Category Archives: Team Building

Are You Leading for Emotional Competitive Advantage?

In his new book, Emotional Business – Inspiring Human Connectedness to Grow Earnings and the Economy, Dr. Ravi Rao provides a concise, reflective and highly pragmatic approach to understanding the role human emotions play in commerce and how, as business leaders in the 21st century, embracing and engaging in emotional competitive advantage is a strategic imperative.

f_3dI recently enjoyed the opportunity to appear on Patricia Raskin’s Positive Business radio program with a distinguished gentleman by the name of Dr. Ravi Rao.  I came away from the interview sincerely impressed with Dr. Rao’s insights.  Having just read his book, my impression has escalated to distinct admiration.  Dr. Rao knows of what he speaks.  His educational background includes an M.ED. in early childhood development, a Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University, an M.D. from the University of Virginia Medical School and he received his neurosurgeon training at Harvard Med.  In 2000, he left medicine to join a leading business consulting firm and now runs his own company helping companies and organizations understand the critical nature of human emotions and the role these emotions play in driving or derailing success.

His book is neither a scholarly treatise filled with regression analysis nor is it an anecdotal collection of success stories.  It is very much a pragmatic, exceptionally useful and grounded guide to the human emotional landscape, offering clear guidelines as to how the lessons from social neuroscience can deliver emotional competitive advantage for businesses operating in today’s Ideas Economy.

Emotional Business is a highly accessible read, breaking down the applications of Dr. Rao’s insights from real world experiences into distinct, operational applications.  He describes the seven emotional needs of customers and how organizations must strategize and choose which customers they wish to resonate with and how the tradeoffs of these decision may effect performance.  He goes on to apply social neuroscience to team dynamics and explains how managing the emotional vigor of the team must be primary and ongoing for cohesion and achievement.  Moving into organizational strategy, Dr. Rao discusses how successful organizations apply a mix of nine emotional constructs into every phase of the enterprise’s endeavors.  The book goes on to explore scientifically grounded approaches for conflict management, addressing a disfunctional culture, nimble and empathetic listening, dealing with stress and the critical importance of gatherings to cultivate shared values, vision and passionate engagement.

Dr. Rao’s last chapter resonates with a philosophical message we both share.  Get the emotions right and you’ll get the business right.  Get the business right and we can change the world!   I often say I don’t know how to change culture, but I do know how to change business culture.  This is the key to driving positive change in our society and world, fore the experiences we all encounter in our daily work resonates into our personal lives.  Business has the power to drive positive, social change.

Our firm has delved into the neuroscience literature for more than four years.  In our programs and workshops we leverage the lessons we’ve garnered surrounding  coherence, psychological flow, entrainment, Core Mammalian Emotional Systems as well as lessons learned through research and actual experiences employing Applied Behavioral Economics.  Dr. Rao break’s down much of what we’ve learned and continue to apply into an easy-to-read, concise collection of step-by-step methodologies to enhance emotional engagement, creativity and performance in today’s rapidly shifting economic landscape.

I highly recommend this book!

© 2012, Terry Murray.

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Performance Transformation, LLC™ and The EquuSatori Center Announce New Partnership for Bay Area

For Immediate Release.

New Partnership Introduces Leadership Development and Knowledge Worker Team Building Programs to the San Francisco Bay Area. Their Innovative Approach Employs Relationship-Based, Equine Facilitated Experiential Learning to Drive Performance.

Oct 15, 2012 –
The EquuSatori Center (Sebastopol, CA) and Performance Transformation, LLC™ (Venice, FL) announced the formation of a new partnership today to introduce their highly innovative professional development workshops to the San Francisco Bay Area.  Their experiential learning workshops are the first to integrate relationship-based, Equine Facilitated Experiential Learning with peer-reviewed, scientific research designed to cultivate associate engagement, creative thinking, and adaptive behaviors in the workplace.

“In today’s Idea Economy, human beings and their creativity are the raw material for value creation in business,” commented Terry Murray, the author of the critically acclaimed,“The Transformational Entrepreneur ~ Engaging The Mind, Heart & Spirit For Breakthrough Business Success” and Managing Partner of Performance Transformation.  “Companies seeking a sustainable pipeline of innovation must take an equally innovative approach to optimizing and aligning leadership, strategy and organizational culture.”

Mr. Murray has more than 25 years of leadership experience in both corporate and investor-driven startup Life Science companies.  “We’ve raised the bar in the field of corporate, developmental workshops to meet the needs of businesses in the 21st Century.  The change is long overdue.  The proof is in the tangible results we track and measure for our clients.”

“Now more than ever before in modern history, we’re realizing we do not live and work autonomously,”added Lisa Walters, Founder of EquuSatori and a pioneer in the field of Equine Facilitated Experiential Learning.  “We can no longer afford to think and act as if we do.  Even modern science is showing us that we are all intricately connected.”

The partnership will introduce professional development workshops in Transformational Leadership, Adaptive Team Building, Diversity and Inclusion and Igniting Creativity in Business to the San Francisco Bay Area.  The workshops integrate findings from more than 200 peer-reviewed, published research studies from the neurosciences, Emotional Intelligence, Performance Psychology, Core Mammalian Emotional Systems, Applied Behavioral Economics, Adult Learning Styles and Quantum Physics with a highly mindful, relationship-based approach to experiential learning with horses.

“Highly innovative companies, especially high technology and biotechnology companies, display a remarkable granularity of knowledge in their specific fields,” said Terry.  “In today’s fast paced, multi-cultural and multi-generational workplace we need to apply that same degree of granularity of knowledge to the human condition; of what connects, engages and motivates highly talented human beings to attain and sustain peak performance.”

As prey animals, horses are highly sensitive to their environment and have the innate ability to sense intention.  Predators mask their intention when stalking horses in the wild, moving with stealth in the high grass, upwind from their prey.  Human beings have a similar ability, yet we have lost much of our sensitivity and awareness due to the noisy world in which we live.  Horses naturally mirror human emotions.  The way we connect, engage and motivate a horse to co-create a goal reflects the same way we do so with coworkers, subordinates and customers.

Herds of horses in the wild have also evolved to be highly functional teams.  The leader in a predatory pack is the one who dominates; whereas the leader in a herd of horses is the one who watches, is watched and of service to the herd.

“Horses are masters in the wisdom of we,” stated Lisa.  “The gift they offer is the opportunity to awaken our senses and hone our self and social awareness, providing a unique and powerful personal, experiential learning opportunity around the dynamics of relationship.”

The EquuSatori Center is nestled amongst the hills and boutique vineyards surrounding the charming village of Sebastopol, CA.  The center features remarkable horses, a covered arena, classroom and gardens of lavender, flowers, berries and fruit trees.  The center is conveniently located minutes from the Santa Rosa airport and less than an hour and a half drive from San Francisco.

“It is an ideal destination learning environment,” said Lisa.

Terry went on to add, “Learning in such a beautiful and natural setting helps our clients quiet their minds and re-engage in their authentic self; sparking the source of creative insights, adaptability and engagement companies require for maintaining their competitive advantage.”

The experiential learning programs are customizable to the specific needs of the client and are anchored in measurable business objectives.  They include baseline assessments, post-training assessments and can be combined with Performance Transformation’s breakthrough Accretive Coaching Process℠, a dynamic approach to professional development that incorporates a strong educational component and grounded in more than two decades of real-world, leadership success.

To learn more about the 2013 workshop portfolio, please visit,, or contact Performance Transformation directly at (941) 485-7428.  To explore The EquuSatori Center please visit

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Authors Dr. Ravi Rao and Terry Murray Discuss the Connections Between Neurobiology, Horses and Business Performance on Patricia Raskin’s Positive Business® Show

Last Friday I had the privilege of joining Dr. Ravi Rao, MariAnn Snow and Patricia Raskin on the Positive Business Show.  Dr. Rao, the author of  “Emotional Business – Inspiring Human Connectedness to Grow Earnings and the Economy” Dr. Rao is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University and received his neurosurgery training at Harvard Medical School, brought his brilliant perspective to the conversation.

You’re welcome to listen to the podcast below!

© 2012, Terry Murray.

© 2012, Patricia Raskin.


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Terry Murray to be Recurring, Regular Guest on Patricia Raskin’s Positive Business® Show

I’m very excited to announce that I will be an ongoing, regular guest on Patricia Raskin’s Positive Business Show, starting this Friday.  On tomorrow’s program, we will be discussing how companies can leverage intrinsic goals and values in balance with traditional, extrinsic goals and values to engage and inspire today’s modern workforce.  The program will air live this Friday at 4:30 p.m., E.D.T., on both syndicated terrestrial radio stations and streaming via the internet (please click on Patricia Raskin’s Positive Business Show for more information).  You’re also invited to join in the conversation by calling (888) 345-0790!

Historically, companies have focused almost exclusively on leveraging extrinsic goals and values.  Things like money, image, and status are used to motivate employees.  Research demonstrates that people that are consumed with the pursuit of extrinsic goals are less happy and as a result, less healthy, creative and adaptive in their work and lives.  This is a major contributor to today’s endemic employee disengagement crisis.  Three independent research studies indicate approximately 70% of employees are cognitively and emotionally disengaged with their employer.

Extrinsic values reflect powerful aspects of culture.  What one culture values above all else, another may simply dismiss.  The same is true from generation to generation, even within a single culture.  Workers from Gen X and Gen Y are seeking an entirely different experience from their careers compared to members of the Baby Boomer generation.  Trying to leverage the homogenous, extrinsic, shared goals of a past generation ring hollow in today’s multi-cultural, multi-generational workforce.

The beautiful thing about moving toward intrinsic goals and values is they are universal to the human experience.  Intrinsic goals include personal and professional growth, authentic relationships, and a desire to be of service to others.  Research demonstrates people that pursue intrinsic goals are measurably happier than those chasing extrinsic goals.  Why does happiness matter in the workplace?  Well, it is not so much about people being happy at work as it is people being happy with their work.  That’s the key to engagement, the fundamental prerequisite for creative thinking, innovation, and adaptability; the mission critical drivers of value creation in today’s Idea Economy.

I hope you have a chance to join us tomorrow!  It should be a fun and lively conversation.

© 2012, Terry Murray.

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Seven Questions to Ask When Considering an Equine Facilitated Leadership or Team Building Program

As we settle into the budget and planning season, many organizations are considering training options for the coming year.  As Equine Facilitated Experiential Learning (EFEL) programs continue to gain in popularity, the nuances and differences that exist between various approaches should be taken into consideration.  The importance of approach and philosophy cannot be overstated as it speaks directly to the efficaciousness of the program.  As these workshops and programs are new to many people, I thought I would share seven questions everyone contemplating an EFEL program should ask to ensure they achieve their training objectives.

1.) Is the approach behavioral-based or relationship-based?  The importance of this difference cannot be overstated.  Behaviorally based approaches objectify the horse, relegating the horse to being nothing more than an apparatus.  The exercises are often oblique, based simply on placing the participants in an unfamiliar circumstance, without any framework or clear learning objectives.  Many of these types of programs evolved out of therapeutic applications for people with emotional challenges and have little to do with professional development.  The exercises are often domineering and abusive to the highly sensitive horses, driving them into fear response.  This unfortunately reinforces dominant behaviors from the workplace that erode team work and employee engagement and work at cross-purpose with professional growth and development.

Relationship-based approaches are significantly more mindful.  Programs that follow this philosophy focus on the learning opportunities the horse/human relationship delivers.  As horses mirror human emotions, it enables the participant to experience for themselves how they connect, engage and motivate the horse, without dominating or coercive behavior.  This is a direct metaphor for how people connect, engage and motivate their co-workers, subordinates and prospects.  By allow the participant to experience this first-hand, it creates a memorable learning experience they will never forget.  Relationship-based exercises are structured, with clear objectives that are aligned with business and developmental goals clearly in mind.  These programs are also significantly more mindful in their philosophy of partnering with the horse, ensuring proper emotional, psychological and physical care is followed at all times.

2.) How comprehensive was the facilitators training?  Like any growing industry, training and certification programs flock to any opportunity to capture a quick buck.  Unfortunately, in the case of working with horses for professional development, this can be disastrous.  It is very common for behavioral-based approaches to require a paltry level of training.   For example, programs such as EAGALA require a three day workshop to be level one certified.  In comparison, I studied a relationship-based approach that required more than twelve weeks of study onsite, with additional off site study spread over the course of an entire year.  The educational difference between a dozen contact hours under study with the horses and more than three hundred contact hours with the horses speaks for itself.

3.) Is the approach framed in scientific research that cultivates emotional intelligence competencies?  Programs that lack any reference to research from the neurosciences, performance psychology, Core Mammalian Emotional Systems, Applied Behavioral Economics, Kolb’s Adult Learning Style Inventory or quantum physics can border on pop psychology and ungrounded, unsubstantiated opinions.  In effect, programs that lack solid scientific evidence justifying the approach are no more efficacious than the tired ropes courses, paintball outings or competitions to build paper boats in a resort swimming pool.  Programs that are founded and aligned in peer-review research are significantly more accessible for the participants.  It draws a direct correlation between cognitive learning and deeper, emotive learning…delivering lessons that last a lifetime.

4.) What is the professional background of the facilitator?  Again, like any growing industry, people will flock to an opportunity to make a dollar, whether they are qualified or not.  This is why we see so many certification programs that, to the letter of the law, are not truly certification programs.  Ask about the professional background of the facilitator.  I cannot tell you how many people I’ve seen in this industry speed through a quick and dirty certification program to conduct leadership development programs without ever having held a leadership position in their lives.  Leaders bear the battle scars of leadership and have their own experiential learning under their belts from real-world engagements.  Ask about the depth and breadth of the facilitator’s actual leadership experience in business settings.  Were they a sales manager responsible for eight people for two or three years or do they have more than a decades of multi-cultural, multi-generational experience leading hundreds of associates?  Have they ever bore the mantle of leadership at all?

5.) What is the facilitator’s horse training philosophy? This is as critical as the difference between behavioral-based and relationship-based approaches.  Keep an eye out for facilitators that claim Natural Horsemanship expertise.  The leading example of this is an approach called Pirelli.  So called, Natural Horsemanship philosophies reflect the same approach as transactional leadership from the Industrial Age.  They attempt to coerce the horse with pressure, adding incremental discomfort to the horse until the horse does what they want.  They then reward the horse by releasing the pressure.  Punishment and reward are classic, behaviorally-based approaches to dominating people, or horses for that matter, to get what the transactional leader wants.  It is the proven cause of the employee disengagement crisis we are experiencing today.

More mindful, relationship-based approaches to horsemanship focus on communicating with the horse in a manner they can comprehend and invites the horse into relationship.  Approaches like Carolyn Resnick’s Water Hole Rituals™, Barbara Rector’s Adventures in Awareness™, Lisa Walter’s work at EquuSatori™, and an approach called Transformational Horsemanship™ all reflect this philosophy.  It models transformational leadership, of leading from a place of service to the horse that is attuned with actual herd dynamics and horse leadership in the wild.  Keep in mind, in packs of predators the leader is the one who dominates. In herds of horses the leader is the one who watches out for the safety and well-being of the herd and is watched by the herd.  The diametrically different approaches resonate through the EFEL workshop and will deliver very different results.

6.) Does the program have additional, educationally-based coaching and support tools to engrain the work over time?  Change is process driven, not event driven.  A mindful EFEL workshop will impart a powerful shift in perspective, opening up the participants to seeing their world from a different orientation.  This is critical in cultivating adaptability and creative problem solving in today’s rapidly changing world.  But tools must also be provided that can be easily accessed and used in the workplace to support the shift in perspective.  Educationally-based coaching should also be available to further support professional growth the ensure lasting results.

7.) Is the program aligned with tangible business objectives that can be measured for return on investment?  This is exceptionally rare.  In fact, our firm is the only professional development company with EFEL programs that I know of that does this in every engagement.  Why is it so rare?  This lack of accountability grew out of the old team building and leadership events of the past.  Why didn’t ropes courses attempt to introduce metrics?  Probably because they delivered little, if any, tangible business value than a company picnic.  Don’t get me wrong, company outings can strengthen relationships, but they’re not developmental events.  Ask if the program conducts any baseline assessments, both with the participants and of the current state of the business.  Is there an exploration of immediate business objectives?  Is a gap analysis provided?  Is this documented?  Finally, does the firm establish performance metrics for both the individual participants and for the business?  Are follow-up assessments conducted?  Without these critical measurements in place it is very difficult to measure the outcomes and value you’re receiving from your investment.

Equine Facilitate Experiential Learning can be a powerful, innovative and enjoyable tool for professional development.  Like anything, the quality comes down to the details.

© 2012, Terry Murray.


Filed under Experiential Learning, Leadership Development, Sales Training, Team Building

The Correlations Between Leadership, Competitiveness and Associate Engagement

Several interesting studies were released this week that, once again, draw attention to the impact leadership effectiveness has not only on companies, but our nation as well.  The Global Competitiveness Report, issued by the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, has identified the fact that the United States has dropped two places in comparative, national competitiveness.  The U.S. now ranks 7th in this listing.

Another report, released this week by the Society for Human Resource Management, identified the fact that only 29% of employees are “very satisfied” with their jobs.  The remaining 71% of employees surveyed stated they were either “somewhat satisfied” or “dissatisfied” with their work.  This provides the third point of triangulation in what is an eerily consistent picture.  These figures are nearly identical to studies previously issued by The Gallup Company and the Chartered Management Institute in the U.K. on employee disengagement levels.

Now, let’s correlate these consistent trends with the current state of leadership.  Just a little over a year ago, The McKinsey Quarterly conducted a massive study on leadership competencies of “C” level and one-step down executives and discovered that only 1% were ranked excellent in five of eight key leadership competencies.  Ten percent scored average and the remaining majority of 89% scored below average.  Coincidental or causal?  From my 24 years of business experience, much of it as an executive surrounded by that 89%, I’m going with causal.

Just as the Olympics were coming to a close, the USA Today had two front page stories, side-by-side.  One was entitled, “Sweet Victory”, and it gave the medal count that showed we’d just outpaced China’s medal count my a nose. Right next to this story was one entitled, “Companies’ Training Cuts Add To Job Woes”.  The reported identified 38% of companies provide cross-training for their employees today, down from 43% in 2011 and 55% in 2008.  These figures are also from the Society for Human Resource Management.  The consulting firm Accenture was also quoted in the article, stating that their research reveals only one out of five workers have cultivated new skills through employer provided training over the past five years.  This is in contrast to an average of two and a half weeks per year of employer provided training for their associates in the 1970s.

Why were our Olympic athletes successful?  I’d have to guess they were engaged in a rather rigorous training schedule!  So as sweet as this year’s victories may have been, we best brace ourselves for some bitter losses in the future as we continue to compete with China in the global economy.  China is churning out engineers, mathematicians and scientists at unprecedented levels.  They’ve set up Special Economic Zones and have created a litany of support, in terms of financing and infrastructure, for entrepreneurial companies.  In the past ten years, China has built 170 new airports and invested in high-speed rail.  In the same time frame, the U.S. has upgraded 7 airports and initiatives for light rail, never mind high-speed rail, have been dismissed in community after community, even when the Federal government offered to foot the bill under the stimulus package.

As leaders, we have a decision to make.  To authentically lead or continue what can only be described as a slash and burn approach to business-as-usual.  One thing’s for sure, this approach is unsustainable and we are slipping rapidly on the global stage.  History has identified our grandparents as The Greatest Generation.  If we don’t embrace a shift in perspective soon, I dread to think how history will remember our generation.

© 2012, Terry Murray.

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Terry Murray Discusses Leadership Development with Horses on The Career Clinic Show

I recently had the opportunity to appear on The Career Clinic Show with Maureen Anderson.  Maureen’s program is nationally syndicated on 25 terrestrial radio stations around the country.  During the interview we explored how our approach to experiential learning, called Transformational Horsemanship℠, cultivates the critical, relationship-based competencies leaders require in today’s multi-cultural, multi-generational, global business environments.  We had the opportunity to discuss the neuroscience, emotional intelligence, core mammalian emotional system, psychology, applied behavioral economics and quantum physics research that we integrate into our custom, professional development programs we deliver experientially through ground-based exercises with horses.

What we’ve learned over the past four years is how a person connects, engages and motivates a 1,200 pound sentient being without the use of touch, language or dominating, coercive behavior reflects the exact same way a person connects, engages and motivates fellow associates.  This mirror effect, when experienced first-hand by an executive, reveals our hidden biases or what Carl Jung called our shadow self…that part of our self we are not necessarily aware of but those around us may see clearly through our behaviors.

Much like the Gen X and Gen Y knowledge workers in today’s intellectual property-based economy, horses require congruency, authentic intention and clarity in order to join up with a leader.  Leadership in herds of prey animals differs dramatically from leadership in packs of predatory animals.  With predators, the leader is the one who dominates.  In herds of prey animals (like horses) the leader is the one who is watched and watches.  They are the sentinel that looks out for the well being of the herd.  This models the transformational leadership approach needed in today’s complex, rapidly changing world…leading from a perspective of service to those we are charged to lead.

Transactional leadership, the command and control approach honed during the Industrial Age, no longer serve us, as we can see by the endemic employee disengagement crisis (more than 70% of employees feel no connection or loyalty to their company ~ Gallup and the Chartered Management Institute) and the recently reported drop in worker productivity.  Each report that discussed the lower productivity numbers referenced the fact that companies may have squeezed all they can from their employees.  Squeezing workers on an assembly line in 1947 may have been representative of good management, but squeezing knowledge workers whose creativity, team cohesion and innovative thinking are key drivers of value creation in today’s world is anything but inspirational leadership.

It was a fun and lively interview…you’re more than welcome to listen to the podcast.

© 2012, Terry Murray.

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