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The Research Process

Please note: you can find independent research on our impact in schools here.

Our team undertook a 3-year qualitative research study in developing the 7 Mindsets framework.  For our approach, we researched, interviewed, and extensively observed, then consolidated our findings into a series of patterns.  This basic foundation was the starting point for us to continue our research and test our findings in real-life applications and scenarios.

Our work is an ever-evolving study, and we continue refining our programs as further observations are made and new information is gained.  The basis of the original study was:

  • Research on more than 1,000 individuals through existing books and literature
  • Direct interviews with over 400 individuals, including notably successful people and experts on success and happiness
  • Deconstruction of over 200 renowned books on success and happiness
  • Review of other major research projects and studies conducted on success and happiness
  • Interviews and observations with over 200,000 individuals we worked with directly

Throughout our research, we looked for patterns among the great lives, previous studies, and philosophies.  The objective was to locate the common ground in order to isolate the foundational elements of happiness, success, and meaning in life.

Our research effort began with a comprehensive study of prominent happy and successful individuals in order to identify and understand their defining characteristics.  We then reviewed existing philosophies and noted research efforts to augment and expand upon initial conclusions.  Lastly, we tested, validated, and observed with the thousands of individuals we work with each year.

Among our early hypotheses was the idea that happy and successful people might share similar backgrounds, experiences, and cultural circumstances.  But, as we proceeded, we determined that fulfilled, happy and successful lives existed across gender, race, religion, political alignment, and socio-economic background.

We found great lives amongst people who came from loving homes as well as broken homes.  We saw examples of happy extroverts and introverts, artists and engineers, athletes and super nerds.  As such, we concluded that these surface level attributes could not be of primary significance to the underlying foundation behind happiness and success we were seeking to identify.

Eventually, we recognized that what permeated all the major studies, philosophies, and lives of prominent happy and successful people were a set of specific thought processes and approaches to life.

For example, it became clear through our review of existing studies and study of great success stories that optimism and positive expectations were consistent commonalities.  We found that people who achieved in life almost always pointed to great moments of adversity when they learned the skill, built the fortitude, or gained the critical knowledge that ultimately made them successful.  We learned that happy and successful people are gracious, giving people who deal in many forms of currency besides money.  We determined that successful people take risks and view failure as a vital part of achievement.

The final conclusion of our efforts was that it wasn’t who people were, where they were from, or even what they knew, but how they thought that factored most significantly in their attainment of fulfilled, meaningful, successful lives.

In many ways, this wasn’t new information to us, as it likely isn’t to you.  But what was insightful on a revolutionary level was the recognition that these fundamental principles could be boiled down into a teachable blueprint.  The revelation was simple and immediate that, when we removed the extrinsic and just focused on the right thinking, true transformation was possible, and the external rewards would fall into place.

Deriving The 7 Mindsets

Through our research, we identified 28 characteristics that comprehensively define a life characterized by extraordinary levels of fulfillment, success, happiness, and meaning.  Outlining these characteristics offers a picture of someone who:

  1. Maintains high expectations for life
  2. Is optimistic and believes in good things from others and the world
  3. Embraces his/her imagination and creative capacity
  4. Is comfortable taking action in the face of uncertainty
  5. Recognizes his/her strengths and seeks opportunities to leverage them
  6. Pursues what he/she finds most interesting and inspiring
  7. Has strong, well-defined personal values
  8. Seeks a clear purpose in life
  9. Is accepting of and open-minded to other cultures and people
  10. Is attentive to relationships and surrounds him/herself with supportive, motivating people
  11. Constantly seeks knowledge and perspective from others
  12. Seeks to serve others as a catalyst to relationship-building
  13. Takes full responsibility for the circumstances and results of his/her life
  14. Manages and prioritizes time to maximize effectiveness
  15. Recognizes destructive thought patterns and seeks to manage mental habits
  16. Sees life as a process of constant evolution, not a road toward an end-goal
  17. Has self-compassion and appreciation for who he/she is
  18. Is gracious and appreciative of all the good things in his/her life
  19. Regularly expresses gratitude to others
  20. Seeks the positives from all situations, even the most challenging and painful ones
  21. Seeks to serve others through his/her work or efforts
  22. Lives life with the goal of having a positive impact in large and small ways
  23. Is willing to seek help and welcomes it from others
  24. Orients his/her life around a higher mission or purpose
  25. Is present and mindful in the moment
  26. Is able to monitor his/her thoughts and make critical adjustments in the moment
  27. Is willing to take risks and allow him/herself to be vulnerable
  28. Aligns what he/she does each day with personal goals and dreams

As we tested and validated our findings, we began to develop a framework through which these 28 characteristics could be easily taught and integrated into daily life.  Given that the majority of our work was in youth education, we felt it was a natural and critical step to condense them into a simple language and learning structure that would make these concepts easily understood and relatable to young people.  The result was the distillation of these 28 characteristics into the 7 Mindsets framework.

The 7 Mindsets

  1. EVERYTHING IS POSSIBLE – Dream big, embrace creativity and expect great results
  2. PASSION FIRST – Pursue your authentic talents and deepest interests
  3. WE ARE CONNECTED – Explore synergies in all relationships and learn to empower one another
  4. 100% ACCOUNTABLE – Choose to be responsible for your own happiness and success
  5. ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE – Seek the positives from every experience and be thankful for all you have
  6. LIVE TO GIVE – Inspire and serve others while maximizing your potential
  7. THE TIME IS NOW – Harness the power of this moment and take purposeful action today


People Researched

Here is a sampling of the prominent individuals we studied during the course of our research:

  • John Adams – American Founding Father
  • *Mark Albion – Author, Making A Life, Making A Living
  • *Wally Amos – Founder, Famous Amos Cookies
  • Maya Angelou – American Author and Poet
  • Aristotle – Greek Philosopher
  • Arthur Ashe – Champion Tennis Player
  • Mary Kay Ashe – Founder, Mary Kay Cosmetics
  • Marcus Aurelius – Roman Emperor and Philosopher
  • *S. Truett Cathy – American Entrepreneur and Founder of Chick-fil-A
  • *Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield – Founders, Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream
  • Paul Hewson (Bono) – U2 Singer, Humanitarian
  • *Sir Richard Branson – Billionaire Founder, The Virgin Group
  • *Les Brown – Motivational Speaker and Author, Live Your Dreams
  • *Marcus Buckingham – Author, Now Discover Your Strengths
  • Warren Buffet – Billionaire Investor and Author
  • *Jack Canfield – Co-Author, Chicken Soup for the Soul
  • Andrew Carnegie – American Industrialist and Businessman
  • *Dr. Ben Carson – Neurosurgeon
  • Deepak Chopra – Bestselling Author
  • Winston Churchill – WWII-era British Prime Minister
  • *Jim Collins – Author, Good to Great
  • Confucius – Ancient Chinese Philosopher
  • Steven Covey – Author, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
  • Leonardo Da Vinci – Renaissance Artist, Architect, Scientist, and Engineer
  • Henry David Thoreau – Famous American Author and Philosopher
  • *Fred DeLuca – Founder, SUBWAY®
  • Walt Disney – Founder, Walt Disney Company
  • *Wayne Dyer – Bestselling Self-help Author
  • Amelia Earheart – First Woman to fly across the Atlantic
  • Thomas Edison – American Industrialist and Inventor
  • Albert Einstein – World Famous Scientist
  • Debbie Fields – Founder, Mrs. Fields Cookies
  • *Jane Fonda – American Actress, Writer, and Political Activist
  • Anne Frank – Author, Holocaust Survivor
  • Viktor Frankl – Psychologist, Author, and Holocaust Survivor
  • Benjamin Franklin – American Founding Father, Inventor, and Author
  • Mahatma Gandhi – Political and Ideological Leader
  • Bill Gates – Co-Founder of Microsoft
  • *Michael Gerber – Author, The E-Myth
  • Kahlil Gibran – Lebanese Artist, Author and Poet
  • Jane Goodall – Internationally-acclaimed Primate Researcher
  • Alexander Graham Bell – American Inventor
  • *Earl Graves – Founder, Black Enterprise Magazine
  • *Wayne Gretzky – Canadian Hockey Player
  • Bethany Hamilton – Professional Surfer, Shark Attack Survivor
  • *Mark Victor Hansen – Co-Author, Chicken Soup for the Soul
  • Napoleon Hill – Author, Think and Grow Rich
  • Patrick Henry Hughes – American Musician
  • *Wayne Huizenga – Entrepreneur and Owner, Miami Dolphins
  • Thomas Jefferson – Founding Father and President of the United States
  • Steve Jobs – Co-Founder of Apple
  • Michael Jordan – American Basketball Player
  • Helen Keller – American Author and Political Activist
  • *Dennis Kimbro – Author, What Makes the Great Great
  • *Robert Kiyosaki – Entrepreneur and Author, Rich Dad, Poor Dad
  • Guy Laliberte – Founder, Cirque du Soleil
  • Dalai Lama – Spiritual Leader
  • Abraham Lincoln – 16th President of the United States
  • Martin Luther King Jr. – Civil Rights Leader
  • Nelson Mandela – President of South Africa
  • *John Maxwell – Author and Leadership Coach
  • Michelangelo – Renaissance Artist, Architect, Poet, and Engineer
  • J.P. Morgan – American Industrialist
  • *Bill Murray – American Actor, Comedian, and Writer
  • Isaac Newton – English Physicist
  • Earl Nightingale – Motivational Speaker
  • Pablo Picasso – Famous Modern Artist
  • *Daniel Pink – Author, A Whole New Mind
  • Plato – Greek Philosopher
  • Bob Proctor – Bestselling Author, Speaker and Life Coach
  • *Scott Rigsby – IronMan Triathlete
  • Tony Robbins – Bestselling Author, Speaker, and Life Coach
  • John Rockefeller – American Industrialist
  • *Anita Roddick – Founder, The Body Shop
  • Eleanor Roosevelt – Inspirational First Lady of the United States
  • William Rosenberg – Founder, Dunkin' Donuts
  • Joanne (J.K.) Rowling – Author of Harry Potter Series
  • Wilma Rudolph – Olympic Gold Medalist
  • Rumi – Persian Poet and Theologian
  • William Shakespeare – Renaissance Actor and Author
  • Shakira – Colombian Musician
  • Mimi Silbert – Founder, Delancey Street Foundation
  • Carlos Slim Helu – Wealthiest Man in the World, Mexico
  • Will Smith – American Actor
  • W. Clement Stone – Billionaire Businessman and Author
  • Mother Teresa – Philanthropist
  • *Dave Thomas – Founder, Wendy's
  • Eckhart Tolle – English Author and Life Coach
  • *Brian Tracy – Bestselling Author and Life Coach
  • Donald Trump – Billionaire Businessman and Author
  • *Ted Turner – Billionaire Businessman and Author
  • Desmund Tutu – South African Political Activist
  • Mark Twain – American Author and Speaker
  • Lao Tzu – Ancient Chinese Social Philosopher
  • Norman Vincent Peale – American Author
  • Voltaire – French Enlightenment Philosopher and Author
  • Nick Vujicic – Motivational Speaker
  • *Denis Waitley – Bestselling Author and Life Coach
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson – American Author and Philosopher
  • George Washington Carver – Scientist, Inventor and Educator
  • Jerry Weintraub – Hollywood Producer
  • Oprah Winfrey – Billionaire Talk Show Host
  • John Wooden – College Basketball Coach
  • Zhang Xin – Self-Made Female Billionaire, China
  • *Zig Ziglar – Bestselling Author and Speaker

* These individuals were personally interviewed.


Books Reviewed

The following books were analyzed and studied during the course of our research:

  • Wally Amos, The Power in You (New York: Dutton Adult)
  • Andy Andrews, The Butterfly Effect: How Your Life Matters (Illinois: Simple Truths, LLC)
  • Andy Andrews, Mastering the Seven Decisions:  That Determine Personal Success (Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Publishers)
  • Janet Bray Attwood and Chris Attwood, The Passion Test:  The Effortless Path to Discovering Your Destiny (Iowa: 1st World Publishing)
  • Doug Bench, Revolutionize Your Brain (Florida: Doug Bench Enterprises)
  • Richard Branson, Business Stripped Bare: Adventures of a Global Entrepreneur (London: Penguin Books, Ltd.)
  • Richard Brodie, Virus of the Mind:  The New Science of the Meme (California: Hay House)
  • Brendon Burchard, Life’s Golden Ticket: An Inspirational Novel (New York:  HarperCollins)
  • Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton, Now Discover Your Strengths (New York:  Simon & Schuster)
  • Bob Burg and John David Mann, The Go-Giver:  A Little Story About a Powerful Business Idea (London: Penguin Books, Ltd.)
  • Jack Canfield and Kent Healy, The Success Principles for Teens: How to Get From Where You are to Where You Want to Be (Florida: Health Communications, Inc.)
  • Jack Canfield and Janet Switzer, The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be (New York, HarperCollins Publishers)
  • Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen, The Aladdin Factor (New York: Berkley Publishing)
  • Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People (New York: Simon & Schuster)
  • Deepak Chopra, The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success:  A Pocketbook Guide to Fulfilling Your Dreams (One Hour Wisdom) (California: Amber-Allen Publishing and New World Library)
  • Carol Christen and Richard N. Bolles, What Color is Your Parachute for Teens: Discovering Yourself, Defining Your Future (California: Berkeley Press)
  • Bill Clinton, Giving:  How Each of Us Can Change the World (Canada: Random House)
  • Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist (New York: HarperCollins)
  • Jim Collins, Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap … and Others Don’t (New York: HarperCollins)
  • Geoff Colvin, Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else (New York: Penguin Group)
  • Stephen Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (New York: Free Press)
  • Fred DeLuca and John P. Hays, Start Small Finish Big: 15 Key Lessons to Start—and Run—Your Own Business (New York: Warner Business Books)
  • Dr. John Demartini, The Gratitude Effect: The Inner Power Series (TruMedia Group)
  • Carol Dweck, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success (New York: Ballentine)
  • Hale Dwoskin and Jack Canfield, The Sedona Method: Your Key to Lasting Happiness, Success, Peace and Emotional Well-Being (Arizona: Sedona Press)
  • Dr. Wayne Dyer, Excuses Begone!:  How to Change Lifelong Self Defeating Thinking Habits (California: Hayhouse)
  • Dr. Wayne Dyer, The Power of Intention (California: Hay House)
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self Reliance: The Wisdom of Ralph Waldo Emerson as Inspiration of Daily Living,  (New York: Bell Tower)
  • Mark Forstater, The Spiritual Teaching of Marcus Aurelius (New York: HarperCollins)
  • Marshall Frady, Martin Luther King, Jr.: A Life (New York: Viking Penguin)
  • Victor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning (Massachusetts: Beacon Press)
  • Neal Gabler, Walt Disney: The Triumph of American Imagination (New York: Alfred Knopf)
  • Howard Gardner, Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences (Pennsylvania: Perseus Books)
  • Michael J. Gelb, How to Think Like Leonardo DaVinci (New York:  Dell Publishing)
  • Shakti Gawain, Creative Visualization: use the Power of Imagination to Create What You Want in Your Life (California, Nataraj Publishing)
  • Shakti Gawain, Marianne Williamson, and MotherTeresa, For the Love of God (California: Nataraj Publishing Company)
  • Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers: The Story of Success (New York: Little, Brown and Company)
  • Mark Victor Hansen, The Richest Kids in America: How They Earn It, How They Spend It, How You Can Too (California: Hansen House)
  • Keith Harrell, Attitude is Everything Rev Ed: 10 Life-Changing Steps to Turning Attitude into Action (New York: HaperCollins)
  • Daren Hardy, The Compound Effect: Multiplying Your Success, One Simple Step at a Time (Texas: Success Books)
  • Dr. David R. Hawkins, Power vs. Force:  The Hidden Determinant of Human Behavior (California: Hayhouse)
  • Tony Hsieh, Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose (New York: Business Plus)
  • Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich (New York: Plume)
  • Napoleon Hill and W. Clement Stone, Success through a Positive Mental Attitude (New York: Simon & Schuster)
  • Walter Isaacson, Albert Einstein: His Life and Universe (New York: Simon and Shuster)
  • Susan Jeffers Ph.D., Feel the Fear… and Do It Anyway (New York: Ballentine)
  • Paul Johnson, Churchill (New York: Viking)
  • Willie Jolley, It Only Takes a Minute to Change Your Life (New York: St. Martin’s Press)
  • Jordan, Michael and Mark Vancil, I Can’t Accept Not Trying: Michael Jordan on the Pursuit of Excellence,  (California: Harper)
  • Helen Keller, The Story of My Life (New York: Doubleday)
  • Dennis Kimbro, Think and Grow Rich: A Black Choice (New York: Fawcett Books)
  • Dennis Kimbro, What Makes the Great Great,  (New York: Main Street Books)
  • Martin Luther King, Jr., The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr., Ed. Clayborne Carson (New York: Warner Books, Inc.)
  • Charles G. Koch, The Science of Success: How Market-Based Management Built the World's Largest Private Company (New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons)
  • Jennifer Kushell, Secrets of the Young and Successful (Princeton Review)
  • Robert Kiyosaki, Rich Dad Poor Dad: What The Rich Teach Their Kids About Money – That The Poor And Middle Class Do Not! ( :TechPress)
  • H.H. Dalai Lama, The Art of Happiness (New York: Riverhead Books)
  • Ellen J. Langer, Mindfulness (Pennsylvania: Perseus Books Group)
  • Bruce H. Lipton, Ph.D., The Biology of Belief: Unleashing the Power of Consciousness, Matter, & Miracles (California: Hay House)
  • Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela (New York: Back Bay Books)
  • John Maxwell, Talent is Never Enough: Discover the Choices that Will Take You Beyond Your Talent (Tennessee: Thomas Nelson)
  • John Maxwell, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership (Tennessee: Thomas Nelson)
  • George McGovern, Abraham Lincoln (New York: Times Books)
  • Jay McGraw, Life Strategies for Teens (New York: Fireside)
  • Dr. Phil McGraw, Life Strategies: Doing what Works, Doing What Matters (New York: Hyperion)
  • James M. McPherson, Abraham Lincoln and the 2nd American Revolution (New York: Oxford University Press)
  • Dan Millman, The Way of the Peaceful Warrior:  A Book That Changes Lives (H.J. Kramer)
  • Stephen Mitchell, The Tao Te Ching: A New English Version, New York: HarperCollins
  • Greg Mortenson Three Cups of Tea (New York: Penguin Books)
  • Joseph Murphy, The Power of Your Subconscious Mind (New York: Bantam)
  • Lisa Nichols, No Matter What!: 9 Steps to Living the Life You Love (New York: Hachette Book Group)
  • Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, The Power of Positive Thinking (New York: Fireside)
  • M. Scott Peck, M.D., The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth (New York: Touchstone)
  • Daniel Pink, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us (New York: Riverhead Books)
  • Daniel Pink, A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future (New York: Berkley  Publishing)
  • Steven Pinker, The Stuff of Thought:  Language As a Window into Human Nature (New York: Penguin Publishing)
  • James Redfield, The Celestine Prophecy (New York: Warner Books)
  • Scott Rigsby, Unthinkable (Illinois: Tyndale House)
  • Alexandra Robbins and Ab Wilner, Quarterlife Crisis: The Unique Challenges of Life in Your Twenties (New York, Jeremy P Tarcher/Putnam)
  • Anthony Robbins, Awaken the Giant Within: How to Take Immediate Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical and Financial Destiny! (New York: Free Press)
  • Anthony Robbins, Unlimited Power: The New Science of Personal Achievement (New York: Free Press)
  • Ken Robinson, Ph.D., The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything (New York: Penguin Publishing)
  • Jim Rohn, Three Keys to Greatness for Teenagers (audible edition: made for Success, Inc.)
  • Jim Rohn, The Art of Exceptional Living (Illinois: Nightingale-Conant)
  • Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom (California: Amber-Allen Publ)
  • SQuire Rushnell, When GOD Winks: How the Power of Coincidence Guides Your Life (New York: Atria Books)
  • Martin Seligman, Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Deep Fulfillment (Boston: Nicholas Brealey)
  • Martin E.P. Seligman, Ph.D., Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life (New York: Simon & Schuster)
  • Marci Shimoff, Happy for No Reason: 7 Steps to Being Happy from the Inside Out (New York: Free Press)
  • Florence Scovel Shinn, The Game of Life and How to Play It (Tribeca Books)
  • Sam Smith, The Jordan Rule (New York: Pocket Books)
  • Mother Teresa and Brian Kolodiejchuk, Come be My Light (New York:  Random House)
  • Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now (Canada: Namaste Publishing)
  • Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth (New York: Penguin Publishing)
  • W. Clement Stone and Michael Ritt, Believe and Achieve: W. Clement Stone’s 17 Principles of Success (Pennsylvania: Executive Books)
  • Lao Tzu and Brian Brown Walker, The Tao Te Ching Lao Tzu (New York: St. Martin’s Press)
  • Brian Tracy, Maximum Achievement: Strategies and Skills that Will Unlock Your Hidden Power to Succeed (New York: Fireside)
  • Christiane Turner, Quantum NLP : From Personal to Global Transformation (New York: Gilden Media)
  • Neale Donald Walsch, Conversations with God (New York: Penguin Publishing)
  • Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth am I Here For? (Michigan: Zondervan)
  • Liz Wiseman and Greg McKeown, Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter (New York: HarperCollins)
  • Steve Young, Great Failures of the Extremely Successful:  Mistake, Adversity, Failure and other Stepping Stones to Success (California: Tallfellow Press)
  • Muhammad Yunus, Banker to the Poor: Micro-Lending and the Battle Against Poverty (New York: Public Affairs)