Join Up Your Strengths & Career Path – With David Ralph

David Ralph Episode Art

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 his corporate life, took a 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 recognize you for the things you do well. In his old roles as a corporate trainer, David realized that no one told him when he did the good things. They only commented on the tasks that needed improvement. That ultimately led to discouragement and a negative view of his workplace. When he went out on his own, those same people started telling him how good he was at the same things. In the past, his Maximizer talent told him that nothing was ever 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. David says that is not true! As he moved up the corporate ladder and became more successful and earned more money, he realized he was less and less happier. Working “hard” was not a pleasure for him. Today his work is a blast–he’s having fun and making great money at the same time. When he looks back on his past roles as a speaker and trainer, he realizes he loved the performance and entertainment aspect. It’s no surprise that he carried those talents forward into his popular show.

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, he was inspired by another podcaster named Michael O’Neal.  Michael gave him inspiration and encouragement that changed his path forever.

Have your own goals. If you are working every day in the corporate world, you are fulfilling the goals and living out the business strategy for a third party. 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. If you are in a corporate environment, of course, give it your all. And don’t forget about your personal goals along the way.

The status quo doesn’t have to be. Just because people expect you to go to work every day, dress a certain way, and be a high achiever, it doesn’t mean that you are required to be part of the status quo. Once David had this ah ha moment, he was ready to take his leap, and start the business of his dreams. As he says, he “Broke Free”. This was likely part of his Belief talent. He knows what he believes in. His values drive his decisions. And if something doesn’t align with his beliefs, it’s tough to stay engaged with it.

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. And today, he’s making a living (and is completely joyful about) interviewing people. 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. This probably worked well for David’s Futuristic talent because those high in Futuristic love to consider what can be. If you connect with a mentor who can see your potential and can help you imagine the possibilities, you can take small actions toward your bigger 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. He also uses Activator to start things right now–not wait around for things to be lined up perfectly. He believes all of those dots line up when you look back at your past. Trying to join up the dots that are coming in your future is futile. His favorite quote from Steve Jobs outlines this perfectly: “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”

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 forward. This reflects David’s talent of Positivity. People who lead through positivity tend to have an optimistic view of the future. They have a contagious energy, which you are listening to in this show. And they bring a fun-loving approach to work. It makes sense that David would say no to those things that do not fuel up this part of him.

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).


Resources of the Episode

To “get more David in your life” check out his show Join Up Dots and his course Podcaster’s Mastery. 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 show that inspired David to launch his own show.



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StrengthsFinder Tools For Managers

If you’re a people-manager and you want to build a strengths habit on your team, check out your huge page of strengths focused leadership resources. 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!

Deena Silverman is the Director of Customer Experience at Lead Through Strengths, where she helps teams improve their productivity by focusing on their natural talents. Deena helps leaders pull off seamless strengths-based events that change the culture of their company. One of her greatest joys is studying human behavior and helping others achieve their goals. When she's not using her organizational strengths to create awesome events, you can find her running around with her two special boys and her unique dog, Ranger. Or she might be hunting for Gary, her repeat-escapee hamster with a top talent of persistence. Her Top 5 StrengthsFinder Talents are: Individualization | Achiever | Learner | Input | Activator.