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Called to Coach
Nurturing Strengths Partnerships at El Rancho Middle School
Called to Coach

Nurturing Strengths Partnerships at El Rancho Middle School

Webcast Details

  • How can coaches help middle school students to know themselves?
  • When these students receive strengths coaching, what can they accomplish?
  • How can coaches overcome their own fear of failure in their coaching?

Gallup Called to Coach Webcast Series -- Season 10, Episode 16.

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

Doing the impossible -- Carol Anne McGuire has made a career of it. The Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach and middle school Librarian has encountered obstacles that would make many of us want to give up. But she learned some great life lessons on overcoming her fears as she taught a class of blind students. Since then, her and her students' too-good-to-be-true accomplishments have only grown, as she's introduced CliftonStrengths into the middle school setting. Anyone who has or works with children will profit from Carol Anne's wisdom, enthusiasm for kids, and moxie in this webcast.

It was impossible. That's what made it great. It should have been impossible. And these kids proved [to] me and everyone around them that you can't put limits on kids.

Carol Anne McGuire, 15:01

I'm 100% confident we would not have had those results had these kids not known their strengths, because they played to them. I mean, they played to their strengths in a way I have never seen middle school students play.

Carol Anne McGuire, 30:55

I would like to see a student-led conference on how to build your strengths as a teenager. I just think it's needed.

Carol Anne McGuire, 43:33

Jim Collison 0:00
I am Jim Collison, and this is Gallup's Called to Coach, recorded on March 25, 2022.

Meet Our Guest on This Episode

Jim Collison 0:18
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 jump in our chat room. We have a live chat room on our live page. There's just a link right above me there; it'll take you to the live page. Sign in with your Google account and join us in chat. If you're listening after the fact, you can always send us your questions or email: That's a great address for just about any question. Don't forget to subscribe to Called to Coach on your favorite podcast app and right there on YouTube over in the corner, so you never miss an episode. Carol Anne McGuire is my guest today. Carol Anne is a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach specializing in education and faith-based congregations. She has spoken nationally and internationally for companies such as Apple Discovery and Google, and is just an all-around great human; one of my favorite people to be with. Carol Anne's Top 5 is Achiever, Learner, Focus -- you're gonna see this big time, too -- Positivity and Woo. Carol Anne, welcome, welcome to Called to Coach!

Carol Anne McGuire 1:24
So glad to be here! I mean, I love this. I love talking to you. And we get to catch up. So it's great.

Jim Collison 1:32
I know. We have a great time. I got to spend some time with you a couple years back, when my son was down, was a Marine down there at Camp Pendleton, and we spent some time together. That's always great. But you've been a longtime coach; been certified since 2014. So that's, you know, that's 8 years coming up and a lot of water under the bridge. We want to, I want to spend the first few minutes -- before we kind of get into the work that you're currently doing with the school there, I'm going to spend the first few minutes with what you've learned in the last 8 years. And so if you were to, you know, you have an audience of Certified Coaches -- and some that aren't, but that's OK; they're coaching. They'll be -- they're future Certified Coaches. What kind of advice -- what is, what are some of the lessons learned here over the last, you know, the last 8 years?

Carol Anne McGuire 2:18
I have a lot of lessons learned, and most of them through failure, as most of my lessons are done. My lesson, my, probably my No. 1 lesson is really know who you are and who your, your people are. Right? So in the beginning, when I first started coaching, I was like, Can you coach a construction site? Sure! You want to coach CEOs? Yes, of course, I can! You know, I was coaching everyone that I could. And I quickly learned that CEOs and businesses -- they're not, I don't speak their language. And so you have to know who your people are because, see, you speak the same language. Because when they go off on a tangent, you can follow them there.

Carol Anne McGuire 2:59
So my people are educator -- influencers of children is who I love: parents, teachers, I love the kids. And I like faith-based communities. And that's kind of, through a lot of failing, navigated to those places. And now, like, I love big workshops, I love them; not so much, one-on-one coaching. And so you just, through the years, I just learned what I can say "Yes" to and what I can say, "No, no, but I have somebody that you would be great with," you know, be able to know where to put people. I think just knowing your people is probably my No. 1.

Jim Collison 3:42
And when you say you learned those through failure, it's really kind of, you tried a bunch of different, right, you just tried a bunch of different things.

Carol Anne McGuire 3:50
Yeah, not failure like I failed at them. But failure for me, like, that just wasn't my thing. It wasn't my, it wasn't where I felt strong. Where I, where I would talk to educators and I would walk out of there, and I'm like, Yeah, let's do this again! We can, I can just spin them right, one at a, one after another. Where you know, when I'm talking to CEOs, I would walk out and be like, Oh my gosh, I can't talk of our return on investment anymore. Like just you have to know your people.

Jim Collison 4:20
You're a, you're also a Gallup-licensed partner with us. We can, books and you've got some, you have some art hanging on my office wall, which, if I was in the office, I'd be looking at right now. Talk a little bit about that. What have you learned through doing kind of a strengths business, do you think?

Carol Anne McGuire 4:37
You know what? I love serving coaches. And I learned that. I learned that I like empowering coaches for what they do. So like if you're gonna do a big whatever, you know, I have coaches ask me all, I mean, I've had so many random requests, and those are the requests I love the most -- like something that stretches me, like I want a personalized bucket with their names on it. And so I'll make something like that. You know, I like when people give me random challenges to do for their clients, because that's what makes me, it makes me happy. So, and I've learned a lot -- and I'm a Learner, right? So I've learned how to use a lot of different tools, by the requests that coaches give me. And coaches give me the best, the best questions -- much better than somebody that just, "Hey, I like strengths. I want to buy a book." You know, they'll give me like a twist on it. And so I love it.

Jim Collison 5:32
Yeah. A challenge. You've never been one to shy away from a challenge. As I've known you, every time we, you know, something interesting comes up, I see the wheels spinning, and you're like, how could we do this? And, you know, you wrote a book, you made stickers, you had some art kind of thing. is your website. What do you think, what is in you? What, from, and maybe from, from a strengths perspective, what, what drives you in that? What's the driving force that keeps you moving forward and not afraid?

Carol Anne McGuire 6:08
I'm learning. So I'm, I'm in the process of learning new things. You know, I learned, I spent a year learning how to write a book. And then I learned how to do -- and, you know, then the second one was much easier. Now the third one is going to be much easier than that. You know, so it's like this process of learning how to do this. How do you make a mug? How do you? I don't know, I just, I love the -- it doesn't matter to me; the more random, the better. But I love --

Jim Collison 6:34
But not everybody's built that way. Like, you know, you've got this Achiever-Learner-Focus kind of --

Carol Anne McGuire 6:39
Yeah, that Learner-Focus is kind of a killer for me sometimes. I'm not gonna lie.

Jim Collison 6:44
But you stay on it, like, you get an idea, and then you're like, I'm gonna get this done. I'm gonna finish this out. I'm gonna drive this through to completion. Just get it done.

Carol Anne McGuire 6:54
Do -- it seems like they would be going in opposite directions, because you'd have Learner that's all over the place and Focus that's zoning in on something. For me, I focus on something and learn everything I possibly can about that one thing. So that's what it looks like for me.

Giving Middle School Kids Tools to Know Themselves

Jim Collison 7:10
Yeah, just for folks who didn't hear, and Catherine was asking this, Carol Anne's Top 5: Achiever, Learner, Focus, Positivity and Woo, my favorite theme -- just in case that wasn't clear. What do you think, well, let's talk about your current role. What are you current, what are you currently doing? What kind of role are you in now? And then we'll talk a little bit about the project that, that you're doing with --

Carol Anne McGuire 7:31
All right. So I am currently the librarian at a middle school in Anaheim, California. So when I came here, I was a coach first. And the principal had gone to a conference that I was teaching, and she said, you know, what do we need to do to get you at our school? And at the time I was traveling. My clients were in Miami and Albuquerque, and I'm in California. So every single week, I was on a plane. And she just asked the perfect question at the right time. And I was like, "I'm good. Like, I'm done staying in a, living out of a suitcase. I'll do whatever you want. What do you need?" She's like, "How about a librarian?" "OK, never done that before. But sure, I'm totally game.

Carol Anne McGuire 8:13
But here's the deal: I'm also a strengths coach. And I've written two books. I would, my third book, I would really like to focus on middle school students and say, What if, what if these kids really knew themselves -- if they really knew themselves in middle school, which is like the most awkward, weird time of a person's life? If you really knew who you were then, would you have to go find yourself later on?" I said, "So that's the premise of my book. If I can use the students and the staff and the parents as kind of my lab, I'll come do whatever you want." She's like, "Do the library." I'm like, "OK." So here I am. I'm the librarian. And I do strengths with the students, the staff, the parents, you know, whoever wants to listen, I'm good. I'm there. So that's what I do.

Jim Collison 9:02
Wait a minute. Libraries -- don't you have a library science degree? Do you have to, do you have to have a library? How --

Carol Anne McGuire 9:07
So, here's the, here's the fun fact: I did not when I first came here. But now the state of California says I do. So on top of all of the other things that I'm doing, I'm now a brand new grad student getting my library science degree.

Jim Collison 9:23
I like it. I like it, what, it, it gave you a kind of a opportunity, a unique opportunity. And I think this is one of the things sometimes we get so focused on what we think our path should be when all the opportunities around us are pinging. As long as I've known you, you've always had your, you know, we would say, had your head on a swivel, which is always looking around -- like what, what are, what are, what are, what's happening around me? What can I, what other paths do I need, do I need to be sensitive to or do I need to take? What are some alternative ways of doing things -- maybe ways they haven't been done before?

Carol Anne McGuire 10:03
Those are my favorite.

Jim Collison 10:04
You wrote a -- you, you, you created these -- when we first started doing Called to Coach, you were doing sketch art, right? Is that what it's called? Did I get the, did I get the right -- ?

Carol Anne McGuire 10:13
It's Sketch notes. Yeah.

Jim Collison 10:15
Sketch notes?

Carol Anne McGuire 10:16

Jim Collison 10:16
And you'd send these to me. And I'm like, wow, these are fantastic! And we'd post them, yeah, we'd post them. There's a good -- let me, hold on, let me, let me full-screen you so folks can see those.

Carol Anne McGuire 10:26
That's just Competition. They're all different.

Jim Collison 10:29
And you took those and put them in a book and then made a, kind of made an activity out of it, right? Draw, Draw on Your Strengths?

Carol Anne McGuire 10:37
I actually use it as my textbook for my students. So my students now use this as their textbook. And I'm a professor at Fresno Pacific University on a class, Teach With Your Strengths, and I use that as my textbook for Teach With Your Strengths, too.

Jim Collison 10:51
Now that it's part of the curriculum, is it like $400 a book?

Carol Anne McGuire 10:56
No, dear God. Textbooks are crazy expensive!

Jim Collison 11:02
Yeah, but it's a, I think it's a great example of taking, I mean, you, that was years ago. We, that was 8 years, 6, 7, 8 years ago.

Carol Anne McGuire 11:11
Curt helped me write that.

Overcoming Fear: Doing the Impossible

Jim Collison 11:12
Yeah, yeah. I just, I appreciate that about you of always being, looking for opportunities, and then when seeing them not being afraid. You know, oftentimes, we're afraid of failing. And you said you've learned by failing in these. What do you think, what, what's going on inside of you? Because I think it's different than in most people. Like you just, you just don't have any fear. What is that that drives you forward that way?

Carol Anne McGuire 11:41
I used to. I used to have a lot of fear. So when I, when I started this whole process, when I was teaching, I was teaching, I started my career teaching blind students. And what made me, I guess, if I could look back on my life and see what's the shift to make me have no fear? It's teaching those blind students. So I was teaching them, and I went to a conference and they were saying, "Moviemaking is so much, it's so easy, so easy." So I went to this conference and sat in the back row. And the presenter, after he was done. I walked up to him and said, you know, "My name is Carol Anne McGuire. And if moviemaking is that easy, I'm gonna win the California multimedia festival next year." And he's like, "What do you teach?" I said, "I teach blind students." He was like, "Your kids can't see the screen?" I said, "Yeah, but you just told me for an hour how easy moviemaking was. If it's really that easy, I'm planning on winning the contest."

Carol Anne McGuire 12:31
So, and now I look back, I'm like, Oh my gosh, I said that to somebody! How, how crazy was I to say that? So I walked into my class, told my kids, "We're gonna win this contest." They were so excited. And I walked into the teachers' lounge. Now if you know anything about the teachers' lounge, teachers' lounges are places where ideas die. They die. They get --

Jim Collison 12:53

Carol Anne McGuire 12:54
Sacrificed. Oh, 100%. Because it's all, the teachers have to get, vent out all their frustration that they've had all day with these kids that they go back, right. So we're in the, in the teachers' lounge, and they were like, you know, "What have you, what did you do this weekend?" And I'm like, "Oh, I went to this conference. I'm going to teach my kids moviemaking." And they're like, "Have you ever made a movie before?" And I said, "Nope." Do you have --

Jim Collison 13:18
But I hear it's easy.

Carol Anne McGuire 13:20
Well, he said it was easy. He's like, "Do you have a video camera?" I'm like, "No, like, but I can, I can get a video camera." He was like, "Have you ever edited a movie in your entire life?" I said, "No." And they were like, "And you're gonna make a movie with kids that can't see the screen? You're gonna teach them how to do that?" And I walked out of the teachers' lounge, I remember walking out so depressed. Like, that really was a dumb idea. And now I've already told my kids. So I went back to class, and I was like, "You know what, guys? I don't know. I don't, I don't think we can do this." And like, "You said we were gonna win the contest. And you said we could try." it. I was like, "OK, let's try." And so they wrote their scripts in braille. They did all the filming. And let me tell you, when blind kids are filming, they're filming like this. We learned about tripods. I mean, literally everything I learned, I learned from failure. And here's the fact: Those kids won that contest 2 years in a row.

Jim Collison 14:16

Carol Anne McGuire 14:17
Their video was shown on the Apple website for 5 years. Five years! They were exceptional filmmakers. It should have been impossible for them to be filmmakers. And it wasn't. And I think that for me was the shift in my life, to say, I can't be afraid of things I don't know about, because what if it works? I mean, if it doesn't work, so what? it doesn't work.

Jim Collison 14:46
You got to give it a try. We're going to talk about this with your students coming up. But what do you think, so what made them great filmmakers? Like what, what, what do you think it was that made them great?

Carol Anne McGuire 15:01
It, because it was impossible. That's what made it great. It should have been impossible. And these kids proved me and everyone around them that you can't put limits on kids -- you just can't, you can't put a limit on them. And as a teacher, you don't know who's in your class. You don't know what potential lies in that class. And so to give kids an opportunity that I may know nothing about, I mean, I learned right along with them. We sat and watched How-to videos on YouTube together, teacher and student. I did not come into this with all the knowledge in my head. And it was the first time in my teaching career that that happened -- that I came into, I'm teaching you something I don't know anything about. And it was in that that I found freedom. Because we learned together, and we were learning on an equal playing field. And I think the kids learned that it's OK to be a learner. I don't have to, I don't have to know everything to be your teacher. But I'm willing to learn it with you. And I think that was the tipping point for me.

Jim Collison 16:12
They may have, you know, they may have bypassed seeing bias, right? I mean, in the sense --

Carol Anne McGuire 16:18

Jim Collison 16:18
The bias couldn't be there, because it just wasn't. And so --

Carol Anne McGuire 16:22
There was nothing there; it was impossible. So anything they did was amazing.

Jim Collison 16:28
I think, I think oftentimes that relates to the corporate space as well; we just don't see it. You know, we, we don't, we think everything is kind of set. And well, this is always the way we've done it. And it can't be, can't be done this way. I mean, listen, you and I are chatting on a medium today because 9 years ago, I said, "Hey, you know, there's this new thing called podcasting that we can try." And this week, just this week alone, I made 8 of these. And we used to do 8 in 6 months, like, you know, kind of deal. And, and I love that.

Carol Anne McGuire 17:03
It's great because it's impossible.

Jim Collison 17:05
Yeah. Well, Catherine's quoting you. She says, Love this! What made, what made it great? It was impossible!

Carol Anne McGuire 17:11
Impossible, that's true!

Making the Most of a Unique Opportunity

Jim Collison 17:13
I think that's probably going to be a line that's gonna, that's gonna hang around for a while, I think, with us. Tell us a little bit, OK, so you're, you're now middle school. Your students, you're, you've got a, you said, Hey, look, I'm a, I'm a strengths coach. I'm gonna bring some CliftonStrengths into the school. Tell us a little bit about what you're doing there.

Carol Anne McGuire 17:33
OK, so when, every year, I take my kids, we go straight, we do a series of personality tests. Because here's a fun fact: When kids are in school, all they're trying to do when they take a test is crawl into the teacher's brain and figure out what the right answer is and so they could spit it out on their paper. And they've done this year after year after year since kindergarten. So taking StrengthsFinder -- CliftonStrengths -- that's not what I want them to do. I do not want them crawling in my head, because what's in my head is not right in their head -- that, it needs to be right for them. So we take a series of assessments first. We do the Myers-Briggs, we do a whole bunch, we take, we take inventory of every single time. And if they don't feel right about it, like, you took the test. It's not about me; it's all about you.

Carol Anne McGuire 18:21
So when we finally get to CliftonStrengths, they're ready. They know how to take this. They know that it's not, it's not what's in my head that's important; it's what's in your head. And then we spend, we take it around Christmas time. And then the whole rest of the year, we just deal with their strengths. And I was telling them yesterday, was say, one of the kids was asking me about it, because I also teach at the university level. And I said, you know a lot of the lessons that we do as a class, I do at the university level. You could potentially take this class right now as a middle school student and get college credit for it. Because you're really, in a sense, doing a lot of the homework that I give my adult learners. So we do that. And we talk about, like, what's the right path for them when they get into high school and college and finding the right career, based on what they are good at, not what mom and dad think they're good at. And sometimes it's the same, and sometimes it's not. And we talk about it as families -- where they, what's a good path for them?

Carol Anne McGuire 19:23
And so that's how it starts. And this year just led us into a very unique opportunity that I'm always open, like you said, for opportunities that come. And 2 years ago, I started training a therapy dog, and his name is Mojo. And he comes to the library. He did all his training in the library and he comes to the library 3 days a week and spends time with the kids. Now we, just last week in California got our masks off. Up until that point, our students had never even seen their teachers. They would have no idea what their teachers look alike outside of school.

Carol Anne McGuire 20:03
And so Mojo comes in, and he will come in the, in the library, and kids and staff will lay on the ground with him and pet him. And I have kids doing their, their psychology appointments with, with him, laying down on the ground. And it's, he's a game-changer for the school. I mean, we were like, every school needs a therapy dog. And about 2 months ago, the company that organizes the therapy dogs had a, a fundraiser that they were going to do, and it's called Pet of the Year. And so your dog can become Pet of the Year, but it's a fundraiser. So it's really the one who makes the most money.

Carol Anne McGuire 20:44
So I talked to the -- I don't like, Competition is not high for me. It's in the, it's in the middle. So I really only do competitions that I know I can win. And I'm looking at this, and I'm like, we could do this. We could, this group of middle school students, we could do this. And it would be a great way to teach them the Power of 2 in their strengths. So we started learning about strengths, started learning about the Power of 2, how they complement each other, how they work together, all that stuff. And here comes the fundraiser. And so I put a call on Facebook to coaches, and I said, Hey, I'm doing this thing. It's called Power of 2, you know, we're doing Power of 2 with my kids. It's a fundraiser. If you can come in, I could really use like, three or four coaches to come in to the, to my class and talk to my kids -- kind of like teach them. Well, I got 12 people that volunteered to come in, I only have 12 students. It was amazing! Amazing!

Carol Anne McGuire 21:41
So these kids are coming in, and these coaches were all talking about the same thing -- how they can work together, how they can fundraise. What does it, what does it look like different in this team and this team, and how they can push them and, and you know where their, where their skills allow them to go farther or whatever. Our goal is $3,000 Like, you know what? If we can make $3,000 -- $3,000 -- that's amazing! And so we started fundraising with the help of these coaches. They we're talking with the kids, and they're learning about each other. And I have a lot of kids with Competition. So they were like in it to win it, you know. And we started raising money. And one of my kids, one of the coaches, challenged my kids to write a corporate letter, like write to the corporate, corporation, and see if they'll donate. So he wrote -- now mind you, these kids are 13 years old -- he wrote a 19-page letter to Coca-Cola, asking them for a $10,000 grant -- a $10,000 scholarship -- to go to Pet Partners, who is going to do this.

Carol Anne McGuire 22:50
Well, that's a game changer for us. So the company said, you really should raise your, your goal from $3,000 to $10,000, because if Coca-Cola sees it, it's, you know, it's gonna look funny that you're only asking for $3,000. It was like, OK, well, that just made it look worse, because now our goal is $10,000 and we're way down here. And all of a sudden, these kids hit their stride. Now, Coca-Cola never did give us the grant. But these kids hit a stride. They started, we started talking about the art of the ask. So my lessons were all about the art of the ask -- just ask. People can say "No" -- it's totally OK if somebody says "No." And I think that's a fear, not just with kids, I think it's a fear, a real fear for adults too, just to not -- be afraid to ask. I was like, what's the absolute worst that could happen? The worst thing that could happen is they could say, "No, I don't want to do it."

Carol Anne McGuire 23:55
So we practiced, and I was like the bad guy. I'm like, "Go ahead, ask me for, ask me for money." Like, "Can I have $10?" You're like, "No, I don't, I don't really want it. I don't really want to give you $10." And then we would talk about it. Like, How does that make you feel? Well, it kind of makes me feel bad. Yeah. Are you still breathing? OK, that's it. That's the worst that can happen. It's gonna make you feel a little bit sad. But here's the thing: If you ask 10 people, there's a "Yes" in there somewhere. Somebody's gonna give you a "Yes." So we're try, we're learning the art of the ask. And they started asking. And these kids went to $3,000, $4,000 $5,000. We started going up, up, up, and all of a sudden, when the kids realized, This is, it's not as hard as what I thought it was, they started getting bolder and bolder in their asks, and they started getting really creative. So Mojo is -- we taught him how to paint a picture. So we, we, I gotta get it. Can I just get it, because --

Jim Collison 25:01
Yeah, we got to see, OK, Mojo is a dog -- just a reminder, Mojo is the dog painting a picture.

Carol Anne McGuire 25:07
He's a dog. So we had, I'm going to show you that. We had a canvas, and we just squirted paint all over the canvas, and put Saran Wrap on the top of it, and then put peanut butter on top of the Saran Wrap, and then he licked it off. OK, this, I'm telling you, this is a painting that my dog painted. OK, wait 'till you see this! Because it actually looks like a dog. Are you ready? Get ready.

Jim Collison 25:32
Here we go.

Carol Anne McGuire 25:35
My dog painted this -- my dog painted this!

Jim Collison 25:40
It does kind of look like a dog. Yeah.

Carol Anne McGuire 25:44
So we were like, Oh my gosh, Mojo painted a painting that looks like a dog. So my kids are like, Let's do a paint party. So we're gonna call the pet store, closest pet store, and pitch it to them that we want to have a puppy paint party, and we're going to bring all the supplies and you bring your dogs. So they did it. And we thought, you know, if four people show up, we'll be, I mean, that'll be so cool if four people showed up. 16 people showed up! 35 extra people that were just watching, were all around us, watching the dogs paint pictures, like how is this happening, right?

Carol Anne McGuire 26:24
And one of my kids, who is probably the most shy kid I have in the whole class, stood up. It -- like it makes me just so proud just even thinking about it -- because she stood up in front of all these people, all these people with their dogs and all the people that were watching, and were, she told them about how anxious she was in school until we got a therapy dog, and what a difference that this therapy dog made in her anxiety in coming to school. Because remember, we're still masked, we're still, all of those things. And you could, not even the dogs barked. There was quiet -- 16 dogs, all these people, that not even the dogs were -- nothing. Everybody was listening to her talk about how this dog Mojo has helped ease her anxiety.

Carol Anne McGuire 27:17
We got back to school, I was like, "Girlfriend, you are amazing. You are amazing! Can you believe it?" She's like, "I can't even believe I did that. I don't even want to stand up in school and give a report," and yet she stood up in front of these strangers. And it was like, between the coaching and the kids, they were coming out of their shell in a way I had nev -- I mean, this was like, it was amazing. Parents were like, What is happening to my kid? They're so, they're so bold, all of a sudden -- and in a good way, you know, in a, in a confident way. And it was just so exciting. OK, so you want to know how much they raised?

Jim Collison 27:57

Carol Anne McGuire 27:58
Take a, take a guess. Take a guess. Remember, there are 12, 12 kids. They're all 13 years old. They're in, all in middle school. How much money did these kids raise -- raise? Like they actually funded, they found out how much a Jolly Rancher was and how much they could charge and what the profit margin was, Like we learned all that.

Jim Collison 28:18
$12,000. $12,000.

Carol Anne McGuire 28:20

Jim Collison 28:20

Carol Anne McGuire 28:21
Yeah. Oh, yeah.

Jim Collison 28:22
$15,000 -- $20?

Carol Anne McGuire 28:24

Jim Collison 28:26
Nice. Wow!

Carol Anne McGuire 28:28
Twelve 13-year-olds raised that much money. So here's the, here's the sad part: We didn't win the contest. Because, because the contest went till midnight of whatever the night was. And at 9:30, all of our money was in. I went to bed thinking, All right, we got this. We got this. Nope. Somebody -- two dogs -- one came in and put $10,000 on her credit card, and beat us. And they only beat us by $700.

Jim Collison 29:04
Well, you're still a winner in my book.

Carol Anne McGuire 29:06
Oh, I told these kids. I'm like, First of all, you have won my heart. You have won everything, like you won this on your own as kids. Like, we don't have $10,000 in our credit card to put on for, for a dog to win a contest. But they hustled. They made churros. They sold stuff, they were bought. I mean they were all over. Like everyone had a, had a thing. Every group was totally different. Some sold "ruffle" tickets because "ruff," ruffle tickets

Jim Collison 29:42
Nice, nice.

Carol Anne McGuire 29:44
It was pretty exciting. It was --

Coaching Kids Who Know Their Top 5

Jim Collison 29:46
How do you, how do you think, it's, that's awesome, by the way, and it's, it's incredible to see the outcome, when we think about what the original expectation was, you know, a couple thousand dollars, to exceed that, right. How do you think strengths -- you mentioned Power of 2, but how do you think them knowing their Top 5 or them knowing what they're best, how did that, how did you see that play in -- any specific examples where that really stood out?

Carol Anne McGuire 30:13
We couldn't have done it without them knowing their strengths. I don't believe the, the result would have been the same without these kids knowing their strengths. Because they plotted together, they planned and they came up with ideas that, that they probably would not have done. So like you'll, you'll meet these kids in a couple of weeks. I'm so excited for you to meet these kids. So one has Competition and one has Ideation. So together, they were like, Oh, I can use my Ideation. I can think of all these ideas, and then we'll pick one or two, and then we'll just run with it. But I think without them understanding where the other one was coming from, we wouldn't have had the same results. I'm 100% confident we would not have had those results had these kids not known their strengths, because they played to them. I mean, they played to their strengths in a way I have never seen middle school students play.

Jim Collison 31:11
Just a reminder, you're actually at school. So we may hear announcements coming up.

Carol Anne McGuire 31:16
Yes. Sorry. I can't control that.

Jim Collison 31:20
No, no, no worries -- just for folks listening, like what was that? You're actually, you're actually at school. From a programming note, if I'd have had my act together, I would have had the two sessions already scheduled on Eventbrite that we're going to be doing after this. I didn't get, I didn't get my act together this week and get it done. But we, over in, in early April, we are going to interview the students -- bring them on and spend some time hearing from them. So you'll, this is you don't have to just take Carol Anne's word for it.

Carol Anne McGuire 31:52
No, don't, well. And ask hard questions. Ask them hard questions. They're amazing. They're so amazing.

Jim Collison 31:59
We'll be posting this to Eventbrite. So if you haven't followed us yet, go to Just create an account and follow us there. You'll get a notification when this is coming. You should have done that anyways. And then a couple of weeks after that, we're going to be interviewing the coaches. Because you, you did an ask -- you did a bold ask. You went to the community and said, "Hey, anyone interested in in, you know, coaching these students?" Tell me a little bit about that.

Carol Anne McGuire 32:26
OK, just seeing the kids, I wish I would have videotaped them just meeting their coaches, because their, personalities of the kids were all different. And it just matched, like, the energy level of the kids just happened to match the energy level of the coaches. So like some of my kids that were like super bubbly and happy got Cathy, you know, for their coach, and they both come on, "Hi! How are you?" You know, like that. And then I have boys that are more subdued, and they had Mike as their coach. And Mike was methodical and gave them like little steps at a time. It was just brilliant -- brilliant how it worked out. I mean, I could not, I couldn't have planned it. The coaches were freaking amazing with these kids.

Carol Anne McGuire 33:12
And what, what an honor -- what, for me as a teacher, but for these kids to be coached by some of the best coaches on the planet. I mean, they were, we were meeting on Saturday nights to talk with, with coaches all around the world. We met early to talk with Dion in Australia. I mean, like, we were meeting at all random times, not just school times, so we could get the benefit of speaking with some of these coaches. I can't wait for you to hear their stories. I'm, I'm curious to hear their side too, because I have not debriefed with them on purpose, because I want to hear them in your, like, when you question them, like, Ooh, ooh, is that how it was?

Jim Collison 33:55
Yeah, no, I'm looking forward to it. I'm looking forward to it. We spent, you and I spent some time talking about this when you were telling me about this project. And I said, You know, we ought to just, one, interview the students. This would be fabulous to have them on and to just hear from them, you know, how it changed -- again, that's coming up here next month. And then from the, from the coaches as well. I'm kind of excited to grill them. We'll have a whole, we'll have a whole field of, of, we'll have a whole panel of coaches. So we've got some upcoming --

Carol Anne McGuire 34:29
And there's a thing, too. I told the kids, I said, When, when you're with your coach, I want you to, I want you to notice something. So we talked about this before they even met with their coaches. I said, Out of all the years that I've done this, I've always tried to match my kids with coaches. This is one, is a little different because we have a goal. I said that I want you to notice, as you're talking to your coaches, there's going to be a moment when that coach realizes you are 12 and 13 years old. But you know more than my businesspeople. Like you know, you understand, you understand this better than some other people. I said, And I want you to, I want you to notice that, that moment.

Carol Anne McGuire 35:13
So the first time that they got on a call, I don't remember who the coach was, but they'll tell you when they're, when they're doing their thing. And the coach said almost exactly those words like, "Wow, I can't believe that you're only 13 years old. You really understand." And I couldn't, I couldn't hold it in. I was like, "That's the moment! That's the moment! Did you hear it? Did you hear it?" And the kids were like, "I got it! I got it!" So I couldn't stop it. Like, there is a moment. There's a moment where you listen to these kids and you're like, I wish, man I wish I would have had that when I was in middle school! I wish somebody would have spent some time with me, telling me what I was good at when I was in that awkward phase of my life. It's just, the more I do it, the more I think that it's just crucial. It's not even, it's not even a cool thing. It's a crucial thing for our kids to know, like what a gift to give them.

Jim Collison 36:18
Do you run into, you know, I think we spend some time in the Facebook groups talking about the appropriate assessment to take, based on the age and some of those. And middle school's in an awkward spot, right? I mean, 10 to 14 is really StrengthsExplorer -- that should be there. And yet, some, some can handle, at that age. Can you talk a little bit how you over, how you work through that or how that worked for those students?

Carol Anne McGuire 36:42
Yep. So we don't do Explorer at all. And we don't do Quest; we do the real StrengthsFinder adult version. I --

Jim Collison 36:52
By the way, the student version is the real version as well. I just want to make sure folks --

Carol Anne McGuire 36:57
I don't, I don't --

Jim Collison 36:58
It's the way you said that.

Carol Anne McGuire 37:00
Yeah, no. But I don't, I use like the regular

Jim Collison 37:04
CliftonStrengths. Yep.

Carol Anne McGuire 37:06
CliftonStrengths. But we do a bunch of assessments beforehand. So it's all in that prep work that we do beforehand. There is no way I would hand kids a CliftonStrengths assessment without first knowing that they know how to take it. Because that, that setup is probably the reason that they're so successful, is because they really understand what this kind of assessment is. It's, and like I said, it's very different from any assessment they've ever had in school.

Jim Collison 37:39
Yeah, are you certified in any of the other, like Myers-Briggs or, or -- are you certified in any of those?

Carol Anne McGuire 37:45
I used to be. I, when I taught special ed, so I had to do all of those assessments as a special ed teacher. So I was. I never kept up with the credentials, but I was.

An Investment in Students

Jim Collison 37:56
You know, that's a great idea. I've never thought of that, of using -- this is like a brand new thought for me -- using those assessments as a learning tool to prepare. Right? So, because you, could you see the change in them as they learned to trust that it was about the answers they gave and not what you were looking for? Did you, could you see that change in them?

Carol Anne McGuire 38:20
100%. Because the first time that they take an assessment, like I said, they're trying to get into my brain, to see what the right answer is. And so when you, when you do that, and you get the results, and you read the results, and you're like, Yeah, you know, I see this one in me, but not so much this one. Like, yeah. I'm like, Well, you took the, you took the test; I didn't take it. Like you, you're the one that put your answers. So, and we talk through, after every single assessment, we talk through every single assessment. What did you see that went well? What did you see that, you know, could be changed? What do you think you answered to make it go this way? And then, so we talk through, we debrief after every single one. By the, like I said, by the time we take CliftonStrengths, I have to feel confident that my kids are ready to take that assessment. And they are.

Jim Collison 39:13
A couple questions coming in from the chat room, and in the final, we're about down to 10 or 10 minutes or so, you can be asking your questions out there. Ken says, How do you select the 12 students, and is that how many you teach each year? How does that work?

Carol Anne McGuire 39:26
OK, so my, I, I'm in the library. I teach in the library, so the kids that are my students are my TAs, which is Teacher's Assistants. So they actually have to apply to be in my class. So we're taking, I look at their grades, I look at their, I mean, like, I look at everything. I interview their teachers. My TAs right now will interview the TAs for next year. So they'll actually help bring in the new kids for next year. So it is an application. So I am a little choosy, because knowing this is what I'm going to do with them, when I listen into their interviews, I'm listening with that ear. The kids are listening with other ears. But that's, that's what I'm listening for when, when we're doing this. I saw another question, Does the school pay for the assessments? Nope. I pay for all of the assessments.

Carol Anne McGuire 40:14
And here's, and here's why: I believe in this. I believe that I am investing in my students in a way that, God, I wish somebody would have. I mean, like, not that I had a bad experience in middle school, but like, I wish somebody would have taken time and said, You know what, I'll spend some money investing in you. Because I know I'm building people. It's funny, because when I talk to the coaches, I would say like, I think I have the better job. Like you coach adults; I think that's awesome. I totally have the better job, and I will fight you for it because I think, I think what I'm doing is, is way better. And here, here's my reasoning: I get to build up kids before life hits them. Before they get bashed around by life and problems and situations, I get to build their strength beforehand, where, when you're coaching adults, you're repairing them on what life did to them. And so I, I kind of like my little spot in the world helping, you know, this is my place, and God help all the coaches that are doing businesses and adults, because I think that is amazing. But like, I, I want to be on this end of it and build them up before. So that way, by the time they get to you, they'll be like, Yeah! Give me that project!

Jim Collison 41:37
I like it. Soar with your strengths, right? That's a spot you're really good at. You really enjoy it, you like working with those. You're having that. Kara had asked this question, and I'm going to add on to it. She says, How do you see this experience in the future? What are you looking to add or adjust? And I'm going to add the question, so it's middle School -- is it 6, 7, 8 or is it 7, 8, 9?

Carol Anne McGuire 42:00
7 and 8.

Jim Collison 42:01
Even better.

Carol Anne McGuire 42:02
I only have 8th graders. So we're only dealing with like a portion of that; we're only, I'm only dealing with 8th grade.

Dreaming: Corporate Sponsorship, All 34, a Student-Led Conference

Jim Collison 42:08
Any thought to turning those TAs into a little bit of a coaching -- you know, sometimes in our universities, we have juniors and seniors coach the freshmen and sophomores. They go through a coaching program to kind of help them. That's part of our CliftonStrengths Institute at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. Any thoughts on that? Or future thoughts? Just, let's talk about the future.

Carol Anne McGuire 42:30
OK, so our, when Tayvin wrote that letter to Coca-Cola, it inspired two of my TAs to write a letter to Gallup. And they wanted to, what they wanted is they want to do a student-led, basically like a coaching, like we do the Summer Institute. They want to do that, like, but student-led for kids, so kids teaching kids. And so they wrote a letter -- I mean, who knows what will happen -- they wrote a letter to them. I would like, in the future, I would love, I would love to know their 34. I mean, that would be, that would be a dream to be able to see what, what these kids' 34 looks like.

Carol Anne McGuire 43:13
So in the future, what I would love to see is a way for us to get funded to see their 34 as well as do a student-led conference. Like we have the place. We have the venue. We have the speakers, like the kids are great. I can call coaches that would be, that I know would come. I would like to see that. I would like to see a student-led conference on how to build your strengths as a teenager. I just, I just think it's needed. I think it's needed. I think our culture needs that, right, especially right now, more than ever. So that's, that would be my, that would be my future goal.

Jim Collison 43:52
Yeah. And in that conversation, you know, you and I, as you and I were talking about this, I do, I always want to push a little bit too when -- we get a lot of requests from a lot of, a lot organizations for free codes. Right. And it's not really a sustainable model, nor is it the best way to do it. The really, the best way to do it is corporate sponsorship because it gets them involved. Then we put, like, then these corporations begin to get some vested interest. And we kind of, we kind of need to encourage that. I'm not trying to pass the buck.

Carol Anne McGuire 44:26
No, absolutely. I totally agree.

Jim Collison 44:28
Yeah, I am, we've seen this happen time and time again, that when local corporations or local organizations get involved in this, and they, they put some money into it, it changes the relationship between the school and the corporation, right.

Carol Anne McGuire 44:44
And the community. Like if it's a, if it's a corporation that's in your community, even better, because those kids are going to get jobs in your area. That's where they're living.

Jim Collison 44:54
Yeah, I have a huge -- listen, I have a huge passion for internships. And this is a perfect example. We see this all the time is that when students get out and get into the organizations, and the organizations get involved in the education process, it changes things. And so, you know, Carol also mentions Gates Foundation. And those, some of those large corporations are fine for that. What I'm talking about is getting local industry on the ground involved in this and making this partnership between the school and the local, kind of a local organizations. Guys, it's super powerful when it works. And again, I'm not trying to pass the buck, but I have just seen this work.

Carol Anne McGuire 45:35
We're planning on making that work. That, I mean, that's really where we're going. We really, the kids, and it's not me. Like, I feel like sometimes I'm just riding on their coattails. They really want to have a student-led conference. And I'm like, Let's do it. I feel like, I feel like it was a position where I was when I told those blind kids, "All right. Go for it. Let's try it. What, all they can say is, 'No.'" So we're, that's where we're at right now.

Jim Collison 46:02
Yeah, no, it's exciting, I think, looking forward to, and I'll throw one more, you know, request out. If you're in the chat right now, if you're listening live, and you want to ask some questions, throw those in chat, and we'll bring those in here. But I'm, I'm super excited to hear from them in what that meant. And then I'm super excited to hear from the coaches on, because I think, when you -- and this, I understood this when I started working with high school students in an internship perspective, and I started coaching them. And it was really, I wasn't coaching them; I was just giving them the opportunity to learn and grow in this -- to learn about themselves. It really changed my perspective on what's possible, and what could be done.

Jim Collison 46:45
And I see, I saw some high schoolers do some pretty amazing things that you would be like, Yeah, they would do some amazing things for the org. And, and I would have to remind, you know, my, the managers, like, "OK, you know, they're 17, right?" They were like, "Can we hire them today?" I'm like, "You know they're 17, right?" And it's just a great opportunity, you know, just a great opportunity to, to watch them kind of learn and grow. Anything else, when you think about add, additions, you know, so you talk about this kind of student-led conference to talk about this. Any other, for next, you gonna do it next year?

Carol Anne McGuire 47:22
I would love to do it next, yeah, that's what we're, that, we're hoping to get that on the ball. Because that would be, I think, just like the cream of this year, like, just the topping for this year would be able to start something like that. That's, I mean, that's our goal. And I don't see that we can't make that goal, honestly. What they've proved to me this year, there's really nothing, like what, what goal would be too high?

Jim Collison 47:52

Carol Anne McGuire 47:53
I don't know.

Jim Collison 47:54
Well, you need -- sounds like you need to make it impossible.

Carol Anne McGuire 47:56
I, well, I mean, right now it is, right. So we are. We're dealing with an impossible situation, because we would have to get codes, we'd, I would really like to get their 34 so I know, like, we could coach our, this core group in their 34. We'd have to get corporate sponsorships, we'd have to get like all these things. It sounds impossible. But there's like something in my head's like, it's not impossible. It's not impossible. It's possible. The impossible, I think, is possible.

Jim Collison 48:29
Yeah, I think it is. And I think you're gonna have to do some of the same things the students did and ask locally.

Carol Anne McGuire 48:37
Good! All they can say is, "No." That's all that can happen. And there's nothing, there's nothing bad about that. It's just that's not the relationship that's gonna happen. But there's a "Yes" out there. There is a "Yes" out there.

Jim Collison 48:51
Yeah, there's actually someone who needs to say, "Yes." Like they, they've been waiting for an opportunity. And they don't know how to connect. And they're ready to say, "Yes." They just don't know who to say "Yes" to.

Carol Anne McGuire 49:03
That's right. And we're it!

Jim Collison 49:06
So some, some great comments from the chat room. Right? Impossible = I'm possible. And I love that, I love that idea of just really going out beyond yourself and saying, "What, what if?"

Carol Anne McGuire 49:23
"What if?"

Jim Collison 49:23
You know, What if? What if, what if we did this? And then, I think one of the things you do better than anybody is to say, "What if?" and then, "Where will I need to shift?" So, because the "What if?" isn't always going to be exactly in the very beginning.

Carol Anne McGuire 49:39
It's never where it is in the beginning.

Jim Collison 49:43
Yeah, no. And so you got to pivot and shift and kind of see.

Carol Anne McGuire 49:47
And you have to be ready to do that. Like you really do have to be ready to just like -- change over to, you have to be ready to go wherever you need to go. Because here's the thing, like, you have to be ready to, to shift. I was telling the kids like when a, when a lion chases a gazelle, a gazelle never runs in a straight line. Well, that would be super easy, right. The gazelle has to, has to flip and flop and does all this crazy stuff. Well, if the lion isn't willing to shift and change with that gazelle, he's not going to eat dinner. Let's eat some dinner, people! Shift around, get it! Let's do it! Go get it!

Jim Collison 50:24
Yeah, it's great. It, I think a great reminder, we'll look forward to, and I'll get those scheduled here on Eventbrite probably early next week, for folks listening live, we'll get those. Again, go out to, if you're listening to this live or on the recorded version, go to Get registered, so that you'll get the reminder when I do send them out. If you're listening to it after the fact, as part of the podcast, we may have done them already. And they're available out there and, and for you, but certainly love to have you join us live. Carol Anne, it's always great to spend time with you. Like there's never enough time. And now I kind of thinking, How do I make a road trip to Southern California? You know, I know.

Carol Anne McGuire 51:01
Hey, why don't you come up to the conference and speak?

Jim Collison 51:04
Which -- oh, well, there you go. That's a possibility. We'll have to see how it goes. Yeah.

Carol Anne McGuire 51:10
I'll schedule it around you, because like I'm a good shifter.

Jim Collison 51:14
Yeah, you are a good shifter, because it's dinnertime.

Carol Anne McGuire 51:18
That's right. Let's eat!

Jim Collison 51:18
It's dinnertime. Carol Anne, thanks for the work that you do. Thanks for jumping in here. And we'll, of course, get to catch up with you a couple more times as we bring these students on. And then we'll bring your coaches on, as we kind of prepare for the summit. By the way, if you haven't registered already, if you're listening, haven't registered already, get registered for -- everything's out there and available for our summit: All the speakers are picked, all the sessions are in. All you got to do is buy it. So get out there, get in -- With that, I'll remind everyone to take full advantage of all the resources we do have available. Carol Anne mentioned a few of them, but if you go to Gallup -- -- we have lots of things in our Resources section that are available for you there. If you're interested in coaching, master coaching or you want to become a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach, just like Carol Anne is, you can send us an email: And we can get you the right person to talk to you about that. I mentioned Eventbrite -- -- to keep track of all the things we are doing live. Join us on any social platform, including Facebook. You can go to and a lot of the conversation -- 16,000 or so out there in that group. It's pretty big group. Yeah, we've grown it a little bit, I'd say. Join us in that group as well. And thanks for joining us today. Carol Anne, can you stay for a few minutes if there's a few extra questions -- would that be OK? For the, for folks listening to the podcast, with that, we'll say, Goodbye, everybody.

Carol Anne McGuire's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Achiever, Learner, Focus, Positivity and Woo.

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

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