Finding Mastery: Conversations with Michael Gervais

Dr Michael Gervais on NBC

Over the last two years I’ve had the great fortune to get coaching from Dr Michael Gervais as part of the high-performance program run for the M&O Leadership Team by CVP Allison Watson — the U.S. M&O Lead (and my boss). Dr Gervais is the high-performance coach for the Seattle Seahawks; as well as a broad selection of high performers from the arts, extreme sports, and Olympic athletes.

Dr Gervais is now starting a podcast series, available on iTunes here: Link

Welcome to Finding Mastery! Dr. Michael Gervais is fascinated by the psychology of high performance, in rugged environments. Throughout the past 15 years, Michael has been in the trenches with some of the best performers in the world – some who shift how we conceive what’s possible — others who have pushed their own boundaries — ranging from hall of fame athletes to action sport game-changers, entrepreneurs, Mixed Martial Artists, to musicians who influence the rhythm of the world. He’s excited to share the many paths toward mastery and provide very applied practices that we can all use to be and do more in our time together.

In this first podcast Dr Gervais introduces himself and some of the key principles that he will work to impart over the course of his podcast series, which are outlined on his really slick site at

He is focused on helping people to excel in the most hostile environments in the world, and to do this he is interested in answering three questions:

  1. How do we train our minds to explore our own potential? Our minds are easily distracted from the truth of the moment, and it requires a disciplined mind to stay focused on the moment.
  2. How can we maximize the output of our body? It is the combination of mind and body that enables people to master their craft.
  3. What are we doing here? We need to explore deep meaning in life, and understand how to string together connected moments and connected experiences.

Dr Gervais roots his insights in science, and it has been humbling to learn as much as I have from him, and in a way that has positively affected my work; my life; and my marriage. The beginning work in this process is the work to craft a Personal Philosophy. We all think we have one, until we try to enunciate it in 25 words or less. Here’s mine:

To help others succeed, because the measure of a life well-lived is how many lives you are able to change along the journey.

Dr Gervais has also helped me craft my leadership Philosophy:

I believe in people and I have an optimistic view of both individuals and humanity. My leadership style is rooted in education and the Learning Organization – my hiring criteria is that you must have a positive attitude and the ability to learn. If you bring those personal qualities to the party, I can teach you the rest. I love leading teams on difficult, visionary missions: In order to succeed in doing the “impossible”, you need to be surrounded by true believers who are as excited about the journey as they are the prize.

… and my Marketing Philosophy:

We live in a mobile-first world where mobility references the mobility of the user, not the device. As a result, users are driving cloud-connected solutions to enable their mobile lifestyles. This connected society has generated a social-first approach to communication, and as a result all marketing must have a social-first and mobile-first strategy in order to remain relevant.

The Modern CMO is a Revenue Marketer, in command of the entire customer experience from Anonymous to Usage. To be successful, the Modern CMO needs to be a three-headed Hydra – Creative; Analytical; and User Experience oriented – because the job of the Modern CMO is really the job of Customer Life Cycle (CLC) management. Specifically, the CLC process begins with reactive and proactive social engagement with Unknown Visitors; continues with nurture activities with Known Prospects; converts those Known Prospects into Marketing Automation Qualified Leads (MAQLs) by reading the Digital Body Language of prospects; and then tracks the performance of those MAQLs into Sales Accepted Leads (SALs) and Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs). However, into today’s consumption- and cloud-focused world, the real selling process begins after the first transaction, so the Modern CMO must have the ability to activate customer usage (not just generate a first purchase), which requires product innovation and understanding.

This gives anyone who works with me a *really* good idea of what I’m all about. That kind of alignment and expectation setting is super powerful, and is key to creating a high-performance workplace. I also post it all on my LinkedIn profile: Grad Conn on LinkedIn

I would also recommend a read of the book “Win Forever” by Coach Pete Carroll, which leans heavily on similar concepts and is an excellent companion piece.

Dr Gervais likes to say that “Everyday we have an opportunity to create a living masterpiece” — and since we’re all only given about 20,000 days, it’s important to make every one of those days count!