- Graduated from Schuylkill Valley High School in Leesport, Pennsylvania in 2000
- Enlisted in in the United States Air Force in November of 2001
- Served 11 years active duty acting as an Air Traffic Controller
- Deployed to Iraq in 2008 in support of operations Iraqi Freedom/Enduring Freedom
- Managed ATC (Air Traffic Control) facility(s)
- Honorably separated from the Air Force in 2011
- Launched Bent Business Marketing (www.BentBusinessMarketing.com) in August of 2012
- Ran for City Council in Clinton, Iowa in November of 2013 (Garnered 18% of the vote)
- Attended the Accelerated Strengths Coaching class at Gallup in Omaha, NE in May of 2014
- Launched UnleashStrengths.com in June of 2014
So what now? Why did I bother listing out my past experiences and my most recent accomplishments
In life, we are instructed to become well-rounded, to focus on our weaknesses rather than concentrating on our strengths. The military taught me a massive amount about leadership, values and discipline. It helped mold me into the man I am today.
But while I was serving active duty from 2000 – 2011, I always had this insatiable urge to become an entrepreneur. I can’t say exactly what about owning my own business was so appealing, but the idea, along with relentless daydreaming, consumed my every thought. I relished every opportunity I had to speak with business owners, shake hands and grab business cards.
So in 2011, my family and I made the decision to leave the life of a military family, and move to the Midwest to plant some roots and raise our family. Once we were settled, I began looking for a job. The search proved to be tougher than I had originally thought. Every opportunity that arose seemed to be “not the right fit” for me. After serving over a decade in the military, it was a hard pill for me to swallow knowing that I was having to start over from scratch! I had accomplished so much while in the uniform, held positions of authority, trained others and even managed multi-million dollar air traffic control facilities.
How could I go from that…to being told that I “just didn’t have the right experience!”
After a short stint working for a small business just north of our home, I spoke with my wife about reigniting my passion for entrepreneurship. Over the past 8-12 months, I had studied, in detail, the concepts and best practices around small business marketing. I became a student of Seth Godin, Mark Joyner, John Jantsch and the late great Zig Ziglar. While I was a far cry from calling myself an experienced marketer, I knew that my next step was to go all-in, and bet the farm (literally) on my ability to build a business. Not just any business, but a Marketing Consultancy smack dab in the middle of America’s Heartland! A place where the internet was just starting to make an impact.
And here’s where StrengthsFinder 2.0 comes in.
After returning from a marketer’s conference in Texas, I was instructed by some of the seasoned guru’s in attendance to join my local Chamber of Commerce. So upon returning home, I did just that. I waltzed into the Clinton Area Chamber of Commerce located in Clinton, IA, and asked to join their organization. I was all decked out in my finest torn camo uniform pants turned into shorts, a black military issued under shirt and some seriously foul smelling lawn mowing shoes. The poster child of professionalism! Not. But back then I was going through a fresh out of the military rebellious phase. Luckily that’s since past.
The Chamber welcomed me with open arms. The Chamber President himself even stepped out of his office and extended a firm handshake welcoming me to the organization. After a few short sentences detailing what had brought me to Clinton, IA, he began to ask me some questions about my goals, direction and what I wanted my business to become.
And this is where I started getting nervous. I had the massive goal of becoming successful in all of the ways people dream, but I had zero ideas about how I was going to get there.
I think he could sense my frustration, because he quickly changed the topic over to a lighter load. But before I made my way back to my tiny office located comfortably in my in-law’s second floor bedroom, he quickly handed me a book titled StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath.
That night, I sat down at my makeshift desk and took the assessment. I then read my report and… tossed it in my desk drawer, completely forgetting about it!
I had taken a thousand assessments in the past. Assessments to see what job I was suited for after high school, assessments that determined if I was crazy or not after returning from deployments in Iraq and assessments that would even reveal my perfect mate! All of them were subjective and under personalized.
And in my opinion…a waste of time!
Fast forward almost a full year. My business, Bent Business Marketing, was sort of working. Money is coming in, but not on a consistent basis. My office has since been moved out of my in-law’s home, and was now nestled inside the welcoming arms of the Chamber of Commerce. I had decided to rent some space there in an effort to meet with clients in an actual office setting rather than the local coffee shops. All-in-all, things were moving in the right direction, but at a half-dead snail’s pace.
And now begins the story StrengthsFinder 2.0 reincarnated!
The same gentleman who first introduced me to StrengthsFinder was now working right down the hall within the reach of a soft yell or quick walk. One day, while talking to him about my professional journey, he queried as to what my “Top 5” were. I looked him in the eye, angry at myself for not taking full advantage of this tool he cared about so deeply, and I replied, “I don’t know. I took it, but never paid much attention to the results.” Without a single sign of disappointment, he said, “Look at your report, and I guarantee you’ll find some of the answers as to why you’ve been struggling. You’re working on your weaknesses instead of harnessing the power of your strengths.”
That statement was so attractive, that I immediately unearthed my Strengths Insight and Action Planning guide provided by Gallup after taking the assessment. As I read through the descriptions of each theme and my individualized action plan, I was amazed at how accurate and somewhat creepy the report was. In less than twenty pages, this same assessment that I initially perceived as being a waste of time, was describing me more accurately than I could have described my own self!
From that moment on, my world became totally Strengths focused.
And the results that followed were simply amazing!
I acted as an evangelist for both the StrengthsFinder tool and the Gallup organization which designed it. Over four decades of research went in to creating StrengthsFinder 2.0. Thousands of man hours were invested scouring endless amounts of data resulting in 34 Themes, or bundles of talent, that had the power to effectively explain why we do what we do, what we need to do it and why acknowledging our individual strengths is so important to our long-term success.
In May of 2014 I attended the Accelerated Strengths Coaching course at Gallup in Omaha, NE. The training was intense, mind-numbing, insightful, and crazy fun!
And now I am able to bring that same experience to you. By understanding how Strengths based development works and how it can be used to catapult your organization to that next level, you first have to buy into its effectiveness. As my story has proven, simply taking the assessment is only the first step in your journey. If you wish to become a Strengths-minded organization, you have to learn how to operate like one.
And that’s where I come in.