Name: Nichole

Age: 37

Family Status: Married with three daughters

Occupation: Residential interior designer

Strengths: Being creative and passionate about my work

Weaknesses: Not putting my personal goals first

Biggest lesson from workshop: I learned to identify my strengths and apply them to my real life and to not be afraid to make a change.

Update since workshop: Changed my career from a burned out, unhappy mortgage originator to a passionate and excited interior designer

Goal: To continue my education and start my own interior design business and/or work with Nate Berkus
Christine D.
Name: Christine D.

Age: 30

Family Status: Newly married

Occupation: Senior business analyst

Strengths: Coordinating groups of people and inspiring them into action, winning people over to my point of view and establishing rapport and using gut to know what to say to achieve my goals

Weaknesses: Documenting and writing

Biggest lesson from workshop: If you don't know what your natural strengths and interests are and don't remember what you enjoyed doing as a child, do the work to find out

Update since workshop: Finally discovered my true strengths, passion and what I naturally enjoy doing; am taking the steps to turn then into a career

Goal: Building a career that I genuinely feel passionate about and where I can fully utilize my strengths every day
Name: Beth

Age: 42

Family Status: Married with two kids

Occupation: Co-owner in family business, financial manager and office manager

Strengths: Seeing connections, working in groups, youth programming, engaging youth

Weaknesses: Finances, organization, paperwork, short attention span for redundant tasks

Biggest lesson from workshop: A skill is not a strength and can be your greatest weakness; find your true strengths and a way to use them that empowers you

Update since workshop: No longer involved in the finances of the company; questioning if I will return at all after current medical leave

Goal: To truly focus on making myself whole; finding those things that strengthen me and contributing to our world without sacrificing my family or myself

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Name: Joanna

Age: 34

Family Status: Married 11 years, no children

Occupation: Manager of employment programs for a nonprofit that assists adults and children with disabilities

Strengths: Managing people and projects, problem-solving, being creative, helping others, marketing, team building and producing results

Weaknesses: Taking on too many responsibilities and not knowing how to say no

Biggest lesson from workshop: I now have a clearer understanding of the gifts I was given and how to flourish through using them. I now embrace my strengths and will always make sure that my career allows me to utilize my strengths to the fullest! If I am in a position that plays to my weaknesses more than my strengths, then I will never be great at the job. Also, that weaknesses will never become strengths but can be improved if you try to learn about your weaknesses through one of your strengths.

Update since workshop: I went back to my position and took a long, fresh look at my career goals and path. The training reconfirmed that I am meant to continue to work for a mission-driven organization, as one of my strengths is my commitment to making a difference in others' lives. One thing I have done is spend more time and energy on the aspects of my job that I love and change my approach to the responsibilities that I loathe. I am much happier and have learned that is it acceptable to delegate and be creative in my approach to being an excellent employee. I manage five programs, and I really feel that my employees have benefited a ton from my experience with Marcus Buckingham! I have spent time with each of them, and we assessed their strengths and weaknesses. I have developed new roles within their positions so that they can be more fulfilled and productive in their jobs.
Name: Ellie

Age: 31

Family Status: Single, no children

Occupation: Social services

1. I feel strong when I accomplish something I worked hard at that seemed impossible
2. I feel strong when I motivate others with my excitement or enthusiasm
3. I feel strong when I successfully teach people that are invested in learning after dedicating my time and energy to them

1. I feel weak when I do not give my all to an activity
2. I feel weak when I don't follow through with commitments to people that are close to me (friends, family and co-workers)
3. I feel weak when I consistently whine to my friends and family about my money situation

Biggest lesson from workshop: That the path I thought I should be pursuing (and actually started taking classes toward) wasn't going to make me happy, and when I refocused on my passion, it will be easy to use my strengths and in turn my weakness would become irrelevant. I have completely changed the directive of my future career path.

Update since workshop: I have applied for a few jobs moving toward the new career direction (forensic psychology). Interviews are so much easier now that I have my strengths clearly defined. I have also explored long-term career plans with people in the field. In the meantime, while I am looking for a new career, my current boss has embraced Marcus's ideas and has us monthly reviewing our strengths as a team. We are also looking at ways to change our job responsibilities to capitalize on our strengths. I have also been helping friends, family and co-workers identify their strengths in order to help them feel the excitement and energy I have regarding my future professional career.

Goal: My goal is to obtain a job within the field of forensic psychology. I will need to obtain my doctorate in order to fully achieve this goal, or I have explored the idea of joining the FBI (a long-term dream of mine).
Name: Kara

Age: 31

Family Status: Married with one child

Occupation: Purchasing

1. Argue my point of view on business-related issues when engaging in a professional exchange of ideas
2. Presenting well-prepared material to small groups of people
3. Meeting with customers to discuss their needs and then finding an appropriate way to meet those needs

1. Managing people
2. Saying no to requests for help from higher level managers
3. Confronting a subordinate or fellow employee face-to-face about disciplinary matters

Biggest lesson from workshop: The most important thing I learned from the workshop was how to look inside myself to really define what my strengths are. This forced me to be more honest with myself and helped me discover that I really could be happy in a job.

Update since workshop: Since the workshop, I have started a new job. Although I am in the same field, I am now with an organization that plays to my strengths by allowing me more opportunities to offer those strengths up. Working for city government didn't allow me to really focus on my strengths. Instead, it actually required that I spend most of my time trying to get past my weaknesses. For the first time in my professional career, I had staff to manage. And even though it was only one person, it was a very difficult task for me. I was very uncomfortable having to discipline someone, regardless of how minor the reason for discipline was. Also, because of limited resources, I was often called upon to perform tasks that traditionally did not fit within my job duties, but I was the "most appropriate" person to do so. These tasks were often simple day-to-day tasks that offered no intellectual challenges. I now work for a university. Even though I've only been there a short period of time, I have already been able to offer up my strengths by being a part of a policy-writing committee, introducing myself to various members of the academic community in an effort to further the relationship between my office and that community and meeting with various members of the academic community to discuss efficiencies in the purchasing system. Unlike the city, the university's resources are not as limited. Two of its primary goals are to be one of the leading research institutions and one of the leading educational institutions in the country. Its atmosphere is more intellectual, which challenges me to be more intellectual.

Goal: To work on a request for proposal at the university. Although it is something that will be very challenging the first time I have to do one, it will also be exciting to go through the process. I currently have one scheduled to begin midsummer.
Christine F.
Name: Christine F.

Age: 36

Family Status: Married with two children

Occupation: Tax attorney

Strengths: Collaborating and brainstorming new ideas and approaches to complex issues

Weaknesses: Making decisions when I don't feel confident about the subject matter; my lack of organization created a lack of focus

Biggest lesson from workshop: I don't have to fix my weaknesses; focusing more on how to make them irrelevant

Update since workshop: Satisfaction at work has increased tremendously. I've hired an organizer which has helped me make tremendous strides at home. I've implemented a few organization tips at work which help me stay more focused.

Goal: Continue to work the lessons from the workshop to maintain and increase my job satisfaction
Name: Britt

Age: 44

Family Status: Married with four children

Occupation: Senior contracts coordinator

Strengths: Teamwork, developing personal relationships

Weaknesses: Working through technical/analytical issues

Biggest lesson from workshop: Accept the situation I'm in and work to the best of my ability toward utilizing my strengths more

Update since workshop: Same position, just a new attitude. I realized when speaking with my "teacher" that my biggest problem is that I just don't want to work anymore. It probably doesn't matter what kind of job I have, I'm just tired. However, I'm unable to at the present time since kids are approaching the college years and money will be tight. I've adjusted my attitude, accepted my situation, and it's put me at ease and also made me more aware of my strengths, and I embrace those times I'm able to work with my talents.

Goal: To get through the next 10 years of work with a better attitude
Name: Sharhianna

Age: 28

Family Status: Single, no children

Occupation: Business owner/administrator

Strengths: Teaching/lectures, hands-on work, communication

Weaknesses: Staying on task in a busy environment, structuring my day and deadlines

Biggest lesson from workshop: That understanding my strengths will be the first step to achieving the greatness inside of me

Update since workshop: I have started The S Companies, which will umbrella all my future business ventures: Two companies, Passion for Teaching and sharhismakeupbymail; an organization, The Sister Girl Network; and a foundation for other "aspiring" business owners, The COAL (Chance of a Lifetime) foundation.

Goal: To show others that is possible to achieve your true potential and be the best at whatever your gift is; also to use your strengths to your best ability

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Name: Stacey

Age: 33

Family Status: Married with one child

Occupation: Physician

Strengths: Good communicator/teacher, compassionate

Weaknesses: Disorganized, complain too much, don't take enough time for myself

Biggest lesson from workshop: I've learned that focusing on your strengths is more productive than focusing on your weakness. While many of things that make me feel drained at work are things I cannot avoid, I have learned to view them from a different perspective.

Update since workshop: I have had the opportunity to speak with my strengths coach on a few occasions, and I do think I am enjoying my work more. Certainly the things about my job that make me feel weak and drained are sometimes unavoidable, and I have made attempts to view these aspects of my position with a different perspective.

Goal: My ultimate goal is to be a physician who maintains my passion and joy for what I do and to take care of my patients in the best way I know how to without allowing the things that I dislike about my job to interfere with my ability to provide excellent patient care. I also want to devote more time to nurturing my family and personal life so I can be more refreshed and recharged when I am at work.
Name: Chindaly

Age: 30

Family Status: Married with one child

Occupation: Stay-at-home mom

Strengths: Organizing and helping others

Weaknesses: Procrastinating and often overly flexible to others to try to avoid conflict

Biggest lesson from workshop: To stop procrastinating and stop making excuses for the hard goals

Update since workshop: Have been better communicator with husband, and since quitting my job to move out of the country, I have been keeping busy with organizing new home and family business

Goal: Get 16-month-old son to sleep on his own and find time to spend doing things for just myself, whether it's exercising or volunteering or just getting out of the house by myself
Name: Rachel

Age: 29

Family Status: Single

Occupation: Teacher

Strengths: Organized, creative, lifelong learner, hard-working, patient, dedicated

Weaknesses: Perfectionist, can't say no, not as abrasive as I would like to be

Update since workshop: Marcus has helped me recognize the crucial differences between management and leadership, strengths and weaknesses. He was able to help me find ways to motivate me and inspire me to become a better teacher and identify areas of concern in my career. From there, I was able to capitalize on my strengths in the workplace.

Goal: My goals this year are to not stretch myself so thin that I only do an "okay" job on activities and committees. Instead, I will limit myself to a smaller number of responsibilities where I can use my strengths to do a "great" job.
Name: Chris

Age: 38

Family Status: Married with two children

Occupation: Retail business owner

Strengths: Building relationships, teaching, artistic skills

Weaknesses: Repetitive tasks, written reports, having a set schedule

Biggest lesson from workshop: Trust yourself—you are the best judge of your strengths; continually put yourself in situations that call upon the best of you, and nothing can stop you

Update since workshop: Left career as a speech pathologist to focus on long-standing dream of owning a retail business; currently selling products from a variety of cosmetics and skincare companies in a local store with plans for own store in the works

Goal: To continue living a strengths-based life

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Name: Vicki

Age: 32

Family Status: Married with no children

Occupation: Project manager

Strengths: Collaborative problem solving, process improvement, perseverance, strive for perfection, good communication skills

Weaknesses: Impatience with poor performance of others, strategic planning, can get bogged down into details, hold others to my work standards (which can motivate some and disenfranchise others) and strive for perfection (yes, I think this can be a weakness and a strength)

Biggest lesson from workshop: My biggest lesson from the workshop was that it's very important to allow employees to use their strengths as much as possible in their jobs, and don't push them to focus on improving their weaknesses. People will succeed and be more productive if they are focusing on tasks that allow them to use their strengths. Improving upon weaknesses should not be a core focus, which seems to be the standard process for performance reviews and development goals in most companies. It's important to understand the strengths of each member of a team to appropriately assign work tasks across team members. We've been able to do that some degree on the team I work on, and it is working great.

Update since workshop: I can now recognize the activities and tasks at work that are my strengths because I am good at them, and I enjoy doing them. I've also learned how to say no to the things I don't want to do and, through my manager, find ways to get those tasks assigned to someone else. My manager has been very open to help me design a position that allows me to focus on my strengths for the majority of my time. I'm more productive, have less stress and am happier at work.

Goal: My goal after the workshop was to find a new job that allowed me to use my strengths. I thought that meant finding a totally new job with a different company. Instead, I was able to redesign my work with my current employer to better fit my strengths.

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Name: Shenita

Age: 33

Family Status: Single with one daughter

Occupation: Level 2 system analyst

Strengths: Training. I love to train people on all levels, whether it is a life lesson or a work-related issue, and I feel great while doing it.

Weaknesses: Repetitive tasks. I do not like to do the same thing over and over again. I have learned to minimize this for me by forwarding these tasks to others that enjoy this more.

Biggest lesson from workshop: The greatest lesson I learned is that a strength is something that you feel invigorated from after completing it and not drained.

Update since workshop: After the taping, I began teaching training classes at my current employer. My manager forwarded a very nice review of me to the technology training manager. She decided to allow me to help her department, moving forward to train me to be a trainer. As a result, she believes I am a great fit for a coaching trainer position that is not yet available. She is awaiting approval of her department budget to hire someone in this role. In this role, I would be training attorneys in a smaller setting on our computer software. I have also received a promotion from my previous role of team lead to a level 2 system analyst. This promotion was a step up from my previous role as far as responsibility and pay. My manager now allows me to attend more training classes. I then train my team on what I have learned. This is allowing me to use the strengths that I have. I love attending the classes. This gives me something to look forward to.

Goal: My current short-term goal is to attain the position in the training department and finish my master's degree in secondary education. A long-term goal is to open a state-of-the-art daycare facility that is Christian-based.
Name: Patricia

Age: 44

Family Status: Married, one child

Occupation: Vice president and sales manager

Strengths: Coaching/mentoring, attention to detail, work ethic

Weaknesses: Procrastinate completion of mundane tasks

Biggest lesson from workshop: Strength is any activity that makes me feel strong; I love that

Update since workshop: I've created opportunities to put my strengths to use more often (i.e. mentor new associates on my team, involvement in networking events/groups)

Goal: Continue to look for ways to incorporate my strengths into my daily activities—both professionally and personally
Name: Ayesha

Age: 34

Family Status: Married

Occupation: Senior validation engineer

Strengths: Researching, interviewing, writing

Weaknesses: Authoring technical protocols, working in an environment with little human interaction

Biggest lesson from workshop: Work doesn't have to be a draining experience; the secret to finding the perfect career is in discovering your strengths

Goal: To obtain a position as a Web content producer that will allow me to utilize my interviewing, researching and writing skills
Name: Kryss

Age: 34

Family Status: Single

Occupation: Senior marketing manager

Strengths: I work with a team of other people to facilitate the completion of a task within a tight timeline; I leverage my experience to help solve business problems

Weaknesses: Performing detailed activities that take me off focus from my main projects; I need to organize an empty day

Biggest lesson from workshop: It's better to find ways to maximize your unique strengths rather than simply "fixing" your weaknesses

Update since workshop: I have taken a similar position with a new company. Rather than asking employees to fit one mold, they are trying to find the best way to maximize everyone's talents. It's definitely a breath of fresh air.

Goal: To continue to be energized by my work, rather than drained
Name: Yvonne

Age: 42

Family Status: Married with three children

Occupation: Supply chain manager

1. Developing new business relationships
2. Creating cost analysis for decision-making
3. Negotiating purchase agreements with suppliers

1. Expediting or playing the role of a firefighter
2. Conflict resolution with co-workers
3. Work that focuses on areas I have little knowledge of (quality issues as an example)

Biggest lesson from workshop: I am the only authority of my strengths and weaknesses; I have a unique combination of strengths, and I need to learn to volunteer the best of what I have to offer every day

Update since workshop: Wow, where to begin? A week after attending the workshop, I had my first "strengths" conversation with my manager. This was the first of many "strengths" conversations I would have. Our performance evaluations took place early November, and I was able to build a personal development plan with my manager, which focuses primarily on developing my strengths—not my weaknesses. I did the memo process again (after the workshop) and realized that my work environment—my office for 11 years—really weakened me. What used to be a luxury had become very dreary, and I didn't look forward to spending nine to 10 hours per day in that environment any longer. Though I worked on work that I felt "strengthened" by, I was weakened by the environment. I worked with my managers to come up with a plan for a new space, which has natural light, windows and is open, not closed in. I've also learned that I can play to my strengths on most days—this really is in my control.

Goal: I will be a significant contributor and help lead the implementation for building strength-based organization where I have been employed for the past 11 years

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Name: Alexis

Age: 39

Family Status: Married with one child

Occupation: Veterinarian

Strengths: Goal-oriented, hard-working

Weaknesses: Tend to get emotionally involved, like to be involved in/control situations

Biggest lesson from workshop: Cannot make people great at their weakness, cannot only make them great at their strengths; focus on their/my strengths

Update since workshop: Have used the above information in my role as director of the department of emergency and critical care to better manage the other doctors; also, have been able to prioritize and feel better able to complete my tasks, with some recommendations from my coach, Eliza

Goal: To become a much stronger manager, as well as be able to better balance my three main priorities of my life, which are: my family, full-time emergency practice and directing/managing the emergency and critical care department

Meet more of the participants!


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