1. Greetings Srini. What would you consider your main occupation?
I think of myself as an integrationist dedicated to enhancing human well-being and eradicating disease.
I am a Harvard-trained psychiatrist, brain-imaging researcher, and certified master executive coach.
I pioneered a field called transformational neurocoaching, which has to do with helping people in corporations change their behavior using a combination of depth psychology, brain imaging and cognitive techniques.
I am also a trained musician, visual artist, and technology entrepreneur. As a physician, I consult to investments companies about biotechnology investments in all diseases including cancer, heart disease, stroke and Alzheimer’s disease. Most recently, I launched a company that integrates science, art and technology to enhance corporate creativity and celebrity identity at transition points.
2. What is your favorite part of your work?
I have a profound sense of purpose and enthusiasm across all sectors of my work. While I enjoy the end result of people feeling better about their lives and more successful, I enjoy the work for what it is. I thrive in the unknown.
3. How did the idea of your book, “Tinker Dabble Doodle Try” come about?
My literary agent thought that since I was involved in so many fields and had successfully built a life with this diversity, that I should share what I knew about the interaction between “focus” and “unfocus” in the brain.
Having had several experiences that taught me that focus alone will hurt your brain, I also personally felt connected to the idea, so I wrote the book.
4. When did you first decide you wanted to go into this line of work?
My work is in a state of continuous evolution. I think I decided that I wanted to be a physician before I started school at a very young age. But I also knew that I was an artist and loved physics and mathematics too. I wanted to merge these fields and have found a way to evolve my work over time.
5. What are some of the obstacles you’ve had to overcome while chasing your dreams?
I don’t really chase my dreams. I experience obstacles every day. Having to work in fields that often feel relatively stagnant, closed to creativity,
and disconnected, it’s been hard work manifesting my passion which evolves continuously. The biggest obstacle is ME-I could say people sometimes don’t get it, life isn’t fair, money is hard to come by to run to many companies, but in the end, the only thing that limits what I do is MYSELF. So my biggest obstacles are the unconscious factors that stop me.
6. Any events in your life that particularly impacted your vision with your career?
Yes, when I focused too much I noticed that life was much harder and things were more difficult to come by. This happened at medical school and during my residency.
Learning to build in unfocus has been key. Mo mothers’ death recently threw me for a loop. It taught me that grief is not something you recover from,
but you learn to integrate it into a full spectrum of emotions. This had released me from the shield I have put up between what is inside me and outside of me. In
a strange way, it has motivated me even more to live out her legacy through my truth.
7. What would you recommend to young people that are potentially interested in becoming a neuroscientist in the future?
First, become who you are. Neuroscientists are a dime a dozen. There’s only one YOU. And the deeper you connect with yourself, the more likely it is that you will be successful. and connect with others. Also, become a radical collaborator. This will require dealing with fears of intimacy, but do it anyway.
It’s what our world needs most now, in my opinion: people in different fields thinking together.
8. How do you personally find well-being in your life?
Friendship is a top priority for me. I seek to be the best friend that I can be and to surround myself with people who prioritize this.
I am always engaging my light and shadow, and my clarity and paradoxes. I realize that life is not about being perfect. It’s about being me. And that’s about as far from perfect as you can be.
Also, integrating workouts and tennis with a lot of mental activity, delicious food, meditation and martinis has served me well. At my current stage in life, I am more interested in wellbeing finding me. This means something like — being open, curious, observant, dynamic, real, connected and having a whole lot of fun.
MEDICAL: Srini Pillay, M.D. graduated at the top of his class in medical school in South Africa. After receiving a Medical Research Council Scholarship to study the neurochemistry of panic, he completed his residency at McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School where he graduated as the most nationally awarded resident in his class. Following this, he directed the Outpatient Anxiety Disorders Program at McLean Hospital and also completed 17 years of nationally funded brain imaging research. He has been a physician for 28 years, maintains an active clinical practice with individuals and families, and teaches medical students as Assistant Professor of Psychiatry (Part-time) at Harvard Medical School. Currently, Srini is a member of the by-invitation-only “Group for Advancement of Psychiatry”, an American professional organization of psychiatrists dedicated to shaping psychiatric thinking, public programs and clinical practice in mental health. As a member of the “Disasters and the World Committee”, Srini has contributed to multiple books on the subject of global disasters and wellbeing.
BIOTECHNOLOGY: Srini has also consulted regularly for the past 10 years to companies that invest in biotechnology to assess medications in various illnesses including cancer, heart disease, and stroke.
CORPORATE: In addition to his work in psychiatry, and brain imaging research, Srini is CEO of NeuroBusiness Group -voted one of the top 20 movers and shakers in leadership development in the world, (Training Industry, 2013). Srini is pioneering his neuroscience expertise in the leadership development arena. With a unique, practical and thought-provoking approach, Srini shows executives how to harness the brain’s power to manage conflict, motivation, purpose, stress, anxiety and
uncertainty, increase innovation, and enhance corporate agility, conscious capitalism and productivity. Using science, business research and real-world experience, his methodology receives global acclaim. He is a globally sought-after speaker.
His clients include Fortune 100 and Fortune 500 companies as well as international multilateral non-profit organizations. He speaks and teaches throughout the US, Canada, Europe, Asia and South America. Srini is a member of the Consortium for Advanced Adult Learning and Development at McKinsey & Co. He is also working with The McKinsey Academy on the
concept of “self” in leadership. He was recently invited to the Transformational Leadership Council and to be a speaker and
member of the FRED leadership forum. In 2018 and 2019, Srini was signed to LinkedIn to be an educator on 3 video compilations: Depression in the Workplace, Anxiety in the Workplace and Leveraging Neuroscience in the Workplace.
TECHNOLOGY: Srini has co-founded three early-stage technology startups aimed at improving leadership and wellness.
MUSIC: He has just completed writing a musical which he is preparing to pitch for Broadway and is working on a
collaboration involving Gospel music and brain-based learning.
FASHION: Srini is working on a collaborative project on time, fashion and the brain.
MEDIA: Srini and his expertise have been widely featured in the media including: CNN, Business News Network, Fox, NPR, The
Boston Globe, The New York Times and Money Magazine. He is a regular contributor to Harvard Business Review and has been
featured in Forbes and The Wall Street Journal.
BOOKS: He is the award-winning author of: Life Unlocked: 7 Revolutionary Ways to Overcome Fear and Your Brain and
Business: The Neuroscience of Great Leaders. His new book is “Tinker, Dabble, Doodle, Try: Unlock the Power of the
Unfocused Mind” (Ballantine Books, 2017). Srini has also presented a TEDx Talk — “WIRED FOR SUCCESS: The Science of Possibility”