It weighs three pounds, 75% of it consists of water, and it is the most complicated structure in the known universe, and everybody has one. IT’S THE BRAIN!  And it is the most important organ in the human body. The brain is the operational manager for our actions. It tells us what we like to do and what we don’t like to do. It allows us to breathe, think, and act. It craves certainty. It does not like change. It likes rewards. And it can help us be more innovative. By understanding and using the principles in the emerging field of neuroscience, which is the study of the brain and the nervous system, leaders can become better leaders, entrepreneurs can gain critical insight into what their customers will purchase, and teachers can explore additional ways to improve student learning. Applying the concepts and strategies of neuroscience as part of your entrepreneurial mindset tool kit will better prepare you to navigate the unknown, help others to unlearn old habits and learn new ones, and find answers to problems that previously had no answers.

Neuroscience will help us to better understand human behavior, uncover new opportunities, and be more successful.

Molly Crockett | Beware Neuro-Bunk
TedSalon London Fall 2012

“Neuroscience is exciting. Understanding how thoughts work, how connections are made, how the memory works, how we process information is stored—it’s all fascinating.”
Lisa Randall

There is evidence that as early as the 17th century there was interest in studying the brain, but the most significant pioneering advances to launch neuroscience in the global scene occurred in the 20th century. With the increasing interest to study the nervous system several professional organizations were established throughout the world with the largest, the Society of Neuroscience, being established in 1969. The field of neuroscience continues to grow and plays a critical role in helping us to better understand human behavior. Today, over 300 colleges and universities in the United States offer graduate programs in neuroscience and  the global economic impact is in the billions.

Jon Hayashi, an expert in neuroscience, with a PhD in
Cellular and Molecular Physiology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Residential Faculty Professor at Paradise Valley Community College in Arizona said, “experimental evidence from the field on Neuroscience has led us to conclude that our thoughts and emotions are not as personal and rational as we think they are. Instead, we are all riding on a biological survival machine, honed through millions of years of evolution, that is automated. The automated system rejects the different because new is likely to be detrimental to your survival.

Unless we practice being rational, thoughtful, and empathetic our automated systems stick to the status quo AND while we think these familiar thoughts are our thoughts, those thoughts are just the automated system directing you with the goal of survival. Therefore, when the great idea that you have taken years to develop and is now supremely logical and universally beneficial is so quickly discarded by reviewers, take a lesson from Neuroscience and learn how to engage the thinking part of your reviewers’ brains to get them to understand that your new and different idea is, in fact, exactly what they have been waiting for.”

Neuroscience uses science to help leaders. Neuroleaders understand the concepts of neuroscience and they know how to apply those concepts into action. Neuroleaders are better leaders and know that neural plasticity in the brain can change the old way of doing things to a new way of doing things. For example, change management is difficult and continues to be one of the most critical issues that every organizational leader faces, but yet research after research study indicates that 70% of all change transformations fail. With a 70% failure rate, along with a corresponding need to continually have organizational change, it’s no wonder employees are cynical about the next big change when it is announced. Good leaders are agents of change and know how to pivot, motivate, collaborate and create a trusting environment. But maybe most important, successful leaders understand human behavior and know how to bring people together to solve problems. Successful leaders are empathetic and know how and what motivates people. Neuroscience offers leaders a deeper understanding of how the emotions of others impacts the change management process and how you can better champion successful change.

Dr. Tara Swart | Neuroscience and Nationalism
TEDxLSE June 2017

Neuroscience has not yet decoded all the complexities of the brain, but it can provide answers and strategies to help you succeed. The NACCE organization, which was launched in 2002, continues to foster entrepreneurship thinking and action and knows that one of the most critical issues facing entrepreneurs is how can we help improve the success rate of new business start-ups. Information from the Small Business Administration (SBA) tells us that of the roughly 6.0 million businesses that are launched each year over 20% or 1.3 million fail the first year. After 5 years roughly 50% of the businesses fail. The reasons for failure can range from lack of financial resources, poor marketing, lack of planning, and more, but from the findings of neuroscience research new entrepreneurs can gain helpful insight on how to better connect with the customer base and hopefully stay in business. For example, new startups that have an excellent product or service, need to know how to brand their business by connecting a personal story with their customers. Even if the product or service is excellent or cheaper it will not sell unless the story connects with the customer’s emotions. Stories motivate! Stories resonate! People remember stories! The new business launch entrepreneur must demonstrate that he/she values the customer more than the business or himself.  

Steve Bryant, Executive Director of the Gayle and Bill Cook Center for Entrepreneurship at Ivy Tech in Bloomington, Indiana echoed the critical importance of being connected to your customer when he said, “for entrepreneurs to be successful they need to know their customers and how emotions can impact their decision making.” By applying the principles of neuroscience, entrepreneurs can gain deeper insight into why consumers act the way they do. Humans are driven by emotions.


Neuroscience is the study of the nervous system and the brain. 

Neuroscience research tells us that when the brain experiences fear, anxiety, or confusion the logical part of the brain shuts down. The principles of neuroscience are grounded in science. 


There is nothing

more complicated

than someone else. 

The brain is the hardware, and the mind is your personal software.

-- Jon Hayashi


Applying the principles of neuroscience can make you a better leader, teacher, or entrepreneur.

Neuroscience has not yet decoded all the complexities of the brain, but it can provide answers and strategies to help you succeed.


Neuroscience can serve as a guide to help leaders better resonate with their staff and improve the organizational culture. 

Change happens when people and organizations change their old habits and learn how to think and feel new. Neuroscience can help provide the answers.

If you want your product to be remembered your customer must be passionate and connected to  your product. The burgeoning field of neuroscience will continue to be an important resource to help entrepreneurs as they launch their new business startups.


Groups or individuals want clarity and consistency. Neuroscience brain imaging studies have found that when the brain experiences fear, anxiety, or confusion it shuts down and generates emotional decisions rather than logical ones.  Understanding neuroscience can help leaders and others better assess how they think, how others think and how people make decisions. Neuroscience equips people by providing a framework to understand and act when faced with the question: WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO? Yes, neuroscience takes practice, but the results can be extremely rewarding.

Recommended Resources: 

Webinars and mini courses on Neuroscience and Leadership are available at Harvard, MIT, and many other colleges.

We also encourage you to explore the work of the Society for Neuroscience (SfN), founded in 1969. SfN is a professional association with 36,000 members in more than 95 countries.


Looking for more? Take a listen to this curated collection from NACCE's own podcast, Making Our Way Forward. Like what you hear? Subscribe on your favorite platform!  

Moving Forward Through Crucial Conversations with Dr. Monica Curry – the “gentle disrupter”
00:00 / 01:04
A Priest, A Prophet and a King: From Engineer to Entrepreneur - The Story of Kerry Bowie
00:00 / 01:04
How Can Libraries Close the Entrepreneurial Gap - with Betsey Suchanic at Urban Libraries
00:00 / 01:04
How a Six-Foot-Tall Museum Connects People: with Juna Skënderi & Dan Kaplan
00:00 / 01:04