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Insights Through the Rearview Mirror, January 1, 2021

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Michelle Adams: Using Core Strengths to Make Better Decisions

Insights Through the Rearview Mirror with Jon Kramer and Paul Kramer

Show Title - Michelle Adams: Using Core Strengths to Make Better Decisions

How far can your gut feeling take you when you’re faced with important decisions? Today’s guest makes a case for leaning on your natural strengths and the things that give you energy, and simply taking the plunge when making big, career-defining choices.

We address:

How can I use my core strengths to inform my decisions?

What are some actions steps I can take today to be able to thrive in a post-pandemic world?

Where should I focus my attention to avoid making career choices that I may later regret?

Jon welcomes Michelle Adams, Founder and President of Marketing Brainology, a company focused on the latest in Behavior Economics, Virtual Shopping, Eye-Tracking, and NeuroScience research. However, that’s just the latest stop on her journey spanning high school teacher and coach to heading up Shopper Marketing at PepsiCo.


  • Know your towering strengths. Michelle’s decision-making criteria is based heavily on Marcus Buckingham’s StrengthsFinder tool. What are the core strengths that you bring to the table that you are naturally gifted with? Whatever you decide to do must align with those strengths as well as the things that give you energy when you do them.

  • Sometimes, all you can do is take a leap of faith based on calculated risks. Making a decision as life-changing as going into business after a decade or two in the corporate world is grounded in many factors; but more often than not, the choice to make these decisions are ultimately based on faith. This faith is informed by considering all the factors related to the decision at hand, as well as taking your strengths into consideration, trusting yourself to handle wherever direction this decision will take you.

  • When making decisions, it’s really important to have a network surrounding you. If you have a big career goal (or any type of big goal, for that matter), it pays to immerse yourself among people that support those goals. For example, Michelle’s dream is to be able to speak professionally on a regular basis, so she became a very active member of the Dallas chapter of the National Speakers Association.


  • Michelle’s decision-making framework [03:11]

  • Why Michelle took up a PhD in Political Economy [04:28]

  • Why Michelle became a policy analyst [08:36]

  • Working for M/A/R/C [13:19]

  • Adjusting to Frito-Lay’s corporate culture [17:12]

  • How Michelle’s clients are adjusting due to COVID-19 [23:17]

  • Leaving corporate America to found Marketing Brainology [26:23]

  • Taking a leap of faith when making a drastic career pivot [37:04]

  • Building up your network over time [41:34]

  • Is there anything that Michelle would have done differently? [44:38]


Michelle Adams has a unique educational and professional career. She has an extensive business background and is a Ph.D. who stays well-connected to the most recent academic research and leading thought leaders. She founded Marketing Brainology over eight years ago to better measure human behavior and nonconscious thinking.

She worked for Frito-Lay & PepsiCo for 10 years, running the SMART Learning Center which conducted sophisticated neuroscience research experiments that drove major initiatives thru-out PepsiCo. As VP of Customer Strategy and Shopper Insights, she consulted senior leaders from PepsiCo’s top retailers; including educating teams on male/female brain differences. As President of Marketing Brainology, she speaks and consults across the globe on NeuroScience, NeuroMarketing, and Influencing positive change within organizations. She is a member of the National Speakers Association, a TEDx SMU Speaker, 2014 Distinguished Alumni for The University of Texas at Dallas, and current board member.

Insights Through the Rearview Mirror

If I Knew Then What I Know Now – Insights Through the Rearview Mirror

During the height of the Covid-19 Pandemic, marketing executives, and brothers, Jon and Paul Kramer were discussing the decisions each had made in their lives. The good, bad, big and small and how each of these decisions had informed and transformed their lives.

Out of these heartfelt conversations came the idea of helping others make more considered decision in their lives. And, while there are literally thousands of books on decision making, they started to discuss how to improve on these “how-to” text books to make the art of better decision making easier and more gratifying.

An ongoing theme was “If I knew then what I know now…”

If I Knew Then What I Know Now – Insights Through the Rearview Mirror” is a journey through the decision-making process of interesting people. The question we will attempt to answer is there a decision-making framework that can lead to a more successful process? A way that will help you make better decisions.

In each episode, we will talk to interesting and intriguing guests about the decisions they have made in their lives, exploring the constructs they may have used and the learning that they have found in their very own “If I Knew Then What I Know Now” journey. Through these discussions, we will illuminate and amplify better ways to approach decisions and help you avoid deciding for the wrong reasons.

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