Science Made Practical

We translate human sciences and wisdom teachings into powerful practices for an enriched culture and life.
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What Sets Us Apart

A Deep Understanding of People and Culture

We draw from research from the human sciences, with an emphasis on the neuroscience of human behavior. We bring this together with teachings from the world’s wisdom traditions. We embed this deep understanding of people and culture into everything we do.

Science of Trust

Trust is the key to a Culture of Connection. Trust is built or busted one interaction at a time. Think of relationships as trust buckets of water. Every trust-building interaction builds the trust reservoir of crystal clean water. Every trust-busting interaction puts a hole in the bucket, some large, some small, that drain the bucket’s water. We have built a science-based trust model of trust-building and trust-busting behaviors based in the research of Paul Zak and the late Paul Lawrence. We equip people to master trust building, avoid trust-busting, and address inevitable trust breakdowns to restore both the relationship and the trust-building process.
A person talking to a group of people in a circle, sitting.
A group of people laughing in a field of sunflowers.

Science of Emotional Contagion

Emotional contagion has proven impacts on mood, collaboration, and performance. We equip people to practice emotional mastery using the powerful four-drive theory of human nature developed by Harvard Business School’s Nitin Nohria and the late Paul Lawrence.

Science of Gratitude

The research is abundantly clear that gratitude changes how people see themselves, others, and all situations. It is the great elixir for genuine caring, relationships, wellbeing, creativity, and finding possibility in even the most difficult of circumstances. We bring together wisdom and scientific study to teach people how to live gratefully in thought, emotion, words, and actions.
The silhouette of a person praying against an orange sky.
A photo of a runners legs mid-stride on a road.

Science of Sustainable Behavior Change

Whereas most leadership development is 90% classroom and 10% behavioral practice; we flip the formula to 10% classroom and 90% mindful practice. Just like athletes master their sport through practice, not head knowledge; the same thing goes for leaders at every level. Repetition is the key to creating new neural pathways and sustained behavior change.

Science of Goal Pursuit

We draw from research on growth mindset and goal pursuit. Effective goal pursuit takes connecting three levels of why (vision), what (goal), and how (action plan). These three levels combined with a growth mindset that encourages people to enter the stretch-zone of learning and challenge is to key to achieving great goals.
A hiker on a trail overlooking water and mountains.
A person with a microphone giving a presentation to a group of people sitting on a couch at a brownstone office.

Science of Social Influence

Way beyond what people realize, we are social creatures influenced by the people around us. Often this influence is happening to us unconsciously. Thumb Bump’s goal is to empower people to see how they are being influenced and equip them to choose what sways their beliefs, thoughts, and actions. We draw from leading social influence research to distill the social influence techniques people need to understand in order to make conscious choices about how they are being influenced.

Great Scholars and Researchers

Two academics have provided personal mentorship and friendship. We are very grateful and carry the spirit of their work and their great research into what we apply in the business world.

The Late Paul Lawrence

Paul R. Lawrence, was a renowned sociologist and a pivotal figure in the intellectual history of Harvard Business School. Well into his eighties, Lawrence developed a new unified theory of human behavior, based in his close reading of Charles Darwin and great scholars across 100+ years in the fields of psychology, economics, sociology, and the recent neuroscience of human behavior. In 2002 he cowrote with HBS colleague Nitin Nohria Driven: How Human Nature Shapes Our Choices sharing people are driven by "four primary innate drives which are hard wired in the human brain"—the drives to acquire, bond, comprehend and defend. In 2010, Lawrence published Driven to Lead: Good, Bad, and Misguided Leadership.

Paul provided mentorship to Mary Beth McEuen relative to the application of his body of work to business leadership and stakeholder engagement processes.

A photo of Paul Lawrence standing outside of a building.

“Businesses need to redefine what it means to be a ‘high achiever’ in the ‘new paradigm’. Think of a high achiever that you truly admire. Likely they are not a ‘high achiever’ in the out-of–date sense of vast fame and fortune. Rather, they are a ‘high achiever’ on all four drives and will die a highly fulfilled man or women in Maslow's sense. They will have an ample amount of money and status but they will also be a high achiever in their rich relationships with others whose lives they have helped fulfill, in their defense of self and others from hazards, and their contributions to knowledge and new ideas.”

- Correspondence from Paul Lawrence to Mary Beth McEuen, dated March 28, 2011, paraphrased to remove specific people's names.

A portrait photograph of Paul Zak.

Paul Zak

Paul Zak is the Professor of Economic Sciences, Psychology & Management at Claremont Graduate University. He is also the director of Neuroeconomics Studies, an author and an entrepreneur. He was one of the first scientists to integrate neuroscience and economics into a new discipline: neuroeconomics.

His pioneering research has identified brain processes that support virtuous behaviors such as trustworthiness and generousity. In his Trust Factor: The Science of Creating High Performance Companies (January 2017), applies neuroscience to organizational culture to demonstrate that high trust improves the triple bottom line and it explores ways in which managers can create and sustain a culture of trust.

This book was “dedicated to Mary Beth McEuen who first convinced me that trust is vital in organizations. Thank you for your trust and friendship.”

“Leaders have to concentrate on being Caring because of neurochemical changes that arise when one becomes the boss. In men and women, ascending to a leadership position causes testosterone to rise. Testosterone inhibits the brain’s synthesis of oxytocin, the neurochemical that makes us care about others. You can spot those with high testosterone through what are called dominance displays.

Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards calls this “lead-singer syndrome” when describing the indulgent behavior of Mick Jagger. If you’re the lead singer or CEO, your elevated testosterone can turn you into a jerk because testosterone tells your brain the world revolves around you. But extraordinary performance never happens alone.”

- Paul Zak, in ‘Trust Factor


A Peek Into our Inspiration

We draw from an extensive array of academic research and from the wisdom traditions that have understood the human journey for millennia. Check out our bookshelf for a peak into some of our favorite authors and books.
A shelf full of books.
A shelf full of books
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