I empower people. I’m a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach who isn’t afraid to help you achieve your biggest goals and overcome your toughest shit. I want you to be your best self. Ask Me Anything.

Anne Brackett
Jun 13, 2018

Last August, I took a giant leap – out of my soul-sucking job and into my own coaching business: https://www.strengthsuniversity.org/. Throughout my career, I provided those around me with opportunities to become more authentic versions of themselves. This new adventure allows me to work with people both one on one and in groups who want to become more of what makes them special.

What’s Strengths Coaching? Remember the Wizard of Oz? In the end, the Wizard tells the Tin Man, The Cowardly Lion, and the Scarecrow that the heart, courage, and brains they searched for were there the whole time. They just hadn’t had the right experiences or knowledge to see them.  

Strengths coaching is just that. You already have the talents you need to be successful. We start with Gallup’s CliftonStrengths assessment https://www.gallupstrengthscenter.com/home/en-us/cliftonstrengths-how-it-works to find out your top talents. When you work with a Strengths Coach, you start to better understand your natural talents, learn how to turn those talents into strengths, and learn how to put those strengths into action. When you invest in your talents, you become more productive, successful, and ultimately happier.

Most people try to improve the things that they aren’t naturally good at thinking that will solve their problems. What people don’t realize is that what causes the most of our problems isn’t the things we’re not good at, it’s when we don’t use our talents productively. The time you spend “fixing” yourself, would be better spent turning your talents into strengths. That is what makes people successful. That is what creates excellence.

Strengths Coaching helps people understand how to use their talents to reach their goals, including how to better work with others. People need one another. Conflicts usually happen when we don’t understand other’s talents and think our way of doing things is the only right way. We work with groups to develop teams and we help individuals navigate problems they're having with other people. When everyone focuses on and uses their own unique talents – and appreciates what everyone brings to the table – it creates stronger teams, whether that be at work or at home.

Investing in Strengths makes everyone stronger.

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What have been your biggest challenges after leaving your soul-sucking job and how did you solve them?
Jun 18, 10:21PM EDT0

Adjusting my expectations. I put a great deal of thought into the decision, but in reality, I had no idea what starting a business really entailed. In my head, I thought I’d take a week off then go all in and have a flourishing business after a few months. LOL. What an idiot! I didn’t factor in several things. A) Change, no matter how positive, is still stressful. B) The amount I don’t know about running my own business seems to grow daily. Just when I get ready to X, I find out I need to do Y first. I’ve taken three steps forward and two steps back numerous times. Heck, I’ve taken one step forward and three steps back at times.

The way I dealt with A was self-care and staying positive. I went to therapy, got coaching, gave myself time to decompress. Mostly I had to realize that my timeline was not at all feasible. God speed became my motto. I also relied on my positivity (my #7 Strength). I focused on the progress I WAS making, even when it wasn’t what I wanted to happen. I reminded myself how lucky I was to have friends, family, and furry friend – my dog Sweet Dee – who supported me. To have faith in myself, my abilities, and the business. To have a business partner that I was excited to work with and whom I also had tremendous faith in.

Dealing with B is an ongoing issue. I’ve learned to ask for help instead of struggling through things that are clearly not in my strengths. I’ve learned to continuously look for information – in books, online, through other people – that can help me fill in the gaps I don’t know.

Jun 20, 5:12PM EDT0
What are the differences between coaching groups as opposed to coaching individuals? How do you coach different people in one session?
Jun 18, 7:39PM EDT0

When we work with groups it’s more of a training scenario. We do group trainings on a variety of topics – an overview of the Strengths philosophy; leadership; engagement; the Strengths manager; etc. During group trainings we do give people a chance to do some individual work to reflect and we certainly answer people’s questions about themselves or situations they may be in, but it’s not the same intensive individual attention you would get during a coaching session. In individual coaching we focus on your individual talents, how you use them, how you can improve how you use them, and how you can use your talents to achieve whatever goals you have for yourself.

Jun 18, 8:34PM EDT0
How does your coaching style help people to be more assertive?
Jun 17, 1:07PM EDT0

Coaching in general can help you become more assertive by increasing your self-esteem. The more you understand that you already have the tools you need to be successful – aka your talents – the more confident you act and feel. Depending on what a client’s goals are and the obstacles they see to reaching those goals, it’s not uncommon for me to suggest that assertiveness – or the lack there of – is a contributing factor to why they aren’t reaching their goals. For those individuals or if you already know assertiveness is an issue, I use a combination of assertiveness training and strengths coaching. Most people have a lot of misunderstandings about what assertiveness is. We talk about what it actually is and what might be holding you back from being assertive. Just like any other goal, your talents can help you become more assertive.

Jun 18, 7:42PM EDT0
How do you know if your clients stayed on the path of being truly strong and true to themselves or have the reverted to their old ways? Do you keep in contact with them?
Jun 17, 5:40AM EDT0

I would say it varies.  I do keep in touch with some of my clients, but I would describe the product of coaching as more “talent management and development” than “old ways vs. staying strong and true to themselves.” Everyone uses their talents every day (sometimes well, sometimes not so well), whether or not they’ve been coached. However, most people do not use their talents in a consistently effective way. That’s not the same as being untrue to themselves. Instead, coaching helps you understand how your talents guide you and how you may be misapplying or over/under utilizing your talents. This includes identifying what skills and knowledge you may need/want to acquire to allow you to maximize your talents. It’s all a process. Coaching won’t stop you from misusing your talents sometimes – habits die hard and until you’ve had an opportunity to gain those skills and knowledge then you won’t necessarily have what you need to truly turn all your talents into strengths.

That’s why I call it talent management. Once you know how you use your talent effectively and how you don’t, you can more quickly identify when it’s happening and change your behaviors to avoid it. You also become more aware of what you need in terms of your personal and professional development to get you to the next level. Old ways are really just underdeveloped ways. Coaching and talent development is a process. Coaching helps you become the best version of you, not a new you.

We do have a process for reaching out to check in with our past clients, but what they chose to do, or chose not to do, is up to them and what they need.

Jun 18, 7:38PM EDT0
If someone is feeling generally unhappy about his life and doesn't know what he needs. Does that make your job more difficult? What is your approach in finiding out his needs and how long does that process takes?
Jun 16, 7:06AM EDT0

It doesn’t make it more difficult. It just means taking a broader approach. Finding out what you need or what’s preventing you from being happy becomes the goal. We’d spend most of our time exploring your individual talents and how they play out in your life – both positively and negatively. It’s not uncommon for people to not know why the things in their life feel off. There can be a misalignment of talents to roles, miscommunications/understandings with others based on our talents, etc. Usually the process of better understanding ourselves, our talents, and how our behaviors - which stem from our talents - affect us, helps you better understand what you need to feel more fulfilled in your life.

Jun 17, 7:50PM EDT0
Do you ever have clients who are skeptic of your methods but want to try it because they tried everything else but didn't work? Do you treat them any differently to prove that your methods work?
Jun 16, 3:48AM EDT0

Oh definitely. Some people’s talents require them to do a great deal of research and/or analysis before making decisions or buying into something. That’s completely valid. I encourage them to read the technical report that outlines all the research that’s gone into developing CliftonStrengths: https://www.gallup.com/services/176321/clifton-strengthsfinder-technical-report-development-validation.aspx. Besides that, no, I don’t treat them any differently. As long as they’re actually putting in the effort, the results should speak for themselves. If their skepticism prevents them from keeping an open mind and putting forth much effort, then there’s not really much I can do to persuade them since they won’t get much out of the experience.

Jun 17, 7:41PM EDT0
How would a session of individual coaching go? What are you looking for in that first session?
Jun 15, 6:35AM EDT0

In the first session, we go over the basics of the Strengths framework and your CliftonStrengths results. We also talk about your goals and what obstacles get in your way. I’m looking for information from you about how you see yourself and what you want out of coaching. The most important thing is just for you to be honest about yourself and what you want. That’s what will drive the rest of our time together.  

Jun 15, 8:04PM EDT0
Have you thought about expanding your coaching to help people with addiction problems? Do you thing that strength coaching can help those people stay on the right track of their recovery and properly manage the temptation of old habits?
Jun 15, 3:13AM EDT0

I haven’t. I think Strengths coaching can help anyone work toward becoming their best self and achieving their goals - including sobriety. That being said, when we’re dealing with mental health issues like addiction I think that Strengths coaching would be best used in partnership with other support mechanisms such as a licensed counselor, AA, etc.   

Jun 15, 7:46PM EDT0
Program design and periodization is a lost art now, could you get into great resources or books that can help guide young coaches?
Jun 13, 7:26PM EDT0

Yes, there is a bit of confusion when I talk about Strengths coaching and training. Many a Google search has left me cursing into the wind. I don’t actually do athletic/physical training. I work with people to help them develop their natural talents into Strengths – as in consistently and productively using their talents to become for successful and productive. Just like in athletic training, I do believe that systematic planning is an important aspect in all coaching, as is aiming to reach the best possible performance. Strengths coaching and training is about understanding your natural talents and aiming them to be the best possible you. As a coach, I always go in with an idea of how to help them reach their goals, but with the understanding that my client is driving the wheel. I help my clients reach their fullest potential and use their Strengths to achieve the goals they have – some of which might very well be athletic excellence.

Jun 14, 1:55PM EDT0
What is one tactic you have for people on how to overcome adversity?
Jun 13, 4:05PM EDT0

The great thing about Strengths – and the thing that makes it hard to answer questions like this – is that everything is very individualized. What works well for one person, won’t necessarily lead to success for another. So, to answer your question very broadly, one of the best ways to overcome adversity is to get to know yourself. The better you know your talents/Strengths, needs, goals, feelings, etc., the better shape you’ll be to tackle life’s many obstacles.

When we’re stressed, we tend to go into automatic pilot. As much as we’re focused on the problem and solving it – we’re often physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausted from the effort – it’s hard for us to step back and be objective. This means the likelihood of us solving it on our own decreases. When you start looking inward, you can see where you might be focusing on the wrong things, letting something in your past influence the decisions you make now, or aren’t using your talents to their full potential. You can certainly do this on your own through self-reflective activities like journaling. But it can also be invaluable to have a coach or therapist help you with this process. Again, we don’t always know when we’re seeing something – including ourselves – in a warped way. A neutral third party can help you do that more effectively. (I don’t necessarily recommend using your friends here, since your friends are most likely not objective about you.)

Discovering your talents and working to develop them into Strengths can also increase your self-esteem about your ability to get through and/or solve whatever is going on. We say we empower people because when you know the tools you already have and learn how to use them to their full potential, you become an agent of change for your own life.

Jun 14, 1:53PM EDT0
If you could give 1 book as a gift on strength to anyone, what would it be?
Jun 13, 9:13AM EDT0

Ooh, that’s a tough one. I pride myself on personalizing the gifts I give, so that’s hard to answer not knowing what the recipient has going on with their life and what their strengths are. If you’re asking what book would be best to help explain the basics of Strengths, I would suggest “Now Discover Your Strengths” by Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton. BUT I think as a gift, I would go with Brené Brown’s “The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are.” I know it isn’t a “Strengths” book per se, but it goes to the heart of what Strengths is. In order to do Strengths work, you need to be vulnerable and look at yourself from a new perspective. You have to be willing to let go of the false expectations that others (and ourselves) have put on us. You need to understand who you are as well as who you aren’t. It takes courage to do that. I think “The Gift of Imperfection” helps you better understand that you don’t need to be everything to everyone.

Jun 13, 9:21PM EDT0
What's one daily habit that you feel contributes to your success?
Jun 13, 7:36AM EDT0

I would say positivity. I suppose that’s less of a habit and more of a mindset, but it’s something I practice every day. When I quit my job, I had no idea all the things I didn’t know about starting a business. Not to mention, I had to deal with all the feelings and emotions I’d suppressed to be able to stay in my previous job as long as I did. My immune system was at an all time low and I moved in with my sister’s family featuring my lovely two nieces – aka germ factories. I was sick repeatedly and frustrated that the business wasn’t moving as fast as I thought. Then in January, I got sick again – which was pretty typical by that point. The morning after I started antibiotics for an upper respiratory infection I woke up with the room spinning and could barely hear. Long story short, I had labyrinthitis (WebMD says it’s RARE – lucky me!!) which resulted in losing all hearing in my right ear. I’ve also had vertigo since then, which left me unable to drive or do much without frequent “brain breaks” for months. I’ve only recently been able to drive short distances and get through the day productively. BUT despite all of this, I’ve been able to focus on the progress I have been able to make. I take things day by day focusing on all they ways my life is better than it was when I was working full time, the wonderful people in my life supporting me, and how the small things I do every day will lead to even greater success. I don’t ignore my emotions, but my positivity kept me from getting stuck or giving up.    

ADDENDUM: After sleeping on this, I think the practice of gratitude is directly linked to this. I have positivity as one of my dominant Strengths, so it comes more naturally to me. If it doesn't for you, cultivating gratitude is the way to produce similar results. The good news is gratitude is trending, so all you have to do is Google it and you'll get plenty of ideas and info! 

Last edited @ Jun 14, 1:14PM EDT.
Jun 13, 9:15PM EDT0
Anonymous

Strengths coaching seems like a great thing, but is it really worth spending the $$$?

Jun 12, 5:19PM EDT0

It honestly depends. As I mentioned in a previous answer, if you’re not going to put much into the experience you’re better off just keeping your money – I am however still willing to take it ;) I definitely understand being short on cash and thinking “oh I can figure things out myself” or “I just need to get through ______ and I’ll be fine.” That being said, it always kills me to see people struggle when getting coaching could make things so much better and easier for them in the long run.

Is it worth the $$$? Yes, if you feel stuck – at school, in a job, at home, with your spouse, with a coworker, with your boss, anything really – then being able to better understand the underlying issues is invaluable. Strengths coaching helps you better understand yourself, your needs, what you contribute, and how you come across to others. Knowing these things can make a huge impact on how you see yourself, how you make decisions, and how you interact with others. Think about how much of your energy and time are already wasting on these problems. How much would it be worth to you to get that time back?

Last edited @ Jun 13, 9:14PM EDT.
Jun 13, 9:11PM EDT0
How stressful was to decide to open your own business?
May 28, 8:12PM EDT0

Less stressful than staying at the job I was in at the time, that’s for sure. It honestly started as a fantasy “what if I won the lottery” situation. Then I realized that people who haven’t won the lottery start businesses all the time. We’d started working on the basics and thought it would at least be a nice side-hustle for a while, but when my partner was offered a job somewhere else, I decided to bite the bullet and really make a go of it. Turns out there was a lot I didn’t and don’t know about running a business – which can definitely be stressful – but I’m excited the direction we’re headed and very much know I made the right decision.   

Jun 13, 1:08PM EDT0
What makes you distinctive from other coaches? What is unique about your services?
May 28, 1:00AM EDT0

What’s unique about our approach is that we use the CliftonStrengths assessment and framework. This may seem like a shortcut, but really, it’s an incredibly helpful tool that lets people have greater insight into who they are, how they interact with the world, and where they should focus their efforts. As a coach, we have an understanding of all 34 talent themes and how they often operate in the world. We can help you identify where your talents are helping you be productive and where they’re getting in your way. We help groups and individuals understand their talents, the ways they’re using them productively (and not so productively), how to develop their talents into strengths, and how to work better with others – who invariably have other talent sets.

We also have a wealth of experience in coaching. While we have recently opened Strengths University we have been coaching people and training groups for decades in our previous roles.  We have an intense desire to empower people to become their best selves. We know this will change the world.

Jun 13, 1:07PM EDT0
What is the strengths assessment and how does it help people?
May 27, 10:04PM EDT0

CliftonStrengths is a talent assessment. When we talk about talent, we are talking about patterns of thought, feeling, and behavior that can be productively applied. Gallup has identified over 250 individual talents – which would be pretty impossible to discuss, so they grouped similar talents into the 34 talent themes that you find in the CliftonStrengths assessment.

That is why even if you have the same talent as someone else, it usually shows up in a slightly different way. The words talent and strength are tossed around in this realm, often as the same thing but when we are talking about strengths, we are really talking about the equation of

Talent (natural way of thinking, feeling, behaving)

X

Investment (time spent practicing, developing your skills and building your knowledge base)

=

Strength

The CliftonStrengths assessment helps people by both identifying your talents and giving you a framework to discuss them. CliftonStrengths gives you a rich language to better understand and communicate your talents, motivations, needs, and behaviors. This makes it easier for you to understand yourself, achieve goals, and work better with others. Having this ‘language’ as a team, a family, a partner, etc. helps us honor the uniqueness in ourselves and the uniqueness of others.

Jun 13, 1:06PM EDT0
What was the last straw that made you take the decision to become an entrepreneur?
May 27, 9:26PM EDT0

I had worked at a college for 12 years and while I initially loved my job, the culture had changed dramatically. The one thing still keeping me there was my colleagues, who happened to also be some of my best friends. One had left the year before and another – my now business partner, Alicia – had just been offered a job at another institution. Alicia and I had already talked about starting the business on the side, but when she was leaving I knew I had to go as well.

Jun 13, 1:02PM EDT0
What is your academic background? Are you a certified coach?
May 27, 11:59AM EDT0

Both my partner and I are Gallup Certified Strengths Coaches. I also have a Master’s Degree in Education and I’m currently a PhD candidate in Education – I’ve completed my course work and have to complete my dissertation. My partner, Alicia, has a Master’s Degree in Social Work.

Jun 13, 1:02PM EDT0
How much does the Gallup’s Clifton Strengths assessment cost and what does it provide?
May 27, 8:32AM EDT0

There are two options. The Top 5 CliftonStrengths report is $19.99 (if you book a 3 or 5 session coaching package through us, a code for your Top 5 report is included). Or you can get the All 34 report for $49.99 (if you book a 10 session package through us, a code for your All 34 report is included).

For most people, I’d recommend starting with the Top 5 report. Why? The entire foundation of CliftonStrengths is that you should focus on becoming excellent at the things you have talent in, NOT trying to improve things you’re not talented in. When people get their All 34 report, most people instinctively go to see what’s at the bottom of the list. This may be interesting, but it’s not where your focus should be. Initially, Dr. Clifton only wanted to give people their top talent because he felt there was a lifetime of work to be done just developing that one talent. Gallup talked him in to the Top 5.

If you’re really going to invest the time into strengths, the benefit of the All 34 is that realistically your dominant strengths are your top 9-12. The full report gives you that information so you can see how all of your top talents show up in your life. That’s why we offer it with our 10-session package. If you’re not sure, you can always upgrade to the All 34 report later if you decide you want additional coaching or you think there’s some key strengths playing into your life that you want to better identify.    

Jun 13, 1:01PM EDT0
What services do you offer through Strengths University? What is your approach?
May 27, 8:17AM EDT0

We offer individual coaching, group training, and consulting for schools and organizations. We have three different individual coaching packages designed to fit different budgets and goals: Strengths 101, Introduction to Strengths: 3 1-hour sessions, Strengths 201, Intermediate Strengths Development: 5 1-hour sessions, and Strengths 301, Advanced Strengths Development 10 1-hour sessions.

Individual coaching can be centered around preparing for college, getting back on track in college, finding your career path, achieving a competitive edge for interviewing, supporting your student(s), becoming a better manager/supervisor, or a different specific goal you are hoping to accomplish.

We also provide group training in a 1 or 2-hour seminar, a ½ or full day workshop. Group training can be around the strengths philosophy, developing talents into strengths, team dynamics, team engagement, or a specific goal or professional development outcome you are hoping to achieve.

We use a strengths-based framework, believing that all people possess talents and the most effective and efficient way to get to success is by using our personal talents and honoring the talents of others.

Jun 13, 1:00PM EDT0
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