Money: The Greatest Gravitational Force Impacting Decision Making

– First Published on Nasdaq –

I’ve asked many advisors over the past few years, “How much time do you truly spend understanding the emotional behavior of your clients?” On average, the consensus is about 10%.

I then ask, “How much time do you spend understanding your clients’ identity?” this question is met with a blank stare.

The reality is that we know very little about the behavior of our clients, and, consequently, how they make decisions. Making assumptions about who the client is and what their true motivations are is a risky approach. Ultimately, as advisors, our ability to objectively understand how our clients are uniquely “wired” and then building a corresponding healthy relationship with them represents 80% or more of our success on their behalf. And our own success is riding on theirs.

When you think about it, the behavioral dynamics start from the moment a prospect makes contact with your firm. Because of the digital world we live in, that could even be before the first meeting. Therefore, it’s central to the ongoing success of the relationship to deliberately address behavioral differences early.

Deconstructing emotional decisions 

Over the past few months, I have spoken to many industry leaders in what we call Identity Conversations. There is one consistent issue: How to work with clients who make emotional decisions.

All agree that money is the most significant gravitational force impacting decision-making and that there is no doubt that the emotional pull of money can hijack decision-making. The question is how to recognize what it is that triggers these emotional responses.

For me, there is no doubt that understanding identity is key to working with clients. Identity reflects their X factor and their unique algorithm, as well as their values and purpose. Unlock this, and you will know your clients’ motivations, and this will reveal how and where and for what reason they want to build their wealth.

When market movements cause clients to become emotional, you will see what they are inherently trying to protect – their identity. That is the convergence of their talents, passions and life purpose.

Lessons from a challenging season

We don’t know what the world will ultimately look like when this pandemic has left us (and it will). What will the economy look like? How will our working lives have changed? Will our priorities have changed? And perhaps the biggest one of all: What will we have all learned about ourselves and our decision-making approaches during this challenging season?

As advisors, industry leaders or individuals, it’s time to prepare for what comes next. Check yourself before you wreck yourself: Figure out your own identity and those of key players around you. Form an opinion as to how the gravitational pull of money impacts your decision-making and prepare well for the next season via identity empowerment.

And if you are looking for a safe place to start an Identity Conversation, I’m always happy to help you kickstart such.

See Hugh’s other writings for Nasdaq here.

Top 20 Behavioral Interview Questions to Identify High-Potential Practice Managers

The talent management process companies go through has come under much scrutiny over the last year. It is no longer a matter of finding the right candidates for the right role, managers have started taking into consideration the behavioral aspect as well. If you too are ready to embrace the right hiring strategy to meet the needs of this new season, below are the top 20 behavioral interview questions you should be asking.

Why prioritize behavioral questions?

We’ve heard it times and times again: “Great businesses are built on people”. This entails that matching the right experience and skills to the right role is what makes successful teams. However, the traditional process of screening candidates lacks an essential component that identifies high potential candidates. A behavioral assessment. 

It is not only a matter of understanding your candidates’ behavioral tendencies, you should also be able to anticipate how they would react in a given situation. When recruiting a practice manager, you are recruiting for a client-facing role that requires certain agility in customer service. Knowing that behavioral intelligence deepens engagement in each human interaction makes it a must-have personality trait in your next hire. Only a behavioral assessment can accurately predict whether or not your candidate has what it takes to fill this role.

Make no mistake, this doesn’t mean that their resume is not worth taking into consideration. However, a person’s skills are a moot point if they can’t fulfill the behavioral requirements of the role, which in this case is effectively interacting with customers.

What behavioral indicators should you be looking for?

The behavioral questions you should be asking your next candidates help determine specific insights. Each role requires a given behavioral style that can only be uncovered through the right assessment. Before we dive into the questions you should be asking, let’s discuss those behavioral indicators.


Many hiring managers will admit that adaptability is unanimously the most screened-for skill. Even from a business perspective, in order to stay competitive, companies need to continuously adapt to the changing economy and market needs. It only makes sense to ensure new hires are inherently capable of adapting.

Culture & values 

Company culture is an essential component of building successful teams. When screening candidates, you need to ensure they share the same beliefs and values as your organization, but also bring a diversity of thought and experience that will drive your company forward. 


Hiring people who can collaborate effectively and work well with others is essential to success. This sense of teamwork may not come naturally to every candidate you interview. While we all make efforts to effectively work with our teams, some individuals have an inherent ability to prioritize it and marvel in a collaborative environment.


There is no doubt that great leaders make great companies. When hiring for a managerial position, leadership is not only a soft skill your candidates should have, it needs to be part of their behavioral style for a successful team. Leaders are expected to inspire, motivate and unleash potential in others. It cannot be taught.


A successful interview assessment not only uncovers your candidates’ skills, but it should also pinpoint development and growth potential. In today’s fast-paced work environment, it’s become expected of your employees to potentially grow into new roles and leadership positions. A behavioral assessment enables you to predict if a candidate has what it takes by screening for goal setting and self-motivation.


Each role demands a certain level of multitasking. Candidates should be able to not only manage their time but also prioritize their tasks and decide which ones need to be tackled immediately, and which ones can wait. Hiring someone who can’t get this right means that key due dates and project timelines can fall through the cracks, ultimately hurting your business. People who can manage their time and prioritize effectively will help your business thrive.

What behavioral interview questions should you be asking?

Even though each role is different, these behavioral interview questions can help you identify high-potential candidates. Download the full list below.

What’s Next?

So you’ve gone through the interview process, you’ve asked the right behavioral questions, and got all the answers you needed. You might be wondering by now, what’s next? 

The next step is to determine the candidates’ behavioral styles. Through 500+ insights, the DNA Behavior discovery process allows you to uncover significant aspects of their natural behaviors and assess whether or not they are the fit for your company. Start your free trial today, and take the guess out of your hiring strategy.

dna behavior community

Who Is Your Community and How Are You Influencing It?

– First Published on Nasdaq –

In many ways, the pandemic denied us access to the ever-important concept of “community.” We had to find new and innovative ways to stay in touch with others.

Still, there is no true substitute for one-on-one or one-on-many connections. Especially those with a range of people with which to build relationships and community.

So, as I conclude my look at what it means to live a quality life, I’m reminded that if 2020 has taught us anything, it should be the importance of having deep social bonds and meaningful relationships. Again, community.

Setting life goals

Along with my growing band of online social network connections, I have deliberated on our life goals, what we want to accomplish and where and how we want to invest our money, realizing that finding the answer to these questions has required each of us to dig deep into our DNA, including the behaviors that drive decision-making, support values and fulfill personal ambitions.

Setting clear life goals is beneficial in several ways. However, setting life goals that make a difference in the world is trickier.

As I review past goals and begin crafting the way forward with a focus on community, I find myself looking to my behavior and asking why I am drawn to certain projects. I am a strategist with a strong drive to reach key goals, based on sound knowledge, high quality processes and quality control standards.

This inherent behavior is not at odds with how I have been going about my quality life. I don’t need to change my behavior, but what I find myself doing is realigning what I have always wanted to do with my life. This past year of isolation has brought that realignment to the fore. So, how to adjust my personal, financial and commercial goals more intentionally to achieve a quality life?

When life goals are based on our values, they are meaningful. When they align with our behavior they allow us to pursue authentic aims of our own choosing and enjoy a feeling of achievement when we get there.

The more I have considered my life goals, how I invest and where I invest, the more I recognize I am charting a course for the next season of my life.

Underpinnings of behavior

My community is more than neighbors or supporting environmental issues; these are a given focus. My community is industry leaders, individuals building a business, and – top of the list – captains of industry facing high-stakes interactions where understanding the behaviors at play will drive solutions for them.

If I’ve learned anything over the past year, it’s that the motivating force beneath any and all behaviors is money.

Business leaders, advisors and investors are now recognizing the influence of behavior and money attitudes on life, and on financial and business performance. Increasingly, a person’s financial behavior is being seen as a derailer of decision-making and relationships, not to mention the achievement of life goals.

Here’s how I’m working on achieving life goals, aligned to passion to support my community: Over the past few weeks I have been conducting one-on-one online conversations with key leaders and professionals representing a wide variety of industries.

The purpose is identifying how their talents and individual EQ plays a role in maximizing their impact and what they have come to understand about their behavior patterns. In every case, so far, there has been a significant moment when understanding their behavior changed the direction of their life.

Big questions lead to simple questions, answers

In all cases each wanted to finish their working day believing they had made a difference for good. So my question to you is this: Who is your community and how are you influencing it?

tech group meeting

How Would Employees Describe Your Culture?

This article first appeared on HR Management.

Culture is the personality and character of your company. How would employees describe your culture?

The culture is toxic. Leaders are the worst. Don’t worry about it, just do it. Culture, what culture? No one cares what I think. I don’t tell people where I work.

Or. Our leaders inspire me. We’re all about excellence. It’s the way we do things around here. It’s not the way we do things around here. I really feel valued and included. I get a buzz from telling people where I work.

Every organization or team – every group of people – has a culture. It’s their “personality”. Its core lies in the character, behavior, values and integrity of those unique individuals that make up the group. It is a potpourri of people coming together to deliver an outcome. Whether in business, sports, or any other gathering of people, its success lies, not only with the individual, but with the leader and the tone they set.

Developing a people culture that delivers productivity, loyalty and a can-do attitude requires investment; it takes time and can’t be tokenism. There needs to be a real commitment to understanding the individual. Identifying their talents is one important aspect, but so is getting below the surface to reveal behaviors, pressure points, and workplace environments that will build or break a person’s ability to contribute to the business.

If the environment of the organization is not founded in strong principles, values and purpose that are known by everyone, then integrating multiple personalities, experiences and cultures will not be productive.

Leaders have a responsibility to demonstrate the beliefs of the company and reinforce behaviors that reflect those values. It’s no good expecting your people to adhere to company values if leadership is seen to be saying one thing and acting differently.

Like most issues, culture begins at the top. Leadership that isolates themselves and makes no effort to set standards or to understand their people risk not just a bad reputation, but reduced results, high turnover and a toxic culture.

Leadership behavior can never be “do as I say, not as I do”. Leaders’ behaviors, both in and out of work – your communication style and how you handle the ups and downs of business – all affect company culture.

The key responsibility of leadership is to set the purpose, vision and direction of the organization and then connect the people to it. Behaviorally smart leaders know how to do this:

They model behaviors – people watch leaders and imitate what they see.

  • They get to know their people to understand how and where their vision for their lives can align with the vision of the company. In other words, we are all going to be successful in this endeavor.
  • They give every individual a purpose, a reason to come to work, an understanding of the value they bring to the vision.
  • They ensure the workforce is skilled up.
  • They set everyone up for success – building on strengths and managing limitations.
  • They give everyone a voice.
  • They spell out accountability, how it works, its benefits and its measurement.

Culture is a powerful differentiator in business. Reputations can be built and lost in a moment. Culture that is a product of people’s behaviors delivers growth to individuals and to the organization.

As a leader, if you want to know what your people think of your culture – head over to social media. No filters there in terms of people’s thoughts about your culture. And read a definition or two of “corporate culture”, on Wikipedia and elsewhere. It’s important to have that snapshot front of mind.

When both leaders and individuals can look at their group and say, “These are my people”. That’s when culture is healthy.

Next time we’ll talk about implementation: How do you gain the insights to identify talents and behaviors to deliver a healthy culture that leads to the delivery of productive business strategies? Hint: Human performance acceleration via validated behavioral insights applied from the top down.

To learn more, please speak with one of our DNA Behavior Specialists (LiveChat), email, or visit DNA Behavior


Leaders Win By Putting People Before Numbers

This article first appeared on HR Management.

Our greatest asset is our people. How often have you heard such a statement and then wondered why attrition at the company is off the Richter scale?

After all, its a glib, meaningless statement unless the action supporting it is real. In other words, while increasing the bottom line sustains business growth, it’s the people who’ll get you there. Strict rationality kills culture.

So, if leaders genuinely put people before bottom-line numbers, business will increase, attrition and sick days will drop, and people will be at their desks longer, keen to be a part of something great they are helping to build.

Sound a bit cheesy? Not so. If boards, CEOs and other managers stewarded the finances of their companies as offhandedly as many manage people, shareholders and other stakeholders would be alarmed at the speedy decline of investments.

In fact, failure is inevitable if numbers before people is sanctioned from the top. Said another way, strict rationality kills relationships and, eventually, culture.

Everyone reading this may secretly say, we all know this, but it’s the world as we know it. People don’t have the same value as the voice of our shareholders and the bonus schemes we look forward to.

Maybe so, but an enlightened leadership team, beginning with the C-suite, should recognize that the top priority for the future is building and deploying talent effectively. This requires partnership with the HR department.

Rigorous attention to hiring – not just for talent, but for cultural fit – along with thorough onboarding practices. Add to that the use of a buddy system to get new hires installed quickly and effectively. Deploy talents into identified gaps in the business, and, on that subject, when was the last time you conducted a talent, skills, and gap audit in the business? Just saying.

An organization can’t develop its people unless it sets them up for success. And diversity and inclusion are incredibly important to understanding how to build successful businesses. Yet nothing brings greater inefficiency, and therefore poor results, than failing to connect disconnected people.

We’re all marveling at how Twitter is being used to run the USA: Imagine what Twitter and your attitude toward your people could do to or for your business. It takes just one dissatisfied executive, staff member or undervalued person with a significant following to wreak havoc.

Perhaps you already have structures in place to support and manage your people and if so – wonderful. But, do your people (at all levels) feel empowered and motivated? Do they feel they are valued? Do they understand their important role in organizational success? Do the goals of the organization align with the life goals of the people who work for you? Notably, do they trust you?

Leaders putting people before numbers should be the norm: Candidates eager to come work for you. A positive corporate culture reputation that precedes you, noting the way you value and treat people. Hopefully, even tweets that praise you as an employer.

There is nothing more empowering to any business than to demonstrate trust and transparency and sincere value of the people entrusted to your stewardship. People are smart: Set out a vision in which they are included and point them in the right direction, and they will foster collective success.

When people know they come before numbers and see their leadership demonstrating a real sense of responsibility to staff, they are fulfilled and engaged, and success follows. Such leaders realize that numbers are an outcome. And that what will get them there is their people. People are inspired by great leadership, an inclusive culture, meaningful values, and integrity.

Create this kind of environment by starting with your greatest asset: Your people.

To learn more, please speak with one of our DNA Behavior Specialists (LiveChat), email, or visit DNA Behavior

Having Potential (#119)

Much of our motivation in life is driven by two feelings that are often at different ends of the emotional spectrum: inspiration and discomfort.

This week, the focus is on discomfort.

A few months ago, a friend of mine spoke to a group and imparted some harsh but salient wisdom that stuck with me. He said, “When you are ten, potential is cute. When you are 20, it’s nice. But by the time you get to 40, it starts to become an insult.”

While this can be painful for some to hear, I think there’s a lot of truth in his words. Here are two definitions of potential, courtesy of the Oxford dictionary:

Adjective: Having or showing the capacity to become or develop into something in the future.

Noun: Latent qualities or abilities that may be developed and lead to future success or usefulness.

Based on these definitions, it makes sense to refer to something as having potential when it’s early in its lifecycle, be it a person, product or organization.

However, as time goes on, using that same phrase moves from something inspiring to something that becomes a crutch to, eventually, an insult.

Don’t believe me? Tell a mom or dad of a 15-year-old that they have the potential to be a great parent and see how they react.

It’s not that a person who has been dabbling in something for 10-20 years without success doesn’t have potential. What’s more likely is that they lack the talent or the conviction to convert that potential into something meaningful.

For instance, when an entrepreneur talks about the potential of their product yet, and it’s been a decade or more since it’s generated any meaningful sales, they are fooling themselves.

The same goes for an organization that’s been doing essentially the thing for ten years and getting the same results. Saying they have “potential” is no longer the right word to use.

Indeed, potential has an expiration date.

Ultimately, we need to decide where we want to convert our potential into achievement. These will likely be areas in your life that are most important to you, not what others decide are most important or valuable.

The question to think about in your own life or organization is, where in the future would it be an insult to look back and hear that you had had potential?

I have asked myself this very question. At no point in my life do I want to look back and feel that I had the potential to be or do better – as a father, a husband or a leader in my business – and not lived up to it.

With that in mind, pretend it’s five years from now and ask yourself the following:

  • Where would I not want to be told I had potential in my business (either overall or for a product)?
  • Where would I not want to be told I had potential in my family and personal life?
  • Where would I be really upset to hear that I had the potential to be an X?

If you’re not on track to live up to your potential in any of these areas, then go do something about it.

Don’t be someone who had potential. Be someone who acted on their potential.

Quote of Week

 “There is no heavier burden than an unfulfilled potential.”

Charles Schulz

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