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7 Things That Drive Your Core Strengths

and make you unique.

Mick Ukleja

October 6, 2017

At your core, there exists a unique set of abilities. We refer to them as strengths. These are
not difficult to discover. There are many strength finder type assessments that are more
than capable of pointing these abilities out.

Related: Answer 3 Questions to Identify Your Strengths

What usually goes unnoticed are the multiple enablers that surround our lives and enhance
our abilities. They make our abilities come alive. And they come in many forms. They stem
from opportunities and circumstances that are unique to us.

Some are from the place of privilege (which is true of most even though often not apparent).
And some are from the place of adversity. They are the parts of life that make you one of a
kind. Its more than your strengths. Its your strengths combined with your lifes events.

I could have the same strengths as someone else, yet my opportunities and circumstances
surrounding my origin and experiences make me unique.

Let me give you seven enablers surrounding your strengths that make you unique. They
also highlight your potential.

1. Your character is unique.

This is an essentialnot an elective. Its a must if you want to do something of significance.
This usually gets top billing when you are observed. What is it that marks your character for
those who know you the best? How can you be intentional in creating it and building on it?
Write down two.

2. Your experiences are unique.

The total of your experiences have left an indelible mark. You cant deny them, make them
up, nor change them. They are yours. Even though time moves on, it passes to the present
from those experiences. They are, therefore, to be embraced. What are two experiences
that were points of demarcation for you?
3. Your advantages are unique.
There are things in life that have given you a competitive advantage. Do you know what
they are? Others do! This should not be a haven for self-pity because of what you lacked, or
guilt because of what you gained. They are what they areadvantages. No two peoples
advantages are the same, so rule out comparison or self-pity. Ignorance will underplay
them. Acknowledgment will leverage them. Can you name and claim two of yours?

4. Your obstacles are unique.

No one gets far in life without some game-threatening challenge. The victim posture never
creates learning. At best it will neutralize you and at worst it will nullify you. Neither is a
good option. The resilient person is either up or getting back up. Your obstacles have been
significant in making you who you are today. Your greatness lies outside your circle of
comfort. What are two obstacles that stand out?

5. Your resources are unique.

Everyone has access to resources. Whats uncommon are the resources themselves. There
are external resourcesmoney, influential friends, community, technology, etc. And there
are internal resourcesmotivation, resilience, time, commitment, etc. An accurate
assessment of resources is essential for the best life decisions. They might be different from
others, but for you, their value is just as high. What are four of yours?

6. Your value is unique.

There is an ascending and descending scale of the value we bring to people. We can bring
a number of valuable things their way, but not all of them are of the same value to the
recipient. The value you bring is multiplied in its benefit. Since they are a part of who you
are, the recipient gains more than you give. Its exponential for them and therefore a great
investment of your efforts. Can you describe four of your points of unique value? False
modesty is not helpful here.

7. Your markets are unique.

You are capable of running in many venues, but what is that niche where your effectiveness
peaks? Some call this your tribethat place where you exert the greatest influence. The
distinctions of these markets might be fuzzy, but they eventually self-define and will reveal
themselves as your most likely place of impact and influence. Its difficult to be all things to
all people. What are three of those markets, those niches that are a great fit?
Your key to developing the leader in you starts at your core, but doesnt end there. Be
aware of these seven enablers that highlight your unique abilities and increase your ever-
expanding potential. They are a great resource. And the good news is, they are yours!

The Skill Youve Always Wanted: How to

Instantly Read People
Solve the people puzzle by discovering 4 distinguishable traits.
Tony Alessandra

October 4, 2017

The ability to read people is by far one of your most valuable skills in business. The people
you interact with each day send you signals, and if you learn what to look and listen for,
each person will tell you exactly how to effectively work with him.

Everyone experiences the same basic human needsresults, recognition, regimentation

and relationshipswith some holding more dominance than others. Depending on the
weight placed on each need, people differ in personality.

So what is there to read?

Related: How to Read People Like an FBI Agent

Dozens of signalsverbal, vocal and visualstell you when to speed up or slow down,
when to focus on the details or when to work on building the relationship. But, because
people are different, the same technique wont always work.

Human Behavior Has Two Dimensions

When people act and reactwith verbal, vocal and visual actionsin social situations, they
exhibit clues to their behavioral style. Identifying that is possible by classifying a person's
behavior on two dimensions: openness and directness.

Open vs. Guarded: Openness is the readiness and willingness with which a person
outwardly shows emotions or feelings and develops interpersonal relationships.
Others commonly describe open people as being relaxed, warm, responsive, informal
and personable. They tend to be relationship-oriented, and in conversations with others,
they share personal feelings and tell stories and anecdotes. They tend to be flexible about
time and base their decisions more on intuition and opinion than on hard facts and data.
They also are likely to behave dramatically and to give you immediate nonverbal feedback
in conversation.

Guarded individuals, on the other hand, commonly are seen as formal and proper. They
tend to be more aloof in their interpersonal relationships. They are more likely to follow the
letter of the law and try to base their decisions on cold, hard facts. Guarded people are
usually very task-oriented and disciplined about time. As opposed to open people, they hide
their personal feelings in the presence of others.

Direct vs. Indirect: Now consider the second dimensiondirectness. This refers to the
amount of control and forcefulness that a person attempts to exercise over situations or
other people.

Direct people tend to come on strong, take the social initiative and create a powerful first
impression. They are fast-paced people, making swift decisions and taking risks. They
easily become impatient with others who cannot keep up with their fast pace. They are
active people who do a lot of talking and appear confident and dominant. Direct people
express their opinions readily and make emphatic statements.

On the opposite end of that spectrum, indirect people give the impression of being quiet and
reserved. They seem to be supportive and easy-going, and they tend to be security-
consciousmoving slowly, meditating on their decisions and avoiding risks. They ask
questions and listen more than they talk. They reserve their opinions and make tentative
statements when they must take a stand.

When directness is combined with openness, it forms four different, recognizable and
habitual behavioral styles: the socializer, the director, the thinker and the relater.

Related: This Is the Ideal Workplace for Your Personality

Socializer: Open and Direct

The socializer exhibits such characteristics as animation, intuitiveness and liveliness. He is
an idea persona dreamerbut can be viewed as manipulative, impetuous and excitable
when displaying behavior inappropriate to a particular situation.
The socializer is a fast-paced person with spontaneous actions and decisions. He is not
concerned about facts and details, and tries to avoid them as much as possible. This may
prompt him at times to exaggerate and generalize facts and figures. He thrives on
involvement with people and usually works quickly and enthusiastically with others.

The socializer always seems to be chasing dreams, but he has the uncanny ability to catch
others up in his dreams because of his good persuasive skills. He always seems to be
seeking approval and pats on the back for his accomplishments and achievements. The
socializer is a very creative person who has that dynamic ability to think quickly on his feet.

Director: Direct and Guarded

The director exhibits firmness in his relationships with others, is oriented toward productivity
and goals and is concerned with bottom-line results. Closely allied to these positive traits,
however, are the negative ones of stubbornness, impatience, toughness and even

A director tends to take control of other people and situations and is decisive in both his
actions and decisions. He likes to move at an extremely fast pace and is very impatient with
delays. When other people can't keep up with his speed, he views them as incompetent.
The directors motto: I want it done right, and l want it done now.

The director is typically a high achiever who exhibits very good administrative skills. He likes
to do many things at the same time. He keeps adding on until the pressure builds to such a
point that he turns his back and lets everything drop. Then he turns right around and starts
the whole process over again.

Related: What Kind of Leader Are You? A Fixer, Fighter or Friend?

Thinker: Indirect and Guarded

The thinker is a persistent, systematic problem-solver. But he also can be seen as aloof,
picky and critical. A thinker is very security-conscious and has a strong need to be right.
This leads him to an over-reliance on data collection. In his quest for data he tends to ask
many questionsabout specific details.

The thinker works slowly and precisely by himself and prefers an intellectual work
environment that is organized and structured. He tends to be skeptical and likes to see
things in writing.
Although he is a great problem-solver, the thinker is a poor decision-maker; he may keep
collecting data even beyond the time when a decision is due.

Relater: Open and Indirect

The relater is unassertive, warm, supportive and reliable. However, the relater sometimes is
seen by others as compliant, soft-hearted and acquiescent. The relater seeks security and
belongingness and, like the thinker, is slow at taking action and making decisions. This
procrastination stems from his desire to avoid risky and unknown situations. Before he
takes action or makes a decision, he has to know how other people feel about it.

The relater is the most people-oriented of all four styles. Having close, friendly, personal
and first-name relationships with others is one of the most important objectives of the
relaters style.

The relater dislikes interpersonal conflicts so much that he sometimes says what he thinks
other people want to hear rather than what is really on his mind. The relater has
tremendous counseling skills and is extremely supportive of other people. He also is an
incredibly active listener. Because a relater listens so well to other people, when it comes
his turn to talk, people usually listen. This gives him an excellent ability to gain support from

Learning to identify these four distinct personality types by their behavior takes time, but
evaluating peoples behavior within this framework can help you better understand others
and yourself

My Way: 12 Things I Live By

What got you here, wont get you there.

October 7, 2017

Jeff Rosenthal, co-founder of Summit

Los Angeles and Powder Mountain, Utah
Rosenthal and four others co-founded Summit in April 2008. The conference series creates
events for entrepreneurs to network and learn. The events also include musical
performances and hands-on classes such as 3-D printing. The Summit flagship event will
be hosted this year in Los Angeles, Nov. 3-6, and will feature distinguished thought-leaders
such as Jeff Bezos, Malcolm Gladwell, Marie Kondo, Tim Ferriss, Bren Brown and dozens

A book you need to read is

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari. It goes through the question
of what are the things that differentiated humans of 100,000 years ago, when the cognitive
revolution started, from the humans of the 900,000 years before it. It arrives at some core,
incredible principles that still guide our world today. Its a new sociological look at humanity,
intellect and the human condition.

Words I live by are

What got you here, wont get you there.

Its important to approach the world with a

Beginners mind. You give yourself permission to fail and experiment and learn and connect
with people. Never sit in the success of the past to assume it will lead to what you need for
the future.

My favorite pick-me-up is
My own version of bulletproof coffee. Its French press coffee with ghee and coconut oil. I
use something called Four Sigmatic, which is a mushroom coffee with lions mane. It is
delightful. It fires you up in the morning.
Im currently Netflixing
Comedies. I liked Louis C.K.s 2017 and Dave Chappelles stand-up.

I love listening to
Chances with Wolves.

My secret weapon is
People who love me. The people whom I love the most and who love me the most wont
love me any more or less based on the successes and failures of my projects. That really
sets me free.

Something everyone should try at least once is...

Putting themselves out there. Whether its planning an event, building a product or doing
something special for a loved one, make an attempt at something outside of your current
skill set and force yourself to learn.


Disappointment is
The byproduct of misaligned expectations. If your expectations are misaligned, youll create
disappointment. If I find myself disappointed, I can take personal responsibility for setting
the expectation that something would go my way.

When youre a young entrepreneur

You want to be the key man. You want to score the final touchdown. You want to be the
hero. Thats natural when youre beginning your career as an entrepreneur. But if you can
identify the roles that you need in your organization and bring in people who are not only as
good but better, that is a profound skill that allows for scale. The key component of
leadership is to recruit and identify talent that is better than you. You can accomplish
anything in this world if you dont care who gets credit for it.

I love people who have

Authenticity and presencethe ability to be present in the moment, and to authentically
represent what you know and what you dont know. Thats the most important characteristic
because then you can build from there. Presence is an undervalued asset.

My aha moment was

The first time I went to a Summit event that we built and curated. Within the first hour, the
energy and the vibe and the inspiration and the intellectual stimulation were astounding and
empowering. You realize that the people who accomplish the greatest things are just
people. Theres no real difference other than commitment. It was a very humanizing
experience to be around people who have built great things. It really allowed me to believe
in myself.

Why Your Comfort Zone Is the Most Dangerous

Place to Live
Megan Nicole O'Neal

September 15, 2016

I am writing to you from seat 14A United Airlines, Rochester bound from San Diego. Its an
11:45 p.m. red-eye.

You see, this year I set out to accomplish one thing: to stay open. It sounds simple enough,
but youd never realize how many times you innately hang a Closed for Business sign until
you try to transition to a 24/7 operation. We can be stubborn and closed-minded, unable
to listen to others opinions and perspectives without judgment. We can be guarded and
closed-hearted, afraid of appearing vulnerable and somehow weak by association. We can
become disinterested, uninvolved and often so paralyzed by our daily lives and stressors
that we forget there is an entire world out there.

I didnt want to be one of these closed people because when I sat down and honestly
thought about it, the times that Ive hurt or been hurt by others have had a lot of (literal and
metaphorical) closed doors in common. But openness, Ive noticed, is a slow and often
complicated process.

I see openness as having curiosity. And not just about what hair regime Blake Lively is on,
or the name of the Avengers character with the bow and arrows (Clint Barton). Curiosity
about new people, new places, cultures, experiences, food; you name it. Simply put, being
open means having a willingness to not immediately say no to something unfamiliar. (To be
clear, you dont actually have to say yes; you just need to consider it a viable option
beforehand.) This way of being sounds great, and it is! However, the only way to do this, to
be truly open (here comes the fun part), is to live outside of your comfort zone.

Related: 5 Ways Stepping Outside My Comfort Zone Made Me a Better Person

Live. Let that sink in for a minute because that word was carefully chosen. Typically we hear
the phrase step outside of your comfort zone, which I believe is certainly an important
move in the right direction. But Im talking about putting more than just your right foot out.
You have to pack up your bags, your shoe collection and your favorite childhood stuffed
animal and move across that line into a house with a very long lease. Being open is a
character trait that must be embodied, on more than a handful of occasions, for it to be
genuinely earned. Think of it this way: You cant claim to have an open-door policy with
nothing more than a doggy door and expect anything great to be able to squeeze through.

The problem with comfort zones is that we often cant tell when weve been sucked into
them. From the safety of our comfort zones we get complacent. We fall into our work-gym-
(Netflix)-sleep routines and forget to live outwardly from our hideaways, ultimately
sacrificing the ability to impact our world.

Have you ever wondered why casual and casualty are such dangerously similar words?
Perhaps its because abiding to a casual life in the comfort zone is the ultimate casualty to
the stories of our lives. Someone once said to me that in our adult lives, we have, on
average, 22,000 days to live. For some that might sound like plenty; but to the open, the
curious, that almost sounds like a challenge. You have 22,000 days to discover the world.
Ready? GO! Do you really want to waste one of those days, weeks or months doing the
exact same thing as yesterday?

Now I know we need jobs to provide for ourselves and our families, etc. It doesnt leave a lot
of wiggle room for adventuring. Trust me, Im not some barefoot granola-hipster who lives in
a treehouse somewhere in the Arizona mountains; I pay my dues at a 9-to-6, too. But
theres a way to live, even with daily obligations, that doesnt leave your personal story a

Related: How to Live a Life of Value

Remember when I said Im currently 30,000 feet in the air, en route to Rochester? Its a
work trip. (Fun.) Those whove been in a similar situation know how annoying it can be to
sacrifice a weekend to work. Yet instead, why not look for opportunity? I volunteered to fly
early (3 a.m. early) and spend my Saturday night crossing the country so I could explore
Rochester and Niagara Falls with my newfound free hours on Sunday, before hopping to
client meetings Monday morning. It was a small switch, but the thought to take an earlier
(and painfully less ideal) flight might never have crossed my mind had I not been willing to
break from the status quo.

Ill warn you: At first it is going to be uncomfortable. Being open, especially with other
people, can be awkward. And stepping (and staying) out of your comfort zone can at times
feel like floating, or walking onto a frozen lake thats beginning to thaw. But it gets easier.
Its a rewiring of your brain, and similar to learning a new language, the more you practice,
the more naturally it flows. Until one day you realize youve been thinking and dreaming in
this new language without even trying.

So get out of your comfort zone! Discover new places and new faces; I dare you. Yes, it
might be scary, but isnt overcoming the fear worth it? I argue that its the risks we take, the
times when something is hard but we march forward anyway, that add spice to our lives and
give our memoirs a little flavor. A good story never started with, I woke up, ate breakfast
and then binged on Mad Men for the rest of the day. At least, not the kind of story that gets

If we, in the present, are a compilation of the experiences from our past, let me leave you
with one question: Who do you want to be 10 years from now?

11 Things Smart People Dont Say

Drop these phrases from your vocabulary right now.
Travis Bradberry

September 26, 2016

Emotionally intelligent people know that certain phrases carry special powerthey make
you look bad even when the words are true. In this article, originally published on LinkedIn
Pulse, Dr. Travis Bradberry shows you which 11 phrases to avoid.

There are some things you simply never want to say at work.

These phrases carry special power: They have an uncanny ability to make you look bad
even when the words are true.

Related: 10 Phrases to Drop from Your Vocabulary

Worst of all, theres no taking them back once they slip out.

Im not talking about shocking slips of the tongue, off-color jokes or politically incorrect faux
pas. These arent the only ways to make yourself look bad.

Often its the subtle remarksthe ones that paint us as incompetent and unconfidentthat
do the most damage.

No matter how talented you are or what youve accomplished, there are certain phrases that
instantly change the way people see you and can forever cast you in a negative light. These
phrases are so loaded with negative implications that they can undermine careers in short

How many of these career killers have you heard around the office lately?

1. Its not fair.

Everyone knows that life isnt fair. Saying its not fair suggests that you think life is supposed
to be fair, which makes you look immature and naive.

If you dont want to make yourself look bad, you need to stick to the facts, stay constructive
and leave your interpretation out of it. For instance, you could say, I noticed that you
assigned Ann that big project I was hoping for. Would you mind telling me what went into
that decision? Id like to know why you thought I wasnt a good fit, so I can work on
improving those skills.

2. This is the way its always been done.

Technology-fueled change is happening so fast that even a 6-month-old process could be
outdated. Saying this is the way its always been done not only makes you sound lazy and
resistant to change, but it could make your boss wonder why you havent tried to improve
things on your own. If you really are doing things the way theyve always been done, theres
almost certainly a better way.

3. No problem.
When someone asks you to do something or thanks you for doing something, and you tell
them no problem, youre implying that their request should have been a problem. This
makes people feel as though theyve imposed upon you.

Instead, show people youre happy to do your job. Say something like It was my pleasure
or Ill be happy to take care of that. Its a subtle difference in language, but one that has a
huge impact on people.

4. I think/This might be a silly idea/Im going to ask

a stupid question.
These overly passive phrases instantly erode your credibility. Even if you follow these
phrases with a great idea, they suggest you lack confidence, which makes the people
youre speaking to lose confidence in you.

Dont be your own worst critic. If youre not confident in what youre saying, no one else will
be either. And if you really dont know something, say, I dont have that information right
now, but Ill find out and get back to you.

Related: 9 Tips to Say It Better

5. This will only take a minute.

Saying something only takes a minute undermines your skills and gives the impression that
you rush through tasks. Unless youre literally going to complete the task in 60 seconds, feel
free to say that it wont take long, but dont make it sound as if the task can be completed
any sooner than it can actually be finished.

6. Ill try.
Just like the word think, try sounds tentative and suggests you lack confidence in your
ability to execute the task. Take full ownership of your capabilities. If youre asked to do
something, either commit to doing it or offer an alternative, but dont say that youll try
because it sounds like you wont try all that hard.

7. Hes lazy/incompetent/a jerk.

There is no upside to making a disparaging remark about a colleague. If your remark is
accurate, everybody already knows it, so theres no need to point it out. If your remark is
inaccurate, youre the one who ends up looking like a jerk.

There will always be rude or incompetent people in any workplace, and chances are
everyone knows who they are. If you dont have the power to help them improve or to fire
them, then you have nothing to gain by broadcasting their ineptitude. Announcing your
colleagues incompetence comes across as an insecure attempt to make you look better.
Your callousness will inevitably come back to haunt you in the form of your co-workers
negative opinions of you.

8. Thats not in my job description.

This often sarcastic phrase makes you sound as though youre only willing to do the bare
minimum required to get a paycheck, which is a bad thing if you want job security.

If your boss asks you to do something that you feel is inappropriate for your position (as
opposed to morally or ethically inappropriate), the best move is to complete the task
eagerly. Later, schedule a conversation with your boss to discuss your role in the company
and whether your job description needs an update. This ensures that you avoid looking
petty. It also enables you and your boss to develop a long-term understanding of what you
should and shouldnt be doing.

9. Its not my fault.

Its never a good idea to cast blame. Be accountable. If you had any roleno matter how
smallin whatever went wrong, own it. If not, offer an objective, dispassionate explanation
of what happened. Stick to the facts, and let your boss and colleagues draw their own
conclusions about whos to blame.

The moment you start pointing fingers is the moment people start seeing you as someone
who lacks accountability for their actions. This makes people nervous. Some will avoid
working with you altogether, and others will strike first and blame you when something goes

10. I cant.
I cant is its not my faults twisted sister. People dont like to hear I cant because they think
it means I wont. Saying I cant suggests youre not willing to do what it takes to get the job

If you really cant do something because you truly lack the necessary skills, you need to
offer an alternative solution. Instead of saying what you cant do, say what you can do. For
example, instead of saying I cant stay late tonight, say I can come in early tomorrow
morning. Will that work? Instead of I cant run those numbers, say I dont yet know how
to run that type of analysis. Is there someone who can show me so that I can do it on my
own next time?

11. I hate this job.

The last thing anyone wants to hear at work is someone complaining about how much they
hate their job. It labels you as a negative person and brings down the morale of the group.
Bosses are quick to catch on to naysayers who drag down morale, and they know there are
enthusiastic replacements waiting around the corner.

Eliminating these phrases from your vocabulary pays dividends. They have a tendency to
sneak up on you, so youre going to have to catch yourself until youve solidified the habit
of not saying them.

What other phrases should be on this list? Please share your thoughts in the comments
section below as I learn just as much from you as you do from me.

Take Back Your Life, One Weekend at a Time

The Weekender: A work-life balance calendar

February 10, 2017

Were well into 2017 now and if you havent thought about your goals and aspirations for the
year, its about time. Maybe youd like to finally join that gym down the street, schedule in
time each day to meditate or take on a new creative project.
Related: 4 Tips for Setting Powerful Goals

When you think about typical resolutions, you might notice a trend. Most of the time, we
focus on personal development that happens in our free time, outside of the workweek.
Often this make it harder. After all, hitting the gym after a long day at work is sometimes the
last thing we want to do.

So wed like to introduce a simpler approach: This year, commit to taking back your
weekends. Make your free time work for you. When you feel that sense of balance, youll
feel less burned out and more committed to your personal happiness.

Related: 8 Little Habits That Will Instantly Make You Happier

To help you improve your work-life balance, flip through this Weekender calendarits
packed full of uplifting quotes and tips for taking back your weekends and making your year
a happy and prosperous one. Ready?