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How to create a high performance environment – for you or your clients

Throughout history, elite athletes, elite artists and elite performers have always surrounded themselves with other top performers. That’s not being elitist. It’s called a talent hotbed. 

In his book “The Talent Code”, Daniel Coyle studied high performance by examining talent hotbeds around the world. 

His research made clear that greatness isn’t born, it’s grown. And everyone can develop a talent with the right mix of practice, motivation and coaching.

“Talent hotbeds are not built on identifying talent
but on constructing it, day by day.”
– Daniel Coyle

Throughout history, large clusters of great talent have often been found in a certain period or location. 

For example, the huge number of great artists who lived and worked in Renaissance Florence in the fifteenth century. They included Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Botticelli, Raphael, Donatello, Masaccio, Titian, Lorenzo de’ Medici and even Machiavelli. 

Or the poets, authors, artists, jazz musicians, political leaders, journalists and philosophers of the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s. They included Langston Hughes, Josephine Baker, Zora Neale Hurston, Aaron Douglas, Marcus Garvey, WEB Du Bois, Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington.

Or Silicon Valley from the 1970s until now. Including so many founders, investors and entrepreneurs – such as Larry Ellison, Vinod Khosla, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Marc Andreessen, Julia Collins, Reid Hoffman, Marc Benioff, Ime Archibong, Mark Zuckerberg, Stacy Brown-Philpot, Paul Graham, Bill Gates, Tristan Walker, Sergey Brin and Larry Page. 

The importance of struggle

Talent hotbeds don’t make things easy. Struggle is actually an inherent part of the talent development process. 

You can create (or join) a high performance environment – for yourself or your clients – by utilizing the three key elements found in a talent hotbed: ignition, deep practice and master coaching… 

1. Ignition

A secret behind most high performers is that struggle and failure are a big part of the journey. Beneath every big talent lies an ignition story – a moment or experience that creates the spark of motivation. Ignition is the fuel that triggers the motivation needed to keep going, through those inevitable struggles and failures. 

Internal ignition is where motivation comes from a deep desire to achieve a personal goal. It’s a sense of mission or purpose. 

External ignition could include growing up in a challenging environment that you struggle to get out of, or the inspiration of watching someone else’s success. 

For 68 years athletes had been seriously trying to run a mile in less than 4 minutes. When Bannister broke the mark, even his rivals seemed to breathe a sigh of relief. At last, someone did it! And once they saw it could be done, they did it too. That’s ignition. 

A month later, that record was broken. Within a year, three runners broke the four-minute barrier – in a single race. And since that moment, more than a thousand runners have conquered a barrier that was once considered impossible.

2. Deep Practice

It’s a myth that practice makes perfect. The truth is, practice makes permanent. And, in order to engage in effective practice, you need to ensure you are practicing the right behaviours so that when you make errors – you can correct them.

Deep Practice consists of stretching yourself just outside your comfort zone, stopping and reflecting when errors occur, making adjustments, and continuing this process over time. 

Deep practice can be broken down into three phases: chunking, repetition, and recognition. It is implicit in the way that surgeons are trained, known as the “Watch it, Do it, Teach it” approach. To support you in this, you need Master Coaching…  

3. Master Coaching

Master coaches know that struggle is not optional – it’s neurologically required. In order to grow a community of leaders, you need to create the conditions (and the safety) where they make mistakes and pay attention to those mistakes.

You need to put struggle to work, by avoiding your tendency to ‘rescue’ people, and instead letting them struggle – or even fail – in order for them to build skill, tenacity, and greatness.

This isn’t easy. My clients say, “I hate you, Rich!” on quite a regular basis! 

But as Daniel Coyle says, “Don’t seek a coach who’s like a courteous waiter. Seek coaches who scare you a little.

It’s easy to confuse pleasure and comfort with actual learning. But truly good coaches are about challenging you to get to the edge of your abilities, time and time again.

Seek out coaches who are authoritative, who know their stuff, and who take charge. A little scary is good.”

I’ve built an unusual reputation with my clients that I try not to celebrate their victories. Instead, I celebrate repetition. For, as Coyle says, 

“Too many [people] judge their progress by the scoreboard, instead of by the amount they’ve learned. Doing a hard task ten times in a row is great. Doing it a hundred times in a row is freaking heroic. So treat it that way.“

A singular mission

If you want to be a truly great coach or leader, make it your singular mission to seek out and join a talent hotbed – or create your own. I do both. 

I’ve been curating and leading communities of top performers for over 20 years… 

I founded The Wednesday Night Club in 1998. It was a learning community for a group of leading educators. I’ve been co-leading The Men’s Group since 2008. It’s a group of leaders that includes one of the top scientists at NASA, a man who trains billionaires to be philanthropists and a man who takes care of wolves for a living. I created and led The Salon for over ten years. It’s been responsible for launching some of the most successful and exclusive coaches on the planet. 

And six years ago I founded 4PC. It’s a community of extraordinary leaders and coaches that I am committed to leading on my 25 year mission.

3 Principles for creating extraordinary communities

I create my communities based on 3 principles:

  1. Scenius vs Genius
  2. Litvin’s Law
  3. The Pygmalion Effect

1. Scenius vs Genius

As an old African proverb says, “If you want to travel quickly, go alone. If you want to travel far, go with a group.” 

It can be easy to look at great geniuses and imagine that their creativity or success came solely from within – that they were true originals. But that is rarely the case. The idea of the lone genius is a myth. Even Isaac Newton said, “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”

Brian Eno coined the word scenius. He suggested this word to convey the extreme creativity that groups, places or scenes can generate. A scenius is way more important than individual genius. 

2. Litvin’s Law

Metcalfe’s Law states that the power of a network goes up with the square of the number of people using it. 

Litvin’s law says: “The power of a community goes up exponentially when you multiply the number of people by the power of the people in that group.”

The rule of thumb I have for 4PC is that I keep pushing up the barrier for entry each year, such that if I applied myself, I’d struggle to get in! 

3. The Pygmalion Effect

This is the phenomenon whereby higher expectations lead to an increase in performance. 

Holding high standards for your community has a dramatic effect. What you achieve, how you think, how you act, and even how you perceive your capabilities can be massively influenced by the expectations of those around you.

Imagine being surrounded by extraordinary top performers and a leader who believes in you deeply… This is why I created 4PC.


I’ll leave you with 5 questions – to challenge your thinking, or your actions:

  1. Are you a member of a talent hotbed? A community that pushes you just beyond your comfort zone and your learning zone – on a regular basis.  
  2. Do you have conversations with people who are slightly ahead of you – or who intimidate you – on a regular basis?
  3. Are you part of a community where you are encouraged to brag about your accomplishments and you can (safely) share your struggles?
  4. Are you a member of a community where you regularly feel a sense of Imposter Syndrome? You can see why others are members but you wonder how you got in.
  5. And, if you answered yes to the first four questions, have you created your own talent hotbed, where the members say yes to those four questions?

Love. Rich 


PS. 4PC is a $25K investment each year and requires a minimum commitment of 3 years of membership. The 4PC Accelerator is a stand alone program this October. It’s a $5K investment. 

In The 4PC Accelerator, I will surround you with high achievers. I will teach you to stand out as a leader, in a noisy, overcrowded world. I will help you build your vision of who you want to be or what you want to create. I will help you build your courage, to do things that scare you – and to not follow the ‘conventional’ path. 

Don’t wait until you’re ready. “Ready” will never come. There are 39 spots left.   

PPS. Join me for a two hour training, where I’ll teach you everything I know about how to create anything from a high-end coaching program, to a book, to a group coaching experience, to a mastermind, to a thriving Facebook group for potential clients, Create! Is for you. 


PLUS… Whenever you’re ready… here are 4 ways we can help you increase your income, your impact – and your inner peace:

  1. WATCH MY MASTERCLASS… I partnered with my friends at Mindvalley to create a program for coaches, where I teach you the 8 Principles of Exponential Coaching. These are the elements I use to draw out the very best performance of my high-performing clients. (Just so you know: I teach the program, Mindvalley runs it. And they send a lot of emails!)
  2. BE AN INFLUENCER… Not a social media influencer! Someone who really impacts and influences people, by writing a book, developing intellectual property, building your own community and becoming known in your field. I will teach you how. And I will help you truly differentiate yourself, in a crowded marketplace – so you fly as a leader. Join me in our 4PC Accelerator.  
  3. TELL YOUR STORY WITH POWER & IMPACT… Every superhero needs a powerful origin story… Would you like to have me tell your story with such impact that you create clients by telling it – for the rest of your life? What if you could speak with such confidence, power and clarity, that dream clients call you? You can. I can help. 
  4. DO YOU WANT A THINKING PARTNER? Some people don’t need a year of Deep Coaching. They need someone to challenge their thinking. Several of my clients have PhDs. Some coach billionaires. One runs an aerospace company. Many have built and sold multi-million dollar businesses. And, when they need help, I am the one they call… If you want someone to push you and stretch you – intellectually and emotionally – then you and I should have a conversation. One spot available.


Transforming world-class leaders into world-class coaches.
That’s what we do.

If this sounds like you, let’s talk and explore if working together is a good fit.

Learn more about ways to work together