Last week I was invited to Minneapolis to give the keynote address at Ungerman’s annual meeting. Ungerman is a Twin Cities-based restoration company that offers 24/7 emergency cleanup and repair. They are a great company to have on speed dial after a flood, fire, storm, or epic house party.
The company gathered to reflect on its successes from 2022 and plan for a great 2023. I spoke to the Ungermaniacs about one of my favorite topics: How to become your best self. I related lessons from my book What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? to the company’s core values. Everyone who attended got a copy of the book. I announced the giveaway like Oprah announcing that everyone gets a car. At least it sounded like that in my head. (And you get a book! And you get a book!)
After my talk, there was a Q&AA portion of the program. (Questions and Adam Albrecht.) Heather Jurek, the head of Human Resources, shared that the team at Ungerman focuses on strengths and opportunities/growth areas. She asked me to share what I thought my #1 strength was.
While I shared an answer with Ungerman, I’ve thought a lot about Heather’s questions since the talk. (Those sneaky HR leaders know how to get you thinking about yourself!)
However, I have reframed the question to elicit an even more valuable answer. The question I find most interesting is:
‘What strengths of yours earn you money?‘
I began searching for the answers by considering the ways that I earn money.
The 4 ways I earn money:
- The Weaponry. The advertising and ideas agency I founded and lead.
- Books Sales from What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? and The Culture Turnaround
- Speaking Engagements.
My Money-Making Strengths
With this backdrop, I analyzed why people choose to spend their money with me. The answers came quickly when viewed through this lens.
- Creativity: I have spent my career in advertising as a professional creative. First as a writer, then as a Creative Director and Chief Creative Officer, before launching The Weaponry in 2016. Creativity is my craft. If I lost everything and had to start again with just my children and my wife (like Lee Greenwood sang about in God Bless The USA) my creativity is the strength I would lean on for my comeback. Because there is always a demand for creative thinking.
2. Strategic Thinking: This is my career strength 1A. It provides the valuable foundation for my creative thinking. My problem-solving and game-planning skills are critical differentiators. They are why I get so many calls from business leaders who want my help thinking through their challenges. Work on your problem-solving skills and strategic thinking every day. Study other successful people. You can learn a lot from their examples.
3. Energy/Enthusiasm My natural energy is my most visible strength. I love taking on whatever work needs to be done. I get invited into a lot of important rooms because my energy has a positive effect on those around me. It has had a major impact on sales and business development because people enjoy spending their time and money with people they know have the energy to make a valuable contribution to their business. My energy is also a significant reason I get hired for speaking events. Because as Maya Angelou said, ‘People will never forget how you made them feel.’ I encourage you to put more energy into your energy. It is both a highly valuable and highly renewable resource.
4. Trustworthiness: Those who have worked with me in the past keep coming back because they trust me. They trust that I will deliver. They trust that I can help them navigate their challenges, which can seem ethereal in advertising and marketing. My trustworthiness is the reason clients took a chance on The Weaponry when it was a startup with no website, no logo and no business cards. Trust me on this.
5. Relationships I am better than most people at developing and maintaining relationships because I value relationships more than most people. People like to work with people they like. (Or as the kids would say, People like, like to like work with people they like, like.) My relationships keep leading to new opportunities, new referrals and new relationships. All of which positively impact The Weaponry, my book sales, speaking opportunities, and my investments. Make sure you develop and maintain more and better relationships.
6. Risk Taking: My above-average risk tolerance is what led me to bet on myself and launch The Weaponry. It is what lead me to invest time, energy and money into books that had no guaranteed ROI. My risk tolerance also enables me to invest in businesses when they are in the toilet. Which has led to several of my greatest returns. Pairing risk tolerance with research and good strategic thinking is a powerful recipe for success. If I ever write a cookbook full of recipes for success, I will include this recipe as a hot dish. If you want more rewards, take more risks.
7. Storytelling On day one of my career I would not have guessed that my storytelling skills would have made me money. But storytelling has been an extremely valuable strength for me. And it is a strength everyone should work on. It creates value in job interviews, when developing relationships, when writing books and when delivering speeches. It is central to marketing and advertising. And it is the best way to convey the rest of your valuable strengths to the world.
You must first add value before you can extract value. Which makes it important to know which of your strengths provide the most value to others. Develop your rare and valuable skills. Become sought after for your strengths. It is the best way to have the greatest impact on the world. And making a significant impact pays off in more ways than one.
*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.
+Thanks for inviting me to talk Heather, Lindsey and Kirsten. And special thanks to Nate Uselding for suggesting me to the Ungerman team!