Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself!

I recall the first time I heard Hugh Massie Founder/CEO of DNA Behavior use this phrase. If I remember correctly he was talking about the wild reactions of investors to uncertain markets.

It got me thinking about my behavior and why it is that I don’t get on with everyone, but I do get on with many. I wondered why relationship with some is easy and comfortable and with others is clunky and puts me on edge.

I began to realize that this was an area of behavior I really needed to know more about. I’d always been aware of this even as a young child but had never given it much thinking room.

How, I asked myself, could I empower me to understand why I reacted in these ways and more importantly learn how to manage the awkward stuff.

The nature of my work meant that I had completed most all the ‘personality profile stuff’ available. However, as I looked back over old copies of reports I couldn’t put my finger on what in my profiles addressed this behavioral quirk.

Many years later I completed the DNA Behavior Discovery process and there it was – I am serious and reflective, suspicious, task focused yet group orientated. It was such a lightbulb moment for me as I reflected on the situations and connections that had troubled me and I hadn’t handled well.

I’m not great around overly confident, outgoing, (often noisy) people who invade my thinking time and cause me to react because I’m not a party animal. (How I wish I’d known all this in the tiresome teen years). I’m authoritative and frank and get frustrated when people don’t make quick and well-informed decisions. I’m at my best working with like minded colleagues where my need for reflection and creativity add value and are accepted.

No excuse now for poor response to colleagues, I’m self-aware and can’t blame myself for ignorance because up until some 20+ years ago there wasn’t a scientifically validated profiling system that revealed this for me. But now there is so, no excuse – I am empowered to manage my responses and behavior through self-knowledge.

What I’ve learned is how rich teamwork is when each individual understands their inherent behavior. The more diverse the team the better any outcome is. I welcome my crazy outgoing friends and colleagues; they are the fun. I need my reflective thinkers who no longer frustrate me (well maybe a little) because they are the gatekeepers to our business. I respect, above all else, those pioneers and strategists who have built the business, given me a career and released me to use my behavioral analytical skills to work with and empower others to be able to understand and manage their behaviors.

We are all muddling through trying hard not to mess up relationships but how much better would it be to break bad habits and build good relationships through a deeper understanding of why we respond in the way that we do.

Head over to our website and complete the DNA Behavior Discovery for yourself. It’s FREE and you will receive the outcomes straight away.

I’m on LinkedIn so link and message me if you want to know more about my behavioral journey.

Help Clients on Their Life Journey; You’ll Both Win

– First Published on Nasdaq –

As I continue focusing on living a quality life, I’m reminded that changing direction requires confidence.

At a recent speaking engagement I was approached by a young man who wanted to talk about family wealth succession planning, a topic I love and know well. His family was in discussion with their advisors about the transfer of the family fortune to this young man (the heir). His parents were staunch believers that the wealth should be used to advance the business, build more houses, plazas and entertainment centers.

With his father’s failing health, all discussion with the children had passed to the family wealth advisors.

The heir (let’s call him David – not his real name) believed his role was to move the family wealth into other areas. He conceded his parents had always generously contributed to good causes but David had much bigger quality life goals in mind. What he lacked was the confidence to set out to his parents and the advisors just how he would use the family wealth with meaning.

Wealth impact and purpose

Many of his parents’ friends also were in the building development business; it seemed to be a trend for them all. Yet David was determined to invest the wealth into rehabilitation farms (or what some would call drug rehabilitation centers). Both he and his wife and his two siblings saw their future lay with providing sanctuaries for young men and women who had lost their way.

I will pause here to note that it is optimal when the siblings agree on future direction. That is not always the case in family wealth and succession planning. So, in this way, David and his siblings had an important positive aspect in their favor.

He knew this vision would take hard conversations with his parents, and, more concerning, with their financial advisors. But, again, he simply did not have the confidence for these difficult conversations.

An advisor knowledge gap

The advisors had never included David or his siblings in past conversations and so were unaware of the way in which this generation wished to change the direction of family wealth creation. Put more simply, the advisors did not know what was important to David in terms of life choices and direction. And what his parents decide to do with their money would have an enormous impact on him and his siblings.

The advisors were making no obvious attempt to bring the family together collaboratively to have “transfer discussions,” and this young man felt ill equipped to challenge them.

Clients, advisors both learn

David had completed a scientifically based behavioral discovery process as part of the event where I was speaking. I could see from the outcome that he was community-minded and had an above-average ability to manage risk. He was thoughtful, structured and able to pursue goals.

I explained to David that his confidence lay in his inherent behavior. I encouraged him to convene a family meeting to share his quality life goals for the future.

Each family member should complete a financial-life planning tool to objectively uncover their different behavioral styles, communication styles, talents, life motivations and money attitudes. Only then should they work with family wealth advisors to create a wealth transfer

Helping family members gain the clarity to choose between the many options in their life and increasing family member self-awareness so they more confidently make committed decisions should be a starting point for all family advisors. Using things like a behavioral discovery to accomplish this is not yet the norm, but it’s quickly on the rise.

It’s never easy to structure engaging family relationship meetings nor to keep them aligned and focused to achieve family succession goals. But it is vital to include all relevant family members.

Moving ahead confidently

I learned later that David had indeed convened a family meeting and, based on each members’ Financial DNA, discussed the direction he and they wanted to take family wealth in the future. He used what I’ll call his revealed talents, life motivations and financial personality insights to devise a well laid out, structured family wealth playbook, including his life goals.

His confidence had increased significantly because the behavioral discovery exercise helped him know – and helped him communicate – who he was and how to manage his behavior and use his talents. In short, David had discovered how to articulate his life goal passion and this increased his confidence.

As an aside, his parents were fully supportive of this change of direction for the family business and wealth. Seeing the confidence in their son only served to excite them to support him. In fact, when the family and advisors met to plan the wealth transition the patriarchs insisted David lead and facilitate the meeting.

A better world: One quality life at a time

With realization of one’s own potential and self-confidence in one’s ability, one can build a better world. – Dalai Lama

Lesson to advisors: Include all family members in transition discussions. Remember that, according to investment data, 66% of children fire their parents’ financial adviser after they receive an inheritance.

My encounter with David once again reminded me that confidence plays a huge role in everyone’s plans and, in particular, when they want to make a life change. Living a quality life for many has become front and center, especially as many re-evaluate their plans, life and wealth in the midst of COVID.

2020 was a year like no other. A year when conversations were deeper and when talking about the way we “do life” was questioned. Yet it is worth remembering that confidence – that is, feeling sure of ourselves and our abilities in a realistic, secure way and having a quiet inner knowledge that we’re capable – is what is needed to change direction toward leading a quality life.

Help your clients discover their life purpose. By doing so you’re more likely to end up with clients for life.

Our Word for 2021 Is Authenticity

It has been a frequent practice as of late to choose a focus word that would sum-up your current or upcoming year. The purpose of it is to set an intention, a goal you seek to achieve, or a quality of some sort that you want to ensure you actions throughout the year are being filtered by.

The start of a year is usually a natural time to reflect, celebrate, and plan. What has been known for decades as new year’s resolution has now been reframed as new years intentions.

This is something that we at DNA Behavior have been doing for years. We built our process to be inclusive of many qualities, the main one being authenticity. You see the process of gathering scientifically based behavioral data is interesting. Filled with comments and contradictions.

We at DNA Behavior have seen and heard them all. The most often heard is:

  • that is such an accurate report about me
  • I thought completing the process would be easier
  • but the process was hard
  • I didn’t know which way to respond
  • I had to just go for it
  • look at how accurate the outcomes are
  • I really like the DNA results, but the journey was hard

And so much more. We make no apologies for the 10-minute DNA Natural Behavior Discovery questionnaire using 138 different words in 46 interlocking Forced Choice Questions. The questions are deliberately tight so that a specific outcome is achieved. Definitely, a right data in, right data out approach has been taken.

We know the importance of being able to authentically defend our discovery process is why we are so well positioned in the marketplace. When the DNA Discovery Process was designed it was critical, too, that the questions removed situational, cultural and educational biases and could not be easily gamed. Further, at all costs we wanted highly predictive measurable behavioral insights which would be universally applicable across the globe for all people and remain true for the long term regardless of the situation or circumstances the person is in. In other words, it would get to the core of who the person is. We knew this holy grail of behavioral measurement could be achieved and is forever grateful for the knowledge and guidance of Carol Pocklington and Lee Ellis to show the pathway.

Yes, we could simplify the questionnaire, but why would we? That said, we listened to our customers, and one of the important business keys we discovered was that customer concerns are a rich source of marketing material. One of our friends – David Rendell talks about in Freak Marketing that looking to your greatest weaknesses will be sitting your greatest strength.

If customers were loving the outcome but not the process, what was this saying about our discovery process? We discovered (though we knew it) that our process may be antagonizing our customers by the tight choices it asks them to make when choosing Most Like and Least Like from 3 non-situational words or phrases across 46 questions. Some say, I am all of those in about 6 to 8 of the questions.

What the questions are doing is getting the participant to prioritize their greatest strengths/talents. It is not saying for the 3 choices they are not like them in any way. In varying degrees, we exhibit all the words in some situations. It is more about how regularly and strongly the behaviors are exhibited.

Overall, we found ourselves being able to offensively defend the questionnaire since it more reliably delivered better, deeper and more incisive insights into unique behaviors over long time periods. Again, when you must make serious decisions, do you want to participate in a fun and sometimes lengthy process which gives you a shallow and unreliable result? Or, would you rather participate in a quick but tight process which provides a deep set of very accurate insights that will be true for your life time?

Our purpose with the DNA Discovery process is to uncover the natural DNA behavior that sits below the surface; it is not seen because it is masked by the more dynamic (situational) learned behaviors that are shaped by the person’s life experiences, education and values.

Therefore, a person’s overall personality, at any stage of their life, may be seen to change, but their core natural behavior will remain very consistent. Further, revealing core natural behavior draws out their inherent talents, strengths and struggles (blind spots) and communication styles.

The DNA Behavior Natural Discovery Process was designed to holistically uncover, capture and measure all dimensions of a person’s natural DNA behavioral style as the core of their personality. That is their ingrained, go-to, hard-wired behavior that was set by the time they were 3 years old. This is how people inherently make decisions, take direction and work with others; how they interact and build relationships, achieve results, handle information, complete tasks, develop trust, set and achieve goals, take and live with risks and their learning styles. This also includes their communication style, financial decision-making style, behavioral (finance) biases and their response to market movement (as an example).

After significant academic research and discussions with our independent team of experts, we selected the Forced Choice Assessment Model over the more traditionally used Normative (Likert-type) Scaling Model for measuring Natural DNA behavior. This led to the design of the DNA Natural Behavior Discovery Process; a system capable of assessing 8 major personality factors as well as 24 related sub-factors. The fact we can reliably measure 32 behaviors from 138 words across 46 questions is remarkable given that other systems need 15 to 25 questions to measure 1 behavior with less accuracy.

So, what is the Forced Choice Assessment- The traditional Forced Choice Assessment format is a descriptor used in psychometrics to signify a specific type of measure in which respondents compare two or more desirable options and pick the one that is most preferred. This is contrasted with measures that use Normative/Likert-type scales, in which respondents choose the score (e.g. 1 to 5) which best represents the degree to which they agree with a statement. Source:

A correctly structured Forced Choice format using singular words (versus sentences and statements) presents the individual with item options that are equal in desirability with situational, cultural and educational biases removed; this ensures response choices they make will be far less likely to be influenced by social desirability, circumstances, experiences education or environment. Therefore, the outcomes will reveal inherent behaviors, hardwired core traits and strengths and struggles of the person being assessed which are universally applicable.

We are aggressively authentic in defending our method, the outcomes and the process. Were not embarrassed about this. Our approach is intentional.

Tight questions, using the Forced Choice methodology, get great life results and outcomes which are very strong. This enables individuals to understand their unique inherent behavior and from that position make strong life and business decisions.

The Forced Choice format forces the participant to instinctively choose their answer, and respond more truthfully, as there is not one obviously desirable quality to pick from. Also, the Forced Choice format reduces the potential for the participant to agree or disagree. A Forced Choice format using triads of items (a block of 3) enables greater insight into the interactions between the items for enabling more specific measurement of the behavioral factors (traits).

Further – the results place behavioral knowledge firmly in the hands of the individual. From this position –

  • They are better able to understand who they are in terms of strengths and struggles.
  • They have substance upon which to base life, financial and business decisions.
  • It tells people how to manage their communication style.
  • It reveals talents both overt and hidden that can be applied to career choices.

One of the important outcomes of this discovery approach is to understand that strengths, (upon which most people focus) can, under certain circumstances, become struggles and are difficult to manage without self-awareness and knowledge.

Why not spend 10 to 12 minutes learning about your own unique natural DNA style. Take the Business DNA Natural Behavior Discovery process or the Financial DNA Natural Behavior Discovery Process. Use the link below to take you to the questionnaire.

This scientifically based and validated discovery will reveal significant aspects of your natural behavioral style that is the core of your personality. It will help you as make healthy life, business and financial decisions.

Contact us if you would like to discuss this. Our highly skilled consultants will provide you with feedback on the discovery and help you to take the next step in building a behaviorally smart life. To learn more, please speak with one of our DNA Behavior Specialists (LiveChat), email, or visit DNA Behavior

Behavioral Insights Reveal I’m an Entrepreneur!

Imagine a life spent working for someone only to discover late in the piece that you had all the makings of an entrepreneur.

You may instinctively know that you have a strong desire to start a business. Perhaps you harbored an innate desire to create ventures, but just needed confirmation to take the leap.

Hard wired behavior is inherent. It can be revealed. It can deliver significant insight into your DNA wiring that puts you into the driving seat of your career choices.

Our research concludes that entrepreneurs who have built a business in excess + $1m in turnover will have the following “genes” (natural “hard-wired” behavioral traits) in descending order of dominance:

  1. Resilience – achieves results, manages setbacks, and rationally takes quick action.
  2. Risk Taker – confidently takes risks and tolerant of losses.
  3. Creativity – innovative with ideas and seeks to differentiate.
  4. Work Ethic and Focus – pursues goals and is often ambitious and competitive.
  5. Charisma – ability to influence people to follow them, often having a balance between being outgoing and reserved

These genes are more pronounced for those entrepreneurs who have built businesses with a turnover of more than $10m.

We Did the Research

At DNA Behavior we extensively researched the subject of Entrepreneurial Genetics using our validated Business DNA Natural Behavior Discovery Process as the foundation. Our analysis that a person is born with entrepreneurial genes is supported by other similar findings in academic research and studies.

Step one of your life journey may be to understand IF you are an entrepreneur, but step two is knowing how to manage what you now know about yourself.

You may discover you are headstrong, driven, energetic, inundated with ideas, passionate, a risk taker, expressive and convincing. Qualities all needed to be a successful entrepreneur but remember you will rely on others to bring your ideas to market and need to know how to manage the behavioral differences you will face with others.

Entrepreneurs must be multifaceted and dynamic yet be laser sharp and narrowly focused. Their many duties require a uniquely talented character, but differences in personality and perspective can determine success or failure. It is not surprising therefore, that the number one genetic trait of an entrepreneur is resilience as this is foundational to survival in life and business.

We want to put you on the right path to understanding your entrepreneurial strengths. With the use of behavioral science, you can have this data in real-time on any device.
Below you have an opportunity to complete a 10-minute questionnaire that will reveal significant self-awareness. It’s free.

I’m an Entrepreneur – What Next?

Good question.

Regardless of where you are on your entrepreneurial journey, there will be challenges. Without personal self-awareness of the above five key traits, even the most gifted entrepreneur will crash and burn. Whilst a strong sense of purpose will keep entrepreneurs motivated during challenging times, behaviorally smart individuals face challenges knowing that through them, they will learn and grow.

Look again at the five entrepreneurial genes and ask yourself these questions:

  1. Which of the above entrepreneurial genetic traits am I most dominant?
  2. Am I leveraging the dominant one? If not, why not?
  3. Who is alongside me as a partner or integrator (master key executive) to bridge the gap of the less dominant genes? And is that support successful?
  4. Who else do I need on the team and in what roles?
  5. Resilience is an essential quality to succeeding in any business, but how is my work/life balance?

Understanding the genes that make you a successful entrepreneur is very empowering. These insights provoke deeper thinking about the essential success factors and to consider how to activate your underused talents for building a business, and life, with meaning.

We have a great deal of on line resource for entrepreneurial coaching and mentoring to help you on your journey. Just reach out.

Business DNA Free Trial

In Isolation: Stress and Revelations

What behaviors have surfaced in your personality during isolation that have surprised you? What about your partner and family?

Never before in most of our lifetimes have we as a global family been subjected to isolation, separation, loneliness, and enforced seclusion on this scale. Never before have our rights to make daily choices been removed. It’s inevitable, therefore, that areas of our behavior will surface that otherwise haven’t been obvious before the coronavirus lockdown.

All kinds of changes to environments can produce deviations in behavior, but add to these restrictions to movement. You can’t get out of the way of other people’s behaviors and that’s a recipe for disaster.

Let’s take a light-hearted look at possible answers to these questions. This is not a counseling session; rather, a deep dive into behavioral differences.

A case study for perspective

The Johnson Family (names have been changed) – Dad, Mum, two sons, and a daughter. Dad Tom runs a successful leadership training consultancy. Mum Fiona is a medical clinic receptionist. Eldest son Junior works for the government and runs a department. Son Kevin is a social worker, focusing on family issues. Daughter Susan is a marketing consultant and runs her own business.

Some of the more unsettling traits that have surfaced during isolation have caused challenges but have also served to enable the family to recognize the importance of understanding and managing the differences in their behavior.

Example: Tom, after just a few days of isolation, decided that he would head to his office as no one would be there. He said he would grab some take away food on the way back and fill up the car with gas. Tom had always been a spontaneous risk-taker. He could recognize a good business deal and was prepared to back his judgment and take risks when necessary. However, isolation had proved difficult for him and he started to rebel against it and become unfocused and overconfident. He thought he knew best.

Kevin was all for the challenge of getting out of isolation and said he’d go along for the ride. As a social worker, Kevin was engaging and trusting. He could talk to anyone and put them at ease. He knew he was inclined to become too empathetic with his clients, but it worked for him and them in terms of finding a solution to their difficulties. But after a few weeks of isolation, he was trying to talk himself and his family into breaking the rules. He became emotional and somewhat immature in his arguments.

Fiona, on the other hand, pointed out all the issues raised both in the media and from her experience at the medical center as to why her husband’s idea was foolish and potentially dangerous to the family. She insisted they all be compliant and follow the rules. Against the barrage of talking from her spontaneous, sceptical, outgoing, creative family she found herself becoming passive and hesitant and losing her inherent ability to be practical and diplomatic.

Junior sat on the fence – on the one hand, he wasn’t entirely in sync with what the news reports said about the need for strict isolation and yet questioned his father’s impulsive behavior. He ignored Kevin’s loud, effusive pleas to let them go. Not because he didn’t love his brother, but because he knew he was too emotional and trusting.

Susan hid the car keys, as she could see the family dynamics breaking down. She headed to her laptop to find a solution online to help the family before it deteriorated into all-out war. As Susan became impatient and critical of the way her father was flouting the rules, her brothers, infuriating her for no particular reason other than they were her brothers, she watched with a deepening concern as her parents’ behavior escalated in ways she’d not seen before.

Susan realized that in this enforced and confusing setting her family was losing perspective. She could see that, until they truly understood what was happening and why they might not get through it. She feared they wouldn’t surface from isolation intact as a family unit.

The turning point

Susan had completed some marketing work for DNA Behavior International. As part of the contract, she completed a discovery process the outcomes of which were used to help her integrate quickly with the team.

As she pointed out to her family, the things that she was seeing in their behaviors and her concern about how fractured the family was becoming, they began to realize they were in trouble. Knowing that her behavioral style was that of an initiator, she insisted the family complete their own discovery online, knowing they would receive the outcomes in real-time.

Susan watched as they read their reports and saw the depth of insight they revealed. Tom realized that his spontaneous and risk-taker factors that helped him build a successful business were now showing up as impulsive and unfocused. Fiona, on the other hand, recognized she had retreated into compliance just to keep the peace and had allowed her consistent approach to issues, and her experience to be usurped by others’ behavior.

Junior could see he needed to get off the fence and use his ability to question and reason to influence others’ behavior through quiet, focused conversation. Kevin was the answer to pulling his family together. He put his arms around them (metaphorically), reminding them of the strong caring family unit they were before the pandemic.

Susan watched all this and took on the role of thinking imaginatively of how they could get through isolation as a family without wrecking themselves. She asked DNA Behavior to run a family team report so they could get a deeper understanding of how to survive the isolation by understanding their differences.

As DNA Behavior is a remote-working business, they talked to the family online about their relationships. A DNA Behavior consultant was able to give them pointers on how best to flex with each other when or if inappropriate behaviors surfaced again.

The family is now armed with their inherent behavioral factors, a family team report, and knowledge of their communication styles. They know environment impacts behavior and communication, AND now they are confident of exiting home isolation and remote work intact.

Be like the Johnsons…

We’re here to help. Reach out to us so you can understand the dynamics of your household during this season of isolation.

Begin by completing a no-cost, no-obligation DNA Behavior discovery. In conjunction, book a no-cost, no-obligation consulting appointment with one of our pros. You’ll gain new insights and skills that will serve you in isolation and when it is just a distant memory.

In conjunction, book a no-cost, no-obligation consulting appointment.

DNA Accredited Financial Advisor Training

DNA-Accredited Financial Advisor Training Provides Edge

We are excited to be hosting DNA Accredited Financial Advisor Training for two days, April 24-25, in Atlanta. Space is limited, so please register soon.

The comprehensive workshop is for financial advisors and wealth managers already familiar with the Financial DNA Discovery Processes, which advisors use to learn the communication styles, financial habits (including setting goals, spending and saving) behavioral biases and risk profiles of clients.

As many of our readers know, Financial DNA provides real-time behavioral insights that enable customized delivery of meaningful advisor and client experiences, with improved outcomes on both sides of the relationship. The workshop builds on the foundation of Financial DNA-savvy advisors, helping them become what we call Human Performance Accelerators, learning unique financial personality insights to further help clients achieve greater self-empowerment- and wealth accumulation.

The training also is recommended for any organization considering implementing a DNA financial personality management API solution.

The six pillars of DNA Financial Planning Performance will be explored in-depth using the company’s proprietary behavioral insights tech platform. (The only validated behavioral insights fintech of its kind.) Attendees should then be able to not only deliver better client outcomes, but also be able to increase and sustain profitability.

The practical and experiential training program addresses Natural (inherent) Behavior and How to Deploy the Financial DNA Discovery Process to meet the behavioral challenges of every client on their own unique terms.

  • (Advisors) discovering their own strengths and struggles;
  • Learning how to use behavioral insights in relating to different clients more effectively; and
  • Identifying ideal clients and keeping them engaged.

Also covered: Learned Behavior and Additional Behavioral Finance Insights, including:

  • Techniques for improving client meeting facilitation with powerful questions across multiple communications channels; and
  • Building behaviorally smart portfolios which align client risk-taking, decision biases, goals, spending and financial capacity.

Attendees also will benefit from a very special new offering: An interactive dinner, Thought Accelerators: Future Fintech, at which training participants ranging from beginners to experts will discuss behavioral insight challenges and solutions, further activating what they have learned toward practical, powerful outcomes.

Complete information and registration for DNA Accredited Financial Advisor Training can be found here. Location information – Dunwoody (North Atlanta), just outside the perimeter – is included at the information and registration link. Those completing the two-day training will receive DNA Accredited Financial Advisor certification.

Who should attend? Financial advisors, wealth managers and others who want to master validated behavioral finance insights that accelerate the results achieved by both advisors and their clients. And, again, the training also is recommended for any organization considering implementing a DNA financial personality management API solution.

See you in Atlanta April 24-25. (Can’t make it then, let us know so we can notify you of future trainings and Thought Accelerator dinners.)

Financial DNA offers:

  • Unparalleled depth and reliability of psychometric validation for 64 core natural behavior traits to identify a client’s unique financial personality;
  • Separate measurement of a client’s communication style, spending and goal-setting behaviors, risk profile and behavioral biases;
  • Unique process for matching advisors, clients, and solutions using our extensive behavioral finance data;
  • Comprehensive wealth mentoring system to help advisors guide their clients in making life and financial decisions; and
  • Digital solutions for practical and scalable delivery across a firm’s whole client base.