Authoring Life Podcast

Ignite A Shift With Stephen McGarvey



It\’s easy to point a finger when something goes wrong. It\’s easy to pin the blame on someone else, especially when we give directions, but the outcome is not what we expected. But was it really because they just can\’t follow instructions? In this episode, Stephen McGarvey, best-selling author and Founder & President of Solutions in Mind, discusses the importance of effective communication and how thinking impacts emotions and drives behavior. He also gives a sneak peek into his book, Ignite a Shift: Engaging Minds, Guiding Emotions and Driving Behavior, which reveals the proven techniques that the world\’s most effective leaders are using to motivate themselves and others to excel professionally and personally. So tune in and learn more about communication, positive persuasion, and influencing with integrity.

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Ignite A Shift With Stephen McGarvey

I\’m super excited about our next guest. We\’re exploring between the pages, learning how we can share perspective, purpose, and possibility for the pages of real life. I am excited about our next guest that I\’m going to share with him. His name is Stephen McGarvey. He\’s the bestselling author of Ignite a Shift: Engaging Minds, Guiding Emotions and Driving Behavior. He\’s the Founder and President of Solutions in Mind, a world-leading authority on unconscious communication, positive persuasion, and influencing with integrity.

McGarvey is a Master Certified Practitioner and Trainer of NLP, Neuro-Linguistic Programming. He\’s a Certified Master Hypnotist. I\’m excited to jump in about his books. Let\’s talk about his book, Ignite a Shift. It\’s the ability to persuade and influence as the cornerstone of success. In his book, he speaks about exploring the subtleties of effective communication and highlights the essential fact that thinking impacts emotions, which then drive behavior. This book is an essential guide to communication, positive persuasion, and influencing with integrity. Without further ado, I want to invite Stephen in.

Stephen, how are you?

I\’m excellent, Alicia. How are you?

I\’m doing well and great. I\’m excited that you wrote this book. I\’m excited to into this book. First of all, I like to start with this question. Why did you write a book and particularly this book?

It\’s funny because everybody that asks me seems shocked that I wrote a book. I feel great, too. They told me I was learning disabled. I still can\’t spell to save my life. I spell everything phonetically. A book was the last thing in the world I ever thought I would write. The short answer is it was the demand from our clients. Clients kept saying, \”When are you going to write a book? What books do you recommend?\” I would give them reading lists. The question will come up again and again, \”When are you going to write a book?\” It\’s been a long process and a lot of learning along the way. We hit the number one Wall Street Journal bestseller list and USA Today bestseller.

When your clients were asking, \”Write a book,\” what was their pain point? What did they want you to solve through writing a book? What do they want to discover in your book?

Most of what we do is teach corporations that when you want to change behavior. Facts failed to do that because facts get filtered through the lens of the stories that we have. We need to understand that people\’s beliefs, values, criteria, and the stories they have to impact their emotional state, which drives their behavior.

When we would go into corporations, we do a lot of work in the pharmaceutical industry, biotech, and other industries as well. Word of mouth keeps us busy in those industries. When we would go in and work with clients, it\’s science-based and fact-based. They couldn\’t understand in some cases why the facts are being distorted or changed through the lens or filter of people\’s stories. A clinical trial will come out, 3and it\’s going to change someone\’s prescribing behavior. It\’s things like that.

[bctt tweet=\”The more we focus on what we don\’t want, the more we get of it. Whereas if we train our brain to focus on what we want, we\’ll get more of that.\” via=\”no\”]

It was new for the industry because we\’re coming in with the art of how we communicate when they\’re used to attempting to communicate logic, data, and science. We said, \”The science, logic, and data are important. The art of communication is as important as the facts and figures themselves.\” We talk about things like emotional framing and statistics. You could give the same statistic, but talk about 10% mortality versus 9% overall survival. It unconsciously triggers a different story in people\’s minds, a different set of emotions, and therefore, different behaviors, even though we\’re talking about the same statistics.

It\’s all about how you communicate. Let us dig into the core concepts of the book. I would love for you to share, Stephen, what are some life lessons, leadership lessons, and business lessons that people can learn in your book Ignite a Shift?

The number one thing or the underlying premise is that our thinking impacts our emotions and drives behaviors. In the chapter with a shifted exercise, it’s something to get the reader to go and apply what they\’ve learned. I always say there\’s a big difference between acquiring knowledge. Lots of people buy books and courses. The statistics show that they barely crack the first chapter or go through the first DVD, MP3, or whatever it happens to be. The goal is to have them, at the end of each chapter, go, apply, practice, and integrate it into their behavior as opposed to being at the acquisition of knowledge.

We\’ve done that with every single chapter. It gets them to go and do something different, apply this, learn it, and have fun with it. That\’s one of the key things. That\’s one life lesson. Some of the basics that we\’ve covered are the impact of communication. One of my most rewarding pieces of feedback is when parents come back and say, \”It changed the way I parent. It changed the way I communicate. It changed the way I teach medicine.\” It\’s little things like the fact that the brain fails to process negation. You cannot not think of something.

If I said to a kid, \”Don\’t spill your milk,\” to even process that piece of information or communication, the child has to imagine spilling their milk. It\’s like if I say, “Don\’t think of an elephant.” The first thing your brain has to do is think of an elephant. It\’s getting people to realize that if we want to move the brain and direction, we\’ve got to be clear on what that direction is. What\’s that desired state? What do I want them to think? The second piece is, \”How do I evaluate my communication to make sure that my impact is lining up with my intention?\”

Every parent starts laughing when I say, \”When I say don\’t spill the milk, what do you have to imagine doing?\” They\’re like, \”Spilling the milk.\” That\’s not what I want. That\’s not what I intended. They\’re shocked sometimes that the impact of their communication is different than what their intentions are. They then blame the child, \”The child\’s not listening. The child misunderstood. The child wasn\’t paying attention,\” as opposed to reflecting on, \”Did my communication have the impact that I wanted to have? If not, how do I evaluate the words that I\’m using, my tone of voice, and my gestures to make sure that it\’s in alignment and I\’m getting the impact that I\’m after?\”

That\’s important. In that example of, “Don\’t spill the milk,” what would you encourage your clients to say instead of that?



That\’s the exact question they ask me every single time with every single audience. I always say to them instead of just giving them the answer because that\’s the easy part, I always say, \”What is it that you want to have to happen as an outcome?\” Guess what most of them say right out of the gate.

Keep the table clean.

They say, \”Keep the milk in the glass.\” I always say to them, \”Did you pour the child that glass of milk to have it stay in the glass?\” They\’re like, \”No.\” I said, \”What is it you want to have happened?\” Eventually, you can coach them to get to the point where they say, \”Drink up the milk safely and put the glass back on the table. Drink up the milk carefully and put the glass in the dishwasher.\” Isn\’t that what we want? Notice the difference. When I say to a child, \”Don\’t spill your milk,\” they think about spilling milk, which increases the state of nervousness and increases the likelihood that I\’m going to get the behavior that\’s the opposite of what I want.

Whereas, when I say to a child, \”Drink up your milk carefully and put the glass, cup, or whatever it is back on the table,\” it gets them to visually imagine doing it successfully, which boosts their confidence and increases the likelihood I\’m going to get the behavior that I want. Little things like that have a big impact on parenting and how we communicate with our siblings, significant others, and ourselves. The more we focus on what we don\’t want, the more we get of it. Whereas, if we train our brain to focus on what we want as opposed to what we don\’t want, we\’ll get more of that.

I love that example because, “Drinking your milk carefully and putting the glass into the dishwasher,” is also commanding. My interest in NLP is people like to have instructions specifically on what to do next. There\’s something that\’s commanding around that, but being clear and concise as well.

We have got an entire chapter on exactly that. One of the other chapters in the book is exactly what you\’re talking about. It\’s making sure that we have well-formed outcomes. What does that mean? It means that there\’s a model called SMART. It\’s specific, measurable, sensory-based, and stated in the positive. It\’s almost like a checklist to make sure that the goals we set for ourselves and the goals we coach others to set for themselves are well-defined to maximize the likelihood that we\’ll succeed at them. One of them is making sure it\’s measurable. What are those steps? What is that instruction? What is it specifically that I\’m after and making sure that I word that frame as effectively as possible?

I loved what you said as we started the interview talking about the importance of lived experience versus knowledge because I always say that applied knowledge is power. It\’s the integration and lived experience. How do your clients and readers start integrating and applying the lessons that they\’re learning in your book? How do they do it?

[bctt tweet=\”We need to equip and empower ourselves to know when persuasion and influence are being used on us and how to defend ourselves against it as well.\” via=\”no\”]

The end-of-chapter exercises are specifically called Shifted Exercises. It gives them something from the chapter to go and apply. It\’s one of the early stages to set a goal for themselves. We have them map out a current state and desired state. How are they thinking about something? What do they believe? What do they value? How are they feeling about it? What are they currently doing or not doing?

We then have the map of the desired state. What do you want them to think? What do they want themselves to think instead? What\’s the story they want to have instead? What do they want to update in limiting beliefs to? How do they make it more empowering? What do they want to feel instead? What emotional state do they want to be in? What do they want to do?

We start with that strategy and build chapter by chapter on empowering them and giving them tools that they can then move and shift themselves, hence, the title of the book, Ignite a Shift, shift themselves from where they are to where they want to be, do that one step and one day at a time, and hold themselves accountable. That\’s another learning in the book.

It\’s that whole idea of internal versus external locus of control. We refer to it in psychology, \”Do I take ownership and accountability? Am I one of those people that blames everything around me?\” It\’s getting the reader to take accountability inventory of their own thinking, emotional states, and behavior, and taking ownership for, \”I can run my brain. I\’m in charge of my thoughts. How do I do that as effectively as possible?\”

You can get the book on Amazon. Anywhere else people can find the book?

It\’s in any major place that books are sold. They can get it on our website, It\’s available there, Barnes & Noble, big book chains, and anywhere where good books are sold. You\’ll find it there. You can order it on Amazon. It\’s easy as well. I\’ll tell you what it looks like so you can identify the title. It\’s got that number one Wall Street Journal bestseller banner across the top and USA Today. It\’s called Ignite a Shift. For anybody wanting to create a shift in their lives or coach someone else to create a shift, it will give them all the tools that they need to begin that journey.

We\’re going to jump into the speed round now. I\’m going to ask you questions. I want to hear the first thing that comes to your mind, Stephen. What is your legacy going to be?



My legacy is helping and empowering others through these tools. My wife and I don\’t have kids. We support a charity in Cambodia called Ratanak Organization. We do a lot of work and donor support with them. We\’ve been there to see the project. Hopefully, having it live beyond the book and us but having it impact other people\’s lives while we\’re here to do it is the most rewarding thing.

What is your favorite book?

My favorite book has got to be the Bible as a history book. I find it fascinating. Aside from being a religious text, it\’s a historically accurate text and science and more. There\’s an organization called Reasons To Believe. It\’s all a bunch of scientists that look at it from a historical perspective as a history book. That\’s number one. I\’ve got a lot of favorite authors, like Chip and Dan Heath\’s Made to Stick, Switch, Decisive, any of their books, and Gladwell\’s books. In fact, we modeled ours after those books. It\’s filled with stories and interesting facts but communicated through the power of the story.

That\’s what I was going to ask. Who\’s your favorite author?

The Heath brothers are among my favorites. The two of them take academic things that could be very dry and boring and bring them to life in their books through stories. I\’ve read their books, some of them 2 to 3 times. I recommend them to most of my audiences.

What\’s your favorite one?

It\’s Made to Stick and Switch. Those are my two favorites. I\’d have a hard time narrowing it down to one of them because they have different focuses but are both equally good.

[bctt tweet=\”Learn things that will empower you to help others, to make yourselves better, and to accomplish your goals and dreams.\” via=\”no\”]

With that, what are you going to be reading next? What\’s on your bookshelf?

I usually have 5 or 6 books going at the same time. It\’s that ADD. I jump into one and then read it. I\’m reading one in a religious context. I\’m reading one on the historical evidence for the resurrection and mentalism perspective. I do magic and mentalism as a hobby. I\’m reading one on that. I\’ve got one on cold reading that I\’m doing, which is looking at the whole psychic entertainment industry, how they use language, and the way the mind works. The psychology of it is to unfortunately deceive people. That\’s why we talk about influencing with integrity because we need to equip and empower ourselves to know when this stuff is being used on us and how to defend ourselves against it as well.

It is an incredibly powerful tool. I always tell people it\’s like a hammer. You can use a hammer to break a building and a window, or you can use a hammer to build a shelter. It\’s less about the hammer. It\’s more about the individual wielding it. The more we equip ourselves with the knowledge of how persuasion influence works, the more we can defend ourselves against people that are using it with their own interests in mind rather than ours.

What are you writing next? Do you have anything that you\’re working on?

I love stories and the power of stories. I may move in that direction. We had a PhD in Neuroscience editor edit and review it and give us feedback. We had a psychologist edit or review it. We had a good cross-section of people. One of the gentlemen who had a PhD in Neuroscience said, \”Any one of these chapters could be a book in and of itself.\” I\’m looking at this story chapter. My wife and I like traveling a lot. Travel gives us an opportunity to hear people\’s stories around the world. This one\’s still fresh. It got published in July 2022. If we sat down the road of writing another one, it would likely be in the direction of the power of story to bring facts to life.

With that, I want to know, as we start wrapping up, what is one piece of advice that you would want to leave our audience with?

First off, keep learning. Have grit and a growth mindset and keep learning. They told me I was learning disabled. If I believed that, I would never accomplish anything in life. Set goals and surround yourself with people that are smarter than you and have complementary strengths to you. Surround yourself with the right people, set those goals, and one day, one step at a time, you\’ll move in the direction. You\’ll look back and surprise yourself with how far you\’ve come. I never would have dreamed that we would be a number one Wall Street bestseller, and yet here we are.


Congratulations on that. How can people find out more about you, Stephen?

It\’s on our website, Alicia, thank you to you and your readers. I\’m more than happy to send you a link for a free eBook so they can access a free eBook of our book. I\’m more than happy to email and send you that link so you can make it available to your audience.

Thank you so much, Stephen. That\’s awesome. What\’s one thing you\’re feeling now?

I\’m grateful to be having this conversation with you. I love spreading the word. I love getting people to learn things that will empower them, help others make themselves better, and accomplish their goals and dreams. That is so rewarding. I always tell people if somebody gave me a list of these questions to answer in an email, I would be on the phone with our creative writer and say, \”Can you do this with me interview style?\” It\’s because it\’s like pulling teeth for me to sit down and write like that, but doing this and meeting interesting people like yourself who have a passion for learning and helping others is a lot of fun. I\’m feeling a sense of excitement and happiness that we\’re able to have this conversation.

Here we have Stephen McGarvey, the author of Ignite a Shift. You can get it on Amazon or your local bookstore. Stephen, I want to thank you so much for sharing your knowledge, encouraging, and igniting a shift in all of us. Thank you so much for your time.

It\’s my pleasure. Thank you for having me.

Everyone, be well. See you on the next episode.


Important Links


About Stephen McGarvey

\"ALStephen McGarvey, best-selling author of Ignite a Shift: Engaging Minds, Guiding Emotions and Driving Behavior, is the Founder & President of Solutions in Mind, and a world-leading authority on unconscious communication, positive persuasion and influencing with integrity. He has worked with businesses around the world to optimize their performance by helping them understand how their staff and their customers think, and what unconscious elements and patterns drive their behavior.

He is a sought-after speaker, presenting to a variety of international audiences in a myriad of venues, ranging from the American Psychiatric Association Conference to numerous Fortune 500 companies. McGarvey is a Certified Master Practitioner and Trainer of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) and a Certified Master Hypnotist. Employing the empowering modalities of neuroscience and the latest in behavioral psychology, he hosts The Stephen McGarvey Podcast and is known for bringing contagious enthusiasm and a powerful presence to the professional speaking circuit.


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