Dynamo Genius?

As I've said repeatedly, I enjoy taking personality and strengths tests, even the ones that aren't quite as vetted or validated as something like the MBTI.

Last summer, one of the email  newsletters I receive included a link to Roger Hamilton's My Genius Test.

I don't know anything about Roger Hamilton, other than what's available on his website, but I took the free version, out of curiosity.

The Dynamo Genius

The overall results weren't surprising: Dynamo Genius, with references to Ideas, Einstein and entrepreneurship.

Sheree Martin Dynamo GeniusThe free version is, of course, designed to lure me in to purchase the entire system so that I can understand the sub-types and details.

According to the report that came with my free results, “each Genius has a different type of ‘vision.'” The vision type that corresponds to the Dynamo Genius is “Perspective.”

Perspective gives a deeper view of what is possible.

That reminds me of my Fascination Archetype, as well as results from StrengthsFinder 2.0, as well as the Perceiver aspect of my personality.

Anyway, it's interesting and I wouldn't mind exploring the subtypes, but that's something I'll consider another day. Just thought I'd throw these results into the mix, as I finish up this project in self-exploration.

Note to Dynamo Genius Self: I'm finishing the project, by considering all pieces of data, and not just leaving it hanging. I've actually been very good about finishing projects that I care about. Sometimes, it takes longer than I had planned, but I eventually finish.

In reality, I perceive one of my biggest challenges to be an UNwillingness to quit when I realize that I'm going down the wrong path rather. I tend to spend more time than I should pursuing an endeavor after I realize it's going to be a dead-end.


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Explaining the Personal Growth Project

Over the past 6-8 weeks, I've been blogging publicly on a regular basis about the results of various personality, strengths and interests assessments I've taken over the years.

The idea to put these results out in public came to me when I wrote a post on telling the story of my personal brand. Over the past year or so, I've realized that I need to do a better job of explaining who I am and what I offer.

I know who I am, but I haven't been very proactive in telling my story to the rest of the world. That didn't matter so much in the early days of my professional life when ladders and structures pretty much dictated outcomes.

The great thing is that my strengths, personality and interests are aligned perfectly with the variables necessary to thrive in the new economy. I was made for this era. It excites and energizes me, so I don't want to miss the opportunities to play to my strengths.

Writing Helps Me Think

Since I love figuring out how things work and writing helps me understand, blogging seemed like the perfect venue for this project.

A commitment to writing about my story “in public” ensures that I'll stay at the topic until I've thoroughly covered it, figured out an action plan and moved to take action.

I love to connect-the-dots between disparate bits of information. That's one reason I love the internet and the conceptual opportunities that come from hyperlinking.

When I blog, I can link my thoughts on one topic or idea to something else I've written and begin to see connections that I might otherwise miss. At some point in the late 90s, I began to think of the synapses in my brain as a series of hyperlinks that connected all the various ideas, images, emotions and facts I've stored there.

I also hope that I might inspire others to undertake similar projects to get in touch with who they really are. I try to incorporate the self-awareness mindset in advisees and students who seek out career advice because I don't want to see them pursue a career path that leaves them unfulfilled or stifled.

Authenticity Is Important

Putting all of these results “out there” for the world to see serves, in some ways, as a confirmation that I'm not just spinning who I am and what I offer. These results provide some independent documentation that I'm being authentic and transparent when I talk about my strengths and interests.

Being “real” is important to me. Authenticity is a value that shows up a lot in my assessments and it's something I know I care about.

In the past, my blogging has focused on benign topics, while I've kept a lot of myself in the shadows.  I didn't want to write or talk about myself because that just seemed unseemly. I occasionally talked about something personal, but even then I was non-specific.

For the most part, except for my recipe-and-food posts, I ended up writing on generic topics, or giving lectures, instead of telling interesting stories.

One of the main motivations of the Shinecast project is to help others live healthy, happier lives.

To do that, I have to be comfortable talking about my own experiences in facing up to challenges and growing through obstacles. I think my experiences can provide inspiration.

We All Have Fears

As confident as I am, I've also faced obstacles and self-doubt. Courage is, in some ways, like a muscle. By pushing through fear, you learn resilience. And resilience is something I fully understand. It's probably my greatest strength.

I still feel fear at times, but I move on anyway because I've learned that whatever is causing fear usually evaporates in the face of action.

[Tweet “The cause of your fear usually evaporates in the face of action.”]

Writing publicly about myself is a simple exercise in courage, it gets me out of my comfort zone and gives me another arrow in my bravery quiver. And writing also helps me to think through situations that sometimes cause fear.

I've spent the past 5 years trying to adapt to a bad fit and to overcome someone else's misconception of who I am and what I offer, strictly to “prove I could succeed” in a situation that I chose, despite my instinctive understanding that I was making a mistake from the outset. On the plus side, I've used these five years to develop new skills that build on the internet technology skills I developed in the 90s and early 2000s (like WordPress, digital marketing, etc.) and expand my professional network.

I intend for the next phase of my professional life to emphasize projects that allow me to use my strengths and interests to “be more, achieve more” (to steal a phrase from a podcast I listen to regularly.

This personal growth project is all about giving wings to the vision I have for the second half of my life. It's exciting and energizing and I can't wait to experience the vision unfold.


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The Magician Goes Exploring

According to The Storybranding Group's PVSI assessment, I am a Magician AND an Explorer, thanks to a tied score.

I'm nearing the end of this research project in which I've been reviewing the results of various personality, strengths and values assessments I've taken through the years as part of my effort to figure out how to more effectively tell my own story.

In my final sweep through computer files looking for any remaining data to consider, I ran across the results of the PVSI I took online in mid-October 2013.

The Personal Values Story Index “illuminates professional assets, values and gifts through a story-based lens.”

Based on the 12-archetype model created by Dr. Carol S. Pearson, the instrument provides a holistic way of looking at who you are professionally by measuring how much you identify with the attitudes and behaviors of 12 mythical or archetypal characters (called story types on this website).

The Storybranding Group website

My results revealed a tied score, placing me in two archetypes: Magician and Explorer. The Explorer label has come up before, in pretty much all of my assessments. The “Magician” label is new, but the underlying themes are not.

PVSI Story Type: Explorer

Stop me if you've heard this before:

Naturally independent, authentic and curious, they're able to follow unique paths and motivate others to explore unchartered territory. They're usually excited and challenged by the opportunity to blaze a new trail.”

Email of results from The Storybranding Group PVSI assessment

Subtypes of the Explorer archetype include:

  • Trailblazer/pioneer: Sees or scouts for new opportunities/possibilities
  • Adventurer: Emphasizes adventure and/or new experiences
  • Seeker/wanderer: Searches for a unique path or solution
  • Iconoclast: Places great value in being different and/or independent
  • Individualist:  Maintains personal integrity and authenticity in all endeavors

Email of results from The Storybranding Group PVSI assessment

Caveat for the Explorer: “Watch for an unwillingness to settle down or commit to a course of action; forgetting to coordinate their others; and overlooking the needs of others.”

PVSI Story Type: Magician

“Naturally intuitive, insightful and inspiring [Magicians] are able to see and appreciate multiple perspectives and motivate others to believe that anything is possible. They're usually excited and challenged in times of great transformation.”

Email of results from The Storybranding Group PVSI assessment

Subtypes of the Magician Archetype include:

  • Catalyst/Change agent: Sees opportunities for change or provides impetus for innovative transformation.
  • Envisioner: Sees possibilities and develops a clear vision of the future
  • Healer: Effects individual or group healing
  • Intuitive: Uses synchronicities/hunches/serendipity to set a course
  • Wizard: Has a talent for unexpected, serendipitous results

Email of results from The Storybranding Group PVSI assessment

A caveat for the Magician type: Don't “lose patience with those who aren't as visionary as they are.”

The Magician archetype makes me think of all the reasons I love Harry Potter.

What's the Meaning?

I'll be pulling together all the common threads in the final post of the series. But clearly the most significant finding, I think, is the consistency of the results across the years and across the various assessment methodologies.


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My Fascination Archetype

In the last post I introduced Sally Hogshead's The Fascination Advantage and explained the basic premise of her system to analyze and classify communication styles and personality traits.

If you're following along, this is another of a series of posts where I explore the results of various personality and strengths assessments I've done through the years.

My official Fascination Advantage Archetype is Trendsetter. That's the focus of today's post.

My Fascination Advantages

Yesterday I revealed the results of my two Fascination Advantage assessments:

Primary Advantage: Innovation

Secondary Advantage: Prestige

Tertiary Advantage: Mystique

So what does this mean? Quite honestly, I'm not entirely sure. But when I dive more deeply into the description of Innovation, Prestige and Mystique Advantages I can see how those measures correlate with my MBTI and StrengthsFinder results and even the Strong-Campbell Interest Inventory from way back in 1980.

The Innovation Advantage

My primary advantage is Innovation.

The Innovation Advantage

According to the Report that came with my Fascination Advantage results, Innovation is all about creativity, vision, adventure, exploration.

The Innovation type in the Fascination Advantage system is someone who:

  • “Quickly solves problems with fresh solutions”
  • “Generate[s] ideas that surprise people with a new perspective”

Both of these statements are consistent with the results from my other assessments.

The Prestige Advantage

My secondary advantage is Prestige.

The Prestige Advantage is all about excellence, execution and accomplishment. This certainly correlates with the Maximizer and Achiever StrengthsFinder typology.

Someone with Prestige as the secondary advantage is:

  • “Conscientious of the smallest details”
  • “Motivated by a competitive spirit and determined outlook”
  • “Constantly envision[ing] ways to improve and upgrade'

Language of Fascination Advantages

The Mystique Advantage

I call this my tertiary advantage because I had the same score for Prestige and Mystique in my results from the second time I took The Fascination Advantage assessment. According to the report for those results, a tie-breaking question revealed Prestige as my secondary advantage. That would be consistent with the results from the first time I took the test.

Mystique is the Advantage I know the least about. Mystique is briefly described in in my reports:

  • Someone with the Mystique Advantage is described as the “solo intellect behind-the-scenes.”
  • “Mystique is the language of listening.”
  • “Mystique communicates with substance”

It wasn't until I found this video that I understood how I could score strong strongly on Mystique, the point of being one question away from having Mystique as my secondary Advantage.

As Sally explains here, someone with the Mystique Advantage is unlikely to self-promote. As I've said before, I never felt the need to promote myself but I've come to realize that it's absolutely necessary that I tell my own story, not to brag, but simply to communicate what I can offer. That is how I embarked on this project.

In the light of this explanation, Mystique makes a lot of sense.

Dormant Advantage: Trust

The labels used in The Fascination Advantage are not intuitive and Trust, in particular, is the one that is most confusing to me and seemingly the most mis-labeled.

The Trust Advantage refers to a preference for stability, normalcy, routine. The “dormant” aspect of this refers to my desire to avoid “falling into a rut” or “performing the same duties every day.”

When I think of trust, I think of trustworthy, not stability or a preference for routines.

The explanations about my “Dormant Trust Advantage” make perfectly good sense:

“You have an entrepreneurial approach to your career….You appreciate variety and actively seek new ways to solve a problem.”

“You love to explore….People are attracted to your expressive and curious nature. You are unlikely to be seen as boring.”

“You intuitively know how to persuade others through your self-expression and enthusiasm. You typically find it easy to brainstorm ideas.”

Each of these statements is supported in the results from my other assessments. I just wish this was labeled something other than “trust” because a “dormant trust advantage” makes it sound like (to me, anyway) that someone is not trustworthy. Yet the Trust Advantage has nothing to do with trust in the ethical sense.

This sentence, perhaps, best sums up this part of my Fascination Advantage results:

“If you do not naturally enjoy repeating the same process over and over, you will never reach your full potential in a job that forces you to follow a rigid path.”

Fascination Advantage Results Pie Chart
This pie chart is from the report accompanying my first results. I took the test again a few weeks later and the order of results were the same, but the percentages were slightly different.

The Trendsetter Archetype

When you combine the Innovation Advantage with the Prestige Advantage you get the Trendsetter Archetype.

Cutting-edge, Elite, Progressive, Imaginative, Edgy

“You're good at sensing what the next big thing will be.”

“You're competitive and ambitious.”

“You're a trailblazer who guides others in often uncharted territories.”

“You impress with your intellect and inventiveness.”

“You are able to see opportunities where others see only threats.”

“You implement change with determination.”

“You get the most out of developing and implementing your unique vision.”

I certainly feel like these describe me. The question is whether this is really how OTHERS see me, since I'm the one who answered the questions that yielded these results.

Advantages Correlate with Strenths

It's pretty clear to me that my Fascination Advantages directly correlate with the results of my StrengthsFinder 2.0 assessments and MBTI personality type. I'll be pulling all of this together soon, in a post that brings everything together.

In the meantime, here's Sally Hogshead on MarieTV talking about The Fascination Advantage. It's interesting to see that back in 2013 she was using some different terms for the Advantages. Innovation was once labeled as Rebellion, or something like that, even though it was still focused on creativity.

Have YOU taken The Fascination Advantage assessment? I'd love to hear what you think about the results. Leave me a comment! I'd love to hear from you.

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Intellection and Input: StrengthsFinder 2.0

Input and Intellection are two themes that emerged from the Strengths Finder 2.0 assessment I completed in 2007 that didn't show up in my 2012 results.

In 2012, Input and Intellection were replaced by Maximizer and Achiever. Three themes were common to both set of results: Strategic, Ideation and Leaner.

In this post I'll explore the meaning behind Input and Intellection and how I see how those two themes are reflected in my professional and personal life.

Characteristics of the Input Theme

“You are inquisitive.”

Strengths Finder 2.0, p. 125

I would sum up this theme as being driven by curiosity. I am endlessly curious. I am interested in just about everything. I was the kid who read the ChildCraft Encyclopedia to learn new things every day.

“Yours is the kind of mind that finds so many things interesting. The world is exciting precisely because of its infinite variety and complexity.”

Strengths Finder 2.0, p. 125

That describes me and my view of the world almost perfectly.

The Input theme also encompasses the acquisition of things and experiences, and I'm less inclined as an adult to collect tangible things.

You collect things. You might collect information — words, facts, books, and quotations — or you might collect tangible objects….

Strengths Finder 2.0, p. 125

I do have a sizable book collection, but I've had to start downsizing it over the years. And I've moved to Kindle (or PDF) for about 80% of what I'm reading now. I have an extensive collection of “information” in various Evernote folders and I love to curate content online. I used delicious for several years for bookmarking, before moving to systems.

I used to collect “things,” but eventually the lack of storage space and headaches of moving all the things became something of a burden, so I stopped collecting new things. I still have most of my old collections but they aren't on display. They're taking up space in my extra closets.

I love to take photographs to chronicle my travels and more local explorations. The photos serve as collections to remind me of experiences, even feelings, that emerged as a result of those places.

As I learned to cook during my early adolescent years I would expand my family's food horizon by cooking dishes I found in a cookbook called Food From Foreign Lands. I think that's representative of the Input theme.

The Input theme meshes well, I think, with Ideation and Learning because the Input reflects how I acquire the information needed to learn, grow and connect-the-dots between the disparate bits of information I need to see what's coming next, which is reflected in my Strategic theme.

My application of Input as a mechanism to feed my ability to generate new ideas and develop strategic plans is supported in this explanation of the Input theme by Brian Schubring of Leadership Vision Consulting.

Characteristics of the Intellection Theme

Intellection is all about thinking, exercising mental muscles. The Intellection theme encompasses a desire to have time alone to reflect on ideas.

Intellection is not particularly complicated: It's just about thinking, reflecting, musing. And it's not about thinking on “intellectual” topics. Thinking can be highly pragmatic, as well: What's for dinner? What just happened in that meeting?

Although I'm never so “lost in thought” that I miss an exit or turn on my drive home, I do like time to reflect on my day. I almost always wake up in time to have coffee at home while I journal, blog, or do some reflective activity to prepare me for the day ahead. I hate to have to roll out of bed, jump in the shower and dash off to work.

In reviewing some of the Ideas for Action in Strengths Finder 2.0 book, I ran across one that suggests explaining to coworkers why I like to work with the door closed. That makes sense.

Noise disturbs my thinking. My current office is located on a busy portico just off a primary entrance to my section of the building. Four faculty offices open into this portico and the sounds of their conversations with students carries directly into my own office. I suspect that those colleagues know why I close my door when it's not drop-in office hours, but students and other faculty probably do not. The faculty upstairs don't get the same amount of traffic passing by their doors each day so they probably don't understand why I close the door.

I found this blog post that provides a good description of how Intellection can play out in daily life. I'm actually good at listening to a complete conversation, rather than tuning someone out while I revel in processing something they just said. But that's something that comes with practice.

As a lawyer, it's necessary to listen to every word that's spoken in a negotiation or client interview. The time to process that information comes after hearing it. A lawyer who isn't listening is likely to miss a clue to how to move the deal forward.

I suspect that Intellection was highly relevant in 2007 when I was practicing law, more necessary than in my work as a college professor teaching undergraduates. You'd think that “thinking” is a big part of life as a college professor, but it's really not, at least not in a pre-professional degree program where students have little-to-no experience in real world application of the subject matter.

Relevance of Input and Intellection Themes Today

For reasons I've touched on above, I think Input and Intellection are both fairly dominant themes in my life, but Intellection has been less prevalent on the professional side of my life since I returned to academia in 2009. The courses I've been teaching don't require much deep thinking and reflection on my part. There's a lot of prep work and grading, but not deep due to the subject matter and nature of the degree program. [That was different when I taught and mentored graduate students while at Oklahoma State.]

Input is still quite relevant in my life, but it was probably replaced by Maximizer and Achiever as dominant themes because of a need for, and desire to, gain professional recognition at an academic institution where I seem(ed) invisible.

I suspect that if I took the Strengths Finder 2.0 test today, as I embark on a new chapter of my professional life, the dominant themes would be ranked this way:

  • Strategic
  • Ideation
  • Learner
  • Input
  • Maximizer
  • Achiever
  • Intellection

Although Achiever and Intellection might be reversed in order. In fact, it's hard for me to say where Achiever fits in the list. I do have a strong desire to do new things, start and finish new projects, but it's more of an internal drive for the most part. That said, I also have a need to “achieve” to be respected professionally, so it's not entirely internal. That, I suppose, relates to ambition and respect, which are different topics. So I digress….

Have you taken the Strengths Finder 2.0 assessment? Do you think the themes reflect your true strengths and needs? Leave a comment. I'd love to connect.

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Maximizer & Achiever: Strengths Finder 2.0

In my previous post I introduced the results to my two Strengths Finder 2.0 assessments (2007 and 2012). That post focused on the three themes common to both assessments: Strategic, Ideation and Learner.

In this post, I continue the Strengths Finder 2.0 discussion with a look at the two themes that appeared in 2012 that weren't present in 2007: Achiever and Maximizer.

Characteristics of the Achiever

Achievers value achievement. Duh. What, exactly does that mean?

The definition of Achiever is someone who must, every day, “achieve something tangible in order to feel good” about himself or herself.

For the Achiever, “every day starts at zero” [Strengths Finder 2.0 book] The Achiever is described as someone who must achieve something every single day—rest is not an option.

The “relentless need for achievement” inspires a “whisper of discontent” that provides a “jolt you can always count on” to “work long hours without burning out.” [Strengths Finder 2.0, p. 37.]

“You have an internal fire burning inside [that] pushes you to do more, to achieve more.”

Strengths Finder 2.0, p. 37

So is this me? In a tiny way, perhaps yes. But not in the workaholic-never-rest-always-be-achieving sense.

But the Report that accompanied my 2012 results paints a more interesting picture of the Achiever:

Instinctively, you put a lot of effort into telling a story. You strive to amuse, entertain, or inform your audience. You have a reputation for setting the scene, making characters come alive, and capturing the drama of a situation. Chances are good that you sometimes enjoy launching new initiatives. Perhaps you have a reputation for knowing how to get projects moving forward. By nature, you often labor long and hard to produce excellent results.

I do have a lot that I want to accomplish in my life, but that's more a function of having many interests than a need to “achieve” something as a way to check off a box or prove myself to anyone else.

When I'm doing something interesting and that I enjoy doing (and that I've chosen to do), I can work really long hours. But I can't work long hours doing something I dislike or did not choose to do, not matter how much I feel a general need for achievement.

If the activity isn't interesting to me or at least consistent with serving my higher purpose, I'll burn out very quickly.

My 2012 Report also points out that I need independence in my work, control over what I do, and time for solitude.

In some ways, I think this Achiever result might have been a function of where I was in 2012: Deep into a situation where I felt as though I were stagnating. No matter what I did I had no sense of accomplishment, no sense of purpose. It's possible that my definition of achievement is somewhat situational and the sense of achievement is, for sure, more personal than external.

I'm not a workaholic in the sense that I have a need to always be distracting myself from my life by working at some task simply to achieve.

I don't like to waste time on mindless trivial activities. I don't watch TV and I no longer pay attention to celebrity news (or even political punditry). As I've written about elsewhere, I stopped consuming sports media because I have too many things I want to accomplish in my life.

My time is valuable so I don't like to waste it in mundane, meaningless distractions. I prefer to use my time to do something that serves some higher purpose that resonates with my values. In that sense, I am achievement oriented.

Characteristics of the Maximizer

Maximizing is about taking things to the next level to achieve excellence. To move from good to great, as Curt Liesveld said in Gallup's Theme Thursday video (embedded at the end of the next section).

The Maximizer knows or comes to know his or her talents and strengths and takes affirmative action to improve those talents. Maximizers tend to prefer to work alone, according to the Report that accompanied my results.

Excellence, not average, is your measure.

You don't want to spend your life bemoaning what you lack. Rather, you want to capitalize on the gifts with which you are blessed.

Strengths Finder 2.0, p. 137

I definitely identify with the Maximizer theme. I struggle to understand how anyone can be satisfied with doing something half-way or “just good enough.” I sometimes struggle to let go of my own perfectionism, even when I know that OK is, for the situation, perfectly good enough.

….A commitment to excellence that leads to quality outcomes.

Curt Liesveld: Gallup's Theme Thursday video (see below)

Maximizer falls under the Influencing domain and inhabits roughly 17% of all individuals’ top five strengths.

Gallup Strengths Coaches' Playbook

The Maximizer theme is most often paired with the Strategic theme, according to the Gallup's Theme Thursday video embedded below. Maximizers are also often correlated with the Achiever theme.

Achiever vs. Maximizer: What's the Difference?

It's a bit tricky, at least on the surface, to see how these two themes are different. So I set out to do my research.

Maximizer falls under the Influencing domain and inhabits roughly 17% of all individuals’ top five strengths. The Strategic and Achiever themes are most likely to be paired with Maximizer….

Gallup Strengths Coaches' Playbook

As the speaker in the video points out, if you want to achieve excellence you must work hard so the achiever and maximizer themes are clearly interrelated.

According to this synopsis of the StrengthsFinder 2.0 themes:

  • Achievers “have a great deal of stamina and work hard. They take great satisfaction from being busy and productive.”
  • Maximizers “focus on strengths as a way to stimulate personal and group excellence. They seek to transform something strong into something superb.”

I suspect that I'm probably more of a Maximizer than Achiever, in a universal sense. But my Achiever tendency is strong, albeit it in a more personal context. I want to Achieve for myself, rather than to prove anything to the external world.


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Strategic, Ideation, Learner: StrengthsFinder 2.0 Themes

StrengthsFinder 2.0 is an assessment system developed by social scientists at The Gallup Organization to identify clusters of behavioral and attitudinal variables classified into themes or “strengths.”

The system was built on the research of Dr. Donald O. Clifton (1924-2003)  dubbed the “Father of Strengths Psychology.” The original StrengthsFinder system was updated in 2007 as StrengthsFinder 2.0 to reflect additional research.

The motivation for creating this assessment system is based on the idea that humans will be more effective and successful if they know what their strengths are and play to those strengths. The idea is analogous to swimming against the current. We can get a lot farther along the way, if we’re swimming with the current, rather than fighting it.

In the workplace, the idea is that teams should be comprised of the right balance of individuals with complementary strengths to maximize organizational performance.

StrengthsFinder 2.0 Results

I’ve taken the StrengthsFinder 2.0 assessment twice. The first time, in Fall 2007, I took it as part of a workplace assessment. Everyone in the law firm took the assessment with the idea that we could use this information to create teams to work on various client problems. The second time, in June 2012, I received a code to take the test again as part of a leadership training program I was in.

In this post, I’ll delve into the Strengths themes identified in my StrengthsFinder 2.0 results. If you’re following along, I’m writing a series of posts where I review and contemplate the results of various personality and similar tests. I’ve finished my deep-dive into MBTI results (four posts) and also reflected on the MoralDNA results and how the Strong Campbell Interest Inventory themes from my college orientation assessment are reflected in later career and life developments. The motivation behind this exercise is to help me find a way to do a better job of telling my story.

The results from my two assessments were fairly consistent, with three of the five themes showing up in both results.

2007 Themes

  • Strategic
  • Input
  • Learner
  • Ideation
  • Intellection

2012 Themes

  • Ideation
  • Strategic
  • Learner
  • Maximizer
  • Achiever

Strategic, Ideation and Learner were the three themes that appeared in both results. In fact, Strategic was #1 on the list in 2007 and #2 in 2012. ’ll cover those in this post and the others in future posts.

What’s interesting is that I can clearly identify how the disparate themes: Input, Intellection, Maximizer, Achiever probably surfaced in 2007 and 2012. I strongly suspect that these themes reflect particular frustrations I was feeling at the time.


The Strategic theme relates to a unique way of thinking and viewing the world.

“[The Strategic theme] enables you to sort through the clutter and find the best route. It is not a skill that can be taught. It is a distinct way of thinking, a special perspective on the world at large.”

StrengthsFinder 2.0, p. 165

Strategists identify issues, find patterns and look for alternatives.

Keywords and phrases associated with the Strategic Theme:

  • Self-reliant
  • Identify patterns in complex data
  • Develop innovative ideas
  • “Propose systematic programs of action”

“You frequently identify ways to transform an obstacle into an opportunity.”

StrengthsFinder 2.0 Report



“You are delighted when you discover beneath the the complex surface an elegantly simple concept to explain why things are the way they are….Yours is the kind of mind that is always looking for connections….”

StrengthsFinder 2.0, p. 113


Ideation is not about accepting information at face-value. The Ideator delves beneath the surface to compare, contrast, verify, and relate.

In a nutshell, someone with the Ideation theme likes to look at the world from a variety of angles and find commonalities. We are the dot-connectors.

Keywords and phrases associated with the Ideation Theme:

  • Creative
  • Original
  • Conceptual
  • Smart

My StrengthsFinder Report says this about Ideation:

“Acquiring knowledge and skills each day adds zest to your life.”

And that is the perfect segue into the next theme.


This one is pretty straightforward. Learners love to learn and they love the process of learning. It’s not about becoming the subject-matter expert: Learning is about the journey.

“[Learning] enables you to thrive in dynamic work environments where you are asked to take on short project assignments and are expected to learn a lot about the new subject matter in a short period of time and then move on to the next one.”

StrengthsFinder 2.0, p. 133

The Learner is someone who quickly learns new words and grasps new concepts with relative ease.

The Learner theme also includes several references to a desire for quiet time for reading and reflecting.

“You thrive in situations where you can test your talents as well as your endurance to discover how much you can accomplish. You need to prove yourself to yourself each day.”

StrengthsFinder Report, Learner

I'm closing this post with the quote about the need to prove myself each day because it directly relates to the two themes I'll be covering in my next post: Achiever and Maximizer.

Have you taken the StrengthsFinder assessment? I know my friend Wade Kwon has written about wondering what to do with the StrengthsFinder results.

As I see it, this whole process of self-discovery through a systematic review of the qualitative data associated with all these tests is definitely revealing common themes across multiple measures. I'm about 70% of the way through my dataset right now, and I'm really starting to understand how I plan to use what I'm learning about myself.

There's a Strategy that's emerging from the process of Learning about myself through the MBTI and other data. Connecting-the-dots is exactly what we do in the Ideation theme.



The Enterprising Artistic Adventurer

Somehow I managed to hold onto an old computer printout of the results from a college orientation vocational interests assessment, the Strong-Campbell Interest Inventory.

I ran across it recently in a folder where I'd stored all my old test scores, transcripts and similar documentation as I embarked on this exercise to compare the results of a plethora of assessments measuring my strengths, interests and advantages. I hadn't looked at this printout in decades. I really can't believe I still have it. [Actually, I'm not surprised—I'm one of those “Know Thyself” types.]

The paper is yellowed and faded now, but the “themes” where I scored the highest back in 1980 are similar to the adjectives that I've been assigned in more recent assessments.

On the surface, I could easily see consistencies between my Strengths Finder 2.0 scores, Sally Hogshead’s Fascination Advantage profile and the results from this old SCII measurement taken when I was 17 years old and about start college.

The apparent similarities sent me off to learn more about the Strong-Campbell Interest Inventory and precisely how the themes are defined and described.

My Strong Interest Inventory Results

Circa 1980. The test was known in those days as the Strong-Campbell Interest Inventory or SCII.

General Occupational Themes

The SCII classifies responses into six General Occupational Themes. These themes are: Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising and Conventional.

The General Occupational Themes where I scored the highest were:

Enterprising (58, high score)

Artistic (61, moderately high score)

Since the printout had no definitional key to explain what these themes meant, I went looking online and found this helpful guide that explains the General Occupational Themes in the SCII.


“The extreme types have a great facility with words, which they put to effective use in selling, dominating, and leading; frequently they are in sales. They see themselves as energetic, enthusiastic, adventurous, self-confident, and dominant. They like social tasks where they can take control. They don’t like prolonged mental effort in solving problems. The[y] like power, status, and material wealth, and working in expensive places. Some typical jobs include business executive, buyer, hotel manager, industrial relations consultant, political campaigner, realtor, and television producer.” [Emphasis mine.]


“These people like to work in artistic settings where there are many opportunities for self-expression. They have little interest in problems that are highly structured or that require gross physical effort. They describe themselves as independent, original, unconventional, expressive and tense. The like jobs such as artist, author, cartoonist, composer, singer, dramatic coach, etc.” [Emphasis mine.]

SII Hexagon Enterprising Focus


What’s most interesting is to consider what it means that the Enterprising and Artistic themes are on opposite sides of the hexagon. According to the UCF site

“….most people are more than one type, but it’s rare to have people similar to opposite points.”

Once again, I'm outside the box. Not easily pigeonholed.

Basic Interest Scale

The SCII Basic Interest Scale is used to cluster various interests into the six General Occupational Themes.

My highest match on the Basic Interest Scale was in Adventure, which falls within the Realistic theme.

This is interesting because I only had an average score for the Realistic theme, which is mostly aligned with people who work outdoors in construction or military. But the Realistic theme description also encompasses activities associated with nature and general physical strength.

Taking into account my interest then (and now) for nature, running, and simply being outdoors, it's no surprise that my responses yielded a high interest in Adventure.

The Enterprising Theme includes several interests where I scored highly: public speaking, law and politics. I was definitely attuned to all three of those in 1980. Of course, I became a lawyer and I’ve always loved public speaking.

As might be expected I scored high match with an interest in writing in the Artistic theme cluster. More interesting is how well I matched up with music/dramatics/art in terms of the basic interest scales. Same value as for Adventure. I was active in band in high school and interested in theatre and drama (even though I never was in drama classes–no time due to other courses I had to take).

Strong-Cambell Interest Inventory results from 1980

Occupational Scales

In terms of specific occupational similarities, my SCII responses in 1980 correlated very highly with females working as advertising executives, lawyers, life insurance agents, and accountants.

I also had high similarities with various types of teachers, flight attendants and army officers. I suspect the latter two correlated due to my Adventure score.

It’s intriguing to see the correlation with female advertising executives in light of how I’ve evolved into the realm of social media marketing and strategic communication outside of politics and law.

What's Next?

Although I’m not absolutely certain, I think I may have taken the SCII again in 1996, or perhaps some type of assessment more suited for mid-career evaluations. I know I did some type of assessment around the time I decided to take the GRE and consider more graduate education. But those results aren't in my folder, so I may not find them any time soon.

Any, I’m having a lot of fun with this self-exploration project and can’t wait to put all the pieces of the puzzle together. It’s almost like I’m assembly the building blocks for some type of memoir about my life.

Discover. [Be]Inspire[d]. Grow. Shine.

Have you ever taken the SCII? Did you find the results to be consistent with your perceived interests and strengths? Have you ever compared those results to your MBTI assessment?

Do you think these types of assessments are fun?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on your own experiences with interests, strengths and related types of tests.


Extroverted Introvert–Or Vice Versa?

I'll admit to a fondness for personality-type tests. Maybe fondness is the wrong word. Intrigue? Fascination? Curiosity?

That's it. I think I'm curious about personality and Strengths-Finder tests. Always have been, at least since one of the career assessment tests I took as a young adult matched me with journalist or air traffic controller.

A year or so after I scored compatible with air traffic controllers, then-President Ronald Reagan “dispatched” all the air traffic controllers into the neverland of career-dom.

In grad school, I discovered Albert Bandura and have been fascinated by the self-efficacy hypothesis and how that plays into life-successes.

Introvert or Extrovert?

The introvert-extrovert dichotomy has intrigued me the most. If I had to classify myself, I'd say that “in real life” I tend to be an introvert because, all things being equal (most of the time), I like to stay home and read a book. I need down-time to recharge my batteries, and I enjoy my own company. But another side of me also enjoys meeting new people and I'm very comfortable when talking to strangers.

It's much harder for me to make small-talk with people I have some regular familiarity with than it is for me to have a conversation with a stranger. I'm extroverted with strangers, more reserved with casual, ongoing acquaintances. Is that strange?

I have no problem getting on a plane and flying to another part of the world and making new friends. I love chatting up new friends online. But once it goes beyond the acquaintance level it's much more difficult for me to sustain the relationship.

I think the internet enhances my extroversion, rather than the other way round.

What's that all about?

Strengths Finder 2.0

When I returned to law practice in 2007 after a 5-year hiatus, I took the Strengths Finder 2.0 test. All of the lawyers were asked to take the test so we could use these strengths to develop teams to maximize efficiency and effectiveness in representing clients.The results of that 2007 version of my Strengths Finder 2.0  test revealed my top 5 strengths were:

Strategic, Input, Learner, Ideation and Intellection.

In 2012 I took the Strengths Finder 2.0 test for  a second time, as part of a sustainable food systems leadership training program I went through. The results were quite similar, although not identical: Ideation, Strategic, Learner, Maximizer, Achiever.


Intuitively speaking, I think the 2012 results are more accurate.

Meyers Briggs

I've taken the Meyers-Briggs tests a couple of times. I usually score mildly-introverted, strongly intuitive , but less definitive between thinking/feeling. I'm pretty logical, but also open to making decisions based on the situation.

For the most part, I tend toward introversion, but never strong. I'm always borderline between introvert/extrovert (lean introvert) and more inclined to special circumstances (“feeling”). Regardless of when I take the test, I score pretty strong as Intuitive and Perceiving.

Specifically, the Meyers-Briggs Personality Indicator® test is designed to measure attributes that evaluate your personality based on these criteria:

  • Favorite world: Do you prefer to focus on the outer world or on your own inner world? This is called Extraversion (E) or Introversion (I)[I split the difference here, with a tendency toward Introversion]
  • Information: Do you prefer to focus on the basic information you take in or do you prefer to interpret and add meaning? This is called Sensing (S) or Intuition (N)[Always score as highly Intuitive.]
  • Decisions: When making decisions, do you prefer to first look at logic and consistency or first look at the people and special circumstances? This is called Thinking (T) or Feeling (F).[Again, in this one, it depends on when I take the test. TI tend toward being inclined toward decisions based on feeling, at least in my later years of adulthood.]
  • Structure: In dealing with the outside world, do you prefer to get things decided or do you prefer to stay open to new information and options? This is called Judging (J) or Perceiving (P). [I display Very strong Perceiving tendencies.]

In the celebrity-version of the Meyers-Briggs tests, I scored INFP:

Kindred-celebrity INFPs include: John Lennon, A.A. Milne (Winnie-the-Pool, dig it!), C.S. Lewis, Thom Yorke, Morrissey, Louis CK, Kurt Cobain, Björk. Ancient history INFPs include George Orwell (1984) and Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

I'll take these kindred spirits.

What do you thing? Legit or not? Id love to hear your thoughts. Scroll down past these infographics and leave your comments.

In the world of Harry Potter, I'm a cross between Hermoine Granger, Lorna Lovegood, Ron Weasley and Sirius Black. No disagreements there.

Harry Potter Meyers Briggs


According to the Star Wars version, I've matched with Luke Skywalker, Yoda, Qui-Gon Jinn and R2D2. Dig it!

If you're into Meyers-Briggs and Star Wars you'll enjoy this infographic:

Star Wars MBTI Chart

Explore more infographics like this one on the web's largest information design community – Visually.

In the land of Downton Abbey, I'm somewhere between Matthew, Tom, Anna and Thomas. Although I don't dispute those results, I'm quite not as excited about them as the Harry Potter or Star Wars match. (I think it's the Thomas bit–he's too much of a conniver and manipulating opportunist). But I do LOVE the show. My friend Rachel who blogs at GraspingForObjectivity created the Downton Abbey MBTI infographic. If you like, it send her some social sharing love.

downton abbey mtbi poster by rachel