There are many reasons to adopt a growth mindset.  Andrea explains why adopting a growth mindset is the #1 most impactful yet underleveraged skill, how thinking about prototyping can help you adopt a growth mindset, plus her three ideas for how you can adopt a growth mindset right now!



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  • Transcript



cover of "Grit" by Angela Duckworth

Grit by Angela Duckworth

Talk About Talk


Greetings and welcome to Talk About Talk episode number 123. I’m your executive communication coach, Dr. Andrea Wojnicki (please call me Andrea!). And I‘m so glad you’re here! 

Are you an ambitious executive with a growth mindset? Well, then you’re in the right place. 


What exactly does it mean to have a growth mindset?  

If you’ve been listening to the TAT podcast for awhile, you probably know that this is how I open most of the TalkAboutTalk episodes. 

I thought it might be wise to take a step back and examine this term – a growth mindset.

So, Do YOU have a growth mindset?

REALLY. Ask yourself.  Do you have a growth mindset? 

Chances are. If you you’re listening to this podcast, you do have a growth mindset. You’re focused on growth and self improvement.  But the truth is many of us can turn up the dial.

In the next 20 minutes or so, you’re going to learn what a growth mindset is, why it’s worth thinking about, and three specific ways that you can cultivate or adopt a growth mindset right now

Are you ready?

Before we get into this, I just want to say, if you have a thirst for knowledge, a thirst for growth, I encourage you to visit the website, where you’ll find so many resources to help you out. There are online courses, tip sheets, corporate workshops, one-on-one coaching, some new opportunities for live group coaching programs, the archive of this bi-weekly podcast, AND, I really hope you’ll sign up for the Talk About Talk communication coaching newsletter. This is your chance to get a few communication skills tips from me every week. Please sign up for that communication coaching newsletter if you haven’t already.

Alright let’s get into this:

  • what a growth mindset is,
  •  why it’s important (particularly for entrepreneurs), 
  • how to adopt a growth mindset. 

At the end I’m going to share with you my top 3 simple strategies that you can employ right now to start thinking with a growth mindset.

Let me back up.

As an exec communication coach, people sometimes ask me what’s the MOST IMPT communication skill for managers.  

I used to say listening.  Then I quickly learned confidence.  Then I kept hearing storytelling – which is more like the icing on the cake. 

I talk a lot about the 3 superpowers of communication in my PODCAST, Talk About Talk.  This is episode #123. So that’s a lot of talking

When I was coming up on 100 episodes, several listeners asked me what I was going to talk about to commemorate Talk About Talk episode #100.

I decided to share my top 3 insights after 100 episodes.  These are 3 things that you’ve probably heard before, but that I think are under-appreciated. Do you want  to hear what they are?

After 100 episodes, my top 3 insights:

  • Keep it short
  • It’s not about you.
  • Adopt a growth mindset

Then – what if I had to choose just 1?

If I had to choose one thing that will help us with our communication – with LIFE, it’s that we should adopt a growth mindset.

It’s important for everyone in so many many contexts. And that’s why we’re here!

We all fail.  Sometimes we lead a meeting and it bombs. Or we make a point in a meeting and it gets ignored. Or we make a recommendation about a course of action and we’re wrong,  There are small failures and big, epic failures. It happens to ALL Of us, I promise. 

You’ve probably heard that the most successful entrepreneurs all failed.  It’s almost like a cliche, right? It’s the hero’s Journey.

Speaking of entrepreneurs, here are 3 impressive ones. What do they have in common?

3 Entrepreneurs who failed

Steve Jobs – Apple 1 and Apple Lisa.  Steve Jobs had multiple failures.  One of the most famous and successful CEOs ever. HE GOT FIRED

Sarah Blakely kicked out of stores. Youngest self-made female billionaire.

Jeff Bezos. When the company began selling toys and books, Bezos insisted on changing the business model so the company could purchase and store millions of dollars in toys. More than 100 million toys were purchased and warehoused in anticipation of the Christmas season. After the holiday, 50 million toys were left. Amazon gave most of the toys away because of insufficient warehouse storage space. When Amazon first launched, people could leverage a glitch that allowed them to buy a negative number of books and receive a credit from the company.

All 3 failed. What else do they have in common? A growth mindset

I was thinking as I was pulling this together I realized that as a communication coach all my successful clients have a growth mindset.  There’s a self-selection…. They believe they can change and improve and grow. That’s why they invest in themselves.  And that’s why they’re successful.

But that doesn’t mean they succeed 100% all the time.

The secret Sauce?  A GROWTH MINDSET. This is grounded in academic research. Let me give you the quick Growth Mindset 101 lecture.

Stanford University psychologist Dr. Carol Dweck distinguishes between a growth mindset versus a fixed mindset. 

  • If you have a growth mindset, you’re curious. You improve.  You’re more comfortable with risks.  You’re ok with being wrong. You invest in self-improvement. You LEARN.
    • You know those people who hear “you cant” and who respond: “just watch me?”
    • If you’ve read GRIT by Angela Duckworh….
  • If you have a fixed mindset, you perceive yourself to have fixed skills, attributes and abilities. You’re less likely to invest in yourself. You’re defensive. You’re focused on self-verification. When you fail, you believe “that’s it.”
    • Sounds imperceivable, but some of you invariably have a fixed mindset.
    • You believe in genetic destiny.  
    • You’re focused on finding the thing that comes easy for you, as opposed to the thing that you want to work on.

OK, OK, so why should you care?

Research shows significant effects of adopting a growth mindset:

  • increased motivation; lower stress, anxiety and depression, better relationships and improved performance.

So ask yourself: REALLY!!! Do you believe things can change? Or are they static?

Do you believe people can change? Or are they pretty much set based on their genetics and their upbringing?

Last week I was in California at Harvey Mudd College, which is a tiny elite STEM college. The faculty and students there are focused on CS, engineering, math, physics and chemistry, mostly.  Changing the world for the better. I met 18 yr old who spent last summer tagging sharks and dropping waterproof robots into the bottom of the ocean to track the sharks and the effects of global warming – incredible.  I met faculty that I truly believe will inspire students who will change the world for the better.

ANYWAY that’s an aside.  But there’s a reason I’m mentioning this.

When I was at Harvey Mudd College, I attended a presentation on design thinking and the prototype mindset. 💡 Have you heard of a prototype mindset? 

Yes, I was thinking about you entrepreneurs as I was listening to this faculty presentation.

Inventors prototype things. Right?  Sometimes explicitly or directly.  You might physically build a prototype. Or you might beta test something. Sometimes implicitly, when you test things.  

This is a perfect example of having a growth mindset.

Whether you’re creating a technology or an idea, think about prototyping.

Prototyping is a fantastic analogy or metaphor for a growth mindset: 

try fail repeat => success  


So this prototyping mindset, or growth mindset.  Where does it come from?

Well, think about how you were raised.  Yes, you might be able to blame – or give credit to – your parents.  Or your teachers

  • Research shows us that children who are told “You are so good/bad at…” end up with a fixed mindset, whereas kids who are told “great effort!” end up being more successful bc they believe their effort will reap benefits
  • so a young student who fails a math test might think “I’m bad at math.” And then decide to move away from all things STEM. So sad.  
    • A student with a growth mindset will say “Hmm.  That’s one piece of information. I guess I need to better prep for these tests.
  • An entrepreneur who makes a pitch and is turned down might say “this is a bad idea.” or “I guess I’m not cut out for this.”  
    • Whereas an entrepreneur with a growth mindset will say “Hmm.  That is one piece of information.  What went well? Why did the investor say no?  What can I do differently next time?”
  • Or if you’re trying to make a contribution at work and your idea gets rejected or ignored, do you think, “I guess that was a bad idea.” Or worse –  “I’m an idiot”  That’s a fixed mindset.
    • If you have a growth mindset, you’ll think “Hmm, I wonder if I need to rework that idea.”  Or maybe rework how you present it.

Do you get the idea? 

When faced with failure, someone with a fixed mindset will turn away or turn off.  

But someone with a growth mindset will take the “FAILURE” as information.

SARA BLAKELY, the founder of SPANX, talks about how her father formed her ideas about FAILURE differently than most of us. 

This is consistent with a  growth mindset.

Richard Branson says it differently.  He says: 

“If you don’t succeed at first, there’s no need for the F-Word (Failure). Pick yourself up, and try, try again.”

Again, this is a growth mindset.

I was thinking about how Yoda from Star Wars would put it: “There is no failure.  Only Learn.”

Here’s Mine:

“I know what I know and I’m keen to learn more.”

2 parts:

  • Confidence in what I know
  • Always keen to learn more


  1. Invest in self-improvement.  (you’re doing that right now. Investing money, sure, but TIME. Read. My clients. )
  2. Andrea’s growth mindset mantra: 2 sides
  3. One of the easiest ways to adopt a growth mindset?  Use the word LEARN as much as you can. No such thing as failure.  Imagine failing is what is required to help you catapult.

One last thought: You are creating your narrative. I tell this to my clients when they get laid off or to my kids when things don’t go their way.  Whenever we experience a challenge.  When the poop hits the fan, remember, you’re creating your own narrative

Remember: there is no failure.  Only learning.

Alright that’s it!

If you’re investing in your growth mindset, you’re keen to learn more, I encourage you to go check out the website. You can find the full archive of this podcast and lots more.

While you’re on the talkabouttalk,com website, I hope you’ll sign up for the communication newsletter. That way you’ll get communication coaching from me every week in a simple-to-digest email.  Never more than once per week and no spam – I promise.

That’s it for episode #123!  THANKS for LISTENING. Talk soon!