December 9, 2019 in Strengths & Weaknesses, True Strength, Intent, Mindset, Action, Resilience, Truth, My thoughts, True Strength Podcast

Jim Collison – True Strength Podcast – Episode 16

As part of my True Strength project, I’m featuring interviews that dig deep into how people succeed and I was delighted to interview Jim Collison from Gallup. CliftonStrengths (TM) top 5 Talent Themes: Arranger, Woo, Communication, Maximizer, Activator

To listen to the interview, simply click ‘play’ on the audio player above or you can read the transcript below. You can find previous episodes on our podcast page.

You can subscribe or listen on several channels:


Hi, this is Ian Pettigrew and welcome to the Kingfisher Coaching True Strength Podcast, today featuring the legend that is Jim Collison of Gallup.  Hello Jim!

Ian – great to be here and thanks for saying that but you know it’s not true!

Well Jim this feels weird for me because I hear you all the time.  I’ve mentioned this to you, I’ve watched the webinars, I’m watching you on YouTube so often and so often in the car I’m listening to Theme Thursdays so I hear your voice so often, so it’s a real privilege to be with you hearing it in person but also it’s a real privilege to be turning the tables on you and finding out more about you as well.

So let’s start with you, the theme of today’s podcast, what do you do at Gallup?

That’s a complex question Ian and a lot of folks ask that. Over the last couple of years I’ve had a kind of dual role, so Director of Talent Acquisition so I spend time recruiting resources, IT resources in particular, for Gallup.  We worked and developed a high school and college internship programme for Gallup, ran 150-200 students through that programme of college and high school so I spent a lot of time doing that.  The other job that you kind of know me for is our webcast infrastructure, so the various podcasts that we put out Called to Coach, Theme Thursday, we’ve Talent Builder Tuesday, we’ve done Theme Thursday in Spanish, we’re doing it in Japanese now, so I spend a lot of time.  I am also Executive Producer for the two Gallup podcasts.  We have one called Out of the Echo Chamber and so I spend a lot of my time, and I’m spending more time as I’m here in London with you, I’m spending more of my time on the webcasts side.  So I was hired at Gallup 12 years ago as an IT Manager.  I kind of morphed into this Director of Talent for IT, which kind of morphed into this Webcast Infrastructure.  I think if you asked me now what’s my real role, it’s really sort of a Brand Ambassador, so my job is to really go out and represent the Gallup brand, whether it’s recruiting or whether it’s webcasting or whether it’s coaches or whatever on podcasts to be that brand ambassador for Gallup.

So you’ve talked a little bit about your journey within Gallup but big picture, how did you end up doing this?  What have you done along your journey and how did you end up doing this?

Yeah, it’s really a story in job crafting right?  That’s kind of a new term that we’re using these days.  I think if you put job crafting in the dictionary it would probably have my story in it because I’m just a perfect example of kind of moving from one, as we look at the talent that I have, so Arranger, WOO, Maximiser, Communication and Activator – I’m a very strong fire hose, that’s kind of the way and it’s always on, it’s always full blast in what I do, I never really slow down.  But that came based on actually some risks that I took.  So as I moved from the IT Manager role into recruiting, that wasn’t a slam dunk and I knew I had to go out and speak to college students but there’s a little bit of a risk to go out and do that right?  Is it going to be successful?  Are they going to find I’m not very good at it?  Is it not going to work?  Will I get my job back, you know some of those kind of things.  And then I did it and it was very very successful and then as the webcast opportunity came around, podcasting right, we call it webcast because seven years ago when we started this, no-one knew what a podcast was and so we used the word webcast.  But as I moved into that it was a big risk, again it could have failed.  Like seven years ago when we started podcasting, nobody really knew, it hadn’t really been done in the enterprise.  Companies weren’t doing it yet, we were kind of way out ahead of that and so a big risk not knowing, either this could fail, we could throw this thing out, we could fail, what’s it going to mean for my career?  No great reward comes without great risk I think often times and so it was a risky proposition to do that.  Gallup is an organisation that really is good at having this internal entrepreneurial, or builder we call it now, talent mentality throughout the organisation and many of Gallup’s best products came out of a start-up idea.  ‘What if we tried this?’  And I don’t know if anybody at Gallup knew what we had on our hands and I don’t know if I even knew what we had on our hands when we got started but I got there by taking a chance.  We were actually doing a story, we were starting this idea of coaching and we wanted to kind of launch to the world, like ‘Hey, we’re going to offer up a Gallup certified coaching course’ and so we did a conference call and our conference call company at the time, you know 3,000 people responded to our invite to come out and, especially 7 years ago, you didn’t do a conference call for 3,000 people right. So the company that we used for our conference calling charged us a whole bunch of money and when I found that out I said I could do this for you for almost nothing and we can reach people via video and audio.  And so that was the risk, could I actually deliver on that piece and we launched the very first Called to Coach, I think we had Curt Liesveld maybe on that episode.  Jeremy Petrocini. Curt and myself and we were off to the races.  It wasn’t long, in fact on that first webcast I think he said something about a Theme Thursday and I think it took us maybe 6 or 7 months to get there with it but we launched Theme Thursday based on that as well.  So that job crafting, the story I tell people when we think about job crafting, if you’re in a wall, it’s not working, your talents aren’t aligned, I think you’ve got to start moving in a direction to get that aligned right, but it’s not going to happen tomorrow, maybe it will but I think in most cases it takes incremental changes over time.  One of the great things Gallup does too is that they let you try things and if it fails there’s a little bit of a safety net from that standpoint.  And so I think you’ve got to try some things and along will come incremental changes.

So what about life before Gallup?  What did you do before Gallup?

OK.. well here we go, we’ll make this quick but right out of High School I went right into the military and so I spent 6 years in the US Army and a very fundamental, very safe time for me in a lot of ways.  I met my wife and got married half way through, a girl from Ohio, and we met in Germany and it’s a whole long story.  After that I came out and worked for a bank and so for 13 years I spent time in Commercial Federal Bank there in Omaha.  I was a Teller and a Personal Banker.  That was actually my introduction into IT, so in 1999 I switched from Banking kind of to the IT world, help them build a big data warehouse that was there.  That initially got acquired by Bank of the West, a big bank in the United States, I think we’re down to maybe 5 banks in the world it seems like these days!  And it was acquired, I moved on into technology project management for a while, which taught me that I’m not a great technology project manager!  So I did that for about 18 months and then got the opportunity to get this manager role at Gallup in 2007.

What drew you to Gallup?  How did you end up at Gallup?

So Gallup in Omaha has quite an employment brand and people believe that nobody gets hired in Gallup, it’s a tough place to get hired into.  We have a selection instrument that is a web assessment and it’s very selective, very choosy and I didn’t think I could ever get in and I was actually having coffee with a friend who would later come to work for Gallup, and actually I would later work with in recruiting which was super great, but we were having coffee and she said “hey, you know Gallup’s looking for managers, you should apply over there”.  I said, “nah, nobody gets into Gallup you know”, and she said “no, no, I think you should try”.  So that afternoon, I had a bad afternoon, I went back to work and I just didn’t go what I was hoping for and so I went online and applied.  Ian, I don’t think I even knew what Gallup really did when I got there.  So I got a little lucky because it hadn’t always been like a life-long dream, ‘oh I’ve always wanted to work there’, but once I got into the organisation and I kind of saw what they were doing and how they were doing it and it fit me so well. You know we kind of select for that right fit, it’s really important in an organisation and employees, not just with their job role which is really important, but the culture in the organisation.  I fit that culture really really well and it fit me and so it was also a discovery process over the first couple of months, like ‘wow, ok!’, and 12 years later here I am here in London getting an opportunity to interview coaches, we’re recording these Ignite sessions, we did a live Called to Coach from The Shard with the night lights coming through the picture last night and it was super great!

And we were talking yesterday just about how much you love your work and that passion comes across loud and clear.

It’s a pretty great job, I’m not going to lie, it’s a pretty great job.

So what do you get up to outside of what we know about you as Gallup because I see on LinkedIn things like Tech Podcasts and other things, so what do you get up to outside of Gallup?

Yeah, the tech podcasting actually pre-dates the Gallup podcasting.  So the reason we podcast at Gallup is because I had started a tech podcast, actually it was a listener podcast and I thought, ‘hey, if anybody can do this, I wanna do this’.  So I started podcasting back in 2009 with a friend of mine, a buddy of mine, and eventually thought, you know I could do my own show, so I created what is now known as Home Gadget Geeks, part of the Average Guy TV Network that we have.  So the tech podcast really was in response to when I joined Gallup I was not doing technology, even though I was managing technology resources. I just love technology, I just love it, and I probably love it more than I’m good at it, just to be honest, like you know it’s like one of those love affairs that’s never going to actually, never be a great developer in, but I thought I was.  So I was getting away from the technology but I was like, I still want to do something technical, so I started this podcast as a response to keeping me in the kind of the consumer tech space, so pc’s macs, phones, home automation.  We interview other interesting tech people who do that as well.  So it really was just a hobby that I later kind of turned into kind of a job but it prepared me. I’d been doing that for 2 or almost 3 years when we started the podcast here at Gallup.  I kind of knew then, I knew what to do when I came in.  So we have some fun tech podcasting, it’s one of my passions.  Small little audience, I don’t really care, I’ve got a really really engaged group of individuals, it’s a really tight mix, they would kill me if I stopped podcasting.  I have become, as part of the intro you said, I had become a part of your world right?  Well that happens as people listen to these shows, it becomes ‘hey you were my Thursday commute’ or  I’ve heard people say ‘You’re my time on the treadmill’ and if you take it away, you go ‘Ooh err, I’ve got to find something new’.  So in this room, you’ve probably found this too with this right, you start to get listener feedback, pretty great right?


So yeah, that’s some of the stuff I do on the side.

So let’s shift the focus a bit and talk about strengths and it’s interesting because I hear you talk so much to other people about their strengths and how it influences them so I want to turn the tables and just find all about you.  Can you talk to us about your dominant talents Jim and particularly about how they make you who you are and how you use them and when you first encountered CliftonStrengths as well?

Yeah, let me tell that story first because I think the how I encountered it is a key component to the life story.  So when I was at Commercial Federal Bank and we had been acquired by Bank of the West, there was some downtime.  Bank of the West in San Francisco were in Omaha, you know how acquisitions go right?  So we had some downtime and I kind of needed something to do.  Commercial Federal Bank had gone through a Gallup administration in both Q12 and Strengths and I found the book First Break All The Rules and I read it and I thought ‘Holy Cow!’, like I want to be managed this way, I want to be a manager that manages this way.  And of course Now Discover Your Strengths was the follow up to that and so I tracked down that book and that worked. I took CliftonStrengths, Strengthsfinder at the time, and I got this top 5 back and started reading what this meant, these top 5 talent themes and immediately that evening I went home and said, first to my wife, ‘you need to take this’ and secondly, ‘we need to parent our children this way’.  How do we start, and not just strengths based but, how do we take strengths approaches to management and apply those to parenting?  So I kind of backed in, so I’m going to invest parenting based on, you know, a work managing techniques as far as really understanding and coaching who my children are and they all took it at some point in time.  We began to try to find what they were best at and really gravitate, coach them, give them plenty of opportunities to learn and fail at home so that we could kind of figure those things out.

So now Gallup’s got a book about Strengths-based Parenting as well!

They do yeah!  I like to think my life is a book on strengths-based parenting, that day I changed the way I parent.  I think if you ever ask me, and maybe this ties into the first question you asked, if you ever ask me ‘where does strengths have the biggest impact for me?’, it would be at home.  And I’d love to say, it’s been amazing at work but it changed the way I parented the kids and so we starting thinking about, you know my oldest has high Responsibility so I immediately thought, you know I kind of trust him now without having to worry about, you know if says it, he’ll do it, right.  On the flip side of that, one of my middle kids has high Adaptability and I didn’t understand it for the longest time.  I thought it was laziness because he would go with the flow “Hey what do you want to do?”, “I don’t care”, “No, I need you to make a decision”, “No literally I don’t care, I can do anything”.  It took me a while to understand that right, but once I had a framework for that, now that we know that right, we don’t ask him when we need a decision made, we don’t ask him, we know he’ll go with anything we say.  So I think strengths had such a big impact, and I’ll be honest, I don’t know if I was ready to manage until I’d actually managed my kids first.  I tell people all the time, I managed when I was in the army and I wasn’t a very good manager, let’s just be honest, I was young, I didn’t know what I was doing, I didn’t quite understand it, but having children and then learning how to manage them kind of in a strengths based way and making tons of mistakes, and then bringing that back to the enterprise and managing people kind of made me a better manager as well.  So, I talked for a long time, did that answer the question you think?

You’ve answered part of it, so the other one is Jim, talk us through your strengths and how they make you who you are.

So I mentioned Arranger, WOO, Maximiser, Communication, Activator and really, the WOO Communication, 4 or 5 are Influencing themes and so I am definitely an influencer.  It makes sense why I podcast, I have a YouTube channel, I’m always trying to convince people of things, I’m always selling, WOO is a selling theme.  At the end of the day, for folks that are listening to this, these talent names, WOO, Maximiser, Communication, they’re really a roll up of talents right, we’ve identified some things that people do well that lead to success and so I am good at convincing, or at least I think I’m good, at convincing other people to move, to change, to go a different direction, to buy something, to influence.  WOO Communication really allows me, I can do this all day.  I’d be great on a morning drive radio show right, I could literally come up with things to talk about all day long and I don’t get tired.  I don’t get tired of it, this is my third day, fourth day actually, in a row.  I’m as energised now, I may be a little more energised than I was when I got here on Sunday.  So you know when you’re in the right space when you’re more energised coming out of it than you were going in.  Don’t get me wrong, I get tired, but the energy, the internal energy and the drive.  Arranger and Activator play together in a role of always, I’ve got a million things on my plate, I may not get any of them done but we’re going to get a lot of things started right, I’m a starter.  I push things forward, I activate on stuff very quickly, sometimes a little bit too early, you know ‘oh we’re not ready’ right and then that Maximiser in the middle is really one, and I say this on Theme Thursday all the time, by the way I learned this from Season 5 of Theme Thursday so we’re all on this journey right, it’s not like we’ve got this all figured out, I’m still kind of learning this as well.  I have this phrase that I use ‘whatever is worth doing is worth over-doing’.  Many times that Maximiser is a quality, for me it’s a maximum quantity, you know I didn’t just start running, I started running half marathons and then marathons right.  I couldn’t do it this year, in fact in February, just a month or two away, I’m going to climb the vertical mile in Omaha, so stairs for a mile, about 3.5 hrs of climbing in there, like that’s not reasonable!  Reasonable people don’t do that!  But the reason I wanted to do it is because Gallup is trying to get more people involved in this event, it’s a well-being event right to get people active.  Well I knew if I took the hardest thing, that might encourage a few others to say ‘well shoot if he’s doing the hardest thing, maybe I can just do the one time up’.  I’m going up 10 and a third times.  Well all of a sudden when you’re doing 10, 1 doesn’t seem so bad right.  Again influencing, I want to influence people so that Maximiser WOO together kind of play in that role.  Listen you gotta be careful around me, you’re going to get all of that and maybe change your mind on something so be careful what you wish for if you’re hanging around me!

And we all hang around you via the podcast a lot of the time!  So what do you most love about being you, what do you most love about your strengths?

You know for a lot of years, I was just talking to some of the coaches that were here for the CliftonStrengths event, that actually for a lot of years I had a lot of anxiety about who I was, so the power in WOO and Maximiser like I just talked about was, I even didn’t quite understand it myself, and sometimes when you’re an influencer in that way you get teased or you get people like ‘oh there he goes again’ right.  In some of those roles, the Activator never lets me finish anything and actually because I thought for the longest time I had to be good at everything, that Activator almost inside of me was more of a weakness than it was a strength right, because I wouldn’t let it complete.  I wouldn’t just let it be activating and be ok with that and as I’ve been working at Gallup and as I’ve been working through these themes, I’ve kind of realised that, you know what, it’s ok to activate as long as I can find people who can finish or maintain even.  And so how do I partner with people and how do I find ways for people to complement who I am?  Not a surprise that in the last 10 years at Gallup and maybe in the last 6 years of really working on that concept, I’ve got a couple of awards that have been partner focussed.  So we call it the Power of Two Award, we have a book called The Power of Two, and so no surprise that those awards have happened as I’ve realised I don’t have to do everything.  In fact if I focus my talents on what I’m best and find others, or rent others in some cases right, if you don’t have it. Maybe you’re in business and you’re struggling with something, you’re not good at the books, hire an accountant right, don’t try to do everything, if you’re not good at it.  If you are, do it but if you’re not, hire it out.  Man that has made the work that I do even more exponentially more powerful. Let’s think about yesterday right, we’re all here, 100 people at the Shard, there is a team of people here.  When I went to set up for the Called to Coach show, we had a live Called to Coach, I had Brent Michaels come with me, from Omaha.  He is an amazing technical guy and he’s just good at set up.  That guy is really good and I’m not bad at it but he is a million times better than me and we did it in 25 minutes what would have taken me probably an hour if I would have done it on my own and wouldn’t have been as good just to be 100% honest.  And so there’s this partnership idea, so to think about my themes and how they work, I think the single most important thing is not just the self-discovery of who I am, because I think that’s important, but allowing myself to not worry about those things I’m not good at. Not perfect by the way, I still have anxiety around some of those things, but to understand, to over-compensate with that with success and I walked away last night going ‘Man that worked out really really well’.

And it did

Thank you.  But to realise it wasn’t just me, like there were dozens of people who played into that, one moment yeah I’m in front of the camera, yeah looks like me but there are dozens of people who actually make that happen and it worked because we were all doing what we were best at.  Super cool.

So role modelling exactly what it is that Gallup are inspiring other people to do!  So you touched on some weaknesses there, remembering that we know what the definition of weakness is, it’s anything that gets in the way of your success, so what are your weaknesses, what are you working on there?

Yeah, so I don’t like to actually think about my weaknesses, there’s kind of a common thread through strengths sometimes when we too quickly go to our weaknesses.  I’m not saying I’ve not got any, I’ve got plenty.  I really try to overpower them with my strengths.  I talk a little too much, like if you’re going to ask me what’s the one thing, I talk a little too much.  I don’t know when to stop talking and because I’m in positions where I have information that everybody shouldn’t know just yet right, we’ve got a chronological communication in the corporate space, I sometimes say things a little too early on that.  It’s a weakness, yeah it really does get in the way because it affects other people right.  It affects other people’s jobs and some of those kind of things.  I have learned though Ian with that, what I hear in the community a lot sometimes is this idea of people saying ‘oh I needed to tone down my themes’, well the Communication and WOO themes are what makes me say those things too early right.  I want to influence, the information’s hot and I want to influence somebody to change so I say it but I say it too early.  What I really want to do is to take a positive approach to changing that weakness.  So think of it like this, there’s a fire and I’m a fire person and I’m going to go and put out the fire and I arrive at the fire and I’ve got my hose turned on full blast the opposite direction of the fire right.  I think that’s a great definition when I think about weakness.  I wouldn’t say to that person turn down the fire hose, I would say change your direction right, and so I really want us to start thinking about what do we do not to tone it down, because you don’t want to tone down, some people might want this, but you don’t want to tone down the WOO, Communication and the Activator, the Arranger, the Maximiser.  

We definitely don’t want to do that!

We don’t, we want to point it in the right direction right.  So give me more opportunities like this, you know when you said ‘Hey I want to interview you’.  ‘Yes, are you kidding me?’  But continue to get it focussed and point it in a positive direction, that’s what I want to encourage people to do so you know, if you’re listening to this, this goes back to our job crafting, how do I get in a role that helps me then point that fire hose?  I don’t want anybody to ever tone down their strengths.  Full blast all the time, just put yourself in a situation where you can be more successful.

Absolutely, so what’s next for you in terms of strengths, how are you going to get to continue to use them more intentionally and point them in the right direction?

Yeah, that’s a great question.  I don’t have any Strategic or Futuristic.  I don’t know, I’m going to be honest, I barely know what I’m going to do this afternoon.  I don’t spend a lot of time strategizing that way.  I want to continue to figure out more ways to make this strengths movement successful, to make Gallup more successful.  That’s my role right, to have more people discover who they are.  Jim Clifton, our CEO, says this all the time, ‘you know we’ve had 10 years of very successful globally, in most places it’s been successful but we’re seeing the smallest GDP growth than we’ve ever seen.  So while we’re incrementally doing better, maybe 1 or 2%.  Well GDP is a direct correlation to productivity and so I think we have to get people more productive and how do we get more productive, well we get them in the right roles right?  How do we get them in the right roles, we understand their strengths, and at the end of the day, how do we make sure they are doing things productive, they have great managers.  So we have all those tools, we can do that, it’s not any clearer to me than that and so I’m hoping over the next 10, 15, 20 years, I really get this opportunity to expand.  We’ve had 22 million people take CliftonStrengths in the last 20 years, I’m hoping, my goal every year is double everything, like how do we double everything, Maximiser right, so we’re doing 2 million a year so how does that be 4 and how do we do 10?  So those are pretty broad and pretty ambitious, we’ve doubled things in the past though so double everything is probably what I hope to do.

Excellent.  I want to move on from strengths to talk a bit about mindset because I’m really fascinated by how people think and we seem to sort of look at other people and think that everyone’s got everything sorted and got a quiet mind and a still mind.  What’s it like to be Jim, what goes on in your head?

Yeah, if you could imagine yourself in the absolutely most torrent river with rocks and stones and water splashing out and violent, that’s a little bit of an insight into how I think my brain works.  It is a raging, messy, complicated place but there are people who are drawn to getting in a kayak, right, and navigating that.  I like it, I like the chaos.  It’s taken me a while to figure that out but I kind of like the chaos that exists in there, I kind of thrive on it.  We here at Gallup just went through a major platform change and of course any time you change anything, right, it’s chaos, so I’m on the front line with that.  I spend a lot of time through our Facebook group and the work that I do, email and instant messenger and twitter and all those things, got a lot of feedback.  And people would routinely ask me, like ‘hey, how are you doing?’ and I actually said, ‘actually really good’.  I thrive in this chaos, again Arranger, Activator, WOO, Communication, I kind of like it.  Is it completely stress-free, no it isn’t.  Were there moments when I was questioning, ‘do I really like this that much?’ – absolutely.  But there was an opportunity to thrive and at the end of the day I found myself even more engaged than I was at the beginning of the day.  It’s hard to do but I did thrive that way.

And you talked about stress and being stress-free.  What do you do to look after your well-being?  What are your personal strategies, tactics, tools, how do you do it?

That’s a super great question and I go through these cycles, really good and then not so good.  I’m kind of in a really good cycle actually so trying to sleep more.  I think sleep is really really important.  I struggle to sleep and so I’m trying to figure out some things to help with that.  Fitness and exercise is one of those, so I am working out more and I’ve got a great plan and I could probably work out a little bit more here in London but we’ll start it back up when we get back.  The other thing, and I kind of discovered this through Season 5 of Theme Thursday, when we did these talent mindfulness exercises.  I’ve always struggled and people ,especially on the sleep side, have recommended meditation and I just never got meditation, like I’d be asleep, I’d start and I’d be asleep in 2 minutes right?

It also requires not talking for a long time which is the bit I struggle with around meditation!

Yeah, I know it never really worked for me and so Maika started this talent mindfulness thing and I’ll be honest, when she first kicked it off at the beginning of the season I’m like, ‘oh my gosh, what is this?’ and it was a little weird at first but then I found myself kind of gravitating towards it so they’re at the end of the Theme Thursday episodes for Season 5. Look it’s not like I’m a perfect meditator you know right now, is that what you’d call somebody a meditator?  I think I might have just made that word up.

It makes sense.

But it has allowed me to start at least thinking about it and what I realise is what I need is I need structured meditation and so this is, I’m kind of moving in that direction and hoping it will help with some of the sleep and some of the other things.  So well-being, I’m trying to eat better, like everybody, just trying to stay as healthy as I possibly can.

Let’s go big picture.  What’s your mission, what dints do you want to leave on this world?

So, my mission, and this is going to sound weird, but my mission is to make other people a big deal.  So when we, in what I do, which is kind of weird because people see me, I’ve heard things like ‘oh you’re the face of Gallup’ or ‘you’re the voice of Gallup’ right, by the way I didn’t know any of these things before I started doing this webcast stuff, I just knew I needed to ask people questions.  People say, ‘how do you know all this stuff?’, and I’m like ‘I listen to every single webcast that we do’ right.  I am ‘forced’ to be there for them.  Well yeah you do 800 hrs of learning and maybe even a guy like me can learn a few things.  So I’ve kind of discovered my job, my role is not to bring attention to myself, it happens automatically, and sometimes I’ll say, I’ll just be honest, but to make other people a big deal.  Like Maika is just one of the best strengths teachers that I know, she’s incredible.  How do I continue to get the best teaching that she brings out.  Mike McDonald, there isn’t too many people know as much around the numbers of engagement as Mike McDonald.  Dean Jones, there’s not too many people who really understand learning and education and coaching better than Dean Jones.  I think about Anna who we had on Called to Coach and the other hosts, I think about Ann Lingerfelter and I think about Pooja in India, how do I make them a big deal?  Like how do we get their voice out, so if you ask me what’s the one thing I want to leave, I want to leave with other people being a big deal.  And at the end of the day what I want to see is people having great success in their job and their parenting and begin to start to stack things on.  As a heavy influencer, it would be awesome to leave the planet knowing that other people’s lives were improved because of the things that we do.

How do you feel you’re getting on with that mission?

Well, I think pretty good to be honest.

I think pretty good!

We have a lot of work to do, don’t get me wrong, we still do.  We have tons of work to do but I am seeing some signs right, if the coaching community is a sign of that?  I don’t get to see everybody, if the coaching community is a sign of it, I think we’re doing ok right.  If the podcast numbers are a sign of that, I think we’re making some progress.  I have tons of work to do with that work but yeah, no there’s some glimmers of hope right?  We had 100 people show up here yesterday, packed the place out, is that because of me, no no no.  Is it because of my influence, yeah a little bit right. There’s a lot that goes in to what we do yesterday and there’s a lot of people who make that happen but if you ask me am I in the mix, am I at least swimming in the pool at this point, I’m going to say yeah and am excited about what the future looks like.

So I’m interested in your big picture reflections, so two questions you can answer however you want or in whatever order.  What would you say to your younger self, what have you learned?  Or, what would future Jim Collison be saying to you today?

Yeah, I think about those questions from time to time you know.  If you go back in time, there’s songs about that right, it’s a country song I’m sure, and fundamentally we are who we are because of the experiences we have and so even if we could do it, I’m not sure I would because it would change. Go back to the past or leave a note for myself in the future, I’m not so sure I would but I would say to myself, don’t worry so much.  Don’t get too obsessed about things because they’ll be fine, they’ll work themselves out.  At the same time, sometimes that worry and that stress and that anxiety can be channelled in a very productive way and it is what made me what I am today in a lot of ways.  It kept me awake at night worrying so that I would pay attention when I needed to right.  A great example of this is, we were walking the streets of London a couple of days ago and I’m just yapping away right, not worried about it, I just walk into the street, and you know the cars drive the wrong direction here!  And you don’t realise how dependent you get on that peripheral of understanding the peripheral right, and I love in London they actually have written on the street, Look Right or Look Left.

For exactly that reason!

Exactly, super great.  Someone put their hand in front of me to stop me and saved me from getting run over by a bicyclist.  Oh I probably would have been fine and I would have hurt the bicyclist more but I took my eye off the ball because I’d gotten comfortable and I think some of that anxiety in the past has actually kept me cautious, kept me alert, kept me awake, kept my eye on the ball.  So that’s why I hesitate, I think people, great rewards don’t come without great risks and I think sometimes it’s ok to be afraid.  I think sometimes it’s ok to be anxious.  I think those emotions were originally given to us to keep us alive and sometimes, we don’t have to use them, except the other day I probably should have paid attention on the London streets, but I think sometimes we worry too much about them or the negativity or the feelings they give and I want to say harness that.  Like harness that anxiety.  I worked with a partner for the longest time that we were trying to get one of these Power of Two awards at Gallup and we just could not get that thing and it drove us crazy.  That frustration put a chip on our shoulder that caused me to think every time I was about to do something ‘Ok is this going to lead me to it or away from it right?’  And I kind of needed that nagging, ‘I can’t get this’, frustration right and I think sometimes we gravitate too quickly too far away from those emotions and I would say harness those emotions.  When you get those moments, figure out how to take advantage of it, be healthy about it certainly, but figure out how to use it to your advantage and for me it’s to keep me alert.  Otherwise I get really relaxed and then the bicyclist mows me down in the middle of the road here in London!  So that’s what I’d say.

So Jim, lots of people will know the answer to this but not everybody listening to this, where can we find you online.

Well it’s hard not to find me, it’s a little obnoxious just to be truthful on that!  If you want to get access to any of the Gallup material, right now best place  We have a webcast page, you can see a lot of the things that we do there.  Search CliftonStrengths on YouTube, that will take you to our YouTube channel.  I am @jcollison on Twitter and that’s more of a tech side of things than it is Gallup kind of things.  Really for our strengths related and our Gallup product related channels, our Facebook group is where I spend 90% of my time, so go to  Love to have you come and join us out there, I spend a lot of time kind of herding cats in those groups, some 14,000 or so, 13 and some change, and if you want to join us out there we’d love to have you do that.

I will finish just by saying thank you, so I want to thank you for your time for appearing on the podcast but I want to thank you for everything you do for the strengths community as well, and I met Maika as well, she ran my Accelerated Strengths training course, so thank you to Maika given that I’ve got the opportunity, but thank you to you.  I’ve talked about Learner and about how important all the material is that Gallup produce to really help me feed that talent and equip me to make more of an impact on the world, and Jim, you are an instrumental part of that. You have the patience of a saint as lots of us have witnessed, so just to close by saying, really on behalf of all of us, all the Gallup certified strengths coaches, just a huge thank you for everything that you do.

Well Ian let me say this, you are very welcome.  It’s easy to do when it all comes from a place of talent and when it all comes from steering those talents in the right direction.  I’m a little embarrassed sometimes by that because it just happens but then you kind of know, that’s when you kind of know.  So, hey, if you’re grateful that I get to use my talents every day, you’re very welcome!

Jim Collison – thank you very much.

You bet.

By browsing this website, you agree to our privacy policy.
I Agree