Entrepreneurial StrengthsFinder Hardcover – 30 Sep 2014
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About the Author
Jim Clifton is Chairman and CEO of Gallup and author of The Coming Jobs War. His most recent innovation, the Gallup World Poll, is designed to give the world's 7 billion citizens a voice in virtually all key global issues. Under Clifton's leadership, Gallup has expanded from a predominantly U.S.-based company to a worldwide organization with 40 offices in 30 countries and regions. Clifton is also the creator of The Gallup Path, a metric-based economic model that establishes the linkages among human nature in the workplace, customer engagement, and business outcomes. This model is used in performance management systems in more than 500 companies worldwide. Sangeeta Bharadwaj Badal, Ph.D., is the primary researcher for Gallup's Entrepreneurship and Job Creation initiative. Dr. Badal is responsible for translating research findings into interventions that drive small-business growth. Her research has appeared in the Gallup Business Journal, Forbes, The Huffington Post, and The Washington Post. Dr. Badal has worked with many profit and nonprofit organizations on issues related to employee engagement, talent, performance management, and gender issues in workplace. She is the author of the book Gender, Social Structure and Empowerment: Status Report of Women in India, which analyzes the complex and multilayered processes that affect women's position in India. Dr. Badal earned her doctorate in anthropology and geography from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL).
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I agree that it is "worthless" in terms of its commercial value. However, many so-called "failures" in experimentation or prototyping can be of substantial value in terms of what can be learned from them.
With regard to leadership, consider these observations: "During my 40 years at Gallup, I've observed that when very talented leaders fail, it's often because their thinking failed them. Not their management or leadership skills, but their thinking about a core belief that they put at the center of all their strategies. Because they are so wrong about that core belief, every subsequent decision actually makes things worse, because every decision is tied to that belief. The more they manage and lead, the worse things get...Here's what leaders need to know: Jobs and GDP growth [begin italics] do not [end italics] follow innovation. Jobs and GDP [begin italics] do [end italics] predictably follow entrepreneurship. Put another way" Entrepreneurs create customers.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
In "Entrepreneurial StrengthsFinder," Clifton argues (and I agree) that both the public and private sectors have made some dead wrong assumptions about job creation by putting their bets on innovation, and have put the cart before the horse. Clifton notes that we have plenty of innovation but not enough entrepreneurs. Jobs are not created by the thinkers, innovators, but by the doers, entrepreneurs. It is the workhorse in job creation. Innovation is the cart.
Unfortunately, we have several problems with entrepreneurship. It is not systemically built into our culture the way innovation and intellectual development are. If you possess star "business builder" brilliance, you will likely be overlooked in America. Innovation not entrepreneurship is where the bets are being made. Secondly, Washington has proven incompetent in job creation and needs to exit center-stage left, leaving job creation to cities and/or entrepreneurial clusters. Last but not least, identifying entrepreneurs is similar to finding a needle in haystack. Gallup found that high entrepreneurial talent is much rarer than high IQs, about 5 out of 1000 people (only 20 of 1000 are accepted into MENSA).
To help move the needle on job creation, Sangeeta Bharadwaj Badal, PhD, a primary researcher for Gallup's Entrepreneurship and Job Creation Institute, and her team studied 2500 entrepreneurs and cataloged the ten behaviors they consistently observed in highly successful entrepreneurs. These can be used to install an early identification system and accelerated development programs (specialized curriculum, meaningful internships, and certified coaches).
Why? Highly talented entrepreneurs compared to others are 3X more likely to build large businesses; 4X more likely to create jobs; 4X more likely to exceed profit goals; and, 5X more likely to exceed sales goals. Unleashing the talent of millions of Americans of those who have an entrepreneurial aptitude will bring untold value to our country.
This first-ever comprehensive assessment identifies who has what it takes to start and build big businesses. The ten talents include:
6. Creative Thinker
10. Business Focus.
"Entrepreneurial StrengthsFinder," like "Strengths-Finder 2.0," provides a unique access code for the reader to take the "Entrepreneurial StrengthsFinder Assessment." He/she can see how he/she scores on the critical talents found in entrepreneurs. These talents are individually characterized as "dominant, contributing, and supporting." Badal urges readers to pay special attention to the dominant talents, double down on them, and use them to gain an advantage. Focusing on innate talents is the key to success. She also advises the reader to be aware of his/her contributing talents but not to spend too much time on them.
Information is also provided on-line, after the assessment is completed, to help you understand how each talent can play out on your entrepreneurial journey, how to the talents can be developed, and how you can apply your talents to building a business. Badal adds a caution to avoid using the results to determine whether you should or should not become an entrepreneur. Instead, let the results be a guide you on your journey.
"Entrepreneurial StrengthsFinder," is a must-have guide for anyone involved in identifying entrepreneurs or in a start-up activity - students, college-level entrepreneurship programs, start-up incubators, budding entrepreneurs, investors, coaches and mentors.
Imagine what would happen if you could identify those with the right talent and accelerate their development? The conversations would change, investment would change, and the world of job creation would change forever.
"If you double the number of experiments you do per year, you're going to double your inventiveness. The thing about inventing is you have to be both stubborn and flexible, more or less simultaneously. If you're not stubborn, you'll give up on experiments too soon. And if you're not flexible, you'll pound your head against the wall and you won't see a different solution to a problem you're trying to solve."
That's from the nine-page color commentary on "Creative Thinker," one of the 10 talents of successful entrepreneurs according to the hot-off-the-press book/assessment from Gallup, the creators of the international bestseller, StrengthsFinder 2.0.
This new book and 25-minute online assessment, "Entrepreneurial StrengthsFinder," measures 10 talents, or drivers of entrepreneurial success. "The degree of your natural ability in each of the 10 talents will determine where you will be successful and where you will fall short in your entrepreneurial journey."
Co-authors Jim Clifton, chairman and CEO of Gallup, and Sangeeta Bharadwaj Badal, Ph.D., say their research reveals that "only about 5 in 1,000 people have the aptitude for starting and growing a business. In comparison, 20 in 1,000 have IQs high enough to be accepted into Mensa." (My assumption: if you're reading this review, you're a Mensa member, right?)
Over the years of guilting leaders and managers into reading books, I've probably gone overboard on entrepreneurship books, like Entrepreneurial Leadership: Finding Your Calling, Making a Difference.
So finally, I have a cogent reason for my gut instinct that entrepreneurs are needed more than ever. But is this new assessment just one more flash-in-the-pan, leadership fad-of-the-year?
To find out, I was the almost-silent observer last weekend when my entrepreneurial son, Jason Pearson, author of Unseen: Jason Pearson Paintings, completed the 25- minute online assessment. (Each book includes a unique access code that can only be used once.) My gut response while looking over Jason's laptop: fantastic questions!
Gallup wants to inspire Americans to wake up and start spotting young entrepreneurs. The message: the need is not more innovation; we need entrepreneurship which creates customers--and customers create jobs. Jim Clifton (the son of the late Donald Clifton, the father of the StrengthsFinder movement) sold me on this bedrock core belief in the first 35 pages.
Upon completing the assessment, Jason downloaded two helpful documents: a color-coded three-page report of his entrepreneurial strengths--strongest to weakest; and a 20-page practical guide on suggested next steps.
Jason was dominant in three talents: Creative Thinker, Relationship-Builder, and Risk-Taker. He had four more talents termed "contributing," and three at the bottom in "supporting." Nothing complicated--and all very practical and straightforward.
The customized color-coded report defines your entrepreneurial strengths:
* Dominant talents. "You consistently and naturally lead with your dominant talents."
* Contributing talents. "You show some evidence of your contributing talents, but you must deliberately apply them to achieve success."
* Supporting talents. "The talents that you don't naturally lead with are your supporting talents."
Jason, who has started four companies, has the entrepreneurial genes. The authors note research "that the tendency toward entrepreneurship is between 37% and 48% genetic."
I wasn't surprised that Creative Thinking was Jason's top entrepreneurial strength. Ask him for 10 ideas, and he'll deliver 20 by the time you've learned how to spell "entrepreneurial."
But I was pleasantly surprised by the book's practical definitions and color commentary on each of the 10 entrepreneurial strengths. That section highlights key traits of each strength "in action" (with PowerPoint-worthy quotes from well-known entrepreneurs like Warren Buffet and others); cautionary notes (be sure to read the warnings for Risk-Takers); and then a practical list of next steps for maximizing that talent. All in about eight or nine pages each--easy reading and immediate comprehension (for you Mensa types!).
For example, under Creative Thinker:
* "You have a mind that is typically firing with many different ideas."
* "Comfortable with the unknown and the unfamiliar, you always look for new ways to combine and recombine resources to create innovative solutions for your customers."
* "As a Creative Thinker, you are quick to act. You seize opportunities and are usually the first mover in the market."
* Other code words: "rule breakers," "refuse to be bogged down," "you like to work autonomously," "push the boundaries."
* Under cautions: "You may fall prey to `incumbent inertia' as you achieve success and growth. Maintain the organizational flexibility that allowed you to explore your creative imagination in the first place."
If you score high, as Jason did, as a Risk-Taker, share the color commentary with your spouse, family, and friends. "Contrary to popular belief, highly successful entrepreneurs are not risk seekers, they are risk mitigators par excellence. If you are a Risk-Taker, you instinctively know how to manage high-risk situations."
While Risk-Takers are "avid problem solvers," some (on the extreme side) hold themselves in high regard, a phenomenon known as "hyper-core self-evaluation" (hyper-CSE). This may lead to "shiny new object syndrome."
Andy Dunn, co-founder and CEO of Bonobos: "Prior to a lobotomy I just underwent which removed shiny new object syndrome (SNOS) from my brain, I was both an asset and a threat to my own company."
There are six ways for Risk-Takers to maximize their talent (plus color commentary on each):
1. Know what you do know and what you do not know.
2. Take risks incrementally.
3. Beware of confirmation bias. ("Ask people with opposing views to counter your initial idea or concept.")
4. Construct different scenarios to guide your decision-making process.
5. Don't gamble. (Institute a "cooling-off period" before you're swept away by the brilliance of your own ideas!)
6. Kill unimportant projects.
Bill Gates on Warren Buffet: "He doesn't invest--take a swing of the bat--unless the opportunity appears unbelievably good."
Who should read this book?
* CEOs and senior leaders (to spot and coach young entrepreneurs)
* Parents and grandparents
* Spouses and family members (part encouragement, part therapy!)
* Mensa members!
Clifton suggests every city (his core belief: cities are the fulcrum for the future) install an early identification assessment system and offer the Entrepreneurial StrengthsFinder assessment to thousands of students (prime age: high school freshmen to sophomores in college).
Clifton begins this book with a sobering thought: "During my 40 years at Gallup, I've observed that when very talented leaders fail, it's often because their thinking failed them. Not their management or leadership skills, but their thinking about a core belief that they put at the center of all of their strategies. Because they are so wrong about that core belief, every subsequent decision actually makes things worse, because every decision is tied to that belief. The more they manage and lead, the worse things get."
"This is happening in Washington, D.C., but it is also happening in many cities throughout America." His core belief: "Entrepreneurs create customers. And customers, in turn, create jobs and economic growth. Almost no leader knows this."
"Virtually all U.S. and world leaders have misdiagnosed the core problem and put billions and billions of dollars into mistaken strategies that are not helping America's economy, much less the world's."
I must end this review--but you MUST read this book!
So you take the assessment and then the idea is to focus on your areas of expertise and lean on others to shore up the critical areas of business that you are no good at. It certainly makes sense, but it's amazing how many people in leadership positions feel like they have to take on the full burden of every challenge. By defining these areas of focus and self-assessing interest and ability, individuals are offered the relief of accepting that they don't have to be all things to all people - and for leadership that can be very freeing. It can also allow others to take on more responsibility and more fully engage in their role.
This was a difficult assessment for me to take, as many of the "choose one" questions are almost too close to call as which one "best fit me". I also found that the final 2/3rd of the assessment was tricky to answer accurately/honestly in a very short amount of time (20 seconds a question). As with all self-assessments, they are only valuable if you are as honest and accurate as possible (garbage-in-garbage-out etc). The assessment probably took about 20 minutes and there are a lot of research-type questions prior to the actual test starting. Make sure you answer accurately the first time because there is no changing your answers at any point. The results I received were simple but relatively accurate from my perspective (maybe a few questionable rankings), but even the rankings that I questioned caused some great discussion between myself and a handful of other people who also took the test and were able to give their perspective on me.
The ideas presented here are highly applicable as a brand-new start up or as a part of a group or project leader in any company. Identify your strengths, define the needs, do what you're best at and find others who are great where you suck. The idea seems pretty basic, and this book/assessment lays it out so simply it's hard to ignore.
By the way, I purchased a hardcover version of this from Amazon but also a Kindle version so I could start reading right away. When you buy the Kindle version Amazon will email you the code to take the assessment separately under an email heading "Your Amazon.com Promotional Code" and it wasn't sent until much later (in my case, I received the emailed code at 2am the morning following my Kindle edition purchase). A friend received the code within 10 minutes, so just know that there's a wide window and if you don't get it right away then try to be patient.
As an Organizational Development Director, I plan to use this assessment in conjunction with the original Strengthsfinder to define the traits of our employees and then partner individuals up into project leadership teams that have strong representatives for each of these 10 core elements of business. It's exciting to have a new tool from a respected research firm to better define and identify those traits in the business world!
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