If you have a GOAL that you want to reach, the HEAVENS open. You SEE OPPORTUNITIES ahead of you because YOU'RE PREPARED for them, and your EYES ARE LOOKING for things
- Arnie Allred -
Meet Arnie Allred, Career Director
While working in career services for then LDS Business College (now named Ensign College), Arnie Allred and his colleges were looking for a tool they could use to help students excel in job interviews. They selected the CliftonStrengths Assessment because they saw that the test results gave students a vocabulary they could use in everyday conversations (e.g. "I have a talent for building relationships"), validation for their strengths, and guidance on how to aim those strengths towards the goals they want to achieve.
If that sounds too aspirational, listen to this interview as Arnie shares stories about the power of combining your individual strengths with others as well as coupling your own strengths together through something called "theme dynamics." The results are remarkable, but admittedly, hard to believe until you go through the process yourself.
When I first took the CliftonStrengths assessment, I tossed the results aside thinking they were just too obvious.
But that's the point.
As Arnie says, "Everybody is incredibly talented. The sad thing is that lots of people don't see just how much value they can bring to the table. People don't recognize it because they say, 'That's just me.' They don't see the things they naturally do well as a talent."
So let that sink in and listen to this interview to learn more about how important it is to KNOW what you're good at so you can "name it, claim it, and aim it" towards the things you want to achieve in this life.
Take the CliftonStrengths Assessment
If you want to take the CliftonStrengths Assessment so you too can get the vocabulary and validation you need to achieve your career goals, sign up for strengths coaching here at Faithful Career Moves. If you're at BYU, then go see Arnie and his team instead. He's been doing this longer than me. 🙂
I think that we are ENDOWED with these TALENTS prior to coming here.
It's up to us to FIGURE OUT where our talents lie and DEVELOP them.
Just like the parable of the talents.
- Arnie Allred -
What You'll Learn in this Episode
- What the CliftonStrengths Assessment is
- How your Strengths results can be utilized and compensated for
- A leap of faith Arnie had to take in his career
- A blessing he could not see for himself in taking this journey
- Most Importantly: How he has seen the Lord’s hand in his career
Mentioned in this Interview
Download the Transcript
Can a Quiz Really Help You Improve Your Career?
How the CliftonStrengths Assessment can help you identify your God-given talents and learn how to apply them to your vocation (and all areas of your life) to more fully reach your potential.
Guest: Arnie Allred
Shelley Hunter: You're listening to the Faithful Career Moves podcast. I'm your host, Shelley Hunter. This is the place where we talk to people who have found the career they were born to do and can see God's hand in the process. Welcome to Episode 22 of the Faithful Career Moves podcast. Today, I'm excited to share my growing interest and expertise as a Gallup-certified strengths coach. What does that mean?
When I started this website, I felt a smidge of imposter syndrome because, at the time, I didn't have any formal career coach training. Although I've been helping people with their career moves for decades, really, the process I developed came by inspiration and hands-on experience. To really launch this business with authority, I felt like I needed something official in my bio. I know that I didn't, but that's just how I felt at the time.
As it turns out, there are plenty of career coaches without credentials. I know because I looked on LinkedIn and found a bunch of them. A few coaches that I admire all claimed to be Gallup-certified strengths coaches. Now, since I teach people how to create accomplishments-based resumes, I thought strengths-based coaching would be the same thing, and I was wrong, but not entirely.
According to Gallup, strengths-based coaching helps people discover what they naturally do best, learn how to develop their talents into strengths, and use those talents to maximize their potential. According to me, strengths-based coaching is not about the writing of resumes and LinkedIn profiles and interview responses, which I'm used to and which I now would call the practical application of your strengths. Rather, it's about discovering your God-given talents and using that insight to improve all aspects of your life.
For me, that still is a focus on career, but I find that learning about your strengths is a little more strategic than tactical. If that sounds really vague or ambitious, let me explain. To start this certification program, I first had to take the CliftonStrengths assessment myself. When the results arrived, I took a quick glance and thought, "Oh, I'm an achiever" big surprise. With too many other things to do that day, I pushed the report aside with a plan to study it in detail when the class started.
Only when the training got underway a couple weeks later, though, did I take a closer look at my results. That's when I had the aha moment. I felt more understood by that report than anyone or anything else my whole life. You see, I've always been labeled type A, red, highly competitive overachiever, and so forth. While I do get more done in a day than a lot of people, my reasons for doing so are far more nuanced than those broad labels imply.
In fact, only two of my top 10 strengths are executing qualities. The rest are primarily driven by a talent for developing relationships. Yes, I do get a lot done, but not for the reasons most people think. Yes, I play a lot of sports, so I am competitive, but I don't need to win. I want to win, but I don't need to win. What I need to do is play my best so that I don't let my teammates down. That's different. Those are just a couple examples of things I learned right out of the gate.
Anyway, I only took the course to put a stamp of approval on my bio. I just wanted credentials. Instead, I got a new set of tools to more fully help people apply their God-given strength to their careers. The experience has been completely transformational for me. I've already seen the benefits of helping other people use their strengths. I'm sorry this has taken so long but stick around to the end because, after the interview, I want to share how using the CliftonStrengths assessment in my home has changed my relationship with my teenagers.
Now, let's get to my guest. Since I am a new strengths-based coach, I really wanted to get a more seasoned coach on the show to help me introduce these concepts. Please welcome Arnie Allred. Arnie, can you start off by telling us what it is you do for a living?
Arnie: I am a career director at Brigham Young University. My responsibilities are to help students who are in the educational process to get a better grasp on what's out there, what's available for them, and how to utilize the time they have at school to prepare for what's after. The programs that I'm somewhat responsible for are international studies, languages, history, family history, geography. I also do government programs and help students understand and see the opportunities there are with working for federal and state governments.
Shelley: I love it. If I am a student at BYU at this point, I would come to you when?
Arnie: Hopefully, sooner than later. The issue with students don't see sometimes is that they figure that, "If I go to all the classes that I need to do, and I check off all the boxes and fill in all the assignments and write all the essays that I have, then I'm really pretty well prepared to go on in life."
All of our educational institutions, Brigham Young University especially, have such opportunities for students to learn the things that they need, participate in internships, specifically. On-campus internships, there's lots of them. I saw this morning there's over 600 on-campus internships for this fall semester. It's those extra things, it's those internships, it's those experiences that they have, alongside their studies make what they're studying more indelible.
They remember things that, if you have a goal, and this goes for anybody, whether it's a student or somebody that's in any kind of a position, or any part of our lives. If you have a goal that you want to reach, the heaven's open. You see opportunities ahead of you because you're prepared for them, and your eyes are looking for things. That's what I do.
I want students to see me and us, and there are a lot of us at BYU, but I want them to come to us earlier so that they have opportunity and have time to take advantage of the internships that are out there and the learning possibilities that come. When they get ready to graduate, it's not like "Okay, the only experience I have is I've been to school for four years. I've been to school for four years, and I've got two years of experience doing what I like to do."
Shelley: Or, "I tried it out, and I was wrong."
Arnie: Yes, absolutely. [laughs] That's a big thing is to be able to say, "Yes, I tried that I didn't like that." You get lots of great information and experience from trying things.
Shelley: How did you get into this?
Arnie: I'm an HR guy. I have a bachelor's degree in business management. I worked for a company in Salt Lake who was sold. The company was sold, and they said we're moving to Montana.
Arnie: I had a house and a small family, and I thought, "Well, I can do some other things." I didn't take that job. I stayed in Salt Lake, and I went through a series of different types of jobs. Worked for a health insurance company; I was hired as a manager. I worked for a computer company; I was hired to work with salespeople, and I was offered a position to go to Russia. The company that I worked for had licenses. It was a communications company, and they had licenses in seven cities.
They asked me, "Can you go over to Russia for six months and set up our marketing departments in these seven companies that we have?" I did that. It fit really nicely into what I do with the issue that when I got there, it was the left hand didn't know what the right hand was doing type situation. They had seven licenses, but they only had two companies that were up and running. Both of those had established and functioning marketing departments.
There was really not anything there for me to do that they had sent me over to do. What they ended up doing is they said, "Well, we have a problem down in Rostov-on-Don." They said, "Can you go down there and solve that problem?" I was able to do that. I went down there and solved the problem and happened to be there for not six months but for two years. I ended up spending seven years in Russia. I helped build three telephone companies.
After Russia, I spent some time in Denmark and in Sweden, and Philippines, and the Caribbean. I became a consultant after that. I traveled around to different companies. After, it was time for me to come home. [laughs] I was hired by LDS Business College in their career center there. Then I came to BYU. That's my path.
Shelley: I love it. I have to ask you a couple questions before I get to where I'm really headed. When I think of HR people, I think of you just being sent over there to hire the right people, but when you say, "Solve problems," that sounds totally different.
Arnie: HR is human relations. I'm a little bit different, I think, than just, "Hey, sign the paper and recruit." A lot of what I did over there in Russia really was solving problems. People are people. I think people do the best that they can. Everybody does the best that they can. I think the downside that a lot of us have is that we don't know what our best can be. A lot of it is defined by culture and what we think people expect of us or what we think people don't expect of us.
When I went down to that first city, the problem was that the mafia was very involved with people that were there. They were younger guys. I was in my mid-40s, and these guys were in their late 20s. There was a hard thing for them. They had young families. I was able to solve the issues that they were having. They got involved with being threatened by the local guys there. [laughs] I think that my maturity helped me understand that, so I was able to pull that one on. I don't want to get into mafia stories right now.
Shelley: No, but this has taken a turn I wasn't expecting. [laughs]
Arnie: Let's see, I was able to solve problems. It's not just do I hire the right person for the right job? No, HR really shouldn't be that. Lots of times, people say, "Oh, HR, that's the only thing they do." They do contracts and wages and things like that, but HR really is taking care of the people that you work with, making sure that they get a swear shake, and then they get trained, and they're in the right position.
There's nothing worse than being in a place in a company where there is no opportunity to advance, or maybe I've seen companies where they've wasted people's entire lives because they were afraid to let them go. They weren't progressing in the company. They didn't bring value to the company, but, oh, they'd been there for so long, but maybe we just should keep them, but you let them go. Then you do that with a little bit of heart, you can help them.
One issue that we had in Russia was that we would bring technology into a company into a country that was way behind. I don't know if you've ever seen Andy or Mayberry where they call the office and they say, "Hey, connect me with so-and-so, the sheriff over in Long Branch or whatever," but that's what Russia was like at that time. They had rooms full of operators. You'd call and say, "Hey, I need to make a call," and they would actually connect you with the wires since 1930 technology.
We would bring digital switches into the mix, and all of those operator jobs were gone immediately. I spent a lot of my time over there trying to mitigate that. It wasn't my responsibility to find those operators. All of them were women, and all of them were mature women. I tried my best to relocate those ladies that we had dislocated and help them. Sure, it wasn't my job, but it made me feel good. I felt that I was helping. It helped me because I didn't like to see all of those people displaced by the cool stuff that we were bringing in.
Shelley: So the reason I wanted to have you on the show is because I am a newly certified Gallups Strengths coach, but you have been doing it for quite some time. So will you help me introduce this concept —what is strengths coaching or a strengths culture.
Arnie: Everybody is incredibly talented. They're just incredibly talented, and the sad thing is that lots of people don't see just how much value they can bring to the table. I'm sure that you saw from your training that people don't recognize it because they say, "Oh, that's just me." That's just me. They don't see it as a talent, but oh, my goodness, it is. It's something you've done all of your life, and you're really good at it.
Let's tune it in and make it so that you can use it to bless the lives of people around you. That's the thing about all the strengths. That was Clifton's intent.
Shelley: Can you take me back to what it even is?
Arnie: While I was at the LDS Business College, we wanted to find an assessment that would help students interview better. A couple of things that taking the CliftonStrengthsFinder assessment does is, first of all, it gives you a validation of who you are. That is so fantastic, to be able to take these 177 questions, 45 minutes to take this assessment, and the results are, "Here are five areas that you are really, really talented at."
When we would give that to these students, and they would come out, and they would say, "Oh, my goodness." It was not a surprise. It's not like you're that expert, and then you have talents that you don't know. You take this assessment, and you get these five categories of incredible talent that you say, "Oh, yes, that's me. I didn't think that was a talent. That's just me. That's the way that I react." Well, that was really cool of that validation.
We want to define vocabulary, and that's another really cool thing about it. As you understand how your talents work in you, you start to see, "This is me. How do I talk about that?" Those different talents give you a vocabulary, not only to talk about yourself but to also see yourself, "Oh yes, that's what I do. That is me. I'm really good at that kind of stuff." That became very, very valuable."
Gallup talks about naming your talents and being able to say, "Yes, this is what they are." Then claiming your talents and be able to say, "Oh, yes, this is how I use them." Then aiming them, how do I use this to make everything better?
Shelley: Right, now that I know this about myself, what am I going to do with it?
Arnie: You can utilize these talents to expand infinitesimally. That's what I like about Gallup, as it says, "Oh, here's your potential to touch people and to achieve and to understand and create and to move and to do all of these cool things." If you can't deal with this, let's say, I have an area of lesser talent, I can combine with somebody else. I can compliment somebody else's, understanding how talents work. It's just so regulatory.
Shelley: Okay, let's get more concrete. Do you have any examples that you can share?
Arnie: Okay, this is a mission story. We heard the opportunity of having a few mission presidents that were interested in seeing how talent worked with their missionaries.
Shelley: I love that.
Arnie: It was really great. One of the mission presidents, when their missionaries would come in, and he would say, "Here's an opportunity. I want you in the first couple of weeks to take this assessment." We trained senior couples to help the missionaries and be in the mission. They knew talent, and they would go to zone conferences and things like that.
Well, an elder that had been out for just a couple of weeks called the mission president and said, "I can't do this. I just can't do this. I hate my mission, I have to go home." The mission president said, "Well, bring your companion and come to the mission office." The next day, they came in. We'll just call this guy Elder Green because I can't remember his name.
He said to Elder Green, he says, "Elder," he says, "what's happening?" He says, "President, I just don't like it." He says, "This mission is just horrible. I just don't like anything." He says, "Have you been able to take the strengths assessment yet?" He says, "No, I haven't had a chance." He says, "Well, you go in the computer room and sit down, and you take the assessment."
While he was in there, he talked to his companion. We'll call him Elder Trainer. He says, "Well, Elder Trainer, what's going on?" He says, "Gee, I don't know, president." He says, "I have to admit to you, we're just doing fun things. I don't know why he doesn't like it because it's really funny." He says, "What are we doing?" He says, "Well, the best thing is to go down meeting people and knocking on doors and talking to them." It's really fun. It's really fun to do that kind of stuff. I've been letting him do all of that stuff, meeting people on the streets.
Mission presidents talk to him about that for a little bit, and it wasn't very long before the other missionary came out. Well, they looked at Elder Trainer, and Elder Trainer's number one talent, can you think of what his number one talent might be, Shelley?
Shelley: Trainer was the woo then. He was the people person.
Arnie: Right, woo. That was the coolest thing ever was to go out and meet these people. Well, his companionship didn't ever get back with anybody. The whole thing was let's knock on doors and meet people. Once somebody was a woo, meet somebody, it's not so important to meet that same person again. Let's meet some other new.
Shelley: To be clear, it's win others over.
Shelley: It's somebody who just really enjoys meeting new people and making fast friends with them.
Arnie: Yes, Elder Green came back, and his number one was consistency, following the rules. His number two talent was relater. Consistency is let's follow the rules, let's make sure that everybody has an equal chance, and relater is developing relationships with people. Deep relationships. Really getting to know someone rather than casual conversations.
Those two together, how do I put follow the rules and help people become one?
Mission president said, "Okay, from now on, Elder Trainer, you get to have all the fun. You get to knock on all the doors. You get to do that. You get to meet people." He said, "That's what you're going to do."
To Elder Green he says, "I want you to make sure that you keep track of all of these people when you go back and see them again. That's what we want you to do. Just see them again and see how they're doing and see what you can do to help them." The president told me, he said, it was about three weeks, and those guys really turned a corner. Elder Green says, "Oh, this is fantastic. We got people. Look where they are. Look what we're doing."
He says, "They turned out to be really a great companionship because the one did what he was really good at, and the other one complimented him by doing the things that he was really good at. Together, instead of one plus one being two, one plus one was like 40."
Shelley: Well, I love that they didn't just separate them. To me, that’s the strength of strengths, is being able to say, "We're not changing the people. Maybe that does have to happen sometime, but we're not changing the people. What we're going to do is see how we can work together." I love that.
Arnie: Mission President he was so good because he understood talent. He knew what his talents were. He knew how his talents worked, and it was fun for those missionaries. They would do zone meetings, where they would talk about talents and strengths. "How can I utilize this together? What can we do as a zone?
Shelley: Let's talk about, quickly, the difference between me knowing my strengths and working with somebody who also knows their strengths. We share with each other what we're good at, and we talk about it, versus I just know my talents. I don't know yours.
Arnie: When I know what my talents are, this is the point that a lot of people need to realize about talent. You don't just get a list of five words and say, "Okay, great." I have to understand that those are mine. Let's see how they work in me. Let's say, for example, you and I both have relater, for example. My relater is going to work differently than yours, but if I know how my talents work, I start to see those same talents in other people. They're easy for me to spot.
You have woo. Easy for you to spot somebody with woo. Because you understand how it works. It's easy for me to spot somebody with responsibility or positivity. Those are a couple of mine or input. I can just see those guys a mile away. That's cool because I think that's how we make friends really, is that we're endowed with talents. As we exercise those talents, we recognize, "Oh, that guy sees that the same way as I do." You have the same outlook, because talent not only is how you do things; it's also how you see things.
Knowing what talents I have, and I start to see those talents in other people, I also recognize that, "Gee, they do things that I don't do. They're really talented in that way."
Shelley: I was thinking how knowing what my talents are is really empowering for me, but it also gives me an incredible amount of empathy for everyone else. For example, I was at a school function, and we were going to take a picture of everybody that came to this football camp. It was getting towards the end. We didn't really have everyone, and we were saying, "We can just get them tomorrow." There's one woman kept saying, "I just want to finish it."
There started to be some contention between she and the other women, and I kept thinking, "She's probably an achiever. She really wants to get this done. She needs to get this done." Instead of thinking, "Well, she's irritating. She won't let this go." I thought, "No, she probably is phenomenal at finishing, and she wants this. I'm going to help her do that."
Arnie: What do you think that did for her?
Shelley: Well, it made her feel good because we got it done.
Shelley: I am relater like you. I knew that that was building a relationship with her. She's not necessarily somebody that I see myself going out to lunch with, but I felt like, "Oh, we bonded here because I helped you do this. You needed it, and I feel good about the helping part of it."
Arnie: She went home feeling great because her needs were met, and you went home feeling great because your relater and your woo needs were met.
Shelley: Yes. Okay, I love that. I could talk to you forever, but I promised you I'd get you out of here on time. Is there anything else I should have asked you about strengths that I did not?
Arnie: I think one thing that your listeners might want to know is that we not only can complement each other, but we can let our talents complement themselves. It's a technique that's called theme dynamics. I'll just give you one quick little example here. I don't have the talent woo. It's fairly low for me. I think it's 19 or something later my 34, but I sometimes have to look like woo and act like woo. The easiest way for me to do that, really, is to bring my wife. My wife has woo.
For those of you that don't know what woo is. Woo is just that you have the ability to break the ice and talk to people, and there's no fear. There's no hesitation. We've never been through a grocery checkout line when my wife doesn't know, by the end of that line, by the time we get to the checkout cart, what's going on and the people around us, what they're having for dinner, their life stories because she's just got this cool little talent. I'm not that comfortable with people that I don't know.
I have to do it the way that I can do it. I'll bring her if I can, but if I don't, I have a talent called responsibility that says, "Hey, Arnie, you have to do this. You've agreed to do this, so now you have to do it." I use responsibility that gets me out and into the crowd. I have this talent called the input. I've got cool things that I can talk about. Then I have a third talent that's in my top five, that's called positivity. Once I can get the conversation going, I can keep it, and it looks just like woo. I'm great once I know them, but breaking the ice is hard for me.
Shelley: Yes, I could see that. Arnie, can you tell me about a leap of faith you had to get to be where you are now in your career?
Arnie: I think Russia was a big leap of faith for me. Out of the country, different language, but I just felt that it was a good thing for me. I have a talent called connectedness, which is my number five. It's in my top five, so it's fairly high. People with connectedness, we don't think that there are coincidences, that things don't happen just because of luck.
I really think that every opportunity that I've had has been tooled for me. Russia was a hard one, especially to start with. I had to feel what the notch was that I had. That was a leap of faith, especially when I got there, and there was nothing specifically for me to do. I wasn't going to go develop marketing departments, which I was very capable of doing. That was a leap of faith for me.
I remember thinking there, all of the experiences that brought me there prepared me to be there in Russia and prepared me to handle those problems down there in that city. The things that I did there prepared me for the next step.
Shelley: Arnie, tell me about an unexpected blessing, something you couldn't see for yourself in your career journey.
Arnie: Well, probably the unexpected blessings were after Russia. I quite enjoyed my time in Russia, mainly because the people were so good, and they were so appreciative of the little things that I was able to do. That was a really unexpected blessing, that I was able to do as much as I could for those people. Like helping people find their jobs. The employees that worked for me, it was great to bring a taste of the west in there. That was a real unexpected blessing.
The real unexpected blessing is that it opened a totally different career for me afterwards. It was that pivot point of me being able to say, "let's go to Russia."
Shelley: Yes, it was a big move. Arnie, my last question, how have you seen the hand of God in your career?
Arnie: Well, I still see it every day. I know that my Heavenly Father knows who I am, and He knows the opportunities that I can take advantage of well, and He challenges me. One thing that I've really learned, and I'm going to take this back to strengths because I see the hand of our Heavenly Father in the strengths. I think that we're endowed with these talents prior to coming here. It's up to us to figure out where our talents lie and develop them. Just like the parable of the talents, we don't hide them; we use them.
I think that when you see people as being talented, and I think a lot of this goes to Don Clifton, his whole thing was, well, what would it be like if when we met people, we saw them as being talented rather than flawed. I think that has really changed me because I can see the value of people so much now. I think what happens when you see people as being talented, rather than flawed, the natural inclination, for you, is to reach out and put your arm around that person and want to be that person's friend and to lift that person and to help that person.
Seeing as somebody being talented, you love that person, to start with. I thought awhile back, "Isn't that light of Christ. Isn't that what the Savior wants us to do." If Clifton has put together an assessment, that's the ball rolling for me to be more like the Savior wants me to be. Well, I'll tell you Clifton's good rewards and the side, because I think that's what it does for us, regardless of what your faith is. If your natural reaction is to be of service and to love those around you, that's a blessing. To me, that's the hand of God.
Shelley: I love that. Thank you for being on the show.
Arnie: Oh, my pleasure. Thank you for inviting me.
Shelley: Thank you, Arnie. I promise you, I am at the early stages of understanding what all this means, but I, too, have a strength for connectedness. I know it was no accident for me to pick this area of study. I've learned a lot about my own strengths, and I'm helping others make sense of their careers and other aspects of their lives through it.
If you want to take the CliftonStrengths assessment, then reach out to me. If you do take it, please do yourself a favor and study it beyond just looking at the report. Because I promise you, you’ll have the same response I did. Either you’ll think, no big surprise. Or, you’ll think, “this is totally me.” But you won’t know what to do with it.
Like I said in the beginning, it wasn't until I started studying truly what the strengths are and how I can use them that my mind started to expand. Now, I promised you a little nugget about my own family. I made all of my kids take the assessment, and holy cow, I wish l had had this years ago. Here's one little snippet. I'm an achiever. That means I have a talent for getting things done, but we discovered my daughter is an activator, which means she has a talent for starting things.
For 21 years, I thought we had control issues, a constant tug of war between her always pushing me to go, go, go and do something and me saying, "Hold on, I got to see where we're going here." Neither is bad. She's comfortable starting because she's also comfortable adjusting as she goes. I tend to be a little hesitant in the beginning because I want to be more intentional. Knowing that about each other has improved our relationship.
I could go on, but for now, a thank you to Arnie Allred. I just love that he knows so much about strengths and that he made the connection between seeing the good in others, rather than the flaws as what our Savior would have us do. All right. If you're a student at BYU, or you have a student at BYU, send them over to Career Services, so they can connect with Arnie and his colleagues, learn about their strengths, and check out those great internships he mentioned.
That's it for now, I promise. Thanks for listening. Thank you for listening to the Faithful Career Moves podcast. If you want to know more about how to connect your natural talents and abilities to job opportunities and business ideas, then visit our website at faithfulcareermoves.com, where we help you identify your strengths and create a custom career plan, so you can find the career you were born to do.