gonna have a disconnect there. Your brains gonna know that resistance, we really have to just genuinely be interested in this thing we want to do and consistency. So repetition and consistency are two different things as well. So some people miss that. If I do something 10 times a day, but I only do it for two days, that's not consistent. So we need repetition to do it often, and the consistency of doing it on a regular basis within that repetition. When we have those things, we really can start to harness this neuroplasticity.
Right. I mean, the most encouraging like thought of me here is really that it is fully in our control. We have full control over it. As long as we're conscious about it and consistent, right? Not just from one day to another. I mean, that's really, really encouraging for a lot of people who might just lose their way or have all this fear and this like, anxiety about I won't be able to do that, you know,
Or that it's too late, right? Like I'm too old to change. And Tanya, what is that sweet spot of consistency, because you mentioned you know, it's like yes, if you go to the gym for four or five days, you're not gonna start seeing your six pack. You're going to have to really invest more time to start seeing the results. But for the sake of these type of habits where you're just trying to change one aspect of the behavior, or to associate it with a different type of task at hand, if you will, what is that sweet spot of how much consistency already sets those neural pathways in your brain so that it starts to become automatic?
So the way… there's two things, right? We've heard a lot of different scientific ideation about how long a habit needs, right? Some people say 21 days, 60 days, 90 days. The truth is, the only way to really confirm that structural actual change has happened in the brain, the neural pathway other than going in and looking at the brain, is when it becomes a habit. When something becomes automatic that is honestly one of your number one tell-tale ways that you've had a structural change in the brain. So we talked from a neuroscience standpoint, and you want to know whether or not the neural connection has been solidified- these two little pieces that said, ‘You know what, we've done this enough let's literally make this part of who we are’, is when it becomes a habit. In terms of like the gym example when we don't think or question whether or not we're going to the gym we just get up and go like well that's what I do. That is literally part of me. So in terms of that sweet spot, it does depend on the particular habit but it can be we'll just go with that range that like science kind of debate that 21 to 90, but it honestly once it manifests itself as that knee jerk reaction we can say with confidence there's been a structural change in the brain. That's what it comes, when it comes to habits and now we kind of mentioned habit in like, the physical sense like what I'm doing the Netflix and the chips, but we also need to remember that what we how we habitually think also creates structural and functional brain changes. So if you were saying, ‘This is too hard. It's too late,’ those thoughts are actual habits as well. And they will solidify our actions and reactions because
Right they will manifest
They tell a story about who you are, right? And you believe that and so you say: “Well, because it's too late for me to change then” it's what they're also called, like a fixed mindset, right? Like it is what it is.
Yeah, it's where it is. And it's when we say fixed mindset in a certain degree, there's a physical part of that. We've literally created a connection that says, when someone says something that feels impossible or sounds impossible, we don't even think about our reaction. Our brain goes, ‘Oh, yeah, that's impossible. Can't be done, can't be done.’ We've trained our brain to have that mental reaction as well. It becomes automatic and it sets us up to keep that action and reaction as a thought process. So if every time someone cuts you off in traffic, you're like, a jerk. You don't even think about it anymore. You've created a thought process that's literally part of your habit now.
I want to circle back on that a little bit of that consistency and creating that habit. We're speaking about entrepreneurs but then there's also us, mompreneurs, and we have constant distractions around us in the name of our little ones running wild at home right? What are what are some practical applications of this that we can do in like our daily context where no day is like the other. We plan our day as much as we want. However, there is you know, like you can’t tell a three-year-old to like do this at a certain time of every day. Okay? Maybe three-year-old Yes, but when they're younger not so. Like, our days are so unstructured no matter what we do. What are some like practical tips that you have for mompreneurs on that journey?
Oh boy, this is a whole I mean, I could talk about this forever about neuroscience and planning…I actually run a course about planning for flexibility because a lot of this time management productivity stuff that's out there is based around some rigid schedule that goes okay as long as we plan it. And as long as life falls into the exact place, your child doesn't throw up, nothing gets knocked over everything works according to plan.
Right, they’re not respectful co-workers that understand when you're on a call or understand when you have a meeting that you need to attend to
Totally unreasonable. And so we've really, we've actually specifically worked at developing a process of scheduling that focuses on the ability to pivot and change, so that's a whole thing we can go into. But if we talk about you know, real quick too before we lose on the mindse,t because one of the things that I think gets lost there too, if you can hear me talk about this and go ‘Well that's really great. And and I should work on that. But what's actionable? Like that doesn't help me change anything right now. I just know there's a better way I shouldn't be treated this way’ and then we're left with that.
So just to kind of loop that off. One thing I want to put in with actionable when we're looking at mindset when we're looking at harnessing the concept of neuroplasticity, working on the habits of our thoughts, because there's another part there right? This is too hard. There's too much. There's no way I can do this when it's unfair. I have an unpredictable day because I have kids, right? Those thoughts come in and they make it harder for us to do our work, even when the kid finally is at nap time. Because then you're just you're like your brain says ‘What the heck am I gonna do?’ so how do we sit here and use this reaction of neuroplasticity for our mindset?
And so one thing I'm going to throw in there, which is I first probably people roll their eyes. But I want to talk about real quick the concept of affirmations and where- how to use them in the way that actually is functional. So the problem with most affirmations is we use them in a way or use statements that aren't believable. And so real quickly saying something that goes, ‘I am a millionaire.’ If you're not a millionaire, that statement isn't true. It doesn't help us. We need to use it in a way that is true. So when we start to say statements like ‘I can become a millionaire, I deserve to be a millionaire.’ That is something you're capable of believing.
And so we have it and structure it that way, we can take this as a practice to change our thought patterns to create new ones. We can train our brain to adopt that new belief and act accordingly. So if we say: ‘I'm capable of doing this,’ ‘I can do this.’ It's it's okay that my house is a mess.’ Like even those things ‘It's okay that my house is a mess’ and actually brings in the affirmation is we're gonna change our thoughts look around and say ‘oh my gosh, it's such a mess. I'm a terrible mom,’ all these thoughts that become reactive, and we can replace that thought. But if we just tell ourselves not to have these thoughts, and we don't replace them we don't actually create new habits. We're not using the power of neuroplasticity, we're just kind of shaming ourselves and that's a great thing. Okay, so just wrap that end up there.
But this is really fantastic because as you say, it's not only about trying to_ it's not about suppressing the thought that is coming, right in this case, usually a negative one because as mompreneurs we're riddled with guilt, right? Damn if you do, damn if you don't. Yeah, it's rather inverting it in such a way that an empowering new promise can come out of it and promises. I use that word because as you say, maybe it's aspirational, like where you're moving towards that, you're still not a millionaire, but you know that you are doing what is needed to get there right, that is your commitment. So that is something that you can work with and your mind can actually accept because it says ‘Yes, it's true. We're not there yet,’ but ‘yet’ is the key word.
I do deserve that is possible. Those pieces we can hold on to as truth whereas this idea of setting “I am that, I am that” you step into that, science, I'm going to say, has not proven that that's the healthful process. More so in our visualization. This is another disconnect that happens a lot as they say, picture yourself at the end goal. So, picture yourself in the bikini on the beach. There's actually more studies behind showing that picturing yourself groggy in the morning going to the gym is actually the better visualization to get you to the goal.
But you are at the gym, like yes, you're sort of like not in peak form, ‘Oh my god, I'm up and I'm ready to do all the exercises,’ but at least I am making that effort to be there. So as you say, that image is realistic
Right. It's your visualization. A lot of times people say ‘visualize the goa, visualize the goal.’ Well in science in neuroscience, it's actually visualize yourself working towards the goal. So, for a child, don't visualize getting the A, visualize yourself studying. See yourself say ‘Okay, I'm going to go home today. I'm going to go to my room. I'm going to sit there and I'm going to study.’ There's more success in visualizing the process that it takes to get to your goal than the people who are visualizing the goal.
Because we're our brain gets a dopamine hit from seeing that goal. And that's like cool, like ‘We're good’ that we lose the motivation to actually do the work. So, moms as they’re sitting there going
The way to get there.
Yeah, you want to visualize if you're like, ‘Oh my gosh, I want to motivate myself by seeing the clean house’ like we actually need to motivate ourselves by seen visualizing ourselves to go okay, when this is done, this is what it looks like. And I mean, literally visualizing if you're going to use this tool, literally visualizing yourself, like putting the phone down, I'm going to sit down and scroll through Instagram like seeing yourself doing that and seeing yourself getting up and like dragging yourself in like I'm doing the dishes. I see myself doing that. Because then when the moment comes, when that that situation is there in front of you, your brain goes, ‘Oh, we've done this before. That's okay. I know this habit,’ and it'll actually move you into the thing you want to do, as opposed to the thing you normally do.
This is fascinating. Is there's such a thing as too many affirmations? Or is it carefully chosen ones, depending on the time and the activity at hand rather than just, you know, parroting 10 or 15 in the morning when you wake up and you're like I am this I Am that I Am. Yes, there is a difference?
Well not that there’s a difference but it's that powerful thing that you just said parroting affirmations. You know, I think what happens is we look at them as it as a separate entity, as a thing, as opposed to replacing a thought. That's what an affirmation truly is, is that when our thoughts become habitual, then we go, ‘oh, there's nothing I can do about it.’ But we can actually step back and go, ‘I don't want that thought. And I don't have to own that thought.’ But we can't stop there. We have to go well, what do I want to think instead? And an affirmation is really just as a word that says what thought will I replace with what I'm currently thinking? There’s not too many.
And that's nothing to do with action? Right?
Yeah, there's no there’s too many. If we have a lot of negative thoughts we want to replace, let's choose what to replace it with. The problem is most of us aren't taking that conscious moment to stop and go. ‘Okay, I don't want to think that I'm a bad mom. I don't want to think that it's too hard. I don't want to think that the guy who cut me off is a jerk and a terrible person.’ So what do I want to think instead? And we can lay that out and it can take you know, it can take anywhere from 60 seconds to five or 10 minutes to really consciously choose the roadmap that we want for our brain where that becomes a habit. So many of our thoughts and everything have been- we've had many many years to solidify these thoughts or habits.
Yes, they're not going to change overnight.
It’s true, it takes a while.
Yeah, but if we consciously think--- and we've solidified the pathway. Somebody who cuts me off is a jerk, period. That's connection, that's in our brain. But the beauty of neuroplasticity says it's not final. We can undo that. We can undo that connection and create a new one that says ‘that guy who cut me off is probably having a hard morning and it's not about me.’ And now in a month or less of doing that guy cuts you off and you're like, ‘Nah, it's okay.’ Like you can actually change your thoughts and reactions.
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So true.
That's so powerful- it is
Yeah, it's the power of the mind and as you say, how we can properly harness it in a way that helps us to get closer to our goals. And to really achieve them. And, and so, on a final note, Tanya, you know, and we're so I mean, we have barely scratched the surface.
Yes, there's so we can cover here
There’s so many things that we can go into, but I guess the main message is that us, mompreneurs, we are wired a certain way, right? We are, we're probably trying to tame two animals at the same time. I mean, no offense to our kids, but, you know, they are needing a lot of care and attention and so does our business and we're just sort of like in between two waters, but it's also what makes it exciting, and how we tick. So, I love the fact that you, part of the things that you are working on is, you know, weekly trainings and different webinars that you offer as well each month. Do you want to tell us a little bit about that? And how can mompreneurs benefit from this and learn more about this fascinating subject?
Oh, absolutely. So based on this kind of idea that it's up to us really to identify the best life that we want and most of us were not asked what kind of life we want. We were asked what we want to be when we grow up was really just met, how do you want to make money? And so, in the entrepreneurial world and in the space around us, it's really easy to have that fortunately, to get that motivation like let's get the work done. Let's get the work. Done. But let's cut back to the slice of this mom life where we are and we go ‘I actually also need to be very much in what's around me.’ And as we're told constantly, you know, this time will pass fast and whether you have you know, you know, five month olds or your 13 year old , your 20-30 old, the time will pass fast. Next thing you know, we're not here, and so really remain in a place to go. I want to- yes, I want to succeed. Yes, I want to hit my goals. Yes, I have a big future ahead of me. But I also have life happening around me and I don't want it_ I don't want to miss out on that. And so you're
I want to be present for it. Yes.
And so, again, it sounds very lofty, and we see the ‘Be Here Now’ inspirational posts on Instagram. But what we've done and what I focus on based on my experience and what you've mentioned in the intro is really about bridging those two practically. It's one thing to say inspirationally, but go ‘Okay, Tanya, but how do I be here now, when I have to meet a client tomorrow and I have this to do and I'm feeling terrible because I haven't spent time with my son.’ That's what we focus on. And so, I preface all that to say the things that we do, every month, we do a planning session, it's free. I don't, I have a very strict no pitch, no sales approach. Anything that I do is you're not going to sit through it and then have some big pitch at the end. Every month we host this and it's very much balanced between what you're trying to accomplish, but also who you want to be. Who is next month Tanya? Who is next month Desiree? Not just what you're going to do, but who do you want to be? What joy do you want to have? And so we look at not just tasks and goals, which are very granular and specific, but we also look at who you want to be for the next 30 days because it's just as important to identify that as a goal. And so we do that every month. It's free every month at usually the end beginning of the month. We switch times because we do have global clients so we always usually have something that will fit wherever time zone that you're in. We also do trainings and webinars Yeah, every month we have usually about two webinars anywhere from business strategy development, to we're actually doing another talk about this Neuroscience Of Entrepreneurial Success. Next month we have Build Your Signature Program In 60 Minutes. So we're always doing these things, and they're actionable that's very specific. Anything you come to me is going to be actionable. Yes, theory is great. But in the end as moms, you know, like that's all great. What do I do?
I love that. I love that because that's where the overwhelm lies at the beginning, right? It's like, okay, I know I need to change something. I know I have to do something different. But how do I do it? Give me the steps now.
I don't have time to figure it out. There’s so much information out there and then you go to a webinar or you go to something you're like, ‘Great, I got all this information. And now I'm left with a ton of a whole lot of homework, but I just spent an hour listening’ and so my goal is really when you go through it we like to encourage like you're making the decisions or you're doing the work. So we usually actually call them workshops, because we want to know like at the end of this hour, ideally, you've gotten something done, as opposed to a bunch of homework and left to your own devices. Yeah, really want it to be done because we it's hard to carve out that hour 30 minutes so we want to make sure that you've actually had walked away with something and so we have this every month and it spans the gamut from mindset to actionable tools as you're growing your business.
That's fantastic. And you have a freebie for us as well. A Goal Setting Bundle?
So we know we have tons of resources. But if you're listening to this and you're going ‘okay I you know I want to look at the habits.’ If we kind of collect the main goals we talked about today of harnessing neuroplasticity, identifying habits that you want, using them to create your thoughts using them to create, you know your mindset. We didn't get to focus too much. But if you do that, we have a goal setting bundle, which is a set of worksheets again to do the work. So you can track your habits actually see if you're in that space of consistency because we like to say ‘Men lie, women lie, numbers don't lie.’ So if you really want to know if you’re consistent, you gotta track it, you got to see it. So we have a what we call our Habit And Goal Tracker. We have some ways to put yourself into some motivation and gratitude spaces on a consistent way. We have ways for you to uncover your deepest motivation because within our goals we sometimes just getting into your skinny jeans isn't enough. But when you say well, I want it really comes down to wanting to be the best example for my family. That's what we hold on to we're going to understand our deepest motivation, as well as setting our environment to win and getting rid of any roadblocks that can be there or how to react to those robots. So there's several worksheets that come together that will help you walk through each of those processes. So it's not just writing down your goals on a wish and a prayer. It's really about how to use all these things we've talked about today in a practical way without having to know neuroscience. Just go through those steps. And you'll have a real under girthing to get in reality toward your goals. So that's what The Goal Setting Bundle is.
Awesome. Thanks so much Tanya for chatting with us today. And if you want to connect with Tanya you can find her on Instagram. Her handle is @TanyaMFK. She also has her Facebook page as well as her website TanyaMFK.com and all of these links as well as the freebies, and the free webinars and workshops that she is mentioning today are all going to be in the links in our show notes. Thank you so much.
Thank you for being here today.
It was awesome! Until next time.
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A "break all the rules" business coach and life strategist for overdoing and underwhelmed entrepreneurs, Tanya teaches how to Unbusy your life, Untangle your business and Unleash your vision by building a strategy around your uniqueness. No cookie cutter B.S.
With over 18 years in global business development with Fortune 500 companies, million dollar start-ups and Grammy nominated artists and a degree in Applied Neuroscience, she was nominated Central Europe's Founder of the year in both 2020 and 2021.After losing her husband to cancer at age 25, this recovering workaholic began a mission to eliminate the hustle culture that poisons entrepreneurship and focuses on teaching others to enjoy life while creating a clear road to success.
IG @ TanyaMFK