Dr. Yishai is a psychologist and self-declared “adaptability hacker” that works mainly as a coach for owners of big companies, helping them deal with the challenges and stress of running their businesses.
He also has a killer personal brand of his own, so our conversation yielded some fascinating nuggets of wisdom, not just on the podcast’s main theme, but also on mental health in general.
Here’s how that went:
Dr. Yishai is not the first psychologist I’ve had on the podcast, but while my talk with Doctor Marny Lishman was about the psychology of personal branding, Dr. Yishai’s work is all about adaptability.
Naturally, one of the very first things I wanted to ask was about just what that is and how he uses it to help his high business clients.
The kind doctor explains that it mainly has to do with the part of our brain that is responsible for helping us develop habits to meet not only our own needs but the needs of our family, our community, and our business as well. So if you have a routine where you are attending to all of those needs, that is your limbic system at work, ensuring all needs are met.
“Now there is a flip side to that”, Dr. Yishai explains “These habits could stop working, and they could stop working for any number of reasons.”
When that happens within the context of a business, it normally comes in the form of drastic changes or obstacles imposed by outside elements bring a heavy emotional load on the business owner.
An example the doctor used was all the social-economical effects that the current Coronavirus crisis brought to businesses big and small.
What Dr. Yishai does then, as a consultant and coach to companies and their owners is to help them rewire their brains to create new habits that meet the needs at hand.
Or, as he himself puts it: “I fancy myself as an adaptability hacker, one of the things that I’ve really done is help people tap into the other side of their brain and it’s not just about making habits, but changing them when they need to be changed.”
Adaptability and Personal Branding
Now, you may be wondering just how exactly that ties into our main theme of personal branding beyond Dr. Yishai’s own brand.
To answer this question, all we need to do is acknowledge that you, as a human, are not a constant being and that as you change, so does your personal brand.
So, as these changes happen, the habits that you had in place to maintain your personal brand might no longer work, and when that happens, it’s good to have the necessary skills to substitute them for new ones.
Two Lessons For Leaders
During our talk, Dr. Yishai actually touched on a very interesting topic about two things that good leaders tend to either instinctively know or learn when it comes to adaptability:
“One of them is to recognize when a leader really cares about their company, that when they have a feeling when something happens, whether they end up losing a lot of money, or their sails have really slowed down, or they got hit really hard by covid, or there’s a litigation[…] Well, that leader is going to have a set of reactions, and for a lot of people, their initial response is that their going to get overwhelmed […] So, one of the things I help them do is slow down to actually increase their ability to handle what is coming over their shoulders.”
The second quality that Dr. Yishai helps develop in these company leaders is the ability to get in touch with the purpose of those feelings and see how they can be helpful, to harness their emotions in what the doctor compares to superpowers.
According to him, every reaction and feeling has three purposes:
- Giving you data
- Giving you direction
- Driving you
He also gives an example of how exactly that works: “If I walk out this morning, I experience being really cold, that’s data, my body is telling me that my temperature is lower than I am comfortable. And that is going to give me direction, maybe there’s shivering, I’m getting that sensation of cold that if it’s cold enough can be really painful, which is then going to direct me, I’m going to start looking for where can I go that is warmer, or maybe where can I get a sweater. And then it’s going to drive me, it’s going to actually motivate me and give me a kick in the backside saying like ‘hey get a sweater on, or get indoors’”.
The Multiplicity of Feelings
Another topic that fascinated me about Dr. Yishai’s work touched more on the field of mental health and the idea that you are never experiencing just one emotion at a time, which may often be a source of internal conflict.
The doctor then explained how that is actually something he sees leadership deal with on a regular basis “A lot of people do this thing where they say ‘I’m not allowed to be mad because I should be grateful’. So what they do is they end up pitting (these feelings) against each other in some kind of deathmatch as if only one feeling can exist, and one of the big issues with that from my experience that it’s so important to recognize that when situations are complicated, you can have multiple feelings.”
My talk with Dr. Yishai Barkhordari is available in its entirety on the personal branding exposed podcast where you can find a plethora of other interesting interviews with people that have the most fascinating personal brands.
Now, if you are the busy sort or just enjoy reading more than listening, you can also find these interviews in article form at our website, so be sure to keep checking in for new content!