About Donna – MBL XSAIL AHAHandbook etc

Donna Hartney, Ph.D., is America’s top expert in life-changing “aha” moments and Ph.D. performance consultant to multinational companies. She is the author of The AHA! Handbook: How to spark the insights that will transform your life and career and the creator of xSAIL® Coaching, a unique transformational coaching methodology that teaches clients how to prime themselves for life-changing realizations. As a performance consultant, she helps leaders and professionals devise and implement strategies to bring out the best in themselves and their people. She earned her Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and lives with her family in Western New York.



My mission is pretty straightforward. I want to learn as much as I can about the mechanisms that spark pivotal insights—and to teach people how to create their very own life-altering AHA!s.

My Path to AHA!

It all began more than ten years ago when I was dissatisfied with the progress I was making in my life, and I was frustrated with the self-help and self-improvement ideas that I had tried. They weren’t working for me. In fact, they seemed to make things worse.

Then I stumbled on two self-help ideas that made a real difference for me. The first idea was that when I had fallen into a hole of uncomfortable emotions that I shouldn’t try to think my way out of it. Rather, I should focus on being in the moment and trust that the feelings would eventually dissipate. The second idea was that while I was waiting I might be lucky enough to experience a flash of clarity, an insight, and when I did I wouldn’t fall into the same emotional pit again.

It wasn’t long before I began to wonder whether I could be proactive. Could I prime myself for pivotal insight rather than just waiting, and hoping, to experience one? At this point I was in uncharted territory. It seemed there had been no serious research on the subject. So I expanded my search and dug into related research areas such as creativity, innovation, and neuroscience. As I read I began to experiment in my life. I primed myself for momentous AHA!s, and then watched in amazement as they began to appear. It was then that I really began to gain traction in my life.


xSAIL® Coaching

As I experienced the impact of profound AHA!s in my life, I wondered whether what I was doing to spark life-changing insights would work for others. I began to test my approach with others and found that I was able quickly and easily to teach them how to generate their own momentous epiphanies. I created a unique coaching process for tapping the power of insight and called it xSAIL® Coaching. I shared the approach with my colleague Fran Ritzenthaler, and we began to introduce other coaches to xSAIL Coaching and to certify them in the methodology.

(An xSAIL Coach can show you how to create pivotal AHA!s in your life! Click here to learn more.)


The AHA! Handbook

As I witnessed the impact of xSAIL Coaching on the lives of our clients, I found that I wanted to reach a broader audience. I also wondered what else I could learn about the mechanisms that create momentous AHA!s. So I decided to conduct a formal AHA! study. I collected and analyzed one hundred published accounts of pivotal insights. What I found was very interesting, and even eye opening.

I have written The AHA! Handbook: How to spark the insights that will transform your life and career to share the results of my research, and in the book I describe 21 epiphany-encouraging actions. You can take these actions to transform your life and career.

(Learn more about The AHA! Handbook!)


The xSAIL Workshop

The xSAIL Workshop teaches how to spark life and career transforming "aha" moments.The AHA! message is an important message for all of us—whether we want to achieve greater success in our careers, adopt healthier lifestyles, improve our relationships, deepen our spiritual lives, or make a bigger impact on the world.

As a speaker and workshop leader, my message to groups is inspiring, practical, and simple: AHA!s transform lives. You can prime yourself for life-changing AHA!s. It’s easy. I’ll show you how!

(Contact me at Donna@DonnaHartney.com to learn more about how I can customize an engaging, informative, and inspiring presentation that meets the needs of your audience!)


Performance Consultant

As a performance consultant, I work with global leaders and professionals at Fortune 500 companies. I help clients develop effective strategies to bring out the best in people, whether it’s through 360° feedback and courses for individuals, problem solving and team building events for groups, or cultural change efforts for an entire organization. In my more than 20 years of experience, I have partnered with executives and leaders at companies such as Dicks Sporting Goods, Eaton Corporation, Ernst & Young, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Ingersoll Rand, Roche Diagnostics, Scotts Miracle-Gro Company, Sodexo, Talbots, Timken, Volkswagen Group of America, and UBS.

(Click here to learn how my colleagues and I at McBride&Lucius can help you bring out the best in your people!)


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