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.
Ryan’s Top 5 Clifton StrengthsFinder Talent Themes: Strategic, Relator, Futuristic, Ideation, Intellection
Lisa’s Top 5 Clifton StrengthsFinder Talent Themes: Strategic, Maximizer, Positivity, Individualization, Woo
6 Things You’ll Learn In This Episode
You’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
Strengths Tools For Managers
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.
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Here’s A 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 gotta tell ya, whether you’re leading a team or leading yourself, it’s hard to find something more energizing than using your natural talents every day.
[00:00:23] Today, you’ll explore how your strengths relate to your personal brand with Ryan Rhoten. Ryan is the host of The BRAND New You show, which I subscribe to and I listen to every week. He started his personal brand journey when he Googled himself, and he found that he didn’t show up until age until page four [weh, weh]. We all know that people don’t really get to the page four.
[00:00:45] Since that fateful moment, he’s become a thought leader on personal branding. And, today, he’s going to help you shape how people think and feel about you when you’re not in the room. So, Ryan, thanks for joining to share your stories with the audience.
Ryan Rhoten: [00:01:02] Lisa, thank you for having me. I’m excited and honored to be here.
Lisa Cummings: [00:01:05] Well, as you know, the show is all about exploring strengths, how to find them, leverage them, and what it’s like at work when you actually do that. When you think back over your career, I’m going to start you off with a toughie but an inspirational one, what is a peak moment that you can remember from your career? One where you just really felt energized at work or in your flow.
Ryan Rhoten: [00:01:30] It is an interesting question because prior to going through what I still refer to as my inside-ing incident, which is a term I steal from Donald Miller’s book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, I never really paid attention to what excited me. But what was interesting was everybody that I worked with they all knew it. They knew Ryan was getting ready to get in the groove, if you will. To put it in basketball parlance, I was getting ready to be in the zone. And everybody knew it was coming except for me, and I had no idea until I started to research strengths and what they mean.
[00:02:09] And, for me, once I knew that, I started to pay attention to what I was doing. I noticed that anytime I would sit in a meeting, and people were looking at a complex problem with lots of moving parts and pieces, I always sat there on the edge of my seat, I wanted to jump up, especially if there was a whiteboard in the room, so I’m like a whiteboard weirdo. If there’s a whiteboard somewhere near me, the odds are very high that I’m going to write something on it before the end of the meeting.
Lisa Cummings: [00:02:37] Does it help you think?
Ryan Rhoten: [00:02:39] Yes, it helps me think but, more importantly, it helps me relate to everybody else that’s in the room who knows parts and pieces of, say, a big complicated process, and it allows me to be able to visualize on the whiteboard what it is that we’re talking about. So anytime I’m in a room where people are talking about this big complex process, I mean, people would eventually, they just started to turn and look at me for leadership, because they knew that I was going to go grab the whiteboard marker, and say, “Okay, let’s start at the beginning and let’s map this process out.”
Lisa Cummings: [00:03:10] So, spoiler alert, I’m hearing Strategic. Does that happen to be one of your top fives?
Ryan Rhoten: [00:03:15] Yup, number one.
Lisa Cummings: [00:03:16] [laughs] We’ll get to that in a second, but I’m feeling this strategic strength coming up.
Ryan Rhoten: [00:03:22] Yeah, I mean, I just had no idea but that’s where, when I get in front, and it doesn’t have to be a whiteboard. It could be a piece of paper with a pen. But, for whatever reason, I see big pictures, I see the puzzle pieces, and I see the puzzle put together. But what a lot of people can’t do on their own is see the puzzle put together. And so I can help them through flowcharting, or just process-mapping, put together all the pieces of a puzzle. And when I get in that zone, that’s the time when I go, “What? You mean it’s lunch already?”
Lisa Cummings: [00:03:53] That’s really cool. It sounds like you did that naturally and then other people knew you did that naturally and leaned on you to do it, and then you took StrengthsFinder. Well, let’s just jump right in to StrengthsFinder because we’re both advocates of it. Then it gave you some language for it and helped you start looking for things, and then using it more intentionally.
Ryan Rhoten: [00:04:17] Yeah, more than anything else, it made me realize that I wasn’t weird. I mean, I’m weird, right? But we’re all weird in our own way, but it made me realize that I wasn’t like this freak of nature who just sees things in flowcharts and in processes, and that it’s actually a strength that I should play to. What I also found, as I was going through kind of my strengths journey, was that anytime I wasn’t doing those types of activities, it was really bringing me down, and it would take a lot of effort and a lot of energy.
[00:04:51] As I think back over my career, there are certain positions that I’ve held where you get up and you go, “Okay, I can’t believe only 15 minutes has gone by. This day seems to be dragging on and on forever.” And it’s those days and those tasks specifically that I was doing at those times just did not jive well at all with any of my strengths.
Lisa Cummings: [00:05:14] I think you’re really hitting on a key insight, too, that people overlook a lot. It doesn’t have to be that you have some major weakness and you’re horrible at something, but things that aren’t in your natural talent zone or in your strength zone can really suck the life out of you. And if you’re doing a lot of what you’re bad at, then your day just becomes really dreadful. And it’s just something that people overlook in their careers.
[00:05:38] It’s like people know if they’re missing out on a specific skill, but when it comes to finding thing, just like how you think and how you process the world, and things that you’re into or not into, and then leaning toward the ones that you’re actually naturally good at, and trying to invest in those, it makes such a difference in your workday.
Ryan Rhoten: [00:05:55] Right. I agree. And one of my other strengths is Intellection, which just simply says, “I like to think.”
Lisa Cummings: [00:06:01] Yeah.
Ryan Rhoten: [00:06:02] And then I’m introspective, and so the whole StrengthsFinder thing really resonated with me, because that’s what it’s all about. It’s about you and about understanding who you are as a person and what makes you tick, and what you’re good at. And I had just happened to follow a career path that kind of led me in the direction of I was always trying to do something that was within my strengths without actually knowing it.
[00:06:27] Those few times where I took a detour and moved away from my strengths and was miserable at my job, I didn’t know it, but it was because I had moved away from my strengths that caused that “misery” and that dread to go to work every day.
Lisa Cummings: [00:06:42] Yeah. And then you’re able to look back on it and figure it out, and the big secret is like, “How do you help people figure out what’s causing the dread while they’re in it so they can either avoid it before it happens or get out of it as quickly as possible instead of, five years later, going, ‘Oh, that’s exactly what happened’”?
Ryan Rhoten: [00:06:59] Right. And in some jobs, especially with corporations, you may move into a new position, and this is unfortunate but this is just the way it is, and you may think it’s a good move, but you get into it and you realize, “Oh, my gosh, this job is sucking the life out of me. It doesn’t align with any of my strengths.” But now you’re like locked in for 24 months or 18 months.
Lisa Cummings: [00:07:18] Yeah, totally happened to me. I was having heart palpitations.
Ryan Rhoten: [00:07:21] Exactly. I mean, I’ve been through that too, and you have two choices in that. You either tell someone, “Look, this isn’t for me,” and see if they can find an opening for you, or you’re going to have to seriously look at moving to a different job, potentially at a different company.
Lisa Cummings: [00:07:35] Yeah, exactly. So, okay, you gave us Strategic and you gave us Intellection. What are your other three in your top five?
Ryan Rhoten: [00:07:43] My other three are, so in order, if I started number one and go down, it’s Strategic, Relator, Futuristic, Ideation and Intellection.
Lisa Cummings: [00:07:52] Nice. How do Ideation and Intellection play into what you do? I see it all over in your thought leadership on personal branding. Tell me about how all of those thinking kind of talents play into then getting stuck on and putting things out to the world.
Ryan Rhoten: [00:08:12] So the way I interpret it is, because with Strategic being my first one, it basically means that I can take complex things like, say, a person in their job or in their role, and I can step out from the minute detail and I can see the bigger picture. And because I’m a Relator that means I’m kind of empathetic with people; I understand what they’re going through.
[00:08:35] What’s interesting about my career is that I’ve held a lot of different positions in a corporation, all the way from a shop floor operator, I’ve been a global supply chain supplier quality development manager, and I’ve held many roles in between. So most of the people that I run into or work with, I’ve either done their job or I know exactly what their job is, so it helps me relate to what they’re going through in the role that they have to play within a company.
[00:09:07] So as they’re telling me what their problems happen to be, or what their struggles are with work, the Futuristic piece comes in because I can immediately start to put together the pieces of who they are, and I can envision for them a future that they don’t yet see for themselves.
Lisa Cummings: [00:09:25] And, boy, that just ties it up so nicely in how you were drawn to personal branding because you’re seeing things in people that they couldn’t see in themselves, and then you have that one-to-one Relator desire. A lot of people who don’t have that talent, they really don’t care as much about all that stuff. You said you had done all their jobs so you really understood how to relate to them one to one.
[00:09:51] I’ve met a lot of people who have low Relator and that just doesn’t even occur to them for that to matter. It’s cool that you’ve discovered that you have it and how you can leverage it to make a relationship great and then serve somebody else by helping them with their career future and look forward. How did you figure out that that was unique about you and not just kind of assume that’s how everybody else would be?
Ryan Rhoten: [00:10:17] You know, again, there were signs or I guess symptoms, not really the word I want to use, right? But there were signs.
Lisa Cummings: [00:10:26] Positive symptoms.
Ryan Rhoten: [00:10:27] Yeah, there were signs all along that I fell into that bucket because I would be working with managers who were opposite of me. And I would start to feel bad for someone in the room, if I felt that they were being, say, picked on too much during a meeting for not meeting the goal, or not getting something done on time, whatever it was. And so I was really empathizing with those people, and I could really put myself in their shoes.
[00:10:56] And I think back, there have been many times where I wanted to like stand up and say, “Okay, the guy gets it. Leave him alone, or leave her alone.” So there were always signs but I didn’t realize that it was a strength of mine.
Lisa Cummings: [00:11:10 Yeah.
Ryan Rhoten: [00:11:11] If applied correctly, before I just thought, “Well, I’m just a sucker because I like everybody and I want everybody to be happy and all that.” And that’s all I would ever think if I didn’t realize that the skill of Relator is actually one that I can use to help people become better.
Lisa Cummings: [00:11:29] So you’re hitting on some phenomenon that I hear all the time as well when it’s almost like people want to reject some of their strengths. It might just be one or two things, but they see something in themselves, and they go, “You know, this isn’t going to be an asset for me.” And you could’ve taken Relator and said, “Oh, my gosh, it’s going to slow me down or it’s going to maybe make me look bad because I feel like I need to stand up for people.”
[00:11:53 There are lots of things you can get in your head about. I hear this all the time, it can be, “Oh, I have Deliberate and I think I’m in fast-paced environment, and everybody will feel that I’m too slow so it must not be something that can be a strength in the workplace.” Or, “Oh, I have Woo, and people are going to think I’m superficial so it must not be a strength.” How did you reconcile that to figure out how to use it and see the good in it? How did you turn it around and invest in it to make it positive?
Ryan Rhoten: [00:12:22] Yeah, it’s true, we are our own worst enemy at times.
Lisa Cummings: [00:12:25] Yeah.
Ryan Rhoten: [00:12:26] But there’s a quote, you probably heard this, too, from Peter Drucker that says that, “Most people think they know what they’re good at, but they are usually wrong, and yet a person can really only perform from their strengths.” If you just take that quote on its face value, it didn’t matter what I was thinking I was good at before, or what I was strong at before. I really needed to take the test that’s based on, I think, what, 75 years of history, and I had to look at it and then look at myself, and say, “Okay, do I see myself in these words on this page?”
[00:13:06] What I do, when I’m working with my clients, is I have them highlight the things that really resonate with them. What stands out in your mind? Highlight what you say is, “Oh, yes, absolutely that’s me,” or you know that someone else would say, “Absolutely, that’s Ryan.” Highlight those things. Once you’ve had them, think back two months, six months, a year, to positions you’ve had in the past and put yourself in those positions of strengths and find where you were at your job at that time. And you’ll see that whether you consciously knew it or not, you were playing to your strengths at certain points in your career. And we all do it, it’s just whether or not we’re consciously aware of it.
Lisa Cummings: [00:13:50] Yeah, that’s a great exercise. I think if every person did that, you have the kind of immediate go through an assessment, see what resonates with you, and then do the really rich next part that you mentioned where you apply it to your own life and look at the peaks and look at the valleys, man. I mean, you see in the peaks, you go, “Oh, yeah. Look, I was actually using my talents here and here and here, and these are my good spots. And, yeah, there I had a job that was a bad fit,” or a team, or a culture, or whatever it was that was a bad fit, and you can usually see, hmm, it wasn’t using your strengths at all.
Ryan Rhoten: [00:14:27] Right. To me, the biggest benefit in knowing what your strengths are is not so much so now you can consciously apply it, because you’re going to do that naturally anyway. But, to me, the biggest benefit comes from vetting out potential jobs that you think you want to go take, or potential career choices that you think you want to go take. Because now you go into an interview situation, you can start asking questions to make sure that the job that you’re getting ready to take or you want to take aligns with your strengths.
Lisa Cummings: [00:14:58] And really good, yeah.
Ryan Rhoten: [00:14:59] Yeah, and if there’s nothing in there that makes you freak out, and go, “I can’t go do this.” So I’ll give you an example. I was talking with a gentleman last week, my son plays golf, and I was on the golf course with his dad, his little PGA junior league, and we were talking about his company that he runs, and he was telling me about a position he opened, or he has open within his company. And as he was describing this job I just started to cringe because I’m thinking, “This is, I could never do that. Never do that.”
[00:15:31] And the funny part was I had actually done that role two years and I hated every minute of it. But when I looked at my strengths and what he was describing as the position, I just knew there’s no way – not that he was offering me the job – but I knew there’s no way that I could ever do that role. And that’s one way where you can actively apply the things you learn in the StrengthsFinder to potential career positions you might or might not take.
Lisa Cummings: [00:16:00] Yeah. I love that you brought up a really practical use for it as well because, yeah, there’s always the introspection is great, looking at yourself, being self-aware, all of those things are useful and that’s really cool. As the candidate, as the person, use it as a filter. I think even just taking on a project, you could extend what you said into, “Hey, you’re volunteering for a project at work, to try on some things or try on investing in a talent or something that sounds of interest to you, and then use your top five to filter whether you’ll actually be able to grow from it in the way you want to grow.
Ryan Rhoten: [00:16:37] Right. Right. Yeah, I mean, just take for example the couple of ideas that I’ve already thrown out like the puzzle pieces. I can see the big puzzle, I can see all the individual pieces, and I can see how they go together, and that is my strength. I do that well. But if there was a job I wanted to take where I had to make the individual puzzle piece and put it together without knowing and understanding how it fits into the bigger picture, it would drive me crazy and I would not perform well at that. Now, that’s not saying that I can’t do that work. It is saying that that work drains me. And so, therefore, my company won’t get as much value out of having me in that role as they would if they had someone else in that role who was very detailed-oriented.
Lisa Cummings: [00:17:22] And it would give you really good questions to ask in that interview that you might not have considered asking before, and it would also give you – I don’t know – if you’re in a company where there’s some flexibility, and you’re interviewing for a role like that, if all else seems just like you, you might be able to shape that job into something that fits you better by bringing that forward, and saying, “Hey, this is an area where I’m not going to be a good fit in the role.” And then there are more cases than I think people give credit to where they can map that job and make it different from what it was designed to be.
Ryan Rhoten: [00:18:00] Right. The same applies to small business owners, too, and owners of companies, right? Because they’re the owners, sometimes they feel like they have to get into those small details, but if that’s not their strength then they need to, at some point, know that they’ve got to step back and let someone else take that role whose strength it is. Because by you doing that job, you’re denying someone else the use of their superpower of what they’re good at, and you’re denying them to be able to enhance their life in a better way because you’re trying to do something that you’re not good at.
Lisa Cummings: [00:18:35] That’s really powerfully said, denying their superpower. And then, hey, if that’s not inspirational enough for you, why work all day doing stuff that drains you. So you get the double benefit, you’re helping them use their genius and then you’re getting out of your zone where you’re feeling dreadful about some task.
Ryan Rhoten: [00:18:54] Right. Exactly. One of the things I learned too, and I’m still learning, but as I was going through my personal brand journey is there’s a difference. You hear these words used interchangeably, and they’re really not. There’s personal brand and then there’s personal branding, and you hear them used interchangeably. But your personal brand is your StrengthsFinder report. It’s who you are on the inside. It’s what you’re good at. It’s what you’re naturally drawn to. It’s what other people see when you’re in a room. It’s what they talk about when you’re in the room.
[00:19:30] If anybody listening has ever been in a situation where they’ve walked into a project or a problem is going on, and somebody at a higher level, or even their peer, goes, “You know what? You’d be really good at doing that.” That’s your personal brand.
Lisa Cummings: [00:19:43] Listen up, yeah.
Ryan Rhoten: [00:19:44] That is your personal brand to that person, and that’s your personal brand to you. If you can find that and latch onto that, that helps you be able to align who you are, with what you do. Then once you know who you are, then you can begin to do personal branding, which is marketing those skills and those strengths and those core values that you carry with you to either in your current company for new positions, or a new company for a completely different position.
Lisa Cummings: [00:20:13] That’s a really cool distinction. Based on your definition, you have a brand, whether you tried to or not. So, now, for the branding part let’s talk about the people who haven’t tried to shape it or put it out there consciously. Why should somebody care about this? If, let’s say, you’re talking to somebody in the audience who’s a complete naysayer, and they say, “I am who I am pretty strongly. What is the point of doing all this stuff consciously? Sell me on it.”
Ryan Rhoten: [00:20:43] Okay. So close your eyes, not those who are driving cars, but think about this scenario. You’re sitting in a room, a conference room, with your co-workers at the table. You’re all discussing a project that you’re working on. Each of you are assigned a task for your role just like you would in any normal company. And so you’re working through the project, and all of a sudden the door opens and a senior leader comes in the room and sits down. Does the temperature of the room change? Does the mood of the room change?
Lisa Cummings: [00:21:14] Yes.
Ryan Rhoten: [00:21:15] How do those people, all of a sudden, feel about the person who just walked in? The answers to those questions are going to depend upon that senior leader’s brand and how he, or she, is interpreted by everybody else in the room. It could be a positive, maybe the energy level in the room picks up when this person comes in and everybody gets excited because they know that he, or she, is going to be behind what you’re doing, they’re supportive, and they’re excited. But it could also be negative. And, therefore, your creativity and the energy in the room could die down. And that person has a brand that they didn’t say a word, they just walked in the room.
[00:21:50] So, now, take the same scenario, there’s a conference room table, people are sitting around talking about a project that they’re working on, the door opens and this time you walk into the room and you sit down. What happens to the temperature of that room? Does it get more positive? Does it stay the same? Or does the energy drain? And knowing the answer to that question is why it’s important, because if the brand that you’re giving off is negative in other people’s minds, you need to know that so that you can fix it.
Lisa Cummings: [00:22:24] Yeah, that’s big. That’s a very intimate relatable, it really is, what happens. I mean, you sit in conference rooms with people, and so I think a lot of people hear the term personal branding, and think, “Oh, that means I need to establish myself as a worldwide thought leader.” It doesn’t have to be that big. Your first efforts can and probably should be just right there in your immediate work environment and thinking through some really practical lessons like the one you just gave. I mean, that’s a wakeup call right there, if people close their eyes and go, “Ah, ooh, yeah.”
Ryan Rhoten: [00:23:02] I tell you, one of the biggest areas or eye-openers for me as I was going through this process was I actually sent emails to 15 people, who I called trusted advisors, and I asked them to describe me in their words, “If you’re going to describe me in three sentences could you write them out for me?” That was like totally scary to do that, right? So there was a big “get out of your comfort zone” moment for me right there.
Lisa Cummings: [00:23:38] Oh, yeah. Yes.
Ryan Rhoten: [00:23:30] And I just sent them out and I literally thought no one would answer. And within half an hour I had my first response, and I ended up getting 10 of the 15 back, 66% that’s not too bad.
Lisa Cummings: [00:23:42] Pretty good, yeah.
Ryan Rhoten: [00:23:43] There were some things in there that I read, and I was like, “Okay. Get it. Get it.” And then there were other things, I was like, “Holy cow, I did not know that person thought that way about me,” and in a very good way. But then there were also a few where they weren’t negative, but we’ll call them constructive criticism, but it was true. If I really put myself in that person’s shoes and I thought back to my interactions with that person, I could totally see and understand their point. And what’s good about that is, because I know that now, I have an opportunity to change it. And had I not known, had I not asked, I would’ve continued the same behavior for who knows how long.
Lisa Cummings: [00:24:24] Yeah. Okay. Now this is probably a really disjointed timeline, but if you take your StrengthsFinder results and your top five that you know of today, and you take the words and phrases that you heard from that exercise, what overlap did you find?
Ryan Rhoten: [00:24:41] If it was a Venn diagram it would almost be a complete circle.
Lisa Cummings: [00:24:46] [laughs]
Ryan Rhoten: [00:24:48] There was a lot of overlap, a lot of overlap. A lot of stuff around the strategic piece, you know, “Ryan can see the big picture despite… he knows the details but he can see the big picture and therefore it helps him lead and guide a team.” Stuff like that which if you really read all the positive, super positive comments, they were all almost 100% aligned with one of my strengths. And then some of the negative ones, they were situations where I chose to go into an area where I was working on my perceived “weakness” but I had a senior leader who said, “You’re weak in this area and you need to go improve it. So here’s an opportunity for you to improve your weakness.”
[00:25:37] That’s why I can understand what that person said about me, because I was totally working and doing something I did not want to that did not align with me. And that was just another takeaway for me, from now on when I choose a position with a company, or if I choose to branch off and go on my own, I will work within my strengths, and I will find people to help me cover my weaknesses.
Lisa Cummings: [00:26:02] Yeah, and it’s a really great concept in the work that I do with Gallup, the Certified Strengths Coaches, we talk about sharpening yourself as an individual and being well-rounded as a team. It kind of flies in the face of conventional development as the opposite. Everybody that I met early in my career was so focused on being well rounded, and if you had a skill, you were missing a skill rather, you better go figure out how to fix it because it was called a weakness.
[00:26:33] What you just said was really valuable stuff because, yeah, find those around you who can excel at that. They’ll do more of what they love, they’ll be more energized and so will you because you don’t have to do it anymore. It’s really powerful.
Ryan Rhoten: [00:26:45] If you really want to maximize the engagement, you need to move them and get them at least doing 75% to 80% in their strengths during the course of a day.
Lisa Cummings: [00:26:55] Yeah, that’s a really good goal, getting up that high. So many people give up. I see them when they have the insight that they may not be using very much at all. Let’s say I’m working with somebody and they have 15% of their time in their strengths, then they just feel defeated immediately, like, “Oh, great. This means I need to quit.” And people have a lot more control than they think. And if you look at your StrengthsFinder results, or just if you haven’t done it before, you just look at your natural talents, how you go about the world, your natural thoughts, your natural behaviors, how you’re inclined to work, so often you can change how you go about something and you’re still going about the same results.
[00:27:35] That’s a big one that people miss out on. They just kind of assume immediately, “Well, hmm, sucks for me. I’m in the wrong role. I have to do something really dramatic and it’s going to be a year, and I’m stuck for all these reasons.” They start making excuses and they just forget about it all.
Ryan Rhoten: [00:27:50] Right.
Lisa Cummings: [00:27:52] You can do some really simple things. I like how you also related doing an assessment and getting the words from other people. Because I hear a lot of people and I ask them to describe it in their words, “How do they show up on you at work? If you look at this strength now, what does that look like when you’re in the workplace?” And I like the way that you flipped it around and did the exercise where you’re getting other people’s feedback because your hear it in their words and you get to see what your personal brand, current state, what it is because they’re reflecting back the perception.
Ryan Rhoten: [00:28:27] Mm-hmm, yeah. And, like I said, the good thing is you can change it. If you don’t like what you’re hearing back you can change that piece of it, especially if you’re hearing negative stuff. But you can’t change it if you’re not aware of it. In management parlance it would be, “What gets measured gets improved.”
Lisa Cummings: [00:28:47] Yeah.
Ryan Rhoten: [00:28:48] If you break it down to the personal level, if you know that you have an area that you can improve, you will. But if you don’t know about it it’s just going to continue until finally somebody is going to blow up at you one day and you’re not going to know why.
Lisa Cummings: [00:29:04] I think a lot of people are struggling with their own mid-career crisis and they don’t know why they’re in a funk. If they’re struggling with that, and they think they’re in this mid-career crisis, what’s your take on that? Why do you think people have just lost the mojo at work?
Ryan Rhoten: [00:29:18] I think what happens is people get used to working at a smaller percentage of their strengths, maybe 50-50 or less.
Lisa Cummings: [00:29:29] Okay.
Ryan Rhoten: [00:29:30] And they get in a role, they look at the corporate ladder, which doesn’t actually exists but we still believe that it does, and they say, “Well, if I want to get to this job at this next level,” they look at the skills required, so the things that you can go get training on to improve, not the soft skills part, not the brand part, and they forget about that. So they go and they get these skills, they’ve been working in this job that’s not really playing to their strengths but they have skills and so, all of a sudden, they get in this mindset that, “I’m qualified for this next job.” And when they don’t get it, it destroys them inside. That’s probably a strong word.
Lisa Cummings: [00:30:13] It can wreck people for sure.
Ryan Rhoten: [00:30:14] Right. But it hurts. It causes them pause inside, and they don’t know why they can’t get to the next level. They don’t know “what’s wrong with them.” And so you have two choices when you get there. You either stay that way, and go, “Okay. Well, maybe this is as high as I’m ever going to go,” and you become complacent and you move through life miserable. Or you have a choice to decide to go figure out what is going on and how you can be different. And it takes a bold decision. Sometimes it takes a coach. The hardest person to help, when you get in those situations, is yourself, because you’re too close to it, you can’t see it, and you need someone else to pull it out of you.
Lisa Cummings: [00:31:03] Yeah, it helps you see. It’s so good. And if you are listening and you haven’t taken the assessment, do the exercise that Ryan talked about that is just polling people you know at work, in your life, get a well-rounded view. I did this exercise, inspired from your podcast interview with Dorie Clark, and I did a Facebook version. So if you’re a low-time commitment kind of person and you’re thinking all this sounds like a lot of work, I took 30 seconds to ask the question online and got a really useful set of words back from people to understand current state personal brand, Ryan’s original definition of personal brand, the current state. It was great.
Ryan Rhoten: [00:31:43] Yeah, it’s invaluable feedback. And I would strongly recommend, too, that if you’re going to do that, reach out to current and past bosses.
Lisa Cummings: [00:31:52] Ooh, good one.
Ryan Rhoten: [00:31:53] Or current and past peers.
Lisa Cummings: [00:31:55] Yes.
Ryan Rhoten: [00:31:56] Because they’re the ones who see you at work and, let’s face it, we spend, I don’t know, 80% of our lives at work.
Lisa Cummings: [00:32:02] It can be a lot of percent.
Ryan Rhoten: [00:32:05] So, while your families get to know you intimately, your work family knows you professionally and they can provide you with a lot of valuable feedback as well.
Lisa Cummings: [00:32:15] Thank you so much, Ryan. You offer so many practical ideas. I love that. For everybody listening, go subscribe to The BRAND New You show. So what else, Ryan? How else can they kind of connect with you, find your work and learn more from you?
Ryan Rhoten: [00:32:29] Well, everything that I do is online at RyanRhoten.com, so I have there, you can find a blog. I have an actual online brand assessment that you can take, which is more geared towards the personal branding piece to understand how you come across online. And we didn’t get into any of that today. That’s kind of a whole second step and what I refer to as kind of the personal branding process.
[00:32:53] Step one is identifying your personal brand, and I do have a course available if anybody is interested. You could take that and it walks you through the steps of identifying what your personal brand is including one of the exercises we talked about today. And you can find that at ThePersonalBrandingBlueprint.com.
[00:33:11] And then also just the podcast. You said it a couple of times now and I like to think that I’m getting a lot of good value out of the guest that I’m bringing on. I know they’re all excited about it and I get jazzed to talk to them. I hope it does the same for others too.
Lisa Cummings: [00:33:25] Yeah, it’s really good because you help people think differently about their careers and their brand, and then you also give people really practical tools. Love it. Alright, guys, it’s your turn. You get to take it from here. Go put your natural talents into your on-purpose brand and thanks for listening to Lead Through Strengths.
[00:33:46] Remember, using your strengths makes you a stronger performer at work. If you’re always focused on fixing your weaknesses you’re choosing the path of most resistance. So claim your talents and share them with the world.
As an international speaker and facilitator, Lisa Cummings has delivered events to over 11,500 participants in 14 countries. You can see her featured in places like Harvard Business Publishing, Training Magazine, and Forbes. When she’s not out spotting strengths in people, you’ll find her playing drums, rescuing dogs, or watching live music in Austin, TX. Her Top 5 StrengthsFinder Talents are: Strategic | Maximizer | Positivity | Individualization | Woo.