Lead Through Strengths

This Episode's Focus on Strengths

This month’s episode features Matt Swenson, who is another StrengthsFinder all-star. He helps his clients use their Strengths to improve the well being of the whole person. Lisa’s interview with Matt provides cool tools to help you apply your natural talents to your wellbeing.

If you are ready to create some healthy strengths habits, then this is the interview for you. Matt has a background in international business, sales, coaching, sales management, marketing, product development, and athletics. Those unique experiences roll up to offer you a unique perspective on wellbeing that you can apply to all areas of your life.

In fact, Matt brings strengths based development to five key areas of life. They are: career, social, physical, financial, and community. As you listen to the interview, you'll hear about how to apply these in his Wellbeing Wheel Activity. You'll also hear his ties to the concepts of Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose from one of our favorite books, Drive by Daniel Pink.

Matt’s top 10 Strengths are: Strategic, Learner, Achiever, Responsibility, Deliberative, Relator, Activator, Individualization, Focus, Analytical

Fun facts: Matt busts out a Vanilla Ice rhyme in our interview. Despite how you might stereotype someone who leads with Deliberative and Analytical, Matt shows that you can't assume you know how people will act based on their external or assumed traits. It's worth a listen!

Also, Matt is the artist behind Djonk, an Americana art business. Lisa bought one of his pieces. This robot is made of upcycled "junk" and now lives in her guest bedroom to greet friends. You'll find more about his "Swedish for Junk" name in the interview.


What You’ll Learn In This Episode

  • How to deal with people who frustrate you. Matt used to think that the people who annoyed him at work were doing it on purpose (which didn’t help with his work relationships). With an understanding of each person’s unique strengths, he now knows that’s just who they were and how they operated. Once you understand that, you can then adjust your lens to see things from the other person’s point of view. Matt shares this great quote, “Always assume positive intent and when in doubt, ask.”
  • View others through the Strengths lens, rather than based on attitude, demeanor, or clothing. When dealing with people (whether at home or on the job) try to understand their strengths, and where they are coming from, rather than what is most obvious. You'll often be surprised when you look a little deeper. It's also a great exercise in listening to understand.
  • After you’ve taken the StrengthsFinder assessment, complete Matt’s practice guide, “Raw and Refined.” This book will help you activate your inherent talents and wellbeing. Here are a few ways you can use his guide to put your natural talents to work:
  1. Before you meet with someone, spend 60 seconds reviewing their talents so you can customize your conversation to resonate better with them.
  2. Look up one of your StrengthsFinder Talent Themes and consider how you can use it to full effect that day.
  3. Flip through your Top 5 strengths and come up with one new habit to implement.
  • Focus on the five essential elements of wellbeing. Matt recommends the book, Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements, by Tom Rath and Jim Harter, which takes your Strengths and helps you to apply them to you whole life. Their five essential elements of wellbeing are: career, social, financial, physical, and social. If things are out of alignment, it's likely one is zapping the life out of you because it is not getting positive attention in your life.
  • Use Matt's wellbeing wheel to identify when you are at your absolute best. Once you identify when you are at your best, make sure to do the most important things during that time. This provides the most efficient utilization of your energy, and takes pressure off of the rest of the day. Matt also gives a great example in the interview about a guy who was draining his own energy on the way home from work - all based on his habits. As he used the Wellbeing Wheel, he figured out where he was sucking his energy away and found a rejuvenating fix for his drive home from work.
  • Realize that habits are things that can help or hurt you. For example, if we meet a new person who seems similar to a good person in our lives, then our minds tend to compartmentalize them together (to make things simpler). However, if we meet a new person who seems similar to a person who has hurt us, it is very unfair to lump them together. This is not fair to the new person, and undermines their uniqueness.


Remember this quote from Fred Rogers (Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood): “Most of us, I believe, admire strength. It's something we tend to respect in others, desire for ourselves, and wish for our children. Sometimes, though, I wonder if we confuse strength with other words—like 'aggression' and even 'violence'. Real strength is neither male nor female; but it is, quite simply, one of the finest characteristics that a human being can possess.”


Resources of the Episode

Matt’s StrengthsFinder and wellness practice is called Metamorfos. His Americana art site (pronounced Yonk, which is Swedish for junk), is Djonk.

Matt’s StrengthsFinder practice guide is Raw & Refined. Check out the Wellbeing Wheel on pages 81-86 to see the tool we referenced in the interview.

Many of the concepts that Matt Swenson uses are found in the book Wellbeing: The five essential elements by Tom Rath and Jim Harter.



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StrengthsFinder Mini-Course For Managers

If you’re a people-manager and you want to sharpen your strengths based support, come join our monthly mini-course. We don’t charge for this because we want to help you keep the StrengthsFinder momentum going. Teams who receive strengths feedback have 8.9% greater profitability. Yowza! Sounds like a great reason to join. Source:  Asplund, J., & Blacksmith, N. “Strengthening Your Company’s Performance.” Gallup Business Journal.


Go Live Your Talents

Remember, using your strengths every day at work makes you a stronger performer. If you’re always focused on fixing your team’s weaknesses, you’re choosing the path of most resistance. Go claim your talents and share them with the world!

Direct download: 029-Matt-Swenson.mp3
Category:careers -- posted at: 2:30am CDT