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The Alter Ego Effect

Kobe Bryant

Behind the Scenes on How The Black Mamba Was Created...With the Performance Coach that Built It Alongside Kobe

Kobe Bryant was a legend.

He worked harder than others.

He never quit. (Bryant shot free throws after he tore his Achilles once, then limped off the court. That’s a level of no-quit; few have.)

And he was extremely intense on the court. (Hall of Famer, Steve Nash, quipped once, “I hated playing against him. It sucked.”)

But as Kobe would’ve said, “That wasn’t Kobe out there; that was the Mamba.”

The Black Mamba, to be specific.

His Alter Ego became globally known and birthed a legend.

Now to many people, this isn’t new, but what many people don’t know is I was the performance coach Kobe hired back in 2003 to help him create the Black Mamba. (I’ve written about client privacy and why my company was so militant about it in the past.)

And in the video below, I’m peeling back the curtain a bit on:

  • Why Kobe reached out to me originally, (it wasn’t to create an alter ego, and he didn’t reach out to me first),
  • What made his Alter Ego so powerful, and
  • How you can use the same creative energy to transform your life.

Just Click Play.

Kobe’s Journey to the Black Mamba (A common one for many…)

When Kobe Bryant reached out to my mentor Harvey Dorfman in 2003, he said, “I feel like I’m losing my edge.”

Harvey, the giant of the mental game industry, and known as the ‘Yoda of Baseball’ said, “You’re not losing your edge. You’re losing your identity, and you’re going through an ego death.”

Harvey then introduced Kobe to me, because I specialized in ‘identity-based performance’ and thought this new methodology could help. When we started working together, we didn’t create the Black Mamba straight away. It took a few weeks for the Black Mamba to be birthed into creation.

However, we did find what I call, ‘The Source Code’ which became the traits and attributes he wanted to bring to the court. That’s when I introduced him to the concept of Alter Egos, and together we created the Black Mamba. This persona embodied his best qualities and allowed him to step up his game.

Kobe approached getting into character for the Black Mamba persona as similar to an actor preparing for a role. He would put himself in a mental cage and become the Black Mamba, a stone-cold killer with no emotion or pressure. To help him get into character, he would listen to the Halloween theme song over and over again, choosing the Michael Myers version because of the mask’s lack of expression.

What’s fascinating about Kobe’s approach to Alter Egos is that he didn’t just let the Black Mamba out, he got into the cage with it. He wanted to commune with the Black Mamba and let it absorb him, so that he could fully embody the character and dominate his opponents.

When it comes to what made the Black Mamba so effective, I break it down into three key elements:

Playfulness, and

1. By being intentional about who he was bringing onto the court, Kobe was able to create a custom identity that helped him win in that domain of his life.

2. By being playful, he was able to remove his ego from the equation and choose to be the best version of himself for that particular role.

3. And by bringing intense focus and energy to the court, he was able to give himself the final ingredient needed to set the Black Mamba loose.

A final key point:

While everyone is hyper-aware of Kobe’s alter ego now. He never came out and told others about it until 2009. And this is a key point… because The Black Mamba was never created in just one session with me. It evolved over time.

And when you think about it, it makes sense. Your current identity in any of the roles you have in life, evolves over time. It’s just most people don’t intentionally create their identity, like I mention in ‘The Alter Ego Effect’ book Chapter 3. All of us are shaped by influences when we’re young we never had control over.

However, we’re all gifted with the creative capacity to morph, adapt, and change. And Kobe, is a gold-star example of that ability.

Who is the Alter Ego Effect™ for?

From the creative entrepreneur who resisted their craft, to the accomplished military officer who wanted to be a warmer dad at home, Todd Herman’s clients have discovered there is no end to the parts of their lives they could improve by using Alter Egos.


Leverage your Alter Ego to confidently wear all the hats of entrepreneurship and shield yourself from the doubts, fears and worries that crop up.

Athletes & Entertainers

Stepping onto the field, stage, court or any arena demands a level of self-confidence and peak performance that an Alter Ego can help sustain.

Sales Professionals

Use your Alter Ego to bust through common barriers and unleash the skills you already have to win the sale.


Find out how others have used Alter Egos to break free from doubt, fear and imposter syndrome so you can start getting more of yourself out there.


Tap into your Alter Ego to enjoy family time even after a long, hard day. PLUS, help your kids overcome self-doubt with their own Superpowers.


No matter what internal demons you battle, an Alter Ego is the fastest and most powerful way to bring the best of you to the world you live in.

As you can see, it’s not just athletes like Kobe who can benefit from adopting an Alter Ego. Anyone can use this tool to overcome ego death and step into a new role or identity.

By changing at the identity level, we can more easily develop new habits, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors that align with our desired outcomes.

So if you’re looking to become a top performer in your desired domain, consider creating your own Alter Ego.

As Kobe once said, “I create the Black Mamba Alter Ego so that when I stepped on the court, people were going to see something different.” And by doing so, he became one of the greatest basketball players of all time.

Ready to tap into your inner greatness by using an Alter Ego?

Join Todd Herman, the renowned performance coach who helped Kobe Bryant create the Black Mamba, in his next Alter Ego workshop.

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