The First NLP Leadership Summit


L. Michael Hall, Ph.D.

November 2012

At the end of the 2011 NLP Conference in London, Frank Pucelik and myself had an experience that led us to begin talking about the development of groups of people (communities) and how a group grows up, it is guided and influenced by its elders. So we asked each other the obvious next question, “Who are the elders in the tribe of NLP? And how are they helping to guide the tribe and groom leaders for the next generation?”

From there we got an idea: Let’s get “the elders of the tribe of NLP” together and begin a conversation. So we did. Frank and I made a list of those who we might characterize as the “elders” who were usually present at the NLP Conference in London. We pulled the number “20 years” out of the air and thought, if someone has been in this field for 20 years, contributing, influencing people to become NLP practitioners, distinguishing themselves by their ethics and professionalism so that they are respected, then we wanted to begin there— surely these would be some of the elders of the tribe.

We then began putting out some emails to that list always making the invitation inclusive by saying, “Send this Invitation on to others who you know.” The uptake was slow, just 6 were interested at first, then 10, then 20 until we met on the day prior to the 2012 NLP Conference with 27 NLP Trainers, Researchers, Authors, and Professionals. So the first NLP Leadership Summit was in London on November 9, 2012.

About the design of the Summit we were clear— it was not to organize anything, make decisions about anything. Instead our design was much more modest: to simply meet, talk, and get to know each other. So for six hours we did something that happens too infrequently among us— we spent time getting to know how each of us are investing our minds, hearts, and lives into promoting NLP. Because while we may disagree about what’s within NLP, how to train it, how many days should be required, standards for assessment, etc., one thing we all do have in common already is our belief that NLP is powerfully important in changing lives and should be more widely recognized as a credible offering.

We then shared our best dreams for NLP. I began by sharing an experience I had that morning when I went through Customs as I entered the UK. When I presented my passport and entrance form to the lady at the customs office, she asked me why I was in the UK and for how long. I said, “I’m here to attend the NLP Conference in Canary Wharf.” She asked, “I’ve heard of NLP. Isn’t that reverse psychology?” I firmly said, “No.” She then said, “Isn’t that about hypnotism to manipulate people?” Even more firmly, I said, “No, definitely not. NLP is about discovering the structure of human expertise and teaching people how to replicate that expertise.”

I used that story to set the frame, “For many people, that is our brand. That’s what many people think about NLP. What do we want people to think when they hear the letters, ‘NLP?’ What is your best dream about that?” Some of the answers that emerged were the following. And the amazing thing is that we have such similar dreams.

NLP is a Community —a community of people who cooperate and collaborate.

NLP is known for what it gives, rather than received; NLP is contribution and a force for good in the world.

NLP is an esteemed Profession, one with standards, one taught in Universities around the world.

NLP is a resilient community built upon trust.

NLP is a community that deals with conflicts, has great models for helping people work through conflicts.

NLP is people who search for patterns and structures in experiences.

The conversation of the group then went to community, to relationship, to trust and trusting. This led to asking for a show hands for those who thought “There is a NLP community” and those who thought “There is not an NLP Community.” Hands were about equally divided. Then Heidi Heron from Sydney noted that “there are many NLP communities” but no global community that has a shared consensus. That resonated with everyone. We have communities, but not a single community that combines and unites the smaller communities.

Early in the day there was an attempt to begin talking about Standards and establishing professional criteria, and my guess is that everybody wanted to talk about that, and yet most of us realized, that if we jumped into that too soon, it would be counter-productive. It is a conversation that needs to occur, but we need sufficient rapport and relationship first.

Where to from here? With many people in the room who had been at many similar attempts like the 1997 Visionary Leadership Conference and having seen the attempts come to nothing, we knew that this had to be just the beginning, the first step of a long journey, and that there has to be follow-up. When I first mentioned every year at the NLP Conference, several noted that that was not sufficient. And true enough. Yet it is a beginning. So we did agree— “Next Year in London!” And we will be working on a Linked-In presence whereby we can invite more and more of the “elders of the tribe” into the NLP Leadership Summits.

As a field made up of many smaller communities and yet without a larger level community we are leaving a legacy, we are creating a brand. If a brand is our reputation in the minds of people— and another thing we all agree on— we do not like the legacy and brand that we have been creating so far. So what shall we do?

Today we are 37 years from the launch of NLP and now it is time for those of us who care about this field to take responsibility to be the leaders who live the principles of NLP, is it not? My observation from my travels around the world is that the great majority of NLP leaders share this sentiment and are ready to live the NLP presuppositions and apply them to ourselves as we communicate and collaborate among ourselves.

From: L. Michael Hall and Frank Pucelik

Re: NLP Leadership Summit

            Nov. 9, 2012 at NLP Conference

            London, International Hotel

 NLP LEADERSHIP SUMMIT  ———-   Exclusive Invitation

 Last year at the NLP Conference in London we (Michael and Frank) develop an idea about calling NLP Trainers together and facilitating a conversation about our future.  Given that so many of the leading thinkers, trainers, writers, and developers of NLP attend the largest English-speaking NLP Conference in the world — at the annual NLP Conference in London — we thought that might offer an unique opportunity.


Our idea is to invite the top and best leaders in NLP together to begin a Conversation on our future.  We thought we’d call together those who are recognized and known as leaders by their contributions to the field of NLP and conduct a half day (4 to 6 hours) on November 9, the day prior to the Conference.  Below is a list of the people that this email is going to.  Do you know others to include — please forward this email and then let either Michael or Frank know so we can keep track of who has been invited and who is planning to join us.


The focus will be: “What is the future that we are creating?”  We thought we would pose such questions as the following:

∙                       Are we creating the kind of legacy for the future that we really want to create?

∙                       What kind of a future are we creating and do we want to create?

∙                       What kind of culture do we now have in this field or movement?

∙                       What kind of a culture do we want to cultivate and how can we do that?

∙                       What are the issues before us as leaders that we can or could address?


The Problem:

After some 35 plus years, NLP is still a tiny little niche in the field of self-development and has very little influence in most countries.  While there is now the beginnings of research and a few people making some headway to get national or international attention, most of the people on planet earth has not even heard about NLP.


What if we created a “NLP Leadership Coalition” (or a group with some other name) that represents and reflects the basic NLP vision/ perception and that can then give its Voice as “Recommendations” for the international field/ community of NLP.  The recommendations would have no power or authority, just suggestions from the NLP Leadership Coalition—  recommendations from a diverse and wide range of NLP leaders around the world.

And what if after a matter of time (20 years?) people would get used to referring to “What does the Leadership Coalition think or say about this?”

The Leadership Coalition could regularly have meetings to talk about things —  using the NLP communication guidelines so that we practice and experience together good communication skills, not so much to create conformity but at least understanding, tolerance, patience …

While it would be great if we could set international standards and govern the quality and content of NLP worldwide, this is probably something that will never happen.  But that doesn’t mean that we can’t do something or that we can begin to create a level of collaboration where we at least talk with each other and think in terms of what we all have in common.

Call to Action:

Would you like to join us in London, at the International Hotel on Nov. 9?

If so – please contact one or both of us … and let us know.  We are thinking about late morning (10:30 to 5:00 pm)

  1. Michael Hall —

Frank Pucelik —