How Options Decimated the Amsterdam Mafia

Thinking ‘in options’ means that you like to explore many different possibilities. The counterpart to options thinking is thinking ‘in procedures’: sticking to a step-by-step plan. Most people in coaching, consulting, et cetera, are fans of options thinking. Options are creative. Options thinking makes new things possible. Procedures are for bookkeepers and menial workers….

Thinking in options however, can have its downside too.Continue reading

Aiming for Success and Shooting for the Stars

Waleska shooting

Ana Waleska Soto Abril, is a unique Guatemalan athlete. She is the only Guatemalan to  have participated in two sports in the XXII Central American Games and Caribbean Games in Veracruz, Mexico 2014 (Softball and Gun shooting in pit mode). Among sther athletic achievements are the following:

Medals (2010-2020)

• Silver Medalist in XXII Central American and Caribbean Games Veracruz 2014 (Hunting Weapons Shooting)

• Bronze medalist XXI Central American and Caribbean Games Mayagüez 2010 (Softball)

• Gold Medalist in Central American Games 2006, Panama (Softball)

Other achievements

• Participation in XX Central American and Caribbean Games Cartagena 2006 (Softball)

• 8th place at XXVII Toronto 2015 Pan American Games

• Currently classified for the Tokyo Olympics (2020, postponed due to pandemic).

Competition, Ideals (Integration), and Power
As a competitive athlete, it’s no surprise that her predominant Graves drive is orange (competition and winning). She is an athlete who participates in two very different sports that require different mindsets, softball is a team sport, while shooting is a solitary activity, even though she belongs to a team. It is therefore understandable that her next dominant Graves are those of together and power.

Her orange Graves is predominant as she seeks to be the best. However, as a member of a team it is also important to find harmony and solidarity with your teammates to win. When she participates in a team she is motivated by the support of others and knows that to win the team members need to work together.  Her reputation as a high-performance athlete motivates her to excel, not just in one event but two. It is important to her that others recognize her achievements and know of her reputation as a double athlete (red Graves), and winning medals represents her excellence and need to be recognized.


Among her highest metaprograms are present, internal locus of control, development, and matching. Additionally, they are closely aligned with her criteria of concentration, emotional control, motivation and their meta-criterion of good performance.

These prominent metaprograms are congruent with the type of competition Waleska is participating in. The context of this evaluation is “while I compete [in shooting].” In this sport, various targets (plates) are thrown into the air, at random and from different angles. The competitor must have a high concentration to know when to shoot the target to reach her goal. This is where the present metaprogram is seen; She needs to be focused on the targets that are being thrown at the moment. During the event, she has to use her knowledge and experience to shoot at the right time. She needs to evaluate the elements “cold blood” and then decide when to shoot. It depends on her if she hits or doesn’t hit. This is where her CCI is evident. To perform better, she has to train consistently and make adjustments to her technique slowly. In our conversation, she mentioned that sudden changes throw her off balance. She can become irritated and may lose emotional control. (She may get upset at the sudden change).  Her need for emotional control and gradual, planned changes is evident.

Waleska is clear on her goals, and knows how to reach them due to her long experience as a competitive athlete. She has a clear and reachable goal, to win she has to hit as many plates (targets) as possible. And to stay motivated, the Matching and Towards metaprograms play an important role in her performance.

One of the things that came out in our conversation was her high together and proximity metaprograms, since this is a sport in which individuals compete alone.  Waleska explained, when we talked, that she places great value on working with her coach, listening to his suggestions, and creating new habits to improve her technique. She knows that to perfect her technique she needs to be consistent, and here she activates her development metaprogram a bit. She says that if she can be consistent, it will give her body a certain automatic discipline that will improve her performance. We talked about her specific metaprogram that when she focuses too much on the details, it can prevent her from seeing the big picture, and may cause her to lose emotional control.  Despite this, we can see that Waleska is a fairly self-aware athlete, and this has led to her exceptional performance.

Have a look at Waleska’s MindSonar profile and share with us what you see.

Evaluation by Sergio Saenz with the collaboration of Debbie Yarhi and Jaime Leal.

World boxing champion has a unique combination of thinking styles.

Esther María de Los Ángeles Micheo Santizo is a Guatemalan athlete, outstanding in her sports career as well as a successful entrepreneur.  María, The Unstoppable <<la imparable>> Micheo, is a unique athlete, who practices different sports, and gives herself to them with passion. She has specifically excelled in Karate, where she holds a Black Belt III Dan (48/51 kg.) obtaining the following triumphs:

• National Karate Champion (2001, 2012)

• Karate Do Gold Medals 2001 to 2012

• Gold medals in invitational tournaments (Guatemala, Salvador and Nicaragua) 2001-2012

• Gold Medal Murayama Cup, Mexico 2008

• Bronze medal – Team tournaments- USA Open, Las Vegas 2008

• Bronze Medal Central American and Caribbean Championship Karate Do (2007-2009)

In addition, she has participated in 5K and 10K races and half marathon (Antigua, Guatemala 21 km), where she obtained the first places.

She then decided to train in MMA (Mixed Martial Arts), where she participated in  6 fights, winning them all.  After, she began dabbling in boxing, which is her new passion. She is now a professional boxer, has participated in 8 fights, and is the current Champion for the WBC International Absolute Title.

Micheo, Sergio Saenz and Jaime Leal during the MindSonar results

María, in addition to being a successful athlete, is also an entrepreneur. She is the owner and founder of the Micheo Boxing Academy, located in one of the most prestigious shopping centers in Guatemala.

With the arrival of Covid-19, Maria’s business was impacted negatively, and her competition scheduled for July was postponed. This has not stopped the titleholder, who is now teaching virtual classes to her students, and is continuing  with her training for her next fight. To earn additional income, she has launched a startup of heathy cupcakes.


Not surprisingly, this high-performance, enterprising athlete’s predominant Graves Drives, are order and power.

In professional boxing it is very important to maintain and present yourself to a fight with the exact weight. A few grams too many or too few means a penalty for the boxer. The blue Graves Drive keep her disciplined, in shape, and exerts great control in her lifestyle.   Additionally, as an entrepreneur with several businesses, she needs to be disciplined with her time, finances, and consistency. We can also see that her criteria are closely aligned with her predominant Graves. Her preparation and maintaining her exact weight boost her self-confidence.

She is well aware of her reputation and the importance of her name when she wins a fight or is starting up a business with her name.  That is well aligned with her high Power Graves Drive.  It keeps her earning titles and continuing with her training regimen so that when she fights, her name can get a wide audience.

Her highest metaprograms are Towards, Matching, Internal Locus of Control, and Proactive.

Being a high achiever, it is natural that her highest metaprogram is Towards.  She sets goals and focuses on how to reach them, and with high Matching, she sees no obstacles to winning. After establishing her goals, she develops an action plan (Blue Graves), and jumps into action (proactive metaprogram). It is not surprising that her internal Locus of Control is another predominant metaprogram, since she depends on her sense of discipline and her preparation to obtain the best results. However, this Metaprogram changes radically when she is in the ring, according to our conversation: “I only execute what my coach tells me to do, I pay attention to everything, but my coach is the one in control”. While Maria is in the ring, she is attentive to her coach’s vision and opinion, keeping her focus on her goal but shifting to an external reference and external locus of control.  Micheo comments in the interview that one of her mistakes in the past was not trusting her coach, and that not having a coach that she could fully trust, was something that affected her negatively in the past. Today she has managed to overcome her distrust which helps her win more often. It is an interesting mix of Metaprograms for sure!

In addition, her strong options and specific metaprograms allow her to identify the different alternatives during the event, to make quick decisions and achieve her goals.

We deeply thank the Guatemalan champion for allowing us to learn more about the way a champion thinks.  There is no doubt that the combinations of Metaprograms and the emotional intelligence to know how to handle them to her advantage, are part of the sustained success of María Micheo, a talent still in the making.

For our Mindsonar Professionals:

1. It is important not only to recognize thought patterns, but to understand how our clients use them to manage the criteria. In this sense, the delivery of results and the conversation around them are key.

In her evaluation, her high ILC result changed completely in the conversation, where she made it clear that she has a high ELC when fighting, as she follows the instructions of her coach, she is there just to execute the plan, her Coach has a huge role in control.

2. Rare/infrequent combinations of thinking patterns can also have positive results.

3. As MindSonar professionals, our thinking patterns also play a role in the analysis of the MindSonar report.

Professionals who conducted the study

Sergio Saenz and Dr. Jaime Leal With the contribution of Debbie Yarhi

Working with new managers


Over the years, I’ve found that a common client problem that is brought to coaching is that of a newly-promoted manager struggling with a promotion from team member to team leader. The related changes to the relationship with members of their team, coupled with developing a leadership mentality often leaves them feeling stressed and insecure about whether or not they are performing their new role effectively.

Since training in MindSonar, it has become apparent to me that one of the underlying causes of the stress lies in the client’s manager not recognising my client’s need for feedback on their performance during the early stages of their new role.   The more senior managers are generally experienced leaders who are expected to take initiative and make decisions. Consequently, they tend to be predominantly Internally Referenced. This can result in them not recognising (or remembering) that new managers may be more Externally Referenced in the context of their new roles, requiring some feedback on how they are progressing.  This difference can lead to new managers being left to their own devices and feeling unsupported, as their managers believe that they’ll either cope or request support as and when needed.

Less often, new managers feel they are not trusted because they feel that their manager is micro-managing them and giving feedback far too often.  Such cases are less frequent, but can also arise from a disparity between the Internally/Externally Referenced Meta Programmes.

In larger organisations, formal structures may exist in which regular feedback meetings are undertaken, but these still operate on the assumption that all staff are running the same thinking patterns, which of course is not the case. The result is that some feel that such meetings are too infrequent (those who are highly Externally Referenced) and some feel that it is micro-management (those who are more Internally Referenced).  Many smaller businesses have no feedback procedures at all.

If middle and senior managers were to invest in MindSonar profiles for their direct reports, they could tailor their approach to individuals, giving more frequent feedback to those who prefer it (the Externally referenced individuals), and feedback on a “as needed” basis to those who do not (the Internally referenced individuals).  This would reduce the stress and insecurity felt by all members of the team, whether new to post or not. As a result, team members will feel more motivated and so develop within their roles more productively.

Of course, there are other Meta Programmes which are at play in such circumstances, especially around the changing context of moving from team member to team leader.  The MindSonar profiles will also enable more experienced managers to support their junior managers to handle those changes too.

If you are a middle or senior manager who would like to get the most from your junior managers, then contact your local MindSonar Professional to learn more about how MindSonar could enable you to get the best out of your team, and keep each team member motivated and less stressed.

If you’re a coach who works with managers at any level, then you’ll find becoming a MindSonar Professional a really worthwhile addition to your coaching toolkit, so do consider adding it as soon as you can.

Developing marketing messages – prevent this common pitfall…


Recently, after a discussion with some fellow business owners, I have been thinking about how businesses develop their branding and messaging – specifically the effectiveness of branding workshops.

It seems that many branding and business development exercises run for small businesses include workshops at which groups of business owners share information about their businesses, the services or products they offer and the future development they hope for. The group members then analyse and critique each other’s current materials and offer constructive comments for improvement.

On the surface, this seems to be a positive exercise, and participants often leave with new ideas and an action plan to put those ideas into practice. However, on looking more into the outcomes that people come away with, I now have some concerns about the final effectiveness. My reason for this is that, in my experience (as I’ve mentioned in previous blogs) business owners have a tendency for certain thinking styles over others. For example, I see a high level of Towards motivation in the self-employed, along with high scores for Internal Locus of Control.

It doesn’t surprise me therefore, that many of the suggestions that come out of these workshops is about making the branding and messages more focussed on the outcome that services provide (Towards), rather than on the problem they solve. Similarly, the wording suggestions are often amended in such a way as to emphasise the control the client will have (Internal Locus of Control). Of course, if your clients mainly comprise other business owners and similar people, that’s great. However, what if your clients are often people who have a high External Locus of Control, or have a predominantly Away From thinking pattern in the context of your product? Your communications could miss them completely.

It has been my personal experience that many types of business workshops, including (but not only) those on marketing, often involve working with like-minded individuals. I now wonder if they carry the risk of resulting in ineffective strategies for those businesses for which the client group are quite a different group of people than those attending the workshops.

Perhaps this is another area in which we can utilise MindSonar profiles – encouraging business owners to use focus groups of actual clients to understand more about what they want in order to decide to develop their messaging, products and services. Or maybe MindSonar could be used within the current groups to highlight similarities and then lead to consideration of whether, from what they tell you, your client group are similar or very different?

It’s certainly something to be aware of whenever we are creating and further developing our own businesses. I’d love to hear your experiences of this or similar situations, so please leave comments in the box below.



The knowledge that many entrepreneurs lack

You feel excited that your business plan is ready! Your niche, product or service is defined, you are prepared for your customers, your social networks are already activated, your website is ready and the desire to start your business is irresistible!

But do you know what motivates you as an entrepreneur? How these motivators may influence your decision making? Do you have self-knowledge? This is the part which many entrepreneurs don’t pay attention to when creating their business.

Imagine being able to understand how your motivators influence your decision making and your work style. Imagine being able to detect easily details you usually miss! These are just some advantages of having self-knowledge about yourself as an entrepreneur.

In my beginnings as an entrepreneur, I didn’t have the opportunity to develop this knowledge about myself and there were many learning experiences and economic losses. Back in 2008, I formed my first company; a recruitment and consulting agency and in 2013 my second company specialized in offering Coaching, Training and Brand Development. Neither of these two businesses generated the money I expected. They had good exposure; good opportunities always came, but, even so, the return on investment was very low.

One day, I learned the value of knowing myself as an entrepreneur and, from that day forward, I have put that knowledge into practice. How did I achieve it? Through the MindSonar assessment tool. This assessment integrates the theory of motivations of Dr. Graves where 7 motivators are evaluated: Security, Power, Order, Competition, Ideals, Learning and Completeness. Each of these motivators has a very important value when starting a business; from how we are as entrepreneurs to how we market our product and develop our brand.

My MindSonar results were a portrait of me as an entrepreneur. I could see the reason my company was not meeting its goals reflected in the analysis. What did I learn? In 2014, I learned that I was an entrepreneur who sought to maintain a good reputation (Power), that disciplined work (Order) and helping others (Ideals) were important to me.

It was difficult for me to face something within my analysis, and this was a score of zero for Competition. It turned out that I was not motivated to seek success by generating profit. This was hard for me since, due to my high motivation regarding Ideals, I gave good quality service, but at low prices or for free. So I could understand that my Achilles heel, at that time, was to put a value on my services and charge accordingly.

All entrepreneurs have something in common, we develop a business that we are passionate about and/or seek to succeed. But Napoleon Hill said it well, “anything that the mind can conceive and imagine can be achieved.” So, what if you invest in knowing yourself and conceive and achieve your goals with greater certainty?