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When New Information Changes Perspective

Some twenty-four hours ago, the state government sent our little haven by the ocean into Covid lockdown. We had to get back to our homes with only a few hours’ notice, ensure the fridge was full, and generally watch as our comfy, covid free world imploded.  

No longer, for the foreseeable future, could we sit in the village coffee shop engaging in conversations about other states not being able to cope with the lockdown. No longer could we gloss over the shattered lives due to businesses closing, never to open again.   

Suddenly, it was us. Then, it was our little shops, our little local livelihoods with closed signs at the window.  

I began to realize how perspective about what was happening changed. We saw the issues from a whole different vantage point. What was evident as we called each other was the significantly new attitude now being adopted, not just to our neighbor states but also to our village and the businesses, schools, churches, and all gatherings suddenly in lockdown. 

I’ve been thinking a great deal recently about seeing things differently. My world is all about understanding behaviors, but something is changing. The world and individuals have taken on levels of stress like never before in many of our lifetimes. I notice how emotion is driving significant decisions. I’ve seen a level of fear in conversations. Comments such as – when this is all over, what will the economy look like? Will I have enough savings or retirement income to ride out a financial crash? Will I lose my home? 

If I’ve learned anything about understanding behaviors over many years, It’s that when we understand and can manage our behaviors, it rationalizes our perspective, it frees up the mind to make calmer, more effective, less emotional decisions. 

Let me give you an example using a group of friends I know well. Names have been changed! 

In the face of this current lockdown:

David is an influencer. As the word suggests, he influences; he wants/needs to engage with people. Unfortunately, right now, he is crawling up the walls of his apartment. He is desperately trying to build a range of new businesses, calling friends to get their opinions, making decisions from the most stressful standpoints. Finally, after understanding his behavior (yes, I managed to get him to complete a DNA Behavior Discovery process), he can see that he is creating messy chaos and needs to breathe and start looking at this situation from a different perspective.

Jackie, on the other hand, is a thinker. Very analytical and logical, an absolute rock to have around as she keeps us all accountable by asking endless questions of our little group. Her perspective and counsel are to consolidate, calm down, move forward using rational fact-based decision making. Lockdown has given Jackie a whole new perspective. Firstly the speed at which we were told to go to our homes, no research, no actual planning, lack of organization, and all of us looking to her to ensure systems in place for the business continued to function correctly remotely. Jackie found herself in a difficult position. Again, Jackie completed the DNA Behavior discovery.

Elizabeth is strategic. She asked to complete the DNA Behavior discovery. It confirmed she is a visionary, structured, and takes the lead whenever possible. We all tend to look to her to make the tough calls. To make quick, confident decisions. She is always able to see and minimize the risks. But something changed recently. Perspective shifted. Losing control over the work environment caused her concern. Strategically she could easily find solutions to the lockdown issue, but now the authority to implement them was gone. 

Then there’s me, Vicki – DNA Behavior discovery process nails me to a tee. I am a facilitator, balanced, harmonious, discerning. I need the what-ifs answered. I pull back from all (even reasonable) spending in case something happens to the economy. I like to take time to make decisions, and above all else, I rely on the skills and stability of my colleagues to keep the ship steady. So from my perspective, everything is a bit shaky.

But heh, I’m a facilitator, which means I bring about outcomes by providing indirect assistance and guidance. I keep communication flowing and encourage and change the energy in the zoom room.

And that’s what I did. I ran a DNA Behavior team report for this little group. It showed the strength, pressure points, communication style, bias, and decision-making approach of our team, and so much more. We got together for an online meeting, and I used this information to change our collective perspective. I encouraged them to keep the issue, that is, in lockdown because of Covid, in focus. 

This ‘issue’ is not our fault, not within our power to change the current situation but most definitely within our control to change our perspective in dealing with it. We spent time reviewing our DNA Behavior reports and acknowledging where our pressure points were and how to manage them. We further realized (almost scarily) how fear can take a successful business off course, not because of the shutdown but because of the individual’s behavior and perspective.

We challenged each other’s decision-making. As a result, we are determined to use our inherent behavior and skills to see things differently and ride out this storm without damaging ourselves or the business.

We decided not to waste energy on the lockdown itself because we all had very different responses to that, but to intentionally use our skills to bend but not break in the season we currently face.

If you find yourself in a similar place – you have my sympathy, but do what we did. Head over to DNA Behavior.com and hit the free trial button. You may well find the new information changes your perspective as it did ours.

Business man seated at desk looking at paperwork

X-Factor: Discovery, Awareness, Then Leadership

First published on Nasdaq


I’ve been having what I call Identity Conversations with financial advisors, industry leaders and others. It has clarified for me – and for them – that the more advisors and leaders come to understand their own identity, the better they can guide others to make more effective decisions.

John Maxwell, an author and speaker on leadership, captured the essence of this: “I have to find myself before I can lead myself. I have to be self-aware before I can be situationally aware.”

He could have written that for me and the people I work with, because he sums up an exciting truth for those of us required to guide people in their decision-making, whether as financial advisors, industry leaders, parents or others: Becoming situationally aware is itself a journey.

Situational & self

“Situational awareness” involves knowing what is going on around you and with others at any given time. As a financial advisor, situational awareness relies on your ability to see, understand and analyze the life journey of your clients and the goals they want to achieve. Life is not linear; life and market events are taking place all the time, and recognition of that is essential if you are working with clients to build wealth that also achieves their objectives.

An advisor’s pre-prepared questions can’t reveal the essence of a client. Most people are presenting their best side and perhaps even what they believe is expected. Even with well-guided questions, financial advisors rarely get to know what makes clients tick at the deeper level. Add to that the fact that advisor bias (unconscious or conscious) or assumptions also come into play.

So, the starting place is not just getting the right “discovery” tool or method to uncover what you need to know about your clients. I firmly believe you can never have real success or be a significant advisor until you genuinely discover yourself. Only by discovering your own X-Factor – those talents and qualities that set you apart and make you uniquely you – can you genuinely advise, guide and help clients build wealth to achieve life goals built on an understanding of themselves.

The secret sauce of leadership

Knowing your X-Factor, which reflects your unique gifts as an advisor, is critical to understanding your identity. That understanding, and the sharing of it, is in turn critical to understanding your clients – and helping them understand themselves.

What special “secret sauce” do you have that sets you apart in the crowd from every other advisor? This is not about your “doing” in the role as an advisor but the essence of your being. The X-Factor is found by discovering where your talents (strengths) and passions combine to drive you toward doing something that is special and differentiated.

When individuals truly discover their identity, they realize the impact it has on every choice and, of particular importance to advisors and those they serve, decision-making. They become more secure in themselves, and that fosters clearer “vision” about themselves and those they serve.

Further, when advisors understand their own and that of their clients, they understand that identity is important for personal growth and business growth. And in many cases, a business’s identity and the success of the company is strongly correlated to that of the leader’s identity.

Living your identity

In this space I’ve written a lot in the past year about taking stock of life and checking in to consider the next “season” as we begin to return to normality. This time of enforced reflection has caused many, including me, to pause and rethink their life journey.

As a reformed accountant, it’s exciting to see how the Identity Journey has impacted many financial advisors. Given that 80% of human performance comes from living your identity, managing human differences, and recognizing the emotional impulses of decision-making, a number of those I interviewed shared with me how getting in touch with their own identity made them alert to situational awareness in financial planning.

Another important realization usually follows pretty quickly: To guide clients in their complex decision-making, they too needed to go back to basics to reveal their identity, discovering how this insight shapes their situation.

Discover, then share

In time we will all forget the experience of this past year. For one, never before have we had such an opportunity to check ourselves before we wreck ourselves. To reflect and reinvent. That is, to re-assess and re-launch, with an awareness that benefits us and those around us. After all, many people search – especially now – for their place in the world and how they can live or operate with more significant meaning.

So, before you step back into whatever your new normal is going be, take a moment to ask yourself:

  • What is your future reality?
  • Who do you want to become?
  • How do you want to project yourself to others?
  • Where will your most significant impact be?
  • How are you going to stand out in the crowd?
  • Do you want a dramatic change in your life?
  • Do you want a sharp uplift in your life trajectory?

If you’re unsure of your place in the world, this process of considering your X-Factor is a great (re-)starting point. There are a number of ways to go about it, but I am understandably biased about an approach that begins with a behavioral discovery, next stepping into an identity interview.

I’m always happy to help others uncover such and will of course share my own identity interview and X-Factor “reveal.” After all, that transparency and sharing is the pivot point when the power you discover in yourself begins to help and influence others.

If you are discovering other ways to find and own your X-Factor, I’d love to hear about it.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

Dream Smart Academy Behavioral SuperPowers Community

It’s always interested me to hear stories about how people are using DNA Behavior discovery to cause disruptive transformation in their life and business. Over the past 7 years, the DreamSmart Academy based in Temecula, CA has been growing a movement based on every person knowing their “Behavioral SuperPowers”. This is the essence of the DreamSmart Academy’s Behavioral Identity. People want to know their Behavioral Superpowers and flock to them.
I witnessed this in action as I joined the DreamSmart Academy online graduation event on April 20, 2021. Even though the event was held online the passion for pursuing behavioral self-awareness and understanding how Behavioral Identity impacts overall performance was incredible.

This organization is taking DNA Behavior to inner-city kids, their families, schools, universities, opportunity youth programs, to church leadership, and their congregations. They see the DNA Behavior tools as a behavioral tech solution for individuals, industry leaders, for everyone, and anyone wanting to gain insight into their Behavioral SuperPowers and ultimately their Behavioral Identity. In other words, decode human behavior to make it practically usable for every person.

From financial service industry leaders to business coaches, consultants, and trainers, to pastors – each shared their experience of life-changing ‘light bulb’ moments as they discovered their Behavioral SuperPowers and how powerful this insight is to reshaping their Behavioral Identity and acting as a catalyst for change.

From financial service industry leaders to business coaches, consultants, and trainers, to pastors – each shared their experience of life-changing ‘light bulb’ moments as they discovered their Behavioral SuperPowers and how powerful this insight is to reshaping their Behavioral Identity and acting as a catalyst for change.

I was deeply impressed by the DreamSmart Academy’s application of the DNA Behavior tools and the human energy they have created around them.

They will positively impact a lot of lives and relationships as their Behavioral SuperPowers movement expands.

I will be sharing more over the months ahead about the importance of identity and behavior and revealing more stories from the conversations I am having with others who are practically using behavioral insights to cause a dramatic change in how life and business are done. In the meantime, why not head to our website to begin your own journey to uncovering your identity empowerment. It’s FREE.

Take Fresh Look at Alignment of Career and Life Purpose

– First Published on Nasdaq –

Having a purpose in life that lines up with a chosen career is what many strive for and rarely achieve. Why is that?

Maybe it’s as simple as having allowed yourself to follow the career expectations of others, only to later find life experiences, wisdom, or an event (like a pandemic!) exposes cracks in the alignment between life purpose and chosen profession.

For many, the past year has caused them to take a hard look at their life purpose and ask the questions:

  • Why am I building wealth?
  • Is this my chosen career?
  • Why am I endeavoring to achieve the next promotion?
  • Why am I allowing life to hijack deeply held life goals and purpose?

Learning from the past

As I look back on my own journey, I often joke, saying I am a “reformed CPA,” but I seriously am. Having initially had a successful career as a chartered accountant in Sydney, Singapore and Thailand, and later in the financial services industry (running my own wealth management business), I always knew my career was more than about me conforming to a way of life.

That is, conforming to the script of have a good job, buy a house, invest and increase wealth. I think you get my point. But in reality, I always recognized something was missing.

My talents made me successful in my chosen careers but did not fulfill my passion, vision and values which I wanted to define and articulate in my life purpose.

I can’t say I was overly navel-gazing or looking for meaning in life; it was simply a deep belief that something more was going to be my career and purpose. The trouble was I didn’t know what.

Getting back to basics

I began to realize that if I wanted to discover my TIPS (talent, identity, purpose and significance) and get my career and life purpose aligned, I would have to do something about it myself. Hence the birth of DNA Behavior.

I recognized that using a behaviorally smart scientifically based discovery system I would be able to uncover areas of my TIPS that were not being recognized or used in my career – or toward my life purpose.

So, some 20+ years ago I founded the DNA Behavior business. It became clear to me that everyone should know and be able to share their unique “DNA style” with family, advisors, leaders, employees and clients. I knew that if everyone could share their unique style, the world would be a better place and careers would be chosen that lined up with living a quality life and inherent passions.

What I discovered and have spent the intervening years pursuing: My purpose and priorities lay in helping people the world over become more self-empowered through greater self-awareness. What I found is that I have a knack for discovering and making practical, unique behavioral insights, particularly in the still-new, still-underutilized field of behavioral finance. This is a much stronger calling for me than providing accounting and financial services, investments, and managing real estate.

The highly validated, scientifically based, structured approach to understanding behavioral insights for identifying talents, career paths and life purpose helped me discover my passion and now does the same for millions of people globally.

There is of course an irony – and a win-win – to the fact that my personal discovery and pursuit of that will enable the same for others. Of this I am doubly grateful.

And this is not a sales pitch; rather, it’s sharing an experience about discovering life purpose and making a career from that discovery.

Sometimes life intercedes

During the past year I have spent socially distant or remote time with countless people who are questioning many aspects of their lives. Now many are reviewing their career. Not because they have lost their job, but because they’ve had time to work from home with their family and have begun to “taste” a quality life.

They want to do life differently. They want to use technology to be able to have choices about where and when they work. Even more have commented on how successful conversations have become with their advisors as many financial advisors are themselves questioning their quality life.

One common theme in these conversations: It seems creating significant wealth is no longer their “true north,” not because they don’t want wealth but because they genuinely cannot find its purpose in their lives.

Wealth is great, but not at the sacrifice of life purpose. Why not have both?

Know yourself, then help clients do same

Discovering a life purpose that becomes a satisfying career needs to follow a well-defined approach that begins, not necessarily with qualifications, but with knowing self (talents, strengths and struggles). Focusing on those factors that reveal inherent behavior is crucial before setting personal life goals that enable you to take control of life in ways that optimize performance and happiness.

This approach to building a career based on life purpose is a strategy you can take to your clients as part of discussing financial planning and investment strategies, because many are searching for purpose and meaning. Even better if you lead the discussion with how you have rediscovered yourself, re-examined your goals and re-aligned key life facets like purpose and direction.

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: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ipsative

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 inquiries@dnabehavior.com, or visit DNA Behavior

Stop Trying to Delight Your Investors

In the world of financial advice, many clients think they know themselves and their money better than they do and certainly better than the advisor does. How does this thought impact the role of a financial advisor? If you know nothing about behaviors then clients with this ‘know it all’ attitude will be difficult to advise and manage.

Most successful financial advisors invest in understanding client behaviors. They ensure they have the insight and tools to be able to understand how people think, make decisions, and want to be communicated with. As a first step getting to understand how to speak with clients is important. DNA Behavior Discovery provides in-depth insight into the way people communicate and how they wish to be spoken to.

It takes just a few minutes to complete a discovery. The outcomes prepare the way to start the advisor/client conversation.

Why Getting to The Root of Behaviors Is Key to Addressing Them Head-On?

So, what to do? One important key is to know yourself. There is little point trying to manage a tricky client if you allow them to push your behavioral buttons.

So, first step, get to know your own financial personality and communication style. Remember, as an advisor, there will be many conversations with clients where you need to understand the importance of managing the behavioral differences between you and your client and how to navigate any bias either you or your client might have. Comprehensive self-knowledge will inform ways to flex in order to keep the conversation going.

The wide-ranging DNA Behavior Natural Discovery process takes just 10 minutes to complete, can be delivered in real-time to any of your devices, and delivers 200 insights, 64 behavioral factors leading to 1 unique style (your client).

Successful financial advisory practices don’t get involved with a ‘one size fits all approach’. They know the importance of delivering accurate advice that reflects the needs of the individual. To satisfy the ‘know your clients rule’ advisors must be able to manage the behaviors of their clients on an individual basis.

The Behaviorally Smart Organization

As businesses emerge from the global pandemic self-isolation/remote working season, many will be looking at ways to increase their business flow and maintain their existing clients. Advisors will have relied solely on online platforms to stay connected. Clients who might not have previously considered working with their advisor using online tools could well be open to this new approach. Organizations wishing to demonstrate their understanding of the behaviors of their clients will be looking to data collection, online platforms, social media, and other tools to collaborate with their clients, build their business and improve their service offerings. One such way is to use DNA Behavior to work with your entire organization to match advisors to clients. What better service offering can there be than one that has such a deep understanding of their advisors and clients’ financial and communication personalities and is able to deliver a customized behaviorally smart matching approach to their advisory business?

Moving the Needle to Build Advisor/Client Relationships

DNA Behavior will work with your entire organization NOW to prepare you to build an enhanced service offering post coronavirus. It’s time to take a fresh look at how this virtual working has offered solutions to improve service offerings. Going back to the same old same old just won’t cut it. Clients want something different as do advisors. Now’s the time to take a deep dive into understanding the personalities of the people that make up your business. Whether an advisor or client. Whether receptionist, the board, or the C suite, we will set you up to face the ‘new world’ by using our extensive tools to improve your bottom line.

BeFi API is A Must for Broker-Dealers

A robust Behavioral Finance platform will enable Broker-Dealers to meet the fast-growing need for mega-customization. Such a platform will not only provide insights into how clients invest but also reveal habits to how Broker-Dealer employees and investors spend, set goals, communicate, work, live, and make decisions. These insights become transformative when powering core Broker-Dealer workflows such as:

• Advisor-client matching programs (which advisor is suited for which client)

• Optimizing marketing spend (who wants steak dinners vs. Super Bowl tickets)

• Sending customized behavioral driven marketing content to clients

• Developing customized onboarding playbooks

• Arming advisors with the perfect behaviorally generated scripts to deliver at the right time

• Predicting fearful and opportunistic clients on a real-time basis with Market Mood™

To learn more, download our E-Book.