Rebecca Heiss’ new book INSTINCT: Rewire Your Brain with Science-Backed Solutions to Increase Productivity and Achieve Success

shows why we are hardwired to make instant decisions why it’s vital to intentionally slowdown in the moment in order to process information to make the best decision.  

Our brains excel at making split-second decisions based on instinct.  Our biologically driven instincts evolved and honed over millennia to survive a world ruled by scarcity and danger. In today’s fast-paced, complex, and technologically-driven environment, those same instincts can pose a danger, driving us to respond and react instantaneously, without the careful consideration and critical thinking today’s challenges demand. 

You can see instinctual decisions and responses played across today’s headlines, from polarizing political divides, perceived enemies and cultural groupthink to hiring biases, gender assumptions, mandatory diversity training, and management missteps.

In INSTINCT: Rewire Your Brain with Science-Backed Solutions to Increase Productivity and Achieve Success (on-sale April 27, 2021; Hardcover, $28.00), Dr. Rebecca Heiss offers a fascinating glimpse of the instinctual mind at work, why we are hardwired to make instant decisions that aren’t grounded in rational thought, and why it’s vital to intentionally slow down in the moment in order to process information to make the best decision.  

Approaching the topic as both an evolutionary biologist and a CEO, Heiss has the unique vantage point of applying evolutionary behavior to the business space, she provides fascinating real-life examples of people, businesses, and organizations that resorted to behaviors that were counterproductive and costly.  She breaks down our instincts into seven distinct buckets, along with examples:

Survival – How our reliance on binary judgements and pressure in the moment impacts our perception of time and pushes us to make break-neck decisions without sufficient contemplation. Individuals and companies undergoing stress situations can make poor decisions under pressure.

Sex – How socialization and cultured gender norms are reinforced by our biological natures, and how this can influence perceptions of leadership, hiring biases, gender biases, and corporate culture. Multi-million dollar hiring and diversity initiatives at companies Google and Ernst & Young, for example, don’t get to the heart of the larger picture – encouraging diversity in education.

Variety – How our deep drive for choices leads to The Abundance Paradox (more choices, less satisfaction). Five Guys Burgers is an example of a company sticking to doing one thing, superbly.

 Deception – How our actions are based on motives directed by our subconscious minds, which we then justify in our conscious minds.  NASA’s Challenger explosion, and Elizabeth Holmes’ Theranos, are examples of individual and organizational self-deception gone awry.

Belonging – The powerful pull of being in the safety of the tribe. From loyalty programs to “stack ranking,” from salary cuts to save jobs to corporate community initiatives, the importance of alliances (and enemies).

Fear of the Other – Studies show more diversity is profitable, but Heiss shows example after example of biases, losses, and huge opportunities for growth when companies consider new perspectives.

Information Gathering – In our expansive data-driven universe, companies will have a competitive advantage by honest data collection and applying it correctly from the beginning.

INSTINCT will help readers find ways to pause, think, and act effectively, responsibly, and empathetically, avoiding the behavior pitfalls to which our instincts often direct us. 


Rebecca Heiss, Ph.D., has dedicated her life to understanding why we behave in the bizarre, unproductive, and potentially damaging ways we do. An evolutionary biologist specializing in stress, Dr. Heiss is a professional speaker whose clients have included Lockheed Martin, SHRM, Charles Schwab, ADP, Vistage, and more.  A former professor, Rebecca’s research was designated “transformative” by the National Science Foundation. She was a founding member of NEXT High School, an impact-based learning charter school.  Heiss is CEO of icueity, LLC, a 360-review mobile application providing users with continuous feedback for leadership development. 

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