1697 – Breaking Free from the Performance Trap: Embracing Growth and Innovation with Eduardo Briceño

In this episode of the Thoughtful Entrepreneur, your host Josh Elledge speaks to the Keynote Speaker & Facilitator of™, Eduardo Briceño.

Eduardo's work is centered around the concept of a growth mindset, a belief that we can change and improve. It's not just about believing in the potential for change, but also understanding how to change and develop effective habits and systems for continuous improvement.

His book, “The Performance Paradox,” delves into the idea that focusing solely on performance can hinder growth and results. Eduardo shared insights on how professionals and leaders can overcome this paradox.

Eduardo emphasized the importance of balancing performance with learning. Solely focusing on performance can hinder growth. He suggests that individuals need to be self-aware of their ineffective work habits and make shifts to work smarter. The book also serves as a guide for organizations, helping leaders align their teams and develop strategies for continuous improvement and learning.

Key Points from the Episode:

  • Introduction of Eduardo Briceño and his work on personal growth and the growth mindset
  • Discussion on the importance of understanding how to change and develop effective habits for continuous improvement
  • Introduction of Eduardo's book, “The Performance Paradox,” and its focus on balancing performance and growth
  • Personal experiences with learning and improvement, including playing musical instruments
  • Importance of praising effort over innate ability
  • Breakdown of Eduardo's book into three parts: key ideas for individuals, overcoming the performance paradox for teams and organizations, and engaging in the performance zone to make an impact
  • Balancing performance with learning and the need for self-awareness and effective work habits
  • Value of mistakes as opportunities for improvement and innovation
  • Fostering cultures of learning and high performance in organizations

About Eduardo Briceño:

Eduardo Briceño is a renowned global keynote speaker and facilitator known for his expertise in cultivating cultures of learning and high performance within leading companies worldwide. He co-founded and served as CEO of Mindset Works, an innovative company offering growth mindset development services. Previously, he worked as a venture capital investor with the Sprout Group.

Eduardo is celebrated for his impactful TED Talks, including “How to Get Better at the Things You Care About” and “The Power of Belief,” which collectively garnered over nine million views. He is a distinguished Pahara-Aspen Fellow, a member of the prestigious Aspen Institute's Global Leadership Network, and has been honored with induction into the Happiness Hall of Fame.

His book, “The Performance Paradox: Turning the Power of Mindset into Action,” was recognized as a “Must-Read” by the Next Big Idea Club, a distinguished platform curated by influential thinkers such as Susan Cain, Malcolm Gladwell, Adam Grant, and Dan Pink. Eduardo Briceño's work continues to inspire and transform individuals and organizations globally.

About™:™ is an innovative platform dedicated to assisting organizations in fostering growth mindset cultures among their teams. At its core,™ is a guiding force for companies seeking to empower their employees with the beliefs and attitudes necessary for personal and professional development.

This platform offers a comprehensive toolkit and resources designed to instil and nurture the concept of a growth mindset within the organizational framework. It equips leaders, managers, and employees with the knowledge and strategies to embrace challenges, learn from failures, and continually improve their skills.™ operates as a strategic partner, helping organizations create environments encouraging curiosity, adaptability, and resilience. By emphasizing the importance of growth mindsets, this platform contributes to increased innovation, enhanced problem-solving abilities, and a more motivated and engaged workforce.

Tweetable Moments:

06:19 – “In order to improve, we have to change…that's how we learn.”

21:33 – “We believe that every person has a message that can positively impact the world.”

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Links Mentioned in this Episode:

Want to learn more? Check out™ website at

Check out™ on LinkedIn at

Check out Eduardo Briceño on LinkedIn at

Check out Eduardo Briceño on Twitter at

Check out Eduardo Briceño on Facebook at

Check out Eduardo Briceño on Instagram at

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Josh (00:00:05) - Hey there, thoughtful listener. Would you like consistent and predictable sales activity with no spam and no ads? I'll teach you step by step how to do this, particularly if you're an agency owner, consultant, coach or B2B service provider. What I teach has worked for me for more than 15 years and has helped me create more than $10 million in revenue. Just head to up my influence and watch my free class on how to create endless high ticket sales appointments. You can even chat with me live and I'll see and reply to your messages. Also, don't forget the thoughtful entrepreneur is always looking for guests. Go to up my influence and click on podcast. We'd love to have you. With us right now, Eduardo Briceño. Eduardo, you are a keynote speaker and congratulations on the performance paradox. You of which you are the author. And so, Eduardo, thank you so much for joining us.

Eduardo (00:01:13) - Thank you, Josh, for having me. It's great to be here.

Josh (00:01:15) - You have spoke for well, I'll tell you what, you are well known and well loved.

Josh (00:01:23) - Let me list a few companies that you've spoken for Microsoft, Uber, Cisco, Siemens, Capital One, Expedia, Google, LinkedIn, Citi, Deloitte, Fidelity. I could go on and on because your roster certainly does go on and on. Oh, my gosh. Eduardo, congratulations on the impact you have in the world. Tell us more about kind of your kind of your core messages.

Eduardo (00:01:47) - Sure. So I started doing the work I do 16 years ago when I partner with Stanford professor Carol Dweck. You might be familiar with her. She coined the term growth mindset, which is the belief that humans can change. So sometimes we all are in a fixed mindset some of the time thinking that people are naturals. The reason they're good at something is because they're a natural leader, because they're a natural athlete, and that has a lot of negative psychological implications. So a lot of our early work and continued work is about helping people become more self-aware on our beliefs about the nature of human beings. But the other thing that I that I discovered is that the belief is really important, but it's not sufficient.

Eduardo (00:02:25) - We in order to change, in order to be motivated and effective learners and to build cultures of learning and high performance, we need to develop the belief that people can change, but also the understanding of how to change and develop the habits and the systems not only to perform, but also to improve and to engage in continuous improvement and innovation. And so the book that I that I what the message that I'm focused on right now is what the book I wrote about called The Performance Paradox is about how to change and how to improve and how to lead cultures of growth. And the key insight, the performance paradox. The concept is that if we focus only on performing, our performance suffers, our results go down. If we are narrowly focused on only results. And that's what the book focuses on helping professionals and leaders overcome.

Josh (00:03:15) - Yeah. So for thinking about maybe something like, let's say even something as simple as I right now, I bought 30 days ago, I bought a bass guitar and I'm doing daily lessons with that.

Josh (00:03:27) - And actually I read a really good book about, you know, like how to get good at something like a musical instrument. And, you know, it's, it's trusting our brains, like, and so if you, whether you think you're getting it or you're not getting it, you don't need to worry about that. You are because you're engaged in that activity. It will all absolutely impact you whether you believe it or not. Is there any truth to that in your world?

Eduardo (00:03:54) - Well, you know, so. So I used to play the guitar too, growing up. And when I used to. I was in a band in a rock band, and I was pretty mediocre at it. I, I, when I practiced, I would just practice the songs that I liked and I would play them and sing them. And the thing is, what's really tricky is that that just playing the songs works to get better only when we're novices, when we're starting something and we just start playing with it, we will pick up some skills, we will get better at it, but then once we become proficient, we will stagnate at just trying to do those things.

Eduardo (00:04:29) - So, so most people think and that's so most people think, for example, that the way you become great at playing the guitar is just playing the guitar for 10,000 hours or the way you get great at playing tennis. If you just play tennis for 10,000 hours. And that's not true. So if you think about, for example, a world class tennis player, right, they if they're playing a match, a tournament, they in that match say they're having trouble with a particular move like the topspin serve. They're going to avoid that topspin serve during that match because they're just trying to win. They're trying to perform. That's what I call a performance zone. But then after the match, they'll go to their coach and say, Coach, I have to work on my topspin serve, and they'll just focus on that. And that's a very different activity, an area of attention than what we do when we're performing, you know, doing the things we know best, trying to minimize mistakes. And for these amazing performers and the most skilled people in the world, the reason they become so good is because they do something very different than just performing the activity.

Eduardo (00:05:30) - They engage in what I call the learning zone, which is when we're engaging in effective strategies to improve, not just effective strategies to perform.

Josh (00:05:37) - Wow. You know, that's brilliant. I'm so grateful we're having this conversation because that absolutely tracks it's you know, it's like when. So in addition to, you know, kind of goofing around and playing, playing along with YouTubers and stuff and, you know, finding easy songs, it makes me feel really good. Like, yes, I can tell that it's I'm getting more comfortable with my fingering and so forth. However, um, I feel like, you know, it's like that growth is going to come from being challenged and being put in that uncomfortable position. And I know as humans sometimes we don't like that discomfort. Can you can you talk maybe just a little bit more about why that's so valuable?

Eduardo (00:06:19) - Absolutely. So in order to improve, we have to change. Sometimes we like the idea of getting better, but we don't we don't really like the idea of changing or going into the things that we haven't mastered yet.

Eduardo (00:06:31) - Right. That leaping that you're talking about and the leaping the the learning zone is when we leap into the unknown, when we try things that may or may not work, when we do things we haven't mastered, we're going to make mistakes and learn from those mistakes. And that's really critical because that's that's how we learn. In fact, if you look at the brain, ah, the way that neuroplasticity works in the brain, changes in our mid-twenties and from then on, the main way that we can drive our own neuroplasticity, our own rewiring of our brain to become smarter and more skilled is through making mistakes, is through making a prediction on something and having that prediction be wrong. That's the main way. And so the way that we can elicit that is by taking on challenges, you know, doing things that we haven't done before. And some of those things are not going to go as we expect. And that's that's a way that we got smarter and more skilled.

Josh (00:07:21) - Another thing that that's come up recently in conversation.

Josh (00:07:24) - I wonder if you have some thoughts on this. Is this idea, you know, when we're thinking about, well, it doesn't have to be just kids. But, you know, in this particular instance, I was talking with my wife and I think this is something we've known for quite some time. Right. And I've heard this where don't praise your kids for some imagined innate ability, like, oh, you're so smart, you're so talented, but instead praise them for the work that they do in the effort that they put into it with. And part of the reason for that is eventually they're going to get challenged. And when they have this belief that they're just innately special and all of a sudden they come up against something that they're not, quote unquote, talented at, was very disheartening. Right. And so whereas if we praise the work or the effort that they put into it, they know that that's the path to overcome that. And by the way, I think this application is appropriate not just with our kids, but folks who we work with.

Josh (00:08:22) - If we have a team that we're managing, that sort of thing.

Eduardo (00:08:25) - That's exactly right. And, you know, some of that research was done by Carol Dweck and and it was exactly what you said. And so when we praise kids or other people for being naturally talented or smart, after they do something quickly, without mistakes, without effort, they might feel good about themselves in that moment. We do it because we want them to be confident, right. And to know that they are capable. And we think that if they're confident and they know that they're capable, then they're going to take on challenges and do the hard things. But exactly what we're saying is what happens is like we we we praise them for being smart and naturally talented. They feel good in the moment. But the first thing that happens is they stop taking on challenges because what they want to do is to prove that they're smart. And so they keep doing the same thing that they already know how to do versus the other kids.

Eduardo (00:09:13) - Like they start taking on challenges, right? The second is when they encounter something hard, the they they give up because they don't want to be perceived as not being smart. So they don't even try. Right. And so they they say or I'm not smart at this, I'm going to go try to do something else that I might be naturally smart at. And there's a lot of other implications. They lie more about their performance. And so in the workplace, right, as leaders, we we want to be encouraging and praising and reinforcing positive behaviors, the things that people can control and influence rather than kind of labeling in one way or the other. But some one of them there are also mistakes that happen there. Like sometimes if we have a colleague who is working really hard, which we like, but they might not be making progress, they might not be getting better, we might praise that hard work and just leave it there. But if they keep doing the same thing they're doing, they're not going to be you know, they're unlikely to be, you know, breaking through.

Eduardo (00:10:12) - So instead, we can help them think about what different strategies you can use if this particular strategy is not working. Or sometimes we might praise people for working hard when they're not really working hard. So we need to like be authentic and really, really praise behaviors that are working and help people reflect on how can they continue to work smarter.

Josh (00:10:35) - I want to talk about your book, The Performance Paradox. When is the Let me see. I can click on the. Do you know when the published date is or it was based on when this podcast is published?

Eduardo (00:10:47) - The date is September 5th, 2023. So in two weeks.

Josh (00:10:51) - It's already happened. Then for our listener, go get this book. All right. So let's talk about the book and the transformation. Well, first off, who is this book for? And secondly, what would you hope the transformation that would take place from someone who reads and applies the principles in this book?

Eduardo (00:11:08) - Yeah. So this book is is pretty wide for any person who works.

Eduardo (00:11:12) - So it's it can be an individual contributor and it can be like a CEO and an executive. Part one of the book is about the key ideas and is for individuals. Part two of the book is how teams and organizations can overcome the performance paradox. So it's more for leaders, but also for individuals, because anybody can lead from where they sit. And then part three of the book is how can we engage in the performance zone and affect impact? Because most of the book is about. So part of the the impact is chapter one is called The Performance Paradox, and it's meant to help people see that if we only focus on performance, our performance suffers. And that's that's something that's counterintuitive because we think if we just focus on working hard, getting things done as best as we know how, trying to minimize mistakes, that's the way to succeed. So but we need to see how we need to do that. That's really important. But also engage in the learning zone and embed the learning zone like systems and habits into the way that we work with ourselves and with each other.

Eduardo (00:12:12) - So first it's like a self awareness of what are some of the ways that I'm working hard that might not be very effective and what might be some some shifts that I that I can make to work smarter. And then also it's for it is also designed for organizations like if you have a senior executive who wants to align on common language, common understanding and common strategies with their teams, you know, their their organizations like Stanford Health Care, about 900 copies of the book to have everybody read it so that all the leaders so that they can align and get clear on how do we want to lead? Because part of what we need to lead as leaders, right, is first we need to think about how we frame what we do at work is part of what we're doing at work, working to continue to change and evolve ourselves. For example, number two, what systems and habits do we use to perform, but also to improve and to learn? And number three, are we only talking about these things, or are we visibly and explicitly modeling learning as leaders? Because often as leaders we engage in learning in private when other people are not watching.

Eduardo (00:13:17) - So are we actually showing our learning process to others and making it explicit so that they interpret it in the ways that we mean? And so that when, you know, for example, we're soliciting feedback, we are sharing what we're working to improve, we're sharing our mistakes and what we're learning from those mistakes. Because when everybody does that, then it becomes a more agile organization. We respond more effectively to change in opportunity, and we become more resilient and more effective at driving change.

Josh (00:13:44) - Yeah. And you talked about this just a little bit, but the the power of mistakes as a leader, you know, sometimes I think I've seen within the organization where maybe a team member doesn't, you know, or they I don't want them to feel like this would be an unsafe place for them to make mistakes. Like I want, you know, if I want to encourage people to be comfortable with making mistakes, I know that there's some benefit there. I'm wondering if you could talk about, number one, why that's valuable.

Josh (00:14:14) - But number two, as a leader, how can we inspire people to make more mistakes? Which sounds counterintuitive, but I think based on, you know, what I'm seeing and what I'm hearing, that you believe like I do, that mistakes are good.

Eduardo (00:14:31) - I do think mistakes are good and that that's too simple a message. So mistakes are good because as an entrepreneur, we are creating things that haven't been created before. We are iterating and creating new products, getting feedback all the time, making changes in what we're doing and growing and learning how we can better impact our customers, better impact our colleagues. And that leads to neuroplasticity. There's a lot of benefits as to why mistakes are powerful, and Chapter five is all about mistakes. And I talk about this in the beginning, but I also say that mistakes decrease performance, right? A great performance is one that has few mistakes. And so how can we reconcile those two things? And one way and that's what Chapter five does, is that it it unpacks mistakes into four different kinds of mistakes.

Eduardo (00:15:23) - There are the stretch mistakes, which are the mistakes that we make when we are trying something hard or different or new. We're experimenting and we those are really, really important. We want to be doing those all the time. But we want to be mindful about when and where we do those because we want to do them at times where they're not going to create a lot of collateral damage. Right. We don't want to do it in high stakes situations if we can avoid it. Second, there are the high stakes mistakes, which are the mistakes that can create a lot of damage. So we want to identify what are those times and spaces where we don't want to be taking risks if we can avoid it, If we're with a really important client and we're going into a meeting, do we want to take some risks or do we want to play it safe? We want to align as a team before we go into that meeting. And number three is the sloppy mistakes, which are mistakes that we make that we should have known better.

Eduardo (00:16:10) - And often there's an opportunity for improvement there to usually, you know, an opportunity to gain more focus or to change your systems. And number four is the aha moment mistake, which is when we do something as we backed it, but then we realized it was the wrong thing to do. And those mistakes are really, really precious. They are harder to to proactively elicit like the stretch mistakes. We can always be proactively eliciting the mistakes we can elicit more of by regularly soliciting feedback so that we can we can make other people's thinking visible to us, and then we can learn so much from that. The last thing I'll say about mistakes is that as a leader is important, like you said, to create safety. And one of the ways to do that is to not weaponize mistakes. Like if what I see is a sloppy mistake in somebody else, they might see as a stretch mistake or as a mistake. So we want to approach mistakes with curiosity as people, Hey, what happened here? How are you thinking? What how can you avoid this? How can we avoid this in the future? What could I have done better to better support you? Or is there anything I can do better? And and that's.

Eduardo (00:17:11) - That's the power of mistakes.

Josh (00:17:13) - Yeah. Eduardo, in addition to, obviously the book. Can you talk maybe a little bit more about your work and like how you work with organizations? Because it looks like beyond just being a featured keynote speaker and workshop leader that you offer your organization like you do consulting or you're working within organizations.

Eduardo (00:17:35) - Yeah. So my work is to help organizations, foster cultures of learning and high performance and not learning like the learning we did in school, which was irrelevant and boring. At least that was my experience. But the learning that we're talking about that is about the things we care about and that are going to make us better at work and as people and in our personal lives. And so that's what I help organizations do. A lot of the work that I do is doing keynotes where we're introducing some of these concepts either to older leaders or to the whole company doing workshops to do that. But then also I have some apps to foster learning. One of them is kind of a digital flashcard app that people can use to to to identify things that they want to know in their long term memory and be able to generate at any point that are important to them and be able to make that happen.

Eduardo (00:18:25) - And second is a way for people to have honest and open and self disclosing conversations with each other so they can get to know each other better, build relationships and build trust. Because to your point about safety, kind of when we trust each other, we we make it possible to share more of our thinking with each other. And that leads to both greater learning and greater performing. So those are some of the kind of apps that I that I offer and I do, like you said, offer also consulting for for people who are grappling with some of these things, whether it is, you know, how do they want to message their employees, what kind of unintended messages they might be sending? Like you said, when when we praise people for being smart, it's one example of that. So kind of like doing audits, for example, of the messaging that that people do or or coaching for people to think about. How do I approach my meetings or the framing for my staff or how do I approach my one on ones in a way that's going to foster more learning and performance?

Josh (00:19:20) - Yeah.

Josh (00:19:20) - All right. So your website is b r i c e n o. Your book, The Performance Paradox, is on every single bookseller you can imagine, including Amazon. And by the way, can I say thank you so much for producing an audio book? That's the kind of I love a good audio book and so already added it to the Q Can't wait to listen at Intercom, you know, especially if there's organizational leaders that are listening to us right now, what would you recommend kind of their next step at this point?

Eduardo (00:19:56) - Sure. So one thing you can do at my website, there's a free PDF on kind of five strategies to foster a growth mindset. Those are very actionable strategies to think about for yourself or as a leader. Second that you mentioned, my book is a resource. If you want to go a lot deeper. The Performance Paradox. It was selected as a must read by the next Big Idea Club, which is curated by Susan Cain, Malcolm Gladwell, Adam Grant and Dan Pink.

Eduardo (00:20:23) - I'm really excited about that and I'm just really excited about that as a resource for leaders and for them to use with their colleagues. And if you want to connect with me and be in conversation with me, I'm active on LinkedIn.

Josh (00:20:35) - Yes, you are. I've been going. I've been kind of looking at all of your LinkedIn content. You do have you have a lot of fantastic and including some really interesting kind of behind the scenes stuff in terms of the the book launch. So congratulations again. Eduardo Briceño The book is The Performance Paradox Turning the Power of Mindset into Action. It's on hard, it's on hard hardcover Kindle audiobook and of course your website Eduardo thank you so much for joining us.

Eduardo (00:21:06) - Thank you Josh for all you doing for having me here.

Josh (00:21:13) - Thanks for listening to the Thoughtful Entrepreneur Show. If you are a thoughtful business owner or professional who would like to be on this daily program, please visit up My Influence slash guest. If you're a listener, I'd love to shout out your business to our whole audience for free.

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