2020: The Year to Resist Negativity

How many times have you begun a new year with a great expectation of what the year will bring in terms of success only to have plans, hopes and dreams dashed at the first sign of negativity?

Why do we take on a throwaway remark directed towards us or feel crushed when we make a mistake?

I for one spent my teens crippled by being oversensitive, blushing at just about everything and feeling pretty incompetent. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I had a negative bias, but I certainly “heard” the could-do-better comments in school reports or staff reviews, rather than the greater number of “well done” comments.

Discovering a… discovery

So, what turned me around and why do I begin 2020 with Grand Plans?

It’s actually quite simple: I completed the DNA Natural Discovery process. In just the 10 minutes it took to complete the questionnaire I was able to read about the unique me. It served as a light-bulb moment.

I then began to understand not just myself, but the people who made me feel self-negativity. I’m good with people. I see ways to encourage them. I set and accomplish goals. I’m innovative, spontaneous, yet analytical, reserved and guarded.

It then didn’t take much of a leap to understand the behaviors of others that put me into a crushed mode.

Others whose behavior manifests in being very outspoken and outgoing or take charge and fast-paced challenge me. They don’t mean too, its just their natural behavioral style.

My light-bulb moment was not so much knowing who I am; I think I inherently knew my qualities. The revelation, if you will, was understanding how to manage the differences between myself and others behavior. That was what took me to the place of confidence, resistance, determination and optimism in knowing who I am and what my contribution to the world is.

Knowing the course ahead

As I make my grand plans for 2020, I know to ensure they line up with my gifts; what I can and can’t achieve. I know the importance for me in taking small steps toward my grand plan. I know I need time to research and think through before investing time and other resources in my grand plan. I know the value of building time out to reflect on the small steps I will take toward my grand plans.

But, perhaps more importantly, I now know me. I understand my inherent behavior. I recognize when faced with a different set of behaviors how best to navigate those differences and to manage relationships which would otherwise have me running for my negative corner.

I now know that as a people person I can even invest my skills in others so they can see the impact of their behavior on me. That way, it helps me better help them in our work together and helps them better themselves in other interactions as well. They can come to understand the importance of gaining knowledge for themselves in how to manage the behavioral differences we humans have that makes us all so unique.

Take a look at my Work Talents Report, adjacent to this article, and consider what your own might look like. (Further, think of having your report alongside the report of a collaborator. What power you would have in making the most of the collaboration for you both!)

Work Talents Report_Carol Pocklington

Your best year ever

I trust 2020 for you will begin with Grand Plans and hope that you are open to invest just 10 minutes into understanding your behavioral style. With this knowledge and insight, I believe no form of negativity or different behavioral styles will cause you to fail in delivering your best year ever.

The DNA Behavior team would like to extend to you a complimentary natural discovery process. Take it here. Begin your 2020 with a greater insight into your unique behaviors.

New Year Resolutions

Don’t Self-Sabotage Your New Year Goal Setting

Its that time of year again: Christmas shopping, holiday plans and New Year’s resolutions. We tend to get the first two right, but according to University of Scranton research, just 8 percent of people achieve their New Year’s resolution, which well refer to simply as goals, because that’s what these resolutions are.

Set goals, understand behavioral style

Setting goals should direct attention to behaviors that will accomplish the goal and away from the behaviors that will not achieve the goal.

Locke and Latham stated that “the goal-setting theory was based on the premise that much human action is purposeful, in that it is directed by conscious goals” (O’Neil & Drillings, 1994). Setting a goal should include structure that directs actions and behaviors which improve unsatisfactory performance. Setting a goal will change a person’s behavior in order to work towards achieving the set goal.

In reviewing last years goals, for instance, trimming down my waistline, not for vanity, but for health and to become a better golf player, I could see how much of my approach sat well with my own behavioral style. Further, my behavioral approach informed the accountability partners I relied on for support.

I am a strong goal setter (Initiator, Influencer, Strategist). I thrive on competition. I up my performance when there are clear goals. I want the outcomes to have high impact. I know I am inherently focused and self-disciplined. And, finally, success is something I need. Therefore, my accountability partners needed to be able to challenge my strong behavior.

By applying self-awareness of my inherent behavioral style to New Year goal setting, I achieved success: Forty pounds lighter, better golf swing and walking 18 holes without getting breathless.

Not if, but how you get there

So, as I ponder potential New Year’s resolutions, remember that behavioral style matters. That’s your starting point. As we plan 2020, our team breaks down into four behavioral styles – which well talk more about below – making consensus interesting. But as we each apply individual behavioral styles to goals, it becomes clear that all will be achieved; its the journey there that will be different.

My team: Four behavioral styles

The Goal Setters, like me (Initiator, Influencer, Strategist) need competition, clear goals, high impact. They need outcomes to be real and measurable to stay focused. They can achieve the successful outcomes, required, but will benefit from accountability to others.

The Lifestyle team members (Engagers, Community Builders) need the goal process to be fun, sociable, and being able to picture what success looks like. They benefit from having graphical displays that press them on to their goals. My Lifestyle team have their goals emblazoned on polo shirts! Go figure.

The Stability team people (Stability, Safety) need to have an emotional attachment to their goals. Help them feel that and give them time to think through their approach. Keep the process friendly; the meaning will come from family, team colleagues and friends.

The Information team players need to understand the science behind it. They will want researched options to inform goal setting. They will want to analyse their research and be expected to display regular progress reports to keep them on track and accountable.

Insights + goals = success

Establishing your 2020 resolutions in conjunction with knowing and understanding your individual behaviors ensures success. Look at how each of the behavioral styles approaches the goal journey. Add bias into the mix (yes, we all have them, but they can be revealed). Behavior that leads to procrastination or lack of confidence or over-thinking can be managed (once behavioral insights are known).

If you have not already discovered your own behavioral insights, complete your no-cost, no-obligation 10-minute discovery – choose: Financial DNA or Business DNA – and you’ll be on track for New Years resolution success. (And, yes, DNA solutions are scalable; ask about DNA’s API:

Together, let’s set ourselves up for success, so we can look back and see 2020 as the year we individually and collectively met our New Years goals.

2020: Seeing More Customized Behavioral Experiences

2020: Seeing More Customized Behavioral Experiences

Navigating differences is a key problem to be solved as it is a strength when you can do it and a liability when you cannot. That’s at the core of our behavioral insights work over the years, whether looking at the individual, team, organization, family or other scenario, like business-customer, hiring manager-employee or financial advisor-client.

One long-in-the-making manifestation of that work was completed this year and will officially debut Jan. 7, 2020: a book, Leadership Behavior DNA, Discovering Natural Talents and Managing Differences (Freedomstar Media), co-authored with (Ret.) Colonel Lee Ellis, who I consider my mentor.

The premise of our book: Whatever your leadership style, learning to recognize and better manage differences is the key to building a winning culture and improved productivity. Leadership Behavior DNA is grounded in statistical research and data from millions of clients and more than 45 years of workplace experience. Disrupt how you lead, perform, and relate to one another, with this book – and me and Lee – as your guide(s). (I have an “in” with one of the authors, so let me know if you’d like a copy of the book prior to the official launch.)

A strength of the book stands in the fact that it is tested. The behavioral insights and application thereof are real-world tested and validated by academia. Perhaps best, we’ve had ample opportunity to account for diverse anecdotal feedback from customers, business partners and others. And we continually look for creative ways to gain other perspectives.

As an example, this year we implemented a series of “Future Tech” dinners – think “Mastermind” meets think-tank meets great meal at which participants discuss behavioral challenges and solutions and the future of leveraging behavioral insights at scale across a broad range of applications. (Say that three times fast.) We gathered those both familiar and unfamiliar with our behavior tech platform to openly reflect on and ideate about DNA Behavior tools, how they applied and what we might not have yet thought of.

We also worked hard and enjoyed taking our behavioral insights solutions to more audiences and new platforms via our agile API (which is now enabled with AI and machine learning). For some time now our API has helped a variety of organizations quickly “plug in” the DNA behavioral chip to discover and leverage behavioral insights already within their people and systems. By leveraging a suite of enterprise-ready AI services, applications, and toolsets, we can accelerate the adoption of behavioral insights across large enterprises of all sizes in any industry and in many market channels.

As current events and news shape the world, think of how behavioral insights might give you a leg up. For example, there is much talk of recession: Financial advisors and many other professionals can help themselves and their clients be prepared by leveraging behavioral insights. An easy way to explore how a behavior insights tech platform might help navigate challenges in your realm, is our weekly Open Office Hours. After a quick primer, ask questions – no cost and no obligation. Or find us at one of the many conferences and speaking engagements we do throughout the year, ranging from those focusing on human resources to wealth management, API (natch) and more. I’ll of course increasingly be on the road in 2020 talking about the book.

For now, I can share a trend we’ve been observing that is heartening: Increasingly, medium-sized and larger organizations that truly want to leverage people data – up to and including behavioral insights – are leaning in, up to and including installing a Behavioral Sciences Division led by a Chief Behavioral Officer or other dedicated champion of getting the most of the vast amounts of data now available, personalizing every interaction.

I’ll leave you with a trend I saw emerging this year that I expect to continue in the New Year: Medium-sized and larger organizations leaning in to more fully leverage people data to deal with the vast amounts of data now available, personalizing every interaction. Using technology to customize behavioral experiences on a mass scale is the emerging innovation and we are leading the charge, including having designed a Quick Scan product to meet the unparalleled opportunities in this area.

What behavioral insights (and related) trends do you see on the horizon for 2020?



Thankful collaboration

A Pause for Thanks, Then Back to the Work for Which I am Thankful

My home country of Australia does not have a Thanksgiving celebration like America and Canada do. Since living in America over the last 15 years and now becoming a citizen I have enjoyed including this reflective holiday in my life.

As we head toward Thanksgiving, one of the many things I am grateful for is having recently completed a book, Leadership Behavior DNA, Discovering Natural Talents and Managing Differences, with my friend and colleague, Lee Ellis. Lee has been a wonderful mentor on my pioneering journey in the field of human behavior since the very beginning in 2001 when I first launched what is today DNA Behavior starting in Sydney and now with the HQ in Atlanta, GA. I am forever thankful for what Lee has taught me about human behavior but also importantly about leading with courage.

The hard work of our book is done and we’re now in a sweet period during which we wait to see the fruits of our labors emerge from the printing presses and publisher.

More work? Yes, please.

Although it will be a lot of work, I am thankful for the opportunities Lee and I will have in 2020 and beyond, getting out and about “behind” the book. That is, speaking engagements, book events, interviews, trainings that will result from the book, and more.

Importantly, we’re getting to engage with people from all over the world around the work that we love, and around which we have 45 combined years experience. There are a lot of tired tropes about doing what you love for a living, but it really is important.

As I am giving thanks, I would be remiss if I didn’t pause to recall the many leaders with whom both Lee and I have had the privilege of working. (And still do!) Those we’ve advised and those who have advised us. Those who have shared their stories – often “warts and all”. Also, it is important for me to recognize the great support of my DNA Behavior team and my family, but also Lee’s Leading With Honor team and his family.

These collaborations?- which took many forms – have enabled us to learn as we also taught. To refine the metrics and methods we use. To be able to quantify key elements so they best serve users – and do so scalably. Vast amounts of data are behind Leadership Behavior DNA, and behind this data… are those people.

After we’ve eaten too much turkey, cleared the dishes and put away the papier-mache turkey decoration, I’ll continue to be thankful for the work we do, the people who help tackle it every day and for the privilege of being able to share that journey with them – and you – and in a book.

Before you make that turkey-leftovers sandwich

Now, you may not have expected to get a Thanksgiving homework assignment, but I promise it’s fun and for the greater good. Springing forth from the Thanksgiving tradition of everyone saying what they’re thankful for, I want to challenge you to put both a business and leadership twist on that. Answer me this:

What leadership, management or differences lesson are you most thankful for?

It might be wisdom from a parent or early boss. Or a “lesson learned” that you knew never to repeat. Or when something clicked, and you saw things anew. If you’re willing, share your answer (remembrance) here at

We’d be thankful if you’d check out Hugh Massie and Lee Ellis’s latest collaboration, the soon- to-be released book, Leadership Behavior DNA: Discovering Natural Talents and Managing Differences. Pre-order online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other popular retailers. Book-related events and speaking engagements will be announced soon and can be scheduled via

Veterans day tribute

A Veterans Day Tribute: Natural Behavior in the Crucible of POW Life

Lee Ellis served as an Air Force fighter pilot flying 53 combat missions over North Vietnam. In 1967, he was shot down and held as a POW for more than five years in Hanoi and surrounding camps. Today, he is an award-winning author, leadership coach and speaker on leadership, teambuilding and human performance. Notably, DNA Behavior Founder Hugh Massie identifies Lee Ellis as a crucial mentor in his life. We are honored to have this Veteran’s Day reflection from Colonel Ellis.

As we celebrate Veterans Day 2019, it’s a good time to reflect on the brotherhood shared by those who wear and have worn the uniform of our armed forces. Those who have served have a bond– something that they have in common that draws them together. Quite often that bond is based on suffering and sacrifice. It begins with basic training, because every person who enters the military must endure some sort of a boot-camp experience that levels the playing field and requires participants to work together to succeed.

It’s intended to take you out of your comfort zone and force you to collaborate to succeed. Camaraderie begins early and usually endures. So, whether it’s at the VA, the American Legion, AMVETS, or Disabled American Veterans, they like coming together with their buddies and those who have been there, for instance, struggling to re-integrating into society.

Behavior in the POW Camps

During my time as a Vietnam Prisoner of War, the living situation varied from isolation to cells of four to six people, but eventually we spent almost two years locked up in one large room with 52 strong-willed, competitive aircrew cellmates. There were no inside walls in this cell of roughly 1800 sq. ft.; it was packed with bodies and the only place you might be able to get alone was the two-holer- basically a squat trench over the sewer in a small room at one end. The POW’s slept elbow to elbow on a raised concrete slab. There were some hard times, but it was the perfect laboratory to learn about human behavior.

In this enlarged sardine can, you could not hide nor pretend. Your best and worst behaviors were on display 24/7 day after day, month after month, year after year. Packed together so closely with our struggles so open and obvious, we could see how they were problematic. First, we saw it in others who irritated us.

But over time, in ways that were sometimes subtle and often blatant, we learned of our own blunders and shortcomings. It was there that we came to accept that we were all unique and that we could not change others. In effect, there was a mirror there to show us what we had not seen before. In this behavioral laboratory with the suspension of time in the camps, we were motivated to go to work and so we did.

With little to do, most of us decided it was a good opportunity to grow and develop. We soon organized an educational program with formal academic classes six days a week. It was optional, but most guys engaged in some of the classes. The teamwork in that cell became remarkable. We organized everything, assigned and rotated duties, and most importantly learned the power of respecting and caring for others – even those who irritated us the most. Only twice in those 20 months did someone raise their voice at another, and in both cases, they apologized before bedtime.

All Styles are Leaders

I often share my story and highlight the great leadership and point out how it came from various styles of behavior. There was not just one style that excelled, but what was common were the three characteristics of Character, Courage and Commitment – and the ability to focus on both Mission and People.

From my and Hugh’s combined 45 years of experience in leadership coaching and otherwise working with thousands of leaders, we know this is the secret sauce. No matter your natural talents or personality style, you can be a great leader if you have integrity and learn to adapt your behaviors to accomplish the mission (get results) and take care of the people (build trusting relationships).

This is the great advantage of the military. Both in the training on the fields of friendly strife and in combat, warrior leaders learn that you must walk the tightrope of accomplishing the mission and taking care of the people — some have even adapted the slogan Mission First-People Always. Veterans understand this profound wisdom and stay connected. And on this day, we pause to honor them for their service and offer our heartfelt appreciation.

If you are intrigued by this paradox of leading and managing to maximize both people and mission, please check out Lee Ellis and Hugh Massie’s latest collaboration, the soon- to-be released book, Leadership Behavior DNA: Discovering Natural Talents and Managing Differences. Pre-orders online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other popular retailers. Book-related events and speaking engagements will be announced soon and can be scheduled via