About Matthew

Matthew Syed is one of the world’s most influential thinkers in the field of high performance and cultural change. He has worked with leading global organisations to build a mindset of continuous improvement. A multiple award-winning journalist for The Times, he is a highly-acclaimed speaker and the author of five bestselling books. In his work, he explores a thought-provoking approach to success and high performance in the context of a complex and fast-changing world, looking at the scientific correlation between mindset and performance and how we cannot develop unless we are prepared to learn from our mistakes.

Book Speaking

Personal Bio

Born in 1970 to a Pakistani father and Welsh mother, Matthew Syed attended a state school in Reading, UK, leaving at the age of sixteen to focus on table tennis. He taught himself A Levels in the downtime after training, working his way through various text books, before applying to the University of London Examination Board to sit his papers in a small room near King’s Cross along with students doing their re-sits.

Having passed his A Levels, he was accepted by Balliol College, Oxford University to study for a degree in philosophy, politics and economics. He played in the Olympic Games in Barcelona towards the end of his first year at Balliol, and gained a prize-winning First Class degree four months after becoming the British table tennis number one in 1995.

He is, perhaps unsurprisingly, a strong believer that sporting and academic excellence are not mutually exclusive. Indeed, he argues that developing the body and mind provides a powerful synergy – a point well understood by the Ancient Greeks.

Sporting Career

Matthew was the British table tennis number one for almost a decade, won the men’s singles at the Commonwealth Championships three times, and competed for Great Britain in the Olympic Games in Barcelona in 1992 and Sydney in 2000. His style was unusually defensive, playing what a colleague described as “spectacular roof threatening parabolas” from the back of the court.He was not always successful. He admitted to choking at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, falling apart under the pressure of the biggest competition on the planet. The experience provided the impetus for trying to understand how the mind responds under conditions of stress – and to develop techniques to perform without inhibition. In 2015, he made a programme on the subject for Radio 4 called The Choke

Journalism & Media Work

Matthew is a columnist and feature writer for The Times. He writes regularly on football and other sports, as well as on culture, media and politics.

He has won numerous awards for his writing including Sports Journalist of the Year at The British Press Awards on 2 occasions, as well as Sports Feature Writer and Sports Columnist of the Year at the Sports Journalist Association Awards 6 times. He also won Sports Commentator of the Year at the Editorial Intelligence Comment Awards and Best New Writer for his book, Bounce, at the British Sports Book Awards.

A regular contributor to radio and television, Matthew provides analysis for Sky News, Newsnight and CNN. His film for the BBC, China and Table Tennis, won the bronze medal at the Olympic Golden Rings ceremony in Lausanne. He has presented a number of television and radio documentaries on mindset and performance for the BBC.

Community Work & Accolades

Matthew was a co-founder and is a trustee of Greenhouse, a charity that empowers youngsters through sport. Greenhouse currently supports more than 10,000 young people on 31 full-time school programmes. He is also a member of the FA’s High Performance Committee alongside Sir Dave Brailsford and Baroness Campbell, an ambassador for the PiXL educational foundation, and a member and co-founder of the Greenshaw Learning Trust. Matthew has also been recognised for his work in advising government departments – namely The UK Department of Health in 2016 – and for his influential contributions to the HR sector, being lauded as one of HR Magazine’s HR Top 30 Most Influential Thinkers in 2018.

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“Growth mindset is changing our culture and helping to unlock hidden potential by identifying real and unconscious barriers to growth and energising our people to overcome them. We are also seeing systemic changes that will help to increase agility and further improve business performance.”

“Growth mindset is changing our culture and helping to unlock hidden potential by identifying real and unconscious barriers to growth and energising our people to overcome them. We are also seeing systemic changes that will help to increase agility and further improve business performance.”

Principal, Global Financial Services Organisation

“Our work around growth mindset is making tangible our culture as an innovative and supportive law firm, which helps us to attract and retain the right people.”

“Our work around growth mindset is making tangible our culture as an innovative and supportive law firm, which helps us to attract and retain the right people.”

Partner, Global Law Firm

“Staff at every level have really engaged with growth mindset and marginal gains and feel more empowered and accountable, which is helping drive continued improvements across our operations.”

“Staff at every level have really engaged with growth mindset and marginal gains and feel more empowered and accountable, which is helping drive continued improvements across our operations.”

Production Manager, UK Processing Plant

“We quickly realised that we were doing more than introducing new initiatives, we were defining our very DNA – who we are and how we operate.”

“We quickly realised that we were doing more than introducing new initiatives, we were defining our very DNA – who we are and how we operate.”

Director, Professional Services Organisation

As a manager, understanding the psychology behind fixed and growth mindset and how to create a culture for high performance was immensely valuable.”

As a manager, understanding the psychology behind fixed and growth mindset and how to create a culture for high performance was immensely valuable.”

Consultant and Clinical Director, NHS

“We have reduced incidental expenses by 25%, which directly benefits our bottom line.”

“We have reduced incidental expenses by 25%, which directly benefits our bottom line.”

CEO, UK Construction Company

We have improved quality, productivity and capacity through growth mindset, saving us hundreds of thousands of pounds a year and helping us increase revenues and profits.”

We have improved quality, productivity and capacity through growth mindset, saving us hundreds of thousands of pounds a year and helping us increase revenues and profits.”

Chief Operating Officer, Logistics Organisation

“Black Box Thinking has enabled us to deliver pension schemes that have outperformed the UK average by 40% over the past decade.”

“Black Box Thinking has enabled us to deliver pension schemes that have outperformed the UK average by 40% over the past decade.”

Divisional Manager, Pension Provider

“We have reduced errors by 77%, driving up customer trust and satisfaction and minimising the risk of costly emergency product withdrawal (EPW) processes and associated financial penalties.”

“We have reduced errors by 77%, driving up customer trust and satisfaction and minimising the risk of costly emergency product withdrawal (EPW) processes and associated financial penalties.”

Production Manager, UK Processing Plant

“In less than 100 days after deploying Mindset Advantage, we have radically changed a key customer-facing process, increasing efficiency by 30% and delivering better client outcomes.”

“In less than 100 days after deploying Mindset Advantage, we have radically changed a key customer-facing process, increasing efficiency by 30% and delivering better client outcomes.”

Senior Vice President, Professional Services Organisation

“We have increased productivity by 44%, output by 3%, and are doing more interventions than ever working a five-day week instead of seven.”

“We have increased productivity by 44%, output by 3%, and are doing more interventions than ever working a five-day week instead of seven.”

Consultant and Clinical Director, NHS

“The tools and techniques provided in the course will certainly go a long way towards helping me understand how to better plan for success but also help me realise that failure is not necessarily a negative thing but is certainly a positive learning opportunity.”

“The tools and techniques provided in the course will certainly go a long way towards helping me understand how to better plan for success but also help me realise that failure is not necessarily a negative thing but is certainly a positive learning opportunity.”

Associate Director Sustainable Business, Interserve Construction Limited

“Strategically, we have gained a richer, deeper understanding of the pervasiveness of the benefits available from adopting a growth mindset perspective. Tactically, you gain experience in a new technique that you can take straight back into the working environment. Personally, I have changed the way I engage – both at home and at work”

“Strategically, we have gained a richer, deeper understanding of the pervasiveness of the benefits available from adopting a growth mindset perspective. Tactically, you gain experience in a new technique that you can take straight back into the working environment. Personally, I have changed the way I engage – both at home and at work”

COO, Osborne

“The work we have undertaken gives you the toolkit to invoke cultural change in a business to enable performance improvement. The programme brings the theory of ‘Black Box Thinking’ to life. It provides real life examples to back up theories and allow the delegates to learn, reflect and consider how it can be applied in the work environment”

“The work we have undertaken gives you the toolkit to invoke cultural change in a business to enable performance improvement. The programme brings the theory of ‘Black Box Thinking’ to life. It provides real life examples to back up theories and allow the delegates to learn, reflect and consider how it can be applied in the work environment”

Best Practice Manager, Arriva UK Trains

“Inspiring, motivating, engaging … just some of the words my team used following their participation. Essex Police has benefited from Matthew Syed’s Black Box Training session….. the ripples of incremental change are spreading in a way that benefits colleagues and most importantly the people of Essex.”

“Inspiring, motivating, engaging … just some of the words my team used following their participation. Essex Police has benefited from Matthew Syed’s Black Box Training session….. the ripples of incremental change are spreading in a way that benefits colleagues and most importantly the people of Essex.”

Chief Constable, Essex Police

“This was a genuinely enlightening, entertaining and informative experience – it is thought-provoking, challenging, insightful, fun and relevant to the most and the least experienced team member. The fact that “Black Box Thinking” and Matthew Syed anecdotes have become part of the everyday vocabulary of our team is a testament to the impact this has made.”

“This was a genuinely enlightening, entertaining and informative experience – it is thought-provoking, challenging, insightful, fun and relevant to the most and the least experienced team member. The fact that “Black Box Thinking” and Matthew Syed anecdotes have become part of the everyday vocabulary of our team is a testament to the impact this has made.”

Group Head of Transactional Services, Pinsent Masons LLP

“Fantastic, new approaches and techniques to transform our mindset”

“Fantastic, new approaches and techniques to transform our mindset”

Business Excellence Consultant, Siemens

“Utterly inspiring. We are looking forward already to booking you again.”

“Utterly inspiring. We are looking forward already to booking you again.”

Senior Partner, Simmons and Simmons

“This programme would benefit organisations by providing an excellent framework to understand and appreciate their organisational mindset, and start to think about how they can accelerate their leadership skills to drive business forward. This is a hugely insightful programme.”

“This programme would benefit organisations by providing an excellent framework to understand and appreciate their organisational mindset, and start to think about how they can accelerate their leadership skills to drive business forward. This is a hugely insightful programme.”

Quality Culture Programme Lead, GlaxoSmithKline

The insights, learning and science really drives home the scale of the opportunity we have as leaders, through change of mindset and the introduction of these tools with our people”

The insights, learning and science really drives home the scale of the opportunity we have as leaders, through change of mindset and the introduction of these tools with our people”

Senior Manager, Change Management Divestment Programme, Royal Bank of Scotland

“It forced me to reflect on how I approach development within my team.  I have continued to think on this after the event which I think shows how impactful it was.”

“It forced me to reflect on how I approach development within my team.  I have continued to think on this after the event which I think shows how impactful it was.”

Director, Barclays

“In Black Box Thinking, Matthew shows how having a growth mindset and creating a culture willing to embrace and learn from failure can categorically improve performance”

“In Black Box Thinking, Matthew shows how having a growth mindset and creating a culture willing to embrace and learn from failure can categorically improve performance”

Partner and Director of External Relations, Virgin

 “The Mindset workshop was nothing short of outstanding. The message of a Growth Mindset resonates with the culture we are striving to create.”

 “The Mindset workshop was nothing short of outstanding. The message of a Growth Mindset resonates with the culture we are striving to create.”

Chief Fire Officer

“My own thinking was challenged in this workshop – new ideas – even though I had already read Black Box Thinking”

“My own thinking was challenged in this workshop – new ideas – even though I had already read Black Box Thinking”

Chief Executive, Independent Police Complaints Commission

“After deploying Mindset Advantage, we have radically changed a key process, increasing efficiency by 30% and delivering better client outcomes.”

“After deploying Mindset Advantage, we have radically changed a key process, increasing efficiency by 30% and delivering better client outcomes.”

Senior Vice President, Professional Services Organisation