Who We Are

Howie Milstein decided early in his career to question conventional thinking and seek the real truth that is rooted in unbiased observation. As the world of medicine tries to evolve towards a system of evidence-based care, so does Howie believe that it’s more meaningful to live an evidence-based life and run evidence-based businesses.

As the Twin Cities’ first personal trainer in the 1980’s, available resources that suggested certain ways of motivating his clients did not resonate with what he was seeing. Spawned from this curiosity to learn the truth behind what motivates us was a passion that guided his studies and leadership principles. These principles have been implemented in many roles since his personal training days, including over 25 years managing teams in the orthopedics, cardiac surgery and spine industries, with titles including Distributor, National Sales Manager, Sr. Vice President of Sales, Chief Operating Officer and President.

While a strong adherent to the ideas of Self Determination Theory - including the principles of autonomy, mastery and purpose - Howie learned that acquiring an understanding of motivation was only half the battle. In order to optimize culture, employee engagement and predictable outcomes, he had to become deeply introspective and choose the best leadership style to nurture innovation, passion and growth.

When he stopped taking himself so seriously, things got better. Much better.

When he stopped taking himself so seriously, things got better. Much better.

As the CEO/Provocateur with the Institute to Stop Taking Yourself So Seriously, Howie’s message is that, while there are myriad options to attempt cultural change in organizations, perhaps the only thing necessary is for individuals to stop taking themselves so seriously. As Howie takes a lighthearted approach to life, so does he in his speaking style, where he encourages questions and spirited discussions in order to challenge conventional thinking. Believing that change is not possible without discomfort, participants in his sessions will never has so much fun while being encouraged to step outside their comfort zones.

Howie holds degrees in biochemistry and exercise physiology (both from the University of Minnesota), as well as a certification in Intrinsic Coaching (Totally Coached/Intrinsic Solutions International). He has a wife and three adult children with minds of their own. Residing in Plymouth, Minnesota, Howie likes to golf, garden, motorcycle, and keep himself in reasonable physical (and mental) condition. He is a strong advocate for community and has held many non-profit board positions, including two years as President of the Sabes Jewish Community Center in Minneapolis, and director positions with the Minneapolis Federation of Jewish Service and the Westminster Counseling Center, a Minneapolis church and pastoral-based mental health agency. He is addicted to entrepreneurism and new ideas, which drives his wife and friends crazy.


  • You're dead a long time.
  • Try to think of funny stuff at funerals.
  • Everybody is afraid.
  • Don't go into a meeting with a full bladder.
  • It’s enough with the khakis already.
  • I’m not that big of a deal.
  • Let’s get something to eat.