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Business
Careers
Management

Lead Through Strengths

Updated 7 days ago

Business
Careers
Management
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Lead Through Strengths with Lisa Cummings: leading teams & building work culture with Clifton StrengthsFinder & natural talents. The "Lead Through Strengths" podcast was created for you if you're ready to stop taking the "path of most resistance" at work. Current episodes are educational snippets from Q&A with our corporate teams. They're usually questions we get in our StrengthsFinder corporate training sessions. As of December, 2018, over 20 Million people have taken the CliftonStrengths assessment. It sounds silly, yet it happens all the time when people get focused on fixing their weaknesses. It doesn't have to be so hard. Stop focusing on what's broken about you. Lisa Cummings, the host, is a Gallup Certified Strengths Performance Coach, so she brings you a wealth of corporate wisdom, combined with Gallup research.You'll learn how to find your strengths and put them to work. If you manage a team, you'll hear ideas for leading your so your colleagues can come to work feeling more energized and engaged.If you're ready to get your career mojo back, Lisa Cummings delivers it with straight talk and a fun-loving approach. We publish by season. Season 1: Career Q&ASeason 2: Strengths InterviewsSeason 3: StrengthsFinder Q&A (also known as CliftonStrengths assessment) Season 4: Team Building 12 Week Strengths ChallengeSeason 5: One StrengthsFinder Talent Theme Per Week: Career Branding Adjectives for your personal brand, red flag situations for that talent theme, and action items to put that talent to useThere's a lot of confusion about the name of the assessment because it is difficult to spell (or put the singular/plural in the right spot), and it has changed names. All of these are the same survey tool: StrengthsFinder 2.0, StrengthsFinders, StrengthFinders, StrengthFinder, StrengthsFinder, Clifton Strengths, CliftonStrengths, Clifton StrengthsFinder.Despite the difficulty with the word, the content all points to Strengths Based Development and leadership using StrengthsFinder with your team. In addition: here are some hot topic areas covered by audience questions so far:Getting promoted; discovering your strengths; differentiating yourself; coaching and feedback;marketing, branding, and promoting yourself; getting unstuck; developing your direct reports;noticing what works on your team;connecting and networking; personal leadership; politics and perceptions at the office; getting viewed as an A player; building trust and influence at work or in your industry; being a people-leader that you want to be, even when you're short on time;how to get your creative mojo back; understanding how your EQ (emotional intelligence) is more important than your IQ at work; stuff you didn't learn in business school that's hurting your career; getting unstuck and un-trapped; and being a better leader

Read more

Lead Through Strengths with Lisa Cummings: leading teams & building work culture with Clifton StrengthsFinder & natural talents. The "Lead Through Strengths" podcast was created for you if you're ready to stop taking the "path of most resistance" at work. Current episodes are educational snippets from Q&A with our corporate teams. They're usually questions we get in our StrengthsFinder corporate training sessions. As of December, 2018, over 20 Million people have taken the CliftonStrengths assessment. It sounds silly, yet it happens all the time when people get focused on fixing their weaknesses. It doesn't have to be so hard. Stop focusing on what's broken about you. Lisa Cummings, the host, is a Gallup Certified Strengths Performance Coach, so she brings you a wealth of corporate wisdom, combined with Gallup research.You'll learn how to find your strengths and put them to work. If you manage a team, you'll hear ideas for leading your so your colleagues can come to work feeling more energized and engaged.If you're ready to get your career mojo back, Lisa Cummings delivers it with straight talk and a fun-loving approach. We publish by season. Season 1: Career Q&ASeason 2: Strengths InterviewsSeason 3: StrengthsFinder Q&A (also known as CliftonStrengths assessment) Season 4: Team Building 12 Week Strengths ChallengeSeason 5: One StrengthsFinder Talent Theme Per Week: Career Branding Adjectives for your personal brand, red flag situations for that talent theme, and action items to put that talent to useThere's a lot of confusion about the name of the assessment because it is difficult to spell (or put the singular/plural in the right spot), and it has changed names. All of these are the same survey tool: StrengthsFinder 2.0, StrengthsFinders, StrengthFinders, StrengthFinder, StrengthsFinder, Clifton Strengths, CliftonStrengths, Clifton StrengthsFinder.Despite the difficulty with the word, the content all points to Strengths Based Development and leadership using StrengthsFinder with your team. In addition: here are some hot topic areas covered by audience questions so far:Getting promoted; discovering your strengths; differentiating yourself; coaching and feedback;marketing, branding, and promoting yourself; getting unstuck; developing your direct reports;noticing what works on your team;connecting and networking; personal leadership; politics and perceptions at the office; getting viewed as an A player; building trust and influence at work or in your industry; being a people-leader that you want to be, even when you're short on time;how to get your creative mojo back; understanding how your EQ (emotional intelligence) is more important than your IQ at work; stuff you didn't learn in business school that's hurting your career; getting unstuck and un-trapped; and being a better leader

iTunes Ratings

149 Ratings
Average Ratings
140
5
1
2
1

Awesome!

By Ian Ryan - Apr 09 2019
Read more
Great information beneficial for any job industry focusing on strengths. Worth the listen!

Thanks for helping people to lead!

By BrieGF - Sep 12 2017
Read more
Great show for helping people to be leaders!

iTunes Ratings

149 Ratings
Average Ratings
140
5
1
2
1

Awesome!

By Ian Ryan - Apr 09 2019
Read more
Great information beneficial for any job industry focusing on strengths. Worth the listen!

Thanks for helping people to lead!

By BrieGF - Sep 12 2017
Read more
Great show for helping people to be leaders!

Listen to:

Cover image of Lead Through Strengths

Lead Through Strengths

Updated 7 days ago

Read more

Lead Through Strengths with Lisa Cummings: leading teams & building work culture with Clifton StrengthsFinder & natural talents. The "Lead Through Strengths" podcast was created for you if you're ready to stop taking the "path of most resistance" at work. Current episodes are educational snippets from Q&A with our corporate teams. They're usually questions we get in our StrengthsFinder corporate training sessions. As of December, 2018, over 20 Million people have taken the CliftonStrengths assessment. It sounds silly, yet it happens all the time when people get focused on fixing their weaknesses. It doesn't have to be so hard. Stop focusing on what's broken about you. Lisa Cummings, the host, is a Gallup Certified Strengths Performance Coach, so she brings you a wealth of corporate wisdom, combined with Gallup research.You'll learn how to find your strengths and put them to work. If you manage a team, you'll hear ideas for leading your so your colleagues can come to work feeling more energized and engaged.If you're ready to get your career mojo back, Lisa Cummings delivers it with straight talk and a fun-loving approach. We publish by season. Season 1: Career Q&ASeason 2: Strengths InterviewsSeason 3: StrengthsFinder Q&A (also known as CliftonStrengths assessment) Season 4: Team Building 12 Week Strengths ChallengeSeason 5: One StrengthsFinder Talent Theme Per Week: Career Branding Adjectives for your personal brand, red flag situations for that talent theme, and action items to put that talent to useThere's a lot of confusion about the name of the assessment because it is difficult to spell (or put the singular/plural in the right spot), and it has changed names. All of these are the same survey tool: StrengthsFinder 2.0, StrengthsFinders, StrengthFinders, StrengthFinder, StrengthsFinder, Clifton Strengths, CliftonStrengths, Clifton StrengthsFinder.Despite the difficulty with the word, the content all points to Strengths Based Development and leadership using StrengthsFinder with your team. In addition: here are some hot topic areas covered by audience questions so far:Getting promoted; discovering your strengths; differentiating yourself; coaching and feedback;marketing, branding, and promoting yourself; getting unstuck; developing your direct reports;noticing what works on your team;connecting and networking; personal leadership; politics and perceptions at the office; getting viewed as an A player; building trust and influence at work or in your industry; being a people-leader that you want to be, even when you're short on time;how to get your creative mojo back; understanding how your EQ (emotional intelligence) is more important than your IQ at work; stuff you didn't learn in business school that's hurting your career; getting unstuck and un-trapped; and being a better leader

Rank #1: Career Q&A: Bad Boss & Slacker Teammates - What to Do?

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This episode's question

My boss makes rules and doesn't enforce them. My teammates ignore them and roll in with a lazy wave in the morning. It is unfair and is getting distracting - what should I do?

What you'll learn

  • How this situation could actually be good for you
  • How the environment is keeping you from stepping your game up
  • How people can lose credibility and trust at work (listen up leaders!)
  • What to focus on instead of this dysfunctional stuff

Resource of the episode

Book: QBQ! The Question Behind the Question: Practicing Personal Accountability at Work and in Life by John G. Miller

Tweetable of the episode

It's easy to look good if your teammates are Eeyores. Immerse in what you want to become. via @careerpodcast.

Jun 02 2014

9mins

Play

Rank #2: How To Explore Your StrengthsFinder Report - With Pete Mockaitis

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This Episode’s Focus on Strengths

This week Lisa speaks with Pete Mockaitis, who joins us in a live example of what it’s like to explore your StrengthsFinder results for the first time.

Pete's Top 10 StrengthsFinder Talent Themes:  Ideation, Strategic, Learner, Activator, Input, Connectedness, Woo, Communication, Positivity, Individualization

Lisa’s Top 10 StrengthsFinder Talent Themes:   Strategic, Maximizer, Positivity, Individualization, Woo, Futuristic, Focus, Learner, Communication, Significance

Resources of the Episode

You can reach Pete through the Awesome at Your Job website. You can also connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn. And you should because he's awesome!

Here's the link to Pete's podcast, and to his interview of Lisa Cummings.

Books, terms, and other websites mentioned in this podcast:

Book: Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade by Dr. Robert Cialdini

Study: 80/20 Rule, which is also called the Pareto Principle

Term: Leadership Domains as explained by my friends at Leadership Vision Consulting. They're another firm who offers Strengths based leadership training.

And our favorite resource of the episode: evidence of Pete's wicked-awesome talent of one-handed clapping:

You'll also find lots of StrengthsFinder, leadership, and team tools on our "https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&q=http://leadthroughstrengths.com/resources&source=gmail&ust=1487264698482000&usg=AFQjCNHUtPcayNXycHfGq_r2Crj5sPIU7w">Strengths Resources page.

  Subscribe To Lead Through Strengths

To subscribe and review, here are your links for listening in iTunes and Stitcher Radio. You can also stream any episode right from this website. Subscribing is a great way to never miss an episode. Let the app notify you each week when the latest episode gets published.

  Here's The Full Transcript of the Interview

Lisa Cummings: [00:00:08] You’re listening to Lead Through Strengths, where you’ll learn to apply your greatest strengths at work. I’m your host, Lisa Cummings, and I’ve got to tell you, whether you’re leading a team or leading yourself, it’s hard to find something more energizing and productive than using your natural talents every day at work.

And today you’re going to get a really unique episode on StrengthsFinder. It’s different from our usual guest interview. Today, your guest joins us in a live example of what it’s like to explore your StrengthsFinder results for the first time. So I think a lot of guests are going to identify with his love of learning and his corporate experiences.

He’s actually a former consultant for Bain so he has that pedigree company thing on his list that many of you. And today he’s the trainer and chief at Awesome At Your Job, so you’ll hear more about that and his show as we dig in.

So, you know, if you’re a regular listener of this show that we’re going to talk about how his differences are his differentiators. So you’ll enjoy hearing a fun fact about him. So, here it goes. This guy has a unique talent of being able to clap with one hand. So, Pete Mockaitis, welcome to the show. Please give yourself a one-handed welcome and demonstrate for us.

Pete Mockaitis: [00:01:34] Oh, Lisa, thank you. That’s such a unique welcome and it’s fun to do, and here we go. [one-handed claps]

Lisa Cummings: [00:01:40] I can’t believe that is really happening with one hand. It is blowing my mind. You’re going to have to make us a video so we can see what that actually looks like. I can’t believe that’s possible.

Pete Mockaitis: [00:01:51] I can do that, yes, and that’s probably my number one strength is one-handed clapping. It opens a lot of doors.

Lisa Cummings: [00:01:58] [laughs] Your hand can open a door in a traditional way...but his hand...watch out.

Pete Mockaitis: [00:02:01] Oh, well-played.

Lisa Cummings: [00:02:05] Watch out. Oh, my gosh. We’re going to totally have this video on the show notes, so if you’re listening click on over to that because that’s a serious talent. I love it. [laughs] Okay, let’s get into the serious side of super powers. That’s one, I tell you, parlor tricks though they could fuel the Woo that you have up in there. I think there’s something tied here. Maybe that’s how you discovered it. Maybe we’ll uncover that today.

Pete Mockaitis: [00:02:30] Oh, are folks being won over as we speak, or are they turned off? We’ll see with your emails that come flowing in.

Lisa Cummings: [00:02:35] That’s right. Okay. So, you know in this episode, we’re going to do this like a sample of exploring your StrengthsFinder talents for the first time. Well, we’re going to have to start by telling them what your Talent Themes here. So give them your top five.

Pete Mockaitis: [00:02:50] Okay, can do. With just the words or the descriptions as well?

Lisa Cummings: [00:02:54] Let’s get a little “Meet Pete” moment. So do the word and also the one sentence what this looks like on you.

Pete Mockaitis: [00:03:03] Okay. So, first, I’ll give a quick preview – one, Ideation; two, Strategic; three, Learner; four, Activator; and five, Input.

In terms of the one sentence:

1) Ideation, it’s true I am fascinated by ideas and how they connect together on my podcast with guests. I eat it up when I see “Oh, wait, there’s one thing someone said” can combine with that other thing they said, so I’m going to focus on prioritizing with the one thing but also building some tiny habits and, boom, there’s this combination synergy goodness, and so that resonates.

2) Strategic. I buy that in terms of if I’m always thinking about sort of what’s the optimal path forward, that’s the name of my company – Optimality, LLC – getting the band for the buck and sort of that 80/20 Rule and action, I’m really after that.

3) For Learner, it’s true. Ever since I was a youngster that’s kind of where my trainer and chief story starts. I was always going to the library reading books about goal-setting, success, teamwork, collaboration, influence. I was just into that stuff, and I remain to this day.

4) Activator, it’s true. I am often impatient. I’m excited to put things into action. Just this week I was thinking it’s just too much trying to manage the guests with merely emails and spreadsheets. I need a CRM, customer relationship management piece of software, and five hours later I had tried nine of them and made my decision. So, yeah, I got after it right away. That’s kind of my nature. I’ll wake up and I’ll have an idea and I just want to like run to the computer and implement it.

5) And then, finally, Input. I do, I love to get perspective from wise folks and learn all that they have to offer and collect multiple opinions to really prove or disprove the sort of key facts or assertions that are going to make or break a given decision.

Lisa Cummings: [00:04:59] These are so good. Thanks for adding the Pete color because even for people who don’t understand the basic definition of it and Gallup’s terminology you explained it and then added your individual color. Just seeing as a kid in the library, I’m imagining you going back and training them so it’ll be fun to hear the depth on that. And then Activator, one that just happened the other day. It’s just a really great specific example so we can see what these are like in real life.

So, let’s talk about if we really relate this to career, and you think back on one of your proudest accomplishments, tell us about that snapshot in time.

Pete Mockaitis: [00:05:40] You know, I’m thinking, the first thing that leaps to mind is just getting the job at Bain & Company itself. I’d say it was very meaningful to me because I had been interested in it for some years before it came about, and it was just a vivid moment. I can recall when I was emceeing a date auction event as a fundraiser in college for a student organization, and when I got the call I just handed the microphone to someone, walked off stage, received the call.

It was great news. I was excited. I hugged my friend, Emily, who was wearing a red puffy coat. It’s forever enshrined in my brain as like the moment that this thing I had been after for some years was now mine.

Lisa Cummings: [00:06:31] I love how vivid your imagery is and all of these. Take us through the preparation, what it was like for you getting ready for applying for this job, making it a thing. It sounds like it was a long time coming. So how was that playing out in your life, leading up to that phone call?

Pete Mockaitis: [00:06:49] Oh, sure thing. Well, I was sort of an odd kid in my sort of freshman year of college. I was sort of determined like, “By golly, I want to work in a top strategy consulting firm when I graduate, and so that’s just what I’m going to do.” And so I began exploring different avenues very early on in terms of student organizations and what were the linkages and how I could have sort of a distinctive profile that I would be intriguing to them.

I went to the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign which is not a hotbed for recruiting into those firms, but there are a few each year who get in, and I wanted to be one. So, I remember I would sort of try to find the right people, and the right organizations, and learn from them and see what I could do. And I remember, talk about vivid experiences, I was chatting guy named Bo who was wearing a Harry Potter wizard hat at a Halloween party.

And he said, “Oh, you should join the student organization.” And I was like, “Oh, I was thinking about that, but isn’t that kind of more technology stuff?” And he’s like, “Oh, no. It’s much broader than that. Yeah, and they’re always chatting with so-and-so and they do case interviews,” which is a key step to get a job in these firms, “to get in and, yeah, I think you’d like it.”

And so I was excited to discover that opportunity and then go after it. Then once I met a real person named Jeff who had the position, I was just having a real lot of fun chatting with him and seeing, “Hey, what’s it like on the inside? Is it really what I’ve built it up to be?” and sort of receiving that reinforcement that it was good.

And then, ultimately, I think the biggest hurdle to get the job is the case interview where you have to sort of solve business problems live before the interviewer’s eyes. And so I did a lot of prep. I got the books, I even recorded myself doing case interviews. I’d listen to them back to see how I was doing and to see how I might tweak it to seem more engaging or succinct and insightful.

I remember I was listening to myself doing case interviews while driving up to the interview the day before. So those are things that leap to mind there.

Lisa Cummings: [00:09:06] Those are so good. Now, if you look at your talents, and then you try to make some linkages, now I’ve made a bunch of linkages and I’ve even, although the listeners can’t see your list beyond your top five, as you would not be surprised if you know a Learner and Input. Pete immediately goes out and wants more input and grabs the full 34 premium version of assessment so he can see the whole lineup.

So I see a bigger lineup and I have some things popping into my head about your number 6, Connectedness, and your number 7, Woo. But when you look at your list and you think back on that experience, what links do you see where you’re using those talents as you’re preparing?

Pete Mockaitis: [00:09:47] Oh, sure thing. Well, it’s interesting, in terms of Activator it’s like, “This is the thing I want and so I’m going to start now.” I was a freshman and I was evaluating opportunities. Not only whether they were fun and I would get to meet people, but if they would take me to where I wanted to go, and then jumping in full force for those things I thought could really do it. So, I guess that’s Activator. I’m getting right to it yet Strategic is that I was kind of being selective, and saying, “You know, while that club sounds kind of interesting, I don’t think it’s going to have as much sort of bang for my buck, in terms of taking me where I want to be.”

And so the interestingness is not quite enough to offset this. And then with Ideation, I think I did take some novel approaches to having distinctive profile, like I authored a book in college about leadership and student organizations, and I saw the opportunity to be the Secretary General of our model United Nations, which I thought, “Well, that’s a really cool leadership opportunity in terms of managing dozens of people and thousands of dollars to put together an event for hundreds of folks. Ooh, that’ll be a real nice concept to make an impression, as well as having a ton of fun.” So I was a pure career-seeking robot along the lines.

But I do see those in learning, yeah, talking to folks, learning what the firms want, how they operate, getting the books. And Input, certainly, talking to numerous people along the way to confirm, “Is this really what I think it is?” and learn, “Well, what needs to be done in order to get there?”

Lisa Cummings: [00:11:30] You’re bringing up what happens for a lot of people where if they heard the descriptors in the StrengthsFinder Talent Themes, and they listen to the thing that you just described, they would probably think, “Achiever” because it seems like the easy way to describe what you accomplished. And although Achiever is middle of the road for you, 13, it’s not extraordinarily high but you found extreme achievement at that age.

So, you’re demonstrating something that’s really cool which is I always tell people. StrengthsFinder doesn’t tell you what you go do in your career. It’s more about how you can go do it, leaning through the talents you have. So you found achievement through totally different talents and it’s dangerous to try to look at the words on the surface.

And I think if I listened to your show, which I do.

Pete Mockaitis: [00:12:21] Oh, thank you.

Lisa Cummings: [00:12:22] Which is called Awesome At Your Job. So, for those of you listening and you want to check it out, we’ll put the link in the show notes. It’s a great show about being awesome at your job overall. I think if listened to that show I may hypothesize that you have an Analytical talent, for example, because I know that you mention research studies very often, you mention proof points, your favorite hobby is Monopoly. So you have some of these things, right, that some people might think, “Oh, that sounds like an Analytical guy.”

And Talent Themes show up more in how you approach what you do not necessarily what those interests are. So, kind of fascinating thing you’re bringing up. So, tell us about yearnings and interests, like Monopoly and research studies and proof points, and things that you talk about in your show and how your Talent Themes speak to those.

Pete Mockaitis: [00:13:14] Oh, that is interesting in terms of just what’s fun. So, on my honeymoon, just a few months ago – Yay.

Lisa Cummings: [00:13:23] Yay.

Pete Mockaitis: [00:13:24] I was reading this book Pre-Suasion by Dr. Robert Cialdini on the beach. And so it’s funny, it’s non-fiction but that was just fascinating and fun for me, I was like, “Oh, wow. Well, here’s an interesting fact. They did study and here’s what happened.” And so I’ll find that all the more thrilling than most works of fiction because I guess Ideation is fuelling that fascination in terms of I’m thinking, “Oh, look at all these implications for how I could go put that to work and make things happen.”

And for Monopoly, it’s so funny. I remember one time I was meeting this guy for the first time, his name is Peter; fine name, fine guy.

Lisa Cummings: [00:14:09] Fine name.

Pete Mockaitis: [00:14:11] [laughs] And so as we were playing Monopoly he kept asking me some questions about my career journey and how I went into Bain and why I left Bain and started my own business and these things. And I’ll tell you what, I was so focused on the strategic options and decisions I had to make in that game Monopoly to win I actually had in my head the idea that this guy is trying to distract me in order to win at Monopoly.

Lisa Cummings: [00:14:40] [laughs]

Pete Mockaitis: [00:14:41] I thought, “Pete, that’s crazy. Most people don’t care. They play games to socialize in fun ways.” [laughs] I was being a little rude in retrospect. I kind of apologized to him. I gave him very short answers, I was like, “Well, ultimately, that’s just something I’ve always loved to do.” You know, just one- or two-sentence responses.

Lisa Cummings: [00:15:01] Let’s get back to the seriousness of Park Place, buddy. [laughs] Okay. So, now what you’re helping me see and raise is this concept of domains. I don’t know if you know this about StrengthsFinder, but they’ve done some studies on leadership, and these four domains of leadership actually came from quite a large study on followers.

So, if I look at your talent lineup, not to get too nerdy and distract from the story of you, I’ll give you the quick version. There are four different domains of leadership that people often find their strength in, and yours, to give you the tell as I lean into it, you come in really hot on the Strategic Thinking Talents, and then second highest your Influencing.

So, there are four categories. You have the Relationship Talents. You have the Influencing Talents. You have the Strategic Thinking talents, the thinker guy that you probably are, and then you have Executing Talents. And so, as I listened to your reaction to the Monopoly thing, I could see you being really in your head about what was going on in the situation.

The way I look at these four domains is that they’re all valuable, and they’re all useful ways that you can demonstrate leadership, but this is kind of, when you have one that comes in heavy in your top five, it’s often the color of glasses you’re wearing. Like yours would be, if you looked at your StrengthsFinder report, the Strategic Thinking Talents are actually colored red. And you could see, “Okay, look, my first view on things, the lens I’m going to see the world through will, first, likely be thinking about it.”

Now you have a lot of fast-thinking talents, so Ideation is fast and Strategic is fast, so it’s not like you’re going to go deep and sit around and ponder things deeply for months. You can boom, boom, boom, react to that guy and have your answer. And I noticed your Influencing Talents are also high on your list. You have Activator, Woo, Communication up in your top 10. It’s interesting to see those two. How does that play into how you’ve seen yourself and your career?

Pete Mockaitis: [00:17:12] Well, that is interesting. And what’s funny is I have a little bit of a hard time switching at times in that I really do like people and building relationships, and connecting and laughing and seeing how we’re similar and how we can help each other and collaborate and all those good things. That’s fun for me. But surprising, or I don’t know, just kind of part of how I go, is that when I get deep into the realm of this Ideation, Strategic, Input, Thinking and I’m trying to crack something, or figure it out, it’s just sort of like Peter in that game of Monopoly.

It’s like, “I’m not in people mode right now. I am in finding an optimal solution given all of my options and constraints mode right now.” And I feel a bit sort of like I’m being pulled away from that which I’m attached to and I’m into at the moment, or I’m just sort of like I’m not really present or there. I think that does show up in that they are different clusters and I feel them differently in terms of my whole headspace and emotional state. It’s like, “I’m not in people mode right now.”

And sometimes my wife will notice and she would like me to enter into people mode as we’re being together, or where she’ll just say, “Okay, you’re in your groove. Go ahead and finish that first.” So that’s the first thing that pops to mind there.

Lisa Cummings: [00:18:45] What a deep powerful insight. I love hearing how the thinking stuff is playing out in your head, and then also the relationship part. So, I apply StrengthsFinder to work all the time and find that sometimes the easiest ones to get how you perform relative to other people is through people you’re really close to. So your wife probably knows you about as well as anyone in the world so she’s going to be more comfortable saying it out loud or noticing it or mentioning it. Do you happen to know hers? Has she taken this yet?

Pete Mockaitis: [00:19:20] You know, I don’t think she has.

Lisa Cummings: [00:19:22] Okay. Would be fun. So this could be one where you say, “Okay, look, your first Relationship Talent is Connectedness. It’s your number six. I hear you relying on it relatively often.” So you could ask a question like how could you lean on your Connectedness talent when you’re trying to consciously switch into a mode that would complement the conversation you two are having?

Pete Mockaitis: [00:19:47] That is a great question. And, particularly Connectedness, that’s one of those words for the Strengths Finders that makes me think of, “Oh, like a super network.” But, no, no. Connectedness is more about having sort of like the faith in why things are the way they are or a higher power. And so, for me, that is big.

I’m a Catholic Christian. I think tapping into some of those, well, one, I guess is the headspace of worship or sort of loving people and serving them as folks made in the image and likeness of God can be pretty potent in terms of a reminder of, “Hey, what’s really important here?” “Well, how about we give that person the listening ear and respect and attention that they deserve?”

Lisa Cummings: [00:20:32] Oh, this is so good. I could take this in 20 directions because, one, I hear the interplay of Talents, how your Connectedness and Strategic gets so wound together because you do have so many Thinking Talents, the connection of ideas and not just people and meaning but pull all those things together – connecting meaning, connecting people, connecting ideas. Those are going to play out for you in a way that might even be difficult to separate, you know, “Which talent thing is talking here?”

And then your first Executing Theme is Belief and that, of course, I hear it in what you just said, and so it really helps me see when you say it. Oh, yeah, this would drive how you go about getting things done as well with the perspective of the meaning in your life and what is this all for and how does it play out. I also think this is the direction I’ll ultimately take it, because there are so many ways we could go from that conversation.

So a lot of people struggle with this. You look at your lineup, and I’ve told you about these leadership domains, and you see, “Oh, my gosh. My first Executing Talent is number 12. This sounds like a person. Oh, no, I might be doomed. Does it mean I never get anything done?” Well, clearly you get a lot done. You are a machine it seems. So, where do you get your ability to achieve and get the outcomes and results you want? Because you clearly do.

Pete Mockaitis: [00:22:00] How does it happen? Well, I think part of is just that I think about it in terms of I have a standard in mind in terms of how things should be or go. I think that’s kind of a vague broad thing to say. But, day after day, what mostly happens is I have kind of a picture in my head for what is done, good, complete, dream, nirvana state look like, and then I have all these ideas for what are the things that I could do that I couldn’t bring it there. And then I just become very excited about those ideas and I just sort of run after them.

In terms of the CRMs, I was thinking, “I have a dream” – so dramatic.

Lisa Cummings: [00:22:57] [laughs] Martin Luther Pete has a dream of CRM systems.

Pete Mockaitis: [00:23:03] In which every guest that comes on my show will be absolutely outstanding, like leaving me and listeners with, “Wow.” Well, what’s it take to get there? Well, probably a fuller pipeline so that I don’t ever have a scramble in terms of, “Oh, I’m a little light on interview appointments. I better get some right away.” That’s like an obstacle to that is like when you have the time to patiently vet candidates as opposed to, “Oh, I’ve got to grab somebody,” then the odds are in your favor in terms of getting great ones.

So then, I think, “Well, then what does that system look like? And how can I do that without spending my whole life stuck into analyzing their tweet history?” That’s how I often think about how it gets done, is I feel this tension inside me. It’s like, “I want that to be real and I’ve got these compelling, exciting ideas for what I could do to make that real so let’s go do it.”

Lisa Cummings: [00:24:01] It’s really pretty deep what you just said because I could see Strategic helping you sort quickly, “Here’s the outcome. What’s the best way to get there?” Boom, your Activator says, “Go!” and then you create these systems and the insight that listeners won’t have, is that you and I have had some other conversations outside of this.

Pete and I are pals. So we’ll talk podcast nerd-talk and he has all these great systems and team members who make things happen, and it actually is one of the great things you can do as Activator. You partner with people who see it through the finish line so that you can get the excitement at the starting line, and then other people can do the execution of the systems you’ve established and the vision you’ve created. So it’s actually a beautiful way you’ve worked through it.

Pete Mockaitis: [00:24:43] Oh, thank you. You know, it’s so funny, when you say it like that I think, “Well, of course, isn’t that how everyone does it?” And the answer is I guess clearly, “No, it’s not.” Because I think, “Well, isn’t executing the same thing hundreds of times kind of dull?” But, no, some people are into that.

Lisa Cummings: [00:24:59] A-ha. Okay. So, here’s the last topic we’ll bring up only because we’re running out of time because, geez, this would be so much fun to keep going and going and going. So that comment you just made made me think of the Talent Theme of Consistency, doing the same thing hundreds and hundreds of times. Well, it is Pete’s number 33 talent, so we call that a lesser talent, or maybe somebody else’s talent. Meaning somebody else, right? Yes, somebody else might get really excited about doing something the same way consistently over and over every day. But if Pete had to do that every day, what would work feel like for you?

Pete Mockaitis: [00:25:37] Oh, it would just be so dull. It’s like I would want sort of some spark of newness to make it come together.

Lisa Cummings: [00:25:48] This is a great way to end the show because living in your strengths makes you a stronger performer. Living in your strengths brings you energy and enjoyment about your job. If you’re pulling on your lesser talents, or someone else’s talents, all day every day, you feel drained, you feel burned out, and so many people feel like that and wonder, “You know, gosh, it’s not so hard and people are nice. So why do I feel like this?” And that’s often why, it’s because they’re calling on their weaknesses all day every day but they just don’t quite realize why.

So, thanks, in an unexpected way, for illustrating that point because that is so powerful for people to have that insight.

Pete Mockaitis: [00:26:25] Oh, thank you. It’s been a blast.

Lisa Cummings: [00:26:27] It has been a blast. I’m so excited to have you here to do this. I wish we could triple down on it. Let’s get listeners over to you because you have so many great shows to help people be awesome at their jobs. So, where should they go to dig into your content, your training, your podcasts?

Pete Mockaitis: [00:26:42] Oh, sure thing. Thank you. Well, I’d say if you’re already, well, you are a podcast listener, fire up your app and whatever you’re doing and search Awesome Job. That should be enough to pop up the show How To Be Awesome At Your Job. Lisa herself is a guest on an episode. You might check that out to get another flavor for her. Or just my website AwesomeAtYourJob.com.

And it’s been fun. I’ve had about 130, wow, conversations with tremendous folks and every one of them is about trying to sharpen the universal skills required to flourish at work. So, whether you’re an executive, or a manager, or an individual contributor in marketing, or finance, or anything, it should be applicable because that’s kind of the primary screen we’re using.

Lisa Cummings: [00:27:26] I second that. It is a fantastic show. I met Pete last year, and ever since leaving our meet-up in Chicago, I just have been an avid listener, and it’s just full of great guests and great tips. If you want to go back and listen through the lens of the StrengthsFinder Talents it’ll be really fun to do that. Also, for listeners, if you want some Strengths focus tools to use with your team at work, also check out LeadThroughStrengths/resources and you’ll get a bunch of great free info there.

As we close episode, remember using your strengths makes you a stronger performer at work. If you’re putting a lopsided focus on fixing your weaknesses you’re probably choosing the path of most resistance. So claim your talents and share them with the world.

Apr 18 2017

28mins

Play

Rank #3: Build A Well Rounded Team - With Jim Collison

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This Episode’s Focus on Strengths

In this episode, Lisa speaks with Jim Collison. He manages a technology team at Gallup in Omaha, Nebraska. He also champions the community for Gallup Certified Strengths Coaches, so he’s the poster child of the movement for many strengths professionals.

You’ll find this podcast particularly interesting if you’re ready to implement strengths-based coaching with your team. Jim gives specific examples that will get your wheels turning. He offers ideas for building a stronger team. He shares stories from his strengths based parenting experiences. And he shares examples of how he applies natural talents on the fly. He does this every year as he manages large teams of interns and only has a few months with each person.

All the while he’s partnering with other people to maximize the productivity on the team. Jim’s Top 5 Talent Themes from the Clifton StrengthsFinder are Arranger, Woo, Maximizer, Communication, and Activator. He’s a great example of someone who doesn’t waste time wishing he had more of his “lesser” talents. Instead, he pairs up with those who bring the talents that are tough for him to call on.

Where It Started For Jim

Every person’s strengths journey begins in a different place. Jim’s started at home, which led him into a career where he gets to apply his top talents and encourage others’ every day.

He tells the story of how he took the StrengthsFinder Assessment, and was so excited, that as soon as he got home, he said to his wife, “You take this too! Let’s parent this way.” This had a profound influence on his life and the way they parent each of their unique children.

He confesses that he thought one of his sons was apathetic. He got an enlightened view and changed their whole relationship once he looked at it through a talent lens. By looking at their children, and understanding what their individual strengths were, Jim and his wife were able to support each one and encourage growth in a positive way.

Applying Strengths At Work

While finding his strengths had an immediate impact at home, it was much slower at work. He’s still evolving 10 years later. Jim says it’s a “long-haul” approach, and that you have to live it. Here are some of Jim’s TIPS: 

  • Live it. Dig into your own top 5 talents, and strive to understand them at a deep level. You need to “live that life and walk that walk” every day. You have to invest in each talent theme to turn them into strengths on the job.
  • Team View. Create a Team Grid that includes every team member’s top 5 StrengthsFinder talent themes. Use the grid to get a big picture view of the overall strengths of the team (and where your team lacks strengths). Remember, you want well-rounded teams, not well-rounded individuals. This is a great process for seeing who you need to lean on for different responsibilities and initiatives at work.
  • Manage Head Butting. Utilize the Team Grid as a conflict management tool. For example, if you have two team members who are in conflict, you can use this knowledge of the conflicting strengths without them realizing that’s what you’re doing. Tell the two people “ I understand, Bob, that you are adaptable and can go with the flow. And, Anna, I understand that you need structure. As you two interact on this project, please remember to take that into account.” Both people will feel understood and more open to compromise. Set up the potential conflict and ask them how this shows up at work for them.
  • Work Around Weaknesses. When it comes to projects, don’t spend time trying to improve your own weaknesses. Instead, spend time building partnerships by looking for someone who has strengths that are complementary to yours. Then, this is the big part: ASK. Ask the person to work with you on your project. If you don’t ask, the answer will be no. You’ll be surprised at how often people jump at the opportunity because you’re requesting help in areas they love working in. This will lead to a well rounded team. That’s so much better than trying to fight your way to a well rounded you.
  • Live Into Talents In Small Bites. If you oversee a team, Jim says not to undertake huge strengths initiatives out of the gate. It’s not because he doesn’t believe in them, it’s because they almost always fail. Instead, take little bites at a time. Little changes are not as noticeable, and are much easier to achieve. People don’t resist the small bites. They add up to a lot of momentum over time.
  • Align Responsibilities To Strengths. When it comes to specific assignments, pay attention to what your team members enjoy doing, and give them those tasks. When you give someone a job they want to do, the management part becomes a side thing. What you’re really doing is giving them opportunities to let them soar.
  • Get Out Of The Way. If you’re a manager and you give assignments, remember to stand back and let people do their jobs. You can help them with adjustments to keep them on course, yet that’s about all they’ll need when they’re in their strengths zoze. Stay focused on the outcomes. Let them approach the “how” through their unique talents. This even holds true for remote teams. Here at Lead Through Strengths, we’re based in Austin, Texas, yet we each work remote from each other. The outcome is the focus of the work, and way the work happens in between is based on each person’s talents.
  • Keep Growing. Jim’s last tip is to go to the Gallup Coaching website and check out all the free resources. You don’t have to be a certified strengths coach to access these helpful items that will help you grow as a leader.

Resources of the Episode

To get even more strengths tips, follow Jim on twitter @JimatGallup and the Gallup Organization @Gallup

Listen To Gallup podcasts that Jim hosts:

Theme Thursday – Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, and YouTube

Called to Coach – Listen on Gallup.com and Spreaker

Jim mentions three books that he recommends about strengths:

-- StrengthsFinder 2.0, by Tom Rath

-- First, Break All the Rules, by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman

-- Now, Discover Your Strengths, by Marcus Buckingham and Donald Clifton

Subscribe

To subscribe and review, here are your links for listening in iTunes and Stitcher Radio. You can also stream any episode right from the website. Subscribing is a great way to never miss an episode. Let the app notify you each week when the latest episode gets published.

Go Live Your Talents

Remember, using your strengths every day at work makes you a stronger performer. Go claim your talents and share them with the world.

Apr 19 2016

29mins

Play

Rank #4: Tie Your Personal Brand To Your Natural Talents with Ryan Rhoten

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This Episode’s Focus On Strengths

Ryan Rhoten joined me to chat about using your natural talents to understand and design your Personal Brand. If you want to have a rockin’ career, you need to know what your brand is (you have one whether you tried to or not). And then you can do branding efforts to leverage your personal strengths.

What You’ll LearnYou’ll hear a personal story–how Ryan discovered the importance of knowing how others perceive you at work (and on Google). You’ll see how taking the StrengthsFinder assessment was his starting point for understanding the talents he needed to lean into at work. And:

  • How you can take strengths like “Whiteboard Weirdo” and turn them into you biggest brand asset.
  • Using your natural talents so that you can consciously select your next job–you can use it as a way to vet job descriptions and work cultures.
  • If you’re feeling dread and misery at work…this episode might just reveal why.
  • What to do when you’re working with leaders who have an opposite style to yours.
  • Find out the difference between Personal Brand and Personal Branding. There IS a difference, and Ryan makes a cool distinction so you can align who you are with what you do and then market your strengths to the world.
  • What to do when you realize that your current job forces you into your weakness zone.
Resource of the Episode You get four of them this time! Check out Ryan’s Personal Brand Assessment to see where you are today. Now that you’re excited to dig in further, check out Ryan’s Brand New You show. And he offers a full course calledThe Personal Branding Blueprint.     We also talked a lot about the StrengthsFinder assessment. If you grab the book StrengthsFinder2.0 you’ll get a code to take the assessment and learn your Top 5 Talent Themes.     Remember, using your strengths at work makes you a stronger performer. If you’re focused on fixing your weaknesses, you’re choosing the path of most resistance. So claim your talents. And share them with the world.  

Subscribe

To subscribe and review, here are your links for listening in iTunes and Stitcher radio. Subscribing is a great way to never miss an episode – let the app notify you each week when the latest question gets published. You can also stream any episode live on the website. Just click through the title you like and there will be a player waiting for you on each page. See you there!

Jun 29 2015

33mins

Play

Rank #5: How Can Team Culture Be Shaped By Strengths?

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In this episode, Mike Ganino joins Lisa to answer the question: How can team culture be shaped by strengths?

Have You Downloaded Your Strengths Tools?

One of the best ways leaders can build a strengths-based culture is to offer an appreciation of strengths in action. If you’ll notice what works, you’ll get more of what works because people can replicate what they’ve already done well. Get started by downloading this awesome tool that offers you 127 Easy Ways to Recognize Strengths on your team.

How Can Team Culture Be Shaped By Strengths?

055-how-can-team-culture-be-shaped-by-strengths

If It Is So Important For Managers To Build Culture, Why Can I Only Find Articles About Offering Stand Up Desks And Pinball Machines - Perks That Hr Offers?

Ohhhhh, culture, we love to talk about it, write about it, read about it, and even watch the 2,000,000 videos on Youtube about it. We love to blame it, leverage it, and try to change it. We spend billions of dollars and a whole bunch of hours on employee engagement and culture improvement initiatives to try to improve it and yet we keep coming up empty.

Is it really all about office fun slides, cold brew coffee on tap, and nap rooms? Do the rest of us have a chance at dipping into the power of culture without the budget of a tech giant who seems to print their own cash?

If you're only managing a project, a team or a division in a bigger organization, do you have any chance of fixing things if the culture and the wider organization isn't promoting the kind of vibe you're looking for? Before I answer all of those questions, let's get clear on exactly what culture is and what it isn't.

Does The Physical Environment Create Culture?

So culture is not about the stated values written in the handbook or hanging on a wall somewhere. It's not about the mission that adorns the company website or the funky design of the open office floor plan. It's not even about how often you get together for happy hours. It isn't about making everyone happy all the time or being a pet-friendly workplace.

Yeah, I get it. I love the idea of an office full of cuddly little Corgis as much as the next guy, but I know it won't help improve the business or the working conditions for the team. It's possible to have a great culture even when the perks are best in class. Yes, even when there aren't fancy modern Norwegian looking desks all around.

Manufacturing plants and ships in the ocean and military bases can have great cultures. Sorry to break it to all those fun committees out there, but we don't need another group picnic to have a great culture.

Now I'm not saying that all of those things aren't useful and aren't helpful. I mean, the point of them should be in getting people to connect with each other. So if you are one of these fun committee folks out there, don't despair — but I do want you to change your objectives a little bit.

Instead of getting people to sign up to go have fun together outside of work, make sure that the events are helping people build relationships — helping them connect with people they don't normally talk to — because if we all go to happy hour and we all just talk to the normal people we talk to, it isn't improving your culture.

So if you are doing fun stuff, make sure you're getting the best out of it by making sure that you're encouraging people to talk to people they don't normally interact with.

Culture = The Existing Beliefs On The Team

OK, back to the topic at hand. See, culture is actually the collection of beliefs on your team and don't worry, I'm not going to go all hippy dippy here and ask you to start meditating or saying namaste day to each other.

But culture is still the beliefs that your team has about what it's like to work there. The beliefs they about leadership, about what matters. It's the beliefs about how they act, how they work, how they build relationships. Those shape the way we treat each other.

If I were to meet you and I thought, hey, this is someone pretty awesome. If my belief about you was that you were a good person and I thought I wanted to get to know you, I would act a certain way. If my belief about you was that you were out to get me or that you were somebody who was ... you know, not so fun to be around, then I would treat you a different way.

To Get More Practical, Think Of The Beliefs As Stories Or Examples That Get Passed Around

I like to think of those beliefs as stories. The stories we tell at work, the stories we tell ourselves (and sometimes we tell each other at work) are our beliefs. They impact the way we choose to act, the way we choose to work and the relationships we commit to at work. The stories that we tell each other become the culture of the company.

Every company has stories that are unspoken expectations about things like:

  • The way things get done
  • When it’s a good idea to speak up (or stay quiet)
  • What kind of people and behaviors wins or lose (and how the game of work is played)

That becomes your culture. The stories your employees tell is where your culture lives. Think of what they say. What is their story about their first day at work or their first week?

What are their beliefs about performance reviews? What are their beliefs about speaking up in meetings and contributing their best ideas to projects? Do you know what they're telling each other? Do you know what you're telling your new hires or even what they’re telling themselves? Because all of those things are being played out.

When it comes time to sit down in a meeting and contribute, when it comes to showing up for a performance conversation and saying, "I'm invested in this because this is about making me better." All of those stories are ultimately what shape and drive your culture.

Now, I'm not saying that you need to just basically go and create a whole new world of storytelling at work. There are a lot of storytelling folks out there who focus on brand and marketing storytelling, which is really about controlling the narrative. No, no.

Is It Effective To Try To Guide Or Control The Stories That Get Passed Around?

I'm not telling you to control your culture or control your narrative. In fact, I don't think you can. What I'm saying is, as a leader, as a manager, as somebody who wants to make a difference, you have the power and the ability to fuel a different kind of story, and when you fuel that different kind of story, you create a different set of beliefs which creates a different set of actions from your team and those sorts of actions. You probably guessed it. Those create your culture.

The way we decide how to show up every day is the culture and some of that is based on how we see leaders responding. A lot of it is based on what the expectations are every day. So what do you do if you're a leader and you say, "Hey, I want to start thinking about culture in a different way. But we can't get the insurance to do a slip and slide through the grass in the grassy area outside of the office.”

Well, you don't need to do any of that and in fact I wouldn't recommend it. It sounds weird and creepy, but what you can do is start to source the stories that your team is telling.

How often do you ask and listen to and document what's really going on with them outside of an annual employee engagement survey? How often do you look for the common variables and the stories they tell?

Are you collecting long form survey data more than just a score on a piece of paper? Are you asking questions like, "What do you believe leadership cares about here? What do you think matters most? Or how do you think people get ahead in this organization?"

Uncover The Stories That Highlight What You Already Do Well As A Team

You can use the stories that you hear to start to uncover common trends in your culture. Then I've got a maybe not so surprising thing for you — you'll start to recognize the strengths from your team. You'll start to see what your culture is strong at. You'll start to see what your leaders are strong at and I'd imagine that those start to look like things that you would have found in a StrengthsFinder assessment. You'll start to see ideas and words resonating.

If your team is all about taking action, you're going to notice that your team is all about moving forward and not stopping to consider lots of options. You're going to see that and you're going to recognize that as one of the strengths that people have.

What's interesting is that you can also use those to start to develop a clearer story for your culture. Once you understand what the strengths of your team and the strengths of your culture are, then you can start to get specific about telling more stories like that. You can start to use that in the way that you interview people and the way that you talk to people.

Leveraging your strengths gives you a really interesting opportunity to create a new kind of culture. So let's go back to culture for just a minute.

If You Work For A Large Company, Create A Culture Pocket

When you think about culture, a lot of times what happens is that we think of this big, big culture of the entire organization. That might be true if you're working for a small company where there's only 20 of you. Then yes, the culture of the team is probably the culture of the company and I would argue that the culture of a 20-employee team probably matches up pretty closely with how the leader believes and the stories the leader creates.

As a company gets bigger and bigger and you start to go into national and global territory with the hundreds or thousands of employees. You start to see that cultures gets pocketed almost. There's a chapter in the book where I talk about cultural pockets and I show how even in a huge organization there are all of these little cultures that exist.

You have the ability to create a culture pocket for the way that your team interacts. You don't have to worry about having perks and happy hours and food trucks outside of your office every day in order to get top talent and be known as a great place to work. You know, Lisa always says that differences are differentiators and I can't agree more when it comes to culture.

Notice What Already Works - What Already Attracts People To Your Team

If you start to use the stories and the strengths of your team, you'll start to see the differences on your team. You know, Apple is a very different place to work than Google. Both are interesting companies creating cool new products and services, but it feels very different to work there. They both have cool offices and perks and benefits, but it feels different to work there. The digital component of Disney feels very different than working at Netflix. Why? Because of culture.

At the end of the day, the three weeks of vacation, the ping pong tables, the catered lunches — those don't necessarily drive the experience with each other. These perks don't change the relationships or the stories that we have about our coworkers, our manager, or the work we do. These perks are easy to copy and if all that it took to build a great culture was having the perks, then everyone could do it.

By leveraging your strengths to tell new kinds of stories about your team and the way you work, you can start to find the thread of your culture and then you can leverage it, communicate it and double down on it so that you can get the kind of people on your team who can help it grow. Whether you're a team of 10 or you're a company of thousands, leveraging those parts of your strengths to create new stories will drive your culture.

Don’t Worry - You Don’t Have To Create A Circus Of Entertainment At The Office

Look, you don't have to treat people like preschoolers who need to be tickled, entertained, and fed every hour to have a great culture. It's about diving in, listening to the stories, promoting those stories, and creating new ones.

As a leader, your job is to create the culture on your team that creates the kinds of stories based on the strengths of your team and the group. So go out there and start thinking about culture in a new way. You don't need 5 tips, 7 Hacks, 9 habits — you don't need any of that. What you need to do is start listening to the stories and changing the way your team works.

Get More Culture Learning From Mike

Enjoyed The Podcast?

To subscribe and review, here are your links for listening in iTunes and Stitcher Radio. You can also stream any episode right from this website. Subscribing is a great way to never miss an episode. Let the app notify you each week when the latest episode gets published.

Apr 29 2018

16mins

Play

Rank #6: Boost Your Wellbeing Through Strengths - With Matt Swenson

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This Episode's Focus on Strengths

This month’s episode features Matt Swenson, who is another StrengthsFinder all-star. He helps his clients use their Strengths to improve the well being of the whole person. Lisa’s interview with Matt provides cool tools to help you apply your natural talents to your wellbeing.

If you are ready to create some healthy strengths habits, then this is the interview for you. Matt has a background in international business, sales, coaching, sales management, marketing, product development, and athletics. Those unique experiences roll up to offer you a unique perspective on wellbeing that you can apply to all areas of your life.

In fact, Matt brings strengths based development to five key areas of life. They are: career, social, physical, financial, and community. As you listen to the interview, you'll hear about how to apply these in his Wellbeing Wheel Activity. You'll also hear his ties to the concepts of Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose from one of our favorite books, Drive by Daniel Pink.

Matt’s top 10 Strengths are: Strategic, Learner, Achiever, Responsibility, Deliberative, Relator, Activator, Individualization, Focus, Analytical

Fun facts: Matt busts out a Vanilla Ice rhyme in our interview. Despite how you might stereotype someone who leads with Deliberative and Analytical, Matt shows that you can't assume you know how people will act based on their external or assumed traits. It's worth a listen!

Also, Matt is the artist behind Djonk, an Americana art business. Lisa bought one of his pieces. This robot is made of upcycled "junk" and now lives in her guest bedroom to greet friends. You'll find more about his "Swedish for Junk" name in the interview.

What You’ll Learn In This Episode

  • How to deal with people who frustrate you. Matt used to think that the people who annoyed him at work were doing it on purpose (which didn’t help with his work relationships). With an understanding of each person’s unique strengths, he now knows that’s just who they were and how they operated. Once you understand that, you can then adjust your lens to see things from the other person’s point of view. Matt shares this great quote, “Always assume positive intent and when in doubt, ask.”
  • View others through the Strengths lens, rather than based on attitude, demeanor, or clothing. When dealing with people (whether at home or on the job) try to understand their strengths, and where they are coming from, rather than what is most obvious. You'll often be surprised when you look a little deeper. It's also a great exercise in listening to understand.
  • After you’ve taken the StrengthsFinder assessment, complete Matt’s practice guide, “Raw and Refined.” This book will help you activate your inherent talents and wellbeing. Here are a few ways you can use his guide to put your natural talents to work:
  1. Before you meet with someone, spend 60 seconds reviewing their talents so you can customize your conversation to resonate better with them.
  2. Look up one of your StrengthsFinder Talent Themes and consider how you can use it to full effect that day.
  3. Flip through your Top 5 strengths and come up with one new habit to implement.
  • Focus on the five essential elements of wellbeing. Matt recommends the book, Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements, by Tom Rath and Jim Harter, which takes your Strengths and helps you to apply them to you whole life. Their five essential elements of wellbeing are: career, social, financial, physical, and social. If things are out of alignment, it's likely one is zapping the life out of you because it is not getting positive attention in your life.
  • Use Matt's wellbeing wheel to identify when you are at your absolute best. Once you identify when you are at your best, make sure to do the most important things during that time. This provides the most efficient utilization of your energy, and takes pressure off of the rest of the day. Matt also gives a great example in the interview about a guy who was draining his own energy on the way home from work - all based on his habits. As he used the Wellbeing Wheel, he figured out where he was sucking his energy away and found a rejuvenating fix for his drive home from work.
  • Realize that habits are things that can help or hurt you. For example, if we meet a new person who seems similar to a good person in our lives, then our minds tend to compartmentalize them together (to make things simpler). However, if we meet a new person who seems similar to a person who has hurt us, it is very unfair to lump them together. This is not fair to the new person, and undermines their uniqueness.

Remember this quote from Fred Rogers (Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood): “Most of us, I believe, admire strength. It's something we tend to respect in others, desire for ourselves, and wish for our children. Sometimes, though, I wonder if we confuse strength with other words—like 'aggression' and even 'violence'. Real strength is neither male nor female; but it is, quite simply, one of the finest characteristics that a human being can possess.”

Resources of the Episode

Matt’s StrengthsFinder and wellness practice is called Metamorfos. His Americana art site (pronounced Yonk, which is Swedish for junk), is Djonk.

Matt’s StrengthsFinder practice guide is Raw & Refined. Check out the Wellbeing Wheel on pages 81-86 to see the tool we referenced in the interview.

Many of the concepts that Matt Swenson uses are found in the book Wellbeing: The five essential elements by Tom Rath and Jim Harter.

Subscribe

To subscribe and review, here are your links for listening in iTunes and Stitcher Radio. You can also stream any episode right from the website. Subscribing is a great way to never miss an episode. Let the app notify you each week when the latest episode gets published.

StrengthsFinder Mini-Course For Managers

If you’re a people-manager and you want to sharpen your strengths based support, come join our monthly mini-course. We don’t charge for this because we want to help you keep the StrengthsFinder momentum going. Teams who receive strengths feedback have 8.9% greater profitability. Yowza! Sounds like a great reason to join. Source:  Asplund, J., & Blacksmith, N. “Strengthening Your Company’s Performance.” Gallup Business Journal.

Go Live Your Talents

Remember, using your strengths every day at work makes you a stronger performer. If you’re always focused on fixing your team’s weaknesses, you’re choosing the path of most resistance. Go claim your talents and share them with the world!

Aug 16 2016

26mins

Play

Rank #7: Career Branding When Restorative Is Your Strength

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I get gobs of questions about how to align your CliftonStrengths talent theme of Restorative with your career.

So in this series, I break down one strength per post so that you can add to the insights from your StrengthsFinder report and make a better match between your job and your strengths.

– If you’re exploring as a manager, use this series for career development ideas and even new clues about responsibilities you could give a person with this talent theme so that they can show up at their best.

– If you’re exploring for yourself, use this as a chance to build a reputation for your strengths so that you’re more likely to be given assignments that live in your strengths zone.

Today, the talent theme of the post is Restorative.

You’ll get three layers to chew on:

  1. Career Branding
  2. Red Flag Situations At Work
  3. Fresh Application Ideas

 

Career Branding For Restorative

You probably already have a reputation for what you know. If you imagine your resume or your LinkedIn profile, I bet it’s full of “the what,” which are things like job titles, skills, knowledge, expertise, or the degree you earned. Now, what’s missing in most of them is “the how,” and this is where your StrengthsFinder talent themes live. This is an overlooked use for LinkedIn, which is not just for job seekers.

I bet you are just like my StrengthsFinder training clients, where you don’t see your teammates and customers every day. That’s why LinkedIn has become so important for career branding. It’s how your teammates, customers, and vendors go look you up before a meeting – to see who they’re about to talk to. And rather than only telling them what you know, you should also give them a peek at howit is to work with you.

With that in mind, here are a bunch of adjectives you can consider using in your career branding and your LinkedIn profile. People who lead through Restorative are often:

  • Problem-Invaders
  • Issue CPR-Givers
  • Unintimidated by Big Problems
  • Root Cause Finders
  • Diagnosers
  • Fixers (or Fixer-Upper)
  • Investigators
  • Accountable
  • Rehabilitators
  • Realistic
  • Troubleshooters
Red Flag Situations For Restorative

These are the cultures, interactions, or situations that feel like soul-sucking drudgery to someone with the talent theme of Restorative. They might even make you want to quit the team. So I’ll give you a couple of these to be on watch for — because if they fester, you might get the urge to quit the job or become detached and disengaged at work.

Here are two Red flags for Restorative:

  1. False Harmony. If you lead through Restorative and you have a team culture where people are outwardly harmonious (when they don’t actually agree) — where they fake their agreement and go through great lengths to be conflict avoidant, you will probably feel super drained by that.
  2. Sweeping Issues Under the Rug. If you keep getting responses to your problem-solving ideas that sound like, “Well that’s not really something we own” or “That will never work here” or “No one else seems worried about it, so let’s not make mountains out of molehills” — you will be soul-sucked because you’re around people who are ignoring problems that you’d be happy to solve.
3 Fresh Application Ideas for Restorative

These are ways to apply the talent theme of Restorative at work, even when the job duties on the team feel pretty locked in. If you’re listening as a team manager, be sure to have a conversation around these ideas. You’ll both be able to come up with places to apply them.

For someone who leads through Restorative, put this talent to good use with one of these options:

  1. Give them your big, hairy problems. Many managers feel bad delegating problems. Yet problems are a treat for people who lead through Restorative. Tell them why you assigned them, and that you know they’ll be able to diagnose and propose at a level that few people can do.
  2. Get them assigned to solving problems for your best or biggest customers. This person will enjoy the challenge of discovering and removing the obstacles. You can rest assured that they’ll go about it in a businesslike, focused way (rather than the emotional panic that many would get into).
  3. When you’re stuck. When you catch anyone on the team saying, “I’m stumped” or “I’m baffled” or “I don’t know what to do” — consider partnering them with your team member with Restorative. This person has fun finding the root causes and helping people decide how to move forward.

So there you have it. It’s a quick tour for building your career through the talent theme of Restorative. So, here’s your homework:

  1. Go take action on your LinkedIn profile with the career branding section. Challenge yourself to write one sentence in the Summary section of LinkedIn that captures how you collaborate as a teammate at work.
  2. Then think over the red flags to see if there’s anything you need to get in front of before it brings you down.
  3. And finally, volunteer your talents through the application ideas. And if you’re a manager, have a conversation with your team members about which of these things sound like something they’d love to have more of.
Rock Your Talents As A Team

If you’re thinking about doing a virtual or in-person event to kick off your strengths-based culture, head on over to our training page to see if our current offerings are a good fit for you. Until next time, thank you for being part of this powerful strengths movement that helps people unleash the awesomeness already inside them.

Enjoyed The Podcast?

To subscribe and review, here are your links for listening in iTunes and Stitcher Radio. You can also stream any episode right from this website. Subscribing is a great way to never miss an episode. Let the app notify you each week when the latest episode gets published.

Dec 02 2018

8mins

Play

Rank #8: Career Branding When Connectedness Is Your Strength

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I hear a lot of reflections about how to apply your CliftonStrengths talent theme of Connectedness to your career.

In this series, I break down one strength per post so that you can add to the insights from your StrengthsFinder report and make an even stronger alignment between your current job and your strengths.

- If you’re exploring this concept as a manager, use this series for career development ideas and even new clues about responsibilities you could give a person with this talent theme so that they can show up at their best.

- If you’re exploring this concept for yourself, use this as a chance to build a reputation for your strengths so that you’re more likely to be given assignments that live in your strengths zone.

You’ll get three layers to chew on:

1. Career Branding 2. Red Flag Situations At Work 3. Fresh Application Ideas

Career Branding When Connectedness Is Your Strength

You probably already have a reputation for what you know. Think about your personal resume, CV, or your LinkedIn profile, I bet it's full of “the what,” which are things like job titles, skills, knowledge, expertise, or the degree you earned. What’s missing is usually "the how,” and this is where your StrengthsFinder talent themes live.

Chances are good that you are a lot like my StrengthsFinder training clients, where you don’t physically see your teammates and customers every day. So many of us work on remote teams. That’s why LinkedIn has become so important for career branding. It’s how your teammates, customers, and vendors go look you up before a meeting - to see who they’re about to talk to. And rather than only telling them what you know, you should also give them a peek at how it is to work with you.

We often see two distinct "flavors" of the Connectedness talent theme. You may have one. You may have both. One is fairness in the treatment of people. The other is standardization for processes. So here are a bunch of Connectedness-related adjectives to consider using in your career branding efforts and your LinkedIn profile:

  • Integrator
  • Idea-Connector
  • Bridge-Builder
  • Comforter
  • Considerate
  • Abundance-Minded
  • Faithful
  • Kind
  • Listener
  • Seeker
  • Perceptive
  • Unifier
  • Caring
  • Nature-Lover
  • Advocate
  • Open-Minded
  • Philosophical
  • Thoughtful
Red Flag Situations For Connectedness

These are the cultures, interactions, or situations that might feel like soul-sucking drudgery to someone with the talent theme of Connectedness. They could even make you want to quit the team if they get really bad. So I’ll give you a couple of these to be on watch for — because if they fester, you might become detached or disengaged at work.

Here are two Red flags for Connectedness:

  1. Silos. If your company is famous, internally, for a siloed, departmental approach, you might be drained by the closed-mindedness. When colleagues refuse to see that issues impact more than one small group, they could seem selfish. If you’re constantly trying to get people to be more aware of the downstream impact of their actions, you might wear yourself out, like you’re walking upstream in a fast-flowing river of non-collaboration.

  2. Experiencing Us vs Them Comments. If you constantly hear the service team complaining about the sales team, or the engineers complaining about product marketers, you’ll wonder how it’s possible to view things with such a self-serving mindset. You’re keenly aware of how we all have a ripple effect on each other. You even realize that disdain that is felt but not spoken has a ripple effect. If this is the vibe on your team, it can really bring you down.

3 Fresh Application Ideas for Connectedness

These are ways to apply the talent theme of Connectedness at work, even when the job duties on the team feel pretty locked in. If you’re exploring this concept as a team manager, be sure to have a conversation around these ideas. You’ll both be able to come up with places to apply them.

For someone who leads through Connectedness, put this talent to good use with one of these options:

  1. Help People Live In The Matrix. You naturally see connections among people and processes that other miss. If you have a matrixed organization, where people report to 4 managers, take calls all over the world, and connect via conference call and instant messenger all day, it can feel like a sea of disparate transactions. But they don’t seem separated to you. Volunteer your talent by showing the connections and helping your colleagues understand how things fit into the larger picture.

  2. Leverage Your Network. With your strong sense of community, you can connect people to each other to amplify the teamwork in your group. You might be the only one on the team who would realize that Susmitha does the same thing in India that Mateo does in Argentina. Not only can you give them a sense of community with each other, but your insights might allow for some efficiencies that no one else would have seen.

  3. Make Someone Feel Like They’re The Only One In The Room. In a hard-charging, distracted environment, your teammates are probably used to not being seen, heard, and appreciated. You probably have a natural ability to listen and make someone feel like you’re fully present in the conversation. What a great way to spread the ripple effect of kindness.

Here's Your Personal Branding Homework
  1. Go take action on your LinkedIn profile with the career branding section. Challenge yourself to write one sentence in the Summary section of LinkedIn that captures how you collaborate as a teammate at work.
  2. Then think over the red flags to see if there’s anything you need to get in front of before it brings you down. You might decide to make the situation mean something different, or pre-plan a reaction for the next time it comes around.
  3. And finally, volunteer your talents through the application ideas. If you’re a manager, have a conversation with your team members about which of these things sound like something they’d love to have more of.

Aug 18 2019

11mins

Play

Rank #9: 10 Culture Building Tips For Managers Who Want To Build A Strengths Based Team - With Merywen Wigley, Maya Tremelling, and Cheikh Tall of FHI 360

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This Episode’s Focus on Strengths

This week Lisa chats with Cheikh Tall, Maya Tremelling, and Merywen "Wenny" Wigley, of FHI 360. Their amazing company is working in 70 countries to find cures for many of the world's deadliest diseases, provide water for villages in Africa, and promote the health and well-being of all people.

In this special episode, you'll hear how FHI 360 has built a strengths-based team, while nurturing a strong company culture. You'll learn about these 10 ideas:

  1. Charity Cube
  2. Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)
  3. Focus On The People
  4. Offer Awesome Grants
  5. Randomized Coffee Trials
  6. Thank You Cards
  7. Now Awards
  8. Annual Awards
  9. Leaders Set The Tone
  10. Creative Work Schedules

[caption id="attachment_3508" align="alignleft" width="400"] FHI 360's Awesome Mission[/caption]

Meet the interviewees (see photos below):

Cheikh's Top 5 Clifton StrengthsFinder Talent Themes: Maximizer, Adaptability, Achiever, Responsibility, Deliberative (such a great fit for getting a financial analyst in the zone!)

Maya's Top 5 Clifton StrengthsFinder Talent Themes: Positivity, Includer, Woo, Developer, Harmony (what a beautiful set of relationship talents to bring to a records management role!)

Wenny's Top 5 Clifton StrengthsFinder Talent Themes: Arranger, Empathy, Activator, Harmony, Maximizer (imagine how handy it would be to have this talent lineup as a project director who needs to get things executed through others!)

Lisa’s Top 5 Clifton StrengthsFinder Talent Themes:   Strategic, Maximizer, Positivity, Individualization, Woo

Resources of the Episode

You can connect with the FHI 360 team through their website, Twitter, and their interesting and informative blog.

Strengths Tools

You'll also find lots of StrengthsFinder, leadership, and team tools on our ="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&q=http://leadthroughstrengths.com/resources&source=gmail&ust=1487264698482000&usg=AFQjCNHUtPcayNXycHfGq_r2Crj5sPIU7w">Strengths Resources page.

Subscribe To The Lead Through Strengths Podcast

To subscribe and review, here are your links for listening in iTunes and Stitcher Radio. You can also stream any episode right from this website. Subscribing is a great way to never miss an episode. Let the app notify you each week when the latest episode gets published.

Here's a Full Transcript of the Interview

Lisa: You’re listening to Lead Through Strengths, where YOU'LL learn to apply your greatest strengths at work. [music break]

I’m your host, Lisa Cummings—and I gotta tell ya, whether you’re leading a team or leading yourself…it’s hard to find something more ENERGIZING and productive than using your natural talents every day at work.

Today, you’ll hear a special episode, where I’m onsite in the Raleigh Durham area of North Carolina. I’m with an organization called FHI 360. They do work in 70 countries, and wow...talk about bringing out the best in humanity…

I was onsite, delivering a StrengthsFinder program to their Global Leadership Team. They came from all over the world and, man, we got to apply the concept of strengths to [00:01:00] suuuuch a wide range of job responsibilities.

We had research scientists, we had country directors, we had clinical operations leaders, and we had people whose career mission is to cure malaria. We had leaders who devoted their entire lives to getting clean drinking water to villages in Africa.

It was amazing, and their organizational culture really stuck me.

It feels different (in a special way) when you walk in their building. So [00:01:30] I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to chat with some of their team members about what makes this organization so special.

Now, bear with us. The audio on this episode is not as good as our usual standard. We’re on site, in a common space, with four of us on one centralized microphone. The setup was not ideal for your ear buds, yet we made it work on the fly.  And, even with the extra fuzz and distance in your ears, you’ll absolutely benefit by listening to their creative tips and culture-building ideas.

In just a sec, they’ll start giving you 10 specific ideas you can borrow for YOUR work culture. If you find it tough to follow who is talking (because there are 4 of us), take a glance over at leadthroughstrengths.com/listen. When you see the podcast episode art with three faces, you’ll know you found them. We added photos of each person throughout the show notes - so I think you’ll love checking out those visuals (we even have some that show the 10 tips in action). That page also includes each person’s StrengthsFinder talent themes, so it might be fun for you to spot their natural talents as you hear how they describe their ideas.

We kick it off with Wenny. She jumps right in with their [00:03:00] Charity Cube idea. Here she is, giving you a cool use for the empty cubicle in your office!

Wenny: Hi, I'm Wenny and I'm a project director. My favorite thing about working here or one cool thing I look forward to is an initiative we have called the Charity Cube. It's an empty cube that we use as a mini-thrift store to raise funds [00:03:30] for charities that are nominated by our staff.

Sometimes it will be a charity that our staff cares about, local or national, or sometimes it'll be something thathas personal significance to someone, right? Now for example, this month, the funds raised through the Charity Cube are going to the Leukemia Society because one of our colleagues lost her husband recently to leukemia, so it's raising money in honor of him.

Lisa: I can already tell it's something of meaning here. Tell me a little bit [00:04:00] about what that cube looks like. If you walk up to that cube, what do you see? Because I imagine almost everybody listening has an empty cube somewhere around the office and they want to do this. What does that look like?

Wenny: Sure. We invested in a portable clothing rack. I think a company called Neatfreak makes it. We have clothes hanging there. We ask people to only bring in really nice stuff. We usually have some shoes and purses. There are books, CDs and DVDs [00:04:30]. Knickknacks. People bring in all kinds of things. Some things we wish they didn't, but usually what happens is the good stuff is gone in a second. What's left over is the stuff that nobody wants, so once a month, we get volunteers to come clean it out and to purge it, then we start over. We've raised $5,000 in the Charity Cube.

We've been doing it two years and each month, it's a different charity and [00:05:00] staff nominates it. It's fun. It needs to be placed somewhere strategic. Our Charity Cube is placed right next to the canteen, so everyone who's going to warm up their lunch stops by. It's an honor system. There's a moneybox. People put in the cash and once a month, we add up all the money and send it to a charity.

Lisa: It's like a little retail store in a cube. I wasn't even imagining it at first.

Wenny: Yeah. It manages itself, for the most part.

Lisa: And anybody listening to this could implement something like that. They don't have to be a people [00:05:30] manager to do that. That can be anyone who wants to demonstrate leadership and do something meaningful. Ooh. Maya, this is a lot to live up to. What kind of cool thing do you love here?

Maya: My name is Maya Tremelling [00:05:43]. I'm responsible for record management and I’ve worked for FHI for almost nine years. What I like most about working in this company are the people.

Lisa: Let's talk about relationships for a second and what happens when you're so far away. I talk to more and more people at companies, organizations everywhere that have remote employees all over the place. Your tightest knit team might not be anywhere near you, so how do you ... This answer could be for anyone even though, Cheikh, you haven't been able to introduce yourself yet. How do you stay connected like that relationship-wise when you're not physically seeing each other?

Cheikh: The ERG.

Maya: Yeah, ERG. I don't know if you heard of them [00:06:29].

Lisa: Employee Resource Groups?

Cheikh: Employee [00:06:30] Resource Group. Yes.

Lisa: Yes. Talk about them.

Cheikh: And then people that share…

Wenny: Common interests.

Maya: We have so many groups. Maybe I can talk for “Tapioca” [00:06:38], which is Asian people, but people who care about Asia also can join. You don't need to be Asian to join. We have really good causes too, like fundraising. We celebrate New Year's for all the countries in Asia. We have potlucks. Being away from our countries can feel lonely, but it feels like we are family here. It's just nice.

Lisa: Yeah, so you mentioned Tapioca. You mentioned Young Professionals. Is that an Employee Resource Group?

Maya: Yes.

Lisa: What are some other ones?

Maya: Africa.

Wenny: Working parents.

Cheikh: I think a bicycle group.

Lisa: Bicycle?

Cheikh: They have a bunch of bicycles. Yeah.

Wenny: Yeah. We have a bicycle one, working parents. Oh, Toastmasters, public speaking, Africa, Asia. Military veterans? [00:07:25] Oh, a fitness one that does yoga and meditation.

Lisa: It's as if you find a special connection point, you could makeone of these.

Wenny: Sure. You can propose it.

Cheikh: The last one is a women’s group.

Wenny: Oh, yeah. The women's group? Yeah.

Cheikh: I attended that one [smiles].

Wenny: That's awesome. Good for you [cheerful crosstalk].

Lisa: Okay, so now people have sort of met you.

Cheikh: Yes.

Lisa: Tell them who you are and one of the cool things you love about working here.

Cheikh: My name is Cheikh Tall [00:07:52]. I've been with FHI for about a year. The purpose for me to join FHI was the work that FHI was doing. I was just sitting at my old job - just working and I guess it wasn't meaningful to me. It wasn't about the money, it's about what I want to do personally. I think working here - and the work that FHI is doing, that's one of the main things that I like about working here.

Lisa: Yeah. I think people listening to this will almost feel like you [00:08:30] have an advantage because when you're in a company like this, that is so mission driven and so out for humanity and what the world could become, you certainly (on the purpose and meaning part) have something special.

Let's just say you're a manager listening to this and they work in a manufacturing company. They're making widgets and you're trying to figure out - how do you tap into meaning? You've obviously had this experience when you didn't feel that connection. [00:09:00] Do you think that connection can be made when it's a hardware product or something like that?

Cheikh: Yes. I think it's good to take time to understand what somebody's motivation is. It's important to tap into that motivation and keep that person going.

Lisa: If you just asked one question to try to get at somebody's motivation, what would that thing be?

Wenny: Whenever I work with someone that I don't know, I make sure that the very first meeting has nothing to do with work. That it's [00:09:30] just about getting to know each other and understanding. You don't want to make people say things that they're not comfortable sharing, but just opening a dialogue for people to share what they're comfortable with about their life and their family and where they went to school or what books they love, what music they love, what their hobbies are, so that you can build trust. I think in order to be able to be on a team and have healthy conflict about ideas, you have to trust each other. In order to build trust, you have to know something about the person [00:10:00] beyond their name and their title.

Lisa: It doesn't cost any money, either. That's a great one, Wenny, for that.

Wenny: Exactly. You do it over lunch. You go out, "Hey, I'm so glad we're working together. Can we go and grab lunch?" You just talk about life and each other. Also in keeping that feeling going and building that relationship too, a lot of times, we work with people that are overseas.

I had a team that was all in Kenya. We did so much better, we were so much more engaged when we were on video, rather than when we were on the phone. As much as we could, we did Skype and video calls more than just being on the phone. When you're on the phone and someone could be doing something else and it's too passive. When you're on video, you have to really focus.

So yeah, using video and just keeping a personal relationship just when you start meeting like, "How's everything going with you guys? How's your family?" You know what their kids are doing. "How's soccer going?" or something. "How's your garden going? You grow tomatoes. Do you have any tomatoes yet?" Just to have ahuman connection and not be so boring about work, because things can get boring sometimes.

Lisa: [00:11:00] It's big. People say, "Oh, you're not focusing on work", but you're focusing on work by focusing on the people that do the work, so you have to have that piece.

Cheikh: Adding to that, I might be an introvert sometimes. I don't like to talk. I just sometimes just keep it business as usual.

Lisa: Perfect for having someone on a video right now, right? [sarcasm] “Let's do an in public interview with someone to make him feel really uncomfortable.”

Cheikh: I've been working with my manager for a while. She can tell by how I react if I'm excited about something or not. She knows that I like to be challenged. If a new challenge comes up, she can see the excitement in me. I think paying attention to the non-verbal action of people pays a lot. They can't help unless they are 100% sure what motivates that person.

Lisa: I like how practical your ideas are. You were talking about the fact that someone can read you [00:12:00] and know. The same thing applies with anybody that you're working with whether they're your direct report or a colleague who's a peer. If you get to know each other at those informal lunches and they know, "Oh, you want a little more time to think about things" or "Don't put me under pressure to speak in the moment" or "Now I can see that eye twitch means that's a good thing". All those little signs.

Wenny: One of the things that I love about FHI is HR has set aside funds and resources for employees to come up with [00:12:30] ideas. We have the Awesome grant: give us an idea that's awesome that you can do for $1,000 and we'll consider it. Everyone can submit his or her ideas. One of the Awesome grants was to get some bicycles that employees can check out and go for lunch, go ride into downtown and grab a coffee or a lunch.

HR, it's not tons of money, but it's very encouraging to feel like your ideas are valued and for HR to say, "We want to know what ..." [00:13:00] The Awesome grants are about the culture. $1,000 projects to make our culture better. I love that HR is thinking that way because that's creative and it's not expensive. It's pretty easy. The staff is doing all the work. They're coming up with an idea they're implementing.

Lisa: And executing. I hear that and I think if someone said, "Oh, we don't have that. We have $100", you could do an Awesome grant with $100. That's cool.

Paige Winn (cameo appearance): Do you guys know about the randomized coffee trials?

Maya: Yeah. Every [00:13:30] month, people who register to be part of it will get an invite. They match us with other people and we can have talking and it's just having a coffee or tea or even lunch if you want. I meet most of the time with someone new that I never met before. It's really good because we are such a big company. So many new people - we benefit.

Lisa: Yeah. Say more about how this actually works. You're an employee and I'm imagining [00:14:00] it could be something like networking and I just want to meet someonein whatever department?

Maya: Yes.

Lisa: Networking, mostly? Does it happen through software or how does this happen?

Maya: It's just an email.

Wenny: It's part of the Awesome thing. Someone manages it. They get all the names of people and then they use random matching and send out emails.

Cheikh: Usually the people that they match are in the same department.

Wenny: Yeah.

Cheikh: We end up being matched to somebody who is doing something totally different than your area of work, so you can talk about projects you’re working on.

Wenny: The ones that I've been in, we talk about work some and what kind of projects you're doing and what excites you about what's coming down the pike.

Maya: Most of the time. Yeah.

Wenny: "Where did you come from? Who are you?" It's all the employees who schedule it and reschedule it if you need to cancel. That's your gig. They just tell you whom you're matched to and then you can take it and run.

Lisa: You're hitting [00:15:00] on an enormously important concept. I talk a lot with managers about individualizing to each person and what makes them tick.

Wenny: One thing I really appreciate is that we get handed out stationary that is a thank you note. It has a logo and it says 'We are FHI'. You get those and when someone does something that you appreciate or helps you out, you can send them a handwritten thank you note. I have handwritten thank you [00:15:30] notes from people in leadership that mean so much. The power of that is just so real and wonderful. We can do that to each other. We also have an ability to nominate people for awards.

Cheikh: Yeah. The Now Award.

Wenny: On an ongoing basis, we have a Now Award, which is just someone helped you out. It can be a $10 gift card or $20, whatever. Once a year, then we have the big award. They take nominations from around, many, many offices around [00:16:00] the world. It's nice. There's a ceremony and peopleget to tell their story. You hear why people got this award and they give it to teams. It's not about individual accomplishments, it's about team accomplishment and project accomplishment. That's awesome because then you're really creating a culture that values teamwork.

Cheikh: Also, what I like especially about the Now Award is that it is something that you get from peers. You're working next to each other.

Maya: Right. In the same department.

Cheikh: It doesn't come from the top leader. [00:16:30] My direct manager or my direct coworkers are the ones that can nominate me. Just getting an award from them means a lot because they are the people that you interact with all the time, and they see you putting in the work. The direct manager knows what I'm doing every day. Getting recognition from them sometime means a lot.

Lisa: As I was listening to your answers, I was thinking about how that gave people a [00:17:00] big, bigger, biggest option where thank you cards, recognition cards can be big, Now Awards can be bigger, the team impact thing, the biggest. But that something as simple as a peer recognition getting a handwritten note whether it's from a peer, even an email, that it's big.

It's a big meaning to you even though it's a small easy action to take. Anybody can keep a stack full of blank cards at their desk to recognize peers, even if their company doesn't [00:17:30] provide something. Okay. Closing thought. It's a simple question, yet a deep question. What do you know about team dynamics today that you didn't know five years ago?

Wenny: I don't know if I didn't know it five years ago, but I certainly know now that the leader sets the tone. I'm on a team now where the leader will send out a message [00:18:00] and it's completely heartfelt. "This morning I woke up and there was a beautiful sunrise and I was on my run. I was just thinking about how much we've accomplished in the last month, and how hard you guys have worked, and how much I appreciate it. I'm just thankful that you all are my team."

He's setting the tone. He's setting the tone and then that becomes the tone of the team. I think it goes all the way up to our CEO. We have a CEO suggestion box. You can say anything you want in the suggestion box. Anything. [00:18:30] He will respond publicly unless it's private, if it's an HR issue that is private.

He sets the tone for communication. That would be my nugget: the leader sets the tone. It's your responsibility to set the tone for your team. If there's gnarly-ness going on in your team, you have to not just want to blame it on them but look inward and accept some responsibility. How do I turn this around? What can I do? Instead of just saying, "All those people are hopeless." I [00:19:00] believe it comes from the top.

Lisa: It takes a lot of small interactions to make that openness happen, so that's a really good lesson.

Wenny: You know one thing we didn't talk about, but I think is really great, is that I only work 60% of the time. That's a choice that I made, so that I cannot make my kids eat TV dinner every day, right?

Lisa: Ooh, it is a big one.

Wenny: I work less and I make less money, but I still know, and I think most people here know, that you don't get all this [00:19:30] stuff. Culture is not going to just ... someone else is going to create it. You have to put the time in even though I'm only working 60%, but I put the time in for the Charity Cube. We put the time in for the ERGs. We do it because we know that it's our responsibility. We get to own whether this place is awesome to work at or not. It's everybody's responsibility and we all chip in, don't we?

Maya: Yeah. [00:19:53].

Wenny: People chip in. We're not getting compensated for these things that we're doing. We shouldn't be. We're doing them because we want to work at an awesome place [00:20:00] and that's what it takes to work somewhere awesome. If you're not willing to give a couple of hours a month or one hour a month to make this place awesome, then it's not going to be awesome. That's why it's awesome. If you think everyone else is going to create the culture and then you get to benefit from it? No. That's not how it works.

Lisa: It's so uncommon to see any fractional work schedule.

Wenny: Yeah. It has to be that your project, it meshes with your project needs, but yeah. If you can justify in how it will work and it works [00:20:30] for your group, then you can do it.

Lisa: Wenny ended it so perfectly, didn't she? You know what, if you want your workplace to be great, it's built from the inside out. A culture's not an HR initiative, it's not a vision from one single leader. It's actually a reflection of the past and the present and all of those actions, habits, preferences, commitments and trusts that are going on in your organization.

Building a strengths-based culture takes [00:21:00] some time, effort, and ongoing communication. They did such a great job of showing how yes, it does take an effort by many people over a long period of time to shape a culture yet at the same time, they demonstrate really beautifully that these 10 ideas can be executed by anyone at any level and really with any budget level.

To do a quick recap, here are the 10 ideas. I hope you will take some inspiration [00:21:30] and implement a spark that you got from this episode in your company.

  1. Turn an empty cube into a Charity Cube.Use it to give to causes that employees select and care about.
  2. Form Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), and don’t limit them to ethnic diversity groups. Allow team members to find connection points and create groups, like their cyclist group or veterans group.
  3. Focus on the work by focusing on the people doing the work. Build human connections by being willing to chat about non-work topics. Get on video for remote team members. Going deeper builds trust that translates into results.
  4. Offer Awesome Grants. Give people the opportunity to apply for grants that build a great workplace. They implemented everything from a sharable bike program to buying StrengthsFinder assessments - all from their Awesome Grants.
  5. Create a program like their Randomized Coffee Trials.They literally get matched up with a random person from another department to have coffee and try on a conversation. It has been awesome for cross-functional networking and collaboration.
  6. Provide an inventory of Thank You cards. They provide stationery to each employee so that offering appreciation is convenient. This removes cost barriers and convenience barriers that would otherwise keep people from doing it. I know, that sounds like a lame excuse to not say thank you…yet I don’t see fat stacks of thank you cards on people’s desks, so this idea rocks. Make it easy.
  7. Now Awards.Start a peer-nomination system. Get rid of the bureaucracy and approvals. Allow people to give something simple, like a $10 gift card to a peer.
  8. Annual Awards.This is their big team award, so it’s different from peer awards. This one recognizes project level success. They go all out with stories that describe the team’s experience together. And they pump up the pomp and circumstance to really make a celebration out of it.
  9. Set the tone.As a leader, FHI leaders are comfortable with a heartfelt tone. They are willing to listen and help each person feel important. They see from their results and loyalty that it's a big deal. Whether it’s a meaningful team message or their CEO suggestion box, they’re out to show people that they matter.
  10. Get creative with work schedules.FHI offers what they call “Reduced LOE” where any professional on their team can work fractional hours and get prorated benefits. What a creative way to keep your best employees through different seasons of their lives. It makes team members feel accountable to keeping the amazing culture train going - what a brilliant way to build a feeling of ownership all the way through. At its simplest level, consider offering a job sharing program or part time roles. The important differentiator here is that it’s not just for entry-level jobs. When you show people they have a career path with flexibility, you can keep your top talent rather than having them opt out of the workforce entirely.

It makes the team members feel accountable to keeping the amazing culture train going, you heard that from Wenny, and what a brilliant way to build a feeling of ownership all the way through the organization. If you offered this at its simplest level, just consider doing a job-sharing program where two employees can share a job 50/50 or maybe you offer part-time roles.

The important differentiator is that it's not just for entry-level jobs. I do see people experimenting with part-time offerings, yet they stop at the entry-level jobs. The magic here is that when you show people they have a career path with flexibility, you can keep your top talent rather than having them opt out of the workforce entirely. All right. With that, I'd love to hear what this episode inspires you to put into practice.

If you've done the Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment with your team, it's a great [00:27:00] spark. I say this often. It's a great start, it's a great spark, but it needs the continued conversation and execution to have the deep impact on an organization. First, I'm virtually high fiving you if you've gotten the conversation started already and the examples in this episode are a great way to support talents and put them into action.

Just think about this for a second. If someone on your team leads through the Discipline or Focus talent themes, maybe they create the calendaring process for something like those randomized coffee trials because they really dig the organizational skills and the follow through part. If someone leads through restorative, maybe they institute their own ERG.

They create an employee resource group called the Fix It Amigos, I don't know, to tinker on electronics or solve business issues that people submit. If someone leads through the developer talent, maybe they propose a mentoring program or they offer to be someone's mentor so they can take them through those small steps of development and have someone who they can celebrate the success of.

If someone leads through Includer, they might offer to become the onboarding welcome wagon and offer tour guides to ensure that new hires feel totally comfortable and grounded in their first week on the job. You get the idea here. I'm just spit balling. The idea though is take your talents and the talents of people on your team and aim them at culture building conversations. Aim them at specific company programs.

Get people involved in ways [00:28:30] that light them up. Encourage people to contribute in ways that bring them ease and energy and enjoyment about the workplace and about their culture and about their roles. After all, if they're obsessed with fixing their weaknesses, you know what I'm about to say here. They are performing on the road of most resistance. So help them claim their talents and share them with your culture.

Oct 26 2017

28mins

Play

Rank #10: Join Up Your Strengths & Career Path - With David Ralph

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This Episode’s Focus on Strengths

This episode will energize and encourage you to take a big leap toward living the life you truly want to live. Lisa speaks with David Ralph, a man who ditched the corporate life, took that leap, and is now living a life that he loves (and it meant he went from working a mandatory 8 hours every day to working for a few hours at tasks he loves). And, he tells us about how he used his strengths to make it all happen.

This is a great episode, especially for those of you who have always been searching for that elusive Passion Pot of Gold. David points out that it’s not something that’s just going to appear; you need to go out there and do something to reach the life you want.

David keeps in mind his Top 5 Talent Themes from the Clifton StrengthsFinder: Futuristic, Maximizer, Belief, Positivity, and Activator. You’ll hear how his Maximizer talent has impacted his life, and how he’s learned to use his Activator talent to get stuff done.

What You’ll Learn

David tells us his story, and how he got to where he is today. Along the way, he gives these sage pieces of advice:

Be where people give you kudos for the good things you do. When he was in the corporate world, David realized that no one told him when he did the good things, they only commented on the tasks that needed improvement, which most likely led to discouragement, and a negative view of his job. When he went out on his own, those same people started telling him how good he was at certain things. That’s empowering! When David was in the corporate world, his Maximizer talent told him that nothing was every good enough – he spent hours perfecting the little details that didn’t truly matter. Now, he believes that he can do a great job, and that the little details don’t matter to others, so he saves a lot of time by not sweating the small things. Prioritize!

You don’t have to work hard every day to succeed and be happy. Somewhere along the way, it’s become the norm that in order to succeed, we have to put in a hard day’s work and that life isn’t easy. That is NOT true! As David moved up the corporate ladder and become more successful and earned more money, he realized he was less and less happier. Working “hard” was not a pleasure.

Look around at what other people are doing. Watch to see what others around you are doing, especially those who’ve found a way to do what they truly love. It will give you ideas for other ways to earn a living, while at the same time enjoying your life. In David’s case, there was another podcaster who he heard, and thought it was something he would love to do.

Have your own goals. If you are working every day in the corporate world, you are fulfilling the goals, and earning money of someone else. David encourages you to have your own goals, using the example of the band Duran Duran. You’ve got to hear their story and how they achieved their own goals, as David tells it.

The status quo doesn’t have to be. Just because people expect you to go to work every day, dressed a certain way, being a high achiever, it doesn’t mean that you are required to be part of the status quo. Once David has this AH HA moment, he was ready to take that LEAP, and go for it. As he says, he “Broke Free”.

Connect the dots. Go back in time, and look at yourself before life got serious (around ages 5-9). What things did you want to do? What did you truly enjoy doing every day? Then, go through your attic and look for things from that time period. In David’s case, he found cassette tapes that included interviews he had done with people around town when he was 9. He had completely forgotten about that. Next, look at the paths of your career. In his case, he had a training background, and then moved into doing presentations. All these dots connected him to what he is doing now – interviewing people and presenting topics to the world. What are your dots?

Find a mentor (or at least a person who will encourage you). Having someone to encourage you to take a leap, can make all the difference. It feels great to know others believe you have what it takes to meet your own goals.

Use your strengths to help you make the leap. For example, David has an Activator talent, which enables him to start projects. He uses this to go out each day, doing what he loves, and actually “living” his life. Can you believe he sometimes goes a whole week without checking his email? That’s because he can.

Wait for the SUPER YESES. Once you are out on your own, if people approach you with deals that would bring in money, but not meet your own criteria for the new business you’ve started, then say no. David found that all the little no’s make room for the SUPER YESES, which are the ones that will really move you on.

Live the 20/80 Rule. Knowing that 20% of the things you do bring 80% of the reward, PRIORITIZE your tasks to focus on the 20%, and limit the amount of time you spend on the other 80% (they can be time suckers).

Remember, knowing your Strengths and understanding them can have a huge impact on your personal and professional lives. So go claim your talents and share them with the world.

Resources of the Episode

To “get more David in your life” check out these links: http://www.joinupdots.com and http://www.podcastersmastery.com. You can also connect with David on Twitter.

During the podcast, David mentions Michael O'Neal, who hosts the Solopreneur Hour Podcast. If you are interested, here's the link: https://solopreneurhour.com/podcasts

Subscribe

To subscribe and review, here are your links for listening in iTunes and Stitcher Radio. You can also stream any episode right from the website. Subscribing is a great way to never miss an episode. Let the app notify you each week when the latest episode gets published.

StrengthsFinder Mini-Course For Managers

If you’re a people-manager and you want to sharpen your strengths based support, come join our monthly mini-course. We don’t charge for this because we want to help you keep the StrengthsFinder momentum going. Teams who receive strengths feedback have 8.9% greater profitability. Yowza! Sounds like a great reason to join. Source:  Asplund, J., & Blacksmith, N. “Strengthening Your Company’s Performance.” Gallup Business Journal.

Go Live Your Talents

Remember, using your strengths every day at work makes you a stronger performer. Go claim your talents and share them with the world!

Jun 21 2016

29mins

Play

Rank #11: Career Branding When Strategic Is Your Strength

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I get a steady stream of questions about how to align your CliftonStrengths talent theme of Strategic to your career. In this series, I break down one strength per episode — so that you can add to the insights from your StrengthsFinder report and make a better match between your job and your strengths.

– If you’re exploring as a manager, use this series for career development ideas and even new clues about responsibilities you could give a person with this talent theme so that they can show up at their best.

– If you’re exploring for yourself, use this as a chance to build a reputation for your strengths so that you’re more likely to be given assignments that live in your strengths zone.

 

Career Branding When Strategic Is Your Strength

Today, the talent theme of the episode is Strategic. You’ll get three layers to chew on:

  1. Career Branding
  2. Red Flag Situations At Work
  3. Fresh Application Ideas

You probably already have a reputation for what you know. If you imagine your resume or your LinkedIn profile, I bet it’s full of “the what,” which are things like job titles, skills, knowledge, expertise, or the degree you earned. Now, what’s missing in most of them is “the how,” and this is where your StrengthsFinder talent themes live. This is an overlooked use for tools like LinkedIn, which is not just for job seekers.

I bet you are just like my StrengthsFinder training clients, where you don’t see your teammates and customers every day. That’s why LinkedIn has become so important for career branding – it’s how your teammates, customers, and vendors go look you up before a meeting – to see who they’re about to talk to. And rather than only telling them what you know, you should also give them a peek at howit is to work with you. To that end, here are a bunch of adjectives you can use in your career branding and your LinkedIn profile.

People who lead through Strategic are often:

  • Fast Decision Maker
  • Culler of Lists
  • Pattern-Spotter
  • Vetter of Ideas
  • Simplifier
  • Planner
  • Creative Strategist
  • Anticipator Who Sees The Downstream Impact
Red Flag Situations For Strategic

These are the cultures, interactions, or situations that might feel like soul-sucking drudgery to someone with the talent theme of Strategic. They might even make you want to quit the team. So I’ll give you a couple of these to be on the watch for — because if they fester, you might get the urge to quit the job or become detached at work.

Here are two Red flags for Strategic:

  1. A culture of slow decision making or analysis paralysis. If you have Strategic and you’re stuck in status quo while you can already see the clear path ahead, you will likely spend your days at work in extreme frustration.
  2. Micromanaging your decision process after trust and credibility are built. If you have Strategic and you’ve already built credibility, yet you’re still being questioned deeply and constantly about your decisions, it will impact you beyond the lack of trust. It will hit you at the core because you like moving into the future. If you have to justify every detail, you’ll likely be counting the wasted minutes you could have been using toward progress, which is a serious drain on your psyche. Instead, you’re probably at your best when you can sort quickly and take action.
3 Fresh Application Ideas for Strategic

These are ways to apply the talent theme of Strategic at work, even when the job duties on the team feel pretty locked in. If you’re reading this as a team manager, be sure to have a conversation around these ideas. You’ll both be able to come up with places to apply them.

For someone who leads through Strategic, put this talent to good use with one of these action items:

  1. Put this talent to use when you need a workaround. Sometimes, the long-term solution to a problem is in in the works…and meanwhile you need a bandaid-type solution to also cope in the short-term. Usually, someone with the Strategic talent will be able to sort all of the options quickly and get into the workaround-action on the same day.
  2. When there’s a topic on the team that seems confusing and overly complex to everyone. Get a whiteboard in front of the person with the Strategic talent and see if they can simplify the complex in a way that helps everyone nod their heads in agreement that they’re looking at the same thing. This could be drawing a contextual model or framework. This could be dissecting a problem. Or even getting everyone to agree on what the problem is that you’re solving.
  3. Use this person for collaboration insight. When you’re hearing that stakeholders are not getting consulted or that people are frustrated that your process changes have a negative impact on their work, get someone with Strategic talent involved. They’re great at seeing the handoffs between steps in the process. And they can predict what consequences will come from small upstream changes by the time they get to the 3rd or 4th person down the way.
Your Homework

So there you have it. It’s a quick tour for building your career through the talent theme of Strategic. So, here’s your homework if you have this talent theme:

  1. Go take action on your LinkedIn profile with the career branding section. Challenge yourself to write one sentence in the Summary section of LinkedIn that captures how you collaborate as a teammate at work.
  2. Think over the red flags to see if there’s anything you need to get in front of before it brings you down.
  3. Volunteer your talents through the application ideas. And if you’re a manager, have a conversation with your team members about which of these things sound like something they’d love to have more of.
Rock Your Talents As A Team

If you’re thinking about doing a virtual or in-person event to kick off your strengths-based culture, head on over to our training page to see if our current offerings are a good fit for you. Until next time, thank you for being part of this powerful strengths movement that helps people unleash the awesomeness already inside them.

Enjoyed The Podcast?

To subscribe and review, here are your links for listening in iTunes and Stitcher Radio. You can also stream any episode right from this website. Subscribing is a great way to never miss an episode. Let the app notify you each week when the latest episode gets published.

Nov 11 2018

8mins

Play

Rank #12: Engage Employees Through Strengths - With Grace Laconte

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From Grace, you’ll learn:

  • Knowing You’re In Your Strengths Zone. What it’s like when you feel the “high” of using your natural talents and getting a literal paycheck to show you that you’re moving in the right direction.
  • When Your Strengths Are Opposite Of Someone Else’s. What to do when you have a talent of sparking ideas and projects, yet your constant ideas and activation of new projects drives your team crazy. In her case, she realized that her employees needed things she wouldn’t naturally bring. She gives great examples of how she listened deeply to understand what her employees needed.
  • Noticing Other People’s Strengths At Work. How to notice other people’s needs, even when you don’t consider yourself a great relator.
  • Full Openness Between Employee And Manager. Whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing to talk about other job opportunities with your current employees.
  • When People Are Grumbling About Work. How to consider what you could do differently on the team to impact this phenomenon.
  • Engagement Driving Turnover. Why turnover happens at a high % and great expense—and how your employee retention practices may not be getting the results you want. Grace shared this study that shows how people leave for reasons very different from what execs believe.

In this study, it showed that people leave because of:

  • Relationships — With supervisor and among colleagues
  • Staffing — Under staffing, disorganized processes, and inequitable assignments
  • Personal Reasons — Lack of recognition and respect, burnout, unreasonable job demands, and limited promotional opportunities

Grace shared her Top Five StrengthsFinder Talent Themes: Focus, Activator, Ideation, Input, Futuristic. If you want to explore your Clifton StrengthsFinder Talent Themes, you should check out the show called Theme Addicts. Grace is a co-host on that show.

You can also find Grace on her company website, on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Dec 14 2015

20mins

Play

Rank #13: Use Your Gifts To Chase Career Fulfillment - With Marcus Sheridan

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This Episode’s Focus on Strengths

Today's episode features Marcus Sheridan, also known as The Sales Lion. Marcus is a marketing and sales guru. He's best known for his concept "They Ask, You Answer." He has definitely given us a kick in the pants when it comes to making helpful video content and making an "answers" page for our customers. As a professional speaker, he's also delving into area like: individual strengths, personal success, and true fulfillment.

He's such a likable guy, and you'll love him on his show The Balance if you dig the ideas they explore on fulfillment. If you're curious about how he's become so good at interacting with clients and prospects, listen in. This episode is especially perfect for marketing and sales people. Lisa and Marcus also get a kick out of their mutual love of the word "dang." Yes, it's a southern thang. Lisa is from Austin, Texas and Marcus is from Heathsville, Virginia, so they had a laugh about their vernacular. And don't worry, neither one will drop a "bless your heart" phrase on you when they're actually trying to tell you that your marketing or strengths based leadership efforts are terrible.

What You’ll Learn In This Episode

How to tap into your personal strengths. Marcus tells us that he has done this from a young age. He's accomplished this by being self-aware at all times, and by tuning into his audience's reactions (whether it be one person or a whole audience). Signs to look for: Is the person leaning forward because he is interested, or back because he's bored? Is he looking up because he's having a reflective moment (which should be your goal), or is he looking down because he's only listening and not thinking? If he is smiling at you, this is good, but if he's looking at you blankly, he may just be trying to stay awake!

The art of the question. Our job as communicators is to help our audience discover an insight, before we even say it. This can only occur if we ask the right questions. Listen for Marcus' mention of the mirror of life, and see how people are really reacting to you. If you present things in the correct way, your audience will feel like "it" (whatever that is), is their idea. They won't conclude that you forced them into compliance with your idea. Besides Marcus being a great listener in a human-to-human way, he's also excellent at tuning into customers. You'll see his living proof of "they ask you answer" in the way he adds value on his website and how he shows up in helpful video content.

Prioritization. It's important to prioritize everything in your life, based on what brings you the most energy. Using your strengths will often bring you energy. To find out what your strengths are, grab the book StrengthsFinder 2.0 and use your code in the back of the book. Peak states in life when you're (in the flow) are times when you are gaining energy, not spending it. Learn to love what you are, and know what you aren't. For example, Marcus put his family first and his business second. the helps him to know exactly what he should say NO to. You may have to walk away from opportunities, even when they are attractive, if they don't fit in with your priorities. There was a time when Marcus failed to say no to a great opportunity in San Francisco, California. It turned out to be four days of speaking all day, seeing no Silicon Valley sights, and missing his family. And, people were eating while he was speaking, instead of listening. This was an "ah ha" moment, when he decided to never let money or ambition supercede his priorities - family and self-care.

How To Chase Fulfillment

  • In order to feel true fulfillment, you must move toward something rather than running away from it.
  • Explore your career. It's very much like a hiking trail. You can't tell where it's going to go; you need to keep walking to see. If an idea seems seeded in you, explore it. See what it grows into, and play with it. Get in the sandbox. For example, even Marcus has given himself a  3-5 year on-ramp to play in a career transition. Keep an eye on Marcus. He's living proof of how this works as he authentically shares his exploration into the topic of life, family, and fulfillment - and how they intersect.

Resources of the EpisodeYou can reach Marcus through his website or Twitter. To listen to his amazing podcasts, click here. Lisa particularly loves The Mad Marketing show. He also does the Hubcast Podcast, One Last Tool on sales and marketing tools. And The Balance show we mentioned earlier. How does he keep up with all of this? The man is an animal (a very kind one).

Marcus' book is They Ask You Answer: A Revolutionary Approach to Inbound Sales, Content Marketing, and Today's Digital Consumer.

Books mentioned in this podcast include:

A selection of Jim Rohn's books - Leading an Inspired Life, My Philosophy For Successful Living, The Art of Exceptional Living (a cd). Jim Rohn was a huge inspiration to both Marcus and Lisa when they were first digging into personal development. In fact, Lisa used to drive around listening to Jim Rohn and Zig Ziglar tapes (yeah, cassette tapes back in the day).

Edgar Schein's Humble Inquiry: The Gentle Art of Asking Instead of Telling

Jim Collins' Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap...And Others Don't

Subscribe To Lead Through StrengthsTo subscribe and review, here are your links for listening in iTunes and Stitcher Radio. You can also stream any episode right from this website. Subscribing is a great way to never miss an episode. Let the app notify you each week when the latest episode gets published.

Go Live Your TalentsRemember, using your strengths every day at work makes you a stronger performer. If you place a lopsided focused on fixing your team’s weaknesses, you’re choosing the path of most resistance. Go claim your talents and share them with the world!

Jan 24 2017

30mins

Play

Rank #14: Career Q&A: Money versus Happiness - Can One Job Bring Both?

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This episode’s question

I’m an artist, and I’ve been in art just about all of my life. My question has to do with getting happier doing what I do. I’m in a company that offers a good 401(k) and a decent salary and standard hours, yet I don’t have any cool projects to work on.

I have friends in markets like L.A. and New York who are working on cool projects in TV, movies, and video games. I have a friend who is an art teacher and she absolutely loves it. I just don’t find myself having the level of happiness that my friends do. I don’t want to move, so I feel kind of stuck.

How do I find happiness at my current work or somewhere else?

What you’ll learn - Whether money and happiness are mutually exclusive.

- How doing what you love doesn’t promise you money–there’s a little more to it.

- That most people are passionate about more than one thing, and how thinking like Forrest Gump can help your career approach.

- Getting your EKG report in the right direction (and what the heck a Career EKG is).

Resource of the episode Podcast: How Sean Dietrich Built a Thriving Art Business – Solopreneur Hour with Michael O’Neal

Podcast: How an Artist Built Slow and Steady to A Million – The Eventual Millionaire with Jaime Tardy

Podcast: How Artist Dorsey McHugh Painted Her Way to A New Life – Relaunch with Pei and Joel Boggess

Tweetable of the episode

Make sure your career EKG isn’t flattening–have Excitement, Knack, and the G’s. via @careerpodcast

Jul 07 2014

9mins

Play

Rank #15: Why Use StrengthsFinder With Your Team - With Adam Seaman

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This Episode’s Focus on Strengths

This week Lisa speaks with Adam Seaman. They chat about the difference between strengths and talents, as well as practical applications for your top strengths. This interview is a great introduction to what you can do with Clifton StrengthsFinder.

Adam’s Top 10 StrengthsFinder Talent Themes:  Strategic, Individualization, Ideation, Intellection, Input, Adaptability, Command, Activator, Empathy, Futuristic

Lisa’s Top 10 StrengthsFinder Talent Themes:   Strategic, Maximizer, Positivity, Individualization, Woo, Futuristic, Focus, Learner, Communication, Significance

Resource of the Episode

You can reach Adam through the Talent2Strength website. He also posts helpful thought leadership on Twitter. You'll definitely see his Intellection in action.

Strengths Tools

You'll also find lots of StrengthsFinder, leadership, and team tools on our Strengths Resources page.

Subscribe To Lead Through Strengths

To subscribe and review, here are your links for listening in iTunes and Stitcher Radio. You can also stream any episode right from this website. Subscribing is a great way to never miss an episode. Let the app notify you each week when the latest episode gets published.

< Here's a Full Transcript of the 30 Minute Interview

Lisa Cummings: This episode is about stepping back and understanding: what the tool of StrengthsFinder is, and what is it like for a team. Let's start with your opinion on why it is so awesome.

Adam Seaman: Great. My goal is to get other people as excited about it as I am. I don't always reach that goal of course, but it's the striving for it, and sometimes I succeed, and I call it "green lit" when I get somebody as excited about it as I am. StrengthsFinder stands out to me; one of the reasons is that it really gives that language that people can describe themselves with. I hear this all the time. It's like, "oh I always knew I had that quality, but I didn't know there was a name for it." Then they'll say, "and I didn't know other people had it or didn't have it, I just assumed everybody was like me." Those are some of the reasons why I really like this tool. The other is that it really dials into the individual, so instead of it being "I'm one of four colors", or "I'm one of 16 letter combinations", you have one in 278,000 chance of somebody having the same top five themes as you have. Those are just some of the reasons I really, really like this tool.

Lisa Cummings: That's so crazy. Any time I cite that number or the chances that someone else will have the same top five talent themes in the same order as you is 1 in 33 million. That just blows people's minds, and they think, "Okay, so this isn't going to be a training where you come into my team and talk to people about the four boxes you can put them in." It makes people so receptive to StrengthsFinder compared to other tools.

Adam Seaman: Yeah, I think it really makes them go, "Alright, this is serious, serious, stuff here. It really does dial into the individual." But then, it does create a little bit of a barrier because there are 34 themes that it measures you on, and learning all 34 is more daunting than learning four colors or something like that. That's definitely one of the challenges for people - to really access this tool deeply. But once you do...and this gets into another thing I really love about this...is most assessments you read it and you're like, "Alright, I guess that's accurate, I guess that describes me, and then what do I do with it?" You file it away because you don't want to throw it away, but what do you do with it? So you just file it away, and that's the real shame that I try to correct with StrengthsFinder.

Lisa Cummings: [laughing] You give them strength shamings.

Adam Seaman: [playing along] I do. I just shame them. If I'm in a grocery store and somebody is like, "Hey, I just took the StrengthsFinder" you know, as people do when they're in the grocery store.

Lisa Cummings: [jokingly] Definitely. When you're picking out butter. That's when I do it.

Adam Seaman: Yes, it's in the butter aisle.

Lisa Cummings: So to get back to serious stuff for a second, you said something about a personality assessment kind of notion, and so for people less familiar with StrengthsFinder, they often assume this is a personality assessment. I know that you view it in a different way, that you look at StrengthsFinder as so much more than that, as do I. So tell us about how you get people beyond that basic view of it.

Adam Seaman: For me what this captures is this idea that we all live in our own self-world. Lisa, right now you're in your office in Austin, Texas, your side of the world. You have your experiences going on, the things that are happening inside of you. Then I'm over here in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I have my own concerns or issues or things I'm thinking of. So we're kind of in our own self-world. That's actually the term for this, it's a German word, and a German biologist came up with this word. It's called umwelt, which is kind of a cool word.

Lisa Cummings: Umwelt.

Adam Seaman: It's U-M-W-E-L-T. So it kind of roughly translates to this idea of self-world. For me what I love about StrengthsFinder is it helps describe what's happening in your own self-world. In my head, and in your head, we both share the Strategic Talent Theme, so we're always playing through if-then scenarios. We do it so fast, that we don't even know we're doing it. What would be really interesting if this were possible, is if somebody else who didn't have Strategic very high at all were to somehow transplant into our heads, kind of like a Freaky Friday kind of thing, then they were to have to get into our heads, or just take your head with Strategic and Maximizer. They're going to have this flurry of thoughts coming at them at such a high rate of speed; it's just going to be overwhelming for them. It's cool to realize that within each person, there's a whole lot more going on than what we ever could tell, or even just ask them about. It's like if I know your top five themes, and I know your number three is Positivity, which it is, I know that your knee-jerk reaction is going to be to look for the upside of things. It's what shows up when you show up.

Lisa Cummings: That's so true. I love the Freaky Friday thought where if you as a teammate...if you said, "Alright I'm going to do this at work, and I'm going to try to get into Freaky Friday mode as much as I can, where I'm imagining what is it like in that person's head and how can I relate to the world the way that they are so that I can understand what would be relevant for them, or what they care about, or how they make decisions, or how they think about the world."

So it's kind of cool as you were talking about the power StrengthsFinder brings, I was thinking man you could almost turn that into an application exercise where you're trying to do it as if you had Adam's invention. Now that you're telling us this with Futuristic number 10 and Ideation number 3, why don't we get you to share with the listeners what your top 10 talents are, or at least the ones that you resonate with most. Then they can get a feel for, if they're new to StrengthsFinder, what these words even sound like...and how do people resonate with them before they even know the definitions.

Adam Seaman: Before I do that, I just wanted to riff on a point that you made. I'm using musical terms, because I know you're a musician, and I have like two musical brain cells and they don't even talk to each other, so I'm not a musician but I speak your language because I have Individualization number two, just as you have.

Lisa Cummings: So you can riff with me; I like it.

Adam Seaman: Before moving onto that, I just wanted to delve a little deeper into this idea of knowing what's going on inside of somebody, that umwelt or that Freaky Friday thing is. I don't have Achiever very high at all; it's way, way down in the 20's or 30's even. So when I'm around somebody that has Achiever, I now am able to do something I wasn't able to do before StrengthsFinder. I am able to say, “Hey, I think I might be a speed bump in the middle of your day, trying to get things done, so you just feel free to tell me if you need to move on.”

I'm this ideas guy (Ideation), I like to talk and brainstorm and be philosophical. People with Achiever, unless it's balanced with some other themes... they don't really have time for that, and it's that awkward moment that I just now know to be able to say, "Hey, if this isn't of interest to you, I'm not going to try to slow you down,” because I know inside of their head is this need to get things done, to rack up points by crossing things off their to do list, and I don't take offense to that and I'm trying to tailor myself to their need. It amplifies that point you were making about when you work with people and you understand not only your themes, but you understand their themes, then you're able to really get the relationship to be optimized better.

Lisa Cummings: Yeah, I totally agree and I think it's one of the most useful things. When you have that person at work who frustrates you, it's that moment where you can go, "Alright, I know their talents now. Their talent themes are this, this, this, and what are they likely thinking about right now?" You're making up a hypothesis but by knowing the talent themes and by knowing the definitions you can really start to make some good guesses about what they care about and how they process the world, and then instead of seeing them as annoying teammate, they can become the, "Well that person's bringing a perspective that is actually really useful to the team, and although it's not my favorite place to spend my head, and it would be painful for me to live there, that's where they live." I think it helps people. Sometimes it's just tolerating each other when they didn't before. Sometimes it's appreciating and partnering way more than they ever thought they would or could do. Then when you get really deep, you start to get an eye for what's working in the world. I always call it, notice what works to get more of what works, and you start to see, "Oh yeah, that must be what it's like for them, that really works in this situation." Then you can leverage it more and actually get more productivity out of it for the team.

Adam Seaman: All of that is great. If you get an appliance and it comes with a user's manual, and it describes here's how you use this appliance, and here's what you don't do with this appliance, and here's how you get the most life out of it. We as individuals have user's manuals, except they're not written. We have to work with somebody or marry them or live with them for years to just even get a glimpse of this is how their user's manual works. But if I know someone's top five StrengthsFinder themes, I'm going to have a really good sense of what's in that instruction manual. The idea is, understand your user's manual and understand the people around you's user's manual, and you can find ways to best work together.

Lisa Cummings: I love that you raise the idea that these are patterns of thoughts and behaviors and feelings that come naturally to us. Sometimes they're going to serve us, and sometimes they're not. I know my Maximizer gets me in trouble all the time, and when I over commit and I start to see my calendar get so overloaded, I realize there is a drive in me, and I feel that it comes from my Maximizer talent, because it wants to keep making everything better, so there's always something else I'm adding to the list or trying to tweak or trying to create this new thing or develop a new product or whatever it is, it's unending. Once you can name it and say, hey that's the one that's talking, you can narrow it down and strategize more easily than when you feel spazzy and out of control.

Adam Seaman: There's so much to talk about here, this is where I geek out on this stuff. I want to make sure at some point we talk about why your top five themes or why your StrengthsFinder results are not actually your strengths. You definitely touched on it there with what you just said, so I want to circle back. I'm also mindful that you asked me a question that I haven't answered yet, which are what are my top themes. I'm happy to skip it, but I don't want your audience to think that I was just ignoring you and I'm a rude guest.

Lisa Cummings: You're such a kind guest. What are yours?

Adam Seaman: My number one is Strategic, as you mentioned earlier. I already talked a little bit about that one. My second one is Individualization, now is that your number four? Do I have that right?

Lisa Cummings: Yup.

Adam Seaman: Okay. So Individualization is this quality of looking to tailor things to the person, so I don't like doing things en masse, and your Maximizer theme is more likes to do things in block operations and very efficient, whereas the Individualization theme is one-by-one, case-by-case, what's unique about this person. My number three is Ideation. This is a quality of always wanting to think outside the box, so sometimes in my mind ideas start flowing and I call it popcorning because when I get in this mode, when you're making popcorn that point where the kernels start popping really fast. That's kind of what it's like in my head, it's like an explosion of ideas, and I get really excited by it, things are really best for me when I can be creative and original, and I don't like doing things by the book. So that's my creativity theme there.

My number four is Intellection, and Intellection is about going deep, looking for insight. Several themes look for truth, Intellection looks for wisdom, whereas maybe Connectedness theme looks for spiritual truth. Or the Analytical theme looks for factual truth. So my Intellection is looking for wisdom and insight. Cool story about this one because when you learn your themes, you get the names of your themes and you don't quite know what they mean. When I was learning about Intellection, I read it, and it seemed like it fit, but when I went back and re-read it, something stood out to me that didn't before. What it was, was a description about how I can be in a social situation, but be checked out to the point where somebody would come up to me and say, "Adam, are you okay? Is something wrong?" I would say, "Yeah, everything's fine, and in fact more than fine." I'm in my lab, I call it, when I'm intellectualizing. I'm just thinking about something, but the thinking face doesn't really look like a happy face, so to somebody outside of my head, which is everybody, it doesn't look like I'm really having fun, but inside of my head there's a party going on. They just weren't invited. Then they might say "Hey what's wrong" and I might say "You just crashed my party. Everything was going good and now..."

Lisa Cummings: Womp womp.

Adam Seaman: Yeah, one of those.

Lisa Cummings: This is one of my favorite ones when teams are together and they talk about some of these things that their talent themes might lead them to do or think or say or look like, I love asking that question. Focus is a good one, that's my number six, where people talk about the mode they get into when they're in their Intellection mode or they're in their Focus mode, then I ask people, "What does that look like on you? How will your teammates know?" Just hearing the story you said, is exactly what it sounds like in the trainings, where people go "Oh, that's what he's doing. Now I get it, and now I know when he made the crash-your-party-face, that's what that means" and it's so insightful to know that about people that you actually need to be productive with every day. It's like having magic secrets to the universe.

 Adam Seaman: Right, it's kind of like that self-world concept I was talking about. To somebody looking at me it might look like, Adam's not having fun, maybe somebody has Includer, and they want to make sure that I feel part of the group. To them I don't look very engaged, but what they can't see is that I'm at my most engaged when I'm in that space. Now if somebody knows I have Intellection, they won't be as off-put by it or as concerned about it. I know time's ticking here, so I'll go onto my number five which is Input, and this was the hardest one for me to understand. We use the word Input like let me have my Input or let me give my Input, as something you put out into the world. This is one of the reasons why you really have to understand Gallup's standard definitions for the themes, because sometimes the label doesn't fully describe what the word is about. In fact, most of the time they don't. They don't give you enough context just looking at the word, you really have to understand the description. What Input is, is it's not about what I put out into the world and give my Input, it's what I Input into myself, it's what I collect.

One of the things I learned that was very useful from the master StrengthsFinder coach, Curt Liesveld, is he said, "What you collect are things you deem to be useful or that have utility." It was really cool because what I collect, and it varies person to person. I collect quotes and I collect theories and models and tools and concepts; I love that stuff. I've developed a really good sense for what's a useful quote or what's not, or what's a useful model or concept and what's not. I've learned how to use my Input theme a lot better, because I understand it a lot more. There's a lot more to say about each one of these themes, but those are my top five. That's all I stayed with for the longest time, but I'm starting to really appreciate the value of looking into your top 10, your number 6-10 themes, because it's kind of like a basketball team and your main players fall out, they're either injured or they're not the right player for the situation. You can go to your bench and bring in a specialist when you need it. You can start to see traces of someone's themes and how they communicate and that's when you really start to feel like you're getting to know this tool so well is when you can hear vespers of the different themes.

So Command is my number seven, Activate is my number eight, Empathy is my number nine, Futuristic is my number ten, and we just hit 30 minutes in six seconds.

Lisa Cummings: Look at that, you are so precise. I'm still standing back thinking, I've never heard the word vespers, it sounds like a funny pronunciation of a Vespa scooter, and that's a clue of Intellection right there, or my lack of. Let's end this show with your view on talent and strengths.

Adam Seaman: So good. Here's the big secret about StrengthsFinder, or one of them, because there are several secrets.

Lisa Cummings: [dramatically] Ooooh.

Adam Seaman: Did you just say "Ooh"?

Lisa Cummings: Yeah. The more you listen, the more you learn.

Adam Seaman: [laughing] That's great. When you take the StrengthsFinder, one of the most powerful insights is to realize that your top five, these 34 themes of talent that StrengthsFinder measures, are not strengths. It gets into the definition of a strength, and the definition of a talent. A strength is an activity in which you have consistent, near perfect performance. So you do an activity regularly with high quality. That's when you know you have a strength, and this is Gallup's definition for a strength. I'll come back to that, because we're going to break it down.

Lisa Cummings: Break it down.

Adam Seaman: [preparing to beatbox] We're going to break it down.

Lisa Cummings: I think you have some other talent themes in there. [referring to beatboxing]

Adam Seaman: Well, beatboxing would be, if I could do it consistently and near perfectly would be a strength, but it's not. It's less than a strength. So a talent, and these themes of talent, the definition for those is this: a recurring pattern of how you think, how you feel, and how you behave that “can” be productively applied. I put the can in quotes because it can be productively applied, this pattern of thinking and feeling and behaving, but it can also counter productively be applied. It's not always productive. Anybody listening could look at one of their themes and say, "Yeah that theme sometimes gets me into trouble." Sometimes it's not productive, it's counter productive.

Let's take a theme like Positivity, your number three. What could possibly not be great about Positivity? I'll just ask you Lisa, are there times where Positivity is not acting in your best interest?

Lisa Cummings: I'll tell you the most trouble I had with my Positivity talent theme was, early in my career as a manager, I realized that people started responding in a way that led me to believe that they thought I didn't think through issues, that I was giving the Pollyanna view of what we were going to do and that naively I was leading my team forward through some decision without any thinking behind it, the [rah rah voice] "Oh yay we're going to do it, let's go". I realized I needed to actually say the decision factors out loud, because maybe my excitement, maybe my energy level about a change, and I'm always thinking about messaging something and how to get people to a new future...so I see how that could all get really blurry and lead people to think that the substance is lacking behind it.

With my Strategic talent theme, I'm thinking so quickly through those things, I might need to catch people up to "Oh, okay, look here was my thought process, there were a lot of factors in the decision, I considered X Y and Z, I realize there are a couple of risks associated, and this is the decision and then back to the yay-part." Even though it doesn't really sound like that, I realized I needed to actually acknowledge either the thought process or the risks that had been considered, or the facts behind things so that people didn't assume I was trying to play team cheerleader with no substance.

Adam Seaman: Yeah, see it's that kind of insight that I think StrengthsFinder can help reveal, that you might not have ever had in any other way. You have this pattern called Positivity that allows you to take any situation and identify, almost like a reflex, whatever the situation is, your immediate reflex is to say, "Well what's the upside?" or "This is a good thing, because of this…" That pattern is going to play out, it's going to do what it's going to do, and then sometimes that pattern is going to be the perfect match for the situation. Positivity is my number 32. I know that for me, there are many occasions where I wish I had that ability to see the upside; it would have helped me persevere more. So there are times where that theme of Positivity is the perfect match for the situation.

The point is that, this is true for any of the 34 themes, that they are patterns that play out in us, they're patterns for how we think, how we feel and behave, but our situations that we're in are always changing. That pattern in one situation may be a huge benefit, but in another situation it would be the last thing you want to have happen. That's one reason why our themes of talent, our top five that we get from StrengthsFinder, they are not strengths yet. There's a lot more to say on this, but I want to pause and see if you have any thoughts on that.

Lisa Cummings: Yeah, I love the way that you describe it. The part that you said that really got me there, that I thought was cool was, "Look it would be kind of sad, if you got your report and you had nowhere to go, because you've arrived. You have your strengths. Voila. You're done." But instead, if you realize, "Okay these are your talents, it's telling you about your natural patterns, there's an infinite amount of stuff to go do to nurture them, to feed them, to make them get applied in a work situation in a way that really serves you." That's the growth part that's really fun that allows them to turn into strengths so they can be productively applied.

What do you think a world would look like if everyone knew his or her talent themes?

Adam Seaman: If I'm in a place where I'm being fed, where I'm known for what I'm good at and my teammates are setting me up for success and I'm able to do as much as possible, even though you can't get it perfectly, but as much as possible I'm able to do the things I love doing, that I'm good at, that I produce good results, that when I'm doing them I feel that flow state where I don't notice time passing, that that's what a situation like that would look like.

Lisa Cummings: I love that you're talking about the food element, because when I do StrengthsFinder training, I'm always using the terms starved and fed, because I think the talent themes act different ways, they show up on you differently. If you are feeding them, and you're nurturing them and you're working on them, compared with when you're starving them out or you're squashing them down because you don't think they'd be valued in that environment, or it isn't valued in that environment, so it's not getting any attention and it's starved. I think that would be a cool way to end also, to talk about what that looks like on the job, when strengths, when someone's talent themes are consistently getting squashed or offended or not valued or not used, and how you've seen that show up.

Adam Seaman: The first thing is, you have to recognize in yourself what is your state of happiness or satisfaction? Then realize a couple things. One is something I heard called the law of two feet. The law of two feet says if you don't like something, if you're not in a good place, relocate. Walk away, go somewhere else. That's the promise that I see in StrengthsFinder, is that if people really embraced it as more than an assessment then they could really help each other find that better fit. Like as a manager, I could see that hey, this person is struggling here, what can I do to shape their job a little bit more so it plays more to what they're like. It's not like you totally have this complete makeover, but a little bit at a time, you could shift your environment so you can free yourself up from the things you hate a little bit at a time to spend more time doing those things that you really enjoy. As that happens, you increase your value.

Lisa Cummings: As a people manager, there's a lot you can do to shape and continually shape the job of people on the team by individualizing a little bit at a time. It's not to say that this is a custom job for everyone, and I can afford to make yours exactly what you'd like it to be. We know that the business world isn't like that; you have a corporate strategy, you have business objectives to meet, and inside of that there's a lot you can do to shape the rule to match the person on the team. As a person, I love that you are highly accountable with the law of two feet because it's up to you, this is your career, your life, and you get to shape it a little bit at a time until it is what you want it to be. People have a lot more leeway to do that than they often give credit for.

I love to quiz people when they push back on that, and I ask them about the job description when they got hired and say "Okay, remember back to the job description, now how many people in the room have the exact same tasks and responsibilities as when you were first hired into that role?" Even though many people have only been in that role for 18 months or some short time, they laugh and say "Oh, no, it's significantly different." There you go, proof positive. Rules shift and change all the time, so why not be actively shaping it towards the activities you enjoy, the way you want your personal brand to show up in the world and at work, and if you're consciously going after, and even sharing with your manager, "Hey, I'd love more opportunities in this area. If a project comes up, please consider me." It's making them aware, because managers aren't mind readers. They don't know that person's interested in it. So having StrengthsFinder as a language for describing an aspirational work place they'd like to live in, things they'd like to see more of, it can be hugely powerful in the way that tasks are assigned and projects are given out person to person.

Adam Seaman: [Emphatically] Truth. You want to find, what is the highest best use for the qualities that you possess.

Lisa Cummings: And if you help your teammates produce at their best, obviously you're going to meet your goals in a bigger way, your business is going to be more successful overall. Also day to day, you're around people for, if you're physically around each other, you're around them for eight hours a day or more, so wouldn't it be better if you helped people and supported them, if you knew their talents, if you did the Freaky Friday, to call back to that. Then you could support your teammates in becoming their best, and that would also help them, help the business, and help you not be around grumpy people all day at work.

Adam Seaman: That sounds like a great final note to end on. That's a drop-your-mic moment right there.

Lisa Cummings: It's a good thought for bringing it all around.

Adam Seaman: [rapping tone] So you need people to check themselves before they wreck themselves.

Lisa Cummings: Yes, back to a rap as well. That's where we're going to drop the mic. It's been such a blast rhyming with you Adam.

Adam Seaman: This flew by so fast, and it's because we're playing to our strengths. We're both talking about something we love and we're passionate about, and so I hope that as a result, some other people are getting green lit about StrengthsFinder.

Lisa Cummings: Yeah, that's the ultimate call back as well. So getting green lit, I don't know what they're getting bit by, but they're getting green lit.

Adam Seaman: They're getting bit by the strengths bug.

Lisa Cummings: Yeah, bit by the strengths bug. We'll link to Adam's company, Talent2Strength, so that you can look him up and see more. With that, remember, using your strengths makes you a stronger performer at work. If you're putting a lopsided focus on fixing weaknesses, you're probably choosing the path of most resistance. Instead, claim your talents and share them with the world.

Feb 21 2017

30mins

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Rank #16: Career Q&A: How do you ask someone to mentor you? And find a good fit?

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This Episode's QuestionI have a question about finding a mentor. I hear consistently that it's an exceptional tool for professional development. I'm not sure where to find one...and if I do find one, how can I make sure they're a good fit?

What You'll Learn - How to ask a mentor for their time without offending them.

- A way of thinking about mentor "fit" that feels the same way you decide whether a friend fits your style.

- 4 non-mentor relationships that can have mentor-like outcomes for you.

- The secret sauce of a BBF.

- Why offering to buy coffee could cost your mentor $3,000.

- How asking to "pick your brain" could annoy a potential mentor.

- Simple exchanges, requests, and relationship building "asks" that let you build a mentorship without asking them to move into your house during your first conversation.

Tweetable of the Episode Remember to be a giver with your mentors, not just a taker. You have value they need.

Resource of the Episode Book: 52 Strategies for Life, Love & Work: Transforming Your Life One Week at a Time by Anne Grady, my BBF.

Apr 06 2015

10mins

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Rank #17: Steal The Show In Your Next Presentation At Work - With Michael Port

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This Episode's Focus On Strengths

Michael Port joins us to help you lead through your strengths in all of the performances in your corporate life. You'll find this especially useful if you give presentations, if you're interviewing for a job, or if you're delivering a speech in front of others.

What You'll LearnYou'll see how working with a performer's mindset will boost your career. Michael shares wisdom on:

  • How doing everything yourself will keep you from progressing in your career.
  • Why you should never say "I'm happy to be here" or "let's get started" before you begin a talk.
  • Connecting with the audience before the presentation to change the dynamic in a way that makes them want to have your back.
  • Why natural talents without your investment and training...well, they're not doing you any good.
  • How to be self-expressed, yet also able to flow from situation to situation with fluency. And why being a chameleon is actually being authentic.
  • Learn why winging it in your next corporate presentation is a terrible idea, even if you're naturally gifted at thinking on your feet.
  • How Stealing The Show is different from upstaging a teammate. Instead, Stealing The Show is making the whole show better for all of the performers involved.
  • If you have jitters before speaking in front of people, he gives you some tips for focusing more on your audience rather than focusing on yourself and your anxiety. It actually takes the pressure off of you and allows you to get out of your own way.
  • For job interviews, he offers you strategies for knowing what role the interviewer is trying to cast. And you'll even learn how to position yourself for a role you're less qualified in because you can contrast the "old way" of doing that role with the "new way" that puts you in a favorable light.
  • Start your presentation-preparation with the audience in mind--to show them you know the world they're living in.
  • How not asking for help will make you a mediocre performer.
  • Secrets that usually only actors know--that they're not pretending to feel what you see on screen. They're actually feeling it. And that's what you need to do when you're presenting.
  • Why "yes, and" lessons from improv will boost your career.
  • And why you don't want to be the devil's advocate at work.

 

Resource of the Episode Check out the book Steal The Show: From Speeches To Job Interviews To Deal-Closing Pitches, How To Guarantee A Standing Ovation For All Of The Performances In Your Life. Also, if you visit the Steal The Show website, there are great resources to download.

You'll read Steal The Show and you'll want more of Michael. It's a bit addicting. So here are his other books:

Remember, using your strengths at work makes you a stronger performer. If you’re focused on fixing your weaknesses, you’re choosing the path of most resistance. So claim your talents. And share them with the world.   Read the full conversation:  

Lisa Cummings: Today you will experience a guest who is using his strengths in spades. Michael Port is joining me today to talk about stealing the show at your next job interview or corporate presentation and you might notice that the phrase ‘steal the show’ sounds a little bit like something an entertainer would do and it is, so Michael beautifully blends this experience he has as an actor with the business world in a way I don't think the business world has seen before. You guys might have seen him on Sex in the City or Law and Order or movies like the Pelican Brief and then in the business world you might be familiar with his marketing system “Book Yourself Solid” or speaker training called Heroic Public Speaking. And let me tell you guys, he is living the idea of using your strengths at work. So, speaking of that, Michael, can you talk a little bit about discovering work that just looks so natural on you when someone else sees it? I dare I say it kind of looks like you're living out your calling.

Michael Port: I think that I've always worked in the areas that I'm strong because the areas that I'm weak in are really weak. I'm not kidding. One of the reasons that this idea of working within your strengths were so powerful to me early in my career is because I’m very dyslexic. Growing up I had a hard time with the systems that were presented in school. So the way things were taught didn't always make sense to me. I still can't spell to save my life. I have to ask my girlfriend how something is spelled, you know, the most basic things that I've written. But as of this show, I have written sixth books, which just goes to show you that you don't actually need to know how to spell it to write. And I got very, very good at identifying things I needed help with and developing relationships with people that could help me with those things.

Michael Port: And this is important because what I have experienced is those who think that they need to do everything themselves have a hard time progressing in their career because they don't rely on other people or call for help from other people when they need it. So they end up mediocre in a number of different areas and the areas in which they could be exceptional, you know, they end up mediocre as well because they're not spending as much time in those areas. So for me as a performer, I had a natural talent for performing. And so I went to graduate school and got a master's at enacting at the Grad acting program at NYU and I did have to craft a set of skills that would allow me to exploit those talents because I think without training, talents are just talents; with training talents become a craft. Michael Cain, the wonderful actor says something to the effect of “Whether I have talent or not is not an issue, I’m a professional actor with a craft.”

And that I think is something that we should all consider that it should have. Mastery with respect to skills is so important and it’s really helpful to focus on the areas where we're strong. The thing that's tricky for some people is that they need to present. They need to present themselves in job interviews, in promotional situations, interviews and trying to go in and get the job or get the job promotion, sales pitches, and leading meeting, etc.

Lisa Cummings: So, let’s focus on meeting and corporate presentations on

Michael Port: Sure. So the issue is, you know, some people feel that they are naturally gifted, that “I can wing it.” I go in and, or go give her a speech or presentation. I'll just quick on my feet. No problem. Others go nerve and said, “I don't know what to say. Uh, I'm, I'm kind of stiff.”

Michael Port: And both of those groups face their own challenges. Let's start with the group that thinks that they have something special first; that group can get by and more often than not they end up average when they could be exceptional because they think that they are naturally talented, so they don't prepare. They don't spend much time rehearsing. They wing it. And when I meet somebody who's like that and I call them on it. I said, listen, you're not preparing, are you? You're just going and winging it. (and they say) “Yeah”. and I think you could be usually you can be better, don't you? I think, oh my god, you know, I figured, you know, I'm thinking on my feet. I can; I can charm the audience. And I was okay. I was fine, maybe even good, but until I really focused on rehearsing, rehearsing, rehearsing, rehearsing until I focused on rehearsing, I wasn't great and then that's when I became great when I put in the time because the work that you put into preparing for your meetings or for your interviews, that's what's most important and then of course staying in the moment during those meetings and interviews, it's not, you know, if we think we're going to rise to the occasion, we may actually fall flat.

Michael Port: We generally don't rise to the occasion. Rather we fall back on our training

Lisa Cummings: and it's a perfect example of your, what you said about investing in your talents and then you turn it into a craft by rehearsing, by putting the practice in.

Michael Port: Absolutely. So anytime we have a meeting that we need to lead or an interview that we want to net. We want to make sure that we can demonstrate to the people in the room is that we know what the world looks like to them. That's very important that we start there because if we don't start there, they may not think we understand that, so they need to know that we understand that, so we always start with the way the world looks to them right now. Then we make sure that they know the promise that we're making, the promise that is inherit, is built into the meeting or the interview so that if they follow your lead, this is what will occur and they need to know the consequences of what will happen if they don't, if they don't achieve this promise, if they don't realize this promise, what are the consequences? How bad are they? And what do the rewards look like if they do?

Lisa Cummings: And gave you some urgency when you combine those together?

Michael Port: Absolutely. Act and urgency is such an important part of getting anything done, you know, moving forward in any way. Do we have urgency? So what does the world look like? What's the promise that you're making to them? What are the consequences of not following through on this and what are the rewards of following through on this?

Lisa Cummings: It also sounds like that could be a strategy for that person who doesn't feel like they were born with jazz hands to dazzle and have charisma and they're a little more shy or they're nervous in front of audiences and they're saying, hey, come on Michael, you do this for a living. I'm totally uncomfortable in the spotlight. What do I do? It sounds like you go to apply what you just said to relate one to one and then build from there. What else do you offer that person?

Michael Port: First of all, I’m nervous all the time, anyone who cares about what they're doing, maybe a little bit nervous, and often I hear advice to people that get nervous and don't think that they're naturally talented. They suggest that they focus on their breathing or that you a physical warm-up, relax a little bit. Those are great. Those are really important things to do. Get your instrument ready to perform, but here's the thing, the more that you focus on yourself, more internal you get before you present, often the more anxious you will be because you're thinking about you and how you look and how you're going to do when in fact, if you focus on the audience and what you're going to help them with, what you're going to do for them; if you focus on their needs, their desires, their goals, then you take the pressure off of yourself and it no longer is about you. It's about them and if it's about them, you get out of your own way and you are less likely to be as anxious.

Lisa Cummings: That's one of those tips that sounds so obvious when you hear it, yet people don't do it and I see you do one thing masterfully that they could use, which is before you give a speech, you're out there relating one to one, to people in the audience so that they're not the big scary monster when they're. When you're up on stage, how do you go about that and how would you recommend doing that for someone who is trying to shake the stage fright and have a personal connection with the audience?

Michael Port: If I give a speak at a convention center to 6,000 people, most people who are listening to probably not giving those kinds of speeches, so if you're giving a presentation to a room full of five people or 50 people want to try to shake the hand of every person in the room, look them in the eye, smile, make a connection before you present to them for a couple of reasons. One, it may relax you because you feel like you've gotten to know them. Two, they feel that they know you and they are going to give you more of themselves right from the beginning because if you are someone who they don't have a relationship, then they are more likely to sit back, cross their arms and say, all right, let me see what you got. But if they've shaken your hand, talk to you for just a few seconds. Even look me in the eye, smiled. They already feel an obligation towards you. Feel an obligation to you to listen to you right off the bat. Now if you don't serve them throughout the presentation, then they may sit back and cross their arms and go, hi, come on. But if you're focusing on them throughout and the promise that we're going to deliver to them, then it's likely that they will.

Lisa Cummings: I could see that they want to have your back. If you've had a conversation, you have a different relationship with them just straight away.

Michael Port: Of course they do. If they are going to sit there and listen to you, they'd much rather enjoy themselves than be bored. I mean, isn't that the case? Of course there's always somebody who just wants to be oppositional, but most people want to have a good time. So they want you to do a great job. I want you to serve that and they want you to have fun doing it. So here's the thing. Often people will start a presentation by saying, I'm really happy to be here. Really excited to be here, but I don't think you need to say that. I think you can just actually show them that you're happy to be there because, what's the alternative to being happy to be there? That you're really pissed that you're there. So just show that there's a lot of things that we often say at the beginning of the speech that is just filler and it actually makes the presenter to look weak. For example, they may you here present presenter say, all right, let's get started. Well, it started as soon as they saw you. It started even before if somebody introduced you with a Bio. So as soon as you're introduced, it's already started. So any filler that you might do, you can cut and get right to the heart of the matter.

Lisa Cummings: Everything's an interview. You're always on stage at work. People are watching you a year before you decide to apply for the job and then you walk into a room where you're giving a presentation and eyes are on you very keenly because you’re the one who was about to deliver a message. It's a really great thing to think about that; people are always assessing. That's just what we do to discern as humans.

Michael Port: Chapter three - in Steal the Show is about playing the right role, every situation. So this is specifically geared for people that need to perform in lots of different situations, not on a stage necessarily, but inside your organization you may need to play different roles with different people. Some people are superior in terms of their position, a supervisor, some people are subordinate, and you are a sort of, as a leader for some people are on the same pay scale, so to speak. Sometimes you have to deal with folks in the mailroom. Sometimes you have to deal with folks in the marketing department. Sometimes you have to deal with folks in the accounting department. Sometimes you have to deal with folks in the sales department and each department may have different culture, different sensibility, different types of personalities. And we've got to be able to move through all of these environments very comfortably.

Michael Port: And if we learn how to play the role that is the right role for that situation, well, then we can excel because the people in those other environments, they feel more comfortable with you. They feel you get that. You understand that. And folks who are comfortable adopting different styles of behavior, playing different roles in different situations, often excel more quickly than those who only have one style of behavior, who are overly true to self. Now listen closely because this may seem like a confrontational idea, people like that because it seems like it's an authentic thing to do. However, if you are so true to yourself, you cannot easily flow from one situation to the next with different types of people where you need to play different roles. Then you generally get left out of those situations, but if you are chameleon like, then you are generally invited to more environments, more situations with different types of people. Now, here's the thing. The reason this is often confronting us, people say, yeah, that seems inauthentic, Michael. It seems like you know, a chameleon changes their colors depending on the environment that they're in. That's not authentic, but if you think about it, a chameleon is a hundred percent authentic. When an actual chameleon is at a green leaf? it actually turns green. It's not pretending to turn green. It has actually turned agree. If it is on a red leaf? It's actually turning red. It's not pretending to turn red, so It is absolutely authentic.

Lisa Cummings: It's just a part. It's revealing.

Michael Port: So you're amplifying. What you're doing is amplifying different parts of your personality so that you fit comfortably into these different situations.

Lisa Cummings: It's perfectly aligned with what I talk about in strengths is there's a raw version and a mature version of your strengths and if you're mature enough in that strength and you've really invested in that talent, then when you show up, you can decide which strength to lead with based on the environment you're in so that you can show up your best and show your red when you need red and show your green when you need green.

Michael Port: Exactly. Green is not called for in that situation or might make trouble for you, leave the green at home. Right? You know, sometimes you know, we walk around with a chip on our shoulders and want to make sure that everybody knows how we feel about every little thing and in fact that can be very counterproductive inside the corporate world because you may create conflict inadvertently, but you may create conflict based on some of the ideas you have or worldview or ways you feel about different situations that aren't really necessary to bring it up all the time. Now, I'm not saying in any way, shape or form that you should not be true to your values.

Michael Port: This is important to me. Integrity is an essential fabric of my way of being that we should be true to our values, but this idea of being true to yourself in such a way that it creates rigidity? Well, that's a problem and that's very different than saying, you know what? I'm not going to jump over that fence into a place that says no trespassing because it's a nuclear waste site. Even if that's supposed to help my career, I'm not going to do. That's being true to your values. Here's the thing, just because you have a different value system doesn't mean you have to share it all the time.

Lisa Cummings: It's such an important distinction because if it's really hot right now to talk about authenticity and authenticity is important, yet the definition of it is very loose. It depends on who you are and what you believe about it and I do hear a lot of people equate authenticity with sharing everything that comes to the tip of their tongue at every moment and that might be a really bad career move.

Michael Port: I'm with you 100 percent. This buzzword as I just hear, authenticity, authenticity, authenticity and authenticity and yes, I think has become a problem because it means to some people like, hey, let me tell you about my date last night, man, she was hot. That is not something that needs to be discussed in the break room at the table. So that kind of authenticity is not called for, and this is performance. this one I'm talking about, like Shakespeare said, all the world's a stage and I think he hit the nail right on the head because what you share with people tells them something about you, and this is not just performance, is not just about speaking in front of people. Performance is about the way you walked into the break. Do you walk in with your head down looking at the floor or do you walk in with your shoulders back and your chest open and a big smile on your face that is performance and you're playing a role, but this is, you know, it's performance and the question is, are you the kind of performer that says yes to people and plays well with others and is part of an ensemble or are you the kind of performer that upstages people and stealing the show and upstaging people is very different.

Michael Port: Stealing the show, it means that you have brought something to others that is extraordinary. That's special and what it does is it makes the whole show better, but it's not upstaging anybody else. Upstaging is trying to purposely hinder somebody else's performance. You've never going to do that.

Lisa Cummings: I appreciate having the difference there because someone not familiar with the term may have thought, oh, that's, I don't know that I want to steal the show from someone. So you're very good to have the distinction. Now, here's a situation where maybe somebody thinks they should and I don't think so, but what about job interviews that gets people in a very competitive mindset. So I've loved hearing your perspective on competition and how that works. So what do's and don'ts would you suggest for stealing the show with a potential employer and they're just learning as much as they can about them, but they don't know as much as they would in a regular work environment where they've been an employee.

Michael Port: Competition is fantastic, but not when you compete with others, you know, competition is something that drives us. And the question is, are you competitive in such a way that you are knocking other people down or are you competitive in such a way that you want to produce more because you're urgent, you have urgency and hopefully so when you're in a job interview situation, you want to look at what role are they trying to cast, this is important, what role are they trying to cast and how would you play that role? For example, when I left acting, the first interview I had was for a middle management position at a fitness club and I wanted to be the group exercise manager. I was teaching a spinning class because I raced bikes and that was a fun thing to do and I taught the class once a week, but I absolutely no experience in group exercise management whatsoever.

Michael Port: I didn't tell any of the certifications that were required for that job. So I said, well, it doesn't seem like I have what they're asking for to play this role but let me see what I have done in my past that I could use to demonstrate that I could play this role. And I identified the way the role is currently played and then I crafted the way that I thought the role could be played better. So, for example, the way that they played this role currently is they would hire the top instructors in fitness to be the managers, which I didn't think turned out that well because they weren't necessarily managers. It was a different skill-set. So I presented the idea that the role should be cast with somebody that has management skill and understands performance and creating theatrical experiences. And they said, hmm, I hadn't thought about it that way.

Michael Port: And I said, look, if you look at the managers that you have now in this particular department, you'll notice that there are payroll issues. People don't always get paid what they should when they should. There are often scheduling issues, dropped classes and they're often human resource issues. And I knew this because I had been teaching a class and I said, I think this is because the folks who are running these departments don't have experience in management. And I said that I have experienced because I was producing plays and tv commercials when I was acting and so I said, look, I understand budgeting, I understand production. I understand casting, which of course is important part of which is hiring and let me demonstrate why this will translate to what you have to do here. I also understand about creating theatrical experiences and all of these different classes should be theatrical experiences. That's what makes them so compelling to the members. I know I don't have this certification or that certification, but if you need them, I can get them in short order and guess what? They took a chance on me and within a short period of time, six months, in fact, I was running the division for the entire company throughout the country

Lisa Cummings: It ties so beautifully with what you were talking about where you thought all about them. It's all about the audience. What do they care about? What are they trying to achieve? And you tied that into productivity for the company and then you linked into your strengths and leaned in on what you're great at and what you could offer. So the two things came together perfectly.

Michael Port: Exactly right. One of those developing this character to play this role. I didn't pretend those anything other than I was. That's the key. When you go in for job interview, if you pretend you are anything other than you are, that's when you're inauthentic. That's when you're faking this role and a great performer never fakes their role. The most authentic performance in the world, the best performers in the world are the most authentic performers in the world. And often the most authentic performers in the world are the most authentic people. So if you look at actors like Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep, these are honest performers. One of the reasons you love watching them is because they seem so real and they are real. They don't pretend to be feeling what they're feeling when they are having an emotional experience. They are actually feeling that, which is why you feel it.

Michael Port: And so you don't want to pretend that you're, that you are somebody that you're not. You want to go in there and leverage what you have to turn it into what you want so you can play lots of different roles as long as you can see, take your strengths and the things that you've done and figure out a way to apply them to this new situation. And that is role play. That in part is also improvisation because you are responding to what is coming at you in the moment. So people often ask about preparation and say, well, you know, if I prepare too much, then I feel like, you know, I'm on, I'm going to be stiff. You know, how much should I prepare? And I say, you should prepare more than you think you should prepare. You know, if I asked somebody if they've rehearsed, you know, before they give a presentation and say, oh yeah, I went over to the hotel room a few times before I get it.

Michael Port: That's not rehearsal. But one of the reasons that we are afraid of the rehearsals because we think we're going to get stuck in the patterns or in the exact process or protocol that we rehearsed in our presentation and that is only because we are not in the moment during that presentation or during that interview, but if you're so well prepared that you can throw out what you've prepared before you walk into the room and stay in the moment, then everything that you worked on, other thing that you prepared will come to you naturally and organically in that moment and if what we prepared doesn't apply to what's actually happening in the moment, because sometimes interviewers will throw things at you that you did not expect, you won't get stuck. You won't feel like you're trying to draw on something that you prepared even though it doesn't fit to the situation at hand. But rather you're in the moment and you're answering by saying “yes and” which is an important improper technique. We don't say no. We always say yes, and you try to come up with a response that is honest and organic to that situation.

Lisa Cummings: What a way to whet the appetite. I'm big on improv. I take improv classes and love them.

Michael Port: The second part of Steal the Show, introduce the performance principals, specifically principals that performers use to steal the show and how each of those principles can be used in everyday life for the nonactive, for real regular person and one of them is the principle of saying “yes and” which is what's something you learned on shore and improv class because if I'm doing, if you and I are doing an improv scene and you walk in the in the room were on the stage and say, oh my god, I broke my leg. I'm in so much pain. And I say, no, no, no, you're fine. You're fine. It just it's over. this scene is done. But obviously, oh my god, that's terrible. But you know what they said your hair looks fantastic and you say, I know it's because I was at the hair salon was getting a haircut.

Then I colored my hair that you show the chemicals. I fell out of the chair, fell down, broke my leg. Well, now we've got somewhere to go. So saying yes, it says an important part of improvisation and so when you're in a meeting and somebody comes up with an idea that you're not crazy about, the default response is, yeah, but we got to worry about this as opposed to yes, and we can also think about this, and it changed the dynamic of the relationship the entire. Because you're not saying no to people. You're saying yes ad and you will then talk about some of the issues that may come up, but it's not a no, it's a yes. And if everybody in the room says “yes and” rather than no, you will change the feeling in the room, which of course changes the collaborative spirit, which then changes the results. What you produce in that room. Because I'm not just a former actor who writes books about business and give speeches. I run two very, very competitive companies. Two of the top companies in the industry and you know, we employ lots of people. We have tens of thousands of clients and customers around the world and we run our businesses the same way that we would work in an ensemble if we were performers and I have detailed all of that in Steal the Show.

Lisa Cummings: It's such a beautiful tip and we can turn it into a challenge for the listener. So if you're a listener and you find yourself playing the devil's advocate all the time and meetings, challenge yourself for a week to get out there and instead say those two simple words, “yes and” make yourself follow on the sentence and build. Instead of breaking it down.

Michael Port: It's one of my rules. Listen, if anybody in an interview for our company says they like to be the devil's advocate, they're out. They're gone. It doesn't mean we want, “yes people”. The devil's advocate just likes being oppositional and I don't want people who like being oppositional. I love when people find holes in our theories and the things that we're working on. They say “yes and” I have an idea of how we can plug that hole, but the devil's advocate doesn't devil's advocate. Now there's a hole there. That's where the devil's advocate, that we call them the DA. We don't want any idea is in the room.

Lisa Cummings: Definitely using that one. That's great.

Michael Port: That's actually in the book. This whole concept of the devil's advocate and the DA.

Lisa Cummings: Who knew I was getting into that part. That's great. Well, dear readers, you might've guessed that the resource of the episode is Michael's book. The title is Steal the Show: from speeches to job interviews to deal closing pitches, how to guarantee a standing ovation for all the performances in your life. Michael, any other goodies you want to tell them about if they're interested in finding more about you because you know you write those books and they're like potato chips. Once you eat one, you're going to want another. So I'll link to all those in the show notes as well. Your other five bestselling titles.

Michael Port: That's fantastic. So stealtheshow.com. I've got lots of bonuses, free videos to watch on performance, lots of downloads, tips, cheat sheets, etc. So to stealtheshow.com, you can pick those up and of course buy the book, you'll love it. I promise.

Oct 06 2015

32mins

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Rank #18: Career Branding When Learner Is Your Strength

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I hear a lot of curiosity about how to apply your CliftonStrengths talent theme of Learner to your career.

In this series, I break down one strength per post — so that you can add to the insights from your StrengthsFinder report and make a better alignment between your job and your strengths.

- If you’re exploring this concept as a manager, use this series for career development ideas and even new clues about responsibilities you could give a person with this talent theme so that they can show up at their best.

- If you’re exploring this concept for yourself, use this as a chance to build a reputation for your strengths so that you’re more likely to be given assignments that live in your strengths zone.

You’ll get three layers to chew on:

1. Career Branding

2. Red Flag Situations At Work

3. Fresh Application Ideas

 

Career Branding When Learner Is Your Strength

You probably already have a reputation for what you know. Think about your personal resume, CV, or your LinkedIn profile, I bet it's full of “the what,” which are things like job titles, skills, knowledge, expertise, or the degree you earned. What’s missing is usually "the how,” and this is where your StrengthsFinder talent themes live.

Chances are good that you are a lot like my StrengthsFinder training clients, where you don’t physically see your teammates and customers every day. That’s why LinkedIn has become so important for career branding. It’s how your teammates, customers, and vendors go look you up before a meeting - to see who they’re about to talk to. And rather than only telling them what you know, you should also give them a peek at how it is to work with you.

So here are a bunch of Learner-related adjectives to consider using in your career branding efforts and your LinkedIn profile:

  • Curious
  • Variety Seekers
  • Studious
  • Lifetime Learners
  • Expert
  • Multi-Passionate
  • Inquisitive
  • Dynamic
  • Explorers
  • Growth-Focused
  • Early Adopters
Red Flag Situations For Learner

These are the cultures, interactions, or situations that feel like soul-sucking drudgery to someone with the talent theme of Learner. They might even make you want to quit the team. So I’ll give you a couple of these to be on watch for — because if they fester, you might get the urge to quit the job or become detached and disengaged at work.

Here are two Red flags for Learner:

  1. Stagnation. If you lead through Learner and you stop growing and learning, you will likely feel like you’re dying inside. Use this as an early warning sign. If you’re bored. If you’re stagnant. If you’re assigned to maintain something and keep it the same, you have to find other ways to feed your Learner or you will be super drained.
  2. Maintenance. Think about the contrast between maintaining something that is already up and running versus being involved in a new project or program. If you’re involved in keeping something at status quo, you will likely have few days that feel energizing. That’s because you love to explore and learn and experience new things. If you own a program that has already launched, be sure that you’re continually working on your craft or your subject matter depth. That way, you can maintain the success while constantly bringing new information or new angles to the team.
3 Fresh Application Ideas for Learner

These are ways to apply the talent theme of Learner at work, even when the job duties on the team feel pretty locked in. If you’re exploring this concept as a team manager, be sure to have a conversation around these ideas. You’ll both be able to come up with places to apply them.

For someone who leads through Learner, put this talent to good use with one of these options:

  1. When you need a tester. If you have a change initiative and you need someone to be the early adopter, call on someone with Learner to be your pioneer. Tell them that you’re asking them to test and explore - to soak it all in - and to document the good and bad. They will have fun being on the cutting edge and being the trailblazer for the team.
  2. When you need to introduce something foreign. Imagine a situation where your team is taking on a whole new set of responsibilities. You’re going to have to ask some people on your team to think or act or learn in a whole new way. Pick someone with Learner and tell them that you’re introducing this to give them some variety and a growth-challenge.
  3. When you need one person on the team to learn everything there is to know on a topic. Sometimes teams want to be on the cutting edge of an ever-changing competency or subject matter. A project like this might seem insurmountable to the non-Learner. Or it might seem frustrating to a non-Learner because they’re never complete. But to a Learner, this continuous study and growth will be fulfilling.

So there you have it. It’s a quick tour for building your career through the talent theme of Learner. So, here’s your homework:

  1. Go take action on your LinkedIn profile with the career branding section. Challenge yourself to write one sentence in the Summary section of LinkedIn that captures how you collaborate as a teammate at work.
  2. Then think over the red flags to see if there’s anything you need to get in front of before it brings you down.
  3. And finally, volunteer your talents through the application ideas. And if you’re a manager, have a conversation with your team members about which of these things sound like something they’d love to have more of.
Rock Your Talents As A Team

If you’re thinking about doing a virtual or in-person event to kick off your strengths-based culture, head on over to our training page to see if our current offerings are a good fit for you. Until next time, thank you for being part of this powerful strengths movement that helps people unleash the awesomeness already inside them.

Enjoyed The Podcast?

To subscribe and review, here are your links for listening in iTunes and Stitcher Radio. You can also stream any episode right from this website. Subscribing is a great way to never miss an episode. Let the app notify you each week when the latest episode gets published.

Jan 06 2019

8mins

Play

Rank #19: Career Branding When Woo Is Your Strength

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I constantly get questions about how to align your CliftonStrengths talent theme of Woo with your career. So in this series, I break down one strength per episode — so that you can add to the insights from your StrengthsFinder report and make a better match between your job and your strengths.

– If you’re exploring as a manager, use this series for career development ideas and even new clues about responsibilities you could give a person with this talent theme so that they can show up at their best.

– If you’re exploring for yourself, use this as a chance to build a reputation for your strengths so that you’re more likely to be given assignments that live in your strengths zone.

 

Talent Theme: Woo

Today, the talent theme of the episode is Woo.

You’ll get three layers to chew on:

  1. Career Branding
  2. Red Flag Situations At Work
  3. Fresh Application Ideas
Career Branding For Woo

You probably already have a reputation for what you know. If you imagine your resume or your LinkedIn profile, I bet it’s full of “the what,” which are things like job titles, skills, knowledge, expertise, or the degree you earned.

Now, what’s missing in most of them is “the how,” and this is where your StrengthsFinder talent themes live. This is an overlooked use for tools like LinkedIn, which is not just for job seekers.

I bet you are just like most of my StrengthsFinder training clients, where you don’t see your teammates and customers every day. That’s why LinkedIn has become so important for career branding – because it’s how your teammates, customers, and vendors go look you up before a meeting – to see who they’re about to talk to.

And rather than only telling them what you know, you should also give them a peek at how it is to work with you. So here are a bunch of adjectives you can use in your career branding and your LinkedIn profile to represent the Woo talent theme.

People who lead through Woo are often:

  • Charming
  • Social Butterflies
  • Interactive
  • The One Who Knows Everybody
  • Welcoming
  • Instant Connectors
  • Engaging
  • Great Conversationalist
  • Energetic
Red Flag Situations At Work For Woo

These are the cultures, interactions, or situations that feel like soul-sucking drudgery to someone with the talent theme of Woo. They might even make you want to quit the team. So I’ll give you a couple of these to be on watch for — because if they fester, you might get the urge to quit the job or become detached at work.

Here are two red flags for Woo:

  1. Weeks in isolation where you don’t get social interaction — if you lead through Woo and you work from home, be sure to “get your people fix” through video calls with colleagues or by getting out of the house for social hour.
  2. The need to continually deliver bad news or work with irate customers — if you lead through Woo, you’re usually watching for a positive reception from that person. If you’re in many interactions per day where people don’t like you or your answers, it will be extremely draining.
3 Fresh Application Ideas For Woo

These are ways to apply the talent theme of Woo at work, even when the job duties on the team feel pretty locked in. If you’re reading this as a team manager, be sure to have a conversation around these ideas. You’ll both be able to come up with places to apply them.

For someone who leads through Woo, put this talent to good use with one of these options:

  1. Onboarding New Hires: Consider how this person could play a role in onboarding new team members or customers. They will likely enjoy the opportunity to create a welcoming experience.
  2. Making Strangers Feel Comfortable: Talk about responsibilities that include meeting a lot of new people — anything from software demos to creating a destination booth at a trade show to delivering presentations or doing customer tours.
  3. Emcee or Experience-Creator: If you have annual events, like holiday parties or customer appreciation events, see if your team members with Woo would love to Emcee them or be part of designing a magical experience. Keep in mind that there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work with big events. Someone with the talent of Woo is usually more energized by the front-of-house type of responsibilities.
Your Homework

So there you have it. It’s a quick tour for building your career through the talent theme of Woo. So, here’s your homework if you lead through this CliftonStrengths theme:

  1. LinkedIn: Go take action on your LinkedIn profile with the career branding section. Challenge yourself to write one sentence in the Summary section of LinkedIn that captures how you collaborate as a teammate at work.
  2. Audit For Red Flags: Think over the 2 red flags to see if there’s anything you need to get in front of before it brings you down.
  3. Offer Your Talents To The Team: Finally, volunteer your talents through the application ideas. And if you’re a manager, have a conversation with your team members about which of these things sound like something they’d love to have more of.
Rock Your Talents As A Team

If you’re thinking about doing a virtual or in-person event to kick off your strengths-based culture, head on over to our training page to see if our current offerings are a good fit for you. Until next time, thank you for being part of this powerful strengths movement that helps people unleash the awesomeness already inside them.

Enjoyed The Podcast?

To subscribe and review, here are your links for listening in iTunes and Stitcher Radio. You can also stream any episode right from this website. Subscribing is a great way to never miss an episode. Let the app notify you each week when the latest episode gets published.

Nov 04 2018

8mins

Play

Rank #20: Career Branding When Communication Is Your Strength

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I hear a lot of reflections about how to apply your CliftonStrengths talent theme of Communication to your career.

In this series, I break down one strength per post so that you can add to the insights from your StrengthsFinder report and make an even stronger alignment between your current job and your strengths.

- If you’re exploring this concept as a manager, use this series for career development ideas and even new clues about responsibilities you could give a person with this talent theme so that they can show up at their best.

- If you’re exploring this concept for yourself, use this as a chance to build a reputation for your strengths so that you’re more likely to be given assignments that live in your strengths zone.

You’ll get three layers to chew on:

1. Career Branding 2. Red Flag Situations At Work 3. Fresh Application Ideas

Career Branding When Communication Is Your Strength

You probably already have a reputation for what you know. Think about your personal resume, CV, or your LinkedIn profile, I bet it's full of “the what,” which are things like job titles, skills, knowledge, expertise, or the degree you earned. What’s missing is usually "the how,” and this is where your StrengthsFinder talent themes live.

Chances are good that you are a lot like my StrengthsFinder training clients, where you don’t physically see your teammates and customers every day. So many of us work on remote teams. That’s why LinkedIn has become so important for career branding. It’s how your teammates, customers, and vendors go look you up before a meeting - to see who they’re about to talk to. And rather than only telling them what you know, you should also give them a peek at how it is to work with you.

We often see two distinct "flavors" of the Communication talent theme. You may have one. You may have both. One is fairness in the treatment of people. The other is standardization for processes. So here are a bunch of Communication-related adjectives to consider using in your career branding efforts and your LinkedIn profile:

  • Presenter
  • Transparent
  • Eloquent
  • Captivating
  • Expressive
  • Clever
  • Nuanced
  • Conversationalist
  • Entertainer
  • Collaborative
  • Poignant
  • Vocal
  • Word Nerd
  • Explainer
  • Evocative
  • Witty
  • Storyteller
  • Writer
  • Interactive
Red Flag Situations For Communication

These are the cultures, interactions, or situations that might feel like soul-sucking drudgery to someone with the talent theme of Communication. They could even make you want to quit the team if they get really bad. So I’ll give you a couple of these to be on watch for — because if they fester, you might become detached or disengaged at work.

Here are two Red flags for Communication:

  1. Dismissive About Words. If you lead through Communication, you believe that words carry truth. They matter, big time. Having your expression squashed or shut down will be draining. Seeing others get shut down will also feel draining. If someone keeps telling you to stick to the facts, and ditch the nuanced descriptors, you will likely feel handcuffed at work.

  2. Don’t Talk It Out. If you’re in a place where you’re expected to fully vet your ideas and think them through before expressing them, you may feel like you’re not at your best. If you lead through communication, your best ideas often happen while you’re talking out an idea…live! If you’re in a quiet, keep-to-yourself environment, it might feel stifling to you.

3 Fresh Application Ideas for Communication

These are ways to apply the talent theme of Communication at work, even when the job duties on the team feel pretty locked in. If you’re exploring this concept as a team manager, be sure to have a conversation around these ideas. You’ll both be able to come up with places to apply them.

For someone who leads through Communication, put this talent to good use with one of these options:

  1. Volunteer To Give Presentations. You can become known as someone who captivates others. This may be through the colorful, charismatic way that you present. Or, it can be that you’re utterly compelling because of the way you craft the story arc.

  2. Invest In A/B Testing. Although you may love to improvise because you’re a natural communicator, the extreme strength in communication happens when you focus on craftsmanship. Give a presentation with 3 different metaphors. Or try 3 different attention grabbers to kick it off. As you watch people respond, you’ll learn a lot about which nuance lands with your audiences.

  3. Borrow From Hollywood. Think of your favorite movie plot. Re-watch the film to study how they reveal each new twist. Jot down ideas for how you can use similar techniques at work to deliver a training topic or to communicate a customer message. Experiment with ways to remix their techniques for building tension, surprise, and contrast. Use them at work to keep your audience on the edge of their seat – even if it’s just for an email.

Here's Your Personal Branding Homework
  1. Go take action on your LinkedIn profile with the career branding section. Challenge yourself to write one sentence in the Summary section of LinkedIn that captures how you collaborate as a teammate at work.
  2. Then think over the red flags to see if there’s anything you need to get in front of before it brings you down. You might decide to make the situation mean something different, or pre-plan a reaction for the next time it comes around.
  3. And finally, volunteer your talents through the application ideas. If you’re a manager, have a conversation with your team members about which of these things sound like something they’d love to have more of.

Sep 15 2019

10mins

Play