MERC Partners Leadership Breakfast Series with Prof. Ian Robertson

MERC Partners Leadership Breakfast Series with Prof. Ian Robertson

‘The Winner Effect’


MERC Partners held its fourth Leadership Breakfast Seminar in The Four Seasons Hotel, bringing together over ninety business professionals with an interest in leadership for a morning of enlightenment and networking.

Aoife Bradshaw, Principal Consultant with MERC Partners, opened proceedings and introduced the guest speaker for the event, Professor Ian Robertson, Professor of Psychology at Trinity College Dublin and author of The Winner Effect – a topic very much in keeping with the leadership series’ theme of growth and positivity.  A fellow psychologist, Bradshaw highlighted how the premise of The Winner Effect  relates particularly well to a business landscape, but that the notion of ’winning’ underpins every area of our lives: “success can change the chemistry of the brain, making you more focused, smarter and more confident.  Professor Robertson’s book answers the question of why some people achieve, and then handle success so much better than others”.

Before his current position at Trinity College Dublin, Professor Robertson was a Senior Scientist at the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit and a fellow of Hughes Hall at the University of Cambridge.  He is a clinical psychologist and neuroscientist and as well as having numerous visiting Professor positions, he is a sought-after keynote speaker and has presented at TEDX conferences.

In his presentation, The Winner Effect: The Science of Success and How to Use It, Professor Robertson opened with the question ‘what breeds success?’. The answer is simply, success!  Success perpetuates success by increasing our levels of testosterone and dopamine.  The more successful we are, the more permanently our brains are altered because we produce more receiving areas for testosterone, thus incrementally improving our likelihood of future success.  Failure, in turn, decreases levels of testosterone.

Drawing from a vast volume of research on the area, Professor Robertson suggested some key tactics to contrive small successes to help build some winning momentum.  Firstly, playing at home in business negotiations, gives us a significant psychological advantage (increasing testosterone and dopamine), thus maximising our chance of success. Requesting small favours in advance of a big request, maximises the chances of a positive eventual outcome. He also suggests that attainable but challenging goal setting gives people a real sense of achievement.  Studies have also shown that athletes or teams that wear red are more likely to defeat an opponent than when that same team doesn’t wear red.  Finally, fake power!  Professor Robertson proposes that adopting ‘the power pose’, a confident open stance, changes our brain chemistry at that moment.

Professor Robertson’s lively presentation was enthusiastically received by the audience, providing both scientific insight and practical tips to better understand the business of winning.