skip to main content
Activator: Learning to Love All 34 Talent Themes

Activator: Learning to Love All 34 Talent Themes

Webcast Details

  • Gallup Theme Thursday Webcast Series
  • Season 1, Activator
  • Learn how themes form the core of CliftonStrengths and how to understand and appreciate your own -- and others' -- strengths, as we focus on Activator.
  • Interested in learning more on this topic? Read more about the CliftonStrengths All 34 Report.

On March 13, we held the first-ever Theme Thursday (Season 1). With this series, we hope to provide a deeper context behind the language of strengths by talking in-depth about each of the 34 CliftonStrengths themes.

We focused on Activator for the first theme. We brought in Gallup's Curt Liesveld and special guest Tyler McCarty of Napkin -- a startup that helps companies tell the story of their brand, idea, or business through simple animated videos. Naturally, Tyler leads with Activator.

Gallup defines an Activator as someone who can make things happen by turning thoughts into action. These people also tend to be impatient with an internal sense of urgency. Curt calls it the "hate to wait" theme. He further explains that Activators are opportunists. They don't like to miss out on an opportunity, so they take action before it's too late. Many Activators live their lives by these phrases:

  • Strike while the iron is hot.
  • The early bird gets the worm.
  • Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today.

Raw Activator vs. Mature Activator

There is a difference between raw and mature forms of Activator. Tyler talks about one of his first jobs out of college -- he noticed gaps in the company where things weren't getting done. His Activator quickly kicked in, and instead of waiting for someone else to do something, he jumped in and took over -- even when it was outside his job responsibilities. He shared that he frequently got his hand slapped for executing beyond his role. This was a form of him using Activator in a raw sense.

Tyler's Activator matured when he knew the career path he wanted to follow -- he became an entrepreneur. This new journey made him aware that, instead of activating on impulse, he needed to draw from his other strengths and the strengths of those around him.

To learn more about the Activator theme and how people like Tyler use it in their everyday lives, watch the full video above.

Below is a full transcript of the conversation, including time stamps. Full audio and video are posted above.

What should I look for in a job/career?

Jim Collison 0:05

I am Jim Collison, and live from the Gallup campus here in Omaha, Nebraska. this is Gallup's Theme Thursday, recorded on March 13, 2014.

Jim Collison 0:13

Theme Thursday is a new series as we dive deep into the Clifton StrengthsFinder themes, one at a time. Actually, the genesis of this came from you in the chat room. So we appreciate that. Today's theme is Activator. And if you'd like to live tweet with us during the show, a new thing that we're going to try here on Theme Thursday with the live tweets, just use the hashtag @CSF; that's Clifton StrengthsFinder -- @ -- I'm sorry, not @, but #CSFchat, all one word, # -- and I'll drop that in the chat room as well -- CSF -- that's right, Jeremy -- chat. We like that. If you have questions or comments or contributions during the show, we also have a live chat room available. It's right below the video window over at And if you're listening to the recorded version of this and you have questions, you can just easily email those to us: Don't forget to visit the Gallup Strengths Center for all your coaching resources. That's just, and you can take the assessment there. You can actually buy multiple codes, if you want to buy them for your family, out at the You can also catch the video on both streaming and downloadable audio for offline listening, and we'll have an iTunes link here in the next 30 days for you of all the shows, including the past ones, at All right, let me quick introduce a couple guests to you and then we'll bring Curt on as well. My partner in Called to Coach and a guy that we like to see each and every week, Jeremy Pietrocini. Jeremy, how are you?

Jeremy Pietrocini 1:35

I'm well Jim, thanks. Really excited about today, man. It's gonna be, it's gonna be great.

Jim Collison 1:39

Likewise. Sitting next to him, and we're all in Omaha today, and a guest on the show, he is an Activator, and, and a friend of Jeremy, and that is Tyler McCarthy. Tyler McCarty. Is it McCarthy or McCarty? I'm sorry.

Tyler McCarty 1:52

McCarty, but you call me whatever you want.

Jim Collison 1:54

All right. We'll call you Tyler.

Jeremy Pietrocini 1:55

Just get it started.

Tyler McCarty 1:56

Yeah, let's go. I was ready 10 minutes ago.

Jim Collison 2:00

All right, guys. Let's go. Let's go. Let's go. And then, of course, our host today is Curt Liesveld. Curt works as an Advanced Learning and Development Consultant. Curt, I didn't know you had "Advanced" until I looked you up on our, on our system here with Gallup. He's here on the Riverfront with me, and Jeremy, he is a big deal. And even maybe an Activator because he got this all going. Curt, how are you?

Curt Liesveld 2:23

I'm doing terrific, Jim. Great to be here. By the way, I'm not an Activator.

Jim Collison 2:27

All right, Curt. What are your Top5?

Curt Liesveld 2:28

I need Activators! I have Responsibility, Relator, Maximizer, Learner and Analytical. But I'm more reactive than proactive, and so I need Activator. I'm married to an Activator, actually.

Jim Collison 2:42

OK. And Tyler, your Activator comes in at No. 1?

Tyler McCarty 2:46

Activator's No. 1, correct.

Jim Collison 2:47

No. 1. Very good. Jeremy, where's it stand? Is it in yours?

Jeremy Pietrocini 2:51

What? I don't even know we're talking about. It's not; it's kind of in the middle -- middle of the pack.

Jim Collison 2:59

All right. No. 5 for me, so that's, that's where we stand. Curt, let's get things kicked off. I know we've got some stuff that we want to roll through to kind of cover, you know, to kind of cover the bases on this theme. Why don't you start a little bit with the genesis of this idea? Why are we doing this with this Theme Thursday?

Curt Liesveld 3:16

Well, I think here's, here's the reason why we're doing this. These, these themes are really kind of at the core of this language. We often say this is a strengths-based language. And we really want people to kind of understand the vocabulary and, and to be honest with you, it's, it's kind of a challenging thing. There's not just 3 or 4 different themes; there's 34 different themes. And so we just want to help people get some real clarity around each theme. We're going to -- that's why we're just going to focus on one each time, so that we really can, one by one, kind of build some clarity around these themes. It's a little bit like a chef who really doesn't understand all of the different ingredients that go into a dish. If they don't understand what this ingredient brings, they're probably not going to be as good a chef as they, as they can be. So we really want everybody to understand all 34 ingredients, and the value that they bring. So that's basically why we're doing it.

Jim Collison 4:12

Very cool. And so today's Activator, and I know we want to dig in a little bit on -- you've got some things prepared to talk through that. So why don't you -- let's get started at the top and work our way down. Jeremy, I know you -- just dive in here as we, as we, we cover this theme.

Jeremy Pietrocini 4:29

Yeah, so I think, you know, one of the things, Curt, and we'll just kind of let you, you plow through this. But I know there's people out there who have studied our themes for a while, understand all 34, the complexities of them, been coaching others. And others who are still trying to figure out, What do these words mean? You know, why did Gallup make up half of these words? What, what are we trying to talk about? So tell us just a little bit about Activator.

Curt Liesveld 4:53

Yeah, and I think for all of these themes, these are recurring patterns of how people think, act or feel. So, in other words, they happen automatically. It's not like people are trying to do these things; it just happens. And so the recurring pattern of Activator is that these are people that just have this internal sense of urgency. That -- and it's this internal sense of urgency, this desire to get started, that pushes them and it really pushes other people to act. They, I just kind of realized, I think this, this is the, this is the "hate to wait" theme. These people really hate to wait; they, they really want to get started. Let's do something now. So it's this, this urgency that you, you feel.

Curt Liesveld 5:42

And I mentioned this, I'm married to an Activator. We've been married for 40+ years, and I often tell people, I have done a lot more things in my life because I've been married to. To tell you the truth, I might not even be at Gallup if it were not for her. She really kind of pushed me at some points in my life and in career, and so it's that push, and I would call that a very productive push, by the way. So, so that's at the core. It's not like Achiever, about getting stuff done. It's about getting stuff started. So, so words that I sometimes use to kind of -- nouns to describe an a, an Activator, besides that word "Activator" are things like catalyst, someone who's a starter, a launcher.

Curt Liesveld 6:30

I mean, I like the metaphor of a launch, because it's like launching a rocket. In order for a rocket to get off the ground, to kind of escape the gravitational pull, it takes a lot of momentum, a lot of power and energy. And that's what, that's what people with Activator are really good at launching things. They're pushers. Another thing that I've been thinking about recently is they are opportunists. I think at the core of Activators are people who don't want to miss the chance, miss the moment. It's like there's this window, and it's a small window, usually, for Activators. I don't want to miss the opportunity. So, so that kind of is just how I see Activator as I talk to people who have it, and as I've observed people.

Jeremy Pietrocini 7:17

Yeah, and I think you mentioned this, Curt, but you know, when we look at, when we look at all 34 themes and put them into the 4 Domains, I mean, this, this one really does fall primarily in that Influencing theme -- that these are people that make, make things happen. But I know you've, you've done a lot too, and even with some of your Twitter feeds, you've talked about just cause we have the ability to make things happen, there's still a difference between every one of these themes, specifically here with Activator, between a raw and mature stage. Right. So talk a little bit, talk a little bit about that as well.

Curt Liesveld 7:49

Yeah, I mean, when you think about pushing, I mean, to some degree, if you're in a crowd and people keep pushing you, it's kind of annoying sometimes. Pushing can be annoying, but I think that's the, that's the challenge that people with Activator have is How do I push people in a way that moves them forward and that does not annoy them? I think it's the combination of both of those things. I was just -- my wife is kind of changing her role a little bit; she, she was in a, in a sales role. And when you're in a sales role, you have to be proactive; you have to be thinking about, OK, what am I going to do to generate business? And, and she's, she's kind of moving out of that. And she, she realized that -- she was sitting around the other day, and she's thinking, you know, I'm not, I'm not pushing ahead here. I don't have to push ahead. And it's like her Activator was not being utilized. So I think she's gonna come up with a bunch of stuff for me to do now.

Jeremy Pietrocini 8:44

All she needs to do is get you to say "Yes," right. And then your Responsibility kicks in.

Curt Liesveld 8:48

Yeah, but I think you're right. I think that's the challenge of Activator: How do I push people in a way that, that feels good to them and gets the results that I have?

Jeremy Pietrocini 8:59

Yeah, I like that, where it's pushing intentionally versus impulsively, and it's kind of thought through versus just go, go, go. Are you done yet? But there's really some thinking, some self-regulation involved to them productively making it happen.

Curt Liesveld 9:15

Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And I think how I kind of talk about raw, raw Activator, I said "Pushes impulsively, impatiently, indiscriminately and selfishly"; whereas someone who has more mature Activator, they push "intentionally, urgently, relevantly." I mean, there's a time and a place to push sometimes, and there's a time and a place not to push. And then also pushing altruistically. How do I push for the benefit of others or for something beyond myself? So that's the kind of range that you can see. And I think that the challenge is, How do I move toward the more mature side or move toward the, the balcony side of Activator?

Jeremy Pietrocini 9:57


Jim Collison 9:58

Curt, I love the way you use the word "opportunist" in there. That's, that's a word I've used for myself a lot, and never even realized that it, it was, it would fit in with this strength. But I do see myself as an Activator, and when I'm activating, taking advantage -- I always say if the door -- I don't push the door open if it's closed, but if it cracks, man, I push through it, right? I take advantage of the opportunities as they arrive and, and move, constantly waiting for those things to happen and then jumping at them as soon as they do. So I appreciate you saying that word "opportunist."

Curt Liesveld 10:29

You know, and I think one of the things that why, why people with Activator can be opportunists is they don't wait. They -- there's this, there's this phrase that says, "Strike while the iron is hot." There is a, an ultimate time or kind of a key moment, and so they really take advantage of those opportunities. I was in a nursery one time, and I read a sign on the wall. And the sign said, "The best time to plant a tree is 25 years ago. The second-best time to plant a tree is now." And I think that's what an opportunist -- they, they don't think about what they missed; they think about, What can I do now that's going to get something started? So I think that's a great picture of what, what Activators do. I, I'm going to plant a tree today. I'm going to do something now that's going to get something good started. But I think there -- a lot of people have difficult starting things in life.

Jeremy Pietrocini 11:28

Yeah, Curt, Curt, I was gonna say, I mean, I think that's, that's one of those things that having Activators on the team, well, for somebody that has that, they don't have to think about starting. It's just what they naturally do. But I want to go back that, that kind of -- that maxim you used, "Strike while the iron's hot." I know when I've had the opportunity to kind of colead with you with these public training courses, so again, where we're training, our goal is to get to a point we have a million external coaches. Every time you use one of these maxims, somebody's writing down, "Curt, give me, give me more on that!" So what are, what are some of the other ones that you've thought through when you think specifically about Activator? What are some of the things that just kind of, we might hear Activator say?

Curt Liesveld 12:08

It seems like a lot of maxims Activators must have said. This is a kind of a maxim truism, kind of, there's a lot of stuff here. Like maybe you've heard the phrase, "He who hesitates is lost." I think [Activators] don't hesitate. Remember, they hate to wait. So they are, they strike while the iron is hot. I mean, I've heard this one before: "Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today." I think that's an Activator probably said that sometime. I mean, that's the one that my wife often tells me. Because I have some themes that cause me to wait, that cause me to -- and don't get me wrong, I think there's a time and a place to wait. But that would be another one.

Curt Liesveld 12:52

"The early bird gets the worm" is another one. "Speed is of the essence." So those are all what I would call, I think an Activator probably said that. And now it's interesting, in our database, I think there is like, I think only 11% of our database of about 10 million people have Activator in their Top 5. So you think about one out of approximately every 10 people. So on a team, typically, there might not be a lot of Activator -- and it only may take, it only might take one actually, you know, someone who's, who's pushing. And it's how do I push without being pushy? How do I push without being perceived as being pushy?

Jeremy Pietrocini 13:42

Yeah, I often wonder, and I'm, I'm of the mind too where I've got a lot of Strategic Thinking themes, so often wonder how many great Strategic Thinking conversations, meetings, roundtables are happening around the world, but we don't have an Activator at the table that at the end of the meeting, we say, "Great, let's go do it." So do we [deal with] hunger, but the next month we got together, nobody, nobody was fed because we just talked about it.

Curt Liesveld 14:06

Yeah. Or I think when Activator is absent, there's a lot of talking; there's a lot of thinking. There's not much action. And I think, I think you need all three of those actually.

Jim Collison 14:17

Let me ask you this -- this is a question from the chat room real quick. So Guest 87 writes, I'm interested in the fact that this description for Activator is A LOT -- a lot in capital letters -- like me; however, it's No. 21 on my list. Any thoughts on that?

Curt Liesveld 14:32

So yeah, I mean, I would like to, I mean, I don't know if I have time to kind of coach this person. But I think there are probably other sources of things that might get you moving. I mean, I think sometimes people are very, they have values that are important to them, and they will act because of the passion or their commitment to some core value. It'll bring a momentum to them. I think that's one that just comes off the top of my mind.

Curt Liesveld 14:58

But yeah, it'd be interesting to kind of study, you know, I'd want to -- if I was coaching this person, I want to, I'd want to say, OK, tell me about some things you've started. Give me, give me a list of the things that you initiated. And, and I would, I'd like to look at their Top 5 to see if there might be some other themes that contribute to that. Sometimes people might have Woo, which is really about social initiative. It's a little bit different than Activator; Activator is more what I call motivational initiative. So it's hard to say, but it doesn't surprise me. I mean, I think that people find different ways to get things started and to be kind of pushers of things.

Jeremy Pietrocini 15:41

Yeah, I was, I was going to chime in there too. I think this is, this is what I love that part of, part of the intent here, too, Curt is you'll always talk about every one of these themes, when used productively, really can be powerful. And you've, you've kind of encouraged coaches out there, myself included, to find that poster child, right? Because we all know somebody that pushes and we go, "They're pushy." Leave me alone; quit telling me to do stuff. You go do it, right. Let me do my thing. But without Activators, again, there's a lot that doesn't get done that really could be impactful to, to our teams, to our families, to our communities, to our place at work.

Jeremy Pietrocini 16:18

So we've got you know, Tyler McCarty, that's part of why Tyler's on the call today, which again, it might be torture that we've made the Activator/Communication guy sit quiet for 17 minutes! But, Tyler, I know you and I have obviously got to know each other over the years. You had the chance to go through part of Gallup's EAS -- the Entrepreneur Acceleration System. So with local entrepreneurs, there are 200 entrepreneurs here in Nebraska, we've continued to come alongside them. Some of you out there know or are aware of our new Entrepreneurial StrengthsFinder tool. So we would use that tool to identify entrepreneurs like Tyler -- one of his business partners that was able to come through our program. But Activator No. 1, you obviously are a starter, and I'd love for you just to tell us a little bit of your story and to let you and Curt kind of dialogue around that. Because I think this will let people see, really, what does Activator look like in action?

Tyler McCarty 17:13

Yeah, absolutely. Well, thanks for having me, guys. And you stole my punch line, Jeremy. I was just gonna say we're 19 minutes into this conversation. Haven't said a word.

Jeremy Pietrocini 17:21

Hate to wait.

Tyler McCarty 17:22

Yeah. No, I, I started my first business when I was 23 years old. I had one job, I had one real job in my life. That didn't end so well. And I thought the only way for me to make this happen is kind of make my own way. So I started a construction -- a design build company. Stuck with that for a while and kind of fell into a new, a new market in production. So in the last 4 or 5 years, I've been building a production company that originally started as a, as a wedding photographer and a wedding cinematographer, which sounds grotesque, but that was kind of, that was, that was our, that was our thought was, Hey, there's, there's a market to bring some real artistic talent to this horrible world of wedding videos which are just unwatchable. And so we said, Someone's got to be able to do this better. And so that's we started out to do. And that has morphed into a few other things over the years and most recently ... I'm with a 8-month startup called Napkin ... we're at, I think I'm on, I think my tax return says I am paying all those taxes right now. So that's why I know that. But yeah, most, most, most recently in the life production realm and then animation studio now.

Jim Collison 18:57

Tyler, we lost a little bit of that. Just -- we had some bandwidth problems during there. So, Jeremy, do you want to go back --

Tyler McCarty 19:04

I'm sorry.

Jim Collison 19:04

No, it's OK. We just, we had a little bit of bandwidth problem on your side. I hate for people to miss that. So, summarize what you just said again in in a couple sentences.

Jeremy Pietrocini 19:15

OK, cut out about when you were talking about Napkin, Tyler.

Tyler McCarty 19:20

OK. Yeah, my most, my most recent venture is with a animation studio. We help brands, companies and ideas distill their messaging into a really simple, easy-to-understand format.

Jeremy Pietrocini 19:37

Yeah, and I think that the cool part about hearing part of that story, and Curt, again, you can chime in with some of this too of what, what you're hearing of Tyler's Activator. But you've, you've found ways that you've been able to start things that are productive. And I think even the big piece of saying, when you think about a poster child, you think about somebody that what does this theme look like, powerful, you know, used in a powerful way, you know, Gallup's biggest research project right now of studying what the world needs is, we know that what people want is a good job. And so that need of job creation, the need of people to start things that, you know, we always say an entrepreneur is somebody who takes an idea and turns it into a customer. And you've been able to do that since, you know, your early 20s. But you're crediting the Activator to that. So Curt, what else would you add? What are the questions do you have that -- ?

Curt Liesveld 20:25

I would just add to that, that, you know, I don't think Activator is the only entrepreneurial theme. But I bet it's a pretty important entrepreneurial theme, and one that many times we're going to find that people have. I think the other thing that I, you know, hear about, hear from Tyler, when he talks about his Activator, he actually, he talks about kind of falling into this kind of build and design company. I don't know how you "fall into" that, other than if you're kind of aware of your surroundings. He's got Adaptability as No. 2. I think that's a really good -- that's what I would call an opportunistic kind of set of themes, those two together, especially. Because he's got this "I want to get started now," but he's also got this Adaptability that really makes him aware of what's going on around him. He talks about the market, you know, there's a market for building here. I know what's going on around me. Or I've seen these really bad wedding videos. I think I can do something about that.

Curt Liesveld 21:24

And so I think that he really kind of fits that opportunistic kind of person here, who's, who's, who sees what's going on around, makes some evaluation and then kind of say, OK, we can do better, let's get -- and it's not just, "I want to get started." That's something else I want to kind of really emphasize about this Activator. It's not just, "I want to get started" or "I want to launch this." It's in that Influence package. It's "Let's get started." It's -- it really involves other people. And, and I think to some degree, I think Activators know they need to have other people around them. Because they are really good at kind of creating the initial spurt of energy that, that starts something, but they know that that it's going to take more than that to kind of keep that momentum continuing.

Curt Liesveld 22:13

And I think that's one of the things that Activators probably have to give some thought to: OK, what else might I need? Who might I need to rely on? And so -- you mentioned Strategic. I think Strategic is a great partner for Activators because they're ready to go. And they might say, "Hey, there's a road. I think I'll take that one." And a Strategic person could help an Activator consider the initial path that they take. You know, and, and I think to some degree, Activators do that by trial and error more than by thinking about it. OK, I'm going to try this and that doesn't work too well. And to some degree, that maybe is, Tyler, what you did. You kind of -- by trial and error, you kind of found this, this video niche. Started with the building, moved into something else, and so. But it could be that if you would have thought about this -- and I'm not suggesting you should have done that -- but if you would have kind of given some thought to your passions, things you're interested in, you might have maybe gotten onto that video track even quicker, which I think you'd like.

Jeremy Pietrocini 23:17

Yeah, and Tyler, talk about, cause Curt, I think what you're hitting on too is that raw versus mature, right? So when you begin to partner with other themes or other people. I know you've got stories, Tyler -- Activator, you went to buy a dishwasher and your wife ended up with a whole new kitchen, right? Bet you that was not your intent.

Tyler McCarty 23:35

Yeah. That was probably her intent.

Jeremy Pietrocini 23:38

Right? But talk about, talk about how you've experienced it as an Activator, that raw side of what you listened to Curt talk about the first bit of the call to where you've seen it really be most productive.

Tyler McCarty 23:49

Yeah, I resonate with that. My, like I said, My first job, I got hired as a senior in college, and for the first few years after school, I was in the nonprofit world. And I got brought on as fairly large nonprofit. I was on a team with 5 or 6 other guys, had a very specific role. And then over the years, all, you know, 5 other of these guys had dropped off; it was just, just myself, I was still maintaining my role, but I was seeing all these gaps and things that we weren't doing. And I started activating in all those roles, and I started just doing, brashly, and I got my hand slapped over and over again and was told, you know, Tyler, we didn't bring you in for your brain, to think about new things. You have a role; do your role, get it done! And so I quickly became a, an employee that was very easy to let go. And that's ultimately what happened.

Tyler McCarty 24:35

And I think that was the, that was the raw side of my Activator. And my first business that I started was very much me-centered. I had to do this because I didn't want to work for someone else. I wanted to make my own path. I was not gonna let anyone tell me "No" anymore. So, you know, I started this thing, and I took the thing that was just the path of least resistance. And I had some background in construction; it seemed like a very easy thing to do. I didn't feel like the competition was that savvy with business and marketing skills. So I jumped in and that, that was really the raw thing of, of you know, like you said it was very impulsive. I resonate with that, Curt, when you're talking about the impulsive start. I was just very selfish with it.

Tyler McCarty 25:18

And I'm definitely not one I would call mature with this theme now, but, but like you said, the the strategy and being -- as developed in this -- where I'm at now, is I've learned that there are common threads through my life, and it's kind of led me more to, What do I really want to do? And, and my entrepreneurial efforts, as of late, have been a little more centered on, This is what really matters. These are the people that matter the most to me. This is what I really want to contribute in my community, in my world. And so it's kind of shifted into, Who's going to do this with me? Is it more centered in ultimately what we want to accomplish? So I definitely, I definitely have seen, over the last few years, my Activator theme develop into something that's a little more on track with that.

Curt Liesveld 26:02

Tyler, what slows you down, if you have to slow down?

Tyler McCarty 26:10

My wife. No, I think, you know, there's -- you -- it's so critical that you surround your people, you surround yourself with relationships that, that kind of show you your blind spots. I have, as an Activator, there are so many blind spots because I'm not really looking backwards ever. And so I think the thing that slows me down are relationships, friends. My wife, for sure, is one of those that can say, Do you realize that you're running over people as you're moving forward with this? I don't have a lot of Empathy. My stuff is always, "Let's do something 10 minutes ago; we're going to make the path as we walk it." So that's probably what slows me down the most are those relationships that are able to point out the blind spots.

Curt Liesveld 26:56

You know, one of your, one of your other Signature Themes is Maximizer. And I have Maximizer too. My Maximizer often makes me procrastinate. It slows me down because I don't -- I'm afraid I'm not doing it well enough. I have this pretty high standard, and if I, I want to -- I'm so in -- my quality, to some degree, slows me down sometimes. So I'm just interested in kind of how your, how your Maximizer affects your Activator.

Tyler McCarty 27:24

Yeah, absolutely. You said earlier, one of the maxims from an Activator was, "Don't put off today what you can put off tomorrow." My maxim is, "Don't put off today what you can put off altogether." But this is the thing that -- I often say that I was diagnosed with Activator and Maximizer 11 years ago. And this is the thing that drives my team crazy here. My -- I have a business partner, you know, for the last 5 years; it drives him nuts because I have all these ideas. And we can be experiencing all these great things and launching new things and nothing's ever good enough. So it's really, it's really tough to be someone who is starting all the time, and then constantly noticing that you're never going to be the best at that. So why even bother? So that's, that's kind of the negative side that I look at. But, you know, as we talked about, Maximizer can also -- it also brings a bit of focus to what we're doing. And that's, that's where we're at now, where I've seen some of that maturity with Activator is, my Maximizer is, is kind of narrowing me in. I want to be the best storyteller that I can be. So that's, that's kind of narrowed my things that I've started. So --

Curt Liesveld 28:31

Yeah, I think that's a good example of how sometimes I talk about finding a theme that can kind of temper the edge and finding a theme that can sharpen the edge. Because sometimes we need them -- what sometimes we need more; sometimes we need less. And I think that's what we're really trying to kind of understand as we think about these themes one at a time, helping people realize they have some control of how they, how they might leverage it more or leverage it less.

Tyler McCarty 28:57

Yeah, absolutely.

Jeremy Pietrocini 28:59

And Curt, just to recap that, so which, which themes -- either specific to Tyler just in general with Activator -- which themes kind of contribute the most to temper Activator?

Curt Liesveld 29:10

I think, I think, I mean, I think there's lots of them. Here's some that I thought of. I thought about Strategic. I mean, I think a Strategic -- if you have a Strategic partner, they can help you think about the routes that you might take before you immediately jump on, on the road that's in front of you. I think sometimes Adapt -- or Activators will take the road that's in front of them, and it might not be the best road. So a Strategic person can do that. I think --

Jeremy Pietrocini 29:34

I've heard. I've heard managers say that, Curt. "I hired the person that was in front of me, available, and 2 weeks into it, I thought, 'I hired the wrong person.'" They just didn't open up the options before they, before they struck the iron.

Curt Liesveld 29:47

Yeah, that would be the opposite of Activator: another saying, "Haste makes waste." Sometimes haste makes waste. And so I think a person -- I think it'd be great if a person with Activator also had Woo. Because I think sometimes people will allow you to push them if you are a bit more --

Jeremy Pietrocini 30:07

Jim is celebrating the background.

Curt Liesveld 30:08

Yeah. See, I never feel like Jim is, you know, runs over people, but partly because he's smiling and he's kind of charming. So he probably is running, pushing us and running over us sometimes, but it feels kind of good actually. But I think that can kind of soften the edge of Activator, which, with, so that people don't think you're crazy or, or people don't think you don't care about them when just because you, you know how to push with the -- you take a little bit of edge. I think, to some degree, Harmony -- I think people with Activator create momentum; I think with people with Harmony know how to kind of maintain the momentum of a team after the launch. How do we keep staying in flight here? And I think people with Harmony can kind of help to maintain the momentum that Activators create.

Jeremy Pietrocini 30:56

Yeah, no, that's, that's helpful to hear. I know Daisy in the chat had actually asked kind of that question about other barriers, vulnerabilities. And I think this helps to really think about how to, how to buffer that. Talk a little bit too, Curt, about how you sharpen it. So for Tyler, he's talked about ways he's seen it mature, but again, his Maximizer wouldn't let him say he has matured it. His Maximizer made him say, "I haven't perfected it yet." But what are, what are the themes that, that -- and I know he has some of these -- but what are themes that really help sharpen that Activator to make it really powerful?

Curt Liesveld 31:30

I think Maximizer is one of his themes that I can see how that helps his Activator, because it, it causes them to become more selective in what I do. I don't just do everything. I'm going to do the things that I do best, that we do best, that I have the best chance to kind of maximize my return on investment here. So it almost becomes almost a financial thing, but I think Maximizer is one. I think Achiever is a great thing, when people have Achiever with Activator. It's not only they know how to start things, but they can finish it as well. They, they kind of have that. To some degree, I think, if you have Activator and you have Command, both of those things, it's kind of like 1 + 1 = 3. There's a lot of energy that comes.

Curt Liesveld 32:14

And some things, sometimes it's, it's hard to get something off the ground. I always talk about the effects of gravity. A lot of times people will say, Well, it's not rocket science. I think some things are rocket science. It takes a lot of energy to get it off the ground. And so, if you've got somebody's got Activator and Command, they might be able to get really big things off the ground, even when there's kind of resistance to that, to that change or to that initiative.

Curt Liesveld 32:42

Then I think also Futuristic, to some, sometimes when people have Futuristic they, they can help people get a picture of what it's going to be. So that the push has a, it's, it's the reason why I'm pushing. Futuristic I think can add value to the push when people can explain, Why am I pushing you? Why am I pushing to get started? There's this destination we're trying to get to. And to some degree, it makes people willing to be pushed when they get a picture of a better future.

Jeremy Pietrocini 33:12

Yeah, well, and like you said earlier, too, Curt, not all Activators are entrepreneurs or, nor do all entrepreneurs need to have Activator. But I know for you, Tyler, you mentioned even your Futuristic, the ability to do what Curt just said, kind of the big picture "Here's where we're going." Your other Influencing themes to say "We're going to get there," but your Activator to say, "Let's go!"

Jeremy Pietrocini 33:31

Talk a little bit, too, I know as you, Curt, and I were chatting yesterday, I think some, something I've heard a lot from people I've talked to who are Activators -- and you resonated with this -- is you can be kind of categorized with that barrier label of you're a starter, but you're not a finisher, right. And what sticks to you from probably the time you were a kid is, "I want to be a finisher," right. I don't want to be somebody that leaves things undone. Talk about the evolution of that, even from when you were a kid, but even some freedoms you found when you started of, you know, is -- is it OK to be the starter and to bring on some people on the team to help finish?

Tyler McCarty 34:07

Yeah, absolutely. That's, that's been a stigma that, that I've even carried with me personally is, you know, even as a kid, I did absolutely everything: athletics, speech, music, drama, everything, you know, every extracurricular activity, and I had the freedom to do that. I was raised in an environment that really encouraged that. And -- but even, you know, even, even my parents, I heard at a young age like, Tyler, why don't you ever finish anything? You start 7 projects at a time. Why don't you finish one, then move on to the next? And I don't think they meant anything by it. But it's always carried that with me, like, well, I can't finish things. Or I don't finish things. And as I've grown, I've realized, you know, I probably finish just as much as everyone else. I just start 10 times more things than you.

Tyler McCarty 34:51

You know, I get plenty of stuff done around the house. It just doesn't look like it because I'm doing 20 things at once. So you know, even as we've gone and, and, you know, you mentioned with our latest venture here with Napkin, I was faced with a situation a few months ago where we had experienced a lot of growth in our first few months; more than I think we'd anticipated. We're kind of, kind of at a flux where we had to bring some people on. And there was an immediacy to some task-oriented jobs. We need to build this team because our product's growing, we're serving more clients, we're scaling. So the immediacy was let's get some people in the can get the job done. But because of the history of myself annoying myself and others on the team, I realized, we're not going to be very good at scaling; we're not going to be good at taking this where we ultimately want to go. It felt a little short-sighted.

Tyler McCarty 35:42

So I took a little bit of a gamble and I brought someone on, essentially to, to lead that team because I know that's not me. I know that I'm, I start this thing. My role here is to keep pushing us, and I'm not going to be the guy that's, you know, in the weeds, so to speak, getting these products out the door. So we took a bit of a risk, essentially brought someone on to lead a team that didn't even exist yet. And I said, Hey, you take this because I know, you know, my strengths just do not sit well. And so, you know, it's, we'll, we'll see how that turns out. But I'm really excited about it. It's, I think, for the first time, really leveraging who I am, the team around me, our gifts, and knowing where can we take a risk, and where does that risk -- where's it going to pay off? So it's a very calculated risk, but -- I don't know if that answers your question.

Curt Liesveld 36:28

You know, I think it's kind of interesting. You -- we talked yesterday about how you, you develop. How does Activator develop, I think? And I think to some degree it's genetic, but you talked about I think it was your dad and your grandfather -- both were people who kind of started things. So you had role models for things that started. You might also have a connection within you that, that is this Activator theme. But I think, to some degree, when people are thinking about, How do we develop more of this in people, in kids? Part of it is, I think, letting kids observe people who start things, to some degree, helping them to -- I think that's part of how this emerges in people.

Tyler McCarty 36:32

Yeah, I think, I think the environment is so important. Like I said, I grew up, I've never seen either of my parents work for anyone a day in their life. My, my family had a restaurant. My dad got sick of that when I was a young age; he loved gardening. And he said, I'm going to start a greenhouse; took out a loan. And, you know, here we are, 28 years later, and he's a very accomplished, you know, horticulturalist, very respected. My uncles have all started things that they enjoyed. My grandpa was a serial entrepreneur, although none of these guys would ever say they're entrepreneurs. They just did -- they just instinctively did what they wanted to do. And I think it's so important, like, that was the environment that really shaped me. That I learned at a young age, if you love something, you can go do it. And unfortunately, I think I look around today and that's just not, that's not the sentiment of a lot of people. We live in a very controlled, safe environment. You, you do this and here's the next step. And there's, there's not, there's not a lot of room, you know, societally speaking, for people to, to take risks. So I think it happens. But I think, you know, as we think about coaching Activators around us, it really is important to put them in environments where they can do that, give them frameworks -- go ahead, Curt.

Curt Liesveld 38:16

What I, what I hear kind of coming through that is, is I can hear Activator, but almost more I hear Self-Assurance. It's I want to be my own boss. There's a kind of a sense of independence here. I don't want to be controlled; I want to have some control of my destiny. So I think, I think you've got strong Activator, but, but when Activator gets paired with Self-Assurance to some degree, I think that's when innovation and initiative does, does kind of occur. And that's kind of what was missing at one point in your career. It felt like you didn't have have some control and independence.

Tyler McCarty 38:49

Yeah, absolutely. And you were talking earlier about there's, there might be a lot of teams out there that are, that are kind of low on the Activator, on the Activator strength. And that's because they're probably in its raw stage they're horrible employees. I know that of myself, but I think it is so important just for teams to figure out those places where Activators can fail. Because what you're not going to do, you're not going to stop them from starting things. And in my role in the nonprofit world, that's what happened. I just instinctively started acting. And because I didn't have a framework in which I could do that or fail, I became just a horrible, disgruntled employee, and it didn't work out. But I think we can really leverage that if, as coaches and managers, we figure out, where can this guy fail? Where can we just turn him loose? And I think that's how we kind of foster this environment where we can really start to develop Activators because, like you said, it's, it's a very sharp, it's a very sharp theme.

Curt Liesveld 39:44

It can also be about ... this that, you know, all Activators are entrepreneurs. I think it's also about where is initiative needed? Like my wife has Activator. It's one of her dominant themes. She's never been an entrepreneur; she's never -- but she's used her initiative, her kind of proactive nature to really be good at selling stuff.

Jeremy Pietrocini 40:05

Well, and Jim, I know you were, you were celebrating when we said, you know, Woo, Woo and Activator. But you know, we did the very first Called to Coach and Curt, you know this, but we just, we did it with Brent O'Bannon, one of our coaches, it was just ReadyTalk, which is a conference dial-in, no video. And within moments, Jim's Activator kicked in, came downstairs, and he's got Maximizer high too. But he said, "We can make this better. Let's, let's do it." You know, and you heard that Activator, he was again down here in moments, saying, "Let's do it!" with a smile on his face. And again, knowing he was talking to me, a Maximizer, and going, "You said better? All right, let's, let's make it better." You know, so --

Curt Liesveld 40:41

But what I would have done, though, I don't have Activator; I have Maximizer. I probably wouldn't have gotten it started until I had it thought through. And I think, to some degree, it's easier to steer a move -- something that's moving, as opposed to something that's just sitting there. I think that's a great example. We got started; it wasn't perfect the first time, but we kept getting better.

Jim Collison 41:01

Well, and Jeremy, that actually started as a seed I planted with Paul Allen, a year before, a year ago just this this last February, when I said, "Paul, we could do some really cool training and education and community building if we would do something like this." And that kind of planted the seed in him that I worked on for a couple months. And then I kind of gave up. I thought, Well, it's not gonna really happen. We'll -- I'll find another way to get this done. And when I heard, the day before, I heard we were doing this. I said, "Oh, I gotta get involved in this." And I didn't, you're right. I didn't take any -- I didn't slow down. You guys were on it and I was sending you emails, you know, like, Oh, we can do better. And then I came down and saw you and immediately you guys put me on the team. And the reason we're doing Theme Thursday, and the reason we did Called to Coach, is because the Activation in me just could not do it.

Curt Liesveld 41:48

And also, you know, you also know a lot about technology. It's about knowledge and skill as well. It's not just about talent.

Jeremy Pietrocini 41:57

No, and I think that the piece you're hitting on too, Curt, and then Jim, I don't know if there's questions or if we need to wrap, but the thing you, the thing you brought us back to -- and I think, again, when we do, you know, the next 33 of these to get through all 34 themes, is, you know, themes are not, they are not a stand-alone in a vacuum. There was a recent article, I think it was talking about governors or state candidates, and it was saying their top theme -- would you rather have a Woo candidate or a Responsibility candidate? And I get where they were going with it. I liked that it gave, you know, Clifton StrengthsFinder some great, you know, PR out in the media as we're trying to reach a billion people.

Jeremy Pietrocini 42:34

But Tyler, like with your story, you're not just an Activator, you know, that Communication and Futuristic and Maximizer. I mean, those, those themes work together to really enable you to be who you are. And Curt, I think is your -- you've been talking about that. I know we'll hear that with each of, each of the 34 themes. But it's important for us to know, not everybody's Activator is gonna look the same. But man, there's a lot of good, when we think about it from that standpoint of initiative, start, take ideas, put them into action. Again, our definition of entrepreneurship -- you know, take, take an idea and turn it into a customer. It's turning nothing into something, and I think Activators in the world help us do a better job of that.

Curt Liesveld 43:15

Yeah, absolutely. No, I, I often say these themes don't tell us exactly what you can do. But they tell us how you're going to do whatever you do. And obviously, Tyler's success is always going to be about his, his drive to get things started, his sense of initiative and adventure, and his desire to make things better -- not just by talking about it, but by doing something. So I think that, I don't care what he does, whether he gets out of the film business, or goes back to building or does something else, that's always going to be at the core of his success. He's not going to be a person who wants to just sit around and wait for something to happen. He's going to be a, a, someone who gets the ball rolling -- he's a catalyst.

Jim Collison 43:55

Jeremy, we did have one question, and we do need to wrap this because we're coming up on our time here. And we'll, we'll give folks an opportunity to continue this dialogue with some technology here, but Tyler, what was a time maybe when you activated and it didn't go so well? The blind spot, the failure, so to speak, and I know, as Activators, we fail a lot. I mean that's just one of the things we do: We try, we fail, we go on to the next thing. Can you give an example of of maybe when that happened to you and how your other, your other themes may be compensated for it?

Tyler McCarty 44:26

My first business did not end well. I -- let's see. Yeah, it didn't end well. I knew it was time to get out. And I thought, I thought I got out in a, in a, in an OK environment, but it left me with just a ton of debt. And so, I think, I think because I was running so hard, individually, that raw state, I just wasn't, I wasn't paying attention to people around me. I wasn't really paying attention to anything other than my own, you know, kind of internal desire to just keep, keep pushing with this thing. And I think had I seen that, I would have, you know, could have ended that a lot better.

Curt Liesveld 45:04

That reminds me of another maxim here that I think is an Activator maxim: "It's easier for, it's easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission." And I think that's kind of how I think sometimes Activators probably approach life I can, I can say, "I'm sorry," but I don't want to have to wait for permission to get started.

Jim Collison 45:27

Well, with that, I think we'll start coming in for a landing. We're at the 45-minute mark. And it's just amazing how, when we do this, how fast these things go. We, we are trying to discover that cadence, too, for the show -- it's the first time we've done it, and how we work through the questions and how that works. Jeremy, I've got a couple things to announce, but anything that you need to talk about before we go?

Jeremy Pietrocini 45:47

No, I think, again, I think this is a good start. And again, hopefully just helping educate people more around what this theme looks like, how it can be productively used. And as you said, Jim, we're excited to to commit. I know, Curt, your Responsibility said you were going to do it. So we're going to know it's going to happen. But that we'll get a chance to, to continue to plow ahead with, with doing these to get through all 34.

Jim Collison 46:10

And then, Jeremy, let's highlight Called to Coach next week, because I think we've got a big one on our hands. Coming this next Friday.

Jeremy Pietrocini 46:15

Next Friday, again, those of you who may be new to this platform, we do something called Called to Coach twice a month, where we interview Strengths Coaches -- so people that are using the Clifton StrengthsFinder really around development of leaders and teams. We've got two of Gallup's scientists, Dr. Jim Harter and Dr. Jim Asplund. Both of these gentlemen were around with Don Clifton, working closely with the development of the tool, as it's continued to evolve, as we've done research around strengths-based teams and the Domains. They're really able to kind of help us understand why this tool works; why when somebody takes it for the first time, there's just something that resonates with them. All those questions, you know, that, that come up often: Do people need to take it again if they change jobs? You know, the quick answer is "No." But these guys will help us really understand what and how and why, you know, to where we came from, but also where we're going with some of the new instruments and research we're doing even around strengths-based, you know, families. And the idea around entrepreneurship and just all the different pieces, whether it be job search or education, they're gonna be able to kind of tease out a lot of, a lot of the research and things that are in their heads. So that should be a great call, next Friday, noon Central.

Jim Collison 47:27

That's the 21st of March. And then Curt, why don't you talk about the 27th of March, the next Theme Thursday, what's the, what's the theme?

Curt Liesveld 47:33

The next theme is Deliberative. It's almost the complete other end of the spectrum from Activator. So we'll be going the different direction. These are people who know how to wait; these are the brakes that slow things down if we have to. So --

Jim Collison 47:48

We thought about that one for a while, right, I mean it was kind of hard to come to a conclusion.

Curt Liesveld 47:54

I thought it was a great combination. It's actually two themes that don't go together too often.

Jim Collison 48:00

Yeah, for sure. And then Cathy, I think it was, said she'd like to see a few more gals come on Theme Thursday, since it's an all-guy cast. Do we have some ladies quite possibly lined up?

Curt Liesveld 48:11

Absolutely, we're gonna be having some of our Gallup consultants, other Gallup consultants who will be a part of this. And, in fact, most of those are women.

Jim Collison 48:20

Very good. So it's coming. It is coming, and yeah, it was Cathy. So I appreciate you with, with that comment. We do want to remind everyone that if you want to get access to all 34 -- that was one of the questions that we had, that came through the chat room -- how, I know I've got my Top 5, but how do I get all 34? That is just available for an additional purchase out at the Gallup Strength Center, just go to Of course, you can send us your questions via email after the show, if you'd like to: Curt is #CSFguy out on Twitter, so he, he is out there as well. And if you'd like to converse with him that way, that is a great way to do it. I want to thank Monica as well. We did #csfchat during the show, and there was some stuff going on on Twitter. We want to ask you to join us out, just follow @strengthsfinder. A lot of what we're doing here is going to be announced using that @strengthsfinder handle on Twitter. Love to have you join us there. And then I've been putting this in -- let's continue the conversation, because there's lots of stuff to talk about here. In 45 minutes, we just can't do it all. We'll take the conversation to the Called to Coach Facebook page. That page is open for coaches and strengths enthusiasts, or anyone who has questions. It's a private group; I have to let you in, and it's just to keep the spammers out. But go to; that will get you in as well. And of course, this is available for replay, both audio and video out at the Coaches Blog. Go to That's really the site where everything is at. So if you didn't catch any of the other links, head out to when we put all the links there. Tyler and Jeremy and Kurt, thanks for spending some time with me today to do Theme Thursday. We'll do this every other Thursday for the next couple months and see how that goes. We want your questions and your feedback. So send us, if you have questions along those lines, plenty of ways to get in contact with us and to do that. Thanks for coming out on a Thursday. We'll see you next Friday for Called to Coach. Thanks for coming out, everyone.

Tyler McCarty's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Activator, Adaptability, Maximizer, Communication and Futuristic.

Learn more about using CliftonStrengths to help yourself and others succeed:

Gallup World Headquarters, 901 F Street, Washington, D.C., 20001, U.S.A
+1 202.715.3030