The key to your success in life is determined largely by your mindset. Last month I wrote about the effect of the “implanted mindset,” which we acquire from our parents. In this post, we’ll explore the effect of what neuroscientists call the “imprinted mindset.”
Where Does Our Imprinted Mindset Come From?
The imprinted mindset is the one we acquire through lessons, experiences, and instruction. Think of the great teachers, motivational speakers, mentors, or coaches who have been present for you in your lifetime. These are the people who provide our imprinted mindset.
All great leaders go through periods where they acquire knowledge and experiences that shape how they think and what they value. During an interview with DocuSign Chairman Keith Krach this summer, I got fascinating insight into some of his formative experiences and teachers who shaped his implanted mindset.
As he explained, attending Purdue University provided him with the opportunity to join a fraternity:
[I had a] leadership role at the Sigma Chi fraternity, based on a strong set of values. In all four companies that I’ve run…[the values have been] almost the same, in terms of integrity, respect, and high ambition.
The other big takeaway from Sigma Chi is the simple things. Like the power of one-on-one [relationships]. Also, the power of not being afraid to directly confront someone on a tough issue. You think at a young age: “Well, they’re not going to like me if I do that.” What’s counterintuitive at that age is they actually like you more.
His sophomore year, General Motors visited the campus as part of a recruitment effort. They issued two full-ride engineering scholarships – and one went to Keith. His senior year, he told GM, “I think I want to go to Harvard Business School.” [They said], “If you get in, we’ll give you a General Motors Fellowship.” Between summers, he worked with Rick Wagoner, who later became the chairman and CEO of GM. After 10 years climbing the ranks to become GM’s youngest-ever VP, Keith headed out to join a Silicon Valley software company. He got a sharp lesson in business ethics (or, as he put it: “I got smacked in the face by a two-by-four.”):
I was the number two person at the company. IBM had invested $30 million in us. The CEO, [the] first day I was onboard, said, “We have a board meeting tomorrow. I want you to say this, this, and this.” I said, “That would be lying. I’m not going to do that.” That was a great lesson. I probably learned more that year than any other year in my professional career.
As you can see, sometimes we learn just as much from “negative” teachers as we learn from the ones who teach us through positive learning and support. You can learn more about Keith’s early years in school and business (including his first forays as an entrepreneur) in the video below.
Who were some of your formative teachers? What lessons did they teach you about life, selling, and sales leadership? Please share your thoughts in the comments.