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Called to Coach
Building and Sustaining a Thriving Coaching Business
Called to Coach

Building and Sustaining a Thriving Coaching Business

Webcast Details

  • What does it take to build and keep a thriving coaching business, even in the midst of change?
  • What does it mean to trust your strengths, and how can you overcome the barriers to doing this?
  • How can your coaching help the next generation embrace their strengths and apply them in their careers?

Gallup Called to Coach Webcast Series -- Season 10, Episode 37.

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

"Perhaps 5 years ago, I was not so in-depth with my strengths as I am now. And I'm learning to trust them so much more." One key to building a truly thriving coaching business, says Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach Justin Douglas, is to trust your strengths. But what does that mean, and how do you get there, even in the midst of significant change? How can feedback, both positive and negative, build that trust? And how can you communicate that reliance on your strengths to the next generation, as they seek to navigate their jobs and careers? Join us and gain insights from this successful coach and entrepreneur.

Steer to values and passions. ... We know that when we do that, we will feel brilliant. And the word "thriving" then applies. So not just a coaching business, but a thriving coaching business.

Justin Douglas, 50:40

As coaches, if we can honestly say to ourselves [that] we trust our strengths hugely, that is going to be a massive help in our own coaching work.

Justin Douglas, 51:13

The power of feedback to accelerate performance is astonishing.

Justin Douglas, 56:18

Jim Collison 0:00
I am Jim Collison, and this is Gallup's Called to Coach, recorded on September 8, 2022.

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, and you don't see the chat room, which we use, there's a link right above me there to it. It'll take you there. Sign in with your YouTube account or your Google account, and you can join us in chat. If you have questions after the fact, 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 -- it's right down there -- so you never miss an episode.

Meet Our Guest on This Episode

Jim Collison 0:52
Justin Douglas is my guest today. Justin made a deliberate decision early on in his career to focus on all that is wonderful, fascinating and good in the world and its people, rather than climbing the ladder. Congratulations on that, Justin! Justin -- chasing interesting and diverse projects was his goal. And it led him to consulting roles in the European Union, the Middle East, and even the rain forests of Nigeria. We might hear about that a little bit later. But delivering a successful project outcome to the letter of the contract was never enough. In 2015, Justin's free spirit got the better of him. He set up his own training and coaching business, and why wouldn't he? Justin became a Gallup-Certified Coach in 2016. His Top 5 are Maximizer, Adaptability, Empathy, Connectedness and Communication. Justin, I've been looking forward to this interview for a while. Welcome to Called to Coach!

Justin Douglas 1:43
Thank you so much, Jim. And I've been looking forward to it equally. I'm a big fan of the whole show, as you know. And it's just great to be here.

Jim Collison 1:52
Well, it's great, great to have you, and you've been a big -- let me just, as a side note, let me just thank you for all the community involvement that you give to us. We were chatting about this in the preshow. Being a part of the chat room, it's an important part of what we do in a program. It's the show within the show. It's extra information that you benefit by coming live or watching the chat after the fact. So Justin, thank you for being an anchor in that community. You're, you're one of a dozen or two dozen who are there all the time to make sure this works. So thanks for your contributions in that. It takes a little bit of effort to be here live, and then to join in the chat room. And so Justin, thank you.

Justin Douglas 2:30
No, you're very welcome. And you're right about that effort. You know, you know, we throw ourselves into these things and we gear ourselves up. When you first invited me I was kind of like, fantastic, so excited, because I'm, you know, I love the show. To be on it, wow, what a treat! But that sort of preparation mode. So yesterday, I was writing notes. I've now got things all around my screen -- ideas and things that hopefully will pass on as ideas value, value-add, really. It's the inspiration. It's the learning, you know.

Jim Collison 2:58
Yeah. And Justin, thank you for also being the my voicemail voice. So if you call my, you call my cellphone, Justin is, is the one who answers it. He's my voicemail. It makes me sound really, really important. So Justin, thanks for, thanks for doing that as well.

Justin Douglas 3:15
You're very welcome. Good fun that was.

Jim Collison 3:17
Justin, we started at 6 minutes after the hour. We used to do that a lot more, and then I kind of got real proper about starting on time. What -- you wanted to start, like, 6 minutes after. What was that all about?

Justin Douglas 3:30
Well, I was just thinking back about it. And I have a funny feeling that you actually inspired me to take that, that approach -- the whole concept of preshow and postshow, I started bringing that in, yeah, during the lockdowns, actually, with a lot of on, online events or online meetings and discussions. And I kind of realized that, you know, people are constantly going from one thing to another, and there's no gap. And so what happens is, people are either uncomfortable because they haven't got a drink with them. Or they are, you know, they need to go to the loo. or quite frankly, they're late running from the last meeting. So I kind of brought this in, and I just have this strong belief, it really works. In fact, I was talking to someone the other day who attended a training with me. And she said, she said, "Oh Justin, you'll be really pleased to hear. I'm doing that 6 minutes past the hour for my meetings." I said, "Wow, that's fantastic! How's it working?" She said, "It's great, because, you know, actually does keep people that moment to pause to go and do something else if they're in between, in between sessions."

Justin Douglas 4:37
And you know what else is I, which I find incredibly valuable? Is that as a facilitator or if you're organizing a meeting, I find that moment, those 6 minutes -- or 7 is actually my true preference, if I'm honest -- it's, it helps center me; it helps me feel relaxed in the session. In fact, when I was doing major training courses online, we would start at, say, 9:37 In the morning. But we'd, I'd open the line 15 minutes earlier, so people could come along with their, you know, tea or coffee. And I got relaxed. And it sort of built a more informal environment. So I think it has huge benefits both practically, but also sort of emotionally as well, if you're in charge of a session, so I massively recommend it. Now, I'll be honest: When I'm recommending this to people, a lot of people are hesitant. So I'm going to say to everyone out there listening to this, try it! Try it! I really, really encourage you; it really does make a difference. Yes, it's different. But it's possible to do, and it does work. So go out -- anyone listening to this -- and give it a go!

Jim Collison 5:51
So my good friend Richard Sterry, who I've spent a ton of time with over the last couple of -- and it's been a real privilege to be at, to have that time, to have his time as we've been working on the Cascade integration. He says, he says I'm, this is the, so Justin, this is the balance that I run, because I used to do a preshow for everything. And I did it for the reasons that you said; it was to help the guests feel comfortable. And you can translate that to running meetings too. I want people to bridge this gap here. It's not just doing a podcast or creating a live event, but it could be running a meeting as well. And, and so but then we got this countdown timer inside of StreamYard. And I do have some folks that like to be punctual. So Richard says, "I'm compulsive punctual and like to turn up on time." How does, how does this balance with finishing 6 minutes earlier, which we've kind of gotten into when we schedule meetings -- we put 5, we kind of force 5-minute delays on the end. Any thoughts on that, Justin?

Justin Douglas 6:49
Oh, absolutely. I think, yeah, Richard, you're right. You can, if you want, take the alternative approach and go for the 6 minutes early end. However, because that is, I would say, less consistent, and people think, Oh, I'll cheekily use that 6 minutes, you've suddenly lost the benefit. Whereas when you have the clear start 6 or 7 minutes past, people like you, Richard, and others who love to be punctual, they're there on that time. And the beauty is anyone that, you know, just doesn't like to waste any time, they're there on the on the mark; those that like the chitchat, they come in early. I was coaching someone out in Germany, friend of mine, and she was saying, "Justin, how do you get people engaged?" She was a new project manager to a big team, brilliant project manager she is, but she was struggling with this. And I said, "Well, why don't you try this?" So she started doing it. I think it was 6 minutes past 2 in the afternoon. And I said, "How's it going?" She said, "Oh, it's really helpful," because, for those reasons I've just said: The people that just want to get to business, they're there on the 6 minutes; they'll use those 6 minutes for something else. And the people that like the chitchat, they come in for the social earlier. So it does seem to work. I think it's a little bit more precise for people than early ending early. If you can do both, Richard, even better.

Expectations on Virtual Meeting Start/End Times

Jim Collison 8:07
No, right on, and it's a challenge to meet everyone's expectations. Today, we're spending some time talking about building a thriving coaching and training business. And around this, is, is holding these kinds of sessions, right, is having a whole bunch of people come in. We're doing more and more virtually. And that expectation, there are those if, you know, we used to do the preshow, and they'd be like, OK, enough of the chitchat. Like, get to the content. Like that was the thing. We started then thinking, like, OK, how do we provide value in the chitchat so that's valuable, too? But not necessarily required -- it doesn't have to be a part of the recorded program. I think you have to think through it. And then I think my advice, and I want you to respond to this, is to be consistent; to start to have, right, to have kind of a, This is who I am, and this is the way I run things, and then to be pretty consistent across those meetings. Do you want to add anything to that, Justin?

Justin Douglas 8:59
I 100% agree. You know, you get into the habit of it. And, you know, when you were doing the original preshow, it's undefined when the actual start is. So by defining it, you sent the message out to those that, you know, they who just want to get straight to it, bang, they're on time. Consistency is key. And I think it's important that you start absolutely on time, every time. So that those that are a little late think, Uh-oh. They really do mean, start at that time.

Jim Collison 9:27
Justin, you call yourself a wild trainer, which sounds kind of interesting. What does that mean? And why do you use that term?

Justin Douglas 9:34
Well, it's, yeah, I came up with it, basically, because I love to do things differently. And maybe the 6 minutes past thing is part of that example, even though it's inspired by you and your great team colleagues. But it's, yeah, I mean, if you, so if you come to an event with me, for example, you're not gonna get PowerPoint. You might get one or two slides. You might get a video. But basically, it's all about trying to do things differently. So, you know, I, it's mostly flip charts, its activities. I'll be jumping through a window, maybe. I've, yeah, seriously, I've cycled in through into a room on a bicycle. I've burst into a room with a shield, and people are throwing paper bombs at me. And it sounds fun -- it is fun. But it's also about metaphors. So there is a reason for doing these crazy stunts and pranks and so on. And was I always like this? Was I, was I on the stage, for example, at school? No, not at all! I was really shy. And that surprises a lot of people.

Justin Douglas 10:40
So I built up this over time, that sort of confidence. And it's something I, you know, share often as a story that the journey for people to become more wild, if you like, is a slow one; it takes time. But always in my mind, I'm thinking to myself, What can I do that creates engagement, creates surprise, and is different to how most people perhaps do things? And I know a lot of people in the audience, you know, will similarly be, you know, flip-chart based, activity based. And I absolutely encourage that. You know, it's the way to go to do things differently. The number of times you hear people saying, you know, when if you say, "Oh, there's not going to be much flip, PowerPoint," they'll be, "Oh, that's a relief." So I think it's, yeah, that's what it's really about. It's about doing things differently. It's about using big metaphors. A bit of gaming, I suppose. There's a game in this. It's having fun. I'm a massive believer that we learn a lot when we have fun.

Justin Douglas 11:43
Content's got to be good; it's got to be real and stick to the principles. But let's do it; if we can have some fun, brilliant. So, you know, take training sessions out, outdoors. I do that as well. Why not, if we can? Can I share a really fun example? So we were doing a session on voice -- projecting your voice and using your voice for presentations. It was a presentation skills course. And I, it was a beautiful day in Amsterdam. And we took everyone outside. And it was my module and it was all about, yeah, as I say, voice. And we had this section on voice projection. And I thought, Hmm. And I looked up, and beside us was an enormous cruise liner. So I set the challenge for someone to project their voice up into the, up to the ship, to see if they could be heard, and someone took up the challenge. And back from the ship, someone called out. "And what are you, what is your favorite drink?" And there was a bit of two-way. It was just terrific. And that's an example of maybe the wild training concept.

Jim Collison 12:51
Yeah, no, I love it. I love it. Because it sounds to me, it's a little strengths-based. How do you think, how do your themes play into that, specifically, as you think about your training style?

Justin Douglas 13:01
Yeah, absolutely. So Communication, my No. 5, that's something that's absolutely there. I'm constantly thinking about ways to communicate better, ways to kind of craft my words. It's fascinating, as I've got more and more into strengths, into CliftonStrengths, actually thinking about the power of the individual strengths -- the Communication. I now feel so confident, because I've practiced it, because I've thought deeply about, That is part of who I am. I've become more and more confident that I can craft my words really, really carefully. And it applies to spoken or email and so on. So this Communication for sure. And then we have to, we have to talk about Adaptability, my No. 2. So there we are out on, you know, the decking, as it were, of this, I think it was a hotel. There's the cruise ship beside us. And I'm immediately thinking, Aha! Let's break away from the plan that was, that I was planning. Let's go for this crazy thing! And so I think Adaptability, that live in the moment, that present state is, you know, it's with me a lot. It will, it will allow me to change my plan so fast, so fast -- much, much to the discomfort sometimes of family members; I have to be careful.

Adapting When Things Go Wrong

Jim Collison 14:21
"Justin, what are you doing?" Have you had -- what do you do when they go wrong? Because certainly, I mean, though, it's great when, to have the Adaptability to try some things out. Often those things are untested. You don't know if they're gonna work. I'm sure if you haven't, how do you adapt when things go wrong?

Justin Douglas 14:37
Well, I think it's interesting. For anyone with Adaptability, there is that sense that you're living in the moment. And some people are wonderful planners, and we have to remember every strength, you know, has its merits. It's how we use them. For me and others with Adaptability high up, it is one of the things that allows you to cope if things do go wrong. So I'm very confident that Yes, I can try something out. And it may go wrong. But actually, my Adaptability itself is going to help me cope with it. But there's one thing we can all do. And I think this is a, this is a clever little trick. So if you are trying something out for the first time live with your audience, one of the things I've found quite successful is to set the expectation. So I will tell the audience, "We've never done this before." And immediately, what I've really done is I've played a crafty little trick that says, This might go wrong, which is much better setting that in advance that it might go wrong, than finding it goes wrong, and then having to apologize. So that's how I do it. And I recommend that to anyone that's experimenting. If you set that little, little expectation, boom, you're OK.

Jim Collison 15:49
I think you probably take this approach as well. But I have found, when I make those kinds of errors or mistakes, or it goes terribly wrong, to just apologize and move on. Like don't dwell on it. I think if, right, you get uncomfortable, they get uncomfortable, and nobody wants -- it's just like, Well, hey, we gave this a shot. Let's continue. Let's continue to roll on. And then you said, a point that I that I have to come back to and emphasize is that you still have to have content in these, in some of these things, right? And you can't, I think some folks are like, Oh, I'll just wing it. And we'll just -- and it's like, no, you still need to, even winging it, you still need to have content. As you think about your preparation for these kinds of events -- and they're all different; I get that, but -- how do you approach the preparation cycle to get ready for something like this? Because I know you put some effort into it.

Justin Douglas 16:41
Yeah, it's, it's a fascinating one. Again, I think the, there are a couple of things that pull me from a strengths perspective. And you know, the learning for everyone is, you know, let's look at our strengths. What is it that helps us get there? For sure, is the Adaptability that allows me to, I'll be honest, Jim, be quite last-minute on a lot of things. Now, what's really fascinating -- and we'll maybe come to this a little later -- is this whole idea of trusting our strengths. Because I know that when it comes to preparing events, I have become more last-minute than I was 5 minutes ago. So -- 5 minutes ago? Five years ago! Five minutes ago -- maybe! Five years ago!

Jim Collison 17:28
That's all right, you're just experimenting. It's fine.

Justin Douglas 17:31
Now what, "What's going on there?" I ask myself. How do I feel about that? I feel OK about it. Really? Is it OK to be even more last-minute? Well, what it is, is that I have found that perhaps 5 years ago, I was not so in-depth with my strengths as I am now. And I'm learning to trust them so much more, that I can confidently be even more last-minute. Now, I'm not suggesting that's a brilliant thing. You know, it's a little bit more uncomfortable. But with it comes an element of excitement too. But I, I contrast that to people who do like to plan ahead -- maybe they've got Strategic much more high; maybe their Adaptability is much lower. I think someone in the, the list, chat has, had indicated that. And that's OK, too. So it tells us that what we -- Yeah, there we go. Cathy. It tells us that whatever is right for us, we should go that way.

Justin Douglas 18:33
And I also think about my Maximizer, which is at No. 1. The Maximizer is a huge pool for quality, a huge pool for quality. So I mean, maybe I'll share this story. This is quite a funny one. So I was doing a one-to-one coaching. I had nothing in the calendar. And so I said to the person Oh, you know, you happy to go on beyond the, the top of the hour? Yes! We both agreed; we go another 15 minutes or so. I end the coaching session. And there in the email, I go to my emails, there's a message: so-and-so is waiting in the Zoom room on another link. And I'm thinking, What? I launch the Zoom; 13 faces all waiting for me, and they've been there for 15 minutes. I mean, can you imagine? Scary, scary, scary.

Jim Collison 19:26
Well, you feel bad, right? You start, you, you're like, Oh my gosh, I totally, I totally blew this.

Justin Douglas 19:31
Absolutely. Now you pick up on the point so well there, Jim, because that is exactly the very first instant moment of thought. It's like, oh my god, this is terrible. But what I found to be true -- and they now know; this has become a case study -- I was shocked. I was absolutely shocked, because what was act, what actually happened was very quickly, literally within sort of 3 seconds, my mind was thinking about my strengths. And I really do honestly mean that. So everyone listening, honestly, my mind thought, right, bang Maximizer -- you've got it, Justin! Maximizer means it has to be really good. So you have to go for it. Don't let this down; go for it. And those were the thoughts in my head -- very fast, obviously. Then there was my Adaptability no. 2. It was like, Well, you've spun on the coin before, why can't you do it again? So that one clicked in.

Justin Douglas 20:32
And then, thirdly, Communication at No. 5 said to me, Well, I know my content. It's all about strength. I know this stuff well. I'm good with words; I'll find the words. Let's go! And so I did. And it went well. And they were interacting, they weren't also folded arms -- we're not listening anymore. They were, they were in; they were, they were engaged. It was working. I got to the end, I got to the end of the thing. Shut it down. Obviously, I sent an apology note and da-da-da-da, and got a nice note back saying Yes, these things happen. And everything was fine. Anyway. But what was really interesting was my feeling.

Justin Douglas 21:09
Five, 6, 7 years ago, I would have been feeling terrible. Absolute, I know I would -- depressed, miserable, lacking confidence, all these sorts of things. But I didn't; I felt OK. And I was shocked I felt OK. And what this really told me, and I think this is the sort of lesson here, was I thought, My goodness, what is going on here? And I realized what had happened. I had reached a point of absolute trust in my strengths, because I've been investing in them over time, over these years since certifying as a strengths coach with, with your Gallup team. Extraordinary -- a point of feeling of absolute trust and faith. And that has becoming, become a massive learning point for me. When I'm doing my coaching, I'm thinking about, How can we move people from Naming and Claiming these strengths as their own to a point of absolute trust? Because, boy, what an incredible feeling that is -- it's astonishing.

Why Is It So Difficult for Many to Trust Their Strengths?

Jim Collison 22:14
Brea asks that question. She says, you know, Trust your strengths! Yes. Why do you think it's so hard for many? And, and what I hear, Justin, in your story. And I think from my own, yeah, I've done thousands of these webcasts now. I've had opportunities for thousands of things to go wrong. Because every one, you never know, like, you don't know what's going to happen. I kind of come at it -- and this is what I hear a little bit from you, and I want you to comment on this a little bit is -- the experience helps too, right. You've, the experience of practicing that landing on your strengths. Same thing for me. I have high Arranger. I have high Maximizer. I have high Adaptability. When things go wrong, you know, you and I were troubleshooting some things before the show right on tech, technology. And for some people, that would really stress them out. But I know we'll get to a satisfactory place -- may not be perfect, but it'll be good enough. And, and we'll do this thing, right? I trust that because I've done it so many times. How important is repetition in this, in the scheme of things as well?

Justin Douglas 23:15
I think it's very important. I mean, the example of the story I've just told was a one-off. But it was incredibly enlightening. It's brought -- I'm actually so grateful it happened, because it's brought me an experience that made me realize the power of the strengths at work. And Brea is right, you know, when, when she asks, Why is this so hard for so many? It is, I think there are two reasons. But the first reason is because we have to spend so long actually practicing. I mean, let's face it, when was it, 2016, that I first certified. I knew about strengths several years before. The investment phase has really been since 2016 -- the high, deep investment phase. So there's this enormous sense of practicing it that's so key. And I think as coaches -- and so many people listening to this are indeed coaches -- this is what we need to help our clients with. This is what we need to help our teams with is that practice. It's continually bringing our strengths to mind so that we give them the chance to practice, practice and feel them, feeling them at work.

Justin Douglas 24:26
This, this great exercise that I love of, you know, taking a strength for a day. I like to call it taking it for a walk. You know, choose one and go for a walk with it on one day. I mean, it's a metaphorical walk, but we apply it during the day. And I say to people, "At the end of the day, ask yourself two questions: Firstly, what difference has it made to the outcomes during that day or that meeting where you applied it? And secondly, how did it make you feel?" And very likely the answers to those two questions is positive. And then we get the positive feedback loop. We keep doing it, and more and more, it becomes more and more natural. I agree, Brea, it's hard. It takes a lot of time. It takes dedication. It takes our clients, if we're coaches, you know, a leap of faith sometimes. The more we can work with them to accompany them on that leap of faith sometimes, the better. And the reflection time, the discussion, the conversations around how those strengths have helped us and how they make us feel good -- that is so important in this journey to trust.

Jim Collison 25:34
I think sometimes we find ourselves in the middle of our careers, and we think we've done, like there's, there's not that much more to learn. I know myself; I know what I'm doing. I know these things. And I think that's actually just the beginning. Like we are just now like, OK, when we understand these things, we're really at the beginning phase of now, how do we take these and make them most, you know, make them most powerful, most useful? Justin, we've been doing this series with, with our Certified Coaches throughout the year, kind of getting some advice from them. I want you to think back -- when you think about your coaching today, I want you to think back on your career outside of coaching before 2016. What were some things that you did in the past that kind of prepped you for this? Because I think we forget sometimes those past experiences preps us as well. Do you have any examples? Or can you talk a little bit about that?

Justin Douglas 26:27
Yeah, I can. I mean, it's, a lot of my work as a management consultant, firstly, with PWC, then with IBM -- so two huge organizations, great big projects, you know, machinery of big organizations. When I look back at my time there, a lot of my projects were involved with government clients, also a lot of contact center work, and I loved it. But here's the funny part. So what used to happen is we'd get this, you know, formal project appraisals, and you're always hoping for good scores. And I used to get the best marks in client relationships. And sometimes I get a little bit told off in other areas. I remember one comment, like, saying, "Justin does rather like to do his own thing." Which I found, yeah, so sort of a fore-, a foretelling of maybe coming to a wild trainer position in the future. But what's really key there was the client relationships part, you know. And maybe it's the Adaptability as well saying, Yes, he likes to do his own thing, but he'll get there in his own special way. Which might be a little naughty, but it still works, which is kind of my approach to so many things.

Positive, Negative Feedback and Your CliftonStrengths

Jim Collison 27:39
Justin, hold on. Before you go on with that, I think you've hit a solid strengths point that that feedback, which could have been taken negatively, and might have been, but it was actually a foreshadowing, in some cases. Now we know you. It's hard in the moment, like, it's easy to do this with hindsight, I admit. But those were foreshadowing comments of things that you would turn into strengths in your training, right? My high school teacher said it would be more than Jim's charismatic smile that will get him to pass this class. That was my freshman English teacher. Right. Obviously, I wasn't putting the work in. But she would, she began to see this outward strength, this charisma. Right? This Woo. And so I think there's an important point in there for people to say, oftentimes those, that, it was meant to be critical. But it -- those critical comments can be as important to our, our own strengths journey as the positive ones, if we see the strengths really shining through. So, sorry to interrupt, but --

Justin Douglas 28:44
No, not at all.

Jim Collison 28:45
You alluded to that; I just want to make sure we drove that point in.

Justin Douglas 28:48
Well, you raise such a good point. Because back then, of course, you know, and it's one of the things that's frustrated me so much with traditional appraisal systems, which is, "Well done, well done. Ooh, but -- you need to go and fix this." Well, of course, now, we all know better, that we don't need to go and fix the "Ooh, but"; what we need to be doing is going, Oh, let's look at these "well dones" and make them even better. So in my case, the client relationships, and lo and behold, what do I discover? I lead with the Building Relationship Domain. And I really feel that. You know, when I'm out with clients, the, it is the relationships that are powerful. And then the content, you know, obviously, I have to bring that with me, otherwise, you know, like you say, you can't just win with a smile.

Justin Douglas 29:35
But it's, yeah, I think you're right; it does foreshadow what was to come. And I think also what was interesting was my sense that -- and I think it's relevant when we think about careers, and careers are difficult. I'm a firm believer, for most people, careers are difficult. You know, what's the path we really want? But when we think about some of those feedback loops that we get, some of the self-analysis sense of what we enjoy, where our passions are, then yes, we get the clues to say, Aha! This is where I'm strong. And with the right support, I can move into an area that really helps me thrive like anything. And that is maybe where we should be heading. And yes, you know, and as I look back with hindsight, you could say you could see it coming. And I remember how I would, you know, we'd be doing a call center project, and we'd have all the mechanics and everything and the process change and all that sort of thing, which, which was great and fun. But I was always interested in what the human experience would be -- What would it be like for those people answering the phones? And so I was always invested in their, their growth, their training, and would ensure that we'd build a project that included decent training for them. And very often, I got to deliver it as well. So it was coming. It was coming. And here we are.

Jim Collison 30:55
Yeah, yeah. It's, and it's hard to see, you know, when you're in it, it's hard to see. And I just think about all the journeys; I've watched thousands of coaches join us, get certified and then start their journey. And I can see it from the outside because I watch them on Facebook, or I, they send me emails, or they ask me questions in IM or some of those kinds of things. And so you kind of see that journey. I think the trust part is hard. Like, because in the moment, you don't know it's going to be OK. You have to say, oh, OK, well, I'm pivoting this way. Well, OK, in the, in the description in Eventbrite for this event, you talked a little bit about the March 2020 event, right.

Justin Douglas 31:36
Oh, yes.

Using Your Strengths to Confront Life/Career Challenges

Jim Collison 31:36
And it changed a lot of things for you. Can you think back to that moment? And let's apply trust to this. Because it's easy now to go, Oh yeah, I just trust it. Well, what did it feel like back in March of 2020? And what kind of encouragement would you give to others?

Justin Douglas 31:51
Sure. So, March 2020, full lockdown here in U, in the UK. And yeah, I mean, it was, as I've described in the Eventbrite brief, it was like dominoes. The, the bookings I had with my major client were just falling away. It's just incredible to see it happen. Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom -- they're all gone. And I'm not gonna say it was easy, that transition. The one thing that it really opened up for me was suddenly a sense of opportunity as well. So it took time, naturally. It took time for all of us. And I think if we're thinking about any transition phase, you know, now or in the past or in the future, it does take time. And we need to allow ourselves that time. We need to think about how we're going through it. I think we need to talk with people, I think that's so important. I remember discussing with my wife and friends this whole concept of, Is this easy or not? You know, for someone with Adaptability at that time, on one hand, I was thinking, This should be easy, but it wasn't. Why was that? Well, what it was, and I realized it through discussion and self-, self-reflection, what was happening was my Connectedness at No. 4, and my Communication at No. 5, they were fighting. They were fighting each other, they were fighting for space, if you like. And it was only through kind of that sense of considering where our strengths are that I then realized, OK, so there's something that needs to be done here. What can I do to feed them?

Justin Douglas 33:30
And funnily enough, coming to a lot of the Gallup sessions helped feed those two elements, those two strengths themes. And at the same time, that then gave Adaptability its level of comfort. I mean, I'm talking of them as if they're sort of separate friends. It's very weird that. but we do -- when we, when we know our strengths well, we can feel how they're working for us. And then I think, because it was a whole period of new opportunity, and again, I say in anyone going through, through transition, what is, what is core to us? So we look at our strengths. What, where does that take us? That's one thing.

Justin Douglas 34:06
And then, I think for me back then, what I was able to think about very strongly was values. And I have a passionate belief in, you know, the power of values. And, in fact, Belief is my No. 7 in my strengths profile. And values, if I, if I think about, if we steer towards our values and our passions, I'd like to say we're halfway there. But give or take, we're halfway to where we need to be. And if I think about how I want to develop my business, then that has been absolutely key. So you know, Jim and others on this, on this call listening know that I have a real passion for the environment, for trying to make the world a better place, higher levels of sustainability. Well, guess what? Guess where I'm trying to steer my client work? You know, I'm looking for clients working in that space.

Justin Douglas 35:06
So not too long ago, I had my first client in the renewable energy sector. And it was wonderful, what a great feeling that was to be supporting a client like that. And hopefully, there'll be more to come. So there's that sense of being able to turn. I guess, sometimes in times of great transition, we have a little bit more thinking time. We have some more time to actually consider what's right for us. And I'm not saying that my major client was not right for me; it was. There are loads of great things that that client does and still do. But the fact that it was fact that it was taken away from me meant that I was really, kind of like, had to reconsider.

Justin Douglas 35:48
So that was one thing. And then I think, also, I was very conscious of the sense of needing to be flexible. Flexible in terms of, OK, we're at a point where we can grow a business; how can we be flexible in growing a business? And two things came to my mind, and they, they've really kind of accelerated in, over the past 12 months, as it were. One is about partnering with others. So I often partner with someone that you've spoken to on this show, Hannah Miller, another Certified Strengths Coach. So we do, we've done a few projects together. And that's just such a great way of actually finding people that you have something in common with. And then you can help each other with client projects. So that's a great way, if you're a small business and you're trying to grow, who can you partner with? OK. Similarly, I have partners in the, in the Czech Republic, who I've done things with as well. And that's a really good model for growth.

Justin Douglas 36:52
The second thing, and I love this one, is actually just involving other people that aren't, you know, necessarily Certified Strengths Coaches or facilitators or trainers. And what I'm talking about here is young people in the early part of their career. I have a real passion for helping people in the early part of their career. Why? Because actually, I think careers are pretty tough. There are only a few people that absolutely know where they want to go with their lives. It's quite rare. So helping those younger people see new things, experience new things, that's quite a big thing for me.

Jim Collison 37:28
Yeah, let's talk. Let's dig into that, I think, a little bit, because I think this is an important topic for, for coaches working. How do you, you know, as you think about working, bringing along the next generation, you know. Justin, you're staying young, but I'm not getting any younger.

Justin Douglas 37:46
You're too kind!

Helping the Next Generation Navigate Their Careers

Jim Collison 37:47
Somehow, somehow it's working for you, but not for me. When you, when you approach the, you know, bringing along, whether you call it an internship, or what, however you want to, whatever you want to call there, what kind of things have you learned about that and helping? Because I grew, I mean, I ran Gallup's internship programs for a lot of years. So I totally agree with you on this. How do you bring them along? How do you get involved? How do you get them involved? Where do you find them? Talk, just talk a little bit about that process.

Justin Douglas 38:13
So finding them, that's not too difficult. Usually, we know people. We and, you know, it's friends of, friends and family. You know, often, those are the sorts of people who give you the connections and people that you know, you care about, that you can start to involve. Obviously, you can start to reach wider as well. So far, for me, it's people that I know in some family capacity. And that's just fantastic. So they might be doing their own thing. One particular person that's been helping me a few times this year, she's studying theater and performance. In fact, she was going to be here briefly to say hello, but she's busy performing today at university. But what a, what a great experience it was. So finding the people, I think, is relatively easy. Of course, you can expand your reach, go out to universities, you know, run a little session explaining what you do, and invite people that might want to be involved in -- it's kind of like work experience.

Justin Douglas 39:14
But it's more than that, because one thing I'm absolutely key on is paying them well. Why do I say that? Well, it's too easy for us to think, Oh, well, you know, they're young. They haven't got so much experience. I'll pay them on the cheap and get away with it. And that's OK. And it may well be legal, but I love -- it's funny. I love the feeling of paying them well! What's that about? It's about value. I try and think about what's the value this person's bringing to me? So this person I've mentioned, I pay her at varying rates -- how about that? -- according to the value that it's giving to me. And what I mean by that is, How much is my stress levels coming down? There's something genuinely powerful about that. What a blessing to have someone with you that can, that can do that.

Justin Douglas 40:00
So I'll give you an example of how that, how that can work in practice as well. Because what I also want to bring out is the point of, What role do they fulfill? Yes, they might be helping put in, if it's a physical room, putting up posters, helping you organize things, setting things out on the tables. Yes, if it's a virtual event, they'll be running the Zoom, monitoring the chat, and so on. But it goes further for me. Always, always, in my mind, I have the feeling of, they need to be a costar. They need to be someone that has their own spotlight on them. They need to be special -- because they are special. They're an individual human being at the early part of their career, looking to find out new insights into what life is all about, and what we can do in life. And what better place to do that than CliftonStrengths? Because we know that strengths is a great, you know, boost for young people as they go through their lives.

Justin Douglas 40:58
I often reflect, I wish I knew about CliftonStrengths when I was 18, 19. But anyway, so there we go. We get them involved. And it's then about giving them the spotlight. And I remember some really nice examples, both the physical events that this person has been to this year, quite recently. She's there, giving her own examples of how she's applied strengths or how she's seen situations in other areas where she's volunteered. How the sort of having a bit of a strengths focus would make a difference. And then again, on a virtual scenario, yes, she was doing the, the Zoom stuff for me -- that was lovely! But she also came in with comments. You know, say, "Oh, Justin, you know, do you mind if I just reflect on that?" Wow, and the audience love it! The audience love it, because they're, they're getting a different voice. But they're also getting a different insight. They're getting a young person's insight. Like you say, Jim, you know, you might think I'm staying young, but hey, I am aging.

Jim Collison 42:02
I don't think so, Justin. I think you're staying exactly the same.

Justin Douglas 42:07
Costar is, is the way to mentally think about these people.

Jim Collison 42:11
No, right on. In a partnership, you're gonna start seeing some younger voices, seeing, hearing younger voices on Called to Coach. And that's, that's a huge passion of mine. And some doors are beginning to open up, and over the next year or two, you'll see more of that as well. And I want to encourage coaches. Some of them feel like they got to do this thing on their own. And guys, we need to train the next generation. We need to be leaders and trainers of the next generation. So Mark's got a good question for you, Justin. I want to make sure that we don't miss it. He says, With the trends around "quiet quitting," or the Great Resignation, what Aha! moments are your clients, are they experiencing through the understanding of their strengths? So by the way, I don't, I don't know if "quiet quitting" is a new thing. Like, folks have been quitting on work for decades --

Justin Douglas 43:04
I think that's true.

How Strengths Can Address "Quiet Quitting"

Jim Collison 43:05
Maybe since the beginning of time. Right? We've come up with, we've coined with this fancy phrase kind of "quiet quitting" and have put some spotlight on it. It's, it's a difficult time. But along those lines, we know people are checking out at work; they're "disengaged" is the word we've used for a long time. What are you seeing out there? Or how can, how can, how are you helping your clients with some of this?

Justin Douglas 43:28
Oh, my goodness, Jim. I mean, I can think of a couple of recent moments. It's just magic. It is magic when you're in the room and you know you've got some people there that are, Huh? Is this really, does this really work? And they're sort of arms folded slightly, maybe checking out of the room. And then you get that moment when they come up to you, maybe in a little bit of a, you know, gap or break, coffee break or something, and they tell you, you know, words to the effect of, You know what, Justin? I was a bit skeptical about this, but I can see how this works.

Justin Douglas 44:08
And the other one that I absolutely adore, I'll share it. It was a one-to-one session. And it was a kind of intro to strengths. And this person said to me -- well, I should preface it. It was based around feedback, because I am passionate about feedback. That's another topic. So at the end of a session, I'll ask for feedback. And I asked this chap, you know, "So how's this been for you?" And he says, "Well, Justin, I feel euphoric." I was shocked. I was shocked, because I thought, Whoa! This is strong. Tell me more. He said "Well, to be honest, Justin, at the beginning of this, I was thinking, you know, you're gonna say, you know, 'Here's your CliftonStrengths 34 profile. Look at all this stuff. You really need to get better at this.' And instead, Justin, you told me to look at the top and, you know, focus on all that, and where I'm already strong and get better at that." And that's what made him feel euphoric. I'm wow, I felt pretty good too. Because that, I mean, that's the kind of turnaround. Wow, what an amazing thing! And it's, I think those moments are just stunning. And if we're doing our job well about explaining the way strengths work -- and storytelling, I think, is one of the great ways to do that; examples, and I try and do that as much as possible. And the passion that we can have for it as people that have studied the world of CliftonStrengths. That's where we can really help organizations.

Justin Douglas 45:38
And I think, you know, when we talk about "quiet quitting," I often say to people, it's better, again, it's quite often the young people who may be in a role and they feel a bit like constrained, I say, "You've got your role; let's draw a box around that. But what's going on outside of it? What other things are going on that you can put your head into and look around?" So I always say, yes, sometimes careers, we have to be patient. They're not like mobile, mobile phones, and so on, where, you know, everything's on tap, instantly. Careers are more slow. So in a role, we need to be patient for that. And I think that we can help people sometimes with the quiet-quitting phenomena, to maybe look at other opportunities within the organization they're already in. Often it's about talking to people -- just getting off your seat and going and talking. So there's that. And then B), obviously helping steer towards strengths helps people feel so much better about what they're doing and what they can do. That's where I probably go with that one. I hope that helps answer the question, Mark.

Jim Collison 46:42
I think so. I think it's a dialogue. I think it's a long conversation we can't answer in a webcast. Yeah, it is super difficult. And, you know, I think we're going to see, Mark, to your question, I think with this Great Resignation, we're actually going to see another bounce for people who change jobs to just change jobs and maybe not looked at their own strengths and their own career goals. They just leaped. Like, Hey, everybody else is doing this. There was a little bit of FOMO, much like the housing market in the United States -- everybody was snatching up as much property as they could, because they were afraid they were gonna, they're gonna miss out, right. "I gotta do this right now." I think there was some of that being driven -- and listen, genuinely people not happy with the roles that they were in and a great opportunity for them to do something different.

Jim Collison 47:29
But I do think -- we spent some time last week, 2 weeks ago, we spent a lot of time looking at this idea of career exploration, whether it was from, from, from the college -- had Tim Hodges on, talking about it from a college perspective. Jennifer came and joined us from a career counseling or a career coaching perspective. And I think that all plays into it. But what kind of value do we give individuals when they have that framework to think through, as they're making that career transition, right, to understand who they are? I love the fact that you said, "And you got to look around sometimes." Because I think, you get into a role, and that's not going to be everything. Right? What else, where else can I add value? Thank goodness that I got an opportunity at Gallup to add value, first in recruiting, and then by doing this. Otherwise, I don't, I don't think I would, I would have made it long term. Right? I got an opportunity to do something different.

Justin Douglas 48:20
Yeah. So interesting. I remember one person that long, this was many years ago. And I, I managed to, well, she, she came to me at the end of a training event. This was when I was at IBM as an employee. And she was kind of, you know, chatting and da-da-da-da. And then she talked about wanting to get into this kind of training role and so on. She liked the idea of being involved in it. And then she, then that was that. And then I heard from her again. And she asked, she said, "Oh, Justin, you know, just checking in with you. Do you happen to have any, you know, thoughts on perhaps joining training?" And I said, "Well, come to think about it, yes. I happen to know there's a vacancy in such-and-such a team. So she then goes and does that, gets the position, and then she, and she is in that role. And she said to me, and I thought this was fascinating; she said, she said, "Oh, Justin, I just feel so lucky." And I said, "Luck always plays a part. However, there's an awful lot we can do to help create luck, to help increase the probability that the luck will land on our side." And I said to her, "And that's what you did by striking up a dialogue with me. That helped you have a lucky moment. So it was not just luck." And I always think about that, and that, that's my point about looking around. You know, and it's the same if you're growing your business. It's looking around, it's speaking to people, it's looking for opportunities, having a look round there and thinking, Ah, oh, that looks interesting! Let's go and investigate. Let's go and have a conversation with them.

Jim Collison 49:58
Yeah, I always say luck is that spot where preparation meets opportunity.

Justin Douglas 50:03
Oh, I like it, Jim!

Words of Encouragement for Coaches

Jim Collison 50:04
Right? It just is, you gotta be ready for it and, and those things happen. Justin, I've thrown out the last call for the chat room to see if they have any questions. As you think about encouraging the coaching community -- you've been doing this with us for a long time -- as you think about some final words on encouraging the coaching community and things you've learned about building a business, and maybe even thinking futuristic here, with a small "f" futuristic, what, what would you, how would you encourage the community?

Justin Douglas 50:32
OK, well, I did make some notes around key points that I thought we should make sure we, we learn. So I'm gonna, I'm gonna go for them. Steer to values and passions. I think that's a huge one. We know that when we do that, we will feel brilliant. And the word "thriving" then applies. So not just a coaching business, but a thriving coaching business; it feels great. Doesn't mean everything's easy, but it's going to be a better path. We've got to pick up on that. I saw it in the strength, sorry, in the comments line up, the chat there about trust -- leaning into one's strengths, aiming for trust, for total trust. I think as coaches, if we can honestly say to ourselves, we trust our strengths hugely, that is going to be a massive help in our own coaching work, because we've kind of got to that a moment of, yeah, it's an amazing position. So hopefully, a lot of people feel that they can do that. And if not, then work on it, so you really get those moments and maybe stretch it -- you know, you talked, Jim, about, you need to experience it, like I did, and unexpectedly. So sometimes we may need to create those moments and examine, Are the strengths working for us? And they probably will be -- because you've been intentional about it. So there's that.

Justin Douglas 51:52
Breaking conventions? That's the other one. There's the, we had the example of the 6 minutes past the, the hour or whatever. And Jim, yes, please do, do more of the preshows. But yeah, define the, define the start point? Yeah, I think I have a little rule around things. You know, if you want to break a convention, ask yourself this: Is it a logically sensible thing to do? It? Does it pass that test? Yes. Is it legal? OK, does it pass that test? Is it ethical? And then fourthly, is it actually possible? If it passes all those tests, well, why not? I get people in, in training events, if you sort of set them a free-form activity, and they say, "Oh, can I, can I use this sort of big log of wood or something?" And I'd say, "Well, let's run it through logical, ethical, legal and possible. Go for it!" So there's that.

Justin Douglas 52:45
What else we got? Yes. Yeah, we talked about the whole transition. I think the biggest learning there for me is about exploration. Exploration and, and experimentation. So trying to explore, trying to experiment, remembering our strengths. And, yeah, acknowledge that it takes time. Acknowledge that there'll be some ups and downs. There were for me. But I think exploration and experimentation, really key when we go through transition.

Jim Collison 53:15
Keep going, you got one more?

Justin Douglas 53:17
OK, OK. Scaling up? That's another one -- scaling up, we talked about scaling up and being flexible in how we do that. Involving others, partnerships, or indeed, involving young people. You talk quite rightly about, you know, building the next generation. And that is key. And that is exciting as well. And then I'm going to pick, pick up another one, which is observation. I often say this to people: So when you are going about your daily business, maybe you're just in a meeting, isn't, nothing to do with delivering a training or coaching session, but you're in some formal meeting or something, observe what's going on around you. Are there things going on that you observe in other people that you think, Hmm, I like that. I'm going to try it. And guess what, Jim, no better person, perhaps, than you, as someone that I have observed, and your colleagues as well, so many of them as well. But, and I literally have been thinking, Yeah, I'm learning from you and your colleagues as you're going through the sessions, but I'm also going, Hmm, what do I like about what I'm seeing on screen? What could I do that I can take with me? And of course, we're talking in the virtual environment, but it applies to anything in life -- going to get a coffee from a cafe; anything. You can see it everywhere; observation opportunity is everywhere. And we can learn from that.

Jim Collison 54:42
Yeah. The, listen, the coaching and, the coaching community, the coaches and coaching community, have made me better at this job by me watching you guys do things, right, and to see the various things that are happening in the community, knowing I don't have to do them all. It's not my job to do them all. You know, I have a very different role than, than a lot of folks. But, but I appreciate you saying watching others and then trying it, you know. I remember early on in the 2020, I hate Zoom. I hate Zoom. I hate using Zoom. I hate Zoom for big meetings just, and, and yet there were some folks having some success doing these large Zoom gatherings. And I just didn't -- I like this way. I like control. This is what I learned, Justin: I like control. And Zoom's out of control for me, right. But, but I tried a couple, and now we've moved our community calls -- they're Zoom, and I'm not, still not totally comfortable with it, but I'm getting better. So I guess the, I want to say to you, Thank you for, in your role as a coach, and the community to continue to push me and others to do things to think differently. You know, Holly said she kind of, she kind of misses the preshow aspect of it. And I took it away for a very specific purpose. But, you know, it's always good to hear and to get that feedback.

Justin Douglas 56:06
And actually, that's a good, that's a, it is, it is, and the power of feedback. Oh, my goodness. I just can't, you know, if there's another lesson for people, for goodness sake, try and get as much feedback as possible. The power of feedback to accelerate performance is astonishing. It is absolutely astonishing. It really is. And we got some feedback there, Jim. Do we, will we have time for a little pre-, postshow?

Jim Collison 56:31
Little post? I don't. So no, I don't. And we didn't even end 5 minutes early, like we were talking. So we went right on time. Justin, thank you for taking the time. If you can hang tight with me; don't go anywhere yet. But thank you for coming on. Thank you for your work in the community and the things that you do and encouraging others to do the same. And I just appreciate you and the work that you're doing. Thanks for coming out.

Justin Douglas 56:55
Oh, thank you so much for inviting me. It's been an enormous pleasure and, and a privilege to be on your show, I have to say. Thank you. And I hope people have found it valuable.

Jim Collison 57:04
You are very welcome. And I've been, like I said, I looked forward to this for a long time. And thanks for coming on. With that, we'll remind everyone to take full advantage of all the resources we do have available now in Gallup Access. Head out to For coaching, master coaching or if you want to become a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach like Justin, you can send us an email: And we'll get somebody back to you to help you through that process. You can follow all the webcasts at Find us in our Facebook group: Justin, I never thought anybody would actually follow from that written, I mean, from that, I state that long email address. And every day, somebody joins the group from me just saying it. That's one of those kinds of things and you never know what's going to happen. Somebody said, "Do you really think they follow from that, from you saying it?" And I'm like, Yeah, I do. Because I see them and I hear from them every single day, it'll say from the podcast. Thanks for listening to us today and thanks for coming out. With that, we'll say, Goodbye, everybody.

Justin Douglas' Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Maximizer, Adaptability, Empathy, Connectedness and Communication.

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

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