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Called to Coach
Your Coaching Brand: Discerning Your Unique Contribution, Value
Called to Coach

Your Coaching Brand: Discerning Your Unique Contribution, Value

Webcast Details

  • How should you define "personal brand," and why is your brand important?
  • How can you include your strengths in your brand promise?
  • What are some key questions you should be asking yourself as you seek to understand and refine your brand?

Gallup Called to Coach Webcast Series -- Season 10, Episode 9.

Below are audio and video plus a transcript of the conversation, including time stamps.

As a CliftonStrengths coach, what differentiates you from at least 12,000 Gallup-Certified Strengths Coaches around the world? What is your unique contribution and the unique value you provide? And for whom (which specific customers) are you looking to provide this value? Who needs what you can provide? These are questions all strengths coaches should be asking themselves as they think about their personal brand. Join Gallup's Dean Jones for a practical, instructional tour de force on what you need to know and do as you craft and hone your personal brand.

The more consistent [your brand promise] is; the more powerful it is; the more that you can deliver on that promise of value, the stronger your brand will be.

Dean Jones, 15:30

When you're first coaching, you want to think that you can be everything to everybody. ... "Yeah, I can do that." ... But the question is, should you? Are you really the best person to do that? And where is the area ... where you really contribute something that's really powerful and unique?

Dean Jones, 42:25

Sometimes the value that you provide or the value that people take away isn't the thing that you expected to contribute.

Dean Jones, 32:53

Jim Collison 0:00
I am Jim Collison, and this is Gallup's Called to Coach, recorded on February 18, 2022.

Meet Our Guest on This Episode

Jim Collison 0:19
Called to Coach is a resource for those who want to help others discover and use their strengths. We have Gallup experts and independent strengths coaches share tactics, insights and strategies to help coaches maximize the talent of individuals, teams and organizations around the world. If you're listening live, love to have you join us in our chat room. There's just a link right above me there. And sign in, love to have your questions, especially today, in chat, a lot of interaction -- or at least a possibility of it. I guess it depends on you -- if you interact with us, we'd love to have that. If you're listening after the fact, or as a podcast, you can send us an email with your questions. Just send that to Don't forget to subscribe on your favorite podcast app or there on YouTube so you never miss an episode. Dean Jones is our host today. Dean is the Global Talent Development Architect and a Senior Learning Expert for Gallup. Also the Chair of Gallup's Diversity Council. And Dean, always great to have you on Called to Coach, and welcome back!

Dean Jones 1:08
Yeah, thanks, Jim. It's good to be here today.

Introduction to the Personal Brand

Jim Collison 1:10
Dean, we are, we're talking a little bit about branding and personal branding and your brand as a coach today. And I'm pretty excited about this topic, because I have a lot of passion around it, in what I do and the work that I'm doing. So I'm super excited about what you have to teach me today. But can you spend a, when we, when we talk about this idea of brand or personal brand, can you give us a little bit of a, just kind of an introduction, so folks know where we're going?

Dean Jones 1:36
Yeah, absolutely. I, so when we were talking about what to talk about today, right, what was, where we, where we should go today, we, this is actually a piece of work that I do with some of our consultants internally: thinking about what is your brand? Thinking about it and really having it be rooted in your, in your contribution. So part of, and we thought it'd be really useful for coaches. As you're thinking about yourself, as you think about your work, and you think about being known in the communities that you traffic in, How do you, how do you be known for the, your contribution? How do you be known for really, what it is, the difference that you want to make? And at your core, I think one of the cool advantages that we have in this conversation about branding is being, being able to think about this through a talents and strengths lens helps us I think, to really ground our, our personal brand in something that's really meaningful.

Dean Jones 2:35
So, so today, we thought we'd just kind of talk a little bit about this. I think it's useful, you know, as you're, as you're, as you're engaging with this conversation, I think it's useful in a number of different ways. I think it's useful if you're establishing your practice as a coach or reestablishing it or trying to kind of refine, What is my practice? Or where should I be focusing? I think it's useful if you're in a conversation about marketing yourself. So thinking about, How do, how do I want to be known? And what should my brand be? And how should I be marketing myself? I think it's useful if you're looking for a job. I think if you're, if this is something, and I hope, and I expect, as I was going through this, I thought, you know, these are conversations, not only that you would sort of apply to yourself, and I hope you do, right, but also that you might do this kind of work with other people. Right? So there may be people you're coaching that you're doing this kind of work about.

Dean Jones 3:32
And then fundamentally, I, you know, I guess because of my heart, I really care about development. I think it's a useful conversation just to, just to get clear about who you are, you know, as a human being and, and why you're on the planet. I think it's a, I think there's a nice -- branding sometimes comes across as sort of a superficial conversation or, you know, you know, something that's not, that's not really core to who you are. But I think there's a big connection to, you know, who you are, in terms of your values and your talents and your calling in life. Right. So I think there's a cool, I think if you, if you think about this long enough, I think there's a cool way of being able to really gives you an angle on who am I and what difference do I make, want to make in the world? So that's where I think this is sort of useful.

Importance of Your Personal Brand

Jim Collison 4:19
Dean, from an internal standpoint at Gallup, when we're onboarding, we actually spend a bunch of time talking and thinking about, for every employee, their own personal brand. I think when I first was exposed to that, I was like, This is kind of weird, you know, like, am I not already in the organization? Like, am I not already, like what, why would I, what's the importance -- just as we think about coaches working with individuals in an organization where they may not have a job, you know, they already have a job -- they're not, they, they're, they may be kind of like, "I'm not an influencer in this organization. Why would I -- ?" Can you talk a little bit about the importance of just kind of personal brand, even when you may not be in that role in an organization where that's, where that's important?

Dean Jones 5:07
Yeah, I love that. That's such a good question, Jim. You're really good at this. I think you got a future here.

Jim Collison 5:14
I've been doing it for a week or two.

Dean Jones 5:17
No, but it's such a good question. Because, you know, it is kind of a funny conversation. It is kind of a funny conversation. And why I love that question is, is because -- Why, so first of all, why, why do we spend time teaching that to people who are new consultants or Gallup, right? The reason that we do that is because, one is Gallup's a pretty flat organization -- not a very structured, not very hierarchical organization. You know, we really function, we're, like most organizations, we're highly matrixed and we're relatively flat. And we really count on people being able to kind of build connections inside the organization for the work that they do. And they honestly have a lot of freedom to be able to do that. And part of how people are successful -- and you see this not only with other professional services firms, but you see this in a lot of organizations now -- is they're able to, to generate a brand inside the organization, where people know them relative to their contributions.

Dean Jones 6:17
And so for our consultants, man, that's a core part of your livelihood is you got to be able to be somebody who can do that, and do that successfully inside the organization. If you can't, if you can't get connected, you have a really hard time getting traction. Right? I also think it's, it's an important conversation for anybody that wants to think about, How do I create influence in the community? I always laugh because, you know, I, I look at business books all the time, right. And some of, there's, you know, there's that whole genre of business books that is written for people that don't have Influencing themes and want to figure out how to influence others, right? And I always think it's, you know, it's always this, like, it's trying to decode, you know, what it is that people that naturally have a lot of Influencing themes would say, "Yeah, I just do that." Right. And, but I think it's an important conversation about How do I, how do I start to be known in a community?

Dean Jones 7:17
One of the, when we start having this conversation, I'll, let me just kind of dig into it a little bit. One of the ways I like to get into this conversation is have people think about communities, right? And specifically, you start to think about, one of the questions I'll ask is, How is a community different than a crowd? How is a community different than a crowd? So when you think about this, you know, what, what are some of the things that you would say are, make a community different than a crowd? By the way, if you're listening live, and you want to throw some of the, some of this in chat, you know, we, we're happy to, we're happy to include it. But one of the things that you see that is different about a community than the crowd is a community, in a crowd, people, it's sort of people showing up at the same place, right, or that happen to be in the same place. With a community, there's that sense of shared purpose. So there's something with a community where there's that sense of shared purpose -- that we're all here, and we didn't just show up at the same place, you know, because, because of our disparate purposes, right. We've got sort of a shared purpose kind of being together.

Dean Jones 8:26
The other question I like to ask is, How is a community different than a small group? And one of the things you notice with, is different with a community -- yeah, Jess Burkhart said, Community, in a community, there's shared values and expectations. Justin said, Community feels interconnected. Yeah, that's, yeah, exactly. So there's that kind of, that kind of, in a community, there's that kind of shared purpose, that kind of shared, shared, shared values, shared expectations. The other kind of question is, How is the community different than a small group? So, as you think about a community versus a small group, and one of the key ways that communities are different than a small group is in a small group, you're likely to be able to know each person individually. You're supposed to, you'll, you're likely to have a direct relationship with each person. In a community, you don't necessarily have a direct relationship with each person.

Dean Jones 9:20
So one of the challenges that people encounter when they go to interact or when they go to say, "Hey, I'm going to go interact with the community," is they don't, you know, they may be anchored by that shared purpose, but they don't know how to, how do you, how do you be known in the community? How do you interact with the community when you don't have a direct relationship with every single person, right? And so, and that's, and that's really hard for people. I think, and a lot of people -- places, people feel that really, feel that that's really challenging. There's some people that I think naturally, they have kind of Influencing themes, and they're, you know, it's kind of like, Hey, I'm gonna go be known by this community or like that. And in some, some cases, people go to do that, and it goes kind of sideways, right? So they're not known in the ways that they, they'd like to be known or known in the ways that they think, that are actually powerful for them to be known.

Dean Jones 10:17
So I think there's different ways you can be known in a community. So one way you can be known in a community is you think about, like, OK, if I'm going to go interact with this community, I want to be, I want to have some influence in this community. And particularly, I want to contribute something to this community. I think there's different ways that you can be known in a community. One, one way you can be known in a community is as a stereotype. And we know that stereotype's a sort of shorthand that clump together a group of people. You know, the definition of a stereotype, or one of the definitions of a stereotype, is a fixed idea that many people have about a thing or a group that may often be untrue or only partly true, right? Stereotypes are sort of shorthand ways of clumping together groups, right?

Dean Jones 11:07
The example I use when I teach this internally is like -- and I'm not picking on anybody, but again, I am picking on people -- it's kind of like, OK, we know what the accountants are like, right? OK. You know, and there's a stereotype: OK, we know what the accountants are, like, right? Or we know what the developers are right? Like, right? So those are shorthand ways that are often untrue or only partly true. And it's, the problem with it is it doesn't give us much power. And if I feel like I'm stuck in a stereotype, it doesn't allow me really to contribute beyond that, right.

Dean Jones 11:41
The other way you might be known in a community is to be known as your, as a reputation -- as, to be known by your reputation. And, you know, we all talk about, Hey, do I have a good reputation or a bad reputation? The definition of reputation is a widespread belief that someone or something has around a particular habit or characteristic, right -- a widespread belief that someone or something has a particular habit or characteristic. And again, with reputation, reputation isn't necessarily always empowering; it isn't always particularly useful. And it doesn't allow us to be able to do the work that we want to do. So this is where we start to think about, we start to encourage people to think about themselves in terms of their brand.

Brand: An Identity, Image Regarded as an Asset

Dean Jones 12:33
So rather than being known as a stereotype, rather than being known as some characteristic that you have -- "He says 'um' a lot," right? Or, you know, or "He takes up all the oxygen in the room; talks too much," right -- but is that you, you start to actually actively think about, What is my brand? What is my brand in the community? Now, the definition of a brand, or one of the definitions of a brand, is a particular identity or image regarded as, regarded as an asset. Let me say that again: a part, a particular identity or image regarded as, as an asset. And part of the reason that I like that is, we're thinking about, How are we and the work that we do an asset to the community? And remember, organizations are just like big communities, right?

Dean Jones 13:27
And so, whether you're thinking about the marketplace -- big community; whether you're thinking about an organization -- community; right, you're thinking about, How, what is my brand? Or how can I be an asset or be known as an asset to the community? I think that's particularly a powerful conversation. And it calls you to not just think about, Hey, how am I going to get more people to buy services from me? Or how am I going to get people to like me? Or how am I going to just be known so that people know what I do and how I do it? But how am I going to be an asset or a contribution to the community?

Your Brand Promise

Dean Jones 14:09
Inside this notion of brand, we talk oftentimes about your personal brand. So what is your personal brand? And that's a, that's a big thing, I think, for people that are coaches. Inside of your brand is something that we call a brand promise. So a brand promise, the, one of the definitions of a brand promise that I like, that I thought was useful, is, "A brand promise is the value or experience that your customers can expect to have every single time they have an interaction with you." Let me say that again: It's "the value or experience that your customers can expect to have every single time that they have an interaction with you."

Dean Jones 14:52
Now, if you're a consultant at Gallup, we want you to think about that a lot, right? You're, if you're a consultant at Gallup, we want to think about, Hey, every time clients interact with you, what is the experience that they have? If you're a strengths coach or a consultant, you want to be thinking about, What is the, what is the experience that your customers can expect to have every single time they interact with you? That's your brand promise, right? And the more you can deliver on that promise, the stronger the value of your brand is in the minds of your customers. So the more consistent it is; the more powerful it is; the more that you can deliver on that promise of value, the stronger your brand will be. Right?

Dean Jones 15:41
So part of it is then thinking about -- let me just pause for a second -- but part of that is just thinking about, OK, if I want to be known in the community, what's the most powerful way or what's a powerful way that I can be known in the community? Whether the community is inside of a big organization, whether the community is the marketplace, whether it's a community of, of, whether it's in a geographic community, if I want to be known in the community, I'm not going to have a direct relationship with everybody. Right? And what's the most powerful way that I could be known? Well, one powerful way is to be known as an asset to that community. In other words, what's the contribution I could be to that community? And what is the experience then that I want people to have? So inside of being an asset, what's the promise that I want to make? Or what's the promise that I want to be known for, where people could say, Hey, every single time that I interact with that person, I can expect to receive this kind of value. Right. Let me just pause there, Jim. Any comments or questions on this?

Jim Collison 16:44
We'll give the chat room a second if they want to jump in there with some comments. Dean, I think my own personal example, in some ways, when I kind of, in 2011, 2012, when I started jumping into the strengths community, I remember one day, an email came out from our customer support group who said, "Who is this guy? And why is he answering questions on Facebook?" Right? I hadn't built any brand. I had, I had just be, you know, I'd wanted to be helpful. I thought I was being helpful. But it would take some time of some consistency, right, to build into that. And that, I just always think back to those days. And like, "Why is this guy doing this? We've never seen this before," right?

Jim Collison 17:26
Today, you know, fast forward to today. Now I get, you know, I get a handful of emails a day from that same team, looking for, Hey, what do we want to do here? How do we want to answer this? What's the message we want to use? And so that has been, you know, that has been, for me, some growth in brand -- it, just, just like I had a coach reach out to me the other day that said -- this was maybe a year or so ago, so pretty recent -- say, "You know, your Woo in email a little bit different than your Woo in person." In other words, you're a little short, right, you're a little short on the emails. And it was just a good reminder, Dean, as we talk about this, it was a good reminder to me, some self-awareness that, yeah, that's not a strength of mine. We're gonna talk a little bit about this here in a second, as we think about using your -- writing is not my strength. So, but, but speaking to people is.

Jim Collison 18:18
And so I've spent some time and, you know, I've spent some time over the last, you know, 6 months. Now, when I have a situation where I need, where communication is critical, I try to make a personal contact, rather than do it via email, right, some awareness around my own personal brand. I'm not gonna win via email; I'm gonna win when we're talking face to face. That's my personal brand. That's at least how I see it. I don't know. Is --

Dean Jones 18:44
I love that. I think that's great. Yeah, I love that. I think, and part of it is, is, is cultivating that awareness. I think part of, as you think about it, we got some great comments. You know, Steve Shrout, said in the chat, BRAND = Be Real And Never Deviate. Part of it, Steve, to your point -- and I think this is the point that Jim was making is -- part of your brand comes from who are you authentically? Right. And that it's, it's not some made-up thing like, I'm going to, I'm going to come up with some brand that I want to be known at that's some made-up thing. It's really got to be a function of who you are authentically and, and at the same time, having some good awareness around it.

Including Your Strengths in Your Brand Promise

Dean Jones 19:23
Marina asks, How do you include your strengths into building your brand promise? And in fact, Marina, that's a great question. Let me talk a little bit about that. I think the way to think about your brand, and particularly your brand promise, is to really look at your strengths. Now, part of this, and I'm going to talk about this a little later, but part of it is, is you, as you start to think about your brand and your brand promise, you have to think about, What is uniquely my brand promise? Or in other words, How am I different in my brand than everybody else? What is the thing that I uniquely contribute?

Dean Jones 20:00
It sounds like a horrible thing to say but "strengths coach" is not a differentiated brand. Right? That's a, not a unique brand, right? We've got, you know, [12,000] strengths, Certified Strengths Coaches around the world. Just saying, "I'm a strengths coach," that's useful, that's a, that's a great attribute. But OK, OK, you're a strengths coach. Yeah, but what, what is the work that you do? Who do you do that work for? What's the unique value that you provide? So thinking about your brand promise, you got to figure out, OK, well, how do I figure out, What is the unique value that I provide? Or what is the, what is it that people can count on me for? What is my brand promise? I think that, I think it's useful to be able to start that and really dive into your strengths and to really look at your talent themes and look at your strengths.

Dean Jones 20:48
I did this exercise, so when I was preparing for our conversation today, I did this exercise with myself, right? If you look at my Top 5, so my Top 5 are Activator, Focus, Woo, Strategic and Relator, right? So I look at, I looked at each one of my Top 5 and said, OK, well, what is the thing that I contribute? What is the thing that I -- and these are things that not only I contribute, but I like to contribute, right, I'm passionate about contributing. With my Activator, I'm comfortable moving ideas to action. And people sort of know me as the guy who's, that bring me in to be able to initiate something. And part of that is, if, if you need energy and momentum around something, I'm your guy, right? So I use my Activator talent that way.

Dean Jones 21:32
With my Focus, a lot of my Focus is contributing a lot of intentionality around something, so if you need the kind of intentionality, the kind of push behind it. Along with that is a real strong focus and prioritization. If what you need, you know, one of the things I contribute is a lot of focus and prioritization. Another big thing is, I have a big goal orientation. I've talked about goal-setting a lot. It's something I'm super passionate about. I think comes directly out of my Focus talent, you know, and, and my strength around Focus, big goal orientation: Where are we going? What's the goal? What's the, where's, where's the focus and the priority around that?

Dean Jones 22:12
My Woo is No. 3, my ability to win people over and to be able to build agreement around something that people go, "Oh, yeah, this is something we should do." My Strategic talent is that I'm comfortable being able to think about the way forward and come up with the best plan. My Relator, that I build deep, close relationships, You know, I, I'm somebody that's comfortable building close relationships, and I tend to have those relationships that I carry forward in time. So I, you know, part of what I did was I just simply went through my Top 5 and said, "OK, what is the contribution there?" Not necessarily what's the talent, but What's the thing that I contribute to, to the teams that I'm on, the projects that I'm on, the people that I work with, what is the thing that I contribute around each one of those?

Dean Jones 23:02
And then I started to kind of, you know, looking at all that, I started to look and say, OK, if you had to, if I, if you asked me, "What is the contribution that you are, Dean, in the work that you're doing?" Or "What's the, what's the contribution?" The thing I wrote really was a statement that started to kind of sum that up, right? So I, here's what I wrote: You can count on me to be an initiator, a builder, somebody that contributes energy and intentionality. I will help win over stakeholders, remove barriers, and create close, trusted relationships with key partners. I'll help us define where we're going and the best way to get there. Right. So that's my kind of short statement around that.

Dean Jones 23:46
So why am I telling you this? I think it's a useful exercise for you to do. I think it's a useful exercise that you take your Top 5, your Top 10 talent themes, and go by one by one and say, "How do I contribute this? How do I contribute this? What is the contribution that I am in this area?" And write those things out. And then start to synthesize them together to be able to say, OK, well, what does this say about who you are? Who, what is it that you, you, it says about who you are? I took all those from my Top 5 and synthesized those into 3 statements. I think Jim's putting some of them in the chat here. Right. But to be able to do that, it starts to give you a handle on OK, what's your brand, right? And the value of this, I think, is, is understanding your brand through the lens of, What is the contribution that you are? What is it the thing that people can count on you to contribute? And how, and start to get a handle on, Where is it unique?

Discerning What You Do and Don't Contribute

Dean Jones 24:50
So, I think that, and as part of that, to, part of that is also figuring out the, not only the, the value you provide or the contribution you are, but also what you don't contribute, right? The value that you don't, you know, What is it that you can't count on me for? Right? That's not the thing. You know, I know for myself, right, with my themes, I have a lot of Influencing themes. I'm not the guy that's going to be listening for consensus. That's never, that's not part of my brand is to listen for consensus or build consensus. That's not who I am. Harmony is very low for me. It just never occurs to me to walk into a room and say, "Hey, let's build consensus." And that's what I really leaned into my partners around. Right. So I think it's useful to be able to do this. Let me just pause, Jim. Any comments or questions on this one?

Jim Collison 25:40
Again, I'll give them a second to do that and, and drop those there in chat. In my example, Dean, it was a shift as I began to realize, I'm not a gifted writer, and I don't communicate well that way. Lean, so it wasn't a matter of just stopping doing it. But start leaning into those areas that I do it better -- communicating, having time with people one on one, but then leaning into my partners, who could do this. Like, Hey, would you provide, I've got to write, I have some written stuff. Can you provide the copy to me? Because that's just, I'm not going to do it as good as you are. Right? And, and really leaning into that -- not, like you said, knowing what I don't do. I'm not going to be one who's going to write fabulous things for you. Just not going to happen. So I, I love that clarity around that -- not just what I bring, but what I need. And, you know, wow, we've, we've heard that before, right? Right. So this great opportunity then to say, How can others help me in my own brand too, as well? Some chats, some stuff coming in on chat. Anything you want to highlight there?

Dean Jones 26:43
Yeah. John says, This sounds like an exercise. Yes, this is an exercise. And I think it's a useful exercise for you to do. I think it's also something, John, that you could do with clients, right? Steve, you, you started to write yours. The thing that I would, as you write yours -- I'm gonna coach you a little bit here, OK -- so you've got, I'm a strengths-oriented leader; I'm a generous resource; I'm a creative strategist; I'm an objective observer; I'm a conscientious responder. That's beautiful, right? One of the things I think about it, as you start to do this, this is more about who you are versus what you contribute.

Dean Jones 27:17
So when you do this exercise, you want to be thinking about, What is it that I contribute to others inside of this? I think you're almost there, but I think it's taking it the next, taking the next step to say, OK, if I'm a generous resource, what is the contribution that I am? Right? So I think it starts with thinking about not just, What's the moniker or what's the way you would describe me? Right. But What's the contribution that I am for others? So I think that's the first part of this, first part of like, really looking at your strengths as the basis for your brand promise is to think about, in each one of those talent themes, each one of those dominant talent themes, what's the thing you contribute?

Dean Jones 28:02
The next thing I would, the next step on this is, yeah, and, and Naomi put in chat, Like the distinction between who you are and what you contribute, you contribute -- yes, Naomi nailed it. Yes, that's exactly it. Right. So I think that's really useful. Lindsey wrote, An incredible exercise in theme dynamics. Yes, absolutely. Because part of what we're asking you to do is, as you, as you look at each one of those themes and what you contribute, then, as you start to synthesize it together -- aw, Steve, you're so generous; thank you -- as you synthesize it together, you're thinking about there's that lens on theme dynamics, and I think it helps you kind of think about how do all these themes aggregate up into the contribution that I am?

Discerning the Value You Provide

Dean Jones 28:46
Then the next step, I think, is, so first, you've, you've really thought, you've looked at your strengths and thought about what you contribute. Now, I'm going to have you think about it in a different way. So it's the same thing, only you're going to look at it from the different sides. So I'd like you to think about, What's the value that you provide? Or what's, or said a little more rigorously, What is the value that people derive from working with you? Right? Now that's different than what you contribute. Right? It sounds like it's the same thing. But it's not. So there's the thing you contribute, but then there's also the value that people get out of working with you.

Dean Jones 29:26
And in order to think about that, people always want to say, "Well, I contribute this" or "I'm this for people," right? No, no, no, no, no, right. That's not necessarily the value that they get. Sometimes it is, but mostly you got to think about, OK, what is, when, what is the value that your clients or your internal customers get from working with you, right? What's the thing that they would say about you is the value that they get, right? It might be, "Part of the value I get from working with Jim is knowing that he always follows through," right? "That he's incredibly reliable." Now, Jim may not think, Hey, I, you know, Jim, may not think, Hey, I contribute reliability. But that's the part of the value that people are deriving from working with you. Right?

Dean Jones 30:16
So part of it is, the first step is really thinking about, What do you aim to contribute? And how is that rooted in your strengths? Then the second thing is really looking at the other side of that. Now, in order to look at that, you got to put yourself in your clients' or customers' shoes. You got to put yourself in their shoes, and say, What is the value that they get from working with me? What is the value? What do they walk away with? A lot of times, you got to go ask them. A lot of times, one of the useful things is to start to do interviews with people.

Dean Jones 30:52
I was just -- my friend, Doug Bacon, who's one of our Certified Coaches, he's an executive coach, he's based in Charlotte, North Carolina, you know, was telling me the other day about when he was really in an inquiry around this. And he ended up doing 35 interviews with different people that he had worked with, to be able to understand more of the value that people get from working with him. And, you know, he's asking people these questions -- you know, What is the value that I provide? One of the things he said to me that I think is funny and Southern and a great way of capturing this is, he said, "You know, when you're in the bottle, it's hard to read the label," right? When you're in the bottle, you can't see the label, right?

Dean Jones 31:33
So you kind of got to ask people, OK, What is it, right, what is it about me? And the kind of questions that I would be asking people -- and I, by the way, I think this is a great exercise for all of us just period, right -- is, What is the value that I provide? What can you count on me for? You know, when I show up, what can you count on that I'm going to provide? Right? What is it that you think I contribute to our work together? And I think -- I'm gonna say those questions again, because I think they're important: What's the value that I provide? And sometimes that comes in a little, a little esoteric, so I love being able to ask people, What can you count on me for? You know, What can you count on me to provide? And, you know, another question -- I think a funny one to ask, but a good one -- is, you know, When everybody gets together, and they're talking about me and what I contribute, what is it, the thing that they say? You know, when everybody gets together and I'm not there, and they're talking about what I contribute, what is the thing that people always remark on? Right? So starting to ask people, Hey, what is the, that thing?

Dean Jones 32:38
And I think it's useful for you to know, you know, sometimes, sometimes the thing that you contribute, sometimes the place that, where, where people get value isn't the thing that you expect to contribute. Let me say that again: Sometimes the value that you provide or the value that people take away isn't the thing that you expected to contribute. And I think that's really a useful thing to know. Because when you're clear about the value that you provide, it's something that you can lean into. It's also then becomes, it's part of your brand. Right? And allows you to be able to do that. I see we got a bunch of stuff happening in the chat here, Jim.

Jim Collison 33:22
Yeah. So Steve, Steve says, A brand should be aspirational and inspirational. And, and thinking about too, I love that question of, What would you miss if I stopped working with you? Like if, if I, if you, if my services weren't available to you today, what would you miss the most? In working with some folks on our team, I said some things and to, to some of our partners and I have a particular partner, Mark, who actually does all the transcriptions for Called to Coach. He'll say to me, from time to time, you know what, I'm going to tell that person, like, I'll say, "Man, they are great, because they did this." Right. And he's like, "I think I'm going to tell them that, because it's important that they know." And I think that's some of what we're trying to get to is what's being said about you -- not maybe necessarily even with you there -- that people, what are, what are people relying on for? What are they seeing in you outside of a traditional recognition cycle or whatever? So what else are you seeing coming in the chat room there, Dean?

Dean Jones 34:25
Yeah, the chat -- you guys, you really have it; this is really cool. Roya said, What problem do you solve? Asking people, What's, what's the problem you think I solve or how do I do that? I think, Dinette, Dinette said, I was in a comms training not long ago and the trainer called it "Afters" -- Why are they better off after we've done the work right? Tutum Leadership Consulting -- Coaching said, A few years back, I asked family and friends, "Who, who do you get when you get me in the room?" and got some really insightful responses around that, right? Trish loved what you said, Jim, about, What would you miss if you stopped working with me? So it's really useful to kind of go through and say, Hey, what's the value, what's the value that people get? And really listening for that.

Contribution vs. Value

Dean Jones 35:15
Where people -- I will tell you, just having taught this a lot, right -- where people get tangled up in this is they always want to write down the things that they contribute or what they offer, versus listening for No, no, no, What's the value that people get? What do you, what are they really getting out of it? Those are two different things. And you got to be able to distinguish those things. And even after I've said that, and then I ask people to say, "Hey, what is the value?" people still want to talk about what they offer, or what they contribute. So I think it's useful, by the way, to know what you contribute and what you're intending to contribute.

Dean Jones 35:52
But the other piece of it is really knowing, Hey, what's the value that people derive? You know, one of the old -- this is a very old example, but I'm gonna use it anyway -- is, you know, years and years ago, I worked in the technology industry, right. And there used to be this joke among IT people that you never got fired for choosing Microsoft, right? Like if people said, "Hey, what should we go with?" And you said, "Well, I think we should go with Microsoft." It was the safest choice in the world. Right. And part of, part of that, part of the value proposition was, for IT people at the time was that it was a safe choice. Right. And that's probably not the value that Microsoft intended, you know, but it's certainly one that they capitalized on. Right? And it was certainly useful to know is, Hey, this is a safe choice. Right? So I think it's important that you're thinking about, not just what do you intend to contribute? But then what's the value you derive?

What Makes You Unique?

Dean Jones 36:51
The other piece of that, then is, is What makes you unique? So how is that value unique? And how is it unique from the other people you compete with? How's it, how is it unique in your, in, among your marketplace? How is it differentiated? We did some work years ago, when we were looking at, we were doing some work around customer engagement. And one of the big discoveries we had at that point was, it was more important to be different than it was to be better. That if you wanted to engage customers, just saying, "Hey, I'm better than the competition," wasn't very engaging. But if you could clearly say how you were different than the competition, that was much more likely to create engagement than just saying that I'm, it was better than the competition, right. And I think it's important for you to be clear how you're different.

Dean Jones 37:41
This is one of the things I think, as long as I've been working with strengths coaches, that I've encouraged strengths coaches to do is to think about What is your differentiated offering? What is the way that you are offering something unique? And part of that may be, Who do you serve? So who are your customers? Who, who benefits most from your services? Who are the people that you want to work with?

Dean Jones 38:05
I was working with a coach here in town for a long time, you know, for a period of about 6 months or a year. And she was really interesting, she, passionate about strengths; very, very talented coach. And we were talking about, you know, I asked her, you know, like, "Who really is it that you love, you love working with?" And she said, "I love working with people that are making, going through a job transition." She said, "It's funny, but when people are going through that job transition, that really seems to be a great time for me to offer coaching. I love coaching people, and I'm really successful at it. When people work with me, they always get the next best job. And they always find something that's closer to their strengths." And she, you know, and I love that because it's clear, right? These are who, these are the kind of people I work with. These are the people that most benefit from what I do.

Who Will Benefit Most (Who Are Your Customers)?

Dean Jones 38:57
And I think it's important for you to be thinking about that, right? For whom do you want to provide value? Who do you want to contribute to? Who gets the most value from the contribution you are? And part of that is, Who are you most called to work with? Who are the people that you're most called to work with? And in what context? I think that's, that's an important piece. So there's what you contribute. There's the value that people, that people get out of that. Then thinking about, How is this different? How is this differentiated? How is this unique? And Who are the people that are going to benefit best from that -- customers? And what is the unique value that I provide to my customers? What is the unique thing that they take away from me? What is the thing that I want to contribute that I'm in business to contribute? And Who am I, what is my purpose around doing that?

Dean Jones 39:47
All those pieces together, when you're clear on all those pieces, you're really clear on your value proposition. And that gives you really your brand as a coach and your brand rooted in your strengths and rooted in the, in the contribution that you are. So again, let's pause, Jim. Any other comments or questions that you want to pull out?

Jim Collison 40:06
Yeah. And as we give some folks, you know, I think Brea says, you know, Yes! Features = what you offer. Benefits = what you get. And, and a lot of statements around that. I think I want to challenge the coaches too is, when you know that, it's a very, it gives you the ability to say it confidently in a way that people believe. Because I've worked with some folks, they may be new to some kind of task, and you, they offer to help you. And you get into the task, and you find out pretty quickly -- Aaah, they don't probably don't know it as well as you, as you'd hoped. And you can kind of sense that in the way that they say they're, how they can provide that service.

Jim Collison 40:47
And when you've found somebody who's like, you know what, yeah, like for me, somebody says, "I'm interested in starting a podcast. Can you help?" "Yes." Like, for me, there's no question, like, I am as confident in, as anything in being able to help people get through that process. And I think that confidence comes out in what we say, right, in the way we say it. And people are looking for that; they're sensing that; they need that in the conversation, to know, yeah, this, this person is confident and knows their value proposition to this. I, to your example of the individual that can help people get better jobs, they could say that in a way that is like, "Yeah, you know what? I can do this." And you just believe them? Right? You believe them in that.

Narrowing Your Focus to a Specific Set of Customers

Dean Jones 41:33
And part of it is being tuned in to, then what's the value that your customer most needs? Right. So to your point, Jim, you know, there's people, I think part of, part of it is, is you have to be clear about that and know, Hey, is that value that you really provide? And is that value, is, are you matched up with the right customer set? Is that value that your customer really needs around that? I would tell you, I think this is a, this can be a really uncomfortable or scary conversation for people. Because at some point, it calls people to commit. I think that in the beginning, excuse me, people, excuse me, people have to be willing to give up being everything to everyone.

Dean Jones 42:20
And so I think when you're first as in setting up a practice, when you're first coaching, you want to think that you can be everything to everybody. And, you know, part of it is, in particular, some of this may be motivated by just the financial viability that you got to generate, right. But you'll look at, when you're first starting out, you'll look at everything and you say, "Yeah, I can do that." Or "I can do this," you know, and, but the question is, is, should you? Are you really the best person to do that? And where is the area where you've got unique value or unique expertise, where you really contribute something that's really powerful and unique? I love the thing again, I don't know -- I apologize that I don't know the name of the person, it's the, it's Tutum Leadership Coaching -- I love the thing that you wrote in here: Beyond feeling, just feeling better after working with me, that they, that, that people feel healed after working together. Right. I think that's really useful. I think that's really useful. And I think that's useful.

Dean Jones 43:26
I think it's also thinking about, OK, as you start to get clearer and clearer, Who, who needs that? Who needs that? Who's the person that's going to find that most valuable? As you're, as you're asking yourself that question, it's really asking yourself, As a coach, where do I have a strength? Where do I deliver consistent, near-perfect performance? Where, what am I most passionate about? But what's the area where people can count on consistent, near-perfect performance from me in that particular area? And I think that's the answer to the question.

Dean Jones 44:03
So hopefully, I think today has been useful. We've talked a lot about the elements of this. But this is really about, How do you create what your brand is, and particularly what your value proposition is for the market? It starts with really looking at What do you contribute? And looking through the lens of your strengths around that. Then thinking about, What's the value around it? What's the value that people derive around it? How is that differentiated? And then Who's the customer set that will, that will benefit from those that -- who should your customers be? I think when you've got that kind of clarity, it gets easy for you to be able to stand up and say, "This is what I do. This is who I am. This is what I do. This is what people count on me for. This is what I'm in business to do." Right.

Jim Collison 44:50
Dean, I think we know your brand, oftentimes in the community and this setting, is to bring relevant, timely, well-thought-out learning. And people join us for that, right. I mean, your, that, when, when I put this, you know, we put this event on Eventbrite Monday. And it's Friday. That means there was 5 days. And it filled up -- if I can use that term; we don't, it doesn't, there's really no measurement of it. But we got a ton of registrations between Monday and Friday. Where typically, I would need to promote it on Facebook, and I would need to, you know, kind of blast these all around to get the kind of response that we got, your reputation, your brand, your value proceeded you on this, and it, it got a bunch of registrations without me really having to do any kind of work to get it there. Right. That's the value you bring in this.

Jim Collison 45:42
And I think that some people call that, we call it reputation. I think that's maybe another, you're known for that. And so I think it's, I think that's a great example of, as we think about this being, What are you known for? You're known for bringing great teaching to us. I do want to open up to the chat -- one second, I do want to open up the chat to get some questions. But do you want to respond to that?

Dean Jones 46:05
Yeah, I'd love to take the questions. Yeah, I was gonna say, you know, that was a journey for me. And that was, I will tell you, it was a strengths journey for me. Part of what, I would say, particularly over the last 5 years, I've been asking myself these questions. Like, what is it that I want to contribute? What is the value that people derive? One of the things that was interesting, and I think a little challenging for me, was, I realized, at my core, that who I am is a teacher. And it's funny, because I think, when I look at myself, I didn't, you know, I, there were so many other things that I thought I should be, you know, I had as pictures in my head of the value that I provided. And at the end of the day, when I really looked at, What is it that I contribute? And where am I, where am I good? And where do I have something unique? Part of my value is being effective as a teacher, and particularly teaching people in these areas. And it sounds funny that you say, I mean, that's really my brand now, is really being a teacher, right, around this kind of stuff. And coming to terms with that. And knowing that about myself and accepting that about myself and leaning into that, I think, has given me a huge amount of real, really just deep fulfillment.

Dean Jones 47:14
Interesting, I will tell you, so I've got a, there's a new person on my team, joined my team in the last few weeks. And we've been, we've had a lot of conversations about strengths, as you can imagine. And she said, "What if it's something you're good at, but that you don't really like doing?" Right? You know, what if it, what if it's something that you feel like you're good at, but you don't really like doing? It's like, well, yeah, but that's not really -- at your core, that contribution should be something that's deeply fulfilling for you. Right? You may be competent at it; you may have some skill with it. But that's different than something that is fundamentally, I think that, that where you have that moment where you, you know, for yourself, this is what I was called to do, right? This is why I'm on the earth. Right? This is really what I was called to do. And I think people figuring that out, I think this is one angle into it. But people figuring that out, finding that out and leaning into that creates a huge amount of fulfillment.

Dean Jones 48:12
One of the things I'd like to suggest, I want to, I don't usually do this, but I was, I'd love to, because of the nature of this forum is kind of one way, right? But, and that's why I love the chat, I also would love it is if you're going to do some work with this, I'd love for you to post, maybe start a conversation on Facebook around this, Jim. But I'd love to hear what people are getting out of this and what they're doing with this. It'd be super interesting for me just to know, if you take this on, and you want to kind of do some work around this, I'd love to see that. I'd love to see that on Facebook. And so if you want to post on Facebook around that, gosh, I'd love to see that. I'd be super interested in what you come up with around that. So --

Your Brand for Coaches Embedded Within Organizations

Jim Collison 48:51
Dean, I got a, yeah, and we'll, we'll facilitate those. I got a question from Cheryl, which I want to, I want to tweak a little bit. She says, I think it's especially important to realize you can't be all things to all people if you're an internal coach. What's the, we oftentimes speak to kind of the external, independent, you know, Certified Coaching community when we're speaking. I want to spend, in 2022 and 2023, I want to add to the vernacular, "and if you're embedded," if you're an embedded coach, right. What does this mean? I mean, is there, as we think about our embedded coaches that are, they're Certified Coaches in organizations; they're not maybe necessarily trying to do their own business. What's the tweak, as they think about this internal value that they bring? Would you say anything different?

Dean Jones 49:37
Yeah, I think, yes. I don't know if it's, I don't know if it's terribly different, but I do think it's unique. I think that when you're a coach, and you're working inside of an organization, first of all, you got to understand, who -- the challenge that you run into, there's a few things there. The challenge that you run into is, Who can I build trust with? Who is somebody that is going to trust me and trust the coaching that I provide? Sometimes -- and, you know, it's just a hard truth -- sometimes if you're in HR, and you say, "Hey, I want to coach people," people have a, sometimes have a distrust of HR. They look at it, and they say, "Hey, you're an HR person. I don't know if I trust it." Now, I do think that's changing. But one is that can be a barrier sometimes, right?

Dean Jones 50:24
Sometimes I think it's, it's really challenging if you're coaching, if you're an internal coach, and you're coaching people in an area that you don't have direct expertise in. I find this oftentimes, you get people that are internal coaches that are trying to coach salespeople, but they've never really done business development or haven't been around business development. Or they don't have -- I've seen coaches, like we have coaches in our organization who coach business development people, but, and they've never had business development experience, but they really understand that talent profile really well. Right. And so they're really good at coaching business development people, but it's because they're really embedded in, What is the talent profile of somebody who does sales or business development? Sometimes you get internal coaches trying to coach salespeople, and their instincts are bad, right? Because they don't really understand the, they don't understand that, that profile. You know, they're coaching salespeople to be less competitive or something, right? You know what I mean? And so it's, it's, you know, it's, you really have to understand that piece.

Facing the Reality of Not Being a Good Coaching "Fit" for All

Dean Jones 51:27
The other thing that I think is just a hard truth -- and I think this is true whether you're an internal coach or whether you're an external coach -- is you're not going to be able to work with everybody. And it's really hard, particularly the more successful you are, is to know that some people are not, you're just not going to click with some people. I had this happen. There's one, there's a gentleman who's one of our top course leaders and coaches in our organization, right. And he called me the other day, and he said, "Look, I'm really upset. I just had a client say, Hey, you know, they, basically the client said, 'Hey, we don't want to work with you,'" you know? And he was like, Gosh, you know, I just feel, you know, you know, he's, and this is somebody who is at the top of their game, right, they are one of the very best, but it was really upsetting.

Dean Jones 52:13
And that just happens sometimes, and it happens to all of us, right? There are just people you're just not going to click with, and you're not going to be the one to coach them. And you have to kind of just, that's just the, the chemistry of human relationships, right. And so you have to kind of accept that you aren't going to be all things to all people and that there are going to be folks that you're not going to be able to coach. And, and the right thing to do is to, to lean into the ones that you can. One of the, one of the early pieces of advice I got in my career was not to coach somebody who wasn't a request for my coaching. And so part of what I'm always listening for is, Is there a really an authentic request for my coaching? Otherwise, it just, it just comes across like noise, and it's a distraction from them getting the coaching that they really do want and need.

Jim Collison 53:03
Wise advice. A lot of great stuff in the chat room. We'll take this conversation kind of into the Facebook group. I just think, for, for lots of individuals, this is for, you know, as I was, as this was introduced to me at Gallup through our onboarding, and then I got the opportunity to work with employees, especially interns, onboarding, and we spent some time talking about how important this idea of personal brand is, both from, from any setting, I think about what's the, what's the personal brand that I bring it as a dad to my kids? What's the value proposition? Because it's important, right? I think sometimes we think in the parental relationships that we have, however, that fits in, whatever that is. And I think about it all the time. You know what, I get a limited set of moments with my own children. How am I bringing -- what, what do they find value in? And it's crazy, because it's different for all 5 of them, right, and I have to individualize and specialize my parenting for each one of this, for each one of my kids, as I think about, What's the value I bring to them? Yeah.

Dean Jones 54:11
Jim, that's a great analogy. And that's the way we should be doing with our customers, right? The value that one customer derives from us is not going to be the same as another customer. Right? And so, so, and also that the value that people derive is going to change over time too -- just like with your kids, as they develop the value that they derive from you. And it's the same thing with clients. Over time, that value is going to change. It's, it's, it's going to evolve.

Dean Jones 54:38
A couple comments in the chat, I thought we'd, just before we wrap today. Ed said, I'm going to incorporate this brand into a workshop for teens, Latinas Leading Tomorrow. I love that, Ed. I think that's dynamite. And you know, particularly for people you know, as you're a teenager or a college student or you're entering the workforce, thinking about this, that's a powerful time to be thinking about this. I think that's super useful. Raachna said, This topic is so relevant for me. I've been pondering on this for, as I'm setting myself up. Yeah, Raachna, I'm really interested in and what do you, what do you come up with around this? I think it's really, as you think about this and you think about your unique value, be super interesting to know, OK, where did you come out on this, right?

Dean Jones 55:21
Brea said, Yes, if we aren't intentional about creating our own narrative, people will interpret things a million different ways. Yeah, it goes back to the thing that we were talking about is there's lots of ways to be known in a community, but you want to be intentional. And you want to be explicitly saying, This is what I aim to contribute. And this is what you, what, this is the value that you can count on me for; this is the value you'll derive from working with me. Being able to intentionally create your own narrative -- I love that, that way of saying it, Brea -- is to be able to say, This is what I contribute. This is the value that people derive from working with me, right.

Dean Jones 55:57
And also to be able to listen, as Jim just pointed out, to be able to listen to individual clients and say, Here's where I think you're really going to connect with the value that I provide. Here's the thing that, I think, uniquely for you, is going to be consistent with that. Or to be able to say, Hey, look, you know, I've really listened to you; I hear what you need. I'm not the right guy for you. I'm not the right person to coach you; you need a coach who's really going to specialize in this or somebody who really has expertise in this area. So knowing, to be able to know and, in some cases, you may refer them to somebody else. Right. But knowing what it is that you contribute and what value that people derive from you -- very, very useful.

Jim Collison 56:38
I love it, Dean. I think with that, we'll, we'll call it a wrap. And always appreciate your learning. You know, my value proposition is to bring relevant content to our coaching community -- not be the expert but be the facilitator, right. Ask great questions, lead great conversations to help people, and then bring the community in in the best way possible, most scalable way possible, right? We could do this with a million. You know, we have 50 today. But we could have a million people out there doing this, right. And so that's the, I mean, you've kind of taught me in this. You've been, we've talked about this before -- you've been part of that journey with the community with me, in bringing, it's very, very clear what I do here, right. I mean, I -- Don't try to be the expert, Jim; just ask great questions.

Dean Jones 57:24
And you do. And you do. Yeah, you do.

Jim Collison 57:28
Appreciate that. So, well, with that, we'll remind everyone to take full advantage of all the resources we do have available in Gallup Access. Catherine, I think, had asked how to, the name of the Facebook group. Best way, if you're not, if you haven't gotten in any of the groups, we have a special Certified group. But a great place to start, easiest way to get in: That's kind of our big public group and a great place to start. You can ping me there -- if you're Certified, and you're not in our certified group, you can ping me there. And we get you in that kind of group as well. You can find us on any social platform just by searching "CliftonStrengths." If you haven't subscribed to the podcast, maybe you're listening to this here and you're like, Wait a minute! I can do this as a podcast? Search "Called to Coach" on any podcast app, or find CliftonStrengths on YouTube; subscribe, so you never miss an episode. We want to thank you for joining us here today and for your great comments that are out there as well. Great validation, Dean, that you and I are providing our brand, right, our brand promise to the organization and doing it as the Power of 2. And so, Dean, I appreciate your partnership in this as well. For those of you listening live, have a great weekend. We've got plenty of conversations just like this next week. So go to -- go to if you want to join us for more of these live sessions, love to have you there. Thanks for coming out. If you found this useful, and you should, we'd ask you that you share it. Thanks for joining us today. With that, we'll say, Goodbye, everybody.

Dean Jones' Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Activator, Focus, Woo, Strategic and Relator.

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

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