Here’s Why We Need Ideators


What Is the IDEATION Theme

Simply put, these are the people in our lives with a passion for ideas.  They love to have far-out thoughts and to play with concepts large and small.  Testing the limits of an idea, finding its branches, and envisioning all the ways that it could be linked to other parts of the world is the work of ideators.  They naturally run with thoughts, often just to see where they go.  Intuitively exploring the connections between things, they have a genuine and productive curiosity.  For them, an idea is a doorway—not an endpoint—it is an entrance to more.  Ideas lead to ideas.  In that way, their world is limitless, interconnected, and highly synaptic.  More than anything, they love to be fascinated and to wonder at things, to be awestruck and mesmerized.  In this way, their thinking is prismatic: imagine clear light entering into their brains and rainbow light coming out in all directions.  For ideators, the ‘point’ is not necessarily to always do something with their thinking—in many cases, simply having an idea is enough for them.  A good idea anchors them to their own inner richness, their sense of self, and their sense of contribution to the world.

Why Should We Care

People with ideation are profoundly creative thinkers, incessant innovators, and productive brainstormers.  When it comes to filling a pipeline with new ideas, connections, and content, we find them enthusiastically engaged and at the ready.  They show us other worlds within our own and they take us out of the status quo.  For ideators, reality, like the cosmos, is infinite, intricately interconnected, and ever-expanding.  They love to see what other ideas are present below the surface and they draw people and organizations out of static thinking.  Their enthusiasm can be contagious—an invitation to see the world through their kaleidoscopic eyes.  By modeling how expansive one’s mind can be, they remind us each of our unique potential.

Ten Things to Know About People with IDEATION

1. Starting Things. Ideators are great at starting things—it is the part of the process that they find most energizing—and it is their gift.  However, as a culture, we are not taught how to value this, and many ideators beat themselves up about “never finishing things.

2. Vetting. They don’t necessarily vet their ideas.  Scrutiny can feel limiting, even claustrophobic for them.  For, they know that a seemingly absurd idea can hold the seed of a brilliant one.

3. Action. All of their ideas are not “to-dos” or “action items”.  Sometimes it’s just thought exploration.

4. Connecting The Dots. In general, they are objectively smart people and their brains work incredibly fast.  They are constantly refining their skill of connecting the dots for others in ways that make sense.

5. Ambiverts. Many ideators are one part introvert, one part extrovert—a combo which accommodates both their enthusiasm and their depth.  They may need to recharge in solitude after a social outing; or, the opposite, they may need stimulation and interaction after a period of isolation.

6. Feelings. Ideators might try to think their feelings instead of feeling them.

7. Sensitivity. Ideas are a source of life for ideators, so shooting them down can feel belittling and utterly toxic to them.  They have zero respect for closed-mindedness.

8. Ideating. Sometimes, they may need to engage in really intense and deep conversations.  It can be a type of nourishment for them.

9. Eccentric. Ideators are at home in deep cerebral waters and spend a lot of time in their imaginations.  They are inclined to bring up unconventional topics in casual conversations.

10. Boredom. They are prone to boredom and may even feel it viscerally as a sensation in their body.

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Zach Carlsen is the grateful lead blogger at

His strengths of Ideation, Connectedness, Input, Strategic, and Empathy have taken him all over the world.  He is an inventor, athlete, joyous wanderer/wonderer, translator, poet, and Gallup Certified Strengths Coach.

The Truth About Strategic People


What Is the STRATEGIC Theme

These are the people in our lives who have the gift of instantaneously seeing the world as it could be.  Strategic people are naturally adept at identifying options, weighing them, and confidently making a decision.  They are action-oriented and solution-focused.  They do not dwell in life’s ‘problems’—in fact, they generally see opportunities where others see only chaos and crisis.  They are incredibly fast processors who rely on their ability to notice and remember patterns in people, places, and things.  Strategic people can mentally move through a situation playing out multiple scenarios and outcomes simultaneously; this helps them make sense of what is at stake.  From there, they make decisions with ease and confidence because they’ve already played the tapes, seen the possibilities, and understand the various moving parts.  They see in multiple dimensions simultaneously.

Why Should We Care

Strategic people are wayseers.  Where others find roadblocks, they find inroads to innovation, progress,  and resolution.  At a crossroads, they help us see the potential in ourselves, others, and in the world.  They are extremely resourceful, often creating elegant solutions to complex problems.  They strategize seemingly effortlessly; the process of assessing situations, envisioning outcomes, and taking action is definitely in their comfort zone—it may even be soothing for them.  They help us and our teams make critical decisions and move forward because they are not afraid—they assess, decide, and take action.

Ten Things to Know About People with STRATEGIC

1.  Thinking In Chunks. Strategic people process information rapidly and in batches—think waves instead of droplets.  In fact, at times they seem to simply download information fully-formed from the ether.

2.  Perspective. While the word ‘strategic’ might imply something cerebral, it is actually a particular perspective that these people embody—a specific way of seeing the world, not just thinking about it.

3.  Problems. For strategic people, there are not really any problems, only solutions.

4.  Knowing. Strategic people operate from a deep place of just knowing and they generally feel bothered by having to explain the hows and whys of their thinking.  Asking “How do you know?” is annoying to them because they generally cannot show their work (i.e. A + B = C).

5.  Best Path. They are not married to one way of doing things—if they conceive of a better path forward, they are happy to shift gears, turn the wheel, and take it.

6.  Giving Up. They do not give up easily.  Because they can see so many possibilities and options they generally push through, even after others have lost faith.

7.  Streamlining. They always have an eye out for how a process can be made better or more efficient.  They may even have a fondness for tinkering with things.

8.  Creativity. Their thinking has an element of creativity that is easily overlooked.  This is because their ideas may seem very straightforward, even obvious, despite the fact that they were the only person to think of it.

9.  Peripheral Vision and Peripheral Hearing. Don’t be surprised if a strategic person is deeply aware of absolutely everything that is happening in a room.  They generally have great peripheral vision and hearing, like little radars always scanning spaces quietly.

10.  Trust. Strategic people love to be trusted.  Most of them have spent an exhausting amount of energy trying to explain their ‘knowing’.  For them, being trusted in their decisions is like being truly seen.

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Zach Carlsen is the grateful lead blogger at

His strengths of Ideation, Connectedness, Input, Strategic, and Empathy have taken him all over the world.  He is an inventor, athlete, joyous wanderer/wonderer, translator, poet, and Gallup Certified Strengths Coach.

Why Learners Matter


What Is the LEARNER Theme

Learners love to learn.  Yes.  But, there is more to it than that.  They seem to be following an invisible thread.  Learners are the people in our lives who are always digging into something new, researching an idea or topic, and gathering information from anywhere they can.  They find tremendous value and pleasure in traveling from ignorance to deeper levels of awareness.  Experiencing the world as it opens around a new subject is a near-sacred pursuit for them.  However, not just any old subject; for learners, there needs to be a spark of natural interest.  They are not people who are “happy to learn anything”.  No, they must be drawn in, and the newer the knowledge is, the better.  Even if it seems like their interests pull them in ten directions, their thirst is intuitively guided and they are very much at home in it.

Why Should We Care

Learners are actively engaged in life and they teach us how see the world with hunger and interest.  They see layers and depth where the rest of the world may see only the surface.  Learners remind us that life is a precious opportunity to grow and to do something substantial.  They are the ones who dive in, as they are not easily threatened by newness.  In the workplace and in our communities, they are positive disruptors and changemakers.  They naturally shake things up, asking us to dig deeper, rise up, and ask questions.

Ten Things to Know About People with LEARNER

1.  Rabbit Holes. The internet might very well be the universe’s personal gift to learners, who are prone to ‘following their nose’ down rabbit holes of ideas.  This experience can be euphoric for them.

2.  Studenting. If learners could be full-time college students forever, they would.  So, don’t be surprised if they treat life itself like a type of classroom—taking notes, seeking feedback, asking lots of questions, studying, digging deeper, and even citing sources in casual conversation.

3.  Hummingbirds. Learners can be a lot like hummingbirds deeply investigating one subject and then quickly moving on to the next one.  While this may seem random, there is usually a meaningful connection or reason for the learner as they move from one realm into another.

4.  Preparedness. Regardless of how much they’ve researched and prepped, learners might never feel properly prepared for an event, speech, or presentation.  Don’t be surprised if it seems like they are always preparing, preparing, preparing.

5.  Excellence. Learners are magnetically drawn to experts.  They love to spend time around them, absorbing and asking questions.

6.  Dissatisfied. Because their passion and thirst for deeper and deeper levels of competency and understanding can override their ability appreciate how much they actually do know, learners have a tendency to focus on how much they don’t know.

7.  Rewards.  Often, the process of learning is more akin to exploring and the act itself is a reward for them.  They are likely to be irritated by the question, “So, what are you going to do with that knowledge?”

8.  Motto. When it comes to knowledge, a learner’s motto might be “If a little is good, a lot must be better.”  Again, they are reaching for an ever-expanding level of awareness.

9.  Others. Learners can be viewed as intense, almost reckless in their pursuit of a topic.  What they desire is someone to connect with at a shared level of intensity.  When this need is not being met by anyone in their network learners can feel unseen, misunderstood, and undervalued.

10.  The Holy Moment. Learners may hold to the idea that someday, somehow it will ALL come together and everything they have ever learned will jell into a coherent, intricately interconnected whole.

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Zach Carlsen is the grateful lead blogger at

His strengths of Ideation, Connectedness, Input, Strategic, and Empathy have taken him all over the world.  He is an inventor, athlete, joyous wanderer/wonderer, translator, poet, and Gallup Certified Strengths Coach.

The Truth About Responsible People


People with the theme of Responsibility experience a deep inner connection to the work they do and the commitments they make.  For them, a job well done is a sacred part of their identity.  This mindset extends to their relationships as well as their personal pursuits.  They naturally and automatically take psychological ownership of everything that they do, which is to say that they make their work in the world personal.  For example, if a commitment isn’t met it becomes a reflection of who they are as a whole person.  Delivering ‘wowing’ results is what they aim for, it is actually a major way that they feel their connection to life, to others, and to their sense of self.

Why Should We Care

We can rely on them.  When the rest of the world flakes out, we can turn to the people in our lives with this theme and depend on them to hit the mark.  They are individuals with tremendous integrity, and their work ethic centers around consistent and first-rate results.  They teach us about commitment, follow through, and, in many ways, the value of holding one’s self to a standard of excellence.  They will go above and beyond to deliver the results that they promised.  These people get things done no matter what.

Ten Things to Know About People with RESPONSIBILITY

1.  Reminders.  If they say they will do something, they’ll do it.  They do not need to be reminded.  Checking-in can actually be viewed as an insult.

2.  Large or Small.  The size of the task is irrelevant.  They bring the same high standard to all that they commit to.

3.  Big Deals.  What may not seem like a big deal to the rest of us very well might be a big deal to those with high responsibility.  So, words of affirmation and understanding go much further than minimizing what they are feeling.

4.  Letting Go.  If they feel that they have messed up or failed, they will be extremely self critical.  It may be difficult for them to let go and focus on the next thing if the previous one feels unresolved.

5.  Quality.  It’s not enough for them to simply ‘finish’ a project—they need to know that they did their absolute best in order to feel done with something.  Otherwise, it lingers in their mind.

6.  Reputation. Being in good standing with others and organizations is absolutely critical to them.

7.  Validation.  Because these folks can be so hard on themselves, they may not always be able to count their wins or even see them.  A sincere compliment validating their work and work ethic can go a long way.

8.  Intensity.  Their personal ownership over projects can make them seem overly intense.  This, however, is like a “flow state” for them, and they are in the zone.

9.  The Word No.  For some folks with strong responsibility, the word “no” is not naturally in their vocabulary and this causes overload.  Their work is to learn how to set this boundary with themselves and others.

10.  Love.  Because their sense of self can be so tightly bound to their results, they can experience bouts of feeling ‘worthless’, especially if they’re totally burnt out.  So, giving them a little extra love and/or personal presence can be really meaningful.

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Zach Carlsen is the grateful lead blogger at

His strengths of Ideation, Connectedness, Input, Strategic, and Empathy have taken him all over the world.  He is an inventor, athlete, joyous wanderer/wonderer, translator, poet, and Gallup Certified Strengths Coach.

Here’s Why We Need Empaths


What Is the EMPATHY Theme

Like a sixth sense, people with strong empathy can feel the emotional world around them.  They may tune-in to one person, a whole room, or a group—in every case, they are highly sensitive individuals who are capable of accurately sensing and identifying the feelings of others.  More than that, they actually feel these emotions as if they were their own.  There is an intuitive element in them that is highly developed.  Because of all this, empaths are highly magnetic people and others seem to be naturally pulled toward them.  They may not always show it, but they usually have a deep sense of a situation’s tone, vibe, and mood.  They can be intensely aware of the unseen and the unvoiced.

Why Should We Care

Empaths are the people who connect us to the invisible, the unspoken, and the unheard—they help give voice to the inner-world of others.  They are incredibly evolved in their abilities to truly and deeply understand what others are experiencing, and because of that they help others feel seen, held, and supported, especially in times of distress.  An empath recognizes both sides of a situation more easily than the rest of the world.  This does not mean that they agree with everything, but it does mean that they are able to be incredibly expansive in their thinking.  In doing so, they are able to see light where others might see only darkness, which allows them to come up with solutions and perspectives that others simply cannot see.

Ten Things to Know About People with EMPATHY

1.  Society. As a culture, we are often poorly equipped to embrace the gifts of empaths.  For that reason, they often feel misunderstood, marginalized, and silenced.  They may learn to hide the true breadth of their gift from even the closest people in their lives.

2.  Innate. People rich in empathy might not even be aware that they are ‘feeling in’ to situations.  It is very much a part of who they are.  For them, sensing is as natural and effortless as seeing, hearing, or touching something.

3.  Double-edged. Many people with high empathy describe it as a blessing and a curse.  They may even want to ‘turn it off’ sometimes.

4.  Naming. Empaths are particularly gifted at pinpointing and naming the precise feelings in a given situation.  They may even invent words for feelings or create analogies to describe them.

5.  Recharging. Something as simple as being in public can drain them because they are constantly feeling the emotional energy around them.  At times, normal life can be exhausting for empaths and they may need to step away and recharge more often than the rest of the world.

6.  Guts. These folks will rely on their gut feelings over anything and everything else.  They may not be able to explain it or show their work, but they are highly attuned and will go with their intuition—even if it doesn’t ‘make sense’ right away.

7.  Happiness. A lot of attention is given to an empath’s ability to feel the stress, grief, and sadness of others.  Which is accurate, however, they are just as sensitive to the joys of the world as well, which is why empaths are great people to celebrate life’s wins with.

8.  Detaching. The true work of those with strong empathy is to ‘feel without owning’.  Being able to feel into another’s experience without taking responsibility for it is an art that empaths are always learning.

9.  Sympathy. Empathy and sympathy are not the same thing.  Sympathy is deeply understanding what another person is going through, while empathy is actually experiencing that person’s feelings and walking in their shoes.

10.  Communication. Empaths communicate through silence.  They can often learn and deepen their understanding of a situation or person by simply sharing space with them and being present.

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Zach Carlsen is the grateful lead blogger at

His strengths of Ideation, Connectedness, Input, Strategic, and Empathy have taken him all over the world.  He is an inventor, athlete, joyous wanderer/wonderer, translator, poet, and Gallup Certified Strengths Coach.