While Gilbert was a professional poker player, he realized there is so much more to explore and learn in this world. Drawn to the field of psychology, Gilbert Eijkelenboom went ahead to pursue academics in Behavioral Science. Today Gilbert wears many hats from the worlds of professional poker, data analytics, and psychology. Gilbert Eijkelenboom is also the founder of Mindspeaking and the author of “People Skills for Analytical Thinkers.”
Travel can truly change our lives in ways we would not imagine, in fact, the idea of Gilbert’s book came from a hiking trip in New Zealand, on a six-month around the world travel, and even to date, he does retrospect and share learnings from his trip.
In his book about human behavior, “People Skills for Analytical Thinkers,” Eijkelenboom brings together interviews from more than 100 analytical professionals and psychologists for principles and actual data-derived analysis which will help analytical thinkers improve their skillset and make an impact not only for the organizations they work for but also in their own careers and lives. His work covers how to improve everyday human behavior and interactions put in a data language that is actually more comfortable to people with analytical minds.
In his own career, he experienced data analytics projects failing, or not even getting off the ground. It wasn’t because the analysis was bad, or the ideas were lacking. It was a communications impasse between analytical professionals and business professionals.
Gilbert knows what it’s like being an expert in the field, but struggled in the past, with questions such as – Will this person like me? What should I say? Is what I’m saying good enough or smart enough?
We all must have faced a situation wherein we present an idea or project, then no one cares about it or nothing happened from there. Sometimes using data to explain the problem at hand can only add to more confusion and do more harm than good.
As much as solving the problems of the customer, bringing innovation, or staying ahead of competitors is important in the world of tech, data, and analytics, communications skills, people skills, and soft skills, also play a role of equal importance if not more.
Eijkelenboom offers his knowledge and insights from his career, his studies, and experience from having helped and worked with more than 1,200 professionals.
Join me in learning more about his life journey, the challenges he faced along the way, what exactly made Gilbert change career paths, and the daily choices that led to where and what he is today!
What did you want to be when you grew up?
What I wanted to be as a child changed as I grew up. At first, I wanted to be a fireman rescuing people, later a policeman arresting thieves.
What was the “lightbulb moment” in your whole career? In retrospective, what led to where you are today?
There was not 1 moment, but more gradual progress and several moments of realization.
The first one was, reading the book: 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. I realized that life is not fixed, but by growing as a person we can change our outlook on life.
Second, I realized how important communication skills are in data & analytics. Several times my insights were ignored by stakeholders, which made me feel frustrated.
Third, giving my first training and coaching individuals. Helping people grow is a great feeling for me — it’s why I do my work.
What made you quit being a professional poker player and pursue academic education in Behavioral Science?
I felt there was so much more to explore and learn. In the poker world, people were talking so much about just poker. The world is so much more. Also, in poker, all the money you earn, means that other people lose. In business, you can create something new and contribute to other people’s lives: a win-win.
Do you think a college degree or formal education is paramount to achieve great heights in life?
I think a college degree gives a good foundation. But it’s hard to reach great heights without growing on a personal level too. Self-awareness is the start of everything.
What are your favorite books/quotes that leave you inspired? Are there any recommendations for our readers?
There are quite a few to name it especially around the four areas that interest me: Psychology, Personal Development, Leadership, and Entrepreneurship. Here are some of my recommendations.
Laws of Human Nature – Robert Greene
7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen Covey
The Dream Manager — Matthew Kelley
The War of Art — Steven Pressfield
Can you share with us a glimpse of what “A Day in Your Life” looks like?
I generally wake up by 7.30 am, and by 7.45 am I start practicing Wim Hof meditation, immediately after this I head to my daily workout at 8.00 am, I work out for around 30 minutes, and end up my morning routine by taking a cold shower at 8.30 am.
I tend to have my breakfast by 8.45 am and fuel myself to kick start the day.
During the first half of the day from 9.00 am to 1.00 pm, I work on the most important project of that day. I try to keep it to 1 pm. For example, creating new training, presentations, frameworks, or writing articles.
In the afternoon, from 2 to 3 pm I spend time posting updates on LinkedIn and also respond to emails. After this, I spend most of the time from 3 to 6 pm on client meetings, give presentations, or training.
In the evenings, from 6 to 10 pm I enjoy doing sports, having dinner with my girlfriend or friends depending on the occasion. Finally, I wind up my day taking time to read and sleep by 11 pm.
This is what I strive for, but of course, not every day is perfect.
Did you always envision yourself as being an entrepreneur? What were the challenges you faced when you started your company?
I’ve always loved taking new initiatives and building something new. Writing a book was hard. Overcoming self-doubt and thoughts like, “What if no one will read it?” and then understanding how I can best talk to my audience, which is also the reason why I wrote a book about behavior, but written in a data/analytical language.
Challenges were many.
Entrepreneurship is vulnerable — people are paying for what you do, or not. You have no big multinational company to hide behind or colleagues to blame.
In your book, People Skills for Analytical Thinkers, you talk about the emotional brain and analytical brain. Could you elaborate more on how we can tweak our behaviors to help us get the best of both worlds when it comes to decision-making?
Of course, in fact, in my book I use a metaphor for our brain – “based on our own algorithms, we process the behavior of other people into own behavior”. Analytical people tend to think that they make most decisions rationally. However, research shows that emotions drive almost 95% of our decisions.
So by understanding the emotions of other people, and those of our own, we can make better decisions. In my book, I also use the story of the elephant and the rider to explain insights from neuroscience in a simple way.
According to you, what is the reason we don’t speak up as much as we need to? And how can we overcome the fear of speaking up?
The reason why we may end up not speaking up is mainly that we are too worried about how we come across, and what other people will think. The reality is that other people are too busy thinking about their own worries.
We can overcome it in 3 steps.
First, realize when the fear pops up; second take action anyway, get out of your comfort zone. Then repeat and monitor the results. Personally, I think, journaling also helps see your progress.
Now that remote work is becoming more common and perhaps it’s here to stay. What are your tips for leaders, managers, and employees, to foster better team dynamics in a remote/hybrid work environment?
After a loaded or emotional meeting, have a 1 on 1 conversation with the person affected. Check how he/she perceived the meeting. Ask questions and listen. In a remote environment it’s easy to get isolated, so make sure that employees feel heard.
What are the most common mistakes you see leaders across levels and sectors keep making? And how can we identify and solve them?
Focusing too much on technology, less on people. It all starts with people, even in a data world. Data is created by people, and data is used to improve the decisions of people. Simply put, if you don’t understand people, you don’t understand business.
What are your conscious choices to achieve a better work-life integration?
I try to make conscious choices and spend time on sports, meditation and prioritizing sleep. But, I have to say maintaining a healthy work-life integration is hard as an entrepreneur. I also try to be flexible during some days, going for a spontaneous beach day if the weather is good. Taking rest is becoming more important to me. As we speak it is late in the evening, so it’s time to wrap up. Good night for now, and let’s connect on LinkedIn.