Take Charge of Your Talent

Three Keys to Thriving in Your Career, Organization, and Life

Don Maruska (Author) | Jay Perry (Author)

Publication date: 12/05/2012

Take Charge of Your Talent

Silicon Valley CEO, Don Maruska, and Coach University co-founder, Jay Perry, turn talent development in organizations on its head by giving every individual access to practical yet powerful talent development concepts and tools, in place of the traditional model of limiting talent development just to elite "high potentials."


Silicon Valley CEO, Don Maruska, and Coach University co-founder, Jay Perry, turn talent development in organizations on its head by giving every individual access to practical yet powerful talent development concepts and tools, in place of the traditional model of limiting talent development just to elite "high potentials."

This work presents a program that creates value from front-line employees to CEOs, although it doesn't require buy-in from the boss. When people participate up and down and across an organization, they strengthen a culture of talent development and a community to stimulate innovation and productive creativity. This bubble-up approach within the organization leverages the dynamics in today's world of self-expression and connectivity.

At the core of this program is the Talent Catalyst Conversation, a powerful script that individuals can easily use with each other to re-engage hopes, unlock talents, and lead to greater job satisfaction. The program puts into practice the latest insights from neuroscience, psychology, and management to elicit better-brain performance. The result? It's a win "win situation for employees and organizations alike.

The book's primary purpose is to provide individual employees and the organizations where they work with an affordable, easy-to-learn talent development program accessible for the entire entity, rather than to only a small group of identified "high potentials." This toolset moves from Personal Opportunity Profile to Talent Catalyst Conversation to Talent Boosters to Talent Asset Builders, which create lasting value for participants and organizations.

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Overview

Silicon Valley CEO, Don Maruska, and Coach University co-founder, Jay Perry, turn talent development in organizations on its head by giving every individual access to practical yet powerful talent development concepts and tools, in place of the traditional model of limiting talent development just to elite "high potentials."


Silicon Valley CEO, Don Maruska, and Coach University co-founder, Jay Perry, turn talent development in organizations on its head by giving every individual access to practical yet powerful talent development concepts and tools, in place of the traditional model of limiting talent development just to elite "high potentials."

This work presents a program that creates value from front-line employees to CEOs, although it doesn't require buy-in from the boss. When people participate up and down and across an organization, they strengthen a culture of talent development and a community to stimulate innovation and productive creativity. This bubble-up approach within the organization leverages the dynamics in today's world of self-expression and connectivity.

At the core of this program is the Talent Catalyst Conversation, a powerful script that individuals can easily use with each other to re-engage hopes, unlock talents, and lead to greater job satisfaction. The program puts into practice the latest insights from neuroscience, psychology, and management to elicit better-brain performance. The result? It's a win "win situation for employees and organizations alike.

The book's primary purpose is to provide individual employees and the organizations where they work with an affordable, easy-to-learn talent development program accessible for the entire entity, rather than to only a small group of identified "high potentials." This toolset moves from Personal Opportunity Profile to Talent Catalyst Conversation to Talent Boosters to Talent Asset Builders, which create lasting value for participants and organizations.

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Meet the Authors


Visit Author Page - Don Maruska

As a founder and CEO of three Silicon Valley companies, venture investor, and recipient of the National Innovators Award, Don writes and speaks from a broad base of experience. His lifelong passions for creativity, translating innovative ideas into practical applications, and bringing out the best in others stimulate his work. His books, keynote speeches, and workshops guide audiences to fulfill their hopes in powerful, practical, and profitable ways.

Don wrote ""How Great Decisions Get Made: 10 Easy Steps for Reaching Agreement on Even the Toughest Issues,"" with a foreword by Margaret J. Wheatley (AMACOM, 2004). This book, reprinted in Asia and Africa, has helped businesses, governments, and communities around the world to enjoy major breakthroughs and enduring results.

His new book is ""Take Charge of Your Talent: Three Keys to Thriving in Your Career, Organization, and Life"" with co-author Jay Perry and a foreword by Jim Kouzes (Berrett-Koehler, 2013). It embodies over a decade of pioneering work to help people make the most of their talent and enjoy doing it.

Don's own story is one of learning how to take charge of his talent. He was the first in his family's history to attend college, and he earned a BA magna cum laude from Harvard University. At twenty-two, Don was a legislative assistant in the US Senate and thereafter developed management procedures to implement a national housing program. He subsequently earned an MBA and JD from Stanford University and joined McKinsey & Company, where he led strategy and organization projects for corporations, government agencies, and nonprofits before pursuing his entrepreneurial ambitions.

Following nearly two decades in Silicon Valley, Don became a Master Certified Coach, focusing on helping leaders and teams to cultivate success in their organizations. Don's clients include large firms such as Accenture, Blue Shield, Duke Energy, Intel, Microsoft, and Wells Fargo, as well as growing midsized businesses, government agencies, and nonprofits. He also founded and directs the Cal-ICMA Coaching Program, which provides professional development for over three thousand leaders in local government each year.

Don has appeared on over thirty radio and television interview programs throughout the United States. He delivers keynote speeches and workshops across the country and abroad.



Visit Author Page - Jay Perry

Jay Perry is a Master Certified Coach who helps people to take advantage of both business and personal challenges in unique and powerful ways. His clients include Fortune 500 corporate executives, entrepreneurs, and creative artists. He is also known as one of the world's leading mentors for new coaches seeking professional certification.

Jay's clients appreciate his fresh perspectives that help them to see themselves and their situations in a new light. He earned a BFA from Boston University and an MFA from Ohio University. With a background in professional theater as an actor, teacher, director, stage manager, and theater owner, Jay approaches his work with a sense of playfulness and a passion for developing creative communities. In the 1980s, he applied these skills in operating the Actors Information Project to empower performing artists to take charge of their careers and lead healthy lives. He also served as CEO of a digital imaging and archiving business with offices in New York and Los Angeles.

Jay has coached and led workshops for thousands of people around the world on topics such as business planning, leadership, transformational change, coaching skills, communication, and career planning. In 1991, he began working with legendary coach Thomas Leonard and participated in the creation of Coach University and the International Coach Federation. Jay's coaching clients include executives at AT&T, Avaya, Genentech, GlaxoSmithKline, Shell, and Schlumberger. Additionally, he has a personal mission of bringing the benefits of coaching to traditionally underserved and at-risk populations and has volunteered his services in jails and prisons.

Jay lives in Charlottesville, Virginia, with his wife, Susan; dog, Mozart; and cat, Shadow. His son, Max, works in the entertainment industry.

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Table of Contents

Foreword by Jim Kouzes

Introduction: The Perfect Moment Is Now

Your Take Charge Checklist

KEY #1 POWER UP YOUR TALENT STORY

1: Be Your Own Hero

2: Explore a Talent Catalyst Conversation

3: Connect with a Catalyst

KEY #2 ACCELERATE THROUGH OBSTACLES

4: Keep Your Hopes Humming

5: Grab Opportunities to Grow

6: Challenge Yourself to Stretch

KEY #3 MULTIPLY THE PAYOFFS

FOR YOURSELF AND OTHERS

7: Create Enduring Career Assets

8: Share the Wealth and Everyone Wins

9: Champion a Take-Charge Talent Culture

The Take Charge of Your Talent Manifesto

RESOURCES

Frequently Asked Questions about the Talent Catalyst Conversation

Sample Talent Catalyst

Conversation and Summary

Services to Support You

Visit the Online Community

Notes

Acknowledgments

Index

About the Authors

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Excerpt

Take Charge of Your Talent

INTRODUCTION:
THE PERFECT MOMENT IS NOW

Storybook happiness involves every form of pleasant thumbt-widdling; true happiness involves the full use of one’s powers and talents.

JOHN W. GARDNER

The world belongs to the talented, and that means you. If you want to take charge of your talent, enhance your career, and discover new possibilities, this book is for you. You don’t need to wait for a golden opportunity or for someone else to give you the thumbs-up; you can take the initiative yourself. It’s your talent, and the perfect moment is now.

Whether you’re the new kid in a cubicle, you’re the boss in the executive suite, or you run your own business, you have huge potential for greater productivity and fulfillment. Even very high performers in excellent organizations — large and small, for profit and nonprofit—report that 30 to 40 percent of their talent is untapped.1 And that’s only the talent they know about. It doesn’t capture what they haven’t discovered yet.

It doesn’t matter if you are the senior manager of a big team, a teacher, a techie mastermind, or a freelancing artist. It doesn’t matter if you are salaried in six figures or are just starting out. The picture is the same: You could enjoy using more of your talent, if you could just figure out how.

Your talent is not simply your strength or your skill set. It is your self-expression—the joyful demonstration of your unique abilities that benefit both you and the world.

Over the course of your life, the story about your talent can take many twists and turns. At one point, you may feel on top of the world. At other times, you may feel stuck on the sidelines. Which of the following describes where you are now?

Stymied by a hurdle, like lack of education, experience, or credentials

Lacking time and opportunities to grow

Concerned about the personal costs related to making a change

Eager and ambitious and looking for the best path

Blocked by organizational constraints

Afraid that if you tried something different, you might fail

Pigeonholed in a role you want to change

Settled, a little complacent, wondering if there is something more

Feeling fulfilled and ready to grow further

You may be itching to move forward. However, even if that’s not the case and you feel at ease with the status quo, you may be missing out.

Interestingly, as authors we experienced each of the above states in the process of bringing this book to life. We felt the excitement of sharing new insights and tools. We experienced the obstacles and constraints to relaying them. We needed to navigate the fear of failure and tradeoffs with family and other interests to bring the book to completion. Fortunately, we took our own advice and employed the practices we offer in this book.

We developed the keys in this book to make talent development easy, accessible, and enjoyable for everyone. The keys are the essentials that we have distilled from decades of personal experience working in organizations as assistants, managers, and CEOs, and as professional coaches stimulating cultures of talent development. They also incorporate insights from the latest neuroscience and psychological research on how to elevate performance and satisfaction.

As powerful and effective as professional coaching can be, we became concerned that it is only accessible and affordable to less than 1 percent of the workforce. We wanted resources available for everyone. Thus, we created, tested, and optimized a simple set of keys for you to use. As our clients began to apply these keys and see the benefits, they wanted to share them with others. Some even asked, “How do we get a copy of your book?” before there actually was a book. So, here it is.

Throughout this book, you’ll read the experiences and perspectives of a wide range of people, representing many different roles and workplaces. They draw from real-life situations. We’ve changed the names and circumstances both to protect the individuals’ privacy and confidentiality and to help illustrate important points. The challenges will probably sound familiar to you. Their purpose is to help you visualize the keys in action. Ultimately, your proof will be your own experience in taking charge of your talent.

WHY YOUR TALENT MATTERS

Why should you take charge of your talent? Because your talent matters. It matters to you, it matters to your organization, and it matters to the world. When your talent lies dormant, there is a hole in your daily life. You may feel a lack of contentment and try to fill the hole with all kinds of activities and possessions that never quite do the trick. Opposing forces blunt your efforts and squash your hopes.

On the other hand, when you express your talent, the world vibrates with possibility. You feel the sweet experience of satisfaction. One idea leads to the next, and the next. Time flies. Life is filled with resources that carry you forward, sometimes in surprising ways.

Is it really that big of a deal for you to find a way to use more of your talent at work? We say “Yes!” It’s a terrible waste when talent gets brushed aside. We know that when you aren’t using your talent to the fullest, everyone pays the price. Your productivity dips, your innovation peters out, and your love of life may evaporate. You may still be doing your job, but the joy you may have had has dissipated. The frustration, boredom, or stress from work can cause toxic damage to your personal life as well. You may get in a rut and become blind to new opportunities. If you can’t see the road signs, you don’t take the right turns. You lose something of yourself and what you could be. Thus, the obvious makes sense: when you engage more of your talent, you become happier. And how important is that?

PUT TALENT DEVELOPMENT IN THE HANDS OF THE TALENTED

If you’ve gone out on your own or have recently lost your job, it may be clear to you that it’s your responsibility to take charge of your talent. You need to take care of yourself, because there’s nobody else who will. This book will support you in doing just that.

What if, however, you are in an organization that does give attention to talent development? Maybe it will take care of you. After all, enlightened organizations often have training classes and leadership development programs and give special attention to people identified as “high potentials.” That’s all fine and dandy, if you are one of the chosen … in which case, we encourage you to take advantage of the resources that serve your aspirations. But what if you aren’t one of the chosen, or you want to do more on your own initiative? We will help you to explore your talent potential more fully at work.

Even if you are one of the chosen and feel fully engaged in your work, there are strong reasons for you to take charge of your talent and for your organization to encourage you to do so. As good as top-down talent development programs in organizations may be, they have limitations for both employees and their organizations. Many start with organizational needs and train people to fill those requirements. Such programs, however, don’t tap a person’s core enthusiasm and accompanying talent.

How much talent gets bypassed with a mechanistic approach where each person fits into a slot and organizational objectives drive talent development? That’s probably a big chunk of the 30 to 40 percent of untapped talent that employees reported in the surveys we noted earlier.

The mechanistic approach would make complete sense except that people aren’t machines and don’t want to be “driven” like cattle. As Daniel Pink concludes in Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us, transactional systems may successfully get people to complete routine tasks, but they aren’t likely to inspire the groundbreaking innovations and genuine engagement that both individuals and organizations need to thrive.2

When companies ask, “How do we get employees to contribute more than what’s required for their pay?” they lose the race right out of the gate. This is the transactional view. When employees sense they are working in a tit-for-tat environment, they may respond by thinking, “OK, I’ve got my skills. You’re my employer. How are we going to barter? What’s the deal?”

The transactional mode triggers fearful behavior. Everything is a negotiation that no worker wants to lose. Yes, you want to be valued and respected. And no, you don’t want to be used and taken advantage of. “What are you going to give me for my extra effort? Is it fair? Who’s going to come out ahead? Who’s in charge? Do I like him or her?” Even positive answers to the transactional questions lead to a dead end. What if the deal is fair? Lack of fairness can kill motivation, but fairness alone doesn’t inspire it.

As a senior executive commented after his management team analyzed how best to boost results, “We concluded that we could pay people twice as much and get a short-term bump in performance, but it wouldn’t make a lasting difference. Long-term change has to come from the employees’ own motivation.”

WHY WHAT’S GOOD FOR YOU IS GOOD FOR YOUR ORGANIZATION

Take Charge of Your Talent provides an alternative to the top-down transactional model of talent development with a new generative paradigm of “Everyone can play and everyone can win.” This approach makes access to talent development available to all and generates an environment where people want to contribute. If your organization chooses to encourage all employees to take charge of their talent, you’ll benefit from having coworkers who will be learning and growing with you.

Talent development needs to ride the wave of interest people have to take charge of what’s important to them. As new opportunities arise for people to do things for themselves — for example, online brokerage or smartphone apps — generations, young and old, rush to use them. Putting talent development into the hands of the talented is similarly a movement whose time has come.

This book enables you to put the yearning to take charge into action. It offers a generative view that shifts the dynamic from “top down” to “bubble up.” In the generative approach, employees are more inclined to support one another instead of competing against each other, which creates an environment that welcomes and explores fresh ideas.

Margaret Wheatley noted in Leadership and the New Science, “As we let go of the machine model of organizations and workers as replaceable cogs in the machinery of production, we begin to see ourselves in much richer dimensions, to appreciate our wholeness, and, hopefully, to design organizations that honor and make use of the great gift of who we humans are.”3 People can be more focused and productive in such an atmosphere because they know that they are appreciated as individuals and that the expression of their talent matters.

Maybe you’re wondering, “What’s in it for the boss?” Or maybe you are the boss. A brief look at employee survey data highlights the urgent need to boost employee engagement and use of talent. A Gallup employee engagement survey from 2011 reported that 71 percent of American workers were either “not engaged” in their work (emotionally detached and unlikely to be self-motivated) or “actively disengaged” (viewed their workplaces negatively and were liable to spread that negativity to others).4 The estimated cost of actively disengaged employees in the United States alone is $400 billion to $500 billion per year.5 Interestingly, engagement statistics have varied only a few percentage points over the last decade during both boom and bust economies.6 And similar engagement patterns elsewhere in the world underscore the global challenge.7,8 In short, these data demonstrate a chronic and costly problem that has remained basically unsolved.

Take Charge of Your Talent goes right to the heart of the problem with a fresh solution: tapping employee self-motivation to create authentic engagement and enduring value. The keys work at both an individual and an organizational level. They apply up, down, and across an organization and scale easily so that you can grow together efficiently and effectively. You’ll learn how each employee can translate his or her talent into tangible career assets. You’ll see concrete examples of how to enjoy “everyone wins” results.

Now, some managers may worry, “Will encouraging my employees to explore their own hopes for their careers prompt more people to leave and the organization to suffer?” The short answer is no. Why? Employment is a relationship. As with personal relationships, if people feel that they can’t explore and grow in the relationship, they withdraw energy and commitment or pursue their interests outside the relationship. Thus, it behooves employers to encourage their employees to explore their hopes. Yes, a few people may leave, but decades of experience have shown us that the vast majority of people stay. Thoughtful conversations and engaging exercises often enable people to discover that their unexamined assumptions about limitations in the workplace were incorrect or to identify new opportunities to grow within it. The organization gains a more committed and engaged workforce.

Whether you are reading this book on your own or in an organization, you already know this fundamental truth from your life experience: We each develop and grow most vigorously when we feel powered up. If your engine is sputtering out or could use a boost, don’t despair. It’s there for you to restart—and we’ll show you how.

START TURNING THE KEYS

Think of the keys in this book as your personal ignition system. Once you use the keys and get started, you can go to amazing places. What are the keys to thriving in your career, organization, and life?

Key #1: Power Up Your Talent Story. You’ll gain fresh perspectives and discover resources that will support you as you become the hero of your talent story. The leaping-off place is a structured conversation that takes about an hour; it gets you in touch with powerful sources of insight and creativity that will lead you to action.

Key #2: Accelerate through Obstacles. You’ll learn how to engage your talent and master frustration, discouragement, and limitations so that you can build momentum and turn your aspirations into reality. You’ll gain insights into how to keep your hopes humming, fully use your resources, and take healthy stretches.

Key #3: Multiply the Payoffs for Yourself and Others. You’ll convert what you know into valuable career assets that will let your talents shine and serve others. This process not only advances your personal interests but also creates a take-charge talent culture that works for everyone.

As you immerse yourself in the book, you’ll find many chances to take charge of your talent. All you need to start is willingness and an open mind. For each chapter, we provide many real-life scenarios, answer critical questions, present a concise “Talent Takeaway” for you to remember, and provide clear direction with “Take Charge” actions so that you can immediately put what you read into practice. As you proceed, we want you to enjoy the process—and, dare we say, even have fun. Why? Because sustained learning and growth happen more readily when people have fun.

Unfortunately, many people don’t associate developing their talents with having fun. Judgment and fear flood into our thinking: “Am I talented? Who’s more talented? Will I succeed?” All of these typical reactions get in the way. Thus, it’s not surprising that many people give more time, money, and attention to maintaining their cars than they do to the real engine of their success—their talent. In terms of fun, we figure that the idea of talent development probably ranks, for many people, somewhere in the neighborhood of getting your teeth cleaned. It may be important, but it’s definitely not fun. So, how could this process possibly be enjoyable?

The difference is that you are in charge, and you will always remain in charge as you use the three keys. You decide how you will pursue your hopes. No one is going to drive you anywhere that you don’t want to go. You will have a unique opportunity to articulate your hopes, look at your resources, and make a plan of action. While you are in charge, you won’t be left adrift. You will have a catalyst and other resources to support you along the way.

Finally, you’ll be able to explore on your own terms. You will be the hero of your own story. If you don’t like your talent story now, change it—make it fulfilling and fun. You’ll be able to share with others what you see and learn on the journey. Unlike old photos in a travelogue that fade over time, the career assets you develop will be tangible and will last. As an up-and-coming engineer commented, “This is a hoot! I mean, it’s a good time.”

You can start right now, right where you are, to reap benefits for your career, organization, and life.

Let’s get rolling!

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Endorsements

“This inspiring book will teach you how to unlock your gifts and release your power and potential.”
—Ken Blanchard, coauthor of The One Minute Manager and Great Leaders Grow

“This wonderfully practical and inspiring book is based on a belief I cherish: that all humans are creative and have talent.”
—Margaret J. Wheatley, author of Leadership and the New Science and So Far From Home

“Maruska and Perry's book shows how we can harness our talents in ways that expand our horizons, ramp up our ability to bring out our best, and energize those around us in the same way. Indispensable.”
—Michael Ray, professor emeritus, Stanford Business School, coauthor of Creativity in Business, and author of The Highest Goal

“This book offers you the keys to ignite your personal power.”
— from the Foreword by Jim Kouzes, coauthor of the bestselling The Leadership Challenge

"I've seen the key practices in
Take Charge of Your Talent work with hundreds of people--from front-line employees to CEO. Read it and help your career and your organization thrive."
—Frank Benest, Senior Advisor for Next Generation Initiatives, International City-County Management Association

“I've long been aware that even the best of our company-sponsored talent development programs only reach a select few, leaving tremendous potential in the organization untapped. This powerful, persuasive book effectively supplies the tools for all employees to gain a fresh perspective, articulate aspirations, and recognize opportunities while confronting concerns and obstacles to gain results.”
—Ursula Kiel-Dixon, special projects manager, Corporate Center HR, ThyssenKrupp AG, Germany

“In the new era of free agents, this book provides exactly what both individuals and organizations are looking for. Don and Jay have delivered a proven and easy to understand process for the development of an organization's most precious resource, its talent pool. In so doing, they inspire more job satisfaction and greater career fulfillment.”
—John Steinhart, Silicon Valley HR consultant and former Director of Stanford Business School's Sloan Executive Program

“The heart of this book is a profound but easy to learn approach to becoming a ‘generous listener.' Using the transformational power of this mindful practice, Maruska and Perry expertly guide the reader in a step-by-step process for recognizing, catalyzing, and optimizing your talent, while helping others discover and express theirs. Highly recommended.”
—Michael J. Gelb, author of How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci and Brain Power: Improve Your Mind as You Age

“All too often, I hear promising young talents speak of being ‘lucky' in their careers. I hate that. You make your own luck by knowing your strengths, embracing risk, and leading change. This book has the keys to unlocking what makes you thrive so that you can give voice to your ambition with authenticity and purpose.”
—Denny Marie Post, Senior Vice President, Chief Marketing Officer, Red Robin International

“The world is filled with people who never realize their potential, many of whom never even realize they have unfulfilled potential.
Take Charge of Your Talent provides an effective game plan for helping people move toward their hopes for what they might become.”
—Jim Thompson, Positive Coaching Alliance Founder and author of Elevating Your Game

"This practical book, filled with detailed coaching and useful exercises, reflects the extensive experience of the authors in coaching executives. This book will help you clarify, enhance, and finds ways to apply your talents.”
—Jim Clawson, Johnson & Higgins Professor of Business Administration, Darden School, University of Virginia

Take Charge of Your Talent is a positive and refreshing approach to talent development. The Take Charge methodology offers techniques on how to own and grow your career while supporting personal and professional development of your colleagues -- creating a win-win for all!”
—Renée Robertson, former Director, Talent Development - Verizon

“The powerful tools offered in this book provide the only real security we have in today's job market – the ability to take control and fully realize one's talent.” 
—Dawn Legg, Construction Liaison, Topaz Solar Farms, First Solar

“The gem of
Take Charge of Your Talent is that it re-enforces the (often lost) reality that there are opportunities at any time, in any business climate. It is the prospect for meaningful productivity using your unique talents that lights the fire.
—John C. Summer, Director of Business Development, Taylor Frigon Capital Management LLC

“I had the opportunity to experience the Talent Catalyst Conversation with many of my HR colleagues, and it was amazing to see how following the process led to igniting possibilities for the participants. I hope Maruska and Perry realize their vision of 20 million people in 20 countries having these keys to take charge of their talent by the year 2020!”
—Donna Vaillancourt, President, County Personnel Administrators Association of California

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