The Man Who Coached Kobe Bryant, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Rafael Nadal

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Ever wondered how legends like Kobe Bryant harnessed the ‘Alter Ego’ effect to boost their performance? Or how entrepreneurs can navigate the unique challenges of creating their own success path? Join us on a journey through identity transformation, high-performance traits, and practical self-awareness strategies in this thought-provoking episode. Ready to unlock your full potential?

Guest: Todd Herman is a renowned author and performance coach, offering his expertise to elite athletes, leaders, and public figures in the realms of performance, strategy, mindset, and execution. With a rich coaching background, he has worked with notable teams such as the New York Yankees, accumulating over 15,000 hours on the field. His book, “The Alter Ego Effect,” became a Wall Street Journal bestseller, and he is the visionary behind the “90 Day Year” system, embraced by Olympic athletes, major corporations, and entrepreneurs for rapid business performance improvement. Todd’s influential techniques have been utilized by iconic figures like Cristiano Ronaldo and the late Kobe Bryant, demonstrating his profound impact on the world of peak performance. Todd Herman is a standout figure in the pursuit of excellence in various fields.

[00:00] In this episode, Igor is joined by Todd Herman to explore the concept of the alter ego and its co-relation with success.

[02:00] Discovering the Alter Ego Effect:

  • The Alter Ego effect is a powerful tool for transforming your life, which might sound counterintuitive to some.
  • People often struggle with discovering their true selves, and the idea of adopting another identity might seem complicated. However, the essence of this transformational tool lies in its ability to help you become the best version of yourself.
  • The term “Alter Ego” was actually coined by Cicero back in 44 BC. He was a renowned Roman statesman and philosopher. Cicero described the Alter Ego as the “other I” or a trusted friend within. 
  • I noticed a common thread among the best performers – they all used identity personas, characters, or Alter Egos as a method to enhance their performance and reach their desired capabilities.
  • When I was starting my business and feeling insecure, I created an Alter Ego to help me with the aspects I was most uneasy about. This approach played a significant role in scaling my performance company to become the largest in the world before I sold it to Real Madrid.

[04:57] Why Kobe Bryant Embraced an Alter Ego:

  • Even successful individuals like Kobe Bryant encounter plateaus in their journey. People mistakenly believe these plateaus are due to a lack of skill or a need for new habits or mindset changes. However, it often happens because they’ve outgrown the identity they used to reach their current level of success.
  • That old identity can become a burden that holds them back. In Kobe’s case, he reached out to me through my mentor, Harvey Dorfman, during his assault trial in 2004. At that time, Kobe was going through what Harvey and I called an “ego death.”
  • When Kobe first entered the NBA, he was the 18-year-old phenom from high school, portrayed as an innocent archetype. He was the young kid whom even Michael Jordan mentored. But during his trial and media scrutiny, that archetype was no longer suitable. He needed to redefine who he was. 

[06:00] The Science Behind Alter Egos:

  • Alter Egos are personal tools that help you clarify how you want to appear in specific areas of your life.
  • You don’t create one Alter Ego for your entire life; that’s a trap. Just like having a single identity for all aspects of your life is limiting and can lead to stress, anxiety, and depression.
  • Scientifically, it’s been shown that embracing multiple selves, suited for various contexts, leads to healthier mental states. Psychology and sociology have had to adapt their paradigms to recognize this shift.

[15:03] The Traits of High Performers:

  • Statistically, athletes and entrepreneurs rank as the second-highest risk-takers in their respective fields, with military generals being the highest. This trait of being a risk-taker is inherent in many high performers.
  • It’s worth noting that entrepreneurship isn’t solely about recklessness. It often involves taking calculated risks, considering potential outcomes, and being prepared to mitigate them. However, what sets these individuals apart is their ability to clearly define what they want to achieve.
  • They have a strong vision and the unwavering belief that they can make it a reality. This quality is called self-efficacy, and it’s a driving force behind their success.

[19:08] Visualization:

  • The power of creating a mental vision for yourself. It’s one thing to understand what you want, but being able to envision yourself achieving it is another skill entirely. 
  • Visualization isn’t as simple as it sounds; it can be a challenging skill to master. I’ve been teaching it for nearly 27 years, and I’ve observed that many people struggle to see a clear mental picture of their desired outcome.
  • Our brains naturally lean towards negativity due to the inherent bias for self-preservation. We tend to envision failure or anticipate problems, which can impede our progress.

[23:14] Don’t Be A Problem Solver:

  • Here’s a valuable tip for you: stop thinking of yourself as a problem solver. 
  • While being a problem solver is a valuable skill, it doesn’t necessarily propel you in the direction of your goals. Consider reframing your perspective. Instead of focusing on solving problems, become a solution finder. 
  • Your role is to identify, create, and implement solutions that align with your objectives. Your ability to redefine your identity and role can open up new possibilities and help you achieve your desired outcomes.

[27:29] Challenges Faced By Entrepreneurs:

  • Now, let’s shift our focus to the challenges faced by entrepreneurs, a group that many of your listeners likely belong to.
  • Entrepreneurship is a unique journey, distinct from other high-performance fields like professional sports. Athletes have the advantage of a predefined field with clearly marked boundaries, positions, and roles. They know where the goal is, and they understand their responsibilities based on their position.
  • Entrepreneurs, on the other hand, are tasked with creating their own playing field. They have the daunting responsibility of designing their own path to success from scratch.
  • Entrepreneurs are often overwhelmed by the vast array of options, strategies, and tactics available to them. They must decide which direction to take, what skills to leverage, and how to structure their business.
  • This is where many entrepreneurs struggle. They often attempt to emulate successful entrepreneurs they admire, without considering that those entrepreneurs had unique backgrounds, experiences, and skills that contributed to their success.
  • It’s crucial for aspiring entrepreneurs to recognize their existing skills and capabilities and choose a path that aligns with their strengths, rather than blindly replicating the journeys of others.

[31:25] Concept Of Self-Awareness:

  • Indeed, it all comes back to the fundamental concept of self-awareness. In all our programs, whether for individuals attending an event, private coaching, group work, or specialized courses, we emphasize self-diagnosis.
  • I’m not a fan of personality profiling because it’s often based on flawed science, as is the case with Myers-Briggs. When you label yourself with a personality type, you risk limiting your potential. Instead, we use profiling diagnostics that focus on specific roles or identities in your life.
  • For instance, you may respond differently in your role as a father than you do when conducting sales calls. These tests become valuable when taken through the lens of a specific role or identity and provide more accurate insights.

[39:27] Adaptability and Growth:

  • If you’re building your business and feel like you’ve hit a plateau or encountered a ceiling, it might be because you’re too fixed on one strategy for success. It’s essential to be open to change and embrace flexibility. If you find yourself up against a wall, it’s time to explore alternative paths.
  • This advice might seem contradictory, especially when you consider the importance of perseverance that figures like Napoleon Hill emphasize. After breaking through a few glass ceilings, I’ve come to realize that sometimes, it’s necessary to step back and acknowledge when a certain approach isn’t working.
  • Letting go of something you’ve invested a lot of time, effort, and resources into can be challenging. 
  • When setting goals in business, they often revolve around revenue or time constraints. For example, reaching a monthly revenue target in 90 days. While these goals are crucial, they don’t have to be rigid. 

[43:24] Questions > Affirmations:

  • To tap into your subconscious, ask questions before bedtime. If you’re facing a challenge that doesn’t seem to have a solution, grab a piece of paper or a journal and ask, “Is there a smarter and more enjoyable way to achieve this goal?”
  • Trust your unconscious mind to provide insights, even if they don’t come immediately. Questions are more effective than affirmations, as the brain works through pattern recognition and problem-solving.
  • Asking questions is a valuable practice. I’ve encouraged my daughter to ask questions when she faces challenges. Smart people ask questions that lead to solutions. However, it’s essential to ask the right questions.
  • Avoid asking “why,” which can reaffirm limitations. Instead, ask questions like, “What needs to happen for this to work?” These questions lead to more constructive and productive thinking.

[50:23] Rituals to Step Into The Alter Ego:

  • I had a specific ritual I followed in the locker room to tap into my alter ego. The birth of many alter egos often stems from personal insecurities. In my case, I was 5’11” and super lean in high school, weighing only 158 pounds. I felt insecure about my slim physique as I stepped onto the football field, which led me to create an alter ego that embodied strength and power, like a combination of seven superheroes.
  • My first alter ego was a massive, powerful figure. However, my second one was Super Richard.
  • In 1997, I unintentionally started a mental coaching company for young athletes. I excelled at coaching but struggled to grow my business due to my aversion to selling and rejection. That’s when Super Richard stepped in. I even wore non-prescription glasses, inspired by the reverse Clark Kent transformation.
  • My alter ego sources of inspiration were Superman, Benjamin Franklin, and Joseph Campbell, each representing decisiveness, adaptability, and articulateness. Donning those glasses allowed me to overcome communication issues and improve my sales, leading to significant business growth.
  • The third alter ego is Mr. Rogers, serving as my source of inspiration in my role as a dad. When I’m with my kids, I wear a special bracelet and go through a ritual to be fun, patient, and caring with them, as they don’t need the same challenging approach I use in my business.
  • What I’m learning from this is the importance of separating different areas of life and work, each with its unique attitude, goals, and strategies. It’s about adopting different identities consciously and using physical symbols to enable or disable these alter egos.
  • In my book, I discuss the significance of totems, artifacts, and uniforms, along with cultivating a playful attitude. Our egos often weigh us down, so adding meaning and story to our habits and routines through rituals can significantly enhance our performance.

[56:50] Get the Alter Ego Effect:



Igor Kheifets is an amazon best-selling author of the List Building Lifestyle: Confessions of an Email Millionaire.

He’s also the host of List Building Lifestyle, the podcast for anyone who wants to make more money and have more freedom by leveraging the power of an email list

He’s widely referred to as the go-to authority on building large responsive email lists in record time.

Igor’s passionate about showing people how to live the List Building Lifestyle.