LNC 40 | Reptilian Brain


Understand that there is a part of your brain that is reptilian. You start to act on it when you’re being reactive. So in a fight or flight situation, you’re not really thinking. You just act. It’s good to open up your reptilian side because it helps you develop new skills. Breakaway from your comfort and develop this new side. Learn more about the brain and how we think with your host John Solleder and his guest Maria Teresa Zavala. Maria is the CEO of Practical Education for Executives. Listen in and learn more about the reptilian part of your brain today.

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From A Reptile To A Genius With Maria Teresa Zavala

It is truly a privilege to introduce an amazing lady that I met in Houston. She was doing a seminar for our company and I was overwhelmed with the tremendous knowledge and information that she imparted. Things that I had never thought about. Things that perhaps other leaders had never thought about like how the mind works and how it needs to think properly to create a big business. Maria Teresa Zavala, it is my honor and privilege to welcome you to the show. How are you?

I am delighted. Thank you very much and your audience. I’m sharing a little bit of what I have been doing and learning throughout the years. Thank you.

You’ve been a very good student and a wonderful presenter as well. Let’s start with the first question. What are the best success habits to practice to become successful in Network Marketing?

The first one is to find your objective. When we don’t know where to go, no path will lead us anywhere. The first one is knowing and recognizing where do we want to go to. What is our final point? I have been studying with John Grinder and in every case, we started with the idea of begin with the end in your mind. If you don’t create the ending in your mind, any road will lead you anywhere.

It makes a lot of sense in not just multilevel marketing or network marketing, but probably anything that we start in life. Let’s talk about success. This is a difficult question to ask and certainly to answer. What is the purpose of success in life?

Begin with the end in mind. If you don't create the ending in your mind, any road we'll lead you anywhere. Share on X

There are different varieties of success because it depends on your point of evolution. If you’re thriving for external success, success would be to have an A-score in whatever you’re studying or make big money or have a big house or be better than someone else. Those are the external drivers but there’s a number of internal drivers that are more permanent than the external ones. Those go for having peace of mind, contributing with your talents, be part of something greater than yourself, and help many people around you. Most of our success definitions depend on what is the purpose we are following in life.

It’s like the results are important, but how we feel about ourselves in getting those results is more important. Would you agree with that?

Absolutely. It’s like a pilot who’s driving from Mexico to New York. If you know that you’re going to get to New York, it doesn’t matter where you go. Your definition of where you want to get to is mandatory. There might be certain storms or wind that drive you off your score but if you know where you want to go and what is the inner message that you’re creating along the road, this is going to be more important.

It was the first time I had ever heard this referred to this way, but reptile thinking. It’s important for our audience to understand what that is.

When we are only an egg inside the womb, we start with a cellular division. There’s a notochord or a small line that is being formed throughout our division. The first part of this division creates the notochord and the central nervous system. The way it evolves is it’s a small area in the brain that is formed in the first three months of evolution in the body. This is going to have the purpose of protecting us and keeping us alive and safe from any danger that might be around us. This is called the reptile brain and it’s going to be working throughout your life at any moment where you feel threatened or exposed.

LNC 40 | Reptilian Brain

Reptilian Brain: External success would be to be rich and have a big house. There are also internal drivers that are more permanent than external ones, like contributing your talents to be a part of something greater.


After the COVID, in Mexico, everything is still paralyzed and closed. People feel threatened and in survival mode. The only three responses there are in this level of the brain is you either you attack, you get paralyzed or frozen, or you want to escape or run away. When you see people being aggressive or not knowing where to go or wanting to go away from any situation, you can immediately understand those people are living at this stage of the brain that is not intelligent but is reactive.

What percentage of the brain where we’re conscious do most people use?

A neuroscientist that I have been studying said that we use 0.1% of our mental skills, but because the brain is formed by a very large number of neurons and connections, the way we learn is by conditioning ourselves. We start forming lines or paths of behavior that we say in science are around 70,000 thoughts every day. The negative thing about this is that the next day, we have the same 70 ways of thinking. They are the same. They are not new because human beings like comfort. They like to feel safe and to know that whatever they are doing is correct. We formed these paths of behavior that determine who we are, our personality, and our way of doing things. They are going to be usually the same. They define us.

One of the things that I have been exploring is how to create new connections, how to make people learn and help people learn new ways. It’s fascinating because once you are detached from the basic brain or the reptilian brain, your mind will develop new learning skills that are amazing. They can make you learn a language in a week to develop a business may be in two months, but it’s only about learning how to use new areas of your brain.

It’s incredible when you hear this type of stuff. Let me ask you about habits. The brain forms habits that we then follow through physically from an activity standpoint. There are good habits and bad habits. More important than how to develop a good habit is how to break a bad habit. What’s the best thing they can do to break bad habits?

When you're acting with your reptile brain, you're not intelligent but you're reactive. Share on X

We are trapped by bad habits because these bad habits lead us to the basic brain or the reptilian brain that wants to be predicted and not be exposed to new learning or new skills. That habit has been installed as a habit of being who I am, either good or bad. We don’t dare to break those habits because they represent a safe way of behaving. To break the bad habits, first of all, you have to create a vision of who do you want to become.

For instance, drinking, smoking, doing drugs, being lazy, being in front of the television all day long is a terribly bad habit because after all, we are energy. You’re not using your energy in new ways. This is the beginning of dying and becoming a parasite of your own life. Breaking a bad habit or a negative habit that is not helping you starts with the determination of doing so. It’s recognizing that there’s a bad habit installed in you and then breaking the pattern. It could be, “How do I get rid of a bad habit?” Every habit has three forms, what we see, what we hear, and what we feel.

If you want to break the bad habit of drinking, for instance, you have to first recognize what is the pleasure this bad habit is bringing to you, and then recognize at least three new ways of installing a new habit, and learning how to feel in a way where you’re going to count on yourself and become your best. Wery often, we get used to listening to our inner voice, our worst enemy. It’s useless. You cannot do it. Whatever you do is going to be the same. You have to make the silence and this way of talking to yourself. Once you start doing so, you’re going to change the internal voices. Also, create a visual image of yourself of who do you want to become and how do you want to be seen after a while. Maybe dress in a different way, change your hairdo or change your looks. If you continue looking in the same way, listening the same and feeling the same, it’s impossible to break these bad habits.

Thank you for that. Developing new habits is obvious most of the time. If you want to improve your health, go to the gym and do something. How do you break bad habits? That’s always been the thing that I wrestle with and so many of our audience does. Let’s talk about this, Maria. You’ve learned from some of the masters. I know John Grinder is somebody that you’re a big fan of. Do you want to talk a little bit about what you’ve learned from him over the years?

I met John Grinder many years ago. In those days, I was struggling with my business. I was doing the same things I could. I get to fly to Sweden where I saw the use of NLP in a company called Avenue. I flew to Paris where there’s a cousin of mine working at a research department in Paris. She told me that she was treating children with cancer with something called Neuro-Linguistic Programming, which I didn’t know a word about. I came back to Mexico and I was told John was teaching a course in the United States. I flew down to see him. In the beginning, I arrived with the same arrogance of many scientists wanting to challenge new beliefs, and there he was.

LNC 40 | Reptilian Brain

Reptilian Brain: The way humans learn is by conditioning themselves. They start forming patterns of behavior that are all the same. Humans like comfort, which is why the way they think is the same.


After the third day, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I couldn’t believe what I was thinking. He had been with some of the masterminds in the world like Milton Erickson, Virginia Satir, etc. He had been learning from these masterminds. He was sharing with us everything about learning how to think not in order of how to avoid my bad habits, but how to create new valuable habits. His idea was to learn from the best. The primitive brain is always going to look for weaknesses or bad things. John was looking for what is best in the world, the best minds ever, and the enlightenment.

He recognized that in the brain, there are these three areas that we talked about, what we hear, what we feel, and the colors or the visual representation of what we see, and then create the positive ones. He became a master to me. I told him about my desire of creating a way of learning languages in a very easy way. He was helping me to find new ways of making a mind work at its best. Here’s one of the minds of the people I admired the most. He is a sportsman. He only has positive habits. He represents one of the most positive things I can see in a human being.

I know you’ve done some work with photo reading with Paul Schelle as well. What can you tell us about that?

Paul was teaching a course about photo reading in Mexico and I went to visit him. Those days, I was very poor. I said, “What about trading, Paul? I’ll teach you how to learn Spanish fast and you’ll teach me how to photo read.” It was fascinating because he had also studied some Neuro-Linguistic Programming. He was using the best on how the mind thrives when reading. We know that reading is a habit that was created more than 500 years ago, and the way we read in the printed paper. He taught me how to use the brain in order to run through the pages in a way where you can learn the content of the book in only maybe twenty minutes. Paul was one of the minds that motivated me to see how we can use the brain at an amazing rate. He now has a Doctoral degree and was mentioned as one of the brightest minds in the world compared to Stephen Hawking’s. He’s an example of how to learn in a fast way.

One of the things I’ve heard him say was to not read a book but to study a book. I’ve heard that from a few other people as well along the years. It’s interesting that that concept alone can change how we read, where instead of reading it contextually, just to study. What is the author trying to teach us? Another brilliant person you’ve worked with is Tony Buzan with mind mapping. Tell us about mind mapping.

Using your reptilian brain will help you develop new learning skills because you're opening up new areas of your brain. Share on X

When I was young and studying and working in radiology, I remember I used to work in a dark room by developing radiographs or X-rays. It was impossible for me to read the way I read or take notes the way everybody would take notes. I used to make drawings. I was learning from what you said about Paul. For me, going to school was not about being there but understanding and learning at the same time. I’m left-handed and I was always taking colors. I always bring colors with me. I was making drawings of what I was understanding.

I understood that words are only maps. I realized that printing your ideas in drawings is more powerful than taking notes word by word. My mind was learning at the same time. When I met Tony Buzan in England at the Institute of Directors, I was surprised because what he was creating was real books about how to take notes and how to represent the information. He emphasized the idea of using colors. It was going to invite the right side of the brain. The left side of the brain is the logical, mathematical and intelligent area of the brain. The right side of the brain is creative, intuitive and emotional. When you use the colors, you buy both areas of the brain. By using these same drawings that I used to use, your idea is inviting both areas of the brain to work together, which is fascinating.

One of the greatest titles of a book I’ve ever heard, and I know you’re a big fan and you’ve worked with the author of it, is Emotional Intelligence. I remember when it first came out a number of years ago. An owner of a company here in Dallas I was working with gave me a copy of it. I would love it if you can talk a little bit about Emotional Intelligence and Daniel Goleman.

I went to San Diego to attend the course with a friend Kathleen Green. She is the Director of a Leadership University in South Pacific, California. We were there but I was lost and didn’t arrive at the hotel on time. I said, “This is the first challenge of this course, how to face being lost in a foreign country to get to the course on time.” What I understood from Goleman was that there are two emotions. The negative ones are going to activate our brain in a way that we are not receptive to. All the negative emotions like fear, anger and comparison create certain levels of not having a functional brain.

The other group of emotions that he defines as positive are divided into two groups. The first is self-knowledge. How were you created in a way where you recognize the emotions by which you live and how to manage those emotions. The second intelligence he described is the knowledge of others. How would you recognize the emotions that your communication creates in others in a way where you recognize them and use that knowledge in your favor and the favor of others?

LNC 40 | Reptilian Brain

Reptilian Brain: The left side of the brain is the logical and intelligent are while the right side of the brain is the creative and emotional part. By using colors, you’re inviting both sides of the brain to work together.


It is an amazing book. I remember reading it. The book was as good as the title when sometimes they’re not, as we both know. Sometimes the title is great and you read the book and you go, “Where’s the real stuff?” I remember reading that and the impact was amazing. It’s influenced so many companies not only in network marketing but in a Fortune 500 world. Let me ask you about that because I know you do a lot of work with Fortune 500 companies, many different fields, and many different performers in many different fields. If you had to break it down to three things that make that important difference of being an individual or a leader in a company achieving, what are those three things that the achievers do that maybe we’re not doing now or we know we should be doing but we’re not doing enough of?

Maybe the first one is regarding emotional intelligence, getting to know yourself. As a leader, we create the same impact that a child receives with a grownup. Eighty percent of how we behave is going to impact our organization. The first thing is to get to know yourself. Don’t forget about the visual impact you create in your organization. Always have a positive expression that your people are seeing in you. Also, a nice word to salute or to say hi to your personnel.

The second thing is recognizing the impact of the words you use. At Bimbo, one of the world’s most important companies for the bread industry, I realized how Don Lorenzo Servitje, the owner who passed away not long ago. By using one word, he was going to impact the hundreds of thousands of people around his company because people don’t want to miss a word. If you are a real leader, you have to take care of the word that you use and how you use the words.

The third one is how to become a center where people are going to be the best of themselves. When you create the company, it’s not about you anymore. It’s about every member of the organization. You have to follow a story of how did this person arrive in my organization and how am I helping him to thrive to be his best, to become the best representation of himself in his own life, with his family and within a team?

I love everything you said there. Let me ask you two questions based on that. The best advice for someone to become the best version of themselves at all times. Not only in the business world but when they step out of the business world, their mom, dad, grandma, grandpa or member of the community at large. What’s the best way for them to become the best version of themselves?

Printing your ideas in drawings is more powerful than taking notes, word for word. Share on X

The best way is by having these habits. As adults, we can choose the habits that bring the best out in us. The first one is to exercise every day as much as you can. Get rid of this toxic thinking and this negative way of thinking. That is natural as human beings. If you are the example of all that people who want to become themselves, you inspire them by looking at you. If you do so, people are going to long to be around you. I remember as one of the largest banks here in Mexico. I used to say to the director, “Don’t make this the chit-chat area. Make it a refreshing area. When people come to see you, make it so fresh about them that people get out of your office being inspired, being able to conquest every bit of the assignments they have to deal with and to believe in themselves.” That’s what the leader does in any organization.

Let me ask you this. I’ve interviewed a lot of people over the last year or so. I’ve been a student of self-development since I was seventeen. When we talk about a favorite word, you’re so right about one word can make a difference. For example, when I read Og Mandino’s The Greatest Salesman in the World, the word equanimity is a word that comes from that book that I think about. When I think about the very first book I ever read about self-development when I was seventeen, which was Dr. Norman Vincent Peale’s The Power of Positive Thinking, the word that I still go back to that I have to remind myself of many times is tranquility. I love that word.

As a matter of fact, when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, he called it tranquility base or something. I haven’t maybe thought about that. Do you have a favorite word that gives you that peace, clarity, and the ability to move forward in such a positive way like you have? You lead many people. You’re wonderful at what you do and you’re inspirational. You’re such an incredible teacher, but if you had that one word that sometimes you’re going on stage, they’re introducing you and you say, “Wow,” what’s that word?

Balance is the keyword that I always bring to my mind. There’s always something negative or something positive, but as long as you’re in balance, everything is going to work fine.

Let me share with everybody here. You can tune in to our show every Tuesday on Spotify and iTunes. We’re up to 7 or 8 other stations now that have picked us up. We’re growing a little bit. What I always like to do at this point, Maria, is to come back to you as the person who this episode is about and give you the last word. What’s your best advice for people to move their lives forward, move their network marketing businesses forward? We have some non-network marketing audience and friends of mine who are doing different things for a living. A lot of them are in leadership positions, whether they’re leading in the home only in some cases. Most of them are also in leadership in some businesses that they lead. In some cases, some of them are in a ministry that they lead. What’s your best advice to help them move forward today to a better place tomorrow?

LNC 40 | Reptilian Brain

Reptilian Brain: There are two types of emotions: negative ones that are going to be activating your brain in a way to make you not receptive; and positive ones that give you self-knowledge and the knowledge of others.


My best advice is to get a good coach. There’s not one single human being nowadays that can be his best without belonging to a group of people. You’re an eagle. You tend to fly by yourself. You tend to find solutions by yourself, but try to find a good coach to ask questions and doubts, and to receive feedback anytime you need it. The best people in the world are humble enough to know that they cannot know everything. If they can find a good advisor or a good coach for them, that would be my advice. Try to find a coach that represents whatever you can call success and that can leave his steps behind and inspires you. Someone you admire that you can get close to in times of trouble, as well as during happy moments of success, and is always going to be there for you.

I know that so many people are going to want to reach out to you and your company in some of the speaking and teaching that you do. Not only in Mexico and the United States, but throughout the world. It’s a little tough for all of us traveling-wise, but things are opening up a little bit. If they want to reach you, what’s the best way for them to do that?

The best would be to contact me through my page at PEFE.com.mx.

Even what you use to describe that are all positive. I love that. I want to thank you so much once again. You’re inspiring. You’re a wonderful teacher. You’re a wonderful inspiration to people. I know you’ve blessed and helped many people. What I’ve learned from you so far has been tremendous. We’ve been applying some of it and it works. Once again, thank you so much for your time, your continued wisdom and leadership.

Thank you so much to your audience and to your wonderful leadership. Thank you, John.

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About María Teresa Zavala

LNC 40 | Reptilian BrainMy main target has been in the use of the mind and how to help people achieve their best in business and in life.
I teach languages in an accelerated way with NLP and developed a special training program for people working in companies and wanting to be the leaders they actually are by changing their limiting beliefs.
I work as a coach as well and in human performance.
Have achieved the transformation of several companies to become number 1 in their field.

Specialties: NLP, coaching, languages, communication skills, leadership, accelerated reading and learning etc.