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How to Identify and Tune Into Your Strengths

Posted November 16, 2022

Joy Martinez, Senior Director of Marketing Operations at CS2, joins our host, Camela Thompson, in this episode of the Revenue Marketing Report. Joy shares her passion for helping others identify their strengths, the tools she uses to do this and her insights into why it’s difficult for people to spot their own strengths and weaknesses.

Based in Michigan, Joy is a Senior Director of Marketing Operations at CS2, a marketing ops agency. She assumed the role 6 weeks before recording [she has been at CS2 for 7 months at the time of airing]. However, she boasts of a long and strong background working on marketing apps and demand gen, via in-house roles, consulting, and independent consulting. At the start of this chat, Joy spoke at length about how she found a deep passion for helping others identify their strengths.


Tell us about your consulting background. I know you have a passion for helping people identify their strengths and would love to hear more.

“It all started between 2008 and 2010. I was working for a company that had a toxic work environment. I was working there and thinking there had to be better employment and better cultures out there.  

I would kind of escape on my lunch break to a local bookstore and eat my lunch while diving into books and stuff. I was very drawn to strength-based development. Books on company culture and employee engagement, etc. While I was working there I was also getting my Master’s degree in business simultaneously. So I was taking classes on culture and organizational behavior and development. It was a unique experience of seeing what I knew could be out there, but still experienced the opposite where I worked. That led me to the very start of my strengths journey.

“Eventually, I decided I was done commuting over an hour to work and wanted to embrace working remotely. I started my remote working journey 9 years ago. When I got that role, I  was interested in consulting and fell in love with Marketo and marketing ops. It was during this period that I decided to go independent and just consult on my own. When I started that I felt ‘Wow!’ I can work like half the amount of hours that I was working full time.’ Yet, I still had like half the amount (20 hours/week) to still do something else. 

“I could have continued to get more consulting clients, but my strengths passion was so loud at the time. I decided to do strength-based coaching for online entrepreneurs, online coaches, business coaches, things like that. Then I was asked to speak at Grand Valley State University in Michigan at their leadership conference. I felt ‘I guess I am going to use this as an excuse to kick off my strengths business.’ 

So that’s what I spoke on and left the company I was working at. They were actually my first client. I kind of went off in this independent self-employed world of half my time doing Marketo consulting and the other half doing strength-based coaching. I could have the best of two worlds. My passion for marketing ops and Marketo and my passion for strengths. I did it for nearly a year and a half before I joined an agency to consult. That’s the start of my strengths journey and I’ve kind of carried it on through since then.”



How do you identify career strengths? Are there any tools people can use to do the same?

Girl with wings

Our culture really emphasizes identifying weaknesses and just beating ourselves up over them. Internally we think I should do this differently, I shouldn’t do this.  However, the returns on focusing on strengths are just far higher. But let’s face reality, it’s very hard for most of us to identify our strengths and weaknesses. Joy offered her insights on the sort of tools available people may use to help them identify their strengths, particularly. 

“It’s so true! It’s really hard to see our own strengths. Sometimes, it’s very easy to look at somebody else and say my gosh! I wish I was good at that or I could do that. 


Tools for Identifying Your Career Strengths

So there’s lots of different tools out there. There are things that cost money, things that are free and lots of different ways. Personally, I coached with and loved the Clifton Strengths through Gallup. It costs around $30 – $50 if you want the full 34 rank, but if you just want your top 5 to see what your top most natural talents are, I think it’s $20.

“I also like Myers Briggs. 16personalities.com is a nice site and you can get a lot for free there as well. It kind of mimics Myers Briggs in a lot of ways. Still, you do get a lot of information on that website. There’s also Enneagram, Kolbe, you name it. There are lots of assessments out there. The reason I like Clifton Strengths is because it’s really looking at the natural way that you think, feel and behave. So if you think about how you work and what you bring to the table in work, in life, your interactions with others, for me, that one really resonates. However, you can even do exercises like thinking on your own. One thing I would always recommend to clients was to do the peaks and pits exercise.


Self Reflection on Strengths to Uncover Likes and Dislikes

“When you were younger and your parents sat at the kitchen table and asked you what was your peak of the day? What was your pit of the day?  If you think about your gains, drains, what things are, what gives you energy, what added to your battery, and what things deplete it. 

Thinking through those things usually helps you identify the things that really let you up. For example, I’ll even suggest getting into the core things. If you’re thinking, let’s talk marketing ops because that’s what I’m in, list imports. It’s not the list import itself that is draining. It’s what the emotions are behind the act of doing the list import.

“‘Well, I don’t really like boring monotony and this task feels like that to me.’ So really thinking of what brings you energy and what takes it away can help you identify a lot. Then, asking others too is helpful. Just asking others ‘Hey! What do you see in me that you see as a natural talent in myself? What am I good at?’ Others can usually see it in you first. But you can also be very talented and be very good at something and it can still drain you. 

Therefore, those are usually the learned behaviors where you force yourself to step up to the plate in your natural zone. I could give a speech to 100 people or 1,000 people. But I would want to prep ahead of time and there would be a natural way that I would want to prepare for that. And then afterward I’d think about not just what I am good at, but ‘Does it bring me energy and joy and excitement when I am doing it? How did I feel after doing it?'”



Why do you think it’s difficult for people to spot their own strengths and weaknesses?

Joy shared her opinion on some of the psychology and social norms that go into us having a hard time spotting our strengths and weaknesses. 

“Your strength is usually a natural talent that’s very innate to who you are. A lot of people say ‘Oh! you are born with it!’ Strengths and weaknesses can change slightly over time, but I’ve taken strength finder a million times or Clifton Strengths as it is now called. I’m the same no matter what personality assessment, talent assessment, or strength assessment you give me. I’m the same because those things are so innately natural to us they sometimes come very easy to us. 

So because they’re easy we don’t really give them credit for what they are. If you think about how easy it would be for somebody with a strength in communication or on Clifton Strengths there’s one called Woo, which means winning others over.

“Those are the types of people that can just step in the room and the light shines on them. Everybody is drawn to those types of people. They have no problem having conversations with complete strangers because that’s so innately natural to them. They may not even realize that that is a talent of their own until someone who doesn’t have it points it out and says ‘Oh! well, I am not that way!’  

But it also makes you start to point fingers and say ‘Oh! I wish I had that strength’ or ‘I wish I was good at that!’ I have had some clients, they will take the Clifton Strengths and then get their top 5 and then they think ‘Man! I was really hoping I would have this trait’ or they envy others who possess the talents they lack.


In Order to Appreciate Your Strengths, You Need to Know Them and Understand Them

“One thing I really focus on is first you have to discover and know what your strengths are, understand what they mean, and then you may truly appreciate them. Because if you don’t know (a) what they are or (b) what they really mean, it’s very hard to appreciate them. And if you don’t have appreciation for what makes you so unique and what you bring to the table, it’s really hard to leverage them in your business, in your life and in your career. 

So you definitely need those steps in order to make your strength shine.  There is a kind of a nuance with strengths that there is a strength zone where you’re leveraging them well and you are very in tune with them like tuning a radio and finally getting to that station.
“However, there are some fuzzy zones where your talents are underdeveloped. You just don’t invest enough time using them. You don’t know what they are and so you’re using them a little haphazardly. There is also a 2nd tier where it’s even worse, which is known as frozen talent or frozen strength where things like gender and cultural norms influence our strengths. 

“Then there’s a kind of overusing of strength. For instance, I have an achiever in my top 5 and I also have a maximizer, who wants to do excellent work. If I am overusing it, I can burn out. I feel exhausted like a workhorse. That’s when it is in a place where it isn’t very good. Then there are some talents that intensify other talents. So if you’re very good at wanting excellent work and you are good at focusing and honing on things, those two talents amplify any other talent that you have. 

Intensity with talents can get interesting and then just overusing them or leaning too far into one and not letting your other talents  around them support each other. That’s why it’s so easy to see what you don’t have because if you’re in those states of letting other influences take over and you’re underdeveloped or you’re overusing, they look sometimes like weaknesses. 

“You might feel like ‘man! I am always burned out’ and yes being an achiever can be a really good thing. That’s very positive, but you’re overusing it, so it feels negative. That is one thing I would always help my clients understand. How to find that balance, find the right tune on the radio so that it’s just very clear and not fuzzy.”



For more career development content, listen to the full Revenue Marketing Report episode at the top of the article or anywhere you podcast.


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