Michael Hall, Ph.D.

Modeling created NLP, modeling also created Neuro-Semantics, and modeling will keep this field growing and thriving.  Modeling will keep us creative and on the cutting-edge of facilitating self-actualization for individuals and organizations.  And modeling has been my focus for some 25-plus years and the source of the rich offerings in NLP.  But we need more people doing it.  The following is my story.  I’m presenting it to invite you to start your story.

While I became aware of NLP in 1985, I did not begin studying NLP until 1986.  I had heard of it as a communication model and then I discovered that it had lots of applications for therapy.  As a psychotherapist, that interested me.  So I studied it for eight years before my first big breakthrough in 1994, when I discovered and created the Meta-States Model.  That was a little bit short of “the ten-year rule” of Anders Ericcson.  Perhaps that was because the field was pretty new and I entered into it pretty early.  Anyway, those were the silent years in which my focus was on understanding NLP.

As I learned NLP I began incorporating it into my work.  I added the NLP Communication Model to my book, Speak Up, Speak Clear, Speak Kind (1987) and then added the NLP model of strategies to my work in Motivation, How to Get Yourself Really Motivated (1988/ 1998).

While I was doing my original studies with Bandler, I wrote what became the book, The Spirit of NLP (1997) in 1989.  Then at Bandler’s request I wrote Becoming More Ferocious as a Trainer (1990) during my Trainers’ Training.  After that I wrote several other books for Bandler, Time for a Change and Neuro-Associative Dynamics (unpublished) from video-tapes and worked on creating The NLP Directory (unpublished).

At that time to more fully understand NLP I began reading everything that the three communication experts Perls, Satir, and Erickson had written.  That led me to other sources of NLP, especially Bateson and Korzybski.  I then wrote a series of articles, Almost Inventors (1991-1992) and then later The Missing Meta-Model Distinctions (1992-1993).

In 1990 Richard uged me to engage in a modeling project.  Because my degree and practice was in psychotherapy, I decided that for my first modeling project I would model a therapeutic solution to schizophrenia.  I read Bateson’s work over and over, and because I had had experience with several high functioning schizophrenic clients as a licensed psychotherapist, I approached a mental health clinic in my city.  But after many meetings, the project was refused.

That’s when I began my first modeling project on resilience.  That and all of the other projects were turned into trainings as well as books as I took the discoveries, created models for doing things, and then put them into a training format so that the expertise could be replicated.  Today most of these are Neuro-Semantic Trainings.

Many of the projects slid into the next one.  In fact, sometimes it is difficult to say when one modeling project ended and the next one began.  Often, as with modeling Resilience, while still working on that, I began working on modeling Self-Reflexivity.  Along the way I wrote a number of books that were exclusively NLP books.  Some of these came out of various modeling projects and some simply came from remodeling NLP using the Meta-States Model.

Patterns for Renewing the Mind (1997/ 2000)

Sourcebook of Magic – Volume I (1997)

Sourcebook of Magic – Volume II (2003)

User’s Manual of the Brain, Vol. I (1999)

User’s Manual of the Brain, Vol. II (2002)

MovieMind (2002)

Propulsion Systems (2003)

Games Great Lovers Play (2004)

Innovations in NLP (2011)

The Field of NLP (unfinished and unpublished)

1) Resilience (1990- 1994).  I shifted to study resilience —a project that continued over four years.  I wanted to know how people recovered from a set-back.  DThe discovery and articulation of the structure of resilience led to discovering the presence of states-about-states (meta-states) and that combinations of meta-states resulted in “gestalt” states.  That led to the training on Resilience that now is one of the gateway trainings in Neuro-Semantics.

Books: There is a chapter on resilience in the book Meta-States: Managing the Higher Levels of the Mind (1995/ 2012).

Manuals: Resilience.


2) Self-Reflexivity: (1992–1997).  While studying resilience, I read Alfred Korzybski’s works in General Semantics (Science and Sanity, The Manhood of Humanity) as well as Gregory Bateson’s works on logical levels (Steps to an Ecology of Mind).  That led to exploring the field of Meta-Cognition (whyich is primarily about memory and the philosophy of Mind), which occurred at the same time of the discovery of the Meta-States Model.  The Meta-States model was recognized in 1995 as “the most significant contribution to NLP” by the International Association of NLP Trainers.

Books: The first book on Meta-States was published in 1995, Dragon Slaying (1996), then Secrets to Personal Mastery (2000).  The Meta-States Model models the structure of self-reflexive consciousness— the most unique phenomenon in human experience.  Meta-State Magic (1997-1999 from the Meta-States Journal).  Winning the Inner Game (2000/ 2007, formerly Frame Games).

NLP Books remodeled using Meta-States:

Adventures in Time-Lines

Mind-Lines: Lines for Changing Minds

                        Figuring Out People: Meta-Programs

                        Sub-Modalities Going Meta

NLP Going Meta: Meta-Level Modeling

Papers: The Meta-Dimension.  The Bateson Report (2002), The Four Meta-Domains of NLP.  Series of articles on Logical Levels.

3) Managing Anger and Negative Emotions (1994-1996).  Upon discovering meta-states, I took a new look at “emotions” and especially the so-called “negative” emotions to find the structure of out-of-control negative emotions and the structure of how to manage them.  This meant modeling effectiveness in state (and meta-state) management and how to defuse a person who has reached an out-of-control state that may be characterized by anger, stress, fear, anxiety, shame, guilt, etc.

Books: This led to Dragon Slaying (1996/ 2000).  The Structure of Personality (2001).  Games for Mastering Fear (2001).  The Defusing Strategy (1997).

Trainings: This led to the gateway trainings Emotional Mastery and Defusing Hotheads and other Cranky People.

Patterns: Dancing with Dragons, Meta-Stating Troubling Emotions.

 4) Accelerated Learning (1995– 1996).  From the Meta-States Model came an exploration into the structure and experience of learning and accelerated learning.  The focus was on how those who are exceptionally skilled at learning, at accelerated learning, etc. have increased their capacity to learn and how they have accelerated their learning.

Trainings: This led to the training Accelerated Learning.

5) Women in Leadership (1998).  This project was directed by Jeff Hays of Salt Lake City (NLP Master Practitioner) and Dr. Jennifer Hays, Head of research department, Rice University, Houston Texas.  Invitations were sent to 50 women who broke through the “glass ceiling” and the modeling involved traditional research methodology by Dr. Hays and NLP Modeling by Jeff and his team.  I trained the team to distinguish Meta-Programs and Meta-States and David Gordon trained them in his approach to modeling (the Experiential Array).  25 of the women agreed to the interviews which were both audio and video-taped.  I analyzed the transcripts and sent the results to the team.  Post review of the project revealed that the population of women was far too broad— being leaders in different domains, industries, etc. failed to provide enough commonality.  Sally Ride, the first woman astranaut, Nadine Strossen,  President of the ACLU, Lesley Stahl, TV anchor and interviewer, Candace Pert, author of Molecules of Emotion, Lilia Wallis, Louise Hay, etc.

Materials Proprietary: Dr. Hays required that the intellectual property of this project be exclusively hers and so made the information proprietary.

6) Wealth Creation (1997– 2000).  I began my modeling with three multi-millionaires who I knew personally.  Two had strategies that were highly unecological.  They made lots of money, but at the cost of their health, relationships, marriages, etc.  I then turned to the literature on this subject and found many longitudinal studies that had interviewed wealth creators.  What they had not done was to structure the data so that it provided a specific process for wealth creation.  That’s what I added to the process using NLP and Neuro-Semantics.  My focus was to understanding how first-generation rich individuals became wealthy (financially independent) and maintain that wealth in an ecological way.

Books: Inside-Out Wealth.

Trainings: Wealth Creation, also titled Inside-Out Wealth.

7) Selling Excellence (1998).  The Wealth Creation project revealed the importance of selling, so I engaged in an exploration into the persuasive skills of masterful sales people.  I knew that I needed that competency to succeed myself.  In the search, I discovered that there have been multiple paradigms of sales during the twentieth century and that the field had gone through several stages.  The structure of the first and second generation of Sales Models were called “the hard sales” approach and “the soft sale” approach respectfully.  Then a paradigm shift occurred in the sales field in 1985 introduced by Stephen Heilman’s Strategic Selling (1985).  This revolutionized the field of sales, I based my work on that new paradigm.

Trainings: Selling Genius.

8) Health and Fitness (2000- 2001).   In an attempt to get national and international attention to NLP and Neuro-Semantics, I engaged in this in an attempt to get on Ophrah’s Book Club.  Hiring a publicist, we decided to create a product for Harper Productions that Ophrah would be interested in. That led to the modeling project on the structure of health and fitness.  So I modeled healthy individuals who had attained and maintained a healthy weight with sufficient energy and vitality for living life with passion.  As a result, I wrote a manuscript on the subject and invited 15 individuals to read the original manuscript with the request to apply to self and report the results.  Consequently over the next six-months, eight individuals lost 30 to 50 pounds, took pre and post pictures of themselves and were prepared to go on the TV show.  Post-script: By the time the book was ready Ophrah ended her book club.

Books: Games Slim and Fit People Play (2001).

Trainings: Games Slim and Fit People Play.  The Neuro-Semantics of Health (2005).

9) Business Expertise / Entrepreneurs (1998– 2000).   While modeling Wealth Creation and Selling Excellence, one aspect that many, if not most, entrepreneurs engage in is that of creating a business.  As I had met many excellent business people and read scores of biographies of many more during the Wealth Creation modeling, I used much of the same material for modeling their business acumen and competence.  The research explored the structure, format, nature, principles of business, and those who are experts at succeeding in business.

Books: Games Business Experts Play (2001).

Trainings: Business Genius.

 10) Training Expertise (1999– 2017).  After the demand arose to train trainers for teaching and training Meta-States, and as the Bandler lawsuit was wrapping up (Feb. 2000), I began conducting “trainers’ training.”  That led me to start modeling excellent trainers that I had met and reading the literature of training.  By 2003 I began creating benchmarks for presentation skills, training skills, and business skills.  With a team of trainers and eventually Master Trainers, we have continued to improve the quality of training, benchmark addition skills.

Trainings: NSTT — Neuro-Semantic/ NLP Trainers’ Training manual.  Assist Team Manual.

Papers: Taking Trainers’ Training to a New Level.

11) Writing Best Sellers (2002-2003).  By the year 2000 I had developed a reputation of being a prolific writer, and because several of the books were best sellers in the field of NLP, numerous people had asked to interview (e.g., Pascal Gambardella, Ph.D.) my writing strategy.  So starting from those interviews and my own strategy for reading, researching, and writing, I began a modeling project of writing and best sellers.  To do that I chose ten best selling non-fictional books in the field of self-development and studied them for the distinguishing features.  This then led me to some unique literature in the field written by editors who had also studied non-fiction best sellers and the model for how to write with mastery.

Trainings: Writing Genius (2002).

12) Coaching Expertise (2000– 2017).  I first interviewed Dan Bagley, Ph.D. as an executive coach in 1999.  That alerted me to the new emergent field of Coaching.  Then in 2001, I interviewed and modeled three expert coaches in Sydney Australia—Michelle Duval, Graham Richardson, Cheryl Gilroy.  All of them were NLP Master Practitioners, had successful coaching businesses, were recognized as experts by their peers, and were making $100,000 a year as a coach.  This led to the Meta-Coaching System that began in 2002 in Sydney, to the Meta-Coach Foundation (MCF, 2003), and continues to this day.  Meta-Coaching is now in 65 countries, with 3,000 Licensed Meta-Coaches.

Books: The series of books on Meta-Coaching, now numbering 15 books.

Trainings: Modules I and II of Meta-Coaching— Coaching Essentials and Coaching Genius.  Module III, ACMC Coaching Mastery.  MCC– Manager Coach Certification for Internal Coaching.  Group and Team Coaching, GTMC.  PCMC— Professional Certified Meta-Coach with manuals for each one.  Also Transformational Coaching (Axes of Change), Executive Coaching.

Volume                  Book title                                                                                                               Modeling Project

I:                          Coaching Change                               Axes of Change Model                                       #13

II:                        Coaching Conversations                    Facilitation Model

III:                       Unleashed: Self-Actualization          Self-Actualization Quadrants                           #20

IV:                       Self-Actualization Psychology          Self-Actualization Volcano

V:                        Achieving Peak Performance           Meaning–Performance Axes

VI:                       Unleashing Leadership:                     Axes of Leadership                                             #16

Self-Actualizing Leaders & Companies

VII:                     The Crucible                                         The Crucible Model

VIII:                   Benchmarking Intangibles                 Benchmarking Model                                         #17

IX:                      Systemic Meta-Coaching                  The Matrix Model

X:                       Group & Team Meta-Coaching        Group Trust Spiral

XI:                     Executive Coaching                                                                                                            #18

XII:    Political Coaching

XIII:   The Meta-Coaching System

XIV:   Get Real: Unleashing Authenticity                                                                                                      #22

XV:                     Inside-Out Persuasion                                                                                                         #23

13) Generative Change (2001- 2003).   While modeling coaching experts, the question arose about how they think about change and what model of change were they using.  In modeling the three experts in Australia (Michelle Duval, Cheryl Gilroy, and Graham Richardson), I noted that they were not doing therapy and so not using a therapeutic model.  Yet in my research, I noted that all of the books on coaching promoted TTM and other therapy-based models.  As I modeled them, I detected that they were relying on four mechanisms— motivation, decision, creation, and integration.  By connecting that to four of the basic NLP Meta-Programs, I designed the Axes of Change Model.

Books: Coaching Change.

Trainings: Transformational Coaching.

14) Mastering Stuttering and Blocking (2002).  After writing two articles on the structure of stuttering using NLP and General Semantics, Bob Bodenhamer and I began working with people who stuttered.  We modeled stuttering using the Matrix Model (which I had recently developed, 2002).  As I was getting involved with Meta-Coaching, I asked Bob to take the lead in this and to write a book on our discoveries.  In tracking out the meta-level structures that combine to create the gestalt of stuttering, we found that stuttering is essentially a phobia located in one’s breathing and speech mechanisms.

Books:  Mastering Stuttering and Blocking with NLP and Neuro-Semantics (2004**), now titled In Their Own Voice.   The Matrix Model (2002, 2003, 2012).

Training: Mastering Stuttering.

15) Self-Actualization Psychology (2003– 2017).  This modeling project began as a search for a coaching model for how people unleash their potentials.  In 2002 Michelle Duval began assisting me in  co-creating the Meta-Coaching System.  She asked. “What model will we use for facilitating the unleashing of potentials that lead to self-actualization?”  I commented that it would take me two months of reading in Maslow to identify that model.  After not finding a specific model in the writings of Maslow, I searched the writings of Carl Rogers, and then others of the human potential movement.  It was not there.  Thereafter I took the data that they had collected and organized it into a model.  This led to several models that we now use in Meta-Coaching: The Self-Actualization Quadrants, the Matrix Hierarchy, Self-Actualization Assessment Scale, etc.

Books: Unleashed (2007), Self-Actualization Psychology (2008), The Crucible (2010), Get Real: Unleashing Authenticity (2016).

16) Self-Actualizing Leadership (2005–2016).  This modeling project naturally and inevitably followed the previous one— looking at “leadership” in terms of Maslow’s Theory Y and the structure of that experience.  In studying self-actualizing leaders and companies, I wrote case studies on 15 such companies and the men and women who led them.

Books: Unleashing Leadership and Self-Actualizing Companies (2009).

Trainings: Unleashing Leadership.

17) Benchmarking Intangibles (2004– 2010).  Another question that arose during the development of Meta-Coaching concerned how we would measure (or determine) competency in the coaching skills.  At first we used the Meta-Model and simply looked for behavioral equivalents to the nominalizations or unspecified verbs (e.g., listening, questioning, supporting, etc.).  Later I took this on as a modeling project and began looking at the field of benchmarking in manufacturing, IT, and other industries.  Eventually that led to the Benchmarking Model for “intangibles” based on linguistics and neuro-linguistics.  Because there were no experts in this skill, the modeling was theoretical at first and then practical as we practiced it over the years.  The person who came closest to benchmarking intangibles was Dee Hock, former CEO of Visa International.

Books: Benchmarking Intangibles (2012).

Trainings: In the early years, we taught the Benchmarking Model within the ACMC training.  Today we teach it only to the Assist Team.

18) Executive Coaching (2008— 2015**).  As the special niche of coaching, the field of Executive Coaching was growing, I began modeling the best executive coaches that I had met over the years.  I interviewed between 12 and 20 Expert Coaches from many countries, the US, the UK, Hong Kong, Mexico, South Africa, Australia, etc.  Once the text of the book was completed, I asked Excutive Coach Graham Richardson to assist in the writing, which he did.

Books: Executive Coaching (20**).

            Trainings: Executive Coaching.

            Videos: DVD series on Expert Coaches: first one featuring Graham Richardson.

 19) Collaboration (2013- 2016).  This project began after Shelle Rose Charvet and I edited the book, Innovations in NLP (2011).  This was the first truly collaborative book in the field of NLP in that it represented authors from every sector.  Shelle, Ian McDermott, and myself began interviewing and modeling each other as collaborative leaders.  We had the interviews recorded and transcribed.  I then read extensively into the sub-domain of collaborative leadership.  When Shelle stepped back from the project due to a health crisis, Ian and I continued and eventually we produced the book.

Books: The Collaborative Leader  (2016).

Trainings: Collaborative Leadership Skills.

20) Meaning and Meaningfulness (1999 – 2017).  With the Meta-States Model, the structure of meaning and human psycho-logics began to be revealed.  This led to the Frame Games approach and eventually the book.  Modeling the structure of meaning continues to this day.

Books: Frame Games — now, Winning the Inner Game (2000/ 2006).

                        Neuro-Semantics: Actualizing Meaning and Performance (2011).

 21) Productivity (2004– 2015).  This model project arose from the Self-Actualization studies given that self-actualizers do what is highly meaningful and they do so productively.  That makes them highly productive— both effective and efficiency.  Given also that this is one of the key themes in NLP itself— modeling excellence in top performers, this came together very quickly.  Later, I was asked to focus specifically on the structure of productivity and deliver it in Moscow, which I did in 2016.

Books: Achieving Peak Performance (2005).

Trainings: Unleashing Productivity  (2016).

 22) Authenticity (2016).  This modeling project explored the structure of being an authentic and “real” person— one of the ultimate objectives of self-actualization.   As a gestalt state, authenticity involves a many variables thereby making it systemic in nature.

Book: Get Real: Unleashing Authenticity (2016).

Trainings: Unleashing Authenticity Get Real.

 23) Ethical Persuasion (2017).  This modeling project looked at the gestalt state of “persuasion” to understand its complex and systemic structure.  Modeling great persuasive leaders such as Nelson Mandella, John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., etc. the focus was on ethical or authentic persuasion in contradiction to manipulative persuasion.

Books: Inside-Out Persuasion (2017).

Trainings: Persuasively Impactful Conversations (2017).

24) Creativity and Innovation (2012– 2017).  This modeling project began during the project on Self-Actualization and led to the training “Creativity and Innovation.”  Later, I modeled several persons well-known for their creativity and innovation.

Books: Creative Solutions (2017).

Trainings: Creativity and Innovations, Module III of the Self-Actualization series.  (2010).

25) Critical Thinking (2015– 2017).  At the heart of communicating, creating, representing, and even thinking is act of thinking and the quality of that thinking.  Noting that the Meta-Model of Language is a critical thinking tool, I began focusing on the experience of critical thinking.  I encouraged one of our trainers to make it his focus and he did, but as I began to mentor him to that end, he treated what he had put together as his exclusive “intellectual property” and refused to share it.  Having prepared to co-develop it with him, I continued on as I modeled and thjen created a transferable model for enabling people to engage in critical thinking.

Trainings: The Neuro-Semantics of Critical Thinking (2017)

Book: Executive Thinking (being developed for 2018).