Put Your Strengths to Work… But Do You Know What They Are?

By | Culture, Grow Your Career, Professional Development | No Comments

I know everyone has been asked during an interview, “What is your greatest strength?” Of course you have an answer to the question right then. However once you get on a team, are you actually playing to that strength and is it really a strength of yours?

One of the DAXKO Reading Groups available this summer is Go Put Your Strengths to Work: 6 Powerful Steps to Achieve Outstanding Performance by Marcus Buckingham. For those of you that were part of the last DAXKO Reading Group and read Now Discover Your Strengths, this is a great follow up book. Here’s a teaser to peak your interest…

Buckingham’s main concept is to always play to your strengths. If you are trying to improve on a weakness, it is going to take a lot of work to get really good at that one thing. In contrast if you try to improve something you are already good at, then you will grow exponentially in that area because it is already a strength and probably something you enjoy doing.

Go Put Your Strengths to Work focuses a large section of the book on working with a team. If everyone on a team plays to their strengths, then the team will be much more successful. This is much easier said than done. It is really hard to tell a team mate that you can’t do something, because that is not one of your strengths. Or you should do this other task because you are really good at it. In the long run it is better for the team to work together than everyone doing individual tasks that may be challenging for them.

What if you don’t know the strengths to focus on? Buckingham gives a great tip in this book to identify your strengths. As you are going throughout your week and you finish a task that you absolutely loved doing, then write it down. At the end of the week or several weeks, take that list and review the tasks that you enjoyed doing. Most likely you’ll see a theme in those tasks and can closely relate it to a strength. How do you determine if you “loved” it? Be on the watch for tasks that simply make you happy. Or tasks that you get so caught up in that several hours have passed and you haven’t even realized it.

I would recommend this book to anyone that needs reminded of their strengths and how to maximize those strengths for the greater good of your team and your company.

Sabbatical Is DAXKO’s Best Benefit Ever

By | Culture, Healthy Stuff, Workplace | No Comments

DAXKO’s always on the lookout for team members’ health and wellbeing.  Whether it’s nutritious snacks around the office, friendly (or not so friendly) fitness competitions, or free flu shots, DAXKO’s got our back when it comes to living healthier.  That includes our mental health, too.

Everyone needs a break every now and again.  DAXKO understands that and offers a 4-week paid sabbatical for team members who’ve put in 7 years with the company.  Jealous, huh?  The intent… unplug from work and recharge your battery.  The rule… NO WORK!  That means no email and no phone calls into the office.  We don’t want to hear from you for one whole month.  Period.

Here’s the experience of our Marketing VP, who recently returned from her first sabbatical…

It has taken me nearly three weeks to dig out from under the emails, pick up the relay, and get back on track after my sabbatical. I can say with confidence, however, that it’s definitely worth sticking around DAXKO for seven years to do it!  After all, DAXKO is a great place to work and build your career. So a sabbatical at the seven-year mark is like the icing on the proverbial cake in the kitchen that we’d run over each other to get to.

An entire month incommunicado with work is a good time to step back, reevaluate life, see new things, and get priorities back in order. Lots of you didn’t think I could completely unplug. You’d be surprised at what a wall of separation builds up with keeping two young kids full-time, a house in the middle of nowhere France, a seven-hour time difference, and great difficulty getting Internet access.  OK, the wine helped a little bit too.

Here’s the mini-chronology of our trip:

  • Depart Atlanta
  • 1 week with in-laws at their house in the Loire Valley where we ate ourselves silly with the good cooking of Mama B
  • 1 week in Paris to catch up with friends, take the kids to the Eiffel tower, and eat more good stuff
  • Five days in Belgium with sister-in-law and her family, accompanied by beer, mussels and fries
  • Five days exploring Normandy sans enfants (no kids!)—fabulous dinners, cider, and calvados
  • 1 week renting a house in the lower Loire valley, seeing lots of castles, markets, and of course plenty of food and wine
  • Return to Atlanta where we rented a car and ate Arby’s drive-thru on the way home!!
  • Back to the office (where Barry was so kind to have a chicken biscuit with cheese waiting for me)

We had only a few rules when we set out:

  1. No working.
  2. No fighting.
  3. No planning (or no more than necessary).
  4. If you can’t eat it or drink it, don’t buy it (the dollar is at an all-time low).
  5. No complaining (this was the only rule that got broken!)

So what did I learn?

  • I need to make more “tranquil moments” to enjoy my family.
  • I love to travel, meet new people, see foreign landscapes, and of course, eat.
  • There’s a big world out there beyond the borders of the good ole USA. We lose sight, and understanding, of that.
  • My own bed feels really good.
  • I’m not ready to retire.

While there are things that need adjusting in my life, all in all I’m at a really good place. Birmingham has been good for us. My children are healthy and relatively well-adjusted. Our families love us. I work for a great company with fantastic people in a market that is doing really good things for communities across the country.  There’s far too much in my sabbatical experience to put in a blog posting, but let it suffice to say we had a most excellent trip, and it’s also really good to be home.

As benefits go, I’d trade my health insurance for another sabbatical.