Marcus Buckingham: Harness Your Strengths | E104

Marcus Buckingham: Harness Your Strengths | E104

FINALLY understand your strengths!

In today’s episode, we are chatting with Marcus Buckingham, a best-selling author, motivational speaker and business consultant. He spent two decades at Gallup helping co-create the StrengthsFinder tool and is now CEO of his own coaching firm, The Marcus Buckingham Company as well as currently leading the ADP Research Institute. Marcus has been featured in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Forbes, Fortune, Fast Company, The Today Show, and The Oprah Winfrey Show.

In this episode, we chat about the differences between strengths and weaknesses, how to build up your strengths, and understand how to take feedback. We’ll then talk more about the uniqueness of every person on a team, how teams can work to build on their strengths, the best qualities of managers, and Marcus’ vision of the future of work.

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Check out our website to meet the team, view show notes and transcripts:


00:43 – Difference Between Strengths and Weaknesses

02:37 – How to Understand Your Strengths and Weaknesses

06:06 – How to Build Up Your Strengths

12:22 – Are Weaknesses Related to Strengths?

18:57 – Understanding Feedback and Reactions

25:29 – Facts About 360 Feedback

32:15 – The Uniqueness of Each Person

35:52 – How a Team Can Work on Their Strengths

42:58 – Best Qualities of Managers

51:56 – How to Identify Leaders

55:45 – COVID Engagement Research

1:03:05 – The Future of Work

1:11:14 – Marcus’ Secret to Profiting in Life

Mentioned In The Episode:

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Marcus’ Research Organization:


[00:00:00] Hala Taha: [00:00:00] You're listening to YAP Young And  Profiting podcast, a place where you can listen, learn, and profit. Welcome to the show. I'm your host, Hala Taha. And on Young And Profiting podcast, we investigate a new topic each week and interview some of the brightest minds in the world. My goal is to turn their wisdom into actionable advice that you can use in your everyday life.

No matter your age, profession, or industry. There's no fluff on this podcast and that's on purpose. I'm here to uncover value from my guests by doing the proper research and asking the right questions. If you're new to the show, we've chatted with the likes of the ex FBI agents, real estate moguls, self-made billionaires, CEOs, and bestselling authors.

Our subject matter ranges from enhancing productivity, how to gain influence, the art of entrepreneurship, and more. If you're smart and like to continually improve yourself, hit the subscribe button because you'll love it here at Young [00:01:00] And P rofiting podcast. This week on YAP, I'm chatting with business consultant, motivational speaker and New York Times bestseller Marcus Buckingham. Marcus authored several books, some of his most popular being Nine Lies About Work and Stand Out: Assess Your Strengths, Find Your Edge and Win at Work.

Marcus is also a very established researcher. He spent two decades at Gallup helping co-create the Uber popular StrengthsFinder tool and is now CEO of his own coaching firm. And on top of all of this, he is currently leading the ADP Research Institute. Marcus has been featured on the New York Times, Wall Street Journal,

The Today Show, The Oprah Winfrey Show and dozens of other media outlets. In this episode, we chat about the differences between strengths and weaknesses, how to build up your strengths and how to best process feedback. We'll then talk more about the uniqueness of every person on a team, how teams can work to build on their [00:02:00] strengths, the impact on COVID and company culture and his vision of the future of work.

Hey Marcus, welcome to Young And Profiting podcast. 

Marcus Buckingham: [00:02:10] Hi Hala! How are you? 

Hala Taha: [00:02:10] Good. I'm really excited to chat with you today. You are an expert on all things, careers, thriving in the workplace, improving your productivity and things like that. You're a best-selling author, you're a motivational speaker, you're also a researcher, which is very interesting.

So I can't wait to dig into all of that. So to set some context for our listeners, I want to understand the difference between strengths and weaknesses, because this is something that you talk very often about. And I want to ask some follow-up questions about that. So with that said, could you just lay some foundation for our listeners about strengths versus weaknesses?

Marcus Buckingham: [00:02:47] Yeah, sure. I actually joined the Gallup organization when I first came to the U S about 25 years ago in Gallup's new for polling, but I did the side, it wasn't polling. It was focused on how do you measure things about a human that are really important, but you can't [00:03:00] count things like strengths, things like weaknesses.

And when you start to research strengths, obviously at the time I was building something called strength finder with with my mentor, who was the chairman of Gallup, Don Clifton. And when you really dive into strengths where you discover and weaknesses, you discover that a strength is and what you're good at and a weaknesses and what you're bad at, because we've all got some things that are really good at that we hate.

So what would you call that? What would you call it? Something where you are really effective at it, but doing it drains you or bores you or drags you out.

Hala Taha: [00:03:30] Burnout, burnout scale or something like that. 

Marcus Buckingham: [00:03:33] It's funny that happens in school, doesn't it where you can get, you can continually get A's in a class, but you're not there.

 Emotionally you're not there. Psychologically you're not there. You procrastinate that cost. Somehow you end up with an A, because you're smart or you're diligent or something, but when you really push it, what you find is that. All of us respond to situations in life, activities, people, contexts, and in a way that's either positively or emotionally, it's either a [00:04:00] little jolt up or a little pull down.

Nothing is really emotionally zero. And so weaknesses, any activity that we can consume, even if you're good at it, a strength is any activity that strengthens you, even if you're not good at it yet. So as strength has far more appetite than it is pure ability. And so that pushes you towards you realize that the person who knows what your strengths or weaknesses are better than anyone else in the world is you.

Hala Taha: [00:04:28] So then how do you start to understand, like what's a strength for you and what's a weakness? Like how do you measure that and evaluate that? 

Marcus Buckingham: [00:04:36] Probably the simplest thing. And we've done this with 10, 11, 12 year olds, by the way, for your listeners, just know, unfortunately, no one at school or in college or at work, no one is interested in finding out you're

now I know it sounds weird to say, but no one, and I don't mean this to sound cynical, but no one is really interested in what is inside you as a human and what your natural strengths are, because the whole approach to education and work is basically that each one of us has an empty [00:05:00] vessel and we can fill it with whatever education we wanted to fill it with.

Test you occasionally to see how full your vessel is through exams or tests and the best student or the best worker is he or she who's the fullest. So the idea that each one of us is beautifully unique with unique strengths and weaknesses is a lost on school or on work, but for you, if you wanted to figure out where your particular natural strengths are and weaknesses, the simplest thing to do is to use a regular week of your life.

Just take a blank. Maybe it's a blank pad. Maybe it's a page on your phone or whatever. Draw a line down the middle of the pad. And I loved it at the top of one column and loath it. At the top of the other column and then take it around with you for a week. Anytime you find yourself looking forward to it's a particular activity before you're doing it, scribble it down in the moment and the love to come.

Anytime you find yourself with time just flying by and what felt like five minutes you look up and it's an hour, scribbled it down. Anytime when you're done with it, it felt like it just clicked. It just clicked. It was almost like you knew how to do it without [00:06:00] having to learn how to do it. So rapid learning, scribble it down in the love.

They call them. Anytime you see the inverse Hala before you're doing it, you're pushing it off to the side of your desk with something you're trying to shove it under the filing cabinet out. When you're doing a TimeStar drags on it, you get to the end, but you have an empty husk. Anytime, anything like that, it down in the load that column just spend a week using the raw material of your life to show you where is the positive valence at the level of the activity and where is the negative?

And you'll get to the end of the week. They didn't have a list. You'll have a list, not of like theoretical terms, like strategic thinking or executive presence or growth orientation or entrepreneurship. Not that you'll have a list of actual activities, some of which super draw you in. And some of which bore you, drain you, as you said, burn you out.

That is a beautiful starting point to begin to identify for yourself where you get strength from life and because [00:07:00] strength and appetite and practice and performance and practice are this beautiful ongoing loop. The more detailed you can be about which particular activities draw you back.

Those are your strengths. You may not be good at them yet. You may not be, you may just be drawn to them repeatedly, but the beautiful thing is you use your life, not someone's theoretical models, but your life to help, what are the particular aspects, activities, and situations, contexts, moments that strengthen you.

Those are your strengths and you can do it at 11 years old. 

Hala Taha: [00:07:31] I love that. I love tactical advice. So I think everybody who's listening should take heed and do that activity to find out their strengths and weaknesses. Now, I know that you're, you have a very strong belief that you should not really focus on your weaknesses.

A lot of people have it backwards. They focus a lot on improving their weaknesses, but you say, focus on your strengths. Why is that? And how can we start to build up our strengths even better? And how did you come up with the fact that you feel that weaknesses really aren't where you should focus? 

Marcus Buckingham: [00:07:59] To [00:08:00] begin with, just to clarify, I don't feel it.

I don't think it. I'm a researcher. So I go into any situation with a blank canvas. We went in, this was about 25 years ago now, but we went and basically studied highly performing managers or team leaders and low performing team leaders. And companies would give us their top a hundred managers and their bottom hundred managers.

And we do this again and again and again. So you're constantly looking. In the world, the researchers called a study group and a contrast group. So you just keep talking to the world's best managers and team leaders, and you ask them a whole bunch of questions about what do you do? What do you do to get the best out of your people?

And although every single one of the members, and by the way, it got to be about 80,000. So 80,000 interviews, like the one that you're doing with me now, where we transcribe everything that was said, and then pour over the transcripts, looking for well, looking for similarities, basically. And of course the first thing you find is that all of these really great team leaders are really different from one another.

And I don't mean just differences in terms of race or age [00:09:00] or nationality or whatever, but just different in terms of that style, some of the best team leaders are very future focused. Some of them are very now focused. Some of them are very conceptual. Some of the very tactics, they're all different in terms of that stuff.

But one of the things that they all shared was a deep realization that each person on their team. A was in during the unique, even if you have 10 salespeople, you don't have 10 salespeople, you have 10 individuals who happened to be in selling. And each one of those people sells in a slightly different way.

And what you, as the leader have to do is not try to make them all the second. You, as a leader, have to figure out a bit like playing chess versus checkers, right? Chess, all the pieces move differently. The best team leaders realize each of these pieces move differently. First of all, you've got to figure out as a chess playing team leader who's the Knight, who's the Rook, who's the Queen,

who's the Bishop, who's that like you, you try to figure out the uniqueness of each person. And then they said, if you've got a Rook, don't try and turn it into a Bishop. It's if you've got somebody who naturally sells by building relationships with [00:10:00] people and getting them to trust you, what you do is you help them to maximize that intelligently.

And if you've got someone who really sells simply because of the force of their personality, they close quickly. They're just a closing. That's what they do is what I love to do. You help them to cultivate that intelligently. You don't try and turn them into someone who you go well, Johnny well done for being a good, closer, but now we need to work on fixing your relationship building.

They don't do that and they don't do it not because they're trying to be nice. Maybe some of them are, but they're doing it because they realize you've always got as a team leader. Now for you as a CEO, you'll know this more and more over time, you're always thinking about return on investment.

You're always thinking about where's the ROI. And I don't mean of the business. I'm in of a human, where would we get the most growth and the best team leaders seem to understand what neuroscientists have only just begun to measure it. Namely that you will get the most growth, the most development, the most performance improvement by figuring [00:11:00] out where somebody already has some kind of comparative advantage.

And then you maximize it. And we can talk about how to maximize it in a minute. But it's that is a mind-blowingly important thing for you to understand in your career because everywhere you go in school, obviously, if he gets, in fact, we asked this question every year for the last 25 years, your child comes home.

So we ask that of parents, your child comes home, the following grades, English- A, Social Studies- A, Biology- C, Algebra- F, which grade deserves the most attention from you. And there isn't a single year Hala where less than 70% of American parents focus on the eighth. If you give them the choice of those grades, every parent, by the way, every teacher goes straight to the F because we're frightened of the F and then you get to work.

When you start your career, you'll find that we turn the word F into something called an area of opportunity or area for development. So in the world of work, we have strengths [00:12:00] jolly well done. Those, and then areas of development, the best managers who will go wait a minute, that is completely bass ackwards.

You have strengths, which are your areas for development. And then you have weaknesses that we need to manage around every little effect of sports coach. If you look at them look at Tom Brady has very specific strengths as a player and a whole shed load of weaknesses. If you want to get the best out of Tom Brady, you do not say the term.

Okay. Let's just ignore your strengths for awhile. Let's really focus on turning your weaknesses. And he has so many, mobility being the most obvious one of them. And let's try and turn you into Patrick. When we say it like that, we know that sounds stupid. And yet the really sad thing is that for most of you who are listening in your careers, that is exactly the advice you're going to get.

Find out where your lack of mobility is. We'll call that an area for development and we'll put together an individual development plan for you so that you can emerge this well-rounded perfect human. I'm sorry. The [00:13:00] most successful people in the world, the most successful team leaders in the world realize that each one of us is injured, certainly unique.

And over the course of our life, we don't turn into someone else. We get more and more of who we already are. And the real challenge versus. Can you get to become an incredibly intelligent version of who you are. Best team leaders figured that out so fast. I'm not going to turn my Knight into a Rook.

I got to figure out how to maximize these really beautiful, unique people. 

Hala Taha: [00:13:31] That's so interesting. And I know that I had a guest, her name is Dorie Clark. You might be familiar with her. She was on my episode number one a long time ago, she's a career expert or reinvention coach. And she said that sometimes your weaknesses can be your biggest strength.

So do you have an opinion about that? Have you seen that where your weaknesses are actually somewhat related to your biggest strengths as well? 

Marcus Buckingham: [00:13:55] That's an interesting question because normally the way that it's positioned is the other way around. You'll [00:14:00] hear an awful lot of people say, yeah, but that strength better watch out for it.

That strength of yours can also become a weakness. You'll do it. You'll hear it, twist it around. So somebody will say look, you're naturally very good at confrontation. Your mind, doesn't go blank. Somehow the words come really smoothly. And you, I just, whenever there's a confrontation moment, you'll feel really good in the middle of it, but watch out, don't use it too much because then it will turn into people to think you're rude or aggressive.

So you need to calm it down a little bit, or they'll say the same way with empathy, when you're really empathetic, but you know what you're too soft. You're too so you can't always be empathetic. In fact, most people's coach. I'm not saying this was true of hers, but because she actually framed it really interestingly around most of what you'll hear, most of what your listeners will hear is the other way around where people were spent really well-intended people like your mother will tell you because they want to help

you tone that down a little bit, your best boss that you first meet when you first meet a boss that you really like, they'll spend a lot of time good. This is great, but you need to turn it [00:15:00] down a little bit. The first thing that all of us should remember is no good advice.

Basically when you peel it back, sounds be less of who you are. That is never good coaching advice or curb be less of who you are now. That doesn't mean that somebody can't help you go wait a minute, Marcus. Sometimes when you're confronting people with your grades at sometimes you seem to actually be pushing them further away from where you want them to get to.

How can you be more? What I mean, what's great Marcus with you is your words can really quickly when you're angry. I dunno. Some people, they shut down, you don't, you get angry and you just get cold. And Chris, when you're wow. Crazy town, that's so good. How can you use it in a way that actually gets the outcome you want?

Sometimes with kids, I'm sure you've seen this with other kids that you have relatives that you've got, whatever kids, it's almost like a strength, so too big for their little bodies. So when they have natural strengths, sometimes it's like they haven't grown any to them yet. In fact, what a career is really is growing into your natural strengths so that you can use the really [00:16:00] intelligently.

Your strength you can never have too much of a strength. If anyone ever tells you, you got too much of that strength block that comment out, because what they're really saying, they might be saying is you're not using that strength quite effectively enough. Okay. That's a legitimate piece of coaching advice, and that might make you pause and think, I wonder how I can tweak or fine tune or adjust that so I can use my natural proclivities to actually get done.

What I want to get done. The other way around is an interesting framing that your weaknesses are also part of your strengths. I would say this, what we can see you, can't also strengthen you. So if you define a strength than a weakness, the way I did upfront, which frankly, most people don't, they normally say a strength is what you're good at.

And weakness is what you're bad at. But if a strength is what strengthens you and a weaknesses, what we can see, then what we can see you, can't also strengthen you in some way. It's a logical non-sequitur right. But some of the things that [00:17:00] strengthen you in some situations can prove effective for you.

And in other situations, they weren't proven effective for you. For example, you might be somebody who is strengthened by persuading, someone to do something they didn't intend to do. You love selling and you love the clothes. And then because you loved selling and because no one really helped you understand which bit of it you really loved and that what you were selling for that a medical device company, you got closes all the time.

It was so great because you've got the little signature on the thing and you were like, yeah. And then you got promoted. I don't know why you got promoted to work for a pharmaceutical company like Amgen or something or Genentech. And you went in and you'll quote unquote, good at selling, but you go in there and you suddenly realize that in pharmaceutical sales, you've never closed.

There's no closed there's no signature. You're just influencing doctors to write prescriptions. And so you go in there thinking. I'm really strong at selling, but actually, you know what strengthened you was the close and you went and joined a pharmaceutical sales company where there's [00:18:00] no clubs. So in that sense, your weakness and your strength is stayed the same.

What strengthened you stayed the same. What we can do stayed the same. It's just the, in one context, it was super useful to help you be effective in the job and in the pharmaceutical sales. That very same thing that very same parts of you actually proved to be diminishing for you. Super frustrating for you.

And if any of your listeners have found that in their career you go wait a minute. What happened to me? Because I was doing it. I was killing it away yet. I moved over here and suddenly I'm like, I may actually still be here able to quote unquote, do the job, but I'm like every day I wake up and I'm in a really bad loot.

What? Why? So often it's because there's some parts of your previous job that was strengthening to you. Some activity or situation or personal context in that case, the close was strengthening to you and you moved into each, when does none of it. And I was, that would have been so helpful if you want to learn it.

[00:19:00] 11 or 12 or 13, but unfortunately for most of us, we have to serve, figure this out as we go along during the course of our career. 

Hala Taha: [00:19:08] Wow. I loved everything that you just said. You were giving so many value bombs away. The two big takeaways that I have is, again, going back to writing down what you love and what you loads and really taking the time to think about that and to figure that out so that when you are in situations where you feel burnt out, you know exactly why and so that you can make the right career decisions and evaluate your future experiences based on what you're actually good at.

And so that you don't, make a big career change and then you end up hating your job. That's when you were doing really great. So I definitely agree there. I also love your feedback about feedback that you shouldn't just listen to everyone, even if they have good intentions, like your mom or a boss that might really want you to succeed, but they just don't know how to give proper advice and they give you bad advice.

So that's super important. 

Marcus Buckingham: [00:19:58] Yeah. And on that point, by [00:20:00] the way, high, if you look at many of your listeners that are going to bump into this so much of it, but somebody will say, you need to take feedback or, Hey, come in and sit out. I want to give you some feedback. And of course, in today's high-tech world, there are so many tools and functions and features that are aligned to get feedback all the time from people.

And if you're in the corporate world, you work for Disney. You'll notice you actually have four more ways of getting feedback. Sometimes it's called a performance review or a performance appraisal, or, and it used to have a year. And now it seems to happen with little apps and stuff. Now it's, you're getting feedback all the time.

What I would strongly suggest to your listeners is block all of it out. All of it. Feedback never, ever helps you excel ever. The reason why that is well, there's one small exception, sorry. There's one small exception. When success in a job requires you to know a certain fact. Or a certain prescribed sequence of steps and you're [00:21:00] getting the steps wrong.

Let's say you're a nurse and you there's a step sequence to give a safe and painless injection. And you miss one of the steps. It is entirely appropriate for someone to come in and go, Hey, you missed a step. Or if you got it wrong the American independence war was this date. And you say that date, then somebody can say you got that date wrong.

So when it comes to predetermined facts or steps, then feedback is fine. Cause someone might tell you that you've missed one, but excellent in any job, you're a CEO right now, right? You go 40 people you're charging around like a mad prune and no part of your job is a prescribed sequence of steps. Yes, you need to know how to turn this particular technology on that.

You and I are. You need to know how to do that. You need to know how to save, look, file, and then cut it up into bits. And you need to know what to do that. And if someone can teach you how to do that, great. But other than that, everything that you're doing, everything that you're learning every moment, you're doing your very best work is a function of [00:22:00] inside out.

It's you taking your natural patterns of loves and lows to a natural synaptic connection patterns and turning them into behavior still nearly of life is hitting you all the time. And you're just choosing, I'm making a choice here doing this, not that thousands of bees every day, when somebody tries to give you advice, when somebody tries to give you feedback, when you really look what they're saying, even with the very best of intentions, what they're really saying to you is you would do this job better Hala if you did it more like me, because all I've got is my own experience.

I'm telling you, Hey, you need to do a bit more of that. You need to do a little less of that. You should do this. You should do that. And it's basically someone taking their own experience. And even with the best of intentions smothering you with them. And instead you shouldn't ask for feedback. And if you are a manager of other people or a colleague never give feedback instead, what you can do.

And what's so legit to do [00:23:00] is say what your reaction is just to be way more humble. Don't cross the feedback bridge and start giving advice stuff, to just stay on your side of the bridge and sell it. My reaction was this. So if you said to me, Hey Marcus I just really didn't understand what you just said.

That's your reaction? That is so legit. I can't say yes, you did Hala. You totally did. I can't say that you could, your reaction is your reaction. You're the owner of your reaction. You can say, I didn't understand what you didn't say.  You could say I was really bored by what you just said. I can't then go.

No, you aren't bored. You are bored. So that's the reaction. Tell me your reaction. If you go through your career and you're blind or deaf to other people's reactions to you, okay, that's a miss. You need to listen for their reactions, just smile and close your ears. When they start giving you feedback on what you should do differently.

The only way that actually they can help, what to do differently or better is not only if they [00:24:00] react when something didn't go well. But actually the best thing to listen for is for their reaction when something really worked well, that you did. You're and this again, it's one of those mind-blowingly obvious when you say it, but no one teaches you this, the raw material for your future greatness is your current goodness material for your future

greatness is not your current failure. It's your current areas where you're already doing something where people went. That was cool. That presentation you gave, you know what, not everything about it was great for me. But this part I meant in like crazy. If you built a whole presentation where you did more of that, that, that moment there, I don't know.

I just lent it. I couldn't stop myself from leading. And it was so you nailed it. Your energy was to tap that room. If someone's telling you their reaction about what worked, that's not them being nice to you. That is them giving you raw material to help, what should I tap towards? [00:25:00] What should I do more of what should I find tune or refine?

Because frankly, most of us, we charge through life and we're trying our best. We do a bit of this and a bit of that and a bit of this other people's reaction to what worked, whether it's an email you wrote, whether it's a campaign you started, whether it was a relationship you built, whether it was the presentation you gave, if someone is reacting to what bits of it worked.

Oh, my word, that is the best coaching advice you can ever get from someone so different, by the way, the, when someone's telling you what you should do differently, which as I said, normally turns out to be, you would do better if only you did it more like me. So whenever you hear feedback, just your alarm bells go off.

Hala Taha: [00:25:41] Oh, my gosh! This is excellent. I love that. When you said smile and close your ears, when you hear feedback, that's such a good tip for people. And a lot of people think that they're supposed to get feedback and they don't realize that most feedback is actually negative. Like when somebody asks you for feedback, you're thinking what's the one negative thing I can think about this person [00:26:00] and give them some constructive criticism.

You're not thinking about good feedback, right? And I know that you actually have this opinion about 360 reviews. You call them gossip. So tell us about your opinion on 360 reviews. Cause we did that at, I don't work at Disney anymore, but we did that at Disney and I have a great story about how, somebody who was just out to get me gave really bad feedback, which had not if you asked any of my past managers of the past 10 years or any of my past coworkers, everybody would be like, that doesn't sound anything like Hala, but it's just one person who was out to get me.

So talk to us about 360 feedback. 

Marcus Buckingham: [00:26:32] Again, as is everything else, I don't have an opinion about anything. 

Hala Taha: [00:26:35] Sorry, but tell us about the facts.

Marcus Buckingham: [00:26:37] Right? And I say that because as in this day and age, it's everyone's a thought leader. I think there's, I think that, I think there's, I was a chef, but now I'm a life coach.

It's like, how does everyone's a thought leader? So it's important if you have data to start with the data show, because then you're not really just putting your opinion out. You're going, this is what we can see in the world when it comes to three [00:27:00] sixties, first of all, you're right. In many cases, there are an opportunity for someone anonymously to lob little hand grenades at other people.

So there's that whole part of it, which is just dangerous and politically damaging and psychologically hurtful. But even if you de-anonymize it, the basic that there's two basic huge floors with any 360, for any of you listening to are forced to go through a 360, just keep your mind focused on these two floors.

Again, you may have to smile and just pretend, but know that these two floors are right there at the heart of all three sixties. The first is that you can learn about succession studying failure there. If somebody's using a 360 to point out where your gaps are, you can learn a lot from studying your gaps.

Remember you learn nothing about success from studying failure. Let me let's just, we'll be really clear. There's so much stuff. Our failure is such a great teacher. No, it isn't. Failure teaches you about failure. If you wanted to learn about failure, studying it up the wazoo, it teaches you [00:28:00] nothing about success.

In fact, some aspects of failure are really similar to success. So if you study failure and then say, don't do that, you won't succeed. It's like saying, if you studied really unhappy marriages, you actually, and this is true. You find out that people argue a lot. You count the arguments. There are a lot of arguments.

So what you would then say as well to have a happy marriage, you shouldn't argue, but you actually study really happy marriages. You count the number of arguments. There are exactly the same number of arguments or rather there's no statistically significant difference between the number of arguments in a happy marriage and the number of arguments in a rotten one.

It turns out the difference between a happy marriage and a rotten one isn't the number of arguments. It's what goes on in the space between the arguments and in the unhappy marriage is somehow you lean away from one another. And each argument is proof of the need to be Ahmed against the other person's attacks.

And somehow in a happy marriage, the arguments are assigned for more reaching toward one, another more intimacy, more curiosity. So if you just studied really unhappy marriages found [00:29:00] out that they argued a lot. You'd go well, then if you want a good one, don't argue, which is completely wrong. It's like saying health is the absence of disease in order to learn about health, we should study disease.

No, if you want to learn about disease, you study disease, which is fine. Do that, but don't imagine that's health. Health is a totally different thing. So that's the first thing with three sixties. They're predicated on the idea that to get better, you should figure out where you're failing according to your 360 colleagues and then fix it.

Okay. Completely wrong. You will learn more about how you're going to excel from those places where you excel it very quickly. The second thing that's problematic, hugely problematic with three sixties is that based on the idea that I am a reliable rater of you on anything. And it turns out after 50 years of research on this, it turns out that the only thing I'm a reliable rater off is my own feelings and experiences.

I'm a pretty good relater [00:30:00] or rates, rather of whether I'm bored by a presentation. I'm a good rater of a restaurant that I just went to a, will I go there again? I can rate that I can rate whether I will advocate that restaurant and friends and family. I can do all of that because it's all about me

rating me, turns out I am a terrible rater of your strategic thinking or your empathy or anything in you. I'm terrible rater of it. And it turns out there's a thing called, and this is going to sound long and convoluted, but it's called the idiosyncratic rates of effect. And it basically means when I rate you, my rating of you is idiosyncratic.

And it reflects me more than it does you. And we know that because when I rate 10 people on something like empathy, presumably if I was really seeing that through a window, if you like the ratings would change because I'm looking at 10 different people, but we know measurably the ratings don't change my ratings, move with me.

I'm in a sense, revealing myself as I'm [00:31:00] rating these 10 people, three sixties are supposed to be a window into other people. They're not, they're a mirror. They're just me bouncing me back at me. And for those of you who are listening, who are stat heads, you'll know that if your measurement system has systematic error in it, which this is systematic error, the more data you add, doesn't get rid of the error.

It adds to the era. It's if you've got one broken thermometer, you've got one bad measurement. If you have 15 broken thermometers, you've now got 15 bad measurements and you're no closer to knowing how hot it is outside. So that's what a 360 is. It's a systematically build badly designed focused on failure.

Unfortunately, for many of your listeners that you're going to bump it to this. Some well-intended team leader is going to go, Hey, here's this new nifty 360. It's part of our human capital management system. And it's going to help you get that up. [00:32:00] Okay. Whenever you see that again, you may have to smile to be politically savvy, but just please don't let your career

be determined by other people's full teeth thermometers. 

Hala Taha: [00:32:12] It's so crazy because I know that so many corporations do this. And so many of us are going through these feedback reviews and there's so many messed up outcomes as a result of this. There's so many managers who are focusing on the wrong things and team members who are just drowning because they're worried about their weaknesses, not focusing on their strengths.

It sounds so, so broken, and that's just really sad to me that it's so broken right now. 

Marcus Buckingham: [00:32:36] No, it is. And the it is broken and it will stay broken until we realize and take seriously the idea that each one of us isn't permanently malleable that you are Hala and you are the least interesting thing about you.

Is that your Palestinian, you're a woman. Why? Because there are hundreds of thousands [00:33:00] of others. There's only one you, and the full extent of how unique you are is if we actually count the number of synaptic connections in your brain, we find out two things. One you have as men, you Hala have as many synaptic connections in your brain.

As there are stars in 5,000 Milky ways. And that isn't a silly exaggeration. That is the full, massive, overwhelming, beautiful filigreed truth of the fact that you will shine the way that you shine only what they'll be only one person ever in the world ever in human history. That will be as unique as you are.

So that's the very first thing is that your crazily beautiful, unique pattern of synaptic connections is yours alone. And it will be extinguished when you die and it will never shine that way. Again, it's like you are so bloody precious. Second, we know that you will grow more synaptic connections in the areas of your brain when you have the most preexisting synaptic connections.

[00:34:00] So it's not as though we have a fixed mindset. There's only one Hala and she can't change or grow. She can change and grow just every one of your listeners can, but you will change and grow in those areas where you've already got lots of thickets of synaptic connections. Your brain does rewire itself.

So anybody that's taking a quote unquote growth mindset to that career, please remember, unfortunately, Carol Dweck in her book about this. Doesn't talk about any of this at all, but this doesn't mean that you can rewire your brain and Hala you could become me, not in terms of all of my incredibly crazy synaptic connections in my head.

Those are mine. And all of the natural behaviors and loves and loads and strengths or weaknesses that they create a mind and all the weird inconsistencies and irregularities and opaqueness of that. The complexity of that is all mine, yours, all yours. And when you grow, you become your thick synaptic connections become thicker.

And [00:35:00] actually your weaker ones, they atrophy, they wither away. So over the course of your life, you can grow and change, but you don't grow and change into someone else.  Anyway, so bang on about that. 

Hala Taha: [00:35:13] It's so interesting. Now I love this conversation. I feel like everyone's going to find so much value in it.

Very entertaining and interesting. So I have a team like we talked about, I have over 40 employees and we have a very happy company culture. And I think that it's because naturally I do this. I really compliment everybody on their strengths. And since we are a startup, everyone kind of can land grab where they feel most productive and happy.

And so it's not like I'm like here, you're a graphic designer and you have to do this exact job. It's like you're on the graphic design team, go do it. You're going to be best at that's my attitude. So I actually think I'm going to do this love and lows thing for my team, have them do that for two weeks, track all their activities so that I can just see that and know to put people on the projects that they're best at and just have [00:36:00] that information to help me make decisions going forward.

I think it's so useful. Is there anything else leaders can do to make sure that their team is working on their strengths? 

Marcus Buckingham: [00:36:07] First of all, just remember, and I did the same as human. I built a company of a hundred engineers and you're, it's a whole software company and you it's fascinating, isn't it?

I'm sure you'll find this as a leader that actually the bigger the company gets, the more you realize that every single part of your life really is a people equation. It might be people as it relates to customers or people as it relates to the folks that you're hiring and working with. But suddenly you have to become a really deep expert in humans, which is why I wanted the stuff that we're talking about here is super relevant to anybody who's listening.

Who's a leader because you have to try to figure out how to get the best out of humans or how to sell to humans and all the strategic thinking in the world, or all the financing in the world. Isn't gonna help you. If you can't find customers. And you've got find really good people in terms of like how you can help people capitalize on those strengths, the, by the way, if you do that love and load that thing, [00:37:00] what you're trying to get them to do in the end is so of right.

I know this is going to sound weird. You're going to try to get them to write down a couple of love notes for themselves as in I love it when, and then you get, cause remember if they did it for two weeks, they'd have a whole bunch of activities written out. And the love that column and a whole bunch of activities written down in the load they come and you want to turn to them at the end of two weeks and go, okay, write three love notes to yourself.

Not I'm amazing at no, you're not bragging. You're just going. I'm at my best when, or I love it when, or I get a kick out of it when. Just write three for yourself. If you don't want to show them to me, don't show it to me. But for you team member, take ownership for the love that you draw from your life.

We say there's five, love languages. No, there aren't. There are 9 billion love languages, learn to speak yours. So write yourself a love note, which basically is I'm at my best one note and use the raw material of that loved it, loved that activity. [00:38:00] As your raw material, don't pull it out of, pull it out of last week, pull it out of last week and write down I'm at my best when, and then perhaps, and this is so fun to do you get your team together.

I'm not 40 because it's too big. So you'll have to break it down into smaller teams, but you could spend two hours. And it's a great two hours where everyone just shares their love notes. I'm at my best when that, now you're not saying I'm the best at that is a totally different claim.

You still don't want that in you. I'm the best of this. Okay? Who knows the best app. But if you say I'm at my best when, huh? Now no one can come in and say, no, you're not because this came out of your life. So it would be a, it's a very good thing. If you're running a team, if you do that, love it. Load the activity.

The next thing to do, each person writes a love note, right? I would suggest three. And then the next thing, if you really want to accelerate your team's collaboration. Share it cause it's weird. We don't know one [00:39:00] another, we make these stupid generalizations about one another. That looks stupid. But we see someone's superficiality.

There are a white man, or there are black women or there are Palestinian, and we make our own, he's a, I knew your paycheck and New York jets supporter, and he's an idiot Patriot. And we make these generalizations and of course they hide the beautiful uniqueness of each team member.

So that's a good thing to do is to go sit, to go around and go, listen, we're not going to say what all of our skills and certifications are because who the heck knows what all those are. We can go on LinkedIn and see what those are. But when you're at your best boy, seriously, if we did this with it, we had a hundred people.

So we had like about eight or nine different teams. And we did this every three months. It's a great two hours because you're like, oh, I didn't. And of course you can, if you wanted to do it the next time you meet, you can do the inverse. I'm drained when, I really find it difficult when, I'm at my worst when, and that [00:40:00] doesn't mean that you can slough it off.

Oh, therefore I'm not going to do it. No. But it's a wonderful thing. How in your company to be the kind of company where it's okay to say, I am super geeked by this and this and this and this and this over here. I'm you're going to get a, B a B minus version of me. I know that sometimes I have to do I totally get, but don't ask me to crush it.

If you keep bringing me. It's I remember when I was smoking a bus, when I drive my, I spent all weekend putting together 27 different options of what we could do, because I like processing everything and pulling it apart. And I put together this kind of PowerPoint presentation that would have made the NASA moon landing look simple.

I had all these different, if we did this, then we would do this. We did. And I brought it into her. I, and she liked me. And about 10 minutes, then I could see she was doing that into the telltale signs that she was bored or frustrated checking the watch, looking up. And I saw I'm like, look what I spent a week.

I spent on a weekend on this and she was like, Marcus, [00:41:00] I'm really busy. I explained to him, I trust you. Dude, come up with two things. Tell me why you'd pick the one. And I almost 99% of the time I'm going to pick the one that you pay. And for her, she didn't take information in the way that I did. She took it in a way that I presume you've thought this through, come to me with two options make a decision.

Now that isn't, she's not right. I'm not wrong, but what you do when you do that kind of activity, when you share with one another, I take information in this way. Oh, I take it in this way or I'm at my best with this. I'm at my best with that. What you're doing is simply building awareness. Now sometimes.

I'm going to have to do something a little outside of my comfort zone because she wants me to just snap a decision off. Okay. But at least I now know that's how she's taking information in and she knows that's how I take in information and awareness is this beautifully powerful part of a building a great career, but also building a great team.

The opposite of awareness is assumption. And so everything that we're talking about here [00:42:00] is getting past assumptions about, oh, I know graphic designers or graphic designers. I like this. Okay. No, they're not. Each graphic designer is weird and cool and different, and you've got to put in place inside your teams.

And I hope you do this some ways to cut through assumptions and let people use the specificity of their own daily life to share a few really cool love notes about how you can get the best out of them. 

Hala Taha: [00:42:26] I love this. We're definitely going to do this at YAP Media. So thank you so much for that activity.

I can't wait to do it with my team. I know that you have 20 years of research experience. And so you've researched a lot of different topics. You have many different books were on the topics of managers. So over the years, you've done lots of research studies on this. What makes the best qualities in a manager while we're on this topic?

Marcus Buckingham: [00:42:49] That's hard to say, right? Because every manager is different. What we do know is that every really great manager has the ability to individualize. If you can't individualize, you [00:43:00] can't build a great team because a great team isn't built up a bunch of the same people at the team. If you will.

People always say there's no IMT team as though the point of a team is to remind you that you're not that special. It's no. That's a complete misunderstanding of what teams are for you bring teams together because a team is the place in which lots of different people, lots of unique eyes actually make a contribution together and they achieve something together.

They couldn't do by themselves. The point of a team are the eyes. So individualization if you want to be a really good team leader, cultivate, and some part of this is a skill. It's not just a natural strength. Some part of managing is learning how to see the clues. Can you see where somebody has rapid learning?

Can you see where one of your team members just gets in those zone and they just seem to be in flow. Can you see where people are naturally volunteering? I not in a, not in a miss instinct kind of way when some people's instincts are there instinctively raising their hand for a [00:44:00] job because the job comes with certain benefits, a money, prize, prestige, American Idol, all those people like volunteering, they're volunteer.

Are they really volunteering for learning a hundred word songs, do a hundred words to a hundred songs, practicing all those times by yourself. Are they really volunteering for the actual activities of what it takes to be an American idol? Or are they volunteering because they want the praise and the money or the attention.

We've got a lot of miss instincts in our lives, cause no one's ever really taught us to inventory where our own natural strengths are. So as a manager individualizations are really important thing. But the second thing I would say, and this is less Hala, an attribute and more, just a behavior. By the way, and yet you should do this too, because this is free and it's just everything.

The best team leaders check in with each person on their team for 15 minutes each week, individually. [00:45:00] And the conversation in that 15 minutes, or you could call it a check-in or a touch base or a conversation or a one-on-one the blood doesn't matter. But that 15 minutes isn't about feedback on this weekend.

Let me tell you how you do it. Let me tell it now it's a short-term future focus conversation about next week in which the manager is just asking two questions. What are your priorities this week? And how can I help you? What are your priorities? How can I help you? And the best managers realize you don't do that as a group.

You can get your team together as a group if you want, but every week, each individual on that team is basically invisibly raising their hand and going, can you pay attention to me? Can you pay attention to me? Can you pay attention to me? Every human being has got like an attention bucket, but the bucket has a hole in it.

And so you fill my bucket in the course of the week by going, okay, what are your priorities next week? What are you working on? How can I help? And then you think what I've done that. So I don't have to do that now for another five months. Would that person know next Friday, you got to [00:46:00] do it again, and then you got to do it again and you got to do it again.

And if any of your listeners are thinking I can't do that because I've got too many people, then you've got too many people. It's what's the perfect span of control in a young business like yours. It's not span of control. It's span of attention. And the perfect span of attention is how many people can you as a team leader, legitimately check in with every week for 52 weeks.

And also if you are a team leader or you are aspiring to be one in your career and you're listening to this and you're thinking to yourself that sounds boring. I don't want to check in with each of my people every week is I want to be strategic, rising. I want to be, you know what been doing the cool, sexy leadership stuff, then don't leave people.

Because if you don't want to check in with each person and find out what's going on in their head and how can I help every single week because things change. So if that doesn't interest, you don't lead people. Cause this thing, this check-in thing isn't like in addition to leading it is leading. And if that doesn't interest you, then go be smart by [00:47:00] yourself or maybe you and one other person.

But if you want to try to get the most out of a team of people, you've got to check in with them each week about near term future with your strengths lens on. So you're looking for where they've shown some sort of signs of real achievement, rapid learning in the zone. And you're trying always in the face of a changing world, right?

The goals that you put together for your company back in June, where we're relevant by July that's how quickly the world. And it's not just COVID that's just every year is like that. We have a whole other conversation about goals by the way, but. If you're a team leader. Yes. You need to individualize.

But then this frequent light-touch check-in no one will tell you this, by the way. I don't know why, but no one will tell you this. And yet I promise you if you're leading a team right now and you get in this habit, it's like brushing your teeth. You don't need to have a perfect coaching moment. Every check-in some check-ins will just go, oh, and okay.

And I'll do my best. And that's all you got that week for that. But that was fun because next week you're going to ask [00:48:00] them again and again, it's like your year is 52 little sprints as you pay attention to each person. Last quick point on the data show that the modality doesn't matter whether you're doing it.

In-person whether you're doing it on the phone, in app, on the text, on an email, it actually doesn't matter. What matters is that it happens. Not the way in which it happens. So weirdly crazily, the most powerful team rich, or you can put in place as a manager is not a team ritual. It's a one-on-one check-in with each person, super light touch.

If they go beyond 20 minutes maybe you decide that three of them in the year we'll go beyond 20 minutes. Cause you just want to full a debrief. But most of them, I just tend to 20 minutes of what are you working on? How can I help? 

Hala Taha: [00:48:47] And so do you recommend, like I'm a CEO of a company and I have sub teams.

So do you recommend that each leader does this with their sub team? Or do you recommend that I do that for every single person? 

Marcus Buckingham: [00:48:57] No. 

No, absolutely not. Your role as [00:49:00] a CEO is totally different, which we can get to in a minute if you want to but no, your role right now as a CEO, you're building teams of teams, you're building teams of teams.

In fact, your most important job right now as a CEO is how do I ensure that I'm putting in place the right ways to build lots of teams? Like my best teams. It's like we found out, obviously you ask people this question around the world, 84% of people say they do most of their work on teams, 84%. There's a few people in the shed at the bottom of the garden, all by themselves permanently doing just there are a few people like that.

Most of us though, even the smartest of us were doing work on teams. 65% of us say we do most of our work on more than one team. And that team isn't reflected on the org chart. It's a dynamic ephemeral team that came together for six weeks over here, or it came together for four months over here. So most of us have a formal team and then a couple of other kind of coming together teams, but our work and I don't [00:50:00] mean teamwork, and that kind of cliche, oh, you going to be more teammate?

No, no work is teamwork. So what you should be doing as a CEO is usually going, am I building more teams like my best teams, which begins across with. Anybody that the most important decision you make by the way in your growing company is who you make team leader. So goes your team leaders. So it goes everything.

You can be the smartest person in the world. And if you're putting in place, people that don't get kicked out of individualization, that really actually want to tell people what to do, because they're into control. They don't want to check in with everybody each week individually because it bores them to tears.

And they're way more interested in themselves. If you keep doing that, I don't care how smart you are Hala. That your company is going nowhere. Cause no one would want to work that. Or if they do come to work for you, they want to stay, you join a company, you may join your company because of you because you're cool because you're out there because you're exciting because of your innovative, but how long they stay and how productive they are.

They are with you. Doesn't depend on [00:51:00] you. It depends massively on that little local team. So yeah, the question is each one of your team leaders should be doing this and if they don't want to do it, that is a red flag for you. 

Hala Taha: [00:51:11] I think this is such a great point. You made me think about something that I've said before on this podcast, that you can be a great employee and you can be great at what you do.

And doesn't mean that you have to eventually lead people. There's lots of people who aren't great at leading, and they can lead in their own way as an individual contributor and not have a team. And that's how they perform well, just because somebody performs. It doesn't mean you just promote them to lead a team because it's a very different skills.

And so I think that's a brilliant point that you make, and it just like really drives that point home. 

Marcus Buckingham: [00:51:42] And to put specificity to it. It really means you're not going to be a great leader rather than saying it that way. You can always say to people, look, let me tell you what leading is figuring out the uniqueness of each person and then paying attention to that person and the work that person and the work, that person in the work for 52 weeks of the year.

Are you interested in [00:52:00] that? Because if you're not, then in terms of the deck going all the way back to the definition of a strength and a weakness, if that doesn't strengthen you, and by the way, we could try it out, we could try it out. Why don't we try it out? And the thing we're trying out, isn't some elusive concept called leadership.

We're actually just trying out an activity. We're going to maybe we'll put you in a dynamic or a femoral team. We'll give you a little project. We'll give you a project for about six months. I dunno, six weeks, whatever it is, you can try it out and see whether or not checking in with each person about near term future work.

When you can't tell them what to do, you have to manage by remote control, local control. You have less control. Let's see whether or not you get any sort of kick out of that, because if you don't, that's the job of leading. And if that right now, for whatever reason, it doesn't thrill you, or it doesn't give you any jolts or anything, then the money, if it comes with more money or the bigger title, if it comes with a bigger title, that's not going to carry the day.

It's like in the end, [00:53:00] if you want to build a really great career, the what always trumps the why or the who with, even if you super believe in the why, by the way, I'm a huge fan of Simon Sinek stuff. So find your why. Okay. That's cool. And obviously the people you work with the who that's important, but if what you're doing every day at 10 30 in the morning, on a Tuesday, what you're doing at 3:00 PM on a Friday, if the activities themselves don't strengthen you, then that will always in the end, burn you up.

Burnout comes not from losing your why it from comes from doing the wrong. What in service of the why? So in that sense, if you want to know if you want to be a team leader in your life, having an activity that we can go, oh, leadings that. All right. Let's try that and let's see what you get any kind of thrill out of that.

And it can be done. As you said, that doesn't mean you're a bad person. It doesn't mean you couldn't be [00:54:00] incredibly successful in your career. It means you're probably going to be successful mostly because of your own efforts, your own insights, and less about your ability to build teams or teams of teams.

Everyone shouldn't aspire to be you. If I looked at your job, your life, yeah. There's going to be a whole lot of activities that a lot of us would go. I don't want to do that. I don't want it. I like, so all of us have got different thrills that we get from life. And of course that doesn't mean my wrong or right.

It just means we're us. 

Hala Taha: [00:54:28] So I also know, in addition to all of this management research, you've recently done some research on COVID or you've have data since COVID happened. And you did this on engagement and resilience, and you did a lot of studies around that. So can you explain what that study was?

Why you did it and some key takeaways that you found? 

Marcus Buckingham: [00:54:48] Yeah, we did a thousand people, so I run this research Institute called the ADP Research Institute and it's focused. I'm not really focused on unemployment levels. I have a really [00:55:00] good colleague who does all of that. I'm focused on all the stuff that relates to people and performance at work.

So the things that we're talking about him and the fact that we had this Institute affords me a chart. If I have a question, I can go out and ask the world, which is great. So we did 25 countries, a stratified random sample, which means you stratify your sample to reflect the working population of each country.

And we do it for 25 countries around the world. And we actually over-sampled. So it's about 26,000 people total. And we were asking questions about resilience and engagement. And those are two slightly different things which we could get into. Maybe it's some of that time. But particularly as it relates to COVID.

And the theory going in that I had was that the countries that have responded best to COVID will be the most resilient countries. So like New Zealand that had fewer deaths, fewer cases, fewer drops and employment would be more resilient and like Brazil with higher cases, higher rates, high debts, and higher rises that unemployment that would be less resilient.

So twenty-five countries, you split it into high impact from COVID media, hello and annoyingly. We have [00:56:00] beautiful, reliable way of measuring resilience, which again, we could talk about, but there was no difference. It turns out there was no difference. So from a researcher standpoint was super annoying because you go into the theory and the theory doesn't hold true.

But we did find this, which is fascinating. And I thought it was fascinating. We asked people, did you have COVID? Did your family have COVID, friends have COVID, team have COVID. At the time 34% of people in the worlds said yes to one of those. If you said yes to one of those, if you had at friends had at family had, if you're one of the 34%, you're three times more likely to be highly resilient.

We then ask people a list of changes in the workplace. Did you have PP in the workplace changed hours, more virtual changes in vacation time? Did you have more technology? All sorts of changes. If you said that you had five or more of these changes, you were 13 times more likely to be highly resilient. So what that means is each one of us will be more [00:57:00] resilient.

The more intimate our experience of this disease has been, and the more changes we encountered at work, the more resilient we are, humans, it turns out don't fear change. We don't fear changes at work. We don't even fear changes associated with this pandemic. What we fear is the unknown. If that disease is, if we've never encountered it, nobody we know has encountered it.

Now it's just some scary boogeyman summer. We don't know what it is even. That's really scary.  When company leaders tell us we're going to get back to normal, we're going to read Hastings saying Netflix, we're going to get back into Netflix 12 hours after the first vaccine, everyone's back at Netflix so that we can bump into one another and collaborate and be amazing.

Like when leaders say that, by the way, no, knock on Reed Hastings. Netflix is a great company. He's super fun, but that's the wrong thing to say. We don't want to rush back to normal. If normal has more ambiguity and uncertainty, and yet we don't want to go there. We like change. [00:58:00] We like specificity.

We like vividness. We can deal with that. Even if the vividness is a scary disease, tell us what it looks like, show us what it looks like. We're good. That way. When not good when something remains in the dark unknown. So all these leaders, particularly company leaders that were trying to mollify us or sugarcoat things, it's fine.

If it is going to be fine, or our corporate leaders will get back to work, it'll be great. If they were doing that to try it out, all levels of resilience, they got it completely wrong. We like it, humans like it. When we can see the challenge ahead of us, we know you're there with us, but we can see the challenge ahead of us and we can figure out for ourselves how we accommodate that challenge.

Take it in, figure out a way around it or through it or over it and move on. There was a famous Austrian psychologist in the thirties not Marc Freud and not Adler or not you. His name was Viktor Frankl. And he wrote an amazing book called Man's Search for [00:59:00] Meaning, which he wrote while he was in a concentration camp for five years.

And he came out and he said, there's three sources of meaning, but the third one was your response to unavoidable suffering. We get meaning from our response to unavoidable, suffering, not avoidable younger, seek it out. But if something hits you, one of the ways in which we find meaning in life is the way in which we respond to that.

So this COVID research basically showed, and this was true around the world. Harder there wasn't like, oh, Brazil is this. Iceland is like that. No, these patterns were true across the world. When you show us the unavoidable challenges, we get stronger when we can see them and move through them. Which now that I'm saying it that way, I realize it sounds

obvious I suppose. But it was unbelievable to me that we could see so clearly, if you'd have five homeboys, the more changes you have at work, the more resilient you are, it was like, wow, that's a lesson for leaders. Isn't it. Don't trench [01:00:00] coat be specific, be vivid. We'll be fine. We'll be more than fine.

We'll be resilient. We'll bounce up not just back. 

Hala Taha: [01:00:08] That is incredible information. And you said that it sounds obvious, but I don't think it sounds obvious at all, because I would have figured that if you were impacted, you would be less resilient. But then I think of my own story. I got my whole family got COVID back in April.

My dad passed away from it and my whole career and everything skyrocketed for me after that. So I guess personally, it definitely resonates and it's true for me. So that's very interesting in terms of. 

Marcus Buckingham: [01:00:35] We will. 

I am not suggesting, of course, that it's good to have. It's like simply when suffering is unavoidable, when it comes upon us, we realize that we can manage things in ways that almost enable us, give us self-efficacy and

yeah, your dad's situation and your own relationship to it is a really interesting and an in so many ways, terrible and horrible, [01:01:00] and other ways that it manifests you. And this is a thing that you'll draw strength from as you move through life. 

Hala Taha: [01:01:08] Yeah, because it's so many bad things happened and unless you don't want to just dwell on the negativity, or I'm not that type of person where I would just shut down, it made me motivate me because I realized life is short and we only have this amount of time.

And, you want to make people proud who supported you and loved you. And just, it actually motivated me to just keep working harder, honestly. And I turned everything up. Definitely resonates with me. How about the future of work, knowing all this information, knowing that, we don't exactly know when COVID is going to be over, but once COVID is over, what do you think the future of work will be like?

Marcus Buckingham: [01:01:43] Oh, gosh. There's so many different ways to, to angle around that. We could talk about technology. We could talk about, work from anywhere. Undoubtedly, there will be a need for all of us to figure out how to impose our own rituals in our own life. We do know that human beings are more resilient.

We are more [01:02:00] engaged when we have oscillation in our lives, stress recover, stress, recover, stress, recover, stress recover. And in the past, when we all just got up and went to the office and went to work and then came home that oscillation was forced on us. And now of course, with many of us, and this will be true.

I think for a long time, we'll be working remotely. We will have to create those oscillation rituals ourselves, in your life right now, you've got to impose on yourself. A stress recovery ritual so that you don't just stress all the time or recover all the time. That we do know by the way, though, when we did this global research on engagement, the most engaged people, and we did this before COVID as well.

So the year before COVID we did this, the most engaged people were people that work from home four days a week, and worked in the office one day a week because he gave people more chances to set their own schedule and more chances to do what they loved. So this whole thing about COVID has made us remote and remote is horrible and dangerous, difficult, and lonely.

Some parts of that have aspects of truth, but that actually the most engaged workers in the world were people that worked at home four days a week. And [01:03:00] then you came in for one day a week that isn't to say that everybody should do that. And isn't even to say that everyone can do that, but moving forward, the future of work is going to look a lot like that.

And it's not that because you ask people whether they feel like they're part of a team. And whether they worked in an office or it didn't correlate with whether they felt they were part of a team. Some team leaders are clearly able to build a sense of team as a state of mind, not a state of place.

And so the fact that the future of work's going to have more remote in it doesn't mean that we can't all flourish. And it doesn't mean that we can't all be part of a team we can. And of course, with your company, it will mean that you'll need to keep telling your team leaders, how do you make people feel part of a small team?

That's an ongoing challenge. We can come back and at the time, baby, and talk about how to do that. One of the things obviously is that ritual of a check-in like you can do that remotely. The only other thing I would say, I think is that this has reminded us all more and more. You are an example. Here is a Johnny Good one.

We haven't taken love seriously. [01:04:00] The Mayo clinic did a bunch of research. This is pre pandemic, did a bunch of research on burnout in doctors and nurses. And one of the things they thought mostly because doctors and nurses seem to be burning out at unprecedented levels before the pandemic. You had levels of PTSD higher in emergency room nurses, twice as high in emergency room nurses, as you did in veterans, returning from war zones.

So it was like the Mayo clinic was like, something is going wrong. So they did a bunch of investigating and they found that if you'd have 20% of activities in your job that you love just 20% in a sense not do what you love. Cause that would be a hundred percent, but find love in what you do 20%. If you can even have 20% of your adult, your job as a doctor or as a nurse, be some activities that you love.

And then you are much less likely to burn out. And in fact, they've found this beautiful linear relationship between going down on amount of love and up in burnout risk. So [01:05:00] 19 18, 17, 16% of your job that you loved, there was a commensurate one percentage point increase in burnout risk. So what that, oh, and by the way, if you have 50% of what you love, or a hundred percent, you didn't get much increase in resilience at all.

It was almost like 20%. It was like a threat you got above 20% and that was cool for you. You could thrive. So what that tells me anyway is that you don't to make people in the future of work thrive. We don't need to build yoga studios next to operating rooms or meditation rooms next to ERs as a way to escape work, work itself.

If you can find what you love in the work itself, which fits a bit for you, or one of those 20%, I called them red threads. The fabric of your work life has many threads, many people's situations, contexts. Some of them are black, white, gray, brown, emotionally, a little up or emotionally, a little down, but neutral, but [01:06:00] some are red threads.

Some activities really are what we call earlier. Your strengths, some activities you love, you lean into them. You learn fast. You're like theory, or you're magnificent. You're super attractive when you're doing them because people can to get it. You don't need a red quilt. You need 20% of your quilts is red.

What are your red threads? If we can have a serious conversation about love and take people's loves their red threads seriously, then we can start to weave love into contribution, which of course you running a company of 40 people. You're really going from love to contribution. How do you help someone go use those threads to weave something bloody cool that our customers want?

That should be like an infinite loop. And I don't think, you look around the world. 17% of us are highly resilient. 16% of us are fully engaged. That is terrible pre pandemic. It was only ever so slightly higher. So for most companies, and [01:07:00] I hope this isn't true for yours, but work is not a place in which you get to manifest

the best of yourself. Work is a place and there's 360 surveys. You mentioned before feedback, all this sort of stuff actually Smothers you. And the future work is going to be a place where at some point we go, when Jack top on Adderall were medicating ourselves with Xanax and this, and these are the kids doing that, not the 50 year olds.

It's we've got an epidemic here where work makes us strangers to ourselves. With the pursuit of money. It's no, no love and work are super linked. And I don't mean do what you love, but can we intelligently find love in what we do so that we don't languish down at 15 or 16%? I was fully engaged at work when we're at work 50, 60 hours a week.

It's like we've I think the future was going to ask a lot of questions about whether we've built [01:08:00] Loveless workplaces. And can we do better? Can we take people's love seriously? Not to pat them on the head or even to compliment them, but can we take their love seriously? Because Loveless excellence is an oxymoron, Loveless service, Loveless creativity, Loveless innovation.

They're all oxymoronic. If you want excellence, innovation, creativity, you've got to have love in it. So I think what the future works. And I know this is going to sound weird, but love in work is a really important and interesting conversation for a CEO like you to engage with, if you want excellence, if you want to just burn people up and spit them out.

And then that's a whole other ball game and some businesses do that, but that's not good for the future of us. And it's not really good for the future of work. 

Hala Taha: [01:08:50] Oh my gosh, I love this conversation. I feel like my listeners are going to really love it too. I feel like I learned so much and it was just so eye opening so actionable.

[01:09:00] Like I feel like I know exactly what to do to build my team in the right way. And I feel like a lot of people are going to find value in this, whether they're leaders or employees or students, so I think this was an excellent conversation. So the last question I ask all my guests is what is your secret to profiting in life?

Marcus Buckingham: [01:09:15] The Western philosophy says, I think, therefore I am right. Kognito goes some, I think therefore I am, but there is an African philosophy called the Ubuntu which basically says, now we only exist in relation to other people you're not out there by yourself thinking everything isn't cognitive.

It's not. I think therefore I am it's. I am because you are, we only exist in beautiful relationship to one another. So my secret to profiting in life for me, but for you too, and for your listeners would be look to your left and look to your right, because you are because of who they are, who are you moving through life [01:10:00] with?

That includes your life partner, the person you choose to do life with includes your colleagues. Your beautiful uniqueness is manifested not by itself. It is manifested through the attention, the challenge, the curiosity of someone else, helping you to demystify yourself so that you can contribute. So look to your left, look to your right, and remember that the goal of any great relationship that you have in life is to make each one of you bigger.

And you should only surround yourself with people whose goal is to help you be bigger. The biggest version of you not threatened by you, not blind to you, not controlling of you, not trying to be you. The goal of any relationship is that other person sees you and wants you to be bigger. And I think the thing that I've learned in my life anyway, and I've done my career is a little bit like yours.

Over the [01:11:00] years, writing books, speaking, being individually productive, starting a company, having a company grow like crazy, having another bigger company coming in by like now I'm here doing this with you. It's been an interesting scavenger hunt for love. But the biggest lesson I'm going to take from my life is that I am because you are.

And so who's the you in that sentence, who am I surrounding myself with? For every one of your listeners, they aren't an island. They're not by themselves. They're super connected. And so think very carefully about who you're choosing to walk through life with. And if they're wanting you to be bigger, hold on tight, because that's the way in which you live.

Hala Taha: [01:11:40] That is so powerful. I would love to talk to you more about this, but I know we're running up on time, but that is amazing. Great advice. Where can our listeners go to learn more about you and everything that you do? 

Marcus Buckingham: [01:11:51] Probably Instagram. My Instagram is good. What is it?

Marcus [01:12:00] Buckingham that is. And then my website is Which is my name. The other place to go though is because I run this Institute. If any of your listeners are into the data stuff. If they want the data, the real reports themselves. And then they like that. And some of the mic go to ADPRI, ADPRI research Institute.

So and you can find like a five minute version of these studies or 20 minute version PowerPoints, whatever your appetite is. So or and the places that I go. 

Hala Taha: [01:12:33] Awesome. Thank you so much, Marcus. This was an amazing conversation. 

Marcus Buckingham: [01:12:37] Cheers. 

Hala Taha: [01:12:38] Thanks for listening to Young And Profiting podcast.

I hope you gained some valuable insights on how to leverage your strengths instead of focusing on your weaknesses. Remember when it comes to strengths and weaknesses, it's not about good or bad. A strength is not what you're good at. And a weakness is not what you're bad at. A strength is an activity that strengthens you.

It draws [01:13:00] you in, it makes time five by while you're doing it and it makes you feel strong. So I highly recommend to listen to Marcus's advice in terms of how to find out what your strengths are and then lean into them. If you want more content around career and leadership, I recommend that you go check out number 63, find your dream job with Kristin Sherry.

Here's a clip from that episode. I know that a lot of the reasons that people don't like their work is because of their managers. One of my first jobs, I worked at a water company and I'll say that the, actually, I won't say the name of the company, I'll be classy, but it was a water company.

And I hated that job. I was an entrepreneur previous to that. I had a blog site. I used to do freelance work on the side, but I basically could make my own hours before that I was still in like my mid twenties. I was pretty young. It was one of my first like nine to five office jobs. And it was right after I had shut down my website due to reasons we won't get into right now.

So I worked for this lady. She was the CEO and she was like the meanest the lady in the world and [01:14:00] everybody who worked there was miserable. She worked us to the bone. I made like 30 grand a year working in New York city. And so I was like working my tail off for barely any money. And she was like, never gave any recognition and was like the nastiest lady in the world.

So tell us about managers and what people find the hardest when dealing with a poor manager and what the strategies are when you have a really bad manager, like what are your options?

Kristin Sherry: [01:14:26] So those are really great questions and was the basis of my research for my most recent book. So the number one reason that people leave a job, 54% of people leave a job because of a quote unquote bad manager.

So that only leaves 46% for all of the other reasons, which makes it the number one reason. Now the number one thing that people say is trust, lack of trust. That's why their manager is a bad manager. They don't know how to build trust. And the most [01:15:00] heinous thing that people say is managers are threatened by the talent of their team members.

So those are the number one and number two things that I don't trust my manager and they're threatened by my talent. I think a lot of people realize that strong individual contributors are promoted into management. During my research, I found the number one reason people became a manager is they were just put into the role.

Someone just promoted them into the role based on their performance as an individual contributor. It's a completely different skillset. There's a lot of research that shows what the traits are that make managers effective. They are good at creating motivation. You have to come to the table motivated of course, as an employee, but they sustain the motivation of their team members through a variety of different means.

They are able to assert themselves, but be respectful of other [01:16:00] people. So Chris Mackey Rola, who's a friend of mine who I interviewed for my recent book. She calls it direct with respect to you're able to be direct with respect. So there's a lot of different qualities that make someone a good manager.

But the problem is that people aren't given any training two-thirds of people are thrown into a manager role. Without being prepared or equipped. And I don't mean sitting in a one day manager class, they don't have a mentor assigned to them who does job shadowing and feedback. They don't have this ongoing mentorship relationship.

They're not put in high potential leader programs that walk them through with a coach or something along those lines. There they go on an e-learning. If they're lucky. And take a two hour course, then you're done go manage all the messiness of people and oh, by the way, our culture is going to drive you for individual results to make you ignore your team and not recognize that really.

Putting people [01:17:00] in roles where they can live out their potential and mentoring those people to be successful is the number one thing that you're responsible for. 

Hala Taha: [01:17:09] Again, check out number 63 with Kristin Sherry for more career advice. Man people love that episode. Shout out to Kristin  Sherry for doing such a great job.

And if you haven't subscribed to Young And Profiting podcast, please do so you can be alerted every time we drop a new episode. And if you love YAP, the best way to thank us for all of our hard work is to leave us an apple podcast review. These are so important for us. They act as social proof and they largely impact our podcast rankings.

As usual, I'm going to shout out a listener who has left us a recent apple podcast review this week is from fickle05. I'm not sure if it's a man or a woman here she says really happy I found this podcast just recently discovered YAP, and I'm really loving it. I like how Hala is so well-researched every time even her guests acknowledge how good her questions are, definitely [01:18:00] looking forward to all the episodes.

Thank you so much fickle05 for tuning into the show and for all your kind words, I do so much research, but I can't take all the credit. I have an amazing team shout out to Peter, Ava, Kara, Nisha Faahad, Brian, Michael, and the whole team. You guys are crushing it for me and our clients. When it comes to research.

I appreciate you guys so much. It's one of our biggest differentiators at YAP Media. And don't forget to share Young And Profiting podcast with your friends and family on social media. We love when people enjoy our podcasts. I love seeing those stories, screenshot of you guys, listening to us in the app. You can find me on Instagram at Yap with Hala or LinkedIn, just search for my name.

It's Hala Taha. And now I'm on clubhouse. You can find me there too at Hala Taha. Thanks so  much to the YAP team. You guys are amazing. This is Hala signing off.

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