This past spring, New York Times bestselling author Sally Hogshead delivered a motivational keynote at WEX Health Partner Conference 2018. Before doing so, each of our Partners in attendance took her 28-question Fascination Advantage personality test—the first personality test to measure not how you see yourself but how others see you. As a result, Sally customized her keynote about what high performers do differently to also reveal some of the traits that set the WEX Health Partner Conference audiences apart. In this interview, we asked her for more insights into our Partners’ test results as well as how her personality assessment has allowed people around the world to be more effective communicators.
WEX Health (WH): Tell us what you learned about WEX Health Partners in attendance at Partner Conference from reviewing their assessment results.
Sally Hogshead (SH): There were very specific patterns in how that roomful of leaders communicated differently than the average population. When people take the Fascination Advantage assessment, it’s measuring the cues and signals that you send out into the world that determine how other people see you, what kind of first impression you make, and how they perceive you as adding value or not. We are measuring on seven different data points—seven different forms of communication. And after measuring 1 million people, we found that there is an average result, and the WEX Health Partners’ result was different than the average result.
Here is what we learned: WEX Health Partners’ scores were lower in passion and very high in trust. I had this data before I got on stage, so I knew this group did not want touchy-feely, emotionally evocative stories. They want results; they want outcomes; they want action steps. So, I presented a deep-dive analysis on the audience. Each person individually in the audience had their own personal results, but we also did the audience as an aggregate. Our two key findings: First, the group does not communicate with emotion; they communicate in other ways. So, if I was going to come up on stage and try to tell a story about pulling out hair or teeth, that wouldn’t resonate.
On the other hand, they scored very high in trust. Neurologically, trust is all about patterns and doing things with dependability and stability. It’s about finding a way to replicate what’s been done in the past. This group as a whole scored 48 percent higher than the average person in trust. What that means is this group is going to be dependable and stable.
The takeaway is that because this group scores so high in trust but lower in passion, it’s important that the leaders in the room have people on their team who score high in innovation—people who can experiment, make improvements and adopt something new. You also need people around you who score high in passion to make sure that everyone stays involved, engaged and emotionally connected to the outcome.
WH: It’s interesting that instead of saying that our Partners need to change to be more passionate, you’re saying they need to surround themselves with people who complement their strengths and weaknesses.
SH: After measuring 1 million people inside of companies like GE, AT&T, Cisco, QUALCOMM and IBM, what we see is that the highest-performing teams are not built on similarities. They’re built on differences. They are not built on group think, where everyone has one model of adding value, because then the team becomes lopsided. Instead, the groups value how different people on the team add value. For example, if somebody is really good at details, then the team supports that individual in getting hyper-involved in the details and making sure that they bring their eye for detail to every project. Don’t ask that person to be the brainstormer in charge of the big-picture vision. And conversely, people who are super creative can’t add value if they’re told to just focus on the details; that doesn’t allow that person to become a high performer.
WH: How does understanding your Fascination Advantage help you as an individual?
SH: Every time you communicate, you’re doing one of two things: You are either adding value, or you are taking up space. The people who have the most value are not only the most successful, but they’re also the most admired, appreciated and promoted. They inspire loyalty; they create evangelists. They’re bringing something to the table that wasn’t there before. If you’re just taking up space, it’s sort of like being spam. So, the question is: How are you most likely to add value? You can’t do a self-evaluation of how you think you add value. Adding value is sort of like humor. If I think I’m funny, but you don’t think I’m funny, I’m not funny. It lives in the eyes of the other person. This is true for a brand, too. The purpose of the assessment is not to understand how you see yourself or how you see the world. The purpose is to determine how other people see you so that you can do what you are already doing right, with purpose, instead of it being a happy accident. You can double down on the qualities that make you exceptional, such as detail-orientation or creativity, and then do that on purpose.
WH: In this era of “fake news,” short attention spans and short news cycles, would you say that it’s more important now than ever to be able to quickly get to the heart of what makes you special?
SH: Yes, absolutely. Authenticity is the opposite of fake news. If people perceive that you’re contrived or that you’re trying to do something that isn’t a natural fit for you, that you’re trying to create an impression instead of adding value, it’s a huge turn-off. As far as short attention spans, in 2006, I started studying attention spans and why we pay attention to one thing versus another. At the time, the research said that the average attention span was nine seconds, which is the same as a goldfish. Since then, there has been a lot of other research done, most notably by Microsoft, that says it’s eight seconds. Regardless, it’s continually getting shorter. That means we have less time and space to create those first moments when we add value. As attention spans get shorter, it’s not the listener’s job to pay attention. It’s the speaker’s job to earn attention.
WH: For people who work in industries that are often thought of as boring, how do you help them imagine being fascinating and to find ways for their business to be fascinating?
SH: When I worked in advertising, it was always really fun to work on the Nike account or the Mini Cooper account because those brands do exciting, attention-grabbing, memorable things. The problem is, the bar is so high that it’s hard to stand out and do extraordinary, world-changing, creative things for those brands, in the sense that the great stuff has already been done, to a certain extent.
The opposite is true with B2B brands in industries like insurance, banking, technology, health, etc., because it’s actually easier to stand out because the bar is set lower. People aren’t walking into a meeting and thinking, “How can I intentionally add value in a way that people will hear, remember and take action on?” If an individual does do that, if they think, “The way in which I will most likely add value in this meeting is by showing them ideas they’ve never thought of and helping them see the world in a different way so they can stand out, be heard and get people to take action,” then that’s a novel way of approaching it. In other words, the question is—what makes you fascinating in the ears of your listener?
WH: Are there any other words of encouragement that you would offer specifically to WEX Health Partners?
SH: I loved this audience because they are focused leaders with a savvy, big-picture understanding of the industry and how they can serve. I also saw that there was a lot of hunger for them to be able to take the Fascination Advantage back to their teams so that they could introduce this as a new technology to measure how different people add value individually. I had a lot of follow-up requests afterward asking for more tools, so I made a code available to WEX Health Partners who want to take the test. (WEX Health Partners reading this post can find information about this code within Partner Central and the Partner Pulse newsletter.)
My advice is to have team meetings focused on it: Have everybody in your office do the assessment, and then have a meeting around it—a lunch-and-learn, or an off-site, or even just a casual 20-minute meeting. Go around the circle and have each person describe one quality of themselves that is who they are at their best. It’s an incredibly motivating thing to show somebody what they are already doing right.