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Hugh Massie Year End Letter: Tough Years Drive Learning & Innovation

I know countless people who have taken the challenges and tumult of 2020 as an opportunity to level-set their life and business. So, as I put pen to paper to write my end-of-year letter, I’m reminded of courage like that.

Indeed, in the face of what may well be the most difficult global challenge most of us have faced, I salute those who have the courage and self-confidence to step into 2021 with new vigor, with a willingness to build their business, and maybe even with the inclination to take a different direction and start something new.

Whatever your (perhaps renewed) focus and outlook for 2021, I commend you.

DNA Behavior coping & flourishing during COVID-19

At DNA Behavior, we never could have known that the tools that are the core of our work and purpose would become significant to so many during the pandemic. A substantial number of businesses worked with us as they adapted to remote work. We helped them build a greater connection with their employees and their clients, which is vital to successful remote relationships.

These businesses gained access to scientifically based tools that enable them to manage the behavioral and communication issues these groups face as a consequence of remote work.

And, our Managing Director, Leon Morales (Initiator), and our Chief Learning Officer, Nikki Evans (Initiator), hosted a series of free webinars to help teams adjust to remote work and address best practices for remote team leadership. In this series we addressed common challenges and ways to handle miscommunications and uncertainties that arise. This series is available online for continued reference.

Our CTO, Ryan Scott (Reflective Thinker), donated his time to work with leaders at the University of Colorado Boulder. Ryan helped educate select leaders on how to move their teams to remote work, on behavioral attributes to adapt to this new work regime, and on accountability tools he uses while managing the DNA tech team.

Our CIL, Carol Pocklington (Facilitator), donated her time to speak with women in leadership who are required to work from home while also home-schooling children and running their businesses. They were keen to understand how to communicate with staff via social media or conferencing platforms, what previously unseen behaviors might surface and how best to juggle this tumultuous time.

Responding to the Digital Mandate

More than ever the global pandemic has accelerated the need for businesses to become behaviorally smarter by providing digital solutions to meet the growing customized needs of employees and clients.

Fortunately, over the past two years we have enhanced our API capability, enabling a wide array of business types and sizes to leverage 500+ behavioral insights (covering virtually every human habit) via this “plug in.” The DNA API has added a significant human element to data and demographic information with behavioral details on the way a person communicates, invests, works and lives.

For example, financial advisors are now able to have a greater real-time understanding of their investors’ reactions to market shifts and be prompted to proactively engage so they are guided through these challenging times.

On the business operations side, the DNA API enables leaders to get real-time behavioral insights to better understand how people cope with online/remote working and how to motivate them based on their individual personalities.

A growing number of established and start-up businesses have embraced the idea of building behavioral insights directly into their tech platforms. This enables them to deliver enhanced engagement, productivity and pin-pointed solutions for each person/interaction. (Without jettisoning the tech they already have, as DNA’s API provides a behavioral plug-in for existing systems and platforms.)

Businesses also are growing as they have applied our tools and strategized new ways of working, investing, building business and staying connected with one another. Without this intersection of technology and behavior, none of this could have been done so easily and cost effectively – and at such a scale – for so many different organizations.

Building the Behavioral Ecosystem

Our development did not stop with the DNA API. In October, we announced the launch of the next generation behavior tech stack platform to facilitate API integration and a marketplace for our partners to sell their unique DNA Behavior-powered offerings around the world: The Helix Gateway Behavioral Network.

We were determined to build on the increased DNA API-enabled partnerships that had developed during this difficult year. The goal of the gateway is to connect partners or distributors with all of the resources needed to build, develop and scale behavior-enabled businesses which offer unique solutions that can deliver customized experiences. We’re onboarding distributors who facilitate and speed the work of organizations “plugging in” DNA’s “behavioral chip” to existing software and systems and new apps.

To accelerate the growth of this behavioral ecosystem – which, in turn, benefits all users – we recently completed a wholesale integration with Zapier, providing immediate access to over 2500 technology businesses. Zapier is the best solution that connects apps and automates workflows, making connectivity easy for our busy global clients.

When you add on top industry partners and distributors – such as Schwab, Salesforce, Wired to Perform, Brilliant fit, ARQ, Hadeda, Finwello and the like – the tech pathway to networking is simple and uncomplicated, ready to onboard the next tranche of digitally focused businesses into our behaviorally driven ecosystem.

Rapid change presents challenges for our clients and business partners. And, while we have had the opportunity to rapidly respond to the tech needs of our clients, we recognize that this transformation should always include people and relationships.

Every High-Performer Needs a Coach

In this difficult season we also recognized that powerful and private coaching customized to the individual leader is needed now more than ever, so we set up a DNA Coach Network.

Our behavioral management solutions, apps and tools have helped thousands of leaders, coaches, financial advisors, families and individuals achieve greater self-awareness and EQ. And, now – with the DNA Coach Network – even more people the world over can tap into these solutions and expertise.

 After all, behind every successful person is a coach, sounding board or team of advisors.

Onward into 2021!

As a serial entrepreneur, former wealth manager and “recovering CPA,” I recommend focusing on the TIPS principle because being able to clearly define Talent, Identity, Purpose and Significance (TIPS) sidelines frustration.

Individuals may well have a life vision but don’t have the confidence to get there without a coach. Without such guidance and reflection, they may lose focus to realize their vision.

A behavioral coach quickly identifies performance derailers. These can be natural DNA behavior-driven struggles, which are often strengths…but overplayed.

Beyond figuring out your TIPS, a behavioral coach also can identify behavioral blind spots that eventually become weaknesses. Very often this aspect of coaching can help determine how, where and why relationships have soured. This insight is critical for anyone building a new business or looking to rescue one that has fallen into a difficult place.

Through behavioral coaching, move forward with self-awareness, which (again) involves being conscious of different aspects of self, including traits, behaviors, feelings and EQ. With scientifically validated behavioral discovery, self-awareness can begin.

So, as we head into 2021, I wish you health, happiness and success as you stay connected to your TIPS. By doing so you will maximize your potential and mitigate conflicts that de-rail “good,” including your personal and business relationships.

Setting your annual intentionality

I look forward to continuing our journey together – or taking that first step if you’re just getting started with us. For now, I’ll leave you with this quote for reflection.

“Success is not final; failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.”

Winston Churchill

What quote best frames the year you have planned for yourself or your organization? Drop me a line telling me about it: hugh.massie@dnabehavior.com

CEO Newsletter 2018

At the year end, looking at the year ahead…

The ever-quotable Warren Buffett says, “Never invest in a business you can’t understand.” Well, as we round out another terrific year, I want to challenge you a bit by noting that many of us regularly invest in people we may not understand. So, why make relatively blind “people investments” when you (hopefully) would not make such a financial investment?

Granted, I am a bit of a shameless evangelist for the power of validated behavioral insights, but I genuinely believe they are applicable – and I would venture imperative – across virtually any scenario, organization or industry. Harvard research tells us that 87% of business and life performance challenges are caused by behavioral differences. So, applying our proven online behavioral management solutions, may not take the number of those challenges to zero, but we can get you damn close.

One reason we can do that – in addition to our powerful products and processes – is that we have an impressive cadre of partners and colleagues who help us vet and deploy the solutions. In turn, our phenomenal clients invest in the process with us, providing valuable feedback that helps us – and them – play at a higher level. Winning is good, but a win-win is better.

It takes a (global) village

Because of those unparalleled alliances, we’re poised to not only play better in 2019, but to play bigger. Our team has discovered and embraced the book “Play Bigger”, which cleverly and clearly identifies the approach needed for positioning a company for high growth: It’s all about identifying the problem you are solving and setting your business up to be a category king (think Uber).

It is more about creativity in market positioning than directly disrupting an industry, though disruption can be the impact or part of it. Whatever work you are doing; this book is a “must read”. In fact, I am so enthusiastic about the book that I’ll commit to sending the first 18 people who respond to this (2019 will be DNA Behavior’s 18th year) the book – on me. Digital or hard-copy, your choice.

At DNA Behavior we are solving the problem of how an organization delivers meaningful customized experiences to its employees and clients on a mass scale. To do that you must know their unique style, and knowing their marketing “persona” based on demographics is not enough. Two people can have the same persona, but not the same personality. So, unless personality insights – beginning with communication insights – are integrated, you do not get there.

Meeting and exceeding the market

As we play bigger, we’ll be demonstrating, in the words of the book, what category we are king of: Online behavioral management. In 2019 we are launching our end-to-end real-time behavioral management tooling – a highly automated discovery profile debrief that is situationally dynamic. We already have this in Financial DNA with the “Market Mood” tool that integrates real-time stock market movements to behavioral style. But in 2019 we will take this further and also launch a platform for Business DNA. We can only do this now because technological developments allow us to, and the market place is demanding customization.

Thanks to you, 2018 has been a landmark year for landing major deals that implement our API strategy, through which we become the “behavioral chip” inside the tech platforms of other businesses. This helps us realize our brand promise of delivering meaningful experiences to employees and clients customized to their unique style. In particular, we have had success with large financial services firms and banks launching platforms in the employee financial wellness space. They all have very different angles and approaches – but the key point is that the online management of financial personality is here to stay and becoming a category king in its own right. This reinforces our strategy.

Validation and affirmation

We completed one of the world’s largest known behavioral finance studies looking at the financial behavior data of more than 35,000 people and how it connects to validated personality insights. The research demonstrates a high degree of alignment between the spending habits, planned giving, investing style and other behaviors to the personality style measured by DNA Behavior. We knew our system produces highly predictive results with a 91% overall reliability, this research confirms how people live it out.

Deloitte’s just-released 2019 Banking Industry Outlook also affirms our work and the path ahead we’ll be on with our banking (and other financial) partners and clients. This Big Four firm is optimistic, noting promising times ahead for banking and capital markets, as well as opportunities to double down on transformational technology, including an even better understanding and leveraging of data. We’re excited to be part of deciphering what that means to different organizations and helping them implement. (In the meantime, you may want to add this great Deloitte report to your reading list.)

We know what’s ahead; thanks for being part of it

Finally, our “why” in business is to foster people to become more self-empowered. The work noted above is a big step to achieving this “why” goal on a mass scale. We want to be part of changing the culture of business with the adoption of an Understanding People before Numbers approach. We know that, businesses of any category must do far more work in the area of culture if they are to grow on a sustainable basis. Behavioral management is just one of many components needed to build a strong culture.

Looping back to the wisdom of Warren, Buffett says, “Only when you combine sound intellect with emotional discipline do you get rational behavior.” I would posit that you also need that winning combination in order to optimize your organizational culture. So, in 2019 we will be championing the growth of culture and want all of you involved.

Let’s play bigger!