Do you love to see things through to completion?  Do others see you as dependable and feel they can count on you?  Are you a person who make commitments that align with and reflect your values?  If these attributes define you, then you probably have the theme of Responsibility®

Janelle is a real estate broker, and one of my coaching clients. She owns her own real estate company and has several agents who work for her. Janelle’s strength is Responsibility. Incidentally, she just had an $8 million-dollar year.

I believe that Janelle’s ability to be so successful in the midst of a struggling economy comes from her strength of Responsibility—the talent of taking psychological ownership not only in her work but in her personal life. Janelle’s inner monologue is, “I need to be the rock. I need to be dependable. I need to get it done.”

Those with Responsibility as a top talent are conscientious of details, whether it’s completing detailed paperwork or paying attention to the body language of a nervous client. You are highly ethical and committed to following the rules.

People with the Responsibility strength are chronic volunteers. Wendy Kopp, founder of Teach for America, must have intuitively known this from the start. In 1989, Kopp proposed the creation of Teach for America in her undergraduate thesis at Princeton University. She was convinced that many in her generation were searching for a way to assume responsibility and make a real difference in the world.

Kopp grew up in a wealthy community in Dallas, Texas. At the time, she had little understanding that where you’re born plays a big part in your access to education. When she arrived at Princeton, all of that changed. She looked around and wondered why more wasn’t being done to channel people’s energy into teaching. Eventually, she decided to turn an idea into a thesis. She studied the Peace Corps, the federal Teacher Corps, and VISTA, and she ended up proposing the creation of something altogether new: A national teacher corps, what she later called Teach for America.

While Kopp’s thesis adviser liked the idea, he thought it was unrealistic, even a bit crazy. Why would recent Princeton grads, for example, volunteer to teach for two years in some of the toughest cities in America?

Later that year, Kopp came across a front-page article in Fortune magazine describing how corporate America was taking on education reform. Kopp wrote letters to everyone quoted in the article, and she got seven meetings. One was the CEO of Union Carbide, who offered to let her use one of the company’s offices in Manhattan and introduce her around. Then an exec at Mobile loved the idea enough to donate $26,000 to the cause. Today, more than 10,000 Teach for America corps members are in the midst of two-year teaching commitments in 50 urban and rural regions.

Volunteering comes naturally to people with Responsibility. Just be sure to volunteer for activities within your specialty or niche—and in the process, become an expert.

Responsibility can be overdone. Some people run the risk of overloading themselves or feeling burned out if they are not able to balance “yes” and “no” and allow others to take responsibility for their own mistakes.

So how do you, a solopreneur with a top strength of Responsibility, turn this strength into cash?

First, take psychological ownership for the things that matter most to you. Say you are a print journalist and you were recently laid off from one of the large news organizations. You now realize one of the most important things in your work life is having not one, but many streams of income.

The big question is, how do you monetize your knowledge as a journalist? That’s easy. You can write articles, of courses, but add writing books and e-books, public speaking, and podcasting to that. Don’t forget about offering online courses to other journalists whose jobs will soon to be on the chopping block.

Align yourself with others who share your sense of commitment. If your specialty is writing about government waste, for instance, consider new products and services that focus on this small sliver of the writing world. Seek out clients who care passionately about cost control. Contact government offices, foundations that rail about overspending, and non-profit organizations and offer to write newsletters, white papers, and opinion pieces on fiscal responsibility. You can also take your experience with government overspending and pitch the idea to for-profit corporations. Consider ghostwriting books and articles for executives and corporations looking to reduce costs, or those who had success with a business turn-around in which cost control played a significant role.

My point, look for clients and colleagues who take their responsibilities as seriously as you do. Once you do get a new product or service up and running, keep going. Create spin-off ideas; say you write a white paper about counterintuitive ways to prevent government overspending. Why not turn that paper into a seven-step online video training course? Next, turn that training course into a seven-part email campaign with links to your training videos (and an upsell to buy one or more of your e-books). Then for just one step in the training, collect all customer feedback in the form of success stories, and combine both the training materials and customer stories into a short e-book. At the end of each short e-book, offer a three-month consulting or coaching program that addresses this one narrow topic.

Don’t stop now. Why not create short e-books for each of your seven steps, with coaching programs for each? There’s nothing stopping you from then combining all seven short e-books into a full-sized book on the topic.

What if you reshaped your coaching program for all seven parts into a two-day live workshop for corporate clients and charged $10,000 for this two-day event? Put on a half-dozen workshops a year, and now you are earning what the average journalist earns by working a nine-to-five.

I just suggested eighteen separate products or services to sell—white paper, video training course, email campaign, seven short e-books, seven narrowly focused coaching programs, full-size book, and finally a two-day workshop. I could go on. If what’s important to you is multiple streams of income, you can easily turn a single great idea into a franchise with multiple products.

Do you have the StrengthsFinder theme of Responsibility? Which of the eighteen separate products or services to create your multiple streams of income?   How does it help you create a clear destination? Please share your comments below.

Not sure which product or service is right for you, and you need some conversation around your unique strengths or building your business?  Remember you can schedule your Ask Brent Anything call. Let’s talk about strengths.

Focus® is my #1 talent theme. One example of Focus, for me, is that I first cultivated this strength when I started playing tennis at an early age, and I’ve continued to cultivate it for the last thirty-four years. I remember one of the first phrases I was taught as a tennis player: “Keep your eye on the ball.”

Focused individuals do just that. They have a natural ability to concentrate on a target. They ask themselves each day, “What is my goal? Where am I headed? Where am I going? What is my priority?”

They filter out extraneous distractions, and this is one of the things I enjoy most as a life and business coach—helping people set goals, and at the same time deciding what is extraneous, what they can do without, and what thoughts, behaviors, and actions would make their life richer if they stopped.

People with Focus enjoy creating goals. They enjoy writing purpose statements, lists, and affirmations. They enjoy reviewing their goals on a daily, even hourly basis, and they are relentless on completing what they start.

Focused people have other talents: They are adept at summarizing a meeting when ten different people have shared their thoughts, they can assess appropriate timelines and milestones, and they prioritize before they act. And, while they appear to procrastinate, they tend to do what I call incubating—sorting through data and letting it simmer before acting. They are unusually skilled at staying on track. They may naturally emphasize career goals over relationships.

When interacting with a Focused person, keep in mind that they may come across as unsentimental because they are so focused on an immediate goal that they often forget or ignore others’ feelings.

Four of my top five talent themes are in the Executing and Influencing themes.  Those of us with Executing themes want to make sure that things happen and goals are accomplished.  People who have the Influencing theme want to step up, speak up, and take charge.  We are definitely out there working to make things happen.

My Chief Strategic Officer has three of her top five talent themes in Relationship Building and two in Strategic Thinking.  People with the Relationship Building theme are working to build and nurture strong relationships.  Those with the Strategic Thinking theme are looking at situations and analyzing information to help make better decisions and create better outcomes.

She has told me on occasion that I am sometimes like working with a fire hose.  I am continually coming with new ideas that I want to accomplish.  I come at these with high energy and excitement.  Though she shares in my enthusiasm for the new ideas, her Strategic Thinking themes have her slow me down, go through the idea and find the best route.  We talk about teaming up complementing strengths, and this is an example of how it works.

How can you harness your Focus theme to create new ventures or improve your current ones?  Start with your vision – purpose for the business.  Write your top 20 Be-Do-Have list every 3 years. I know how big I want my business to be, what I want us to be known for, and how I want it to influence the world.  These are great places to start that will give you the insight you need to begin to mold your vision.

Second, track where your business stands today and yearly.  You want to answer questions such as:

  • Which of your products and services are successful?
  • How efficiently are you operating?
  • What is your current capacity in terms of staff time, facilities, equipment and information technology?
  • Do you have the resources in place to maintain your current business AND grow?

Next, create the road map to meet your vision.  My habit is to create a one page business plan of how I’am going to reach my business goals for the year. Now that you know where you want to go and understand where you currently stand, create a simple plan that will get you there. Include financials, look at how you can expand within your current clientele (you didn’t build that email list for nothing), Check out your processes to see how they fit in your growth plan or what changes need to be made.

Lastly, make time for growth.  I recommend writing out your ideal weekly calendar. Review it and follow it weekly. It takes time to implement something new or do things you already have in place differently.  Your everyday business can take your focus away from the new goals.  Make sure you keep focused daily on those new goals.  Delegate or outsource tasks, pay attention to your project plan and milestones, make sure you check in on those milestones and your progress toward them, and have an accountability partner.  Having someone to share your plans with and talk them over helps ensure you stay with it.

Do you have the CliftonStrengths theme of Focus? How do you use that Focus on growing your business?  How does it help you create a clear destination? Please share your comments below.

Not sure where you are and need some conversation around your unique strengths or building your business?  Remember you can schedule your Ask Brent Anything call. Let’s talk about strengths.


Why in the world would anyone over fifty start a business? Gallup surveyed entrepreneurs over age fifty who began businesses later in life and found that 32 percent started their own ventures because it allowed them to be independent; 27 percent wanted to pursue their interests and passions; and 24 percent wanted to increase their income.

People over fifty are often seeking purpose. They share common characteristics like flexibility, a desire for lifelong learning, a certain amount of patience and Discipline. Disciplined people crave predictability. You instinctively impose structure on your world. You set up routines. You focus on timelines and deadlines. You break long-term projects into a series of specific short-term plans, and you work the plan.

Almost a quarter of all new entrepreneurs are ages fifty-five to sixty-four. Some form a consulting firm. Others open a restaurant, art gallery, dog-walking service, landscape firm, or tutoring company. Many pursue an idea they’ve had in the back of their minds for years.

Ask Stephen McCauley what it takes to start a business at fifty, and he’ll tell you Discipline. McCauley toyed with the idea of starting his own business for years. Then around fifty, he took the plunge. As a leader in two of the world’s largest and most distinguished public relations firms, he offered diversified experience in consumer marketing, corporate publicity, issues management, food, nutrition and promotions.  After working for 28 years for those two global public relations firms, McCauley knew how to manage global teams and clients, but he had no idea how to run his own business.

The first thing McCauley did was write a business plan. People with the Discipline strength love structure and order. You prefer to have a plan and enjoy executing precise strategies. Disciplined people frequently look to control their environment, events, activities, and relationships. Part of this craving for order is because disciplined people have a great need for productivity and for maximizing results and are often big fans of “To Do” lists at work and home. Disciplined people create systems for organizing work and play.

Days later, McCauley launched the Ginger Network, offering communications advice to commercial food and nutrition clients. Today, he’s making as much money as he did when he was working for large companies, and he’s excited about all his projects.

Individuals with the Discipline strength must be careful not to miss moments of spontaneity. As counterintuitive as it seems, you benefit from learning how to “structure” spontaneity into your life—moments to do nothing but smell the roses and simply enjoy life.

Order comes naturally, which can be a helpful skill in a solopreneur. You feel that, in order to be successful, you have to follow a routine and make a habit of order in every aspect of your life. Because life is so structured, you need advance notice of changes in order to acclimate. A last-minute change, for instance, can be difficult and stressful.

So how do you turn Discipline into income? Let’s say you are an architect and want to pass the exam for LEED certification—a rigorous approach to sustainable building and design. What if you blogged about your studies, your challenges, and specific aspects of the certification process? What if you share your struggles, but also your successes, and in the process show others how to pass the exam as well?

Next, you put all of your blog posts together into a single manuscript, hire a great editor to polish the story, and turn the whole thing into an e-book you sell on Amazon for $50 a pop. Pat Flynn did something similar and earned $7,000 from his e-book in the first month of sales.

The point is to build a structure (your daily blog posts), and keep things organized (in this case, telling your story one day at a time). Next, seek out opportunities where structure exists. Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, for example, offers a well-worn publishing platform for digital books. All you have to do is plug your manuscript into the platform and take advantage of the existing structure. Disciplined people love systems, so take advantage of that.

Disciplined people also love to check on things, so don’t hesitate to check as often as necessary to ensure your new book is being displayed and marketed as you like. Better, sign up for Amazon’s Marketing Services and put your marketing efforts on autopilot. Whether you’ve published one title or several, Amazon offers a soup to nuts marketing plan. Once set up, the system will promote your book alongside similar books and authors, feature new releases as soon as they publish, run continuous backlist campaigns to attract new readers, and even target readers by keyword, product, interest, genre, and author. If a reader searches for “LEED study guide,” your book shows up on the screen.

I’d also suggest you learn how to use a time-management system, or any system that gets the result you want. Amazon’s KDP takes less than five minutes to set up and your book appears on Kindle stores worldwide within 24-48 hours. You earn up to 70 percent royalty on sales to customers in the US, Canada, and other countries. You keep control of your rights and set your own book prices. Not to mention that you can make changes to your books at any time.

Finally, create automated routines that help you follow through. One area to focus on is promoting your new book. KDP Select, for instance, allows you to offer the book free for five days (and while a free book won’t generate cash, it will boost your sales numbers) or discount it for up to seven days through a Countdown Deal, a limited-time discount promotion. You can also run promotions manually. But why bother? You love systems, so use them.

If you have the CliftonStrengths theme of Discipline, what does it look like? What are the routines and structures that help you get work done?  Please share your comments below.

Not sure where you are and need some conversation around your unique strengths or building your business?  Remember you can schedule your Ask Brent Anything call. Let’s talk about strengths.



Are you a fairly serious person?  Do you plan ahead to anticipate what might go wrong?  When it comes to making decisions do you believe making the correct decision is always better than making a quick decision?  Then you may have the CliftonStrengths® theme Deliberative®.

People with the Deliberative strength are practical and do not think in abstracts, but in concrete, practical terms. Famed investor Warren Buffett is the poster child for Deliberative thinking. Buffett is an American business magnate, investor, speaker and philanthropist who serves as the chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway. He is considered one of the most successful investors in the world and has a net worth of US $89.9 billion as of May 4, 2019, making him the third-wealthiest person in the world.

By all accounts, Buffet is a patient man, down to earth, his reasoning sound. He’s inclined to trust his own judgement when it comes to investing stock in the face of fake news, organizational cover-ups, undisclosed security and data breaches, and wide-scale deceit like Wells Fargo’s creation of millions of fraudulent savings and checking accounts for customers without their consent.

In the cutthroat world of stock investing, how is it that Buffett, a man known for his honesty and transparency, has succeeded?

The answer might be that Deliberative people are vigilant—your brains pick up on small details that others miss and, based on this data, you avoid the missteps others unknowingly fall victim to. According to Buffet, the difference between the average Joe and himself is he gets up every day and has a chance to do what he loves to do. The road to wealth sounds almost too easy, but Buffett is earnest. He loves what he does. He genuinely believes his success is a result of playing to his strengths.

The question is, why don’t more of us do the same? Why don’t we consciously use our strengths in our daily decisions?

What makes Buffett unique is that he put his strengths to work. First, he became aware that he had special talents. Second, he identified the strongest of those talents, added a dose of education and experience, and built these strengths into a business.

Deliberatives, such as Buffet and you, ponder decisions. Once a decision is made, you don’t second guess yourself, and instead double check that people follow through. Buffet turned his natural patience into a long-term vision of investing. For instance, he invests only in companies whose trajectory he can forecast with some level of confidence for the next twenty years or more. Companies like Dairy Queen, The Coca-Cola Company, and The Washington Post Company—and yes, even Wells Fargo.

Deliberatives do not often give praise. Instead, you focus on potential risks, problems, and dangers in relationships, at work, and in the world. It’s the Deliberatives’ job to find the hidden mines. You thrive at decreasing risks that may harm your business, workplace, or team.

A result of continuously scanning the world for potential pitfalls is that you are often (wrongly) seen as naysayers. When you perceive danger, you try to warn the group and encourage others to make wise decisions. You naturally help others avoid the pitfalls that could sabotage success. When others recognize your talent, you will be sought as a valuable sounding board.

So how do you turn Deliberative into cash? First, you sweat an idea, and then you go fast and far with each idea.

Say you are an executive coach and your objective is to land three new clients willing to commit to personal one-on-one coaching for twelve months or longer at a fee of $8,000 per month or $96,000 for the year. Sign up all three and you add nearly $300,000 to your existing income.

Your idea is to approach mid-level executives looking for a promotion or a position at another company if it means senior-level authority and a pay increase. First, you appraise the idea. You stop, listen, and assess. It’s way too soon for action.

You have good judgment and a tendency to see through people’s behaviors, so look for opportunities to help others think through their decisions before they act too quickly. Mid-level executives are often reluctant to ask for help, especially from others within their firm. In a way, aren’t all mid-level execs fighting for the same promotion, and thus less likely to help one another? Here is your opportunity. This is your pitch: Work with me precisely because I’m not part of your organization, and we will create a strategy for your success.

Next, you see problems as opportunities. There’s no doubt your new coaching client will list dozens, maybe hundreds of reasons a promotion to a top position is unattainable. Each of these reasons—the company is downsizing, my division isn’t as profitable as others, I don’t get along with my current boss, other executives have greater tenure, several attended an Ivy League university, and so on—are in fact an opportunity for you as a coach to work your magic, to turn this argument on its head and mentor your client in alternate ways of thinking.

As a Deliberative, you see the advantage of being conservative in your decision-making. Next, you must convince your client to do the same, to think long-term, to create a plan for success, and methodically work the plan. As an executive coach, your job isn’t to show your client how to weasel their way into a promotion, but to learn to think and act like a senior executive, and to exude these characteristics in their daily operations.

Are you like Warren Buffett putting your unique strengths to work?  What special talents do you possess? Once you identify your strongest of those talents, how can you add education and experience to build your strengths into a business you love?  Please share your comments below.

Not sure where you are and need some conversation around your unique strengths or building your business?  Remember you can schedule your Ask Brent Anything call. Let’s talk about strengths.