Is There an Incredible Hulk Inside All of Us?
Book Review: The Alter Ego Effect
Maybe “unusual” is a bit strong here…
But I was asked to write a series of articles about a book that I may never have run across if I was a normal gal working a normal job.
Now, Todd Herman actually lives pretty close to me in the NYC area. In fact, when I got to meet him, we realized some common locations we visit in the city are mere blocks apart.
But, it’s Todd’s area of expertise that is truly interesting.
He deals in the art of alter egos…
No, This is Not an Article about Split Personalities… Not Exactly Anyway
At first glance the term “alter ego” might make you think he works in some sort of psych ward helping people with split personalities… or something else in that ballpark.
Actually, Todd helps elite athletes, high performance business owners, and even marketers like you and me unlock the hidden potential within.
He does this by helping people create an alternate version of themselves.
To get the idea quickly, just think of the Marvel Avengers movie and the character Bruce Banner. Sure, most of the time he was a quiet, intellectual type.
But every once in a while…
… he would explode with rage and primal instinct when he transformed into the Incredible Hulk!
Along with this change in personality, he also morphed physically into the incredibly strong green monster we know and love. The Incredible Hulk would reveal itself at times when strength and power were needed more than patience and thoughtfulness.
Which leads to the title of this article… Is there an Incredible Hulk inside all of us? Could we transform our minds and body carriage in such a way that we could achieve things our normal selves couldn’t?
Todd Herman says “yes!” Simply put, an alter ego is an alternate version of yourself you can activate to help perform better in different areas of life.
Now we’re not all going to need an “Incredible Hulk.” Some of us will choose alter egos with more intellect, more patience, or different physical and social abilities.
Another classic example is Superman and Clark Kent — both versions of the same individual.
Superman created the alter ego Clark Kent to help him blend in with normal society. It allowed him the chance to live a relatively normal life with a job, friends, and even a girlfriend. He activated his alter ego by slipping on a pair of simple glasses.
How to Use an Alter Ego to Kick Some Serious Butt
Okay, I wanted to write ass up there in the title, but I was worried about offending people.
Oh wait… I just wrote it in the previous sentence.
Nope! It’s staying…
The Alter Ego Effect book by Todd Herman can help you learn to kick some serious ASS in life!
Inside his book, he’ll teach you how to identify the correct “field of play” or area of your life where an alternate version of yourself would have a monumental difference.
Then, he guides you to choose what traits… or superpowers… would help you perform at your best in any given situation.
Slap on a name and an origin story and you have yourself a shiny new version of yourself… an alter ego! All you need is a “totem” and “phone booth” moment and you’re ready to rock ‘n roll.
(Granted the scientific and psychological theories behind all of this are a BIT more complicated, but I’ll let you read the book to discover the nuances.)
As I mentioned, this mental performance technique can help a HUGE array of people in a wide range of life circumstances.
- Help an athlete perform his best in high-pressure situations,
- Help a business man talk with authority when speaking to a crowd,
- Help a parent act with sympathy and patience when they return home to their young children after a busy day of work,
- Help an entertainer dance and sing with confidence on stage.
One of the first examples Todd gives in his book is a story of the first time he met all-star football and baseball athlete Bo Jackson.
After meeting Bo and telling him about his field of expertise, Bo floored him with this response…
“Bo Jackson never played a down of football in his life,” the athlete proclaimed.
Herman went on to learn Bo used to struggle with extreme emotional swings when playing football. His rage would result in fights, penalties, and missed scoring opportunities.
To fix this problem, he took inspiration from the villain Jason in the horror move Friday the 13th. Now, this may sound completely backwards, but think of how that chainsaw wielding murderer acted… cold, unemotional, and methodical.
Each time Bo Jackson stepped onto the football field, he imagined himself stepping into this role. As Jason, he was able to concentrate on the game without letting his wild emotions get in the way. His performance and concentration skyrocketed and he became the star we know today.
Just like with Bo, an alter ego can help you step into an alternate version of yourself so you have more of a needed characteristic to help you succeed in your writing career.
Alter Egos In History and Pop Music Too!
There are other instances where an alter ego has helped famous figures in pop culture, in athletics, and throughout history.
For instance, Martin Luther King, Jr is one of the greatest figures in our American history. And, in some photos, you’ll see him with heavy framed black glasses.
But Martin Luther King, Jr actually had perfect vision!
Why the glasses then?
He once said, “I felt they made me look more distinguished.”
King activated a more distinguished version of himself — an alter ego — each time he put on his non-prescription glasses.
Then, there’s Beyoncé…
As a young woman, Beyoncé Knowles, loved singing in her church. Each week, she would wow the congregation with her incredible voice.
It wasn’t long before this talent gained national attention, but a problem emerged…
The gospel-singing girl from a religious family felt uncomfortable performing more suggestive lyrics and dance moves on stage. Her solution was to create an alternate version of herself who thrived under the spotlight and could dance with wild abandon… as an alter ego she dubbed “Sasha Fierce.”
Beyoncé talked about this technique in multiple interviews. She said:
“When I see a video of myself on Tate or TV I’m like ‘Who is that girl?’”
“I have created an alter ego: things I do when performing I would never do normally.”
“I have out-of-body experiences [on stage]. If I cut my leg, if I fall I don’t even feel it. I’m so fearless, I’m not aware of my face or my body.”
Beyoncé knew her regular self wasn’t up to the challenge, so she created an alternate version of herself that was.
4 Ways to Apply this to Your Own Business
Okay, let’s imagine that you’re a business owner hoping to make money…
You’re always on the lookout for ways to accelerate your growth, earn new well qualified prospects, and deliver value in your product or services.
Hang on… that’s EXACTLY YOU, isn’t it?!
(Otherwise, why are you reading this article? Thanks btw!)
So, here are a few ways an alternative version of yourself, properly “activated” at the right time, can help you succeed in business and reach your goals.
- Client, Prospect or Vendor Meetings and Negotiations
Do away with meetings and negotiations where you feel pressured to say “yes” to every single request from the opposing party.
Use a more confident and business savvy alter ego to take over the job of negotiating with prospects, vendors, or clients.
Maybe “regular you” isn’t willing to stand up for yourself, but the alter ego who is “Tony Stark Businessman Extraordinaire” isn’t going to be bullied!
As soon as you enter into a conference room or pick up the phone to make a call, take a deep breath and switch into your alter ego.
If the other person says something abrasive, he’s saying it to your alter ego, not to you personally. Use this alter ego to shield yourself and do a better job of negotiating with confidence.
2. Create a Kick ASS “About” Page for Your Business (There, I said it!)
Many marketers would agree…
It can be extremely challenging to write an About page on your website that strikes the right balance between representing what you’ve accomplished without sounding braggy.
Or, maybe you do want to brag… because you’re… well, awesome.
Still, you don’t want to set a tone that would turn off your potential prospect. Use an alter ego to help generate this content for you. Whether you’re doing it yourself or working with a copywriter, an alter ego can be a powerful tool to help you create a GREAT About page for your business.
3. Switch Off “Work Mode” When It’s Time to Relax
Honestly, this is something I really struggle with.
Just last evening, I was chattering on and on about work while my husband and I were getting ready for bed. He just looked at me and said sternly, “Stop talking about work! Relax. It’s time to sleep!!”
I took a deep breath. “Thank you dear.”
Yes, turning off that marketing / business brain can be difficult. Sometimes an alter ego can be used in this situation to help you make the transition from “work you” to “home you.”
Todd Herman has helped people in very stressful positions — even in the military — use his techniques to turn into a more loving, relaxed, empathetic version of themselves when they walk in the doors after a day of work.
4. Attending Networking Events with Confidence
And finally… let’s talk about networking.
Whether you need to meet other industry leaders to develop your marketing strategy or maybe you are networking directly with your prospects… either way, this level of extroversion doesn’t come naturally to everyone.
An alter ego can be the perfect way to activate a super out-going, social-butterfly version of yourself to take on the challenges of meeting and engaging with new people.
Closing Thoughts on The Alter Ego Effect Book by Todd Herman
So, I gotta say, I really liked the concepts in this book…
I recommend you read The Alter Ego Effect by Todd Herman. And if you get the chance to meet him or hear him speak at an event, that’s even better.
I heard Todd talk about his concepts recently at the Copy Chief Live conference in St. Petersburg, FL last October.
Shoot… this would be the perfect place for an affiliate link. Oh well.
I was blown away by the many applications these techniques can have for all sorts of people… writers, marketers, business owners, athletes, parents… the list goes on.
To close, I’m curious… if you had to choose YOUR alter ego, what would it be? Drop me a line and let me know what you think.