The practice of better decision-making

Self-improvement is critical for Butchershop — enhancing ourselves, our work, our understanding of the world. To that end, we’ve launched a discussion series, not unlike TED Talks, in which experts in their field join us at the office to shed light on various topics. We call it Creative Confidence.

Most recently, we brought bestselling author Michael Veltri in to discuss an often-overlooked but monumentally important topic: decision making. Michael says we make about 35,000 decisions a day, or about two dozen decisions per minute, and we make most of them without proper consideration.


An entrepreneur, decorated Marine veteran, cancer survivor, and business-transformation expert, Michael is also a master-instructor in the Japanese martial art of aikido and a black belt in jiu jitsu. Suffice it to say, he knows a thing or two about making tough decisions.

In addition to guiding us through breathing and movement exercises, the keikogi-clad renaissance man took us step by step through a healthy decision-making process. Here’s what we learned.

Distractions are a decision-makers’s kryptonite

Numerous studies prove it: We’re not as good at multitasking as we think. If you have an important decision to make, start by ditching your phone. Step away from your monitor. Take out your earbuds. Then count to five. Twice. Once to refresh and refocus, and once more to realign your well-being.

Data + instincts = strong decisions

Strong decisions come from weighing several sources of data—not just one. Draw a Venn diagram, labeling the left side “head” and the right side “heart.” On the left side, list all of the scientific data that will help inform your decision. On the right side, list the emotional data. In the middle lies what Michael calls your “decision balance”: data that draws equally from your head and your heart. Use this list to brainstorm three to five solutions to your problem.

Deliberate but don’t dwell

It appears in Aesop’s fables, Shakespeare’s Hamlet, and countless other stories since then. Call it analysis paralysis: Lingering on a decision is just as detrimental to the outcome as rushing a decision. To give your decision adequate thought without dwelling on it, choose three solutions from your “decision balance” and analyze each one for 15 minutes.

Look at every decision with fresh eyes

You may have drunk sour milk once, but that doesn’t mean milk everywhere, forevermore, will be sour. Don’t let past experiences taint future decisions. Instead, analyze the present. Look at possible solutions and ask yourself, “What would have to be true right now for this option to be the best choice?”

Resist the wrong influencers

Fear, ego, guilt, obligation, sense of duty—these are toxic influences on decision making. Many of these, after all, are heavily emotional. To counter their impact, create a list of the five people who influence you most. Friends, family—even people you’ve never met but look up to. Then ask yourself, “What would so-and-so do in this situation?”

Now, Michael says, you’re well equipped to face an important problem and make the right decision. You’re free of distractions, weighing equally your instincts and the data. You’re thoughtful but not over-thinking, focused on the present rather than the past. And you’ve checked negative influences at the door.

So? What’s for dinner?

To learn more about Michael Veltri and his interactive, educational keynote speeches, visit


  • Culture


Spring 2018