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Hello world! It’s been too long!

November 26, 2012

Greetings blogosphere! It seems I had a bit of a Truman Capote experience working on that last entry about the Chilean miners… okay, not exactly! LOL! A lot, however, has transpired in the interim. I’m grateful to report numerous advances and contributions since then, including:

  • Co-authored a chapter, “If you meet the Buddha on the football field, tackle him!,” in Critical Essay in Applied Sport Psychology (2011, Human Kinetics)
  • Co-authoring a chapter on mindfulness, interpersonal neurobiology, and exercise psychology for a forthcoming edited text (2013, Human Kinetics)
  • Co-presented a workshop on interpersonal mindfulness for athletes, performers, and consultants with 2 Australian sport & performance psychologists at the 2011 annual conference of the Association for Applied Sport Psychology in Honolulu, Hawaii
  • Co-presented a workshop on teaching sport psychology in interdisciplinary environments (e.g., to medical professionals) at the 2010 annual conference of the Association for Applied Sport Psychology in Providence, Rhode Island
  • Had my blog entry about LA Lakers’ Ron Artest and his psychiatrist cited by the blog of one of the world’s leading psychiatric institutes, The Menninger Clinic
  • I’ve also hosted multiple interns, become an adjunct and created a new sport psychology course for the sports management program at Fontbonne University, and seen great growth on the executive side of my consulting practice (e.g., coaching executives & entrepreneurs, speaking)

I look forward to bringing you more entries to enhance your performances, well-being, and happiness. I also look forward to reading your responses and engaging with you – don’t hesitate to contact me to explore how all of this may serve you and/or your team, board, or organization! Lastly, although it’s been awhile, most of my previous entries are just as valuable as they were when I published them, and I’ve never stopped Tweeting, Facebook-ing, or LinkedIn-ing. 😉 (By the way, has anyone heard more recent updates on those miners?)

Best, Joe Mannion, MS

Infinity pool at the Sheraton Waikiki (Association for Applied Sport Psychology conference)

Chilean miner rescue & psychological skills for survival

October 13, 2010

People around the world experienced a range of emotions as the first trapped Chilean miner emerged just hours ago. For perhaps the first time in history, thanks in part to advanced equipment and scientists, miners have survived for over 2 months, buried nearly a half mile below the surface.

I happened to walk into a Lifetime Fitness lounge tonight when the first rescuer was preparing to be lowered via a 28 inch wide capsule. I sat in awe as live video was broadcast of the actual chamber in which the miners had lived. Another gentlemen, sitting silently in the lounge, discreetly wiped a tear from his eye as one miner hugged his wife and son. My Facebook wall (see initial comments posted on the AllWorld Performance page on Facebook below) lit up with nocturnal friends in the United States wanting to stay awake till the last man surfaced; although, we’re told it could take up to 40 hours.

What does it take, mentally, to survive in such closed and isolated quarters for 69 days? And to recover in the aftermath? And what may we be able to learn and apply to our own performances and lives from such insight?

Add yourself to my blog subscriber list, follow my Twitter stream (, or “like” the AllWorld Performance, LLC, page on Facebook to be immediately notified of forthcoming blog entries exploring these possibilities. I’ll also be recruiting a psychologist friend or two (e.g., an expert on PTSD) to add their insights and observations.

Where were you when you first heard the news or saw the video? Please share your story, including your city or country, in the comments below!



Comments about the Chilean miner rescue on the AllWorld Performance, LLC, page on Facebook


Broncos’ McKinley, pro sports, mental health, & sport psychology: A must read!

September 22, 2010

In light of the recent suicide by Denver Broncos wide receiver, Kenny McKinley, age 23, I planned to write a blog entry addressing issues of depression, suicidality, and other mental health concerns in sport. Sports Illustrated’s Jon Wertheim, however, published a piece yesterday addressing all these issues and more. This fantastic article is a must-read for coaches, parents, and athletes:

You may also be interested in an “insider perspective” concerning Los Angeles Lakers’ Ron Artest, who caused a social media storm when he thanked his psychiatrist after winning Game 7 in last summer’s NBA Finals. I continue to get daily search engine hits on that entry, which, gratefully, was also cited by the Menninger Clinic “say no to stigma” blog.

Have you ever experienced or witnessed negative attitudes about mental health issues in the sports environment? Perhaps it was a coach, an athlete, or a parent. What about positive experiences? Please share or openly discuss this critical issue in the comments section – I will be checking frequently and responding to any comments or questions. Also, feel free to contact me.

Congrats to TCU friend, Marc Istook, with TV Guide and friend’s sister-in-law, Amber Lyon, with CNN

September 1, 2010

I just wanted to say a couple well-deserved congratulations. TCU friend, Marc Istook, is a regular host for TV Guide, and his reaction is 1 of only 3 posted on the landing page of what is being called “the” movie of 2010, Inception. Picture below. Also, another friend’s soon to be sister-in-law is Amber Lyon, and she has recently become an investigative correspondent for CNN. Picture below. Congrats to both of them for making their dreams a reality!!

Marc Istook, with TV Guide, on Inception (click to enlarge)

Amber Lyon, CNN Investigative Correspondent

Dream a little bigger: Why Freud would have loved the blockbuster movie, Inception…

July 23, 2010

(Minor plot spoilers, no outcome spoilers)

When addressing a controversial issue or person in consultation or in a workshop, I usually like to start with a little acknowledgment… otherwise we may not effectively move forward. So before we answer the question, “Why would Freud have loved Inception,” what comes to mind when you hear the word, “Freud”? A couch? A cigar? Analysis? A few common but erroneous thoughts or perceptions may come to mind as well.

Even (and especially) among my psychology peers there is a range of opinions on Freud’s ideas. When I ask critics if they’ve read his Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis, however, I would say 9 out of 10 respond, “No.” And if you haven’t read Freud’s Introductory Lectures, you probably don’t know an accurate representation of him or his theories – often not even from your undergrad psychology professor. As one reviewer on Amazon states about the collection:

“…witness Freud not as the straw man stereotype that so many despise but
as a warm, humorous man with a great deal of vision…”

I couldn’t agree more. In stark contrast to the ominous, yet, iconic head-shot that usually graces the cover, we discover a surprisingly lighthearted, even self-deprecating man with a passion for helping and de-stigmatizing people with mental illnesses. These lectures read as if Freud were speaking directly to his medical students in a lecture hall. Not only does he joke with his students, he describes some of his theories as metaphors at best and scoffs at his critics for claiming he regards the root of all mental illness as sex and aggression. Freud, in clear terms, states he does not believe this notion but, rather, regards those impulses as powerful and needing attention, despite the Victorian resistance of his day.

While a book could be written disputing erroneous stereotypes, a movie was made that is arguably a postcard tribute to his beliefs about dreams. That movie is, of course, Inception.

Freud believed two functions of dreams were (1) wish fulfillment and (2) to protect the dreamer’s sleep from disruptions in the sleep environment. Regarding wish fulfillment, he believed we used similar defense mechanisms (e.g., suppression, projection) in dreams that we use in waking life to help us avoid anxiety or suffering. Because our defenses grow more sophisticated with age, Freud decided to examine the dreams of children. Guess what he found? A lot of transparent dreams that go something like this:

Little Johnny goes to bed without getting the cookies he wanted. The next
day Johnny reports dreaming about living in “Cookieland” and eating all
the cookies he desired.

In Inception, we find the Leonardo DiCaprio and his team attempting to use this wish fulfillment, or need for conflict resolution, in the dreams of Cillian Murphy’s character – specifically a conflict with his father, which Freud would have also relished. If you’ve seen the movie, you know what I mean. If not, you must!

Freud’s ideas about the sleep-protection purpose of dreams are also easily illustrated by common adult dreams. Many of us, for example, will dream about going to the bathroom when we have a strong urge to urinate in real life. We wake up surprised that we still have to go because the dream tricked us into staying asleep, believing we had relieved ourselves, rather than physically getting up. Another example is when we incorporate a loud noise, such as an alarm clock or bang in the street, into our dream storyline, again keeping us asleep. This sleep-protection benefits our health.

In Inception, we see DiCaprio helping Murphy realize he is in a dream by pointing out the strangeness of their environment. Gravity appears to shift in their environment because they are in a high speed car chase in the layer above. This shift is incorporated in his dream state, helping Murphy remain asleep without being startled.

Freud was also very fond of discussing the many layers of dreams, which feature prominently in Inception. We also see liberal use of common Freudian or psychodynamic concepts and language such as projection. In the movie, “projections” are inadvertent creations of the dreamer’s mind which attack the “visiting” dreamers in defense, forcing them out of the dream.

If you would like to delve deeper or learn about possible interpretations of your own recurrent dreams, I highly recommend Freud’s classic, Interpretation of Dreams.

You can also email, call, or Skype me for tailored consultation:
314.265.4271 [international dial +1]
Skype username: JoeMannion

Finally, did the writer consciously or unconsciously use Freud’s ideas throughout the movie? We might need some couch-time to figure that out…

Share your thoughts and dreams below in the comments section!!

The immen$e power of branding psychology: iPhone 4 vs HTC Evo

July 6, 2010

In case you’re not one of the 3.1 million people (at the time of this posting) who’ve seen the iPhone 4 versus HTC Evo YouTube parody, I’ve embedded the “safe for work” version (clean except for the “R” word) below:

While the video is hilarious, it also illustrates a serious point for businesses, celebrities, and, arguably, all of us about the power of branding psychology. Our animated phone store rep states, “You do realize that doesn’t mean anything – it’s a brand… they could put out a brick and call it an iPhone.” For the Apple brand to work this effectively, however, it does mean something, about Apple and our conditioned perceptions of Apple.

The video highlights how Apple fulfills a couple of key branding purposes – differentiation in the marketplace and an efficient sales cycle – and begs a central question:

How does one create a brand so powerful, consumers can be faced with overwhelming evidence that a different, better product (or service) choice may exist and, yet, be so
loyal they “don’t care”?

To answer this question, I believe we must examine what I consider the heart of branding: psychology 101 – in many ways, a combination of classical and operant conditioning.

Without getting into a 45 minute lecture, classical conditioning basically associates an initially neutral stimulus (e.g., a brand, a logo) with a more significant stimulus (e.g., beauty) that elicits a reflexive response (e.g., excitement, happiness). From its simple logo to its sheik product designs, packaging, and advertising, Apple seems to have, for example, tapped into some pleasure we experience with a sense of order and simplicity. (Remember, there is simple that is boring, and simple that is powerful!)

In operant conditioning, the probability of a response (e.g., a purchase) is increased by a reward (e.g., satisfaction, enhanced image, increased productivity, decreased frustration). Apple, for example, has also done a great job creating a sense of community and identity amongst its consumers. We cannot underestimate the power of two well-documented psychological concepts: our needs for group affiliation and in-group / out-group thinking.

Thus, classical conditioning creates the conditioned (even unconscious) perception of what Apple “means” (e.g., it’s the best phone, no matter what), and operant conditioning creates the near reflexive purchasing behavior (e.g., I must have an iPhone 4 today). In successful branding, the emotional aspects are often crucial because emotions frequently override intellect, as illustrated by the video.

If these same phone choices were offered to consumers 10 years ago, I’d guess most people would buy the HTC Evo. Why? Because 2000 predates most of the choices Apple made to shape its modern day brand, and intellect, pros and cons, would likely rule the decision making process.

In a 2001 Apple press release for the first iPod, Apple states at the bottom, “Apple is committed to bringing the best personal computing experience to students, educators, creative professionals…” There’s not one mention of the business consumer! Remember those days? We can, however, recognize in the press release the seeds that Apple used to gradually broaden its appeal and which it still maintains. Words and phrases like “legendary ease of use… revolutionary… faster and easier… wherever you go… invented a whole new category…”

Apple has clearly stayed true to those core brand features, 10 years running, while repositioning itself (in our minds) as mainstream – not just for creatives – through advertisements such as the Justin Long “I’m a Mac” videos, the switch to Intel processors, and numerous other “make-the-switch” innovations. While iPod sales struggled the first couple of years, the iPod and iPhone became “gateway drugs” for many of us to the Apple computer lineup.

So to say, “it’s just a brand,” is an understandable sentiment on the surface but far from a full understanding. Apple, Google, Microsoft, and others are engaged in a multi-billion dollar war to get inside your wallet… via your head and your heart.

[Disclosure: I was one of the “I don’t care” people waiting in line to get the iPhone on its release date, LOL! Pics below]

iPhone 4 release at the Galleria in St. Louis

5 hour line at 7am for the iPhone 4 release

Life is composed of time, and today we are halfway through 2010!

July 2, 2010

One of my mentors is obsessed with time. He was outgunning his calculus teachers by 12 & got his BS at 17. He went on to get a PhD & MBA and get married in his 20’s. By his 30’s, he was head of a global R&D unit for a major biotech company. By his early 40’s, he had 20+ medical device patents & 3 straight-A kids. Those of us on CST are exactly halfway through 2010. Pause. Be mindful. Take stock. Continue or re-strategize & get the support you need to succeed…. faster.

RT @DeepakChopra The known is the prison of past conditioning. The unknown is fresh with infinite possibilities. Today embrace the unknown.

At “Chalk Talk” with St. Louis Rams head coach, Steve Spagnuolo

June 23, 2010

I’m writing to you from a PR junket of sorts with St. Louis Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo. The majority of Q&A, so far, is revolving around psychological themes. Mr. Spagnuolo has discussed leadership, player motivation (intrinsic and extrinsic), the importance of character and values, consistency, handling player defiance, the effects of egos on team cohesion, communication, an average day his coaching life, and much more. Coach is relating a lot of it to business as well – many business leaders in the audience. You should be here!

Lakers’ Ron Artest, his psychiatrist, reaction, & sport psychology – an insider’s perspective…

June 18, 2010

In case you haven’t heard, Ron Artest’s post-game interview seems to be getting almost as much attention as the Lakers’ game 7 win over the Celtics. Case in point, “Ron Artest” is still trending on Twitter. Artest responded to a reporter with a traditional statement about the people he wanted to thank and included one not-so-traditional individual: his psychiatrist, whom, he added, helped him relax in the commotion of the playoffs. Watch the actual interview below.

What has followed is a mixed bag of positive & negative YouTube (YT) comments, tweets (T), and media remarks (MR) such as:

YT – “He is seeing a psychiatrist??? A psychologist is the less serious one right?
So he’s really crazy?”

YT – “He worked with someone to help him control his emotions in overwhelming
situations. That’s a great idea. I don’t know why everyones ripping on him. It was
smart, and it worked.”

T – “…i think it’s great he thanked [his] psychiatrist” (via @mrbispo)

T – “You know you’re crazy when you just win the NBA Championship and you
thank your psychiatrist!! hahaha Ron Artest, you’re a fool.” (via @stephandkaeli)

MR – “Is sports therapy going mainstream?” (article by Neil Katz, with some nice
commentary by sport psychology consultant, Dr. Nicole Miller)

MR – “Ron Artest kept the crazy in check to become a champion” (article by
Paula Duffy)

Perhaps part of the uproar is because “Ron Artest” made the comment, but it wasn’t the first time he discussed his sport psychology work with the media. Just checkout this LA Times blog entry from October 2009. In contrast, we often hear, for example, top PGA pros discussing work with sport psychologists without incident. I think this dialogue provides some interesting talking points about the state of sport psychology.

First, the word “mainstream” (as in, “Is ‘sports therapy’ going mainstream?”) can have a few connotations. One is “alternative” or “new age” versus mainstream. In this sense, we might explain sport psychology as the psychological science of peak performance and athletic participation (and injury rehabilitation, coaching, and much more). There are, for example, thousands, if not tens of thousands, of studies and academic journal articles, numerous international organizations and annual conferences, offices at the US Olympic Training Centers, and over a hundred graduate programs. It is an interdisciplinary area, combining psychology and sports science, dating as far back as the 1890’s (Google “Norman Triplett”).

If we’re talking “mainstream” in the sense of widespread usage, then we may say, “yes, it’s definitely becoming more and more mainstream.” Sport psychology is following, perhaps, a similar path as athletic training, sports nutrition, or exercise physiology. Those services were once almost exclusively found at the elite and professional levels of sport. As those fields grew, especially on college campuses, the availability of the services began to trickle down through collegiate programs to high schools and even local gyms. Sport psychology is following a similar, arguably predictable, pattern.

The mixed reaction to Artest’s comments, I believe, also reflects the gap often found between the perception many people have about how elite athletes train and the real methods of elite training. This gap, for example, is frequently highlighted in the microcosm of my conversations with people when they first learn I work in sport (and high performance) psychology. Two common initial responses: (1) Sport psychology? Is there really such a thing? Hahaha, you’re kidding right? Or (2) Oh, cool.

Response number one (i.e., never heard of it, thinks it must be a joke) is almost invariably the response of someone who has either not been involved in athletics, or who has never really trained with a scientific approach or been exposed to elite sport environments. Response number two (i.e., simple acknowledgment) is usually from people who have trained at a collegiate level or higher – and, more and more frequently, high school athletes… evidence of the trickle down pattern. In fact, my clients often include junior elites.

From an insider perspective, it’s great to see the discussion, positive or negative – even though I know many to most professional athletes have worked with a sport psychology consultant at some point in their careers, and many teams and most sports governing bodies currently employee them. I’m confident the understanding of sport psychology will become clearer in time as a result.

One thing is almost certain, though…… Ron Artest’s psychiatrist’s phone is ringing off the hook with new clients.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. Media professionals should feel free to quote my blog with a proper citation (please notify me) or contact me directly for interviews or my press kit. You can also get regular updates and connect with me via:

Change is curiously difficult for most of us…

June 15, 2010

I’ve been thinking a lot about change and what it takes to make substantial changes in our lives. I recently spoke with a couple people who have lost over 110lbs each. One person made numerous, drastic lifestyle changes last Fall, and the other took a steady but more gradual approach. I also know numerous other people who have lost 110+lbs. each – except they’ve lost the same 10lbs 11 times over.

Weight loss, however, is a not so small microcosm of life change in general. Some people seem to be primed for change while others seem to be in a more start-stall phase (hm, doctoral dissertation?). I love to ask people what finally made them grab the bull by the horns – for the drastic change weight loss friend, it was the death of a close relative. In future blogs, I’ll explore some theories of change (e.g., transtheoretical model) and try to recruit some of my health psychology friends for their thoughts… right now, I’d love to hear about what’s helped or hindered you: what major changes have you made, what made the difference, or what do you think has prevented you from changing?

PS – 6.5 months left for your 2010 goals!!

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