SPOS #920 – Alan Eagle On Learned Excellence At Work

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Welcome to episode #920 of Six Pixels of Separation – The ThinkersOne Podcast.

Here it is: Six Pixels of Separation – The ThinkersOne Podcast – Episode #920. Alan Eagle is a senior executive communications expert and co-author of the recently published book, Learned Excellence – Mental Disciplines For Leading And Winning From The World’s Top Performers. The book delves into the nuances of mental toughness, the intricate balance between nature and nurture, and the pivotal role of effective communication in fostering leadership and excellence. Alan co-wrote the book with Eric Potterat. One of Eric’s many accolades is that he served for 10 years as the psychologist for the US Navy SEALs, and was responsible for the mental assessment, selection, development, maintenance and enhancement programs for the SEALs. Alan is no slouch either. He worked for over 16 years as a Managing Director at Google, where he was also the speechwriter for influential Googlers like Eric Schmidt, Jonathan Rosenberg, Marissa Mayer, and Susan Wojcicki. Alan is also the co-author of How Google Works (with Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg) and Trillion Dollar Coach – The Leadership Playbook of Silicon Valley’s Bill Campbell (also with Schmidt and Jonathan). In a world increasingly polarized and challenging to navigate, Alan addresses how individuals and organizations can stay true to their core values, even as they grow and evolve. He highlights the crucial role of maintaining these values, not just for personal integrity but also for organizational coherence and success. Alan also explores the idea of managing people in an outcome-focused environment. He advocates for a process-oriented approach, emphasizing the journey over the destination. This perspective, he argues, is not just applicable at the corporate level but resonates universally across various levels and types of organizations. Alan offers profound insights into the realms of leadership, communication, and personal development. His experiences and perspectives provide valuable lessons on resilience, the pursuit of excellence, and the art of effective communication, essential for anyone looking to excel in today’s dynamic world. Enjoy the conversation…


  • Mental toughness is essential for performing well under pressure, and it can be developed through practice and training.
  • Excellence is not limited to high-stress situations. It can be achieved in everyday life.
  • Values and identity play a crucial role in achieving excellence, both individually and within a team or organization.
  • Leaders can create a culture of excellence by exemplifying the principles of learned excellence and fostering open communication and trust.
  • In a polarized world, it is important to focus on shared values and create an inclusive environment that respects diverse perspectives. 
  • Core values should be upheld even as a company grows and faces new challenges.
  • Focusing on the process rather than just the outcome leads to better results.
  • Process is a universal truth that can be applied at any level and in any organization.
  • Compelling communications are about understanding what the audience is interested in.


  • 00:00 – Introduction and Background
  • 03:06 – The Importance of Mental Toughness
  • 08:26 – The Difference Between High-Stress Situations and Everyday Stress
  • 11:37 – The Role of Nature vs. Nurture in Developing Mental Toughness
  • 14:48 – The Connection Between Excellence and Identity
  • 18:43 – Applying the Principles of Learned Excellence in Personal Life
  • 23:33 – Creating a Culture of Excellence in the Workplace
  • 28:01 – The Role of Communication in Leadership and Excellence
  • 31:46 – Leadership and Excellence in a Changing World
  • 43:46 – Navigating Values in a Polarized World
  • 47:36 – The Value of ‘Don’t Be Evil’
  • 50:30 – Managing People in an Outcome-Focused World
  • 53:42 – The Universal Truth of Process
  • 57:08 – The Power of Compelling Communications

Download the Podcast here: Six Pixels of Separation – The ThinkersOne Podcast – Episode #920.

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