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Called to Coach
The Transforming, Hope-Giving Power of CliftonStrengths®
Called to Coach

The Transforming, Hope-Giving Power of CliftonStrengths®

Webcast Details

  • How does CliftonStrengths uniquely support organizational and people transformation?
  • How can knowing and applying their strengths bring hope to employees and students alike?
  • What is a Gallup-Certified Coach trying to learn and do over the next year, and what role is a coach playing in this effort?

Gallup Called to Coach Webcast Series -- Season 10, Episode 12.

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


If there's one thing people have been looking for over the past few years, it's hope. Hope for their jobs, their careers, their lives, their future. Listen to John K John on CliftonStrengths and hope: "I have not seen any other assessment that gives hope to people, when you read it. ... And I can tell you, in my own personal life, when I got to reading my own report, I was not only filled with hope, but I was also filled with conviction and confidence." John is Vice President of Learning and Development at Reliance Industries in Mumbai, India, and a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach. His extensive coaching experience in his organization and with students has given him a perspective on the transforming, hope-giving power of strengths that you'll want to experience on this Called to Coach webcast.


Strengths ... tells you how unique you are from everybody else. That, I think, was the biggest attraction for me, because every other assessment ... will probably tell you that you are similar to somebody else in the population.

John K John, 8:21

Transformation, if it has to be successful, has to happen at a mind level. If you hit the mind and get the mind and you get the buy-in of your people, transformation just happens. ... And that's exactly what strengths can do.

John K John, 17:30

There are a lot of people who will tell you what you want to hear. But you need to hear what you don't want to hear as well. When you get a coach or a mentor like that, then I think you have somebody good.

John K John, 56:35

Jim Collison 0:01
I am Jim Collison, and this is Gallup's Called to Coach, recorded on March 3, 2022.

Meet Our Guest on This Episode

Jim Collison 0:19
Called to Coach is a resource for those help, 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, up there that'll get you in there. If you're listening after the fact and you have questions, you can always send us an email: Don't forget to subscribe to Called to Coach on your favorite podcast app or right there on YouTube so you never miss an episode. Deepanjan Deb is our host today -- DD as we like to call him -- is our Market Leader for Gallup there in India and is located in our offices there in India. His Top 5 are Context, Individualization, Learner, Strategic and Achiever. And DD, always great to be with you. Welcome back to Called to Coach!

Deepanjan Deb 1:08
Thank you so much, Jim. A very warm evening to you in Omaha and a very good morning to, you know, our viewers and, John, especially to you. Thank you for, you know, gracing this again, I would say that since we did the first edition about 6 years back -- 6 or 7 years back. So, it's a pleasure for me to be part of this journey with so many people from different walks of life, both in the corporate space as well as in the individual space that people have been working through. My guest today is special because he was one of Gallup's earliest coaches that we certified in India. And since then, he has done some remarkable work in, in diverse areas, which we will cover today in this, in this show. John, as we, you know, you know, popularly call him, is, in his professional role, the Vice President of Learning and Development at Reliance Industries based out of Mumbai. He has over 30-plus years of experience in the human resources function. He is a certified Zig Ziglar trainer, a Birkman consultant, a Gallup StrengthsFinder Coach. I'll not waste much time and let John introduce himself. And, John, your first thoughts on being back on Called to coach. How does it feel? And I would also want you to share a little bit about your Top 5 in a way that you would want us to share.

John K John 2:48
All right. Thanks, DD. It's always a pleasure to come back to anything that Gallup does. And our partnership goes back a few years. So yes, it's nice to come back, I think, after 2015, I think, and doing a Called to Coach this year is pretty special. And yeah, so the walk has been fantastic. Like I told last time in the interview, I fell in love with the strengths the minute I got exposed to it. I mean, there's something that kicked in within me, I don't know what, but I just fell in love with it. Because I knew the power, power of strengths. I just felt that this is what people should know early in their life. And so, like you rightly said, because I was so convinced about what strengths was offering, I really took it, took it on to sort of, you know, brand it, market it, push it in the, in the organization that I was working for.

John K John 3:50
And more than that, more than that, you know, just to, just to tell you what I did immediately, the minute I got certified, the very first thing that I did was to change my email address. I got from my Top 5 onto my email there and I said, This is who I am. And that, I thought, was significant because I was telling the world, Hey, if you want to know a little bit more about me, you got to know what my talents are. You got to know what my strengths are. So I did that, and you, you won't believe it. That very email going out to people -- everybody started coming back to me and asking, "John, what's something special that we see under your signature?" That was a conversation starter by itself, because I didn't expect people to sort of come back immediately on an email asking what that was. But I really saw people coming back and asking me those questions.

John K John 4:39
So just to let you know what my Top 5 are, I, I keep a kind of an acronym so that I don't forget it for life. It is "PICEF" -- P-I-C-E-F. And P standing for Positivity, Ideation, Connectedness, Empathy, Futuristic. Those are my Top 5. And let me tell you, when I got the report, and I read it, one of the first questions I had was, Did Gallup speak to my dad, my mom, my wife, my kids? How did they get to know so much about me so well? I mean, they've gone to the minutest details of who I am. Did they really do that? That's when I understood the power of the assessment, the power of 177 questions. You answered it with your hand on your heart, you would get a genuine report. And for me, when I read that report, I said, "Wow!" I knew I had these but to get an assessment tell me that the, these are my talents and my strengths, I was really excited to take it to the next level, DD.

Deepanjan Deb 5:45
Thank you, John, and in fact, to many of our viewers who are listening and who will be listening to this in the later, at a later point of time, John has been a, you know, a speaker for Gallup, in many of our, you know, conferences across, across the country. And one of the things that, John, we would like to speak today about is, is not just your work in the corporate space but also in general, how have you seen the application of this science with young, young students, young, young people? I know you have also been involved in some, some social work with churches and other areas of, you know, social intervention. So you can, you can, you can also share your experience.

CliftonStrengths: YOUnique Among Assessments

Deepanjan Deb 6:36
But, but let me start with a very basic question. You, you have gone through many, you know, many, I would say, assessments, many kinds of interventions, as a practitioner of behavioral sciences. What differentiates the StrengthsFinder from others? And where does, you know, you know, positive psychology creep in as a differentiator?

John K John 7:02
Yeah, great question. And, you see, that's exactly what got me excited, you know. What strengths does as an assessment, it tells you how unique you are from everybody else, you know. That, I think, was the biggest attraction for me, because every other assessment that I possibly did before that will probably tell you that you are similar to somebody else in the population. I don't want to name the assessments, but you know what I'm referring to. You probably get a report which says you are possibly similar to the rest of the population, with a certain percentage. But this one, because it's a trait assessment and it because it goes down to the core DNA of who you are, it sort of throws out the uniqueness of who you are.

John K John 7:49
And that one word "uniqueness" was something that I fell in love with. And I don't pronounce uniqueness with a "U" -- with an alphabet "U" -- I actually have it as Y-O-U. Of course, I, it was not my creation; my ex-boss had it as one of his creative thoughts. But I love that, you know, "youniquely," with "you" right in front, Y-O-U in front of it. Why? Because this report is "younique" for you, "younique" for you. And I love those stats that I have from StrengthsFinder when you do the assessment and you do the certification, that when you get your Top 5, and if that Top 5 matches another person's Top 5 but not in the same order, you will still be two like 75,000 person on God's earth, in terms of the ratio, right? One is to two like at 75,000. Come on, you just can't get another person who has the same Top 5 as you. And so that's just brilliant. It is brilliant for me to understand.

John K John 8:44
So one of the biggest standouts for me was, in terms of strengths, was its unique reports to me, to me. And what I love is, for example, I don't think both of us share any particular talent. But even if we did, even if we did, for example, my No. 1 is Positivity. And if you had Positivity in your Top 5, your Positivity description and report will be completely different from mine. Why? Because it picks up your report to the balance 33 and, but then gives a personalized report for DD, while it does something for me very, very differently. So for me, that was a brilliant standard. And the kind of research that has gone in, the thought that has gone in to make it customized -- not a cut-and-paste, not a, not a cut-and-paste, I thought was just simply fabulous. That really stood out for me.

John K John 9:38
And, you know, when I read the report, I was so excited, because I knew I had it, but the words that were put against those talents just really got me excited even further. And so for me, that, that was it that really stood out, DD, and maybe I'll talk a little bit more as we go on, but just to answer your question, the aspect of trait versus type was a great standout.

Deepanjan Deb 10:06
Now, one of the things that actually stood out for me when I took it about 10 years back was the fact that I was coached by one of Gallup's seniormost coaches in my very early days. And I have a tendency to go back to the past. That's, that's, that's in me. And I kind of asked, "Can I, can I just remove this?" He said, "No, it's not possible." Now what it does, as you look at it from a deeper perspective, and you, as you start analyzing it and you start applying it -- of course, it comes with experience -- is the fact that if you are somebody, you accept that, right? Many a times we try to be somebody who we are not. And that's where, you know, we, we kind of do not get the anticipated result that we want. I'm using the word "result" in a very broader way.

Deepanjan Deb 11:03
So what StrengthsFinder does, it brings in acceptance to the fact that this is who you are, you brought in trait, this is who you are as a person; accept it, right. So when you look at it, things from that, a scientific way that, you know, you are aware that you're, when you had not, when I had not taken the assessment or for, you know, if somebody has not taken the assessment, they would have been doing certain things subconsciously, right. Now, I know that this is who I am, in my natural state. So your perspective of things, doing things changes, and I know what I need to do. And I also know what I don't need to do, right? Because that's what is not natural to me.

Deepanjan Deb 11:52
So keeping this whole broad, you know, keeping this whole thing in as a, as a concept, where do you think, in your work, since the last time we spoke, you know, you spoke with Gallup, have you seen this change in, with the people that you have interacted with professionally, within Reliance? And what are the changes that you could see people, you know, after they've taken the assessment and start applying? If you could share some, some of, some of, some of your, you know, corporate experience?

John K John 12:25
Yeah, sure. You know, DD, I think I did share one of the emails with you lately, in terms of a, kind of a testimony of somebody who took the assessment lately. Now this guy is a doctor; he's a, he's a medical doc, right? And he was struggling in terms of getting, and he was a professor, he was a teacher in a college down south in Tamil Nadu. He was enjoying his job. But he was just struggling with this question, saying, I don't think I am in the center of what I'm supposed to be doing. He had this question looming large. I'm doing teaching. I love teaching. I love being with students and all of that. But somehow he didn't have that kind of overall satisfaction of what he was doing. And he's a medical doc as well.

John K John 13:13
And so he reached out to me, and I started talking to him. And I said, "I think you should do the strengths; you got to do the assessment." And he said, "OK, I'll do the assessment." And he picked up the book. He got the assessment done. And then I took him through the report, coached him in terms of what the report really looks like, and, and left it at that. And believe it, DD, what happened was this guy then looked at it and said, "I think I know where I need to head. I need to go in the direction of my strengths." And he started working those areas. And, and what he did was he moved out from teaching in the university to really look at options in the learning and development space within organizations, with the domain of medical being his background. And sooner or later, he got an offer. And today, he writes to me, saying, John, I really thank you for taking me into the world of strengths, because that changed my life. That changed my life.

John K John 14:11
Now, if you get testimonies like that, you know, all that I did was to point him to an assessment and said, "Let's do it. Let's see what comes out, and then leave the rest to where it sort of takes you." That is a great testimony by itself. Now, that is, that's a stand-alone. But let me go back to, let me go back to people who work with me. You know, one of the things that I did in 2014-15, the minute I finished my assessment, I got all of my team members to do the assessment themselves. I said, "You got to do it, you know. It's an investment for life, but you will never regret it. Go ahead and take it." And so they went and took it, and then I sat with every one of them, individually, gave them time. And you know, DD, what's the best thing that I enjoyed, you know, the question that I really enjoyed asking them? "What did you feel when you read your report?" And I'll just pause to see their expression. "What did you feel when you read the report?" And let me tell you, 100 out of 100 times -- 100 out of 100 times -- everybody said, "I am not surprised. Nothing surprised me; this is exactly who I am, and I can't believe that a report can actually say so much about who I am." Right?

John K John 15:24
Almost 100%; there were a few people who said, "You know, I'm surprised by this being there in my Top 5; I didn't expect that to be there." But otherwise, every one of them who I sort of coached or sat down in a discussion was so excited reading that, saying, "That is what it is, right? I can't believe that it's so true about who I am," right. Just to see the excitement on their face, I thought it was only me, but everybody that I coached also felt the same way. So for me, I think that tells a lot about the assessment. So the assessment can throw who you are, to a point that the person reads the report and says, "This is exactly who I am. And they've got it 100% right." That, I think, is just phenomenal.

Deepanjan Deb 16:10
Absolutely. You've kind of hit the nail on the head. Before we move on to the next set of questions, you know, going deeper into the application, I'd like to bring in Jim. You know, Jim and John have, have known each other for a long time. So, Jim, any first question from your end to John?

Strengths: Key to Transformation of Organizations, People

Jim Collison 16:30
Yeah, John, the last time we chatted, you know, you, you kind of mentioned you, at work you took it and said, "Hey, everybody needs to do this." We talked a little bit about getting executive buy-in. From a corporate culture standpoint, in the years since 2015, since we've had you, you know, 7 years ago, what have you learned in that corporate space? What advice would you give to John K John, from, from 2015, in those days? What advice would you give to yourself, now that you know what you know, especially in the corporate space?

John K John 17:05
Yeah, Jim, I, I somehow feel that people haven't really bitten the bullet yet. I don't know what is stopping them from biting the bullet. Because for me, the key buzzword in the corporate world is transformation. Right? We're all talking transforming -- we need to transform our company, we need to transform our resources, processes. Let me tell you, what I've understood in the last 7 years, transformation, if it has to be successful, has to happen at a mind level. If you hit the mind and get the mind and you get the buy-in of your people, transformation just happens. And I've seen this over and over again. And that's exactly what strengths can do. Because once you hit the mind, and you believe that this is who you are, and you need to work in your area of talent or strengths, then nobody needs to tell you what you need to do, because you will just roll into that, because you've bought into the idea that you will perform best in your area of strength, right?

John K John 18:02
That's exactly what I've been telling the corporate world: You have to give a chance for this to survive, rather, as a culture to live by. And so I somehow feel that there is a buy-in, but not as much as I would have loved, you know. One day, you know, I just feel that I need to throw up everything and say, "I'm gonna sell this to the world, you know, I'm going to be independent. I'm going to just, I'm going to go every corporation and tell, 'You got to try this,'" right. But I'm sort of reminded of Louis Gerstner, who wrote that book, Who Says Elephants Can't Dance? And when I read that book, I said, you know that, that was a time when I didn't know anything about straights. But you know, Louis Gerstner had that conviction in his mind that he can turn around a big white elephant called the IBM around, back into what it should be.

John K John 18:53
And he did nothing great. He just, in his book, he says, I just asked 3 simple questions. The first question was, "What are we doing right?" Second question is, "What should we continue to do?" And the third question is, "What should we stop doing?" Is that not what we do in our talents and strengths? That's exactly what we need to know. What do I do right? Right. If I get to know what I do right, and I focus on doing that well, I am bound to move into the, my areas of success.

John K John 19:21
And so I've seen this in the corporate world, you know, where everybody talks transformation, but transformation happens at the mind level. You capture the mind, you get the people hooked on to the idea and the vision and the mission, and then people will just follow. So if you can get that at that level, and some, some CEOs get it right; some CEOs want to test it out to see whether it's right; and some senior leaders are a little skeptical: "What do you mean by talents and strengths? What about weaknesses?" That's the biggest question that they have: What about weaknesses? I mean, everybody's focusing on building weaknesses, to make it your strengths. But I've seen it, I've seen it in my own life: You focus on your strengths, you propel your way to success, you know. And then, you know, make sure that you, you, you cover your weaknesses with, you know, people that you can partner with or tools that can help you actually overcome your areas of challenge.

CliftonStrengths: Source of Hope, Conviction, Confidence

Jim Collison 20:21
John, in the corporate space, of course, we're struggling, you know, and I, dare I say, post-pandemic, I don't think we're all the way through it, but we're, we're, you know, we're 2 years-plus, right, from this. As you, as you look ahead in your coaching space, and we're in a space I want to call recovery, right? We're just trying to figure out how we're going to recover from this, this massive disruption. Where do you think coaches, and, and what kind of role do you see in that going forward that may have been different than 2018, 2019? Can you talk a little bit about that?

John K John 21:00
I think that's a great question, Jim. I think the biggest word is "hope." I have not seen any other assessment that gives hope to people, when you read it. I don't know, I may be wrong; I may be totally biased towards strengths. But I have yet to hear people say, "When I read this report, this report gave me hope." And I can tell you, in my own personal life, when I got to reading my own report, I was not only filled with hope, but I was also filled with conviction and confidence.

John K John 21:32
Let me tell you my own personal example. 2015, we were going through a transformation within the organization. And there were jobs up for grabs for you to apply and, you know, scale up if you want to. And I did apply. And I had to face an interview, because you don't get into the next role without facing an interview. And unlike all interviews, the very first question was, "John, welcome. Thank you for taking your time. Tell me something about yourself. And what do you think are your strengths?" What do you think I was going to do? I was just out of a strengths certification program. It just came exactly at the right time. The confidence I had in that interview, I wish I had that recorded, Jim and DD. You won't believe the kind of confidence I had when I was facing a panel of five, six people asking me questions. Right. That's what happens when you, when you believe and when you're convinced that this is who you are, right.

John K John 22:30
And the other thing is this whole concept of hope. If the world needs something, today, it is that word called "hope." We are living in hopeless times. We don't have hope -- hope for the future. Everything is looking bleak with all that is going around us. But if you have hope in yourself, in who you are and what you're capable of doing, let me tell you, the world is a much better place to live in. So for me, that, I think, was the biggest things that I've seen in my own life and with regards to the assessment.

Jim Collison 23:01
That's great. DD, I'll, I'll send it back to you.

The Role of Managers in Building a Strengths-Based Culture

Deepanjan Deb 23:04
Thank you, Jim. And, you know, thanks for those brilliant questions. You know, I'll just take from where you asked, you know, one of Gallup's prime research findings over the last few years has been that employees in organizations are now starting to look towards their bosses less as managers and more as coaches or mentors. And as you look at the application of the StrengthsFinder in organizations, John, for this to be successful as an, as an initiative, you need your managers to be empowered as, not as Certified Coaches, but as, to act as coaches. Because at the end of the day, you look at organizations as composition of certain teams, right?

Deepanjan Deb 24:00
If you look at, for example, just look, take it from a very simplistic point of view and assume that your organization has 100 people. But 100 people is composed of, say, 15 teams. At the end of the day, when you look at it from a very simplistic perspective, your success depends on the success of these 15 teams individually. Right. It's, it's, it's as simple as a sports concept. You have 15 teams, and they, these 15 teams need to just hit their targets or, you know, achieve their goals or perform to the best of their ability. And the captain of the ship of each of these 15 teams is the manager or the coach. When we look at sports, you know, I keep on saying, I keep on bringing sports because that's the, that's the best form of reality TV, right, you can't escape.

Deepanjan Deb 25:01
Paddy Upton, who was India's performance coach in the 2011 World Cup, wrote a lovely book known as The Barefoot Coach, where he talked about how he implemented Gallup's strengths philosophy and inspired the players to perform to the best of their ability. When you talk about that, and when you look at those composition of teams, the managers play such a critical role. From, from your experience of having implemented this within the Reliance at, at, at a scale that you did, what do you think the managers have played a role? And what do you think, going in the future, in the, the managers will play a role in ensuring this to be successfully implemented as a culture within organizations?

John K John 25:45
Again, a great question. Permit me to go a few years into my experience, DD, for this question, right. I'll talk about a time when I was working for a manager, and his primary goal in life was to ensure that his people reporting to him would stay in a state of fear, unbelief, insecurity every single working day of his life, as long as we worked with him, right. And I worked for him maybe a little over a year. And after that, it just became so difficult that I decided to resign and said, "I don't know what I'm going to do tomorrow, but I can't work with this guy." And I put on my papers and walked off. Right?

John K John 26:33
Fast forward there to the next manager that I worked with, who exactly knew what my strengths were, leveraged my strengths, got me to work in my area of my strengths to the best of my ability. And I worked with him for 10 long years. And those 10 long years have been the most productive, the most brilliant, the most enriching, the most challenging, the most productive time of my life when it comes to working in the corporate world, in two different companies, right? One was in HCL, and then after that in Reliance. And then this manager leaves, and then another manager comes. And what happens was -- I don't want to blame the manager -- but the role changed to a point where they decided that let's change the role of John and give him a role which he should not, he should be doing, which is not in his areas of strength. All right? And there again, there was a struggle.

John K John 27:31
Why am I saying that? Because you see, like you rightly said, and what the Gallup research is just bang on, the make or break of a culture in an organization rests with the manager or the leader, right? You don't get that manager onto your side with this philosophy or with this culture of building and working around area of your talents or strengths, you're not going to move much, when it comes to moving the needle. All right? If the managers understand this one single concept, right, that my people working under me have unique talents and unique strengths, and they can perform their best when they are put in those areas, let me tell you, you will break every productivity chart that you want to lay in front of you and say, This is what it is. And you will also have the kind of engagement that you really want to have.

John K John 28:24
And I've seen this myself in my team. When I give jobs based on their talents and strengths, they just outperform everybody else. Everybody else. I mean, I normally humorously say that, you know, if you want to kill me, give me an Excel sheet and ask me to work on an Excel sheet for the rest of the, rest of my life. You will soon have to do an autopsy. I just can't sit and work on an Excel file. I need to meet people; I need to engage with people; I need to talk to people; I need to relate with people. That's where my strength is. Now, if you box me in and say, "No, John, that is not your role. But I want you to do this." Well, I can do it. But I'm not going to do as well as what comes naturally to me. Right? For me, I've understood what it is, and I've seen this -- that for me, naturally, there are some things that come, even if you will wake me up in the middle of the night and say, "John, do it," I will do it because it comes naturally to me. And that's not just for John; it is for every human being on this planet Earth.

John K John 29:24
So if I'm a manager of 5 people, I need to know that every one of them is distinctly different. And what they bring to the table is also going to be distinctly different. And so let me leverage what they bring to the table. If I as a manager get to know that, I'm telling you, you've got it all covered. I don't see why managers find it difficult to understand this philosophy. Why do they not go into this route of taking this journey? Well, obviously, not every job is something that everybody will be comfortable doing. But can you leverage them in the space where they have their talents and where they have their strengths? Right?

John K John 30:01
I'll give you one more example DD, from, from real life. There's a, there's a guy who works in the system, he loves to train. He loves to train. You tell him, "Train, facilitate," every single day of his life, he will do it, including Sundays. You tell him, "Do it" on a Sunday, he will do it on a Sunday. He just gets his energy by standing in front of people and sharing insights of things that he knows, right? You take that guy out and say, "No, no, no, you're not going to do that; I want you to do something else, and I want you to not focus on, on facilitating." Let me tell you, the guy's gonna quit; the guy is gonna be unproductive. Why? Because his energy comes from doing what he best can do. Right. But that doesn't mean that he can't do this. But you need to work out a balance; you got to work out a ratio, that you don't disengage the person from where he or she gets the energy from. I need to have the energy to go through my, my career, my day at work. If you sap that energy of the person, and you ask them to contribute in an area which is not their strength, they will find it difficult.

John K John 31:14
So as a manager, if I know that this is what the person is best doing at, I would push and leverage that to the best of my ability. Because he's going to be happy; I'm going to get results, me as a manager. It's a win-win situation for both of us. Right?

Deepanjan Deb 31:30

John K John 31:30
And so, and that is what I would love to do as a manager.

Managing Team Strengths

Deepanjan Deb 31:35
And, you know, just extending this, this whole point around how each manager is being able to maximize not only his or her performance, but also, you know, the cumulative output of the team, one thing that, you know, the -- assessment or no assessment, let's just forget for a second the whole concept of assessment and just say that, when each individual is performing to the best of his or her ability, the team wins at the end of the day, right.

Deepanjan Deb 32:03
Now, the whole point is that the, what the StrengthsFinder does is that it gives you a team report also. It tells you that this is the team that you will comple-, that's how complementary partnerships are done. So for example, each, like you said, right, humorously bringing in the concept of autopsy for when you don't like it. You, you like people; you like to speak with people; you like to engage with you, because that's where you get your energy from. There are people who I know who, who, who derive all their energy from data. They can spend nights without sleeping on the data. That's what, that's what gives them the kick that you've talked about. Now, if you look at a team who has, which has 3 or 4 people, suppose, the kick for each of these people will be different to their uniqueness.

John K John 32:55

Deepanjan Deb 32:56
And that, one, is that they need to know, as individuals; members of the team needs to know as, as a group; and the manager needs to know as the head of the group. That is when you create a composite structure that is functioning at the highest level of their natural efficiency.

John K John 33:16
That's right. I just wanted to share the, this beautiful report that strengths has, you know, which is your strengths domain. Right? You have your Top 5, which is fantastic by itself. But how do you work in a team environment? How do you work in a team environment? That, that was just revelation, a lot of revelation in that, in the sense that when I come into a team environment, I may have a strengths domain in either Executing, Influencing, Relationship Building or Strategic Thinking, right? Now, if I get to know, as a manager, that these are my strengths domains from the 5 or 6 people who are working with me, and there are 2 of them who are in Executing, right? Unless I'm a lousy manager or dumb manager, I would not put their, put these two guys on Executing tasks and Executing projects, right? I know they will deliver results, right? You give them a task, they will get things done. And that's what I need to leverage there.

John K John 34:17
But there may be somebody else in the team who has the power to Influence through communicating, right, who can take an idea and go to customers and stakeholders and present the idea and say, "This is what our team is planning to do. Right? Would you be interested? What do you think would be the challenges?" This person has the Influencing capacity as a strength. A third person in the team could be somebody who brings all of the team members together in terms of building relationships and gets that glue together of binding relationships and holding the relationships together. And one person in the team has the ability to not look at yesterday, not look at today but has the ability to look into the future and says, "Manager I think we are going in the wrong track when it comes to this project, because I see there's a problem. I see there's an issue. I see that we're not hitting what we should, considering the context that we are in." He's able to look into the future.

John K John 35:10
Now look at what they, what they bring to the table, when you leverage them based on their strengths domains. This is incredible. Now that is what managers get to see. And that is what I think managers should leverage. Because what happens at that point of time is you're then picking on the uniqueness of every person in the team. They'll be happy that they're contributing. You will be happy that you're getting great contributions uniquely from everybody. And like you rightly said, it's ultimately going to be a win-win for everybody.

Deepanjan Deb 35:39
Absolutely. You know, before we move into, you know, you know, a very important section that we want to speak today, which is with respect to the students or the young adults, my last question with respect to this is the fact that we're hearing all about, you know, as you mentioned, the times are not what it should be, and The Great Resignation and all of those people moving around here and there. You know, with so much of turmoil around, you know, don't you think that the strengths philosophy brings in a sense of inner calmness around what you need to do, what you should do, are you in the right job? Are you in the right role? Do you need to move only for money, or whatever, you know? Where does strengths come into this, into the picture in, in these turbulent times?

John K John 36:30
Yeah, again, I'll go back to that one word, "hope," DD. That is what strengths gives each one of us: the hope and confidence in who you are and what you bring to the table. All right. Whatever happens in your life, whatever is your issue in life, and whatever that you go through in life, you know, I mean, we're going to go through the peaks and the valleys; we're going to have mountains and valleys in our life. But if you believe in who you are and what you have as a person, that I believe is the greatest thing that one can have in your, in life. It doesn't matter what others think; it doesn't matter what others say about you, but you believe in yourself, right? This is who I am. Right? That's point No. 1.

John K John 37:18
Point No. 2 is this whole thing about focus and confidence in you, and the word "hope" as well. What it gives you very clearly is, it gives you that kind of focusing, This is what you should be doing and you should be focusing in life. You don't want to try this, that and the other. Because you know that this, that and the other -- 3 things in that -- is not your strength, is not your strength, it's not your talent. But there's one thing is the one that I want to chase after. It gives you that kind of clarity, right? You got to go after this one thing, right. And I think today's world, they're trying this, that and the other. They're just juggling with things. You know, "If it works, it works; if it doesn't work, it doesn't work. You know, I'll just take the risk of trying it out." You don't need to take the risk, friends; you just need to know what you are cut out to do. And it tells you that this comes naturally, doesn't come naturally. The one that doesn't come naturally, drop off. What comes naturally, focus on that and move in that direction, because that will promise you relatively great success.

Deepanjan Deb 38:27
Absolutely, and just, just to the point of risk, and, you know, you take risks in areas that you are good at.

John K John 38:33
That's right.

Deepanjan Deb 38:34
You cannot take a blind risk in things and, you know, toss, you know, you know, play with options in life without having a composite, you know, concrete command over, over those options. And that is what, you know, the whole philosophy of StrengthsFinder goes into and from wherein I move into the, you know, a very important section, you know, that I, personally, am a lot, you know, passionate about is the, is the whole application with the student fraternity. And you know, one of the things is that the earlier you become self-aware in life, the better it is for you to make a lot of decisions, you know, which is why the StrengthsFinder is extremely powerful for students, you know. And this is where I'll bring Jim, you know, Jim, to, to start off, you know, your experience of having seen the StrengthsFinder student community, you know, blossom over the last so many years, you know, in the United States. Your, your thoughts, as well as your question to Jim, to John, who has also significantly, you know, worked in this space for students.

CliftonStrengths Gives Students Direction, Hope Too

Jim Collison 39:38
Yeah, John, actually, I want to ask you this question first, to kind of lead off with it. What, how are you seeing students feeling today? You're working with them. I've been on college campuses over the last 2 years. I just did a session with a group of students, and I told them I used to, I used to, when you could complain to me about how hard it was being a student, I'd be like, "You don't have it any harder than anybody else!" This year's class that I went in, I said, "You guys have it bad! I'm not gonna lie. It's hard. You're have, you're going through a really difficult time." How are you feeling about students right now? And of course, I think what you said, you know, strengths can give hope to them in this. But give us an idea. What are you seeing with the students that you're working with? And how is this, how's the last 2 years been affecting them in the ones you've been working with?

John K John 40:26
Yeah. So of the 100+ people that I've coached in the last 1 or 2 years, I think half of them would be students; 50% of it would be students, right. And I just love doing it with them, because it sort of gives them that kind of direction that they're desperately looking for. And the other word that strengths offers people is direction. And I used a word called focus, you know, because students want, want to know what to focus on, what direction should I take my life towards? Right? There's so many options. I can do this, I can do that. I have a feeling that I think this would be the place that I should be doing something.

John K John 41:12
But this gives you that kind of focus, the student community should sort of grab the opportunity of taking this and saying, Yes, it gives me direction; it gives me that kind of focus. And if you catch them early and give them that sense of direction and focus and hope early in life, I think they will do much better in their life altogether. Because that's, that's what I've seen in young people, right, in my coaching with them. They come to me disillusioned, they come to me really not sure what life has in store for them. And then they do the assessment. And the first thing that they get out of the assessment is "Wow! This is really who I am." And two, "Well, I think I'm getting some sense of direction in terms of where I want to go." And that, that seems to be coming in every conversation that I have students.

Jim Collison 42:04
Yeah, that's, it's a really good insight. And I think one of the areas I've seen with that, and this pairs right into it, is in this idea of helping them with team formations and this idea where they have to, for the first time ever, they're working on real teams. Like they've been put, you know, I work with a lot of software students, and they, seems like those classes always want to group those software students together for some kind of project. And so we're seeing it help in that area of relationship building, right, of how to know how the other team is going to respond to things and how to get the most out of the team. Are you seeing anything similar to that, where it's helping the interpersonal skills and helping them with their, with their, you know, their other skills?

John K John 42:47
Yeah, it's more, it's more interpersonal at the moment, because I haven't taken it yet to a big level to the schools or colleges, though that's my desire -- that schools and colleges would indeed buy this and invest into their students, you know, early in life. And I hope to do it at that, at one point of time, hopefully sooner. But right now, it's one-on-one coaching. I've seen it more interpersonal, I've seen it --

John K John 43:11
I'll give you an example of one particular boy, who I coached recently, was very clear in terms of what he wanted to do. But he had two choices in his head, right, this or that, right. And then we did the strengths. And at the end of it, you know, he was so excited that he had that kind of clarity, in terms of what he wanted to do primarily because the domain that came strong for him was under the Relationship Building Domain, right. And one of the streams that he wanted to take as a career was a solo player. I mean, he had to do it solo, so it just did speak into that report. So he got that kind of clarity, saying, If I want to be doing good in my life, I need to be taking something that will help me relate with people one another. And so that clarity is what students get when, when you, when you take the assessment. And so that's what came through.

Jim Collison 44:06
Yeah, no, I love that. We, in some of the environments I've been working with students, we take that Q3 question out of our Q12, "I get the opportunity to do what I do best every day." And then we pass that back to them on their teams and say, we use the "I bring, I need" statements as they're doing group sessions, to say, Hey, if I'm going to be on this team, I need these things. But I bring these things, right, and they begin to, with a team charter, they begin to document those, really document those pieces. It was pretty exciting, I was on campus just a couple of weeks ago teaching a leadership class, and two students came up to me bright-eyed because I couldn't see their face; we still had masks on that point. Bright eyed and were super excited because they had, they had been offered an internship from Gallup. And they were coming, they were coming to campus this summer. They were super excited.

Emerging Entrepreneurship Among the Young in India

Jim Collison 45:03
John, as you were mentioning "hope," that, that was the picture of hope I was seeing. These students were excited to be coming on campus, excited to be working with us, but had really been lined up -- strengths in a job, in a role I think they could do well. Do you get to see some of that with the students that you're, that you're coaching?

John K John 45:23
Yeah, what I'm seeing, Jim is -- let me talk from a country perspective -- I think India is at the cusp of seeing an entrepreneurial explosion, if I can use that word. You know, we are positioned to see a lot of young people not wanting to work for somebody but to work themselves and to own companies and to drive ideas and become entrepreneurs. And what better thing can someone offer than strengths and, of course, BP10, right? It is something that, it is, it is huge for people to know, What are my talents? What are my strengths, if I have to start something on my own, if I want to drive something on my own? I want to be my own boss. I don't want to work for somebody, but I want to be my own boss. I have a great idea. And I want to run this myself.

John K John 45:57
You know, then you need to know what you bring to the table. And if you know what you bring to the table, you need to know what your partners are bringing to the table, right? Because you need to work together; you need to blend together. You can't afford to have two of the same kind, because you will then soon have divergent views on the same thing. So when you bring those diverse people together, and each one knowing what they are bringing to the table, that's when you really get to see things very differently. So for me, I'm really excited to see how young people today in India are thinking to run businesses on their own. They're not thinking of working for somebody else; I want to start something on my own. I want to get it to, you know, my own business. And that, I think, is a huge opportunity for us to position both strengths and BP10 at some point of time in their life, and the earlier they do it, the better for them.

Jim Collison 47:10
Love that, because they we're gonna need it. The world's gonna need some, for some folks to start businesses, right. We've got some recovery to do. DD, I'll pass it back to you.

Deepanjan Deb 47:19
Thank you, thank you, Jim and John, you know, tremendous insights from both of you. John, one of the, one of the things that, when we talk about the StrengthsFinder on students, and we tend to give the example -- and this is just simple human psychology. You know, as parents, when they look at the report card of their kids, the, the higher 90s are not looked at. Suppose if somebody has 95+ in, in math, physics or whatever, chemistry, but has say 75 in English. The first eye goes into that, right? We do not tend to, and that is where, you know, years ago the whole philosophy of the StrengthsFinder came in. You know, what happens when you start thinking with what is right with you vis a vis what is wrong with you. Now, if -- one portion of this whole discussion is certain things which are trainable, certain things which are not trainable. Ones which, which is what we call as, you know, skills and talents. If I am good at English, and if math doesn't come naturally to me, I do not need to focus on math. I need to manage my math.

John K John 48:42

Deepanjan Deb 48:44
Because you create greatness; you create maximization of your ability when you work in the area of natural talents. I studied for one of India's -- and I'm on air, I'm aware of it -- I studied for one of India's top engineering colleges. But I still believe that perhaps I shouldn't have studied engineering, because that doesn't come naturally to me. Because of a basic level of IQ, I could clear the exams and I could, you know, even, but eventually I landed up where I should. Now when you look at it from a perspective or why I say this because I have the, I have the courage to accept the fact that perhaps science doesn't naturally, you know, exactly. I might clear an exam or I might clear an eventual, I might, you know, clear exams, but clearing exams is not equivalent to what you like and what you can keep on doing every day in your life. You do not want to get up in the morning to do that. Right?

Deepanjan Deb 49:47
So, and what is your advice to parents when they see this phenomenon in students? Because this is very, very important, especially in India, where, you know, we eventually land where we have to, but most of the times, we try to be, you know, doing things where we are part of the whole ecosystem that we fall in. And that's, that's no fault of anyone. It's just the system that it is. But when you try to do, when, when, when the student or the parent realizes that this child is different in a way that not it could be part of the mass, but it is what he or she is good at, that is when you break barriers; that is when you create champions, right?

John K John 50:34
Right. Correct. DD, I'm glad that you asked this question, because I'm going to give you a case right out of my own home. OK. I've got 3 children. My youngest, she was actually doing B.Com. in a college year. And, and she was pretty, pretty OK with B.Com. She was doing commerce pretty all right. But with the pandemic, the whole thing went online. And when it went online, you can imagine, it just dropped every bit of energy from every student. I mean, first of all, you had your cameras off, and you were doing everything else other than listening to the professor. Right? And there was no connect, and they were doing what they wanted to do. So she ended up asking this question: Is B.Com. the one that I want to pursue?

John K John 51:23
And she comes to me one day and says, "Dad, I want to drop off college, because I don't think B.Com. is the one that I want to do." And I was shocked. I said, "But I thought you, you were the one who took B.Com.; you wanted to do B.Com., and you got an admission for B.Com., and you were doing relatively well in your scores for the many subjects that they're teaching you." But she looked at me and said, "No, I'm not, I'm not enjoying the course." And I knew there was a problem straightaway. But then I knew what, I mean, because she's my child, I knew exactly what she was really good at, you know. You give Suzanne a piece of paper, just a plain piece of paper, you know, in a few hours, you will either get a wonderful sketch on it, or you will get a beautiful design of something that she could do with that piece of paper. That is what a strength is. I mean, she's just brilliant when it comes to doing things, when it comes to creativity and stuff like that, and she's visually very good. And she's very artistic. And she's very musical. Now I know that, that that is who she is.

John K John 52:28
And so we had this conversation. We got her do the assessment. And it very clearly comes out that visual communication, visual communication, arts and musical ability is her top interest in life, right? Now it's straight out of my own home, right? And so as a dad, what do I do? Do I push her to complete her B.Com.? No. I would want her to be happy in the area which comes naturally to her, and blossom in that area and flourish in that area because I know she will do well in the area of her giftedness and talents. Right? This is from my own home, DD. So it's a, it's a brilliant question. We didn't really chat about this earlier, but this is what is happening as we speak. After this, I go in for a conversation with her to find out what she has to do next.

Deepanjan Deb 53:19
Lovely, we have a, Jim, I'm sure you would have a few questions from the, from the chat room, you know, for the people who have been watching this. So --

Living Out Your Life's Purpose as Revealed in Your Strengths

Jim Collison 53:27
Yeah, let me bring those in, John. Just, well, before I do, I'm in the exact same situation you are, by the way. I have a daughter in the middle of school, and we're trying to figure those things out too. And so as a dad, as a strengths-based dad, I'm trying to, right, I'm trying to figure out those things of where to push, where to pull, how much support to give and how much to let her discover. And that's kind of the art of being a coach, right, is kind of figuring those out. Lisa, as we just have a few minutes left here, Lisa had asked this question, and I thought this was a good one to kind of bring us in for a landing: What are you learning now? I mean, what are you finding, as you think about the next year or two for yourself, John, on this, where's that leading you? And, and what are you hoping to learn?

John K John 54:15
My fundamental question is, Am I using, am I living to my purpose? Can I impact the world a little more than what I'm doing right now? Am I happy with the impact that I'm doing in the, in the current ecosystem, or can I do more? Because I believe, I believe each one of us, and that's why I love the book, the one on BP10 on, on the builder concept, right? I believe all of us were created to build something. My question is, Am I building what I'm created for? That's my biggest question right now: Am I building what I'm created for? And that's my fundamental question. So my heart is to invest in young people, get them to know their strengths early, get them to know their talents early, get them to give the kind of direction and hope in a world which is tough, so that they can succeed and they can do well in life. And I want to be that support. I want to be available to coach and mentor young people who are looking for answers in a tough world. And there is some material out here; let's just share it with the world, so that the world becomes a much better place to live in. So that's basically where I am, Jim.

Jim Collison 55:25
I love that you're sensing this entrepreneurial spirit's coming, and you're ready for it. Like, when, when you talk about it, I hear this excitement, this genuine -- not like, "Oh, I don't know what we're gonna do." But almost like, "Man, I can't wait for this to happen!" Right? I think you're on the edge of it, which is great. Lisa asks one more question: For you, who are your strongest partners? Who do you rely on when, when, in your roles and in your coaching? Who are your strongest partners?

The Value of Listening to What You Don't Want to Hear

John K John 55:56
So every, every Wednesday, I have an accountability call with my mentor. It runs for half an hour to 45 minutes to 1 hour. Now he's also strengths, he is also a strengths-based coach. So you can imagine our conversations. He understands exactly what I'm going through, and he basically will tell you what you need to do as well. But he's also a person who will tell you what you don't want to hear. You know, I think that's the biggest thing that I love. You know, there are a lot of people who will tell you what you want to hear. But you need to hear what you don't want to hear as well. When you get a coach or a mentor like that, then I think you have somebody good. You know, and so, one of my partners is that. And of course, other, right now it's solo; I haven't thought of any partnership at the moment. But going forward, if there is somebody who wants to partner with me who are like-minded, I will pick up those people. Like-minded people who want to invest in young people, invest in the future of India, invest in building strengths of people; those would be my partners for the future.

Jim Collison 56:59
That's great. My hope is running high for India right now, just as I hear you, just as I, you're gonna change the whole country, John. So I appreciate that. DD, let's take a minute and thank John for his time here. And I'll let you, you guys wrap this with any final thoughts, and then I'll close it.

Deepanjan Deb 57:14
I think this has been one of my best experiences of, you know, you know, hosting someone who has been so deeply ingrained in, you know, in the, in the application of the StrengthsFinder, both at the corporate level as well as with students. And, you know, John has been kind of one of Gallup's great brand ambassadors, you know, you know, for us. So genuine thanks, John, to you from the, you know, core of my heart and, you know, look forward to meeting you sometime, once things become normal, in person at a, at a future Gallup event. But, you know, thanks for all you do, you know, not just within Reliance, but also with so many sections of the society on making lives, their lives better.

John K John 57:56
Thank you, DD. I really, really enjoyed being here.

Jim Collison 57:59
John, thanks from me as well. And we shouldn't make it 7 years in between these again. Always great to catch up with you and, of course, seeing you on, on LinkedIn and those connections as well. It's so much easier to keep track of each other from afar these days. But John, thanks for your, your work and your words of wisdom. And we're excited. Keep us posted on this. I want to hear, and I want to come back in a couple years and hear this entrepreneurial spirit that's going on in India. So John, thanks for coming out. Appreciate it. With that, with that, we'll remind everyone to take full advantage of all the resources that we do have available. If you want to know more about the BP10, you can go to That's still out there; that assessment is available for you. If you want to get resources around strengths, go to, and we have a ton of resources available for you. If you have questions about coaching, master coaching, or you want to become a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach after this conversation -- you're like, "I want in! I want to be like John"; maybe that's the new slogan: "I want to be like John" -- you can send us an email: And of course, join us on any social platform by searching "CliftonStrengths." And if you're listening to this as a podcast or on YouTube, subscribe, so you never miss an episode. I want to thank you for joining us today. If you found this helpful, we'd ask that you'd share it. And with that, we'll say, Goodbye, everybody.

John K. John's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Positivity, Ideation, Connectedness, Empathy and Futuristic.

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