As a founder and CEO, you quickly learn to pivot and switch roles. One day you’re selling to investors and practicing handshakes. The next, you’re the marketing department, influencing customers on social media and in-store. However, there’s one area where every founder and executive I’ve ever met falls short: evaluating themselves.
After 10 years running Bright Ideas Only, a marketing agency working with the likes of Paul McCartney and the NY Mets, I’ve learned to read situations, rooms, plans, and scenarios in a flash. Our work requires intense precision. But like most entrepreneurs, I’m a sucker for self-improvement. Being faster, better, and stronger builds my business up even more.
In April 2021 I decided to lean into my sweet spot. The only problem? I had no idea what that sweet spot was! Sure, I had guesses and hunches but no data or evidence.
So, I sat down to get clarity—pouring an Olympic-sized mug of caffeine, I set pen to paper. Steadily, I listed the skills and qualities I was proud of. But halfway through, I had an ‘a-ha!’ moment. None of those skills included self-evaluation.
I could easily come up with lists of things to improve, but what I was actually good at? My pencil tapped like an insistent finger! I realized there’s a bias to leadership.
We pick ourselves apart and criticize habits that others would celebrate. Plenty of people are amazed by qualities I think are boring or average. But they are boring to me. Why? Because I’ve embodied them for so long, they’re second nature.
I couldn’t do this alone. Whistling heroically, I called in reinforcements to help me find my superpower. Mentors, fellow founders and friends were like my own personal version of The Avengers, but less gratuitous in lycra.
With these superstar mentors in place, I needed an easy and efficient way of gathering their insights. I settled on Typeform which would help me find my best and brightest qualities—those that sent my friends, mentors and colleagues into overdrive.
I created my survey in mid-April of 2021 and sent it to 27 people. Incredibly, 26 of them not only filled out the survey but said they were impressed that I even thought to ask. Almost everyone got back to me within two weeks.
Here’s exactly how I did it.
Find Your Superpower in Three Easy Steps:
Choose 10-15 friends, old colleagues, former bosses, and mentors whose opinion you value and trust. Email them to say you’re doing a self-evaluation and would appreciate their input. Tell them the survey’s anonymous, so they're free to tell you the hard, cold truth!
This is where you ask insightful questions such as:
- What work-related skills do you think I excel at?
- What work-related skills would you steal from me & use for yourself if you could?
- If I donated 10 hours a month to a mentor program, which of my skills do you think young people would learn the most from? (note: You don’t have to actually volunteer! It’s more about painting a picture for the person to go, "Oh I think Tianna would be ace at teaching youngsters what they’re worth and what salary they should aim for.” In that case, perhaps negotiation is your secret strength.)
Collect the answers and see where there are commonalities
Are there overlaps where multiple people answer the same way?
What answers surprise you the most?
What is being repeated about you again and again?
Did something confirm a hunch you had about your skills?
What you think is second nature and comes easily to everyone really doesn’t. These skills seem easy to you because you’ve been good at them for a long time. But to others, they find what you do incredibly difficult and envy its fluidity.
This third party evaluation helps you identify that set of specific skills… the superpowers that you and only you have! With that knowledge, you have a sense of what you might teach people or do more of.
The faster you can harness your superpower, the better. Once you’ve completed your first Typeform, you can use these same sidekicks for big decisions—from pivoting your business to nailing a career change. With a track record of asking and listening well, you’re far more likely to get amazing, practical feedback.
Most importantly, don’t leave anyone hanging! Let them know which way you decided to go or which answers kept cropping up. They’ll become invested in your success so keep them up to date.
Their feedback was invaluable. I realized those close to me were having a tough time creating their career narrative, something they thought I did naturally. My short, open-ended questions were flooded with, “How exactly do you do that?” and “Do you have any tips for me?”
This ‘a-ha!’ moment led me to launch a cohort program, the Career Capital Course. I guided 22 executives, leaders and CEOs through five weeks of intense career introspection. Then I gushed to my super team and said, “This is all because of you . . .”
In fact, several of the original 26 respondents ended up taking the course too. We'd come full circle.
So now, I’ll ask you: What opportunities are you leaving on the table? What moves should you make? What skills could you lean into more? I challenge you to gather your advisors, prepare your survey and save money on snapped pencils. If you need help, just shoot an email my way.