The Facts About People With “Useless” Knowledge


What Is the INPUT Theme

These people are the magpies of the Strengths world.  They are collectors and curators and have many interests.  Folks with input have a generalized curiosity about virtually everything and they seem to enjoy the sort of thinking that allows them to be fascinated, even overwhelmed at times.  They love the vastness and intricacy of life, reality, and the world.  In that way, they are “Renaissance People” who naturally and reflexively gather objects into collections and mentally register information, memories, and ideas.  Not only do they want to see, feel, and experience it all, they also want to remember, share, and keep it all too.  What is possibly most important for them is finding a system, a way to archive, catalogue, index, or display what they have gathered.  There is an omnipresent sense of ‘just-in-case’ with them—they can envision a possible use or a possible reason for holding on to basically anything.  These are the people who have ornate filing systems, epic Pinterest pages, beautiful arrays of trinkets on bookshelves, and a virtual tickertape of conversation topics, interesting facts, jokes, stories, and, ideally, exciting memories of their own experiences.  They have the capacity to be deeply present listeners, too, picking up on the smallest details of what they hear, intuit, and observe.  More than anything else, their sense of scale is highly evolved—they may marvel at the vastness of space one moment and then the complexity of ants working together the next.  For them, it is all important; it is all worth their attention and, in most cases, their admiration as well.  And so, if it is worth that much, it is also worth saving and/or remembering.  They are collectors of things, finders of things, and keepers of things: micro and macro, real or intangible, near and far.  They keep us conscious of the infinite.

Why Should We Care

Those with the strength of input are innovative, openly complex, and resourceful people.  They have vast stores of information, references, and resources that they are hungry to share.  When it comes to working with them, they are walking/talking encyclopedias who help us push projects and visions into a larger context with bigger, broader, and more meaningful connections.  Their impulse is to want to relate one thing to another and to find a purpose, a use, or a home for all that they have gathered.  They are constantly being “reminded” of things, which is their gift.  For, they often reveal important links that turns chaos into order.  They have a skill that helps us see the interrelated nature of all things.  People with input also help us value the full spectrum, from the beauty of a grain of sand to the very spinning cosmos. They teach us how to be curious about the world.  They may even show us how to be in awe.

Ten Things to Know About People with INPUT

1. Juxtaposition. Folks with input are likely to make leaping connections between things.  While it may feel random or disjointed to others, for them there is a logic to it.  Don’t be afraid to ask them to connect the dots a little bit.

2. Completism. People with input are completists—they find a value in having all of something or experiencing the entire range of things.  If they like a certain musician, for example, it’s likely that they will try to own or listen to everything that the artist has produced.

3. Good Tastes. Because of their completist nature, they are great refiners of things and have good tastes—especially in the arts, music, film, literature, restaurants, and entertainment.  Because they’ve seen it all, we can reliably look to them for great recommendations.

4. Analogies. They are very associative people, prone to making sense of the world by exploring one thing’s relationship to another.  They may use a lot of analogies.

5. Finishing. They may have a hard time finishing things because they get off track very easily.  They may also have a difficult time ever feeling truly finished because of how they dwell in possibility, abundance, variety, and potential.

6. Netflix. People with input might take binging on shows to an awesome level.  The internet serves as a mixed blessing when it comes to their desire for “all-ness”.

7. Input Gone Wild. They can imagine a use or a future use for virtually anything, which can turn into a compulsion to save and store everything that they come into contact with.  Input gone wild is hording.

8. Heavy Topics. It may seem like they want to talk about everything all at once.  Don’t be surprised if they somehow take a conversation from the light and airy to the deep and philosophical.

9. Novelty. They have a deep reverence for what is new to them.  They rarely re-read or re-watch things, they may even hesitate to go to the same places twice because, for them, the world is so large and there is so much else that they haven’t seen.

10. Useless Information. They may refer to themselves at “troves of useless information”.  This playful self-deprecation can come from a lifetime of being dismissed.  People with input feel valued when they are given the opportunity to have stream-of-consciousness conversations.

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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.  

What No One Is Saying About Positivity


What Is the POSITIVITY Theme

Enthusiastic.  Transformative.  And, rejuvenating.  People with positivity have a contagious view of life that feels like a breath of fresh air to most people.  Their message is simple and consistent, “We find what we look for: So, let’s look for the positive.”  Ever-aware that there is more than one way to view a situation, they are constantly scanning for the positives, the highlights, and the exciting parts of life.  For them, positivity is not simply synonymous with ‘happiness’, nor is it mindlessly ‘looking on the bright side’.  No, true positivity has nothing to do with dawning a pair of rose-colored glasses, instead it is the ability to find meaning in all of life’s events and adventures.  In the ups and downs, these are the people who are able to naturally identify the greatest points of value, even in the darkest times.  They often see what others cannot: opportunities instead of predicaments.  They help shift our perspective, our consciousness, and the course of our lives.  Positive people are, in so many ways, enlightened—the keepers of the flame.

Why Should We Care

Folks with the strength of positivity are forward thinking, open-minded, and willing to temporarily suspend their own comfort to dig for the gemstones in an otherwise glum situation.  And, importantly, they are sincere.  These are the people who we like to be around—their energy is healing, their words are genuine, and their presence is reliable.  They are the ones we call when we are feeling discouraged, demoralized, and defeated.  We can look to them for perspective, honesty, validation, and affirmation.  We can also look to them to celebrate the good times with us; they are genuinely happy for others in their successes and they love to celebrate wins.  For them: Shared joy is double joy.

Ten Things to Know About People with POSITIVITY

1. Growth Opportunities. Don’t be surprised if positive people see every moment of life as a chance to grow, even in the midst of tremendous hardship, grief, and struggle.

2. Feeling Responsible. Folks with positivity might feel perpetually and personally responsible for the vibe in a room.  They may go to great lengths to elevate or brighten the mood at a social gathering.

3. Choosing. It can be easy to overlook an element of conscious discretion in their outlook.  That is, just because they choose to focus on the good in the world, it does not mean that they don’t see the rest.

4. Naïveté. They hate being thought of as Pollyannas, because these folks are anything but naïve.  In fact, they are emotionally evolved in such a way that has them seeing sides of situations that escape everyone else.

5. What It’s Not. Positivity is not saying, “The house is burning down, but at least it’s keeping my hands warm.”  Again, positivity is largely about finding the value, the meaning, the big picture significance in life’s ups and downs.

6. Holding Back. Positive people can feel like the world is relying on them to be uplifting every second, which means that they may try to hide what they are really feeling inside.

7. Intrusive Thoughts. Negativity, violence, and injustice hit these people hard.  They may find themselves privately replaying or obsessing about the ‘badness’ of the world.  This can be stressful and isolating for them.

8. Sitting With Discomfort. Positive people may need to consciously practice sitting with discomfort, because their tendency or reaction is, at times, to try to control, steer, or restrict tense situations, even when for them to do so is unproductive.

9. Vibes. These people are ultra-sensitive and can feel negativity on a vibratory, cellular level.  This means that they might physically hold on to it in their bodies; it can affect their health, sleep, energy, and lifespan.  They may need to literally shake out their arms and legs after being in an emotionally negative space, or go for a run, or even scream.

10. Honoring Them. We may have been taught to dismiss positive people as out-of-touch or too idealistic, which is truly toxic energy to positive people.  We can honor them simply by listening to their view, making room for their ideas, and not challenging them at every turn.

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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 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.