Episode 74 – Jim Collison | CliftonStrengths Community Manager Gallup

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In this episode I chat with Jim Collison, a powerhouse Talent Acquisition and CliftonStrengths Community Manager at Gallup.

Jim brings his incredible knowledge of people, podcasting and purpose to this discussion. He has facilitated and been featured on over 1000 podcasts and generously shares his top tips on the podcast process – including how to make other experts look even better and the keys to being a pro-interviewer.

We also discuss his journey of Strengths discovery, the impact it’s had on his relationships, the positives from the pandemic, and how to start being a better leader by shining the light on others.

Key episode highlights include:

  • It’s all about the person you’re interviewing, it’s not about you. Make other people the big deal.
  • The less the agenda is about you and the more the agenda is about your kids/spouse/team members/employees, the more effective it is. 
  • When you find the thing that inspires you, boundaries don’t matter. What matters is the flow.
  • Strengthening partnerships starts with one simple question: What can I do for you today?

You can discover the work Jim does at Gallup by heading to Gallup – Coaching, tuning into The Average Guy Network and Ask the Podcast Coach.

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Murray Guest  00:01

Jim, I am so excited to be catching up with you on the podcast, I have known you for, it must be four years. And I’ve heard your voice dozens, if not hundreds of times. So great to have you on the podcast. How’ve you been? How are you this week? 


Jim Collison  00:18

Muz, great to be with you. Sorry in advance that you had to listen to that voice hundreds of times. But I hope it’s been helpful.


Murray Guest  00:26

Definitely been helpful. You are a leader, obviously, in the strengths industry, in the strengths movement, and helping people really more deeply understand what it means to really focus on what it is that makes them so unique. Now, I want to ask you something that I don’t know the answer to to kick us off. Why strength for you?


Jim Collison  00:51

That’s a good, it’s a super good question. Probably 15 years ago, I was a part of an organization that had been purchased by another organization. And we were the one that got bought. And so we were sitting around because there wasn’t a lot to do you know, in the in between time. So I was kind of looking for some things to do. And I came across that book First Break All The Rules. It had to be I mean, it was a brand new book at the time. And I read through it cover to cover and I went oh my gosh, like, not only do I want to be led this way, I want to lead my family this way. And I took that book kind of as a as a parenting guide, kind of crazy. Well, the follow on to that is Now Discover Your Strengths. And so I looked around the building, of the organization I was part of. It had been an early adopter of strengths. And it had never made it to our department. So I looked around the building and found Now Discover Your Strengths and took the assessment. And for the first time ever, kind of nailed me as an individual. Kind of like, yes!


Murray Guest  01:57

Had you done other assessments before strengths?


Jim Collison  02:03

No I really hadn’t. That had just not been a part of a part of what I done. But after taking that one, I remember taking it home and saying not only do we need to parent this way, but this thing really nailed me. And we got a book for Sarah, my wife. And she took it and I think for the first time I understood our marriage. Well, it’s like, oh, okay, so, you know, 15 years ago, early in the strength journey, you know, never could have predicted that my life would have turned out to be what it is today of podcasting a couple times a week on the subject, it seems like especially here during the pandemic. And so that was the early genesis of it that was this opportunity to, to to see it for real, in how those, I hear this experience from people who take it. And I see them online, I talked to them on Facebook, it and that never gets old because that was that was my experience as well.


Murray Guest  02:58

So when you say you really understood your marriage, and I guess the key part of that is understanding Sarah, is there a partnership or a complementary strengths that happened between you and Sarah in your relationship?


Jim Collison  03:13

We finally understood or at least I finally understood our opposites, right? They always say opposites attract. And for the longest time, I never, I never really understood her belief. And I didn’t know what to call it. But I have, I have so little of that I have so much situational ethics, I have so much fire fighting in the moment, I have so many shades of grey. And she is black and white with belief like belief, discipline, one, two for her. And I just didn’t think that was possible in a person, just to be honest, like I was like, there is no way anybody can be that disciplined, and then have those values and beliefs that are so locked in. And so I doubted it for a lot of years. And I just I just didn’t think it could be true. And in some cases, I kind of fought it. And that was not good for our marriage. And so once I understood I could trust it. It was true. It was what she said it was, well that that changed a lot of things for us. And you know, it’s not like the sun came out and rainbows appeared. And they’re unicorns. We still had lots of work to do. Yeah, but it began the process of some, some healing and some moving forward and some other things we struggle with early in our marriage. It was a significant moment.


Murray Guest  04:30

Yeah, for Tammy and I it was her activator and connectedness versus my responsibility. And we would, I would say get triggered at times. Where early on it’d be like, she would say, let’s go for a holiday. Let’s just go! And I’m like, hang on, hang on. We got to organize, have we balanced it out? Have we worked it out with my ex wife, with the kids? Have we budgeted for this? She goes, No it’s all going to work out. My connectedness says it’s all going to work, let’s just go. And I could feel internally that this this was wrong.


Jim Collison  05:05

You know, when we were the we were the opposite of you guys. I’m like, Hey, let’s just go figure this thing out, right? We’ll be fine. Let’s just go figure it out. Let’s get one step at a time, we’ll figure it out. And she wanted to know all the details, she kind of, she needed that stability she wanted, she needed to know, way ahead of what things were happening. And it was it was difficult for us for sure. I’m sure you felt that as well.


Murray Guest  05:32

Yeah. And I would say that, again, like, similar to your story there for us, it’s been a way to have the conversations without getting emotional, not negative emotion. So just saying a helpful emotional way of really understanding each other. And to help say, oh so that’s the way you see the world. And a link here that I can draw, I’ve ran lots of workshops with teams, and the slide with the Don Clifton quote, which says, Let’s look at what’s right with people not fixate on what’s wrong with them. Honestly, Jim, early on, I would sort of introduce that quote, and just move on. And I then came to this realization, we need to really just talk about what does it mean to make people right. And now I have, in sessions, had half an hour to an hour conversations, not even talking about strengths, how do we make people right? And I think that’s what we brought into our marriage. So is that what you think has also happened in your broader family about how we see each other in a way that we look at each other and making each other right, and you know, those differences and appreciating those? 


Jim Collison  06:45

Yeah that’s a really good question. And we started parenting our children kind of with this mindset of let’s figure out what they’re good at. And then let’s really give them every opportunity to do that. And, you know, again, a good example of, you know, you think so, okay, that’s gonna lead to these perfect kids that are going to do these things, right. And, you know, my oldest, big kid, great football player, and we did everything we could to encourage him in the sport to play. And I remember having a conversation, he could have played the one level, maybe scholarship level, here in the United States pretty easily. And I said, you know, we need to do a few things. This was like his junior year, we’re gonna need to do a few things if you’re going to do that, to put you in a position. He goes, Yeah, I’m not really interested in that. Like, it was, he didn’t think about or he had thought about it in advance. He goes, ah my shoulder hurts, and my knees aren’t very good. I don’t want to be crippled for the rest of my life. And you had this realization, like, Oh, as a parent, I was kind of hoping he would continue to play football and none of the other kids were, were athletically inclined. And so this was going to be, for the most part, the end of our kind of sports with our kids. And, but that didn’t mean I kept… Yeah, he was good at it. But that doesn’t mean I just keep pushing him. You know, like, wow, that’s, that’s too bad for you, you’re gonna do this thing. It also means listening. And saying when they say, Hmm, you know, and he had he had solid reasons. Now, there’s been, you know, there’s been times my kids have said, Yeah, I’m not really interested in school, I’m not going to do my homework. And you go, you don’t have a choice. This is what you need to do. Right? So there’s, there’s differences in that, but Muz we really spent an enormous amount of time trying to figure out, where do their gifts and their talents lie. We’ve had top five taken for all the kids. And in not just what their themes are, but then what are those areas where they invest and they really become strengths. And then how can we encourage more of that, and that’s not perfect, by the way, it’s super, super hard to do. Because they don’t know themselves. And so, but but we have spent, you know, the last 15 years really kind of working on that. My youngest daughter is now a senior in college in in a journalism program. And she’s a great example of you know, she was really good at math. And her math teacher was like, she can go places with math. And she’s like, I hate math. I do not want to do this long term. I want to be a journalist. And so we sent her to a j school at a local college around here, I just dropped her off tonight, that’s got a really great program, and she’s thriving in it. And so you know, if we would have followed maybe even her teacher’s recommendations without really talking to her about it and saying, what are your passions? What are you really good at? She’s great at writing and editing and all those things as well. We would have missed it, you know, and so there’s sometimes I think, too, there’s, realizing what they don’t want to do, even if they have the natural talent and aptitude. Maybe it’ll come back at another time. She recognizes it.


Murray Guest  09:57

Do you think that’s also a difference between being good at something, and something that you really love doing that energizes you and you thrive at.


Jim Collison  10:04

Yeah, right on, I’m a really good test taker, like, I am really good at taking tests, but then that information is gone, you would not want me as your doctor, I’d study for the test, and I’d be able to do it on game day. But then, you know, when it came to the actual, practical application of it, I need to do things over and over and over again, you know, I’m a better talker than I am, you know, in science or in math. So, yeah, I do think there are things we’re good at, that we don’t, you know, those things are good every once in a while, but that’s definitely, you know, maybe not where we want to lean all of our time into, and Muz, I think, let me ask you this, let me reverse, you know, the roles here. I think sometimes those things change over time, as well. In other words, I, I discovered some things I get good at it, I do it for a while. And then I kind of figure like, okay, it’s been a season for me, have you had that experience where you’ve done something well for a while, you really enjoyed it, and then it kind of it changes on you?


Murray Guest  11:03

Yeah, well, I reflect back early in my career, being a quality manager, and I would crunch numbers around quality data, using Excel and Access and, you know, out of a data cube and doing all of that. And honestly, Jim, that does not excite me thinking about doing that at all right now. Put me in front of a group of people, you know, getting a chance to talk to someone like you like we are today, that fills me up, that energizes me. Whereas that and, and to find out Communication is, you know, number three in my top five was not a surprise.


Jim Collison  11:39

It’s very similar. I was a data warehousing engineer at the bank when just before they got bought, and I wrote sql. I wrote code, and I was okay at it. I enjoyed doing it. But it’s not something I’d want to do. I’ve done some project management. Nah, that’s not. It’s okay. I can do it. When I got the opportunity to start podcasting, you know, about 11 years ago now and 10 years with my own program. And then about eight years at Gallup, I found, for now, you know I say that people think that this is a foregone conclusion that I’m going to do this forever. And I’m like, right now, it’s great. I don’t know if it’s gonna last forever. I got to make hay while the sun is shining. So I’m doing as much as I can with it now. But that Woo, Communication, back loaded with some Maximizer in there, the Arranger and Activator, they’re perfect in filling that role, that that window may not always be open. But while it is I am. You know, I’m running through it as fast as I can.


Murray Guest  12:44

I think the fact that there have been, what is it? Six seasons? Eight seasons? Of Called To Coach, it links back to what would sort of alluding to here with strengths that there’s a real depth of understanding. It’s not like, hey, we’ve talked about the top the 34 themes, tick the box.


Jim Collison  13:02

Yeah, six seasons of Theme Thursday. Where that’s literally all we do, is talk about the themes. I joke, when I’m around strengths folks, I always joke and say, you know, we get sometimes we get stuck in the name it, name it and name it, we never actually aim that thing towards something. And then I’m a hypocrite because I go right back to the six years of Theme Thursday, that is literally a name it, name it and name it exercise. But it speaks to the depth, right? Each season kind of has a different focus on this. And so the depth alone allows us to continue to work in that space and do those kinds of things.


Murray Guest  13:39

I want to ask you about your experience in podcasting. So I’ve got way less experience than yourself, but I’m absolutely loving it and getting some lessons. What have been some of the biggest lessons you’ve got just by doing podcasting as a, as a thing that you’ve been doing for so long now?


Jim Collison  13:57

Yeah, the number one thing I learned in this is that it’s my job as a podcaster as a web caster, as a broadcaster, whatever you want to call it, interview or whatever. Is to make other people the big deal. Like when I realize it’s my job to amplify other people’s messages, when it’s my job to make other people look great. When it’s my job to get out of the way and let other people have their time in the sun and to shine. It exploded. The you know, the effectiveness of it exploded, as far as it being the people listening to it and people using it, getting out of the way and letting the guest shine. That’s, that’s my job is to stay out of the way. Now, because I’m there and because I say those crazy things, I am Jim Collison and live from the Gallup studios for whatever, right, whatever we’re doing, I’m associated with it. And so I have some I have some recognition with that and it’s good. It’s just enough for me, but I’m not the expert. Right, it’s my job to find the experts. And to make the experts look great. And I think if anything that I’ve learned in this, that’s what I’ve learned is I’m, I’m, I am a good, I’m a good amplifier. I am a good at, hopefully, I’m good at making other people look great. And if that’s what I’m doing, then I’m happy.


Murray Guest  15:24

Can I add to your greatness, if I may? Because I want to highlight you today. It’s asking really good questions, which actually links to being a really good listener. And, and I can hear in the questions you ask, it’s, again, building off what that person is saying, creating this opportunity for them to to shine, and the question you’re asking is giving them that opportunity to do that. And I love the way you do that.


Jim Collison  15:53

It takes a little bit of practice, though Muz, to be honest, like, you know, people say, how do you do it the way you do it? And I said, what I’ve done it 1500 times, you know, I’ve done it, maybe 2000 times like it. I was just driving home tonight thinking I’m doing another podcast next weekend. And they’re gonna ask me like, how many podcasts have you done, and I was starting to piece them together. I think I’ve done, at first I thought like 1000. And then like, No, I think I’ve got a few more. Not bragging about the number that I’ve done. But just understanding the amount of practice, right, is that talent plus investment. That that that adds to this to this equation, right? Or I think it’s times in you, you just picked up a few things along the way. And so yeah, the ability to hear what people are saying, and then they’ll they’ll clue in to one little thing, and you hang on that for a second and then come back around and allow them to expand that out or know just enough things to kind of keep that conversation going. Know the right questions to ask at the right time. To really to really let them shine. Yeah, it’s practice. Like at the end of the day, it’s just practice.


Murray Guest  17:09

I think there’s a link here to coaching and I remember early on in high performance coaching program I did years and years ago, and that message of it’s all about the coachee, not the coach. And for you I’m hearing it’s all about the person you’re interviewing, not about you.


Jim Collison  17:23

Correct. Yeah. Correct. It’s, it’s really about giving them and setting them up to just to put the best foot forward they can and making them feel comfortable. I think this is okay. So that was one, making a big deal. But in the conversation, the second thing is, how do you make people feel comfortable? You know, and tonight, as we were connecting, you know, you’re like, yeah, you’re kind of relaxed. And I’m like, Well, if I was nervous, that would make you nervous. And we may not have that great of a conversation. I feel like it’s my job as the host. When people come on, even if the world is collapsing around us. I have to say, I got this, like, there’s almost, I tell guests, there’s nothing you can do I can’t fix. So don’t worry about that. Like, don’t think about that. You know, don’t worry about the lining. And don’t worry about your microphone, I’ve got all that, I’ll take care of, I’ve done this so many times. I can do this with my eyes closed or sleeping in some cases, because I do dream about podcasting sometimes. Right, it’s my job to make them feel comfortable.


Murray Guest  18:25

So let’s draw a link to the leaders that listen to my podcast. If I’m a leader, and I want to be better at shining the light on someone, creating opportunities for them to grow, and helping them feel relaxed and confident. What’s the lesson from podcasting of how we do that, that leaders could take on? What’s your tip there?


Jim Collison  18:46

As a leader, you got to give up everything. Because, you know, we go into podcasting thinking this is going to be my show. Yeah, like, or this is going to be my thing. And I have to give that up and say, No, this isn’t about me. This is about the other people I’m having on, this is about what’s going on in their world. And I did give that up. And I think leaders, the really good ones get this naturally is that it’s never about me as a leader and how to advance my career. It’s always about advancing the careers of those around me. And, and rising tides lifts all boats. All ships, right. And so it really to be honest with you, if you’re a leader give up on that anyways, there’s, there’s nothing in that, like, you don’t want that next position, just to be 100% honest with you. You’ve got one right in front of you now. And as we record this, you know, it’s October of 2020. Muz we’re in the middle of a crisis. And we need good leaders to kind of give up on themselves and their career and say, How can I advance the careers of others? What can I do to bring this team together and move them forward? The best thing for your career is maybe giving up on it, then really leading people compassionately.


Murray Guest  20:03

I’m loving that we’re having a three hour conversation today, Jim about ego and letting go of the ego. So let’s do this. But you’re right. And can I just say you draw attention to a crisis, let’s just say we’ve got multiple of those at the moment. There’s lots going on. I actually, it’s funny, I think no matter where you are in your role as a leader in an organization, which which point you’re at, whether you’re a new leader, up and coming leader, or you’re, you know, heading towards the end of your career, and it’s about the legacy, it is about the people and those leaders you create around you to lift. Can I ask, just to peel back the layer one more bit? The letting go – what was that like as a journey? I’m sure that wasn’t just a flick of the switch one afternoon? 


Jim Collison  20:55

No it was kind of something I had to realize, even through parenting, was that the less the agenda was about me, and the more of the agenda was about my kids or, or about my marriage, the better it became, the more effective it was. And, and I actually early on, I managed at Gallup and I don’t know if was the best experience because I hadn’t seen yet that this wasn’t really about me. And so maybe, you know, maybe a decade ago that began to kind of really settle in. And I remember and like you said, it’s not like a switch flipped. But I remember at some point thinking, you know, it’s my job to make other people a big deal. Muz when I started doing that, right, when I realized that, my attitude about people changed. And the way I approach people changed. And I began thinking, I don’t care what’s in it for me. Like, this isn’t about me. I don’t care. In fact, oftentimes I have to be, I push things back. Because people want me in them. And I’m like, No, no, it’s not. It’s not about me. And they’re like, I know but we need you. Can you can you please say yes to this? Because we need you right now. We we just recently launched a new podcast in Portuguese, which is super cool. So we have some partners in Brazil, and I helped them get that going. And as we were talking about the format, they were like, Oh, yeah, and you can I’m like, No, no, no, no, I don’t speak that. We don’t care come speak English. And then we’ll speak Portuguese later. And and I kind of resisted it at first and at one point they asked me, no, we need you. Like, could you please be here and stop fighting us to not be here? And and yeah, no, absolutely. I get it. I get it to that point. So but but helping them, sacrificing for them, helping them. It’s why it’s eight o’clock on a Sunday. And I’m spending time with you. It’s why I produce a Theme Thursday in Japanese at 9:30 on a Tuesday and Wednesday nights. It’s why I’ll stay up till 12 to do a podcast in India. Right? Lots of folks like, you know, my friends at Gallup will be like, Man, it’s really late. I’m like, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter.


Murray Guest  23:17

So I’m linking there to when you find the thing that is your thing that inspires, lifts you, energizes you, you’re given the chance to be your best. Like you’re saying, it doesn’t matter. Because I can really, I’m in that flow. I’m loving it. How do you balance that out with looking after your own health though, that you’re not, you know, let’s say over playing, over dialing something there where you’re putting yourself, because you got to look after yourself through all that as well. So how do you do that?


Jim Collison  23:47

Yeah, you do. And yeah, I think you have to be intentional about that. Is your anything else. Early in the pandemic, I kind of came up with a micro workout concept where I would spend 10 or 15 minutes seven or eight times a day doing little mini workouts and that actually worked out really well for me. In early in the pandemic we had a lot of time. I had more time. Well, yeah, I had more time, a different schedule. When, in the summer when things started, really summer here in the United States. So June, July, August timeframe, things really got busy at Gallup, like things really, really picked up and I found it was just easier to sit in this chair all day. Right? And I’m confessing to you Muz that the last four months have been dismal in that area. Probably not sleeping as well. Probably not, you know, I put on the COVID-19 as they say, right? That I’m gonna have to lose again at some point. Um, well, so I keep saying to myself, it’s a season, things are just crazy right now. Next Wednesday, I leave for a week of vacation and I’m taking off to get some downtime. And by the way, I’m taking a vacation of five years. So this is a good like, a really good thing to get out. Get beyond for a week. And when I get back it’ll be a little bit cooler outside, it’ll give me an opportunity to work out a little bit more. The trick is it’s not forever, you know, it’s just been for four months.


Murray Guest  25:11

So I, over the past few months in my online programs, have asked leaders and team members, do you want life to go back? Do you want life to go back the way it was pre COVID? And out of I think 200 odd people, it was like, 2 or 3% said yes. So I would like to know, what do you think it’s going to look like post the COVID-19? What do you think is, from what you’re hearing, what you’re feeling, what you’re sensing, what do you think it’s gonna look and feel like?


Jim Collison  25:44

A super great question. I think the rubber band is stretched and it will never really go back all the way to where it was before. It’s kind of this, the way I’m kind of thinking, I don’t think what we’re doing today is sustainable, to be honest. I just this, this craziness, this crazy thing we live in right now. It’s not sustainable. How long? I don’t know, if I could predict those kinds of things I’d be wealthy and not have to work another day in my life. So I can’t. But I think eventually we’ll get back to a hybrid. But certainly, what has changed is everyone’s up their game on remote working, and the ability to connect like this. Muz I’ve been doing this for 10 years now. And up until about eight, the first eight years, it was terrible to get people to do this. The lighting was bad. Their audio is bad. Everything was bad, right? Well, now because of work, they’ve had up their game, man that has made my life a lot easier as a podcaster. I just am like, it’s so much easier to get people to connect. And so I think our communication this way has gotten better. The ramifications of that, I’m not sure what that means. Because now I can be reached easier. You know, you’re reaching me at eight o’clock, 8pm on a Sunday night, I’m okay with that. But what will that mean? I don’t know how that all plays out, if that’s a good thing or a bad thing?


Murray Guest  27:10

Yeah, I think the the conversations around our ways of working with teams is really, really important. So let’s get some alignment and agreement around, well, what does that look like? If I’m a team member, I’m working from home three days a week, and my working hours that meet the needs of the business, but I’ve also got that balance, I’m looking after myself and my family at the same time. So removing assumptions and having those conversations is really important.


Jim Collison  27:37

I’ve actually worked more hours at home, you know, down here, sooner, most days start about 7:30 as opposed to use to starting at 8:30, when I would when I drive in most days finish at 5:30 or 6, which is kind of standard for when I was in the office. So I’m starting a little bit earlier, I’m being a little bit more effective. I am fine. I’m sitting a lot more here. Because I used to at least walk to meetings. Now you just dial up people. I am finding though I’m having more smaller meetings throughout the day. And they’re more effective, because we don’t chit chat this way.


Murray Guest  28:17

See, and can I just say that’s a real challenge for teams. And I think I’d love to get your perspective that I think it’s a Simon Sinek quote, which is, “Teams are built before the meeting starts.” And with Zoom, and whatever online platform you’re using, Microsoft Teams or whatever, it’s like, okay, we’re on, let’s chat about the topic, we’ve got not the the investment in us as human to human connecting. So I think it’s really important we don’t skip that. We bring that into the conversation.


Jim Collison  28:46

Yeah. And I try to actually connect early to be there for anybody else joining early and then have those, try to have those conversations. At Gallup we’re a super social company. So the first five minutes is that kind of connecting anyways. What I found in the past, though, is what we did is we talked, we would do that for 10 minutes, and then we’d have 15 minutes of a meeting and then we’d have 25 minutes after the fact. Okay, the 25 minutes is probably fat that we can cut, just to be 100% honest. Virtually, we just cut those off sooner. And so we’re just we’re more effective that way than we were. I am getting way more work done now than I was pre-pandemic, and it’s more satisfying, just to be honest. They’ve invited us to come back in we have all kinds of measures in place to make sure it’s safe and distancing and masked and all that stuff. But I’m finding I come down here in the morning and I’m like, ah, and not for safety reasons. Not for you know, not for what you think. I’m craving the work that I’m able to do here at home because it’s been so successful over the last six months.


Murray Guest  29:55

Yeah, gotcha. Yeah. So I’d love to know for people listening, I’m sure would be intrigued. What’s the best thing about working for Gallup?


Jim Collison  30:07

So many great things about working for Gallup.


Murray Guest  30:10

That’s a good thing.


Jim Collison  30:12

It is, you know, the best thing for me is, is this thing called trust. And in the role that I’m in, over the last, especially the last eight years, I’ve worked with people who just trust me. And there’s nothing I… If you ask me, you know, what’s my greatest need? It is to be trusted. And I don’t know why, that’s crazy. You know, I just I mentioned early in this, my wife has belief and discipline, you think that would play nicely into that, and not as much, but at work, I want to be trusted. And and they have, you know, the folks that I work with, trust me to do what I need to get done. And it’s just, it has been in the freedom and the way that I need to get it done. Listen, it hasn’t come without questions. Like I’ve done some things. And they’ve been like, Hey, where are you going with that? I’ve made mistakes in the process. Don’t get me wrong. But that the trust to continue to push forward is is is paramount to my engagement.


Murray Guest  31:15

And obviously, we’ve got some strong links between high trust organizations and high performance and engagement.


Jim Collison  31:22

Yeah, yeah. Yeah. No, right on, I think it’s one of those, you know, of the four needs. I mean, that’s one of the four needs of followers.


Murray Guest  31:30

That’s exactly right.


Jim Collison  31:31

I think you just, for me, I don’t need as much stability. I need I do need a little hope. You know, in that, but man, the trust component of it is huge.


Murray Guest  31:43

Yeah. Can I ask if you feel like someone betrays your trust, is that a triggering thing for you? Is that like, hang on. If you don’t get it is that like, hey, we’ve got to sort something out.


Jim Collison  31:58

Yeah, I go a little sideways. If I’m either questioned or, or my integrity is questioned, or I see somebody going around me for something. And, by the way, they may be justified. You know, I don’t walk on water. Right. I walk in water. So it may be justified, but yeah that’s a definite trigger for me, I go a little sideways, when those kinds of things don’t happen.


Murray Guest  32:24

Is there any links you see between your dominant talents and trust?


Jim Collison  32:29

Oh, that’s a great question. I’m going to get coached, I’m gonna, I’m gonna treat this like some free coaching. This is gonna be pretty, pretty great. You know, I think so the Influence for me is so high, right? Four of five are influencing themes. And, and I’m a self admitted influencer, that’s what I do. It’s what my job is to do. And it’s tough if people don’t trust you, it’s tough for that influence to happen. And so I think there’s a correlation between the two, because I’m not just influencing our strengths coaches or I’m not just influencing folks who purchase Clifton strengths, or I’m not just influencing the community, I’m also influencing Gallup people, like it’s equally important that they trust me and that I that I help them move in directions I think is smart for us. And if they don’t trust me, it’s, you know, I just I dive in, I start, you know, calling. Hey, we got to talk about this thing. So yeah, I think it’s tied to the influencing for sure.


Murray Guest  33:28

Well, I mean, that’s a high trust culture to actually be able to ring someone and say, hang on, we need to talk about this and know that you’re coming from a place of good.


Jim Collison  33:37

Well, I just I had a call last week with a co worker who said to me, You said something and hurt my feelings, I just want to tell you that. Oh, what did I say? Sorry, you know, the 1000s of things I say a day. And it was a great moment of just healing and not to be like, Oh, you know I didn’t mean that. He’s like, I know, I know you didn’t. But it did hurt my feelings. I’m like, I’m sorry. Like, I didn’t intend to go down that path. So those kinds of things Muz in some organizations are cancer. And once it starts, right, then it starts then they start saying things and things are said behind people’s backs. And it starts growing in a team and the team falls apart over one person getting their feelings hurt. So I think it is important, we are able to have that openness. I do work with great people that I could just say, hey, that didn’t feel great when you said that. And they don’t immediately go on the defense. Right?


Murray Guest  34:36

I think, I mean, for people listening, that’s a great example of the measure of the trust in the organization, that you can have those conversations, and they can be challenging and constructive. And people are open to having those conversations.


Jim Collison  34:51

Yeah, yeah, it’s not easy. In the moment, I felt really bad. And when I got done with the call I was, then I start thinking about all the things I’ve said in the last couple of weeks, you know, you’re like, Oh my god, am I doing this to everybody? But no, it’s good.


Murray Guest  35:09

I had a company I was working with a few years back and one of their sayings was no triangles. And I loved it. It was, so Murray says something to Jim. Jim says something to Sarah. And Jim says to Sarah, I didn’t like what Mary said. But so then he goes to Sarah, and Sarah goes to me, and then I go back and we’re forming triangles everywhere, instead of just going back and forward. One on one. And it’s just a simple phrase, I loved it.


Jim Collison  35:36

I mean, to be clear, distrust among, in nature is important, because we won’t survive. If you trusted everything right. In, we are the dominant species on the planet, because we trusted each other at that point. And so I mean, that’s, that’s kind of genetically built into us. I think for some folks, it just needs to be learned, like, they just need to learn it’s gonna be okay. We don’t we don’t hang out in tribes anymore. So there’s not a lot of great opportunities for that to happen in our communications a little separated and now we don’t depend upon each other for some of those basic life and death things anymore, right. And so I think you got to kind of help teams along with that. And I’m not talking about falling backwards off the table, right? I’m talking about real world situations where managers practice that with their teams. Where the manager leads by saying, leading by example, and maybe be saying, Hey, I saw this happen. Let’s talk about it. Or, hey, I’m open enough that if I’ve hurt you, in some way, come tell me and then demonstrate what that looks like. When it actually, you know, the manager doesn’t get defensive. The manager doesn’t get angry. That has to be modeled. It’s hard. It’s the hardest part about being a manager, I think.


Murray Guest  36:55

Yeah. So I’m going back to your point earlier about letting go. It’s not about you. And being approachable, and, and being open and vulnerable and having those conversations. If we’re doing those things we are, you know, let’s say breaking some rules, like you said early on.


Jim Collison  37:14

Yeah, it’s not easy. This is not and it’s not magic. It doesn’t feel good. It doesn’t, it doesn’t feel good. You think it’s Oh, yeah. Oh, I’m gonna get there. And it’s gonna be Nirvana. Right? No, this is actually in the midst of these these when you do them, right. It’s actually harder. But it’s better in the long run.


Murray Guest  37:33

Well, I think about that ongoing investment in the relationship you have with Sarah, I have with Tammy, as a leader, it’s very similar with your team. It’s that ongoing investment, having those ongoing conversations and doing that as well.


Jim Collison  37:44

Yeah, you gotta keep practicing.


Murray Guest  37:46

Yeah. So I want to go back to one of your top five, which maybe is quite often misunderstood. So Woo. Number two. When you saw that come out in your report, was that a ‘yeah, that’s a validation. I am not surprised,’ or was that a surprise for you?


Jim Collison  38:06

No it got a rock fest, like a fist pump. I was like, Yes. Because it did. I did. I did agree with all of it. Yeah, this is me. 15 years ago, when I first saw it, I didn’t really understand all the nuances of it. And so, you know, yeah, I’d love to, I love to get to know people. I love to be at the center of the attention of the party. I love to be the one pulling people together. I love you know, I loved all those things about it. What I kind of learned to what kind of learned over the years is that these aren’t, you know, being the life of the party is not a success trait. Like that’s not what Don Clifton meant, there’s some there’s some hints in there. But what he meant was, how can you have influence over people and move them in directions? I think it’s kind of the heart of leadership, in getting people, convincing people. I think it’s a sales theme, to be honest, by convincing people to do something different or to do more of the thing that they’re currently doing. Right, be more productive. The key word in there is ‘do’ – to get people to do – like that’s what it, that’s what we’re trying to get done here. And I think maybe the last five years have I really kind of understood as we’ve been doing all the theme Thursday’s that’s an influencing strength. It’s it’s moving people in directions. And I yeah, I really like that. That casts lots of success on a team. And so I got to deploy it through these webcasts. What we do on the webcast is one big woo exercise. Woo and communication, let’s be honest, and those come together pretty frequently.


Murray Guest  39:47

And and Woo, you could see exist as part of who you were even before? You know, knowing that it was…


Jim Collison  39:55

It’s my name. I’m the poster child. Like it should be me in there, I agree with it all, for sure.


Murray Guest  40:04

If you had to get one of your dominant talents tattooed on your body, to say, this is me, like I and I’ve truly lived breathed this, this is me which one or two would it be?


Jim Collison  40:17

I think in the last two years, I never really understood Maximizer. It just didn’t, and I’ve said this on the on the webcast. So if you’ve heard me say this before, I apologize. But I’ll say it again, because he asked the question. We always say quality, like they demand quality, and I didn’t see any of that in me. I mean, I don’t really care, to be honest. Like I say, Good enough, pretty often. And those kids think it’s like, what’s the deal here? And in my 40s, I started running. And I didn’t just run a 10 k, I mean I ran a few. And then I’m like, no, maybe I can run a half. And then I ran a few of those. And then I could probably do a full and then I did five of those. And as I started reflecting back, that’s a whole Maximizer. Because it’s whatever is worth doing is worth overdoing. Right, I’ve said that it has become my mantra over the last couple of years, in discovering that has been especially in the heart of the pandemic. You know, we did all last year, I did 50 webcasts all last year, I did 50 by June this year. I mean, if that is not an example of whatever is worth doing is worth overdoing during a pandemic, I could turn on, you know, a little help from activator in there. Yeah, I could turn on this woo, and communication and maximize, and using my definition, the crap out of it. And so if there’s anything that I that I value now that I didn’t understand just a few years ago, to be honest, that now I really, really value like, it’s probably my one serious strength. You know, it’s probably the one I think this could take me somewhere if I can just harvest this. And it’ll influence all the rest of them. So Maximizer would be the one for me, again, not a quality thing. I don’t make things better, although sometimes I do. I just do more than anybody else does. I can’t stop at one. You know, I gotta, if we’re gonna do one, we could do 10 or 100.


Murray Guest  42:10

So I’m making the assumption that that also just shows up for you week in week out about how do I make this better? How do I improve on the way I’m doing this?


Jim Collison  42:19

Yeah, if improve equals doing more then Yes. Like, I want to do more, and in most cases, Muz to be honest, they have to be done more efficiently. If I’m going to do more, they have to be more efficient. And so that means doing them better. You have a lot of people. So that all fits in that definition.


Murray Guest  42:36

Yeah, gotcha. Gotcha. Um, so partnerships play a big part in your life. You’ve got some strong partnerships, you know, Micah is such a great one. What’s been your insights around partnerships over the years that you can really, you know, just reflect on and share that, that that sort of brought to the surface for you about how powerful partnerships are?


Jim Collison  43:03

Well, there, the power of two is amazing. And, you know, Micah is just the tip of the iceberg on my partnerships at Gallup. And some partnership I had that no one in this community will ever know is Jodi Kennedy. And actually, she was my first partner in recruiting. And Jody and I did some amazing things around internships and high school internships, stuff nobody will ever see except a whole different side of the world, right. And a powerful partner. The, the key was, I think, in those partnerships is I had to be willing to give as much as my partner was going to give and that it wasn’t just going to happen, I needed to cultivate it. And so you know, we’re in a little bit of a down cycle with Theme Thursday right now, because we’re done producing for the year, we have one more coming up, I don’t have as many opportunities to connect with Micah during this. She’s become an important part of just my weekly routine over the last six years of talking to her and getting coaching and the time we spend together and so I was just talking to her late last weekend like you know, we’re gonna have to schedule time like it’s this isn’t gonna just happen we’re gonna have to schedule time to be together to make sure we’re having, we’re fostering this. And the other part about that in the relationships is I had to completely be okay that I had to completely be okay with who she was both with with Sarah and with Micah and with Jodi, the gals in my life that I work with, I don’t just work with women. Dean is another great example of guys that I’ve worked with, Mike McDonald is another one right? I think I can you know, Jeremy Petrosini is another one right? That I had to be willing to give just as much in in in really be you know, not come demanding like you, you need to fill this role in my life. That’s not that’s not how it starts. It needs to be back to the you know, the conversation. How do I make like when when I figured out I need to make Micah a big deal. Our relationship began to grow at that point, because everybody wants to be a big deal. And then she reciprocated that.


Murray Guest  45:07

Yeah, yeah. And it shines through in the banter and the way that you just support each other through those those conversations. 


Jim Collison  45:18

Muz let me let me, before we move on from that, let me also say, I think sometimes that call it karma, the universe or whatever, whatever you want to fill in with that. But I think sometimes things align in a way and you connect with a person in a way, doing a job doing a task, doing a thing, where it just, it’s perfect. And in, you know, my work with Jodi, and my work with Micah, and I worked with Dean, the planets are aligned right now. And, and so those things are working really, really, very, very well. And I think you have to take advantage of that when it does hit. You can’t wait for tomorrow, there’s no manyana on there.


Murray Guest  45:58



Jim Collison  45:58

You need to nail it now. Because you don’t know it’s gonna, you know, you don’t know what’s going to happen in the future, you need to jump in with both feet and give it full attention and really maximize it. Again, there’s my Maximizer. Because it may not come back.


Murray Guest  46:15

Can I just say, I’m a) loving us chatting. And we didn’t know that where this would go. And, and I and I had no hesitation at all about where we’d go and b) the ideas that we’re sharing. You’re bringing up around what people can actually do about this stuff. So what I’m thinking right now is if you’re listening to this conversation, thinking, Okay, where do I take this? Take time out to think about those partnerships you have right now. And how do you actually invest in them even more, so that you can create what Jim’s talking about? And strengthen those partnerships, create the opportunity for us both to be the best that you can be.


Jim Collison  46:56

I think it starts with a simple question. What can I do for you today? Like, so many people are just waiting to hear those words. Like what can I do for you today? How can I help you? And then actually do it. Like it’s not, it’s not rocket science.


Murray Guest  47:12



Jim Collison  47:13

It’s it’s just a matter. It’s hard. Don’t get me wrong. It’s hard. But asking that question. What can I do for you today is super important.


Murray Guest  47:25

Besides the partnerships, and what we’ve talked about today, what’s your biggest reflection on 2020?


Jim Collison  47:39

We’re not through it yet. We have a we have a lot to,


Murray Guest  47:45

You have an election coming up too by the way.


Jim Collison  47:46

I know, I know it, trust me. And I just I just recorded the Gallup podcast, which I’m an executive producer for. We did an interview on Saturday for that. And I was listening to them talk and I’m like, Oh, my gosh, we have so much. We have so much yet to go through the year. Um, I am, well it’s been a disaster in a lot of ways, and a lot of people’s lives have been changed in this. I don’t like to waste any opportunity. And I think for some folks, this is an opportunity, an opportunity to retool, I think for some organizations, this is an opportunity to retool, for many of them, they’re decimated, and they’re gonna have to re hire back. Why not do it on a strengths based basis? Like, why not start doing things right now, if you’re changing jobs, maybe you’re listening to this, and you’re unemployed, and you’re thinking how to find a job, your next job, by the way, it’s a great opportunity to interview them before you go there to go to a strengths-based organization to get what you are looking for, to begin with. And so I don’t want to minimize anybody’s pain and suffering and difficult time at this point. I’m not trying to say, thank goodness for this. I’m not. It’s been a disaster for many people, and I definitely feel for them. Saturday was international Mental Health Day. And it came at a good time, because we all need to check that right. But at the same token, for some folks, this is going to be the opportunity they were waiting for. They were in a crappy job that they just couldn’t leave because they were afraid, or they didn’t want to leave because they were they don’t want to take the risk. Right. And for some organizations, they didn’t deserve to be around. Like, they were doing things terribly. And this shook it out. Right. And so I guess, you know, it’s I don’t want to say look on the bright side of everything, because I don’t think that’s what I’m trying to say here. But there are opportunities in this and as 2020 shakes out, I guess for the leaders that are listening, what kind of new opportunities do you have to make things better? Okay, how do you start 2021 better? What can you do right now, to finish 2020 strong. I think there’s some options for some people there.


Murray Guest  50:01

What I’m thinking about that, too is, you know, what can you do? What’s in your control? What can you take action on right now? There’s a bunch of things happening in the world right now that are out of our control. But what can you do that’s in your control, in your influence, and you take action on those things right now? And I think that’s been highlighted in 2020. I think trust, you mentioned trust and how important that is to you. But also think trust has been heightened and highlighted how important it is. Because we work these different working arrangements and people working different hours and flexibility. That doesn’t work without trust. We’re going to keep building that trust going forward.


Jim Collison  50:35

I totally agree.


Murray Guest  50:38

What’s the future of the strengths movement? In 25 words or less?


Jim Collison  50:43

I think it’s, I think it’s strong. I think it’s strong. And we have so many great, we’re just getting started Muz. Like, we haven’t reached any peak. There’s no like, we’re just getting going and by the way, I think for this next generation, these Gen Z years, or whatever we’re going to call them. They get this, but I think naturally, they get this. We don’t have to fight them. They understand that. Oh, yeah. If I focus on what I’m good at, yeah. So you know, the next generation, the working generation that’s coming in now, the young kids, they get it. And by the way, let’s stop picking on them. Okay, leaders, let’s stop making them feel bad about who they are. They’re the next generation. Let’s pump into them some confidence and stability, some hope, some trust, like, let’s start getting that into them, because they’re the next gen for us. And I think they’re going to be fantastic. My daughter is one of them. And I’m kind of looking forward to watching this generation rocket.


Murray Guest  51:45

Yeah, I totally agree. And I think that’s a point that you kick that off with that so important that it’s not like, Hey, we’re there. Let’s tick the box. Because as you said, it’s still going, it’s still growing. There’s a depth that’s just evolving all the time. And, you know, let’s be honest, it’s not just Gallup that’s talking about strengths. You know, the amount of times I hear people saying, Hey, this is a good thing. We should be focusing on what people do at their best.


Jim Collison  52:11

Yeah, yeah. And we just have a system to do it. And it’s a pretty great system, I think. But we’ve got a lot of work to do. And you know, at the end of the day, doesn’t matter if, if I’m an Arranger, Woo, Maximizer, Communication, Activator, but it doesn’t matter if I’m not using it. We got to get people out there focusing on that using that for success.


Murray Guest  52:31

Yeah. 100%. Totally agree. I have a couple of questions to wrap us up in this wonderful conversation, let you get back to your Sunday night of relaxing. First question is, What is your definition of inspired energy?


Jim Collison  52:47

Yeah, you asked that on the form, by the way, I don’t ever relax. That’s just not a part of what I do. So let’s, let’s get that done. You know, and I think that maybe fits into my definition of inspired energy. Like, right now I’m in the zone, I can’t, I don’t want to relax. I don’t, I don’t need to relax. For the most part. Even on this vacation that I mentioned I’m going on earlier, it’s kind of a working vacation, I got some things planned. We’re gonna do some fun stuff. But it’s that energy driven when you’re wholly and completely engaged. Those are big definitions that there’s always, there’s always exceptions, right. But when you’re wholly and completely engaged in something, that energy that comes from that, if you ask me, I’d say that’s inspired energy. That’s how I would I would define it.


Murray Guest  53:30

Yeah, and I can feel that in the way you talk about your work and what this has been like for you, and the levels of productivity and satisfaction that you’re playing in. You know, it’s like, there’s exponential building on that energy, isn’t it? Like, yeah, I’m working, but I’ve got more energy.


Jim Collison  53:51

Exactly. You don’t want to stop. I’d say 530. And I’m like, I need to. I’ve been tracking down coaches around the world who I’ve lost contact with, by email. It’s an I have to find them on LinkedIn. It’s incredibly, it’s just manual. And I am pumping through those. I’ve done 1600 of those Muz over the last month and a half, just grinding through them because it needs to be done. Right. It’s just what I need to find these people that’s inspired right? Yeah, I have to find these people.


Murray Guest  54:18

Love it. Love it. And my friend, where’s the best place for people to connect with you online?


Jim Collison  54:25

Well, that’s always a great question, because I’m all over the place. The greatest place to connect with our strengths related work, is at Gallup.com/cliftonstrengths. And there are tons of resources available there, including all these podcasts that we talked about. The last couple years. They have transcripts associated with them. We have pull quotes in there all kinds of great materials. By the way, there’s great folks like Roy and Mark and Micah who do all that with me, right? Pretty, pretty incredible work that they do behind the scenes there. And so that’s really the best kind of way. If you want to, if you have questions about anything at Gallup, it’s easier to remember coaching@gallup.com, if you want to, they’ll route that to me if that’s what needs to go there. But that’s a lot easier than remembering my email address. So coaching@gallup.com.


Murray Guest  55:11

Fantastic. And I’ll make sure there’s links to the Gallup website and to that email, but also the Facebook group for anyone that’s interested in Strengths, if they’re not already a member, because it is such a healthy, generous community as well. So I’m gonna make a shout out to that community as well. Jim, I just want to take a moment to also celebrate, acknowledge the work that you do do. That constant that you have been for all those seasons of Call to Coach and everything else that you do. It’s really the podcast. And also for that community I just mentioned, where you are the backbone. And the head, often around just steering that supporting that creating a space for people to share, to learn to grow to support, and this passion you have to support others, and to lift them up. And to do that, and the strength space movement wouldn’t be where it’s at without that consistent energy and focus you give it and as someone that has been the receiver of that, I can’t thank you enough. Have a beer with you next time in Omaha whenever that is, but on on behalf of the community I want to thank you so much for all that you do.


Jim Collison  56:29

Muz those are very, very kind words. And I appreciate that. And thanks just for the just for being a solid partner out there with us. I couldn’t do this if I was shouting from the mountaintop, and there weren’t people doing things like creating their own podcast. It couldn’t be just me. And so thank you for the work that you do to continue to help get the word out and to coach people in the work that you do and workshops and in the coaching. So thank you.


Murray Guest  57:00

Wonderful, Jim, and I’ve loved our conversation on this podcast. It’s been fantastic, so much gold in this conversation today. Really appreciate it. And certainly, if anyone’s listening, you got something out of this conversation, which I’m sure you did. Please make sure you share it online, tag Jim and myself and also use the hashtag inspired energy. And if you have any questions, as Jim said, make sure you flick those through to coaching@gallup.com. And he will get back to you or someone from the Gallup team will as well. Jim all the best for the remainder of a productive healthy, happy 2020. And I look forward to speaking to you again soon.


Jim Collison  57:38

Yeah you as well. Thanks for having me on. I appreciate it.


Murray Guest  57:41

Thank you.

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