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A Veteran’s Day Tribute with Brian Sulc

For the past few years, we at DNA Behavior have always acknowledged and celebrated our community of veterans on National Veterans Day. We take it to heart to honor those who wear and have worn the uniform of our armed forces.  

I have served in the Air Force for a few years and can honestly say that the camaraderie you experience in the armed forces is unlike any other bond. The experience is life-changing and teaches you a great deal about the human condition and our natural behavior. 

I’m always moved and encouraged to meet fellow veterans. Throughout the years, I’ve had the privilege of meeting a few and today I would like to pay tribute to one of them.  

Meet Brian Sulc 

Brian Sulc is the Executive Director of the Office of Intelligence & Analysis (I&A) at the Department of Homeland Security. He’s been leading the Intelligence Enterprise Training Initiative since 2019 and has been part of I&A since 2004.  At a very young age, Brian knew that he wanted to make a difference in the world. He’s always been moved and motivated by the stark distinction between good and evil. In his own words, he simply wanted to be one of the good guys.  

After graduating high school, he joined Cornell University and was part of the Navy ROTC program, Marine Option. Straight out of college, he was commissioned into the Marine Corps and became an infantry platoon commander. He spent the next 5 years in the infantry battalion serving various roles, it was not only the beginning of his career but also was his first experience in training.  

Brian then moved on to take the role of Deputy Director of the Instructional Management School at Camp Pendleton, California and made a major career change right after that. He decided to become an attorney and went from the Marine Corps to law school. 

The interesting thing about his decision is that he didn’t necessarily have any kind of lifelong ambition about becoming an attorney, he was seeking an intellectually challenging academic experience, a “boot camp of the mind.”  He found himself enjoying his time at law school and became a prosecutor, spending eight quite fulfilling years in the role. 

A life-changing event 

Brian can still remember it as if it had happened yesterday. It was a Tuesday morning; he was sitting at a desk on the 11th floor eying a stack of files he needed to go through for preliminary hearings. He’d been working as a prosecutor in Arlington County in Virginia, and this was a normal day for him. Suddenly, he saw all the police officers running out of the courtroom headed in the same direction. He looked around for an explanation, then his eyes met the window where the black fume of smoke was all you could see on the horizon. 

The day was 9/11, and the building was the Pentagon right after it was bombed.  

Even as a prosecutor, Brian had been continuing his military service in the reserves. Witnessing what happened that day, triggered the next season of his life. He returned to active duty in the Marine Corps, joined the post 9/11 efforts spending the most of the four years in the Marine Corps, including a tour in Iraq where his actions resulted in being awarded the Bronze Star for meritorious achievement in combat.

Brian returned home, but not to re-engage as a prosecutor. 9/11 had changed him and sharpened his resolve to make the world a better place. He joined the Department of Homeland Security was where he believed he could make a difference and a contribution post military service. 

The servant leadership approach 

A lot of things happened in Brian’s career since he came back from deployment. Prior to leading the Intelligence Enterprise Training Initiative, he worked as Director of the Border Security Division, which countered with cross border threats such as drug trafficking, smuggling, and similar issues. He then led the effort to establish the National Counterterrorism Innovation, Technology, and Education (NCITE) Center of Excellence at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.  

His comeback to training came in the form of the Intelligence Enterprise Training Initiative. He had been in intel operations most of his career, but the counterterrorism center of excellence and this position marked his return.  

The interesting thing about Brian is that he has his own philosophy when it comes to training and leadership. Although he values the technical aspect of any mission, it’s always been more about the people for him, and the opportunity for inspiring and leading others to succeed.  

In his own words, Brian embraces the servant leadership approach. It’s what drives him. He believes that by having a clear mission, a distinctive threat or enemy to fight and providing support to everyone on your team, you can unlock a level of success that you may not have encountered before. It is not about you the leader, it is about your team, what they need from you to succeed, and your commitment to providing that for them. It is not only about individual performance; it is about helping people operate for the greater good of the team.  

The identity of a veteran 

Any person that has worn the uniform of our armed forces admits that it is more than a job. It is more than a mission or a vocation. The selfless act of dedicating every waking moment to the well-being of your nation is undoubtedly part of your identity.  

Whether you transition to a different career or you carry on the mission and work on the federal level similar to the path chosen by Brian, your identity as a veteran will always surface in all aspects of your life.  

When asking Brian what he wants to be known for and how he wants to be seen by the people he leads and spends time training, he says: ”I hope that I am seen as a great example or even the epitome of a servant leader. When the going gets tough, even when it may costs me personally, I’m practicing what I preach. We look out for the guy or the woman on our left and right. The mission is best accomplished by being a servant leader and by not putting yourself first.” 

Final thought. 

Have you ever met someone in your life and thought to yourself “that person is a real-life hero!”. When it comes to Brian Sulc, that is exactly how I felt when I first met him. People like him make me think that every day should be a celebration of our veterans, not only one day a year. 

From all of us here at DNA Behavioral, Brian, we salute you and thank you for your service. 

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

Using Behavioral Insights To Survive – And Thrive? – At Thanksgiving

Millions of American families come together (either in person or virtually) to enjoy Thanksgiving. But whether it is Thanksgiving or any other event, bringing people together does not necessarily equal a fun time. Why is that?

Its simple: We are all behaviorally different. At a time when family should enjoy each other around a splendid table, there is a potential for long-hidden conflicts, resentments and judgments to surface. Even if the family agrees that certain topics are banned from the gathering, that doesn’t mean that they don’t raise their head in some way.

Family coming together for Thanksgiving celebration should be able to avoid stress and conflict. But here’s a thought: Why don’t families work on their relationships? Why don’t they care sufficiently about family dynamics to try to understand and manage behavioral differences?

It’s a conundrum. Most people sitting around your table will likely invest time and resources into understanding workplace relationships. The point being to ensure everyone works effectively together to produce great workplace results.

Why then wouldn’t the same investment of time and resources be appropriate for families?

Here at DNA Behavior, we are often faced with this dilemma when advising families around their finances. This is a complex time for families. Generations have different ideas about how best to disburse family wealth. It becomes even more complex when each family member has a different approach to money.

Family is the most important group in society and yet it can be the greatest source of conflict and disagreement. Taking time to build healthy relationships within the family through understanding communication and behavioral styles does benefit each individual member in all walks of life.

So, here are five thoughts to navigate family struggles during this holiday season:
1. All families have elements of behavior that challenge us. Think of a particular family member whose behavior is challenging and then list at least three things about that person that you value. Then use these key strengths to build a relationship with them.
2. Make a commitment to understand your own communication and behavioral style and use that knowledge to better recognize how best to communicate with other family members.
3. If you are behaviorally engaged with your family members you will focus on the issue when conflict arises (and not the person).
4. Regardless of your communication or behavioral style, everyone reacts well to appreciation. Consider how often you express this to family members. A word of appreciation and acknowledgement of their value to the family can change the dynamic in a room.
5. Make a point of spending time with a family member that you don’t know very well. Focus your communication on them. Be interested in what they have to say; remember their conversation may not stimulate you, but the fact that you made time for them and listened could be the highlight of their holiday season. (Or may at least give them new insight into you.)

Thanksgiving should be a time to make wonderful memories, and it often only takes one family member to change the environment either for good or not. How about this Holiday Season you make the commitment to be the one to be behaviorally smart and help navigate everyone through to a Thanksgiving to remember?

The takeaway from this is that when a crisis does hit the family, they will be able to unite and draw strength and support from one another. Here’s where to start. Head over to https://dnabehavior.com/start-a-free-trial/ and complete your DNA Behavior Natural Behavior Discovery.

Then forward this article to everyone invited to your Thanksgiving celebration so they can complete their discovery. Then let behavioral insights be the fun topic around the dinner table. Who knows? They may even become one of the things some people are most thankful for this year!

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

Making Behavioral Science Effortless in Workflow

Making Behavioral Science Effortless in Workflow

This article first appeared on Nasdaq.

When advisors and clients relate well and understand how to manage each other’s behavioral and communication differences, those solid foundations lead to repeat business and overall success.

Imagine heading to a meeting with a client and being able to use your smartwatch or other device to take a quick glance to remind yourself of their innate behaviors. Those revealed by the 10-minute assessment they took early in the advisory relationship.

You’d quickly refresh your knowledge of validated ways to best communicate with them. A smoother, more focused meeting. Perhaps quicker. And with improved outcomes.

Visualize knowing in advance, for instance, that this client values work-life balance and won’t budge from goals they have to support their lifestyle. Think about how important it would be to have access to client insights as you step out of the elevator and greet your client.

An insightful road map

Many of us can’t recall our own natural behavior when we are under stress, never mind trying to recall that of our client. But a quick glance at discovery report highlights provides these prompts:

You are motivated by out-of-the-box thinking and brainstorming. On the flip, your client who needs the big picture, action plans and logical key points.

You’re reminded to go into the meeting knowing how to manage the differences between you, including: Dial back your creative thinking and focus on the analytics and rationale, while remaining levelheaded
The world of advice is changing rapidly. Think back over the past few months and consider how often you’ve found yourself acting more as a coach-mentor than a financial advisor.

Robust info revealed in practical ways

Increasingly, and though they may use varying language to express it, advisors are inquiring how to foster this transition to coaching or mentoring.

All acknowledge their clients are smart and have a pretty good handle on their wealth creation in stable times. But they recognize we’re all a bit more emotional and not as consistent in decision making during tumultuous times.

My guidance: Get to know your clients’ natural behavior. It won’t change over time, but under pressure some aspects of their financial personality might cause a “behavioral flip” – so named by behavioral insights guru Hugh Massie – and will need to be managed. (Behavioral flip: Demonstrating behavior that seems to run counter to everyday, no-stress or low-stress behaviors.)

This is not some futuristic thought bubble; this behavioral insight is available now and can be used on any device via a simple integration. And that last point is one I get asked about a lot. Understandably, advisors are busy doing their core work and don’t need an add-on, for lack of a better term, if it’s not a quick and seamless process, including the time involved to get up to speed.

Leverage existing behavior data

Being able to reference and be guided by robust financial behavior data creates curiosity as clients see how empowered they are as they fully understand their inherent decision-making and communication style. This revolutionizes the advisor-client relationship and puts you and your client on the cutting edge.

Get an even better grasp on how to run a client meeting built on actual data and behavioral insight.

Understanding behavior satisfies know-your-client standards – without having to laboriously read piles of client bios – and ups the ante in terms of outcomes on all sides of the relationship.

Accelerate Your Leadership

Accelerate Your Leadership

“Leadership is not domination, but the art of persuading people to work toward a common goal.” – Daniel Goleman

What is your definition of leadership? What are some of the attributes of great leaders you have experienced? Who are some great leaders that are role models for you?

When it comes to leadership, everyone seems to have a different opinion on whether leadership talents are natural or learned and which talents are more important than others. Opinions also differ around how to develop leadership abilities, what makes a good leader and the best way to lead people. This is not surprising given the complexity of people and relationships, and the fact that each person has a unique perspective on leadership based on who they are.

Many leaders have recently experienced remote working, maybe for the first time. Now is a good time to consider what has gone well and what has been a behavioral challenge.

If you are unfamiliar with your behavior and responses you could well be inadvertently causing problems with your teams. Using the insight of the Business DNA Natural Behavior Discovery, you will gain a deep understanding of your natural hard-wired behavior which is at the core of your leadership talents. This insight is the starting point for informing how people are likely to relate to your leadership style and what you need to understand about yourself to manage those relationships.

The data enables you to personalize your leadership to the individual, remembering that one size of leadership approach does not fit all.

Using our 200+ actionable insights into each person’s behavior, strengths, struggles, communications keys and more, puts you in the driving seat to be able to interact with others on terms that improve their relationship with you and the business, and this inevitably leads to increase in productivity and success.

People who feel ‘seen’ and valued in the workplace – are more effective. This is critical to your leadership approach.

Discovering the Impact of Your Leadership

We have a unique “inside-out” approach to the development of leaders. When you are more aware of your natural behavioral talents for leadership you will be able to understand if you are a result or relationships-based leader. Generally, most people are one or the other. The goal is to develop the appropriate balance between managing results and relationships.

One of the interesting responses we have noticed in working with industry leaders is the importance from their people that leaders have integrity and can be trusted.

In the work we do with leaders and their organizations we firstly use the Business DNA Natural Behavior Discovery tools to understand leadership behaviors. We then use our sophisticated Business DNA Leadership 360-degree discovery to establish how your leadership style is actually impacting the people working with you. This analysis will reflect your “learned leadership behaviors”. It reveals:

• What kind of working environment you are creating?
• Is there a productive energy?
• Are you communicating effectively to build great relationships with your teams?

Developing your leadership style is a continual process. Everyone has some blind-spots, and even biases, but being aware of them is critical. Awareness of your limitations or pressure points gives you the opportunity to manage them. Remembering that being able to manage differences in behavior effectively is what produces an organization focused on goals and success.

Great leaders who are behaviorally insightful into their own and others personality and tend to have an equally discerning understanding of their emotional intelligence. They navigate the behavioral differences they face. They understand theirs and others pressure points. They know getting these right builds trust that leads to successful leadership.

So, understanding your behavioural style is the foundation of your leadership abilities. Of course, we need to recognize that there are many other aspects of leadership to learn as well, execution delegation, communication, time-management, to name but a few. But this basic understanding will set the platform for developing the rest of these areas.

Behavioral Insight Influences the Bottom Line

Quality leadership affects the bottom-line. Effective leaders are thirteen times more likely to outperform their industry competitors. The difference in the impact of a top-performing leader and an average performing leader is 50%. In the area of key metrics like financial performance, organizations with the highest quality leaders were 13 times more likely to outperform their industry competitors.

Organizations with higher quality leadership higher employee retention and engagement rates (up to three times that of their competitors). Source

Having behavioral insight in real-time on any device makes leadership and interaction with people significantly more effective. Simply being able to compare two (or more profiles) in advance of a meeting puts leadership in a strong position to manage conversations effectively.

Why not try it free or talk to one of our consultants – or both.