Episode 90 – Dana Williams | The Strengths Journal

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Dana’s expertise ranges from Strategic Marketing Advisor, CliftonStrengths Certified Coach, leadership development, living with purpose, and travel. Dana’s industry experience comes from her 25 years at Southwest Airlines in leadership in areas of operations and brand marketing.

Dana has a passion for guiding people to impact the world by focusing on their unique talents which led her to create Dana Williams Co., a consulting company that exists to build tools and experiences helping leaders live in their purpose.

Dana also is the creator of The Strengths Journal™, a daily planning journal to help leaders live in their strengths and dominate their day. In this episode we delve into why Dana created The Strength’s Journal, the process behind it, plus we gain some great insight into how to best use it.

Key episode highlights include:

  • Focus on the people who are excited about what you’re doing. Put your energy there.
  • How can you layer Strengths through any project?
  • Be open not just about what you know, but also about what you don’t know yet. Being upfront can prevent others from making up their own narratives to the story.
  • Find your framework. And rinse and repeat.

To connect further with Dana, check out her website, find her on LinkedIn, and on Instagram @danawilliams and @thestrengthsjournal, or contact her directly via email.


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Murray Guest  00:01

Hi, Dana, welcome to the podcast. I am so looking forward to catching up with you. I really enjoyed our chat before I started hitting record. It’s great to welcome you from Texas. You’ve had some interesting times the last few weeks. I’d just love for you to let everyone know how things are going right now.


Dana Williams  00:20

Well, you know what, we are doing good, and we just thawed out from Snow-vid 21 our February snowstorm and it has been called Snowmageddon or SNOVID. But we’re doing good. We didn’t have any pipes break or anything, just lost power. So yeah, kind of another another exciting little plan to to build our resiliency this year I think.


Murray Guest  00:46

There is so much opportunity to build resilience. So I’m glad you’re well. And I’m glad that you’re out of that right now. I saw some pictures of some of the conditions and it looked like it came in pretty fast and pretty hard.


Dana Williams  01:00

It did. It did. And it looked like in places in Texas that normally never get any snow, people were snowboarding down streets and hills and I think Austin look like Colorado or something, that it was pretty interesting. Pretty interesting time but we got through it.


Murray Guest  01:21

Well I’m so glad and yeah. On the other side, which which hopefully there’s no more of that coming as you head into winter this year. Oh, you’re heading into summer now of course, aren’t you?


Dana Williams  01:32

Yeah we’re going into summer y’all are going into winter, right?


Murray Guest  01:35

Yeah, we’re, we’re heading in. We probably we won’t be getting snow where I am, though. So. But it’ll be getting a bit cooler. Yeah. So strengths. Now, I love talking to people who are passionate about strengths. And we’re going to get to understanding why strengths for you. And I want to talk about some of the great work you’re doing right now. For me strengths started I’ve got to think now geez, that was 11 years ago, when I first found out my top five. And I still remember what that felt like to go, Ah, this connects with me, I really loved the language in the framework. When did you find out about your strengths? And what did it mean for you?


Dana Williams  02:20

Yeah, so I was working at Southwest Airlines in the marketing department as a leader. And we had been looking at different programs, we’d always done Myers Briggs, and we’ve done a DISC program. And one of the girls I worked with brought in strengths. One of the company, I think it was through her church, they had been doing it. And so she brought it in, and we just loved it. And we started using it in of all places in the marketing department. It didn’t start in HR, like most companies. And we so that was 2012. And then we just kept at it. And we we didn’t, we didn’t have any formal training at that point, we would just take information and share it and do some some facilitation. We were both Marketing Leaders. We weren’t HR facilitators, but we just did it, you know, as leaders. And then we found out that we could get licensed so as a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach, so we both became licensed and certified. And that was great. And then we brought it further into our department and started doing more, brought on some more coaches, and all of a sudden, other departments at Southwest Airlines were asking us, What do y’all do and how y’all doing this?


Murray Guest  03:39

Isn’t it so great when when something’s happening in a business. And people start to look over and go, hey, what, what’s all that about? We want some of that.


Dana Williams  03:48

Exactly. And so then we started meeting with the other groups that were doing it with the other folks, and soon they became coaches. And then finally, it was when our president and CEO said, You know, I think this is so powerful. I want all the leaders to do this. And that was in 2018. And so we grew from like three coaches to 57 coaches right before COVID. Yeah, we were building a lot of internal programs. So I got to really be a leader and do my normal day job, but also be a coach and help launch it within the company, which is really fun.


Murray Guest  04:30

Yeah, that’s so exciting. And to think that it started as it did with just the marketing team and then expand out and grow. And I’ve heard elements before about the impact of strengths in Southwest. What do you think it meant for the organization to go down the strengths journey?


Dana Williams  04:49

Southwest is a very strong culture already, so the culture was already there. So that made it easy. I think the hardest part is when you’re bringing in a Strengths program into a company like that, is you’re not going to get 100% Oh, rah, rah, let’s do strengths. And so I really, we really focused on the people that were excited about it and brought our energy there, even within marketing. Thank goodness our leaders were into it. But not all leaders are always into it. And across the departments, across the company, not all leaders. And I always tell people don’t worry about that just focus on the ones that are excited, spend your energy there. And then we developed not only do we have the coaching network we started but we also just started a group of advocates, within marketing, that wanted to be strengths coaches, but you know, with the costs and the time and couldn’t really make everybody a coach. So we would just bring them under our kind of tutelage, mentorship, and got them excited. So they would keep things going. So each leader actually had a person on their team that became an advocate, so that the leader could have that support. And because the idea is like, you know, you get your strengths, and then you put it in a drawer, right? And so that’s my passion is to say, why is it in the drawer, get it out and use it every day, that’s where your energy is going to come from. And so, and that’s why I created the strengths journal, because I thought after I leave a facilitation, or leave a couple people, after I coach them, I thought, how are they going to keep this up? And what is that system or something that we can give them to help them do this daily? And so that’s why I created the strengths journal, but but it was from that need.


Murray Guest  06:38

Yeah, yeah. And I love the strengths journal. And I look forward to sharing more about that in our conversation today. I think it’s such a great idea. And you and I have a common passion there that it’s, we don’t want this information to sit in a drawer or to come up when you know, we’re having a conversation with, you know, someone like me externally, or maybe just an internal facilitator. And so how do you bring that into your day to day life, and day to day work, to get the most out of it? Because it is such powerful information.


Dana Williams  07:10

It really is. And that’s why whenever a new program came in, or HR brought something in or there was another idea of a program that when we always layered strengths in it, so we just layered layered layered every time. So there was always an element of strengths within it, whether we were going through change, or we were going through resiliency training. We just always layered it in.


Murray Guest  07:35

Yeah. And I think to be honest, with any training, there’s a great message there for any organization that How are your training initiatives or your development initiatives being integrated? And I think too often what happens is we’re delivering training or development program on x, and then y, and then z, but how do they overlap? How do they integrate to support each other. So as for the participants and the employees of the organization, it’s easy to understand how it all fits together for them.


Dana Williams  08:06

And then, like when you’re going through a time, like, almost a year ago, this week, we were sitting in war room planning out, what would we do if cities closed? And so the first thing I did with that team was put together a strengths grid on that team. And because we were already so deep in our strengths, we were able to tell, you know, right when we got started, oh, my goodness, this team is gonna be high futuristic. So that’s good, because we got to plan out, you know, but then we learned that we couldn’t plan six months out, because the information was coming so rapidly and so fast, that we had to do it in 30 day intervals. And I have futuristic in my in my top five. So that helped me kind of go, Okay, that’s my future, my new future now.


Murray Guest  08:57

Yeah, gotcha.


Dana Williams  08:58

On that end and being able, but using it in a team, a type like that is so powerful, and especially during uncertain times, and being able to use it and figure out what the X ray of the team looks like, so that you can quickly move everybody quickly and adapt as you need to.


Murray Guest  09:17

And I think that’s a really good insight there about the development of a strengths grid and the understanding of each other. And the strengths they bring, whether it’s an ongoing project or you know, a response to like what we’ve had in the last 12 months, and we need to understand how we’re going to work together. What are the strengths we bring, and there’s potential blind spots. Did you have some of those come out, do you think, in the early discussions?


Dana Williams  09:44

Yeah, I think there was, I think, as you know there was so much uncertainty, and my particular leader has restorative so that was huge for me. I was like, This is good. He’s energized every day because it was every minute right? And I was looking, I had the futuristic, and that kept me kind of energized, thinking about different and I have strategic. So Plan A, Plan B, Plan C. So using the skills of the team to help but but we can see that go to the basement when we over planned, right, we had to kind of, well, this is the plan for today. But it’s going to change tomorrow based on the information we get from the government tomorrow about the cities or about what’s going to happen. And so you’ve got mass amounts of people making decisions and leaders making decisions. And you got to keep everybody on the same kind of wavelength, right. And so sometimes I didn’t have the luxury of having other people in other department’s strengths. But I did a lot of strength spotting, you know, based on their language and based on how they were communicating and how things were going.


Murray Guest  10:55

Can I ask you, Dana, just expand out on that, because I do talk to people often about the power of that strength spotting when you don’t know someone’s Clifton strengths results, or top five top 10. Can you give us an example of how that strength spotting worked for you.


Dana Williams  11:15

Yeah, so whether at that point, we were still meeting in person, I don’t think we stopped meeting in person til like March 15. But at that point, we were still meeting in person. So I was able to tell body language, we have one guy that had high activator. And he was over activating it. So I knew that about him. But some of the other people that came into the room, probably didn’t get that. So I was trying to figure out where they were on this spectrum of it. And what I what I spotted was a lot of thinking themes and some of these people because the thinking themes and the activation themes sometimes if the activator is ready to go, but the thinking person has Intellection and they need time. So sometimes I would say, Do you need a little bit more time, instead of 24 hours can we give you maybe two hours to think about this? And then they would say, Oh, my gosh, yes. And I got Okay, then that person probably has something in their thinking talent Intellection where they need to think, and they can’t make a decision right now. Whereas the activator was going No no.


Murray Guest  12:24

Yeah, I’ve seen that with deliberative as well, where that can show up where that can be, you know, such a powerful strength to help with what’s the best decision managing the risks moving forward in that deliberation, but at the same time, can also slow down the action. And I’ve seen that and so I was like, let’s, let’s embrace that. And at the same time, let’s consider what that brings, but manage that in a way so that it balances out the activator.


Dana Williams  12:52

Absolutely. And we had a leader that is amazing with focus. And so I could tell when the team wasn’t getting getting focused, that he was able to come in and just, this is what we’re going to do, we’re going to do this right now. And that gave everybody a sense of Okay, you know, so looking for those people on your team that have focus, looking for those people on your team when you’re thinking too much you need to activate. And sometimes you don’t have the luxury of having, but it’s their actions and sometimes it’s verbal, sometimes it’s nonverbal. I don’t have empathy, but I have individualization. So I’m watching for all that, and kind of looking for intuitively what’s going on.


Murray Guest  13:34

That’s a similarity with us. And I often joke with my clients about how low my empathy is, I say it’s about number 430 for me.


Dana Williams  13:44

I have 33.


Murray Guest  13:47

So individualization is up there with you know, similar, I think mine is number three. So it is very much about the way it shows up for me is I want to understand the uniqueness of you. But I don’t get caught up in the drama.


Dana Williams  14:04

Yeah, yeah. So yeah, so that’s, and I think I love being able to spot and we’ve done some marriage work with couples and it’s nice even in couples to start spotting even before you know it, know what their strengths are in partnerships in being able to guide them in those too.


Murray Guest  14:22

Can I ask Dana, you’ve talked about a few of your strengths, which one do you love the most? In this moment, because we change that love I’m sure but which one at the moment do you really love the most?


Dana Williams  14:34

I don’t know if I can pick just one. I probably use strategic the most. But I think I have to turn ideation down quite a bit. But I think it’s a combination of probably my strategic and my futuristic that I love working those together. But in my work as a Coach, of course I love individualization.


Murray Guest  15:02

Yeah. There’s, there’s a pattern there that I’m hearing coming out around how they all sort of fit together for you to do what you do and to help other people.


Dana Williams  15:12

Absolutely, absolutely. And it’s just learning to call on those and call on some of those six to 10 too, because I think that’s where my execution comes in. So if somebody’s thinking talents in the beginning in the one through five, then my back engine room of six through 10, have a lot of executing. So I have to pull out of those daily to get things done. So yeah, interesting.


Murray Guest  15:39

I love that analogy to the back engine room. And I think that it’s that’s the power of knowing your full 34 isn’t it? I show up with my top five but what’s underneath that that can support me, that guides me as well.


Dana Williams  15:53

Absolutely. Using that, combining maybe my strategic with my number eight responsibility to get something done. So I have to pair them up quite a bit, as I’m strategically planning my day.


Murray Guest  16:10

So I want to talk about definitely the strengths journal and your business and the great work you’re doing now. But before we just move on to that, reflecting on what we were talking about before, of 2020, and how as a team, you needed to respond to COVID, and how plans need to be put in place and juggling all of that. What’s what do you think on reflection, some of the biggest leadership lessons that you got out of that time?


Dana Williams  16:42

I think communication, communication communication, so I think you can’t over communicate enough, even when we went through Snowmageddon last week, and I live in a townhome complex with a HOA, there was no leadership from the HOA for communication. So there was just stuff coming. Like, guys next time, let’s have one person, as our communicator. And I’ve been raised at Southwest that way. I mean, we over communicate whether it was 911. And our leaders were communicating more than any of the other companies leaders at that point, or, you know, just anytime we’ve been in uncertainty, the communication is key. And even if you don’t know anything, being able to say, here’s what we know. And I love when Gallup came out right about that time, right before that, what the four things that followers need. And I put that on the board. And I said, any communication we do, what we think, let’s remind ourselves of why these are important. You know, the tribe building trust, and making sure that you know, there is hope, but you know, there’s stability. But this is what we know, this is like today, we don’t know if everybody’s going to have a job by the end of the year. But we do know that we’re doing okay today. And we do know that everybody will have jobs till the end of the year. We just don’t know after that. And so there’s a lot of trust that’s built through that communication. So my communication is like number 13. That that is always on my mind. Always. What did I just learn? And who do I need to communicate with?


Murray Guest  18:31

Yeah. Can I just say that that phrasing up just I’ve got to jump in. This is me over dialing my number four communication. That is, I totally agree with you around what did I just learn and how can I share that? So it’s so much opportunity, I think, for businesses to share those learnings quickly, rapidly so that people can implement the learnings from other leaders and other people.


Dana Williams  18:59

Absolutely. And I think people would right because what they’re going to do is they’re going to create a narrative in their head about something. And if nobody finishes the narrative, they’re going to finish it. So not only do we need to start the narrative, but we need to keep filling it in because we all listen to story and we hear story, and we create stories in our mind. So how do we keep that narrative? Here’s what we know. Here’s what we’re doing. Here’s what we know, here’s what we’re doing. And even just getting, getting our leaders out. I told our marketing leader, I said, you got to get out. You’ve got to get on video right now. Just don’t even think about sending an email. Nobody’s gonna read an email right now. It’s and so then he started doing weekly video updates. And then our president and other leaders would get out and do updates and those were like two or three times a week. And then we put those out, the communication team put those out on YouTube, and you know, for everybody to see this. We’re not hiding here’s, here’s where we are. Here’s, you know, we’ve got an employee base of 60,000 and their families that are all affected by this. So let’s just tell everybody, here’s where we are. So I think that is the biggest lesson. And times like that is communicating and being vulnerable, being real. You know, here’s what we know today. And we will keep you posted but this is what we’re doing today.


Murray Guest  20:21

Yeah. And I like the bit you said earlier too about, here’s what we know. And here’s what we don’t know right now.


Dana Williams  20:27

Yeah, just like little kids on a trip, right. Are we there yet? No, I’ll tell you when we get there. You know, I know. You know, as much as I know, right now, you know, it’s the same.


Murray Guest  20:37

Yeah. And just also clarify if anyone that isn’t sure about the four needs of followers that Dana mentioned they’re trust, hope, stability and compassion. And certainly compassion was so needed isn’t it.


Dana Williams  20:54

And I think when we looked at the communications from our leaders, always making sure that those four, they hit on those four. I know this feels hard right now I’m set. I’m this is frustrating, you know, that compassion. But we’re going to get through this. But we don’t know what it looks like. There’s your trust, you know. So we did a lot of work after enduring COVID on resiliency and then layered in strengths. But that was the other big thing was looking at other other leaders who’ve gone through uncertain times and how they got through. So Admiral Stockdale in Good to Great was mentioned, Stockdale moment. So we did a whole, like training around that.


Murray Guest  21:38

You’re talking my language now, I love Jim Stockdale’s framework.


Dana Williams  21:43

Yeah, yeah. And that’s the whole the optimism and the realism. And so, and I’ve had leaders in the past, not many, but a few who probably spent time just talking about the problems. We were so fortunate at Southwest to have such great leaders that focused on vision and where we’re going. And I think that’s what gives people hope, that hope and trust.


Murray Guest  22:11

Yeah, yeah. So you’ve launched your own business now, though?


Dana Williams  22:18

Yes. Yes. 


Murray Guest  22:20



Dana Williams  22:21

Thank you. 


Murray Guest  22:23

I know what it’s like, from a personal point of view of the journey of what that can be like. How’s it going for you at the moment?


Dana Williams  22:32

It’s going good, um, you know, every day, it’s like, oh, who’s in charge of that? Oh, I am. I think just learning the technology, learning all the different things. And there’s so many voices coming at you about things you should do and classes that you should take. And so I’ve had to close off some of those voices and just say, Okay, this week, and the journal really helped me because I had to really get focused, and my focus is in the middle. So I really had to channel and a lot of strategic and using some of my other talents to get things done, and then bring in people that have the talents and the energy to do the things that did not energize me. So that’s really been exciting to find other people that were available that, you know, could work on a contract basis and help.


Murray Guest  23:29

It’s such a good point isn’t it, for when people are starting a business to have a real strengths based approach?


Dana Williams  23:35

Absolutely. And I put everybody I’ve worked with, you know, if I brought them in on a project, or like the IT guy, or the digital guy, you know, list your strengths and make sure everybody was grounded.


Murray Guest  23:49

Yeah, I was talking to a strengths coach, not so long ago. And we were talking about looking for new business. And they said, I don’t have time to call my clients at the moment because I’m fixing my website.


Dana Williams  24:07

Yeah, yeah, it’s tough.


Murray Guest  24:09

Yeah. So I said, hang on. I said, Who does your your tax? Oh my accountant. So why are you doing your website? Was my question.


Dana Williams  24:17

Yeah, yeah, good question. Yeah, that’s, yeah, I mean, there’s so much to be done and it’s finding Okay, who can i partner with, who can come alongside me help me to get this done? What are the things I’ve got to do? And really trying to do as much as I can, but at the same time, be focused on my clients. I think building a business there’s three things you want to focus on but you can’t focus on all three. So price, value and customer service, and I’m focused on value and customer service. So I had some boxes not get out last week during the Snowmageddon and so I ended up shipping extra extra books, because I didn’t know when they were going to get the other book and said, you know, just there you go. Um, but it’s those kind of decisions that are easy to make, because that’s a focus.


Murray Guest  25:11

Yeah got you. And to me that sounds like you’re just providing more value anyway.


Dana Williams  25:20

Yeah, the customer service and value comes, you know, it’s like, I want them to know, I’m here for them. And whatever they’ve got going on, we’ll figure it out. So, yeah.


Murray Guest  25:30

So I know there’s a range of things we could talk about, from your experience as a leader to talk more about some of those insights to help the leaders that listen to the podcast. But I really want to know about the strengths journal. And because it is such a powerful piece that you’ve referenced a few times, I know bits about it. So for anyone listening, let’s explore what does that look like? And how does it help?


Dana Williams  25:55

So I started on developing it about 18 months ago, before I launched it, I just had this idea. I had gone through some challenging personal things. And I was probably in my late 40s, early 50s. I was like, wow, what am I here to do. And that’s about the same time I had taken the strengths assessment. And so I was like, Oh, my gosh, this is so cool. It’s telling me all these things I should be doing. So I started journaling, which I’ve done off and on throughout my life. And I’ve always been kind of a planner junkie. But I didn’t, I couldn’t figure out how to put my strengths in every day, as I was planning my day. So I just created a journal, I have a spiral bound and just kind of play with it for a while, then I finally got it out to some folks to test and then got approval from Gallup. And the only reason I licensed it because I wanted to put the definitions and brings and needs in the book. So, so book is like case bound, it’s it’s something that you would enjoy having on your nightstand or your bookshelf. And it’s 120 days. And the first part of the book, you really, actually have to write your your top five to 10 themes in your brings and needs, that you also need to spend time on your mission and your core values. And then I broke down into three year goals, one year goals, six month goals and 90 day goals. And this all happened during COVID. I was like, there’s no reason to plan out 10 years from now because things are changing so rapidly. And so. So that’s how you get started. And then the day is basically what is my outcome for today? It’s just a simple little, kind of what my outcome is for today. Why is that my outcome for today. And then these are the three things I’m going to do today. And then this is the strength I’m going to use to get these done.


Murray Guest  28:08

I’m just going to say Dana is holding up the strength journal to the camera right now. For those that are listening. It is, it looks fantastic. It looks like a beautifully presented journal, with sections to fill in. I want to congratulate you. It looks amazing.


Dana Williams  28:24

Thank you. Thank you. And the other piece of this is I really knew from the way I get things done is most of us over commit and try to do too much in a day.


Murray Guest  28:36

Hashtag responsibility. I get that.


Dana Williams  28:39

Yeah, my responsibilities up there. So there’s only three big things that you want to achieve each day. And then there’s some smaller, lower priority tasks. And then at the end of the day, write what you’re grateful for, and then what did I learn today? And/or what fear I conquered today. And the reason I put that in there is because when we’re going through any kind of time where we’re fearful, because we don’t want to do something or we’re scared of something I know, as a coach, you probably hear that a lot. Fear is a huge topic as we coach, and we all have fear, oh, I don’t know if I should do this, or I don’t know if I should do this podcast, you know, whatever it is. But once we step into that fear, we grow and if we’re not into fear, we’re not growing. So it’s intentionally solving the problem of how do I live intentionally each day and then how do I grow each day? Right? So think about that we were in the fear mode. We got into learning mode, and now we want to be in that growth mode.


Murray Guest  29:41

Yeah, beautiful.


Dana Williams  29:42

And so the other piece of this is a weekly review where you every Sunday, look at your week and say I was energized last week when… Blind spots – we talked about a few minutes ago – blind spots with my strengths I need to navigate, next week’s goal, I plan to conquer the following towards achieving my weekly goal. And then I review my long term and short term goals. So we want you to review those every week, not just looking at them at the end of the year.


Murray Guest  30:13

Yeah, yeah.


Dana Williams  30:14

Because while your goals might be the same, your strategies underneath could change. So and that’s pretty normal. Right. And so and then the last part is a weekly scorecard. And it’s kind of like what we were talking earlier about well being being so huge right now. So I connected with my friends and family, my finances, my faith, my fitness, how are all those doing and right yourself. And so some weeks, my fitness hasn’t been really good, like during Snowmageddon. And so I gotta get out and do something. And so, so anyway, that’s how it set up. And it’s 120 days only, because you can’t achieve, you know, it’s like, okay, 120 days I can, I can see some action.


Murray Guest  30:59

And I can I just say, there’s lots of that, which I just think is so so fantastic, in that you’re getting real clarity as a person by going through the journal about where am I going? How am I going to get there? And what are the things I’m doing now that’s working or not working to help me to achieve that? It’s powerful. And can I just ask, have you been using the strengths journal yourself? And how’s that been for you?


Dana Williams  31:29

Yes. So I’ve been using it for a year. And I went into hyper mode using it during my launch in my business, because there were things that I knew I had to get done. And I was like, Oh, my gosh, I’ve got to write and get all this content out, or I’ve got to build this, get this website launched, or I’ve got to… things that weren’t normally in my day to day wheelhouse. So I have to go through my strengths, pull up, plan, and then have people come alongside. And they just helped me charge through and get it done. And I don’t think I could have gotten it done because we left Southwest the end of September, and we launched December 6, so it was about 45 days. So I had already had the book written, I hadn’t found a publisher yet. So I had to find, I self published. Because I didn’t want to get it done in another country because of COVID and all this stuff going on. So yeah, there was a lot to get done.


Murray Guest  32:31

I know I know what it’s like launching a book and publishing a book. And some people have described it to me like birthing a child like that whole build up, and here they are now. So congratulations on doing that, particularly in a year like it has been, can I ask what what’s the reception been like to the book so far?


Dana Williams  32:51

It’s been really good. And we have, you know, people can buy the journal by itself. Or they can buy group coaching. And so, group live coaching. And that’s been really fun. I had so many people that, we’ve had two live group coaching sessions so going through, let’s build our mission statement. Let’s work on our core values, let’s work on our goals. And then and then we’ll work on messaging, and because I’m a messaging person, you know, and we had quite a few coaches sign up. And then we’ve got quite a few just independent leaders, entrepreneurs, I’ve had a couple of companies buy it for their, their leaders. So yeah, so it’s, it’s a great, I think it’s a great tool for a coach to have to bring in and teach it and and use it with their clients too.


Murray Guest  33:43

Yeah. And the bit that I’m getting out of this, too, from this conversation, it’s suitable for everybody, no matter what you’re doing in your life, you can use it in anything that you’re doing. And I’ll make sure there’s a link in the show notes, but it is available from thestrengthsjournal.com to go check that out. And to get that there. Can I ask just to finish this bit on the on the book, what is your hope for the strengths journal?


Dana Williams  34:15

So when I developed it, it was my mission is to help people birth their purpose and live it out intentionally every day. And so I just want to reach as many people as I can all over the world to help them live their best version of themselves. And intentionally, not just Oh, yeah, I’m going to do that next year. I have an 84 year old mother who’s getting her, she’s in college right now. And she’s going to be a screenwriter. So I always tell people when they think oh, you know, I can’t do something or I get it. You’ve got something in you. You need to live that out. You know, that is my vision is to get it out to the world. And then everybody has one that is, especially the people that know their strengths.


Murray Guest  35:05

Yeah. Fantastic. Love it. That is so inspiring. So thank you for sharing. And as I said, we’ll make sure we’re sharing that for people to go and check it out. And you and I need to have a chat about how I can get a few copies as well too.


Dana Williams  35:17

Yes, we will work on that too. Are most of your audience in Australia? Or are they all over the world?


Murray Guest  35:25

They’re around the world. So there’s a bunch of people that seem to like my accent in America, I’ve heard.


Dana Williams  35:31

We love your accent.


Murray Guest  35:32

I like listening to yours.


Dana Williams  35:35

That’s great. Cause I mean, there will be shipping, you know, we can talk about shipping and all that.


Murray Guest  35:39

Yeah. Great. Now you obviously were in marketing, and you talk about communication. And you talked about communication before and messaging, I’d love to know, what are some of your tips to help leaders communicate clearly, with their teams and peers? What would be your top tips that you’d love to share?


Dana Williams  35:58

Yeah, so I tease my leader all the time. And he was sent out communications because they became novels. And I was like, No, you know, keep it brief. I love the story brain framework, which is you start with a problem, right, story. So all the way back from Aristotle, start with a problem, what is the problem? And then the empathy. Bring in the empathy in your writing. What is your audience feeling right now? And being able to empathize. So many times when we start to write a communication we tend to write it about us. No, no, no, that’s a no, no, we write about our customer. Our audience, and we put them in that hero seat. And so you know, what is the problem that we’re solving for them? What is the you know, what are they feeling internally, externally? What is it philosophically they are feeling like? And then oh, my gosh, here comes the guide, that’s you, the writer of the document. You’re here to help and you empathize with them, because you get it. But you’re going to give them three simple things to do. And that is always, I think, as a leader, this is where you can weave in those four needs of followers as well. But being able to start with a problem, give them a solution, give them three things to do. Not 20, not 15, but maybe three, five at the most, here’s three things we’re going to do. And then cast the vision. Imagine six months from now we’re through this pandemic, or imagine six months from now that we have arrived at this point in time, and we’ve learned resiliency, you know, give them the future and bring them into the story. And I think it’s a simple framework. I just did it with you in two minutes. You can do it in two minutes, you can do it in 30 minutes. You can do it in a PowerPoint, you can do it in a simple letter or memo. But that’s it’s all based on that Communications Made Simple by Donald Miller. Um, but it’s just a seven point framework for messaging.


Murray Guest  38:17

Can I just say, Dana, I love the quote, and I can’t attribute to someone right now because I can’t remember who said it. But it is ‘a confused mind says no’.


Dana Williams  38:27

Yeah. And I think and what Donald Miller says is, it’s like every time you introduce something new or lots of information, you’re like handing bowling balls for people to hold, and they can only hold three. So give them three simple things. And the other thing I tend to see in communication, drove me crazy, was PowerPoints with tons of content on them. And sometimes it’s just a simple picture with, you know, the simple words that go with it. And I think we had so many people presenting, coming in to present, presenting to others, and that was one of our top, my pet peeves is, you’ve got to tell this quickly and easily and not with a bunch of words.


Murray Guest  39:12

Yeah, so and just, I think that’s a really good point there that the framework you just talked through, it’s an email, it’s a verbal conversation, it’s a presentation. It’s a project update, like it’s relevant for all of that.


Dana Williams  39:28

Exactly. And it’s so easy. I love frameworks. That’s why I created the journal. It’s like, I think sometimes we’re busy leaders, busy coaches. And it’s like, give me a framework. And then you just rinse and repeat. You know, here’s the framework, just use this. Because when you’re in the midst of uncertain time, you’ve got to get communication out quickly. Or you’re in the midst of influencing someone, or if you don’t have any influencing talent you can use that seven part framework, and it works you know.


Murray Guest  39:59

Yeah. And I think that’s such a powerful framework again, we’ll make sure that’s in the show notes. So people can reference that because I know communication is a challenge for the clients I work with. And it’s something I often know comes up in conversations about, how do we communicate a message? Or how do we engage? Or how do we influence people. But as you said, if we’ve got a simple framework, and we step through that, rinse and repeat, it removes the stress. And if it works, let’s keep doing it.


Dana Williams  40:29

As a leader, and you know this, is if we can get all those processes easily so people aren’t spend their time doing paperwork, but they’re spending their time with people. Oh, my gosh, that’s where that’s where the energy is needed. That’s where the well being comes into play, they’ve got a leader that cares about them, they’ve got a leader that knows them. And if they’re spending time trying to craft an email for, you know, an hour, that doesn’t have to be that hard even if they’re not a great writer.


Murray Guest  41:00

So Dana, I am mindful of your wealth of knowledge and experience, and how much time that we could keep chatting for because I know that there’s some other cool things that I would love to talk through with you and share. I’m going to be bold and say would you like to come on again, sometime? Talk to me about some more stuff?


Dana Williams  41:24

Absolutely, absolutely. Absolutely. I would love to.


Murray Guest  41:29

So there’s just just to plant the seed here with some listeners, Dana’s done some awesome work around how you can dominate your day. And what does that really look like and how you can live more intentionally, and how you can manage your energy a bit better. So these are topics which I know are really important to me, to the people I work with, to listeners. So look out for part two of this amazing conversation, because I just want to make sure we get a chance to share your knowledge in those areas as well. This has been awesome, Dana, I really appreciate your openness, and the sharing and all of the tips you’ve got around communication, and how just bringing strengths to life, whether that’s organizationally, at an individual level, and some real practical ways that people can do that. So this has been such a valuable conversation. Thank you so much.


Dana Williams  42:23

Well, thank you for having me. I’ve loved it. And I want to get back to Australia again. I’ll come there and you come here.


Murray Guest  42:32

Yes. That on the list. I think when planes are going in the sky internationally again, that’s a while off.


Dana Williams  42:39

Yeah. It is.


Murray Guest  42:40

So the best place for people to reach you, where would that be? Where do you want them to go online?


Dana Williams  42:46

So you can email me at Dana @ DanaWilliamsCo.com. Or you can go to LinkedIn, Dana Williams at LinkedIn, Instagram, also TheStrengths Journal on Instagram. So any of those are good. And, yeah.


Murray Guest  43:01

We’ll make sure that they’re all up in the show notes. So you can check out that and definitely check out the strengths journal, that’s so great to help people who are passionate about strengths. Or even if you haven’t done your strengths assessment, to be honest, because you’ve covered so much great things in that book around how you get clarity in your vision, your mission, your purpose and your values. And just that weekly reflection, which I love as a process keep you on track. So lots of good, good stuff in that journal.


Dana Williams  43:30

Thank you so much for having me.


Murray Guest  43:32

So before you go, though, I need to hold you accountable for what is your definition of inspired energy.


Dana Williams  43:40

I love that. So to me, it’s when all the cylinders are firing. It’s like, I could just do this for ever. And I talked to somebody today that said, I would just do this all day and not get paid because I’m so energized by it. That is inspired energy. It’s just just go and keep going.


Murray Guest  44:01

Yeah. And I love that where someone has tapped into that, they can identify that. And then we as coaches can help them do more of that. So I have got that from you today. So thank you. It’s been great. I’ve got more energy now than before the conversation, which is always great.


Dana Williams  44:20

Oh, good. That’s the point. Yeah, that’s the point. We got to light those fires, right?


Murray Guest  44:25

Yeah, yeah, definitely. So if anyone listening to this conversation that’s been absolutely awesome. You’ve got something out of it. Make sure you share it on online, particularly Instagram and LinkedIn, tag Dana and myself. And let us know. And if you go and get the strengths journal, which I hope you do, please share the impact that’s making in your life as well, because it’s such a great resource there to help you. Dana, thanks again so much for your time and your knowledge and I look forward to continuing this conversation in the not too distant future.


Dana Williams  44:58

We’d love that. Thank you. Thanks.


Murray Guest  45:02


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