Personality Assessments with Merrick Rosenberg and Learning Never Ends with Julie Ann Sullivan

People have historically used personality assessments to increase self-awareness. Clearly, the most self-aware people are the most successful. Personality styles enthusiast and author Merrick Rosenberg says it’s powerful for that, but we’ve got to take it to a different place. It has to go beyond just taking a profile, reading it, and learning about your style. It should be about how we create a common language throughout the organization. That is the key to growth and learning.
We all want a workplace environment where we can be productive, engaged, and appreciated. Communication specialist and change steward Julie Ann Sullivan talks about her book, Blueprint For Employee Engagement, and what her company, Learning Never Ends, is doing to create a more positive workplace culture one person at a time.

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We have Merrick Rosenberg and Julie Ann Sullivan. Merrick is a personality styles enthusiast, author, and keynote speaker. Julie Ann is a speaker as well, an international bestselling author, and a podcast host. We’re going to talk about personality, culture, and improving engagement around all of the top topics that all the leaders are talking about.

Listen to the podcast here

Personality Assessments with Merrick Rosenberg

I am here with Merrick Rosenberg, who co-founded Team Builders Plus and Take Flight Learning to fulfill his passion to help people learn and grow. He’s led training programs for more than 30,000 people and spoke to tens of thousands or more. He’s worked with more than half of the Fortune 100 companies and he reaches even more through his two books, Taking Flight! and The Chameleon. It’s nice to have you here, Merrick.

Thank you for having me.

I loved your website. I like the different birds and the pictures of how you have types for different things in the DISC profile. You do a lot with DISC. Is that the major personality assessment you like?

It is, although we tried to reinvent it. I try to make it a little more accessible for people.

Tell me what you do with it. How is it different than taking a DISC any other way? You said you tried to reinvent it.

What’s interesting about DISC is that nobody owns DISC. It’s out there in the public domain. People do a lot of different things with it. What I found was I was using letters for many years. The challenge was I would go back into a company that we ran this training program. They learned all the letters. You go back six months later and they’re like, “I think I’m a D. Which one is that?” I’m like, “You’re killing me. If you can’t remember it, how can you possibly be using it?” What I tried to tap into was the visual nature that when we see something, we can remember it.

Using D doesn’t have any inherent meaning. In fact, we stripped the words away so that we don’t even remember what the D stands for. I substituted some birds for the letters. You’ve got eagles which are the D style, it’s that dominant. When you think of an eagle, what do you think of? They’re not caught up in the details, they’re results-oriented. They’re at 10,000 feet. They’ve got the big picture. Instead of remembering what an I is, I’ve used the parrot style. When you think of a parrot, what would you think a person’s traits would be if you were saying, “This person is such a parrot?” They’re talkative, they’re social, and they’re outgoing. They do repeat a lot of their stories because they like their stories.

The next one is the dove, which is the S style. If you think of a dove style, what would you think the dove is all about? Easygoing, calm, peaceful, you think about that. They’re the symbol of harmony and peace. How about the first word that comes to mind when you think of an owl? Wise, but it’s not that this is the smart style. All the styles can be smart, but they’re logical and analytical style. The cool thing about it is instead of using letters that aren’t memorable, we’ve got an eagle, which is dominant and takes charge, a parrot, which is fun and social, doves, which are harmonious and compassionate, and owls, which are detail-oriented, logical, and analytical. That’s what we’ve tried to do is make it fun.

If I came out as a DI with a higher D than an I, I’m an eagle-parrot. Do you have an eagle-parrot bird?

I’m the parrot-eagle and everybody’s a combination of all four styles, but you probably have one or two which are home base like in the DISC style. There are probably one or two styles that are strong and there’s probably one or two which is not so strong for you.

I’m a DI, what does that mean about me?

The DI, in my language, would be an eagle and a parrot. Both of those together are very outgoing. They take charge. You’ve got this motivational side from the parrot, but the results-oriented side from the eagle. These tend to be people who want people to learn and grow. They tend to be inspirational. They are all about risk-taking, being yourself, getting out there and making things happen. They take control of their own lives and they try to inspire other people to do that, too, because they’re all about owning their world and their reality.

If you’re a D person, what are you best at? Are you the leader? Is that what your best job is? Let’s generalize it as best job for a D.

We often think about that D or eagle style as leaders, but the reality is anybody can be a great leader. Your style doesn’t necessarily determine how successful you’ll be as a leader, but it determines how you’ll go about being a leader. Anybody can be a leader, but it is true that eagles do want to rise to a place where they’re in charge and in control. It’s often that conflict I go into work with hospital systems and you see the doctors who are the eagles, but often the nurses who are the doves and you get this push and pull between both of those. A lot of times, attorneys, you’ll see as eagle style, they want to be in charge, in control.

Do eagles not get along with doves, or do they get along with doves?

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Personality Assessments: When things are respectful and people understand each other, they could be great companions.


When things are respectful and people understand each other, they could be great companions. In fact, eagles often marry doves because they complement each other. It’s during the stressful times when they can push each other’s buttons.

My last boss was a dove and I was an eagle. Is it the eagle that bugs the dove or the dove that bugs the eagle?

It’s both directions, but if you accept people for who they are, then they’ll value that they’re different. If you judge people for being different, then you push each other’s buttons.

What’s the best job for a parrot?

Parrots, in my world, I often see them as trainers. You often find them in sales training. You find them as salespeople. They tend to be in marketing, PR, social media, jobs in which they get to interact with a lot of people where they’re out there being social and enthusiastic. That helps them in their role. You wouldn’t see them in roles like an accountant, they’re not going to sit there crunching data or be an engineer. That is not the world of the parrot style.

What would be the best job for a dove?

I see them a lot of times in nursing, social work, teachers, counselors, therapists. They tend to be in roles that are in service of others, that they’re giving back and helping people.

For the owl, we’re getting back to the thing we said we wouldn’t be when we’re a parrot.

They could be engineers, finance, accounting, more technical jobs in which they like the complexity. They want to bury themselves in the detail and work through a problem.

One of my good friends at my last job came in with a high C and she’s very detail-oriented. I can remember the last job we did a DISC assignment where everybody stood in the corners of their letter. When you looked around, you see who’s what. You saw the dominant personalities. All the leaders seem to go over to the D area and there were only a few leaders who weren’t in the D area and that made them feel uncomfortable.

It’s because that organization values eagle or D leadership. I travel around the country and I worked with a lot of CEOs. More than ever I’m finding dove CEOs, someone like Howard Schultz from Starbucks or parrot CEOs like Richard Branson. These are people who are creating organizations where culture is important. Historically, we definitely saw a lot more of that D dominant eagle style in leadership, but that’s changing a lot. A lot of organizations are saying, “It is about results, but it’s also about culture.”

Is there a type you think we should be working towards to have the best and most efficient culture where everybody is the happiest? Does it depend on the company?

It’s what I would call the chameleon. It’s that a leader who can appeal to anyone. If you have an eagle leader, they still have to be compassionate towards the people in their organization. They have to be motivational, which is that parrot. They still have to be able to provide detail, which is the owl. You have to create a culture for your people. The reality is if you’re an engineering firm, you’re probably going to have an owl culture because you’re going to have a lot of owls.

I spoke to an engineering firm. There were 75 people in the room. How many parrots do you think we’re in that room? The reality is there was only one and you’re talking to him. There wasn’t a single parrot in the group. For them, an owl culture will be very successful. If you’re in another organization, maybe an organization that focuses on marketing, you’ll probably find a lot of parrots there.

I’ve done all the training with the Myers-Briggs and I know a lot of people don’t think much of the Myers-Briggs sometimes. I can remember a lot of the engineering groups I had, they were mostly introverts. You get everybody in one personality trait and then you’d get many people that are all the same, it’s hard for them to see the other personality traits because they’re around it all the time. Do you deal with any of the introvert, extrovert type of things when you’re talking to people or does that not come in?

When you look at the four styles, the parrots and the eagles are the more extroverted and the doves and the owls are more introverted. I’m talking about it, but I’m talking about breaking it into the four styles as opposed to just introvert, extrovert. It is definitely true that you’ll have some organizations that are heavy on one style, but that’s okay. It’s probably what they need because it’s what they do. If you have an accounting firm and there are a lot of owls there, that’s okay. I’m not sure you’d want an accounting firm of all parrots. Picture a nuclear reactor near your home. You probably want it run by a group of owls, making sure everything is set properly. I’m not sure if you want a group of parrots sitting there looking at it saying, “How much radiation is that?”

We got to quit trying to figure out how everyone's different and start finding the commonalities in people. Click To Tweet

It’s true. You have to align people with the jobs that are appropriate. I was telling you that I’m creating this assessment for looking at the things that impact curiosity. Part of my research included looking at the Big Five and that’s another big personality assessment and openness to experience is a big factor in curiosity. Do you deal with anything about openness to experience Big Five or other personality assessment type of things like StrengthsFinder or something like that? Where you’re looking at incorporating some of this in your training? Do you focus primarily on DISC?

I focus on DISC, but I talk about openness and curiosity from a style perspective. For example, you might look at the parrot and they’re totally open to, “Let’s do it.” They may not even think it through. They’re like, “Let’s go. What’s the worst thing that could happen?” The owl’s like, “I will tell you what could happen.” The challenge is that the owls, for example, they’re open but they are sometimes perceived as closed to new ideas because they ask a lot of questions. It’s not that they’re trying to poke holes in it so they can make an idea sink. It’s that they’re poking holes in it because if I can ask you all these questions and it still floats after I’ve asked all these questions, then great. Let’s go forward. Owls are curious, but sometimes we interpret that curiosity as the naysayer, but that’s not true. They want to make sure it’s going to work.

You have an eagle that they’re curious because they want to accomplish something big for them. A big risk equals a big reward. Their curiosity comes from a results orientation if I want to achieve something great. Let’s figure out how to make that happen. Doves, they go with the flow. Internally, they may experience some stress when you’re changing something or trying something new. For them, if you think about what that S in the DISC model stood for, it stands for stability, steadiness, or status quo. Not that they’re not curious, but they do like to maintain a level of stability because it doesn’t rock the boat. It keeps everybody happy. Looking at curiosity from a style perspective is what I would do with a group.

I’m thinking about all the groups I’ve trained and my years in sales. I was thinking as you were saying all that, the competition and the achievement part of the D. Who do you think to make the best salesperson now?

Overwhelmingly, I do see parrots are in sales. That’s because they build relationships. They can build rapport, they can schmooze, they tell stories, they connect with people, but it depends what you’re selling. If I’m working with a company, I’ll use the engineering firm example, you may find that owl that is a great engineer but also likes interacting with people. They’re still primarily an owl because they’re selling something technical. They may be the best salespeople. Overwhelmingly, yes, it’s definitely true. We find parrots in sales, but it also depends on what you’re selling. You may need a different style because they’re going to be interacting with a different audience.

I hear many people talk about their teaching salespeople listening skills and some of the things that we never saw in the past. You’re seeing more introverted qualities that they’re valuing. I’m looking at the different personality assessments and what can we do with this stuff? I know I’m a DI, does that tell me what job I should go for? What does that tell me?

The problem with the way in which people have historically used personality assessments is that they look at it from a self-awareness perspective. Clearly, the most self-aware people are the most successful. Yes, you have to use these profiles to increase self-awareness and it’s powerful for that, but we’ve got to take it to a different place. What a lot of companies aren’t doing is embedding it into their culture, into their DNA. I’ll give you an example. When I speak at conferences, I’ll often open up and I’ll say, “Raise your hand if you’ve used some type of personality assessment in your organization.” Almost every hand goes up. When I say, “That’s fantastic news. That tells me it must be infused into your culture. It must be used every day. Your salespeople must be using it to sell. Your leaders are using it to delegate and create a vision. People are using it to communicate with each other. Raise your hand if that’s true.” Maybe one hand will go up in the audience.

The problem is that people were taking these assessments. They find them infinitely interesting because if there is any topic that is interesting it’s our self, but they’re not using it. It has to go beyond just taking a profile, read it, and learns about your style. It should be about how we create a common language throughout the organization. That is the key. That’s where we have to get profiles, too. I have these little desktop birds and it sounds simple. When you walk into someone’s office and an eagle is looking back at you, you walk in and go, “I got it. Maybe I’m an owl, but I got to get right to the point quickly because this person’s an eagle.” You’ve got to find ways to make these tools become a part of the language. Not just an interesting report that they got.

I worked in a company where we did the management by strengths, which is a color thing. We had to put our results in our cubicle so it was the same thing. Instead of seeing an owl, you saw green or the color. I thought it was a fascinating experiment. Back then, red was the direct type person like the D. You knew you better get to the point or you’re going to freak them out. The greens were more the extroverted, talkative type. You knew you’d hurt their feelings if you said certain things. The yellows would be more like the Cs, they read the manuals and you got to give them data and on that type of thing. The blues were the calm, probably the doves, but they were categorized as if they were always nice. If you push them over the limit, watch out or they’d explode. You wouldn’t go into their office and slam, “I need this yesterday,” or their head would fall off.

We were taught that and I thought it was good to have the different things around so you knew what people were. There would be times, like in the sales division, we were all reds and greens. We were all the directs and probably parrots. Every once in a while, you’d get an owl, we didn’t call it that. An owl would come into sales and it’d be almost like the movie, Pushing Tin, where they were all betting to see how long the guy would last.

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Personality Assessments: That outlier style, that one person who is different from the rest of the group, that’s your innovator.


Which is sad, I always say that. That outlier style, that one person who is different from the rest of the group, that’s your innovator. That’s the person who’s going to look at it totally differently. They’re going to ask you different questions you’ve never thought of. That’s exactly what happens is whatever that one style that is different from the rest, we discount that person and think they should act more like the collective group. The reality is when you do an assessment like this and you work with a team, they should look at that person. Not make them feel bad because they’re different, but honor the fact that, “You bring something so unique to our team. You’re the most valuable person in this group because you think differently than all of us.” That does happen is that they get marginalized, but they shouldn’t.

That’s even truer now than it was back. Back when you were doing individual sales where there weren’t teams, you were just, “Here’s your dial for dollars. Here are your phone numbers.” Nobody else is going to help you. It was all you. Now, sales teams are teams. You do need a variety of people to make it successful. Do you think its different today than it used to be in sales?

It’s definitely different because it’s not just about being that hard salesperson going close the deal. It’s about building the relationship. If you’re that eagle trying to just make money, you’re not going to have that long-term client. It’s what I call being the chameleon salesperson, which is you have to be able to close the deal which comes from the eagle, but you have to be able to schmooze and build the relationship which comes from the parrot. You’ve got to be able to provide the detail with comes from the owl and then you’ve got to be able to answer their concerns and be there for them, which comes from the dove. It’s the most well-rounded sales folks that are going to build long-term clients, rather than go just out make the deal and that’s it. It doesn’t end there. We have to learn how to work with people. We sell to teams. We’re trying to maintain long relationships with people. It is about not just being that one style. You’ve got to know them all.

I found that helpful. Before I had that type of a sales job, I was a pharmaceutical rep. That was a long-term relationship. You’re not just going in and saying, “Sign here,” and you’re never seeing them again. You had to go in every single month, several times sometimes. When you learn to develop long-term relationships like that, it’s great training for just about any other job later. I’ve used a lot of the training I’ve had with all these different personality assessments and I’ve taught a lot of courses in business. I continued to teach a lot of courses in business and some of them, we use Rath’s StrengthsFinder. I’m curious what you think about focusing on your strengths instead of developing your weaknesses. What do you think in that regard?

That’s key. When you work within your strengths, it feeds you. If I’m a parrot, which I am and I’m in front of a group, I end that day and it feeds me. If I, as a parrot, have to spend my entire day crunching numbers or writing code as a programmer, I would end that day exhausted. Managers need to help their people by putting them in a position that they’re capitalizing on their strength, or else you’re draining them. You could take that owl or dove and put them up in front of a large group of people. They could do a great job, but when they finish, they’re going to be exhausted. We’re going to shine when we focus on our strength. We have to help people to cultivate their strengths. We should put them in jobs where they can use their strength and then they’ll be successful. I always tell them, “Staff your weakness. If there’s something you’re not good at, then find someone else who loves that role and let them shine. You focus on what you like.”

It’s interesting that you talk about this because a lot of this is what I researched when I was creating my Curiosity Code Index, which is that assessment to determine things that hold us back from being curious. What I found is there were four things that your fear, assumptions, technology, and environment hold people back from pursuing things. Specifically, assumptions and environment for me come to mind when you’re talking about this. We maybe assume we wouldn’t like something or not be interested in something from past bad experience if we never were exposed to as far as that goes. Or your environment, your parents maybe never pushed you in a certain direction if you were interested in something. Maybe they didn’t have time to let you explore or teachers didn’t have time to help you because they were teaching the test or whatever.

I’m interested in the things that keep people from exploring things that they maybe they would be good at but never have had the time or anybody helping them to go that way. You need to have people aligned better. There are many people that are doing jobs and why we’re having a third of the workplace engaged only and the rest of them are walking around walking dead. How do you get people aligned? Don’t you think we need to ask more questions to find out where people belong?

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I’ll give you an example of my own organization. Every year at the end of the year, I talk to my people throughout the year. I have walk and talk conversations. Every quarter, I don’t schedule them. I make sure throughout the day we walk around. We have a little lake near my office and we do once or twice around the lake with each person checking in. One of the questions I ask them is, “If there’s one part of your job, one task, one role and process that drains you, that exhausts you, what is it?” I try to make sure that every person is doing what they like to do. If you say to me, “This part of my job exhausts me.” I then see if there’s someone else who can do that.

You constantly are looking for ways to put people in a place where they really are doing what feeds them. There was always a little piece of your role that you might go, “I don’t love that,” but it shouldn’t be the primary function of your role. For me, because I’m constantly asking that question, “What part of your job do you find exhausting?” I remember a couple of years ago, I got a common theme from a whole group of people and we created an entire role. We hired somebody new, took all that off everyone’s plate. To this day, every person’s bowing down to them like, “Thank you,” because they got rid of what they don’t like. The person who we hired, it’s not like we hired somebody to take all the bad stuff. No, the person we hired wanted to do that. That’s what we hired them to do. It fed them.

I don’t know if you saw the movie Twins with Schwarzenegger and DeVito. I’m picturing DeVito for that role, but then again, I’m the person that would be in sales and I’d be excited to do my expense report. Everybody else was like, “You want what? Why would you want to do that?” There are people out there, like me, who like the administrative things. Who like the things that people can’t fathom. They’re like, “Really? Why would you like that?” I just do. I agree. I am the DeVito and I embrace that.

It’s not very eagle or parrot-like of you. What that says is that sometimes we do have some roles or things that you might not, because you have some owl in you. It’s not just that your pure eagle and parrot. We’re a combination of all four of them to varying degrees. We do have a little bit of everything.

You gave some great information. You made this much more interesting and easy to understand. A lot of people would do really well to learn more from you. Can you share some websites or information that you would like people to have?

If you go to, you can discover an entire ecosystem of DISC training programs, not just a DISC. I did that, but you learn about the Chameleon Selling, Chameleon Leadership, innovating ideas, innovation course, ReDISCovering Conflict, and the conflict course based on the style. My book, The Chameleon: Life-Changing Wisdom For Anyone Who Has A Personality Or Knows Someone Who Does, which hopefully should cover everybody, is on Amazon. It’s on iTunes. It’s on Audible.

Thank you so much, Merrick.

Thank you for having me.

You’re welcome.

Learning Never Ends with Julie Ann Sullivan

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Blueprint for Employee
Engagement: 37 Essential Elements to Influence, Innovate & Inspire

I am here with Julie Ann Sullivan who works with organizations that want to create a workplace environment where people are productive, engaged, and appreciated. Julie Ann seeks to bring a more positive and productive environment into every organization. She is a communication specialist, collaboration strategist, and change steward. She’s the Founder of Learning Never Ends, a company whose purpose is to create a more positive culture, one person at a time. She’s an international bestselling author of Blueprint for Employee Engagement. It’s nice to have you here, Julie. Welcome.

Thank you so much.

You talk about engagement, culture, emotional intelligence, communication, and all these things. The reason that there’s a few of us out there that do that is that it’s such a problem.

We’re still trying to figure out why it’s a problem.

This is what I’ve been researching for my book on curiosity, is why that’s a problem. We’re always looking for why. I wanted to know why you got into this. Why don’t we start with your background and how you got to the place where you are?

I got my undergraduate degree in Psychology. I lived in Southern California in the ‘70s and I did every life class available. I did Aston, programs out of Esalen, if anybody knows about those. They were very experiential life courses. It created a lifelong learner in me on human behavior. I tell people I deliberately learned something about human behavior, either others or myself, every single day. There’s a lot of information in my head about human behavior and I’ve always been a communicator. I was a Certified Toastmaster. I went and lived in a ski resort for seven years. As my mother used to say, I came down off the mountain and I got my MBA in Accounting of all things because I thought it was fun.

It was fun for about 30 years. One day, I woke up and said, “I do not want to learn one more interesting fact about accounting or finance.” Therefore, I knew it was time to quit, so I quit. I had no idea what I wanted to do. I’ve always had a file folder called Fuzzies, which are nice things people say about me. I keep the cards, emails, or whatever for those times when you get blue and you’re wondering if it’s worth doing what you’re doing. I looked in that filing, all these people liked when I did presentations. There was this a-ha moment where I went, “I’m going to be a professional speaker,” and I had no idea what I was talking about.

I created my company Learning Never Ends. Soon after that, I joined the National Speakers Association and kept honing what I wanted to talk about and realized businesses from the inside out. The more I studied people in businesses, the more I geared myself towards employee engagement, which has now morphed into the employee experience and has done my own studies and research. I have a podcast called Businesses That Care and I’ve been interviewing hundreds of leaders about how they’re creating great cultures. That’s where I am.

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We have similar things. I was an MBA Program Chair. I love all this stuff that you love, the behavioral things, and I don’t know how many more things we could have in common because there’s quite a few. Having a podcast, and this is a podcast, it’s also a radio show. A lot of things are on the C-Suite Network. It’s on a lot of areas and we probably get a lot of the same people on our shows who are experts in the area of engagement and culture. Kevin Sheridan, we were talking about how it’s good to know people who do the same things. Even if you’ve spoken and done the best, knock-out-of-the-ballpark speech at a place, they want somebody different next year because they don’t want to bring the same person all the time.

It’s nice that we all connect and know each other because when next year comes after you’re done you go, “You might like this person.” We all have a little different spin on what we can help people learn about engagement. I know he had a great database of content that he went by for his book and from his experience for engagement. A lot of my guests have. I know that Gallup has their numbers. Do you talk about engagement? Where do you go in terms of engagement when you talk to organizations?

I have a wonderful gift of being very intuitive and because of my background in studying human behavior, I usually create my own little surveys and have conversations with people. That’s my best way of finding out what’s going on. It usually takes me three months of working with a company to find out all of the areas that could use some improvement. A lot of times it comes back to communication at what words people are using. How they’re presenting ideas? There’s a lot of change that could be made if people would take the time because people don’t just think. There are a lot of things we do automatically. When I start working with a company, I want to talk to different people. That’s how I get my information. There are assessments that I do, but I’m a gut person.

The qualitative research is important. You get open-ended questions, you find out a lot of content that way and it gives you an idea of what commonalities you find.

When I talk about employee engagement, one of the factors I talk about a lot is we got to quit trying to figure out how everyone’s different and start finding the commonalities in people. If you keep telling people, “You’re going to have a difficult time working together,” they will.

I see a lot of that in the different generations in the workplace. If you start focusing on the differences, you get a lot more problems. People have a lot more in common than they realize.

I have this theory that there are a bunch of marketing gurus that went into a cave one day and said, “Let’s talk about all these differences between the generations. We can make a ton of money on software and products.” It’s like, “No, let’s talk about how to bring these people together.”

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Personality Assessments: A company that’s making money can make so much more money if they have engagement and positive culture.


I have a quote I gave at my last talk and it was about generations. It was all about embracing the common things that we have. It’s important because we do focus on the wrong thing sometimes. There are many issues with culture and there are many companies that they maybe have a CEO who doesn’t see the cultural problem. People from the bottom want to fix it, but if you don’t get help from the top, are you out of luck?

Everyone has to be accountable for their own behavior. I was saying to somebody, “It’s great if your management leadership is the ones that are cultivating culture, but if not, that doesn’t mean you can’t. Maybe that’s not the right place for you, but still, and that’s a decision everyone has to make for themselves. Your actions, reactions, the words you use, and how you do your work are up to you every day because everybody’s a leader at some point. Someone’s looking up to you.” I was talking to an HR director once and they were going through a merger and she said, “People are coming in my office and they’re saying, ‘Am I going to get fired? Is my job going to be eliminated?’” I said, “You might answer them and say, ‘I don’t know if my job’s going to be eliminated, but I’m still going to do the best job I can every day.’”

That’s a very stressful time. There’s so much going on with artificial intelligence and different things replacing jobs. People are stressed out about creating their jobs. A lot can be improved if people are rarely proactive to change and they’re thinking about what they can do next. Do you think people have that foresight that they need to work on to become not only adaptable but to help them with innovations that are coming out to be more innovative?

I’ve always felt that people have to have their own personal responsibility. We’re living in a world where we have a lot of quick fixes. That’s what people are used to. Self-awareness is not a quick fix. It’s a lifelong journey. This personal responsibility that I want each person to have, what goes along with that understands that it is a lifelong journey, and so is adaptability, resilience, or whatever word you want to put on that. I strive to teach people that having an open, larger perspective on life will make their life a lot easier to go through.

Self-awareness is not a quick fix. It's a lifelong journey. Click To Tweet

If you’re rigid, it’s like, “I have this skill and this is the only skill I have. If I can’t do this, I’m going to fail,” then that is exactly what’s going to happen. If you have the mindset, and that’s what we’re talking about with all this is this has been my skill. I work in a company that says, “You’re a great part of our team and we would like to move you over here and trains you to do this because we think that would be a good fit for you.” You’re going to have a great employee for a long time.

It’s about aligning people with their interests and the things that they’re good at. A lot of people don’t ask the questions. That led to my interest in studying curiosity about the communication, the question asking, and the people, that fear to look dumb, being frowned on for pushing the envelope or whatever it is. To have an engaging culture, you have to have two-way communication and people want feedback.

All the time, not once a year.

Plus, they have their day in and day out things that they do. If they don’t know what they’re doing, how it applies to the overall goals of the organization, they’re floundering. How do you begin to create a new engaging culture?

I first ask the big question, the big Simon Sinek question, “Why are you doing what you’re doing? What is your goal?” You start with the top. “What is your goal?” You ask the team leaders what is their goal? You ask the workforce what is their goal? That’s the first thing I do. You compare all those answers because a lot of times the big why in the CEO office and the C-suite office is not getting to the rest of the workforce. That’s the first thing you’ve got to change. Everybody wants to know, “What’s in it for me?” Companies do a lot of work. They spend a lot of money and time making sure their customers and clients know that answer. I say your workforce is your number one customer.

They don’t see it the same way. It’s important to share their ‘why’ with everybody and to know that everybody’s on the same page. Why aren’t the upper levels sharing their why? What’s happening? Are we playing telephone? Does the message get changed by the end?

I use that in my communications presentation, I play telephone, so people can see that. You and I both know there are still way too many companies out there that are thinking, “Is this engagement thing real? Is culture important?” You and I also know that even a company that’s making money can make so much more money if they have that. It’s not only that the C-suite needs to know the why and they have to communicate it. They have to communicate what the purpose of that is and it can’t just be to put more money in their pocket. One of the ways I’m doing that with companies is I’m creating internal podcasts with companies.

What does that entail?

I go in and we have a strategic day. It’s a long day where we come up with a why, we come up with ideas, we come up with the logistics, and we come up with the internal marketing. We come up with the metrics and we do all that. I help them write the scripts and help them produce several eight to twelve-minute podcasts that go to their people internally every month. The idea is to have a clear, concise, and consistent messaging. Everybody’s hearing the same thing. You can use it to inform them about new products or services or clients. You can use it to celebrate if you have anniversaries going on or contests going on and also to engage them.

When I do interviews with the CEOs, it’s not about their job, it’s about your favorite movie and why. You and I know through the research because we’re research freaks. The research shows that if I am pushing pencils, I can relate to leadership in a very humanistic way like, “I love that movie too. I’m going to work differently. The quality of my work is going to be different. My loyalty to your company is going to be different just because we listen to the same music.”

Do they give you real movies or do they give you what would be a cool movie if you were a leader to like?

I have no idea. I do not put them through a polygraph. I think they get real. One of the things I do to my guests is I ask them, “What’s your favorite food?” Here’s where my intuitive comes. Someone will say, “I like fish tacos,” and someone else will say, “I like Mexican food.” There’s a huge difference there. Those are the kinds of small changes I notice in my brain. One person likes detail, one person doesn’t.

What movies have you heard from them though?

You’re in there and I don’t even remember.

You probably do talk to so many people. It is fun to see their sense of humor. If they pick a comedy that shows what kinds of things you can kid around with them about.

It’s a matter of getting back to this message, the goal, the mission, and the values. In my interviewing all these different C-suite executives that already have great cultures, one of the aspects of what they do is how they communicate that on a regular basis. It’s not like, “We’re going to go over our values for the month of January.” No, they go over their values every meeting they have. There’s no rocket science in what they do. They’re consistent in what they do and they don’t do it on their own. They collaborate with their workforce. They get buy-in. That’s one of the things companies, who aren’t working as well as they could miss, are getting that buy-in. People call it engagement. I call it buy-in. There are many different ways to do that.

The book is Blueprint for Employee Engagement. What is that blueprint? Can you give us a little peek?

If you want to run a marathon, you don't wake up one day and run ten miles; you start out with one. Click To Tweet

Many companies who haven’t gotten on this bandwagon yet, it’s because it’s too big. I often do a lot of work in change management and one of the reasons people have a hard time changing is it’s too big. You’ve got to cut it down into little pieces. If you want to run a marathon, you don’t wake up one day and run ten miles, you start out with one. In the workplace, it’s the same way. I wrote Blueprint for Employee Engagement to take an idea that seems overwhelming and I broke it down into 37 essential elements. There are 37 chapters.

In each chapter I give a definition, why it’s important, one step to take, and an open-ended question. It’s just the beginning. Chapter three is the attitude. You could spend a month on attitude. You could spend three months on attitude. I could build an entire program on the attitude of different ideas that a company could do on attitude. Chapter 25 is modeling. This book can be used in a thousand different ways. It could be used as an inspiration. Sometimes I’ll do presentations, everyone will have a copy of the book and they ask me what they want to talk about. It’s 1,000% relevant.

Do you have some examples of what they’ve asked you?

Communication is very popular. Attitude is popular. Perspective, relationships, not so much gratitude or fun, they stay away from the light things sometimes, and trust.

Probably because they figured the light things they might be able to figure out on their own more, do you think?

They probably think that, but I don’t think it’s necessarily true.

I don’t think so either, but that’s human nature.

I want to look like I’m asking an intelligent question. Sometimes I throw those in the discussion, but everybody’s different. I’m in the midst of creating an online course from this book. Basically, they are six-minute-ish videos with questions to be facilitated afterward on some of the ideas in the book.

I’m working on something similar for my book because it’s so challenging. There are many aspects to writing a book. You have so many different ways you can help people. If you put it all in the book, you end up with war and peace.

Nobody’s going to read it, so I’ve had people like this book because they can open it up and read 200 words. I’ve got the book in front of me and I didn’t look. I ust opened it to a page, it’s chapter 13, and it happens to be curiosity.

You need to read me a little of that.

The quote I have here is about a friend of both of ours, Jeffrey Hayzlett, which is, “I don’t know what I don’t know.” I’ll read you this one line, “Great leaders design a world where individuals that want to grow can.” That was me. That’s in the book.

I agree with that and curiosity is going to be a huge topic because innovation is such a big topic. I know a lot of people will probably want to know how they can get your book and contact you. Can you share your information so they can do that?

My website is You can find me on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, C-Suite, you can find me everywhere. My book, Blueprint for Employee Engagement, is on Amazon or you can get it through my website or my podcast. Everything you need to know this on my website or Google me. You’ll find me. I’m happy to have a conversation with anyone.

Thank you, Julie Ann. This has been so much fun. Thank you for being on my show.

Thank you, Diane, so much for inviting me. I really appreciate it.

You’re welcome.

I want to thank Merrick and Julie Ann. What a great show. If you’ve missed any past episodes, please go to and you could find them there.

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About Merrick Rosenberg

TTL 247 | Personality Assessments

Merrick Rosenberg co-founded Team Builders Plus & Take Flight Learning to fulfill his passion to help people learn and grow. He has led training programs for more than 30,000 people and spoke to tens of thousands more. He has worked with more than half of the Fortune 100 companies and now he reaches even more through his books, Taking Flight! and The Chameleon.

About Julie Ann Sullivan

TTL 247 | Personality AssessmentsJulie Ann Sullivan works with organizations that want to create a workplace environment where people are productive, engaged and appreciated. Julie Ann seeks to bring a more positive and productive environment into every organization she works with. Julie Ann is a communication specialist, collaboration strategist and change steward. She is the Founder of Learning Never Ends, a company whose purpose is to create a more positive culture, one person at a time. She is an international bestselling author of Blueprint for Employee Engagement.


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