Welcome to another episode of the Ideasicle Podcast, where we attempt to untangle the mysteries of the elusive idea.

Today, we’re going to talk with an expert on pressure. The kind of pressure that can crumble the best athletes, the greatest politicians and, yes, even the greatest of idea people during a pitch or under a deadline. Why do people choke under pressure? What’s going on in the brain? How can we manage the choke and maybe even avoid it? Listen and find out.

Sian Beilock is a psychology professor at The University of Chicago and one of the world’s leading experts on the brain science behind “choking under pressure” and the many factors influencing all types of performance: from creativity to test-taking to public speaking to your golf swing.

She has written the book, “Choke. What the secrets of the brain reveal about getting it right when you have to.” Click link or picture of the book to purchase. Well worth it, as you’ll see.


  • Sian starts off by explaining how she got into the concept of “choking” – hint, it has something to do with sports coupled with a fear of parallel parking in front of her husband.
  • She defines the choking moment and explains what’s going on in our brains when it happens.
  • The phrase, “Whistle while you work,” may just be good advice, according to Sian. A fascinating tip to trick your brain into performing better.
  • Think ADHD is a bad thing? Well, not when it comes to being open to new ideas.
  • Sian talks about creative environments and how they aren’t all just fun and games (very good news for ping pong tables at agencies).
  • Even nature can refuel our cognitive horsepower.
  • We discuss coaching creative people with just enough stress, but not so much that they, well, choke.
  • Sian talks about the benefits of “group intelligence” even though I didn’t ask her to bring it up. I swear.
  • And she wraps it up with several amazing tips to help all idea people avoid the choke – from writing down your apprehensions to meditation to positively priming yourself to practicing in high-pressure situations before the big event.

Click to learn about the revolutionary marketing ideas company, Ideasicle.