Finding Your Fit: A Real-World Story

The Forte Factor is dedicated to helping you discover, develop and live your strengths to be happy and successful in life. This requires you to be tuned in, aware and mindful – aware of you and your world, and mindful in the way you connect the two to find your fit. This is the key to living a happy, successful and responsible life. 

Sure, this is all great to hear, but what does it look like in real life?

Meet Jay Forte. Sure, you may have read his bio and know he was a former financial executive before becoming an educator, author and coach. Some of you may even have had the opportunity to be a client or to be part of one of his programs and know what he’s like to work with directly.

Jay Forte, Coach, Author, Educator

But that just scratches the surface. I recently sat down with him to get his full story: how he went from a world of numbers to being a Certified Professional, Executive, Business and Greatness Zone Coach.

Q: You worked as a CPA and Financial Executive. What led you down that path?
I knew early on in life that I was good with numbers and organization; process thinking comes easily to me. It was that and some guidance from my parents who thought that because I was so organized and process-driven, that becoming an accountant was a good fit. I heeded their advice and got an MBA. It seemed right at the time. Though I enjoyed the work, I was never passionate about it or felt that is was my calling or a true vocation.

Q: When did you discover your calling was something else? What did you do about it?
As the CFO for a distribution company, I started a small education department to help my employees become more skilled and more engaged, and it caught on in a big way. Going through the training program I created led to significant performance changes that seemingly happened overnight. As a result, the company’s results improved, which led to us being purchased by a much larger organization. The leadership team of the new organization was impressed with our education approach and asked me to start an education program for the company. Twelve years later, we had a formal education center where we trained over a thousand employees from around the globe, focusing on writing, teaching and guiding performance at every level. This is where I found my true calling of education, performance development and coaching. 

Q: Why did you decide to make the move and start your own company? What factors came into play?
After 12 years of developing course materials and working with a significant number of employees from around the world, I felt the need to leave the corporate environment to step out on my own – to write books, coach, teach and speak. I started off by writing two books: Fire Up! Your Employees and Smoke the Competition and The Greatness Zone. Taking the time to pull my thoughts together in two books helped me find my voice to bring a mindful approach to work – to help organizations learn how to attract, hire, engage, develop and retain great talent. And in my writing process, I discovered that the same tools and approach to improve workplace performance also worked well for life – to discover, develop and live who we truly are to access our potential and to make our difference.

Said another way, I found my fit – the connection of my abilities and passions to a need in today’s world.

Q: How did you come up with the idea to launch The Forte Factor?
A colleague suggested the name The Forte Factor. How amazing to be born with a name that is connected to your purpose – of helping people discover, develop and live what is best in them. The Forte Factor is your noteworthy special talents and strengths that help you achieve your goals and live your potential. Knowing and developing your Forte Factor is the way to show up big to work and life. My organization is committed to helping people discover and live their Forte Factor – their way developing and living their potential – to improve their lives and the lives of all of us.

So, what is your Forte? It’s a question we ask our clients to help them get thinking about their unique abilities that they bring to the world.

Q: Who are your role models?
My role models are leaders who are able to influence, guide and support without making it about themselves. They are self-aware and self-managed – with little or no ego. These leaders show up as regular people – parents, colleagues, clients, flight attendants, waitstaff, LYFT drivers, kids, teachers, CEOs, trash collectors and others. I watch for them everywhere to learn from them.

Q: Do you have a specific role model or mentor that you’ve looked to for your own life guidance?
The CEO of the organization that owned the company I was CFO for took me under his wing and provided both great advice and interest in my ability to learn, grow and be my best. I saw first-hand how mentoring done right could not only raise skill levels but help others feel valued, included and important. Though this person died suddenly from a heart attack and my time with him was cut short, his lessons of watching the details, knowing and being myself and choosing to bring my A-game to every event of work and life to do and be remarkable still guide my approach in work and life.

Q: What is one thing you are still working on that you know you can do better?
Developing a deeper understanding of who I am and how to bring that unique person to all I do, authentically, courageously and wisely. I still find it difficult to be my authentic self in a noisy and critical world. It is always in the challenges that we learn the most, but developing the courage to be authentic is still a work in process for me.

Q: What’s one piece of advice you’d give to someone who may not feel like they’re in the right fit job or position in life? What can they do to find their right fit?
Focus on these two words: Stop and Notice. Interrupt your habits and make time to notice you – what you are good at, passionate about and what matters to you. Then Stop and Notice your world – what opportunities do you see that connect with the real you? It is your job then to work to connect the real you to today’s world to find what fits you.

Be aware of when you listen too much to others at the expense of listening to and choosing for yourself. You are here to be the best version of you. Only you can know and do this. Know yourself. Know your world. Connect the two to find your unique fit.

Q: What is your motto?
No fixing required. You were born with all the right stuff. Discover, develop and live who you truly are. The world is waiting for you to show up as the real you.

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Hindsight is 20/20

In just a few short months, it will be 2020. It’s pretty amazing considering so many of us can vividly remember the “Y2K scare” as we anxiously awaited what we thought would be the world shutting down. How is that already 20 years ago?

Time flies by. I remember my parents saying time only goes by faster as you get older and I completely get it now, especially as I watch my two little boys figuring our their world and we count down the weeks for baby boy #3 to join us. I swear I just blink and a year goes by.

But almost simultaneously, I wonder how it’s possible that so much has changed in such little time. My passions and talents still remain the same, but the things that matter most to me have varied and, as a result, the way I do things and the reason I do things have changed.

We talk a lot about how life likes to present us with both opportunities and challenges, and both are great teachers when you learn where to see the lesson. Next year, I think we’ll start to see and hear the phrase “hindsight is 20/20” a lot as people look to explain away a mistake or a poor decision they’ve made.

So, before the phrase becomes overused to a fault, I’m taking a stand: “hindsight is 20/20” should never be an excuse. It should never be the reason why you believe something could have been done better or differently.

As a coach, I guide my clients to learn from their past but to spend more time in their present. With greater awareness in this moment, more options become available and possibilities increase. Spending time dwelling on the past distracts you from today, the place and time where life is happening.

So, instead of “hindsight is 20/20,” I’m encouraging everyone to replace it with a more productive phrase: 20/20 vision. This is about seeing clearly, not looking back. Though there are lessons when we review our past, what is more valuable is to be fully tuned in and present in the moment – to have 20/20 vision today. That takes effort, intention and commitment. It requires getting past habits and routines and seeing things new and fresh.

So, as we approach 2020, don’t think to yourself, “well, hindsight is 20/20 and I should have done XYZ.” Instead, use it as a reminder to bring your best and clearest vision to your day. Have 20/20 vision as you look at where you are and what is possible. Use this to see things clearly and to get energized for all that life can offer.

Let’s get started.

Take Action
Challenge yourself to take 10 minutes out of your day to create three lists. On one list, write down everything you love to do. On the second list, write down everything you’re really good at. And on the last list, write down everything that really matters to you.

You’ll discover that the real challenge is not to find the time to do it, but instead to avoid using each list to create the next one. There may be some overlap, but the point of this exercise is to illustrate that, for example, you may have existing passions (what you love to do) and talents (what you’re really good at) that are aligned but you may never have considered exploring as a job, career or hobby.

Let the term 20/20 not make you focus on hindsight, but rather be an inspiration to see clearly today. See the real you. Define what makes you happy. Find your fit in today’s world. Then go make it happen.

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading Managing Your Self-Talk

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Stop Promoting the Wrong People into Management Roles

You have a great employee. So great, in fact, that you are afraid you will lose her if you don’t promote her. So, you promote her. And she fails in her new managerial role. Why? Because being great at her current job doesn’t mean she will be great as a manager.

This isn’t a one-off example. According to the Gallup Organization, companies fail to choose the candidate with the right talents for management positions 82% of the time. They let old ways of advancing employees override a wiser and more results-focused approach. Think of all the resources mismanaged in this situation and think of the unintended consequences of putting the wrong person into a managerial role: employee disengagement, low morale, workplace drama and the inevitable turnover.

Today’s workplace success comes from talent alignment. Since most of our jobs are thinking jobs, we must know the brain of the job to know whether those we want to advance or promote to the job have a similar brain. People excel in roles that need what they do and like best.

But so many organizations continue to believe in promoting from within without using a sound and intentional review process to assess the existing employee’s attribute alignment to those needed in the new role. Having a clear process that is used for both new hires and internal promotions can help you both get the right people in the right jobs and build a workplace cultural value of alignment as the key to performance success. Promoting with inadequate assessment of fit and alignment is the key to disengagement and poor performance.

To be able to make wise promotion and advancement decisions, consider the following.

  1. Create a clear performance profile for all management roles. Clearly define the tasks of the roles as well as the attributes (the strengths, skills, experience and education) needed to be successful doing the defined tasks. Be clear of what is required to be successful in the role. Don’t deviate.
  2. Build and use your interview process to accurately assess the abilities of any candidate, both internal or external, new or promotion. Hold every candidate accountable to demonstrate the required strengths and skills as these are what it takes to be successful in the role.
  3. Be honest with employees about why a role is or isn’t for them. Being upfront shares that your hiring process is designed to create role alignment and is committed to getting the right person for the right job for the success of the employee and the organization.
  4. Help the employee who does not get the management role develop a meaningful development plan (including new value-add tasks) that better aligns to her core strengths that she finds both engaging and important.

So many times we automatically promote employees based on either time with the organization or success in their current role. The failure comes by promoting them from a high-performance area to an area that may be out of their core strengths. Both the employee and the organization then suffer.

Change the mindset by showing that alignment matters most, whether that means bringing in new talent or promoting existing talent. Rethink how employees can stay in their high-performance areas, continue to add value and see a career path in your organization. This is the new way to engage employees.

Take Action
Consider a new manager job opening at your company. Do you have an internal candidate in mind? Why? Take the time to really understand the role and its success attributes, then interview your employee the way you would interview an external candidate. The goal of the interview is to assess whether the employee has what it takes to do this new role. Do this to set them up for success.

Need help with this? Contact us to learn how we help companies hire and promote the right people to the right jobs.

By Jay Forte

Consider reading Are You Rigid or Flexible? 

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Even in Low Unemployment, Great Companies Are Finding Great Talent

By Jay Forte

The unemployment rate across much of the country is 4% or lower. This means it is difficult to find great talent, right?


Consider this: The Gallup Organization has been tracking employee engagement for nearly 20 years. Employee disengagement has hovered at nearly 70% for most of that time, indicating that nearly three-quarters of the people you meet anywhere in work or life are either disengaged or actively disengaged in their jobs. These people are interested in new opportunities, opportunities that give them more than just a pay increase. These people are looking for organizations that are employee-focused, that have managers who act like coaches, have a hiring process that aligns employees to the right roles, that provide employees with the opportunity to learn and grow, and share the value and impact of every role so employees feel – and know – that the work they do matters.

If this is not you, be aware: your people are looking for organizations that offer these things (and that is a discussion for another time).

If this sounds like your organization, you are in great demand.

So, when looking at the unemployment rate, the real challenge is not as much about supply as it is about branding. How can you get the attention of those disengaged employees in other organizations to show them you are different – you are a remarkable place to work because you create an employee experience that amplifies engagement and helps employees succeed?

Create a dynamic workplace and then build a job center on your website that attracts people to see who you are, why you are remarkable and what your current employees say about working for you. This can create a talent pipeline, a constant source of talent who are disengaged in their current roles and could therefore be dynamically engaged in your organization because you offer the things they want and need, things they do not have in their current workplace.

Instead of fixating on the 4% unemployment rate that frequently has you accepting talent that doesn’t fit your roles or your organization (because you feel this is all that is available), focus on creating the kind of workplace that would attract the large number of highly talented and high-performing employees who are disappointed and disengaged in their current situations. Be employee-focused and let the world know it. Build it and they will come.

Take Action
How are you sharing what is unique, amazing and exceptional about your workplace to get the attention of disengaged employees in other organization who could be great in your workplace? Challenge yourself – and your hiring team – to develop ways to better spread the word about who you are and what you do, and why every employee does work that matters.


Consider reading Stop Managing and Start Coaching 

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What Fills You Up: Finding Your Fit

By Kristin Allaben

Ok, I admit I was a cliché this holiday season. At the encouragement (read: nagging) from both sisters and my mother, I agreed to watch a few Hallmark movies. And in the last month of my pregnancy, followed by having a newborn, turning on one of those feel-good movies when you find yourself up at odd hours in the night was a true God-send (though don’t tell them I enjoyed it).

I recently watched the last Hallmark movie I had left on my DVR, “Coming Home for Christmas,” and was happily surprised to find that in the first 5 minutes, the lead character talks about finding her fit, her passion, the thing in life that “fills her up.”

True to Hallmark’s fashion, the story focused a bit more on the romance than I naively expected based on the set-up, but the message was there: how can you be truly happy when you don’t know what makes you happy?

There is a saying, “the road is paved with good intentions.” I think this applies to many people’s New Year’s resolutions. We set out with the intent to eat better, to be happier, to be more mindful and present to ensure we’re enjoying and appreciating every moment. But, as the first 5 minutes of the Hallmark movie points out, “complacency is an easy trap to fall into when you don’t yet know your thing.”

So commit to “knowing your thing” this year.

How do you start?

Reflect on these questions:

  • What are you passionate about?
  • When you wish time would stand still, what are you doing?
  • What are your three greatest strengths?
  • What really matters to you today?

The answers to these questions can give you increased clarity about yourself, and with that self-awareness, you can more effectively assess where in work and life you can employ these.

See, the more you align yourself in work and life to the places that need what you do and like best, the more engaged, powerful and capable you feel. It fills you up.

So what’s next? Take the free 3AboutMe Talent Assessment to discover your strengths and core abilities. Reflect on your passions and interests. Then, with this information, create your personal branding statement (here’s how). Use this to become clear about who you are, what fits you and how how this can help you stay passionate, fulfilled and happy in life.


Consider reading The Power of Passions

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When you’re too old for a career change

By Kristin Allaben, Strategic Communications Specialist and Executive Assistant

I recently started watching “Great News,” a show about a 30-something TV producer and her 60-something year old mother who joins the staff as their newest intern. Though there are plenty of laughs and cringe-worthy moments when you think about having one of your own parents “hovering” (as the lead character calls it) at work, it brings to light a growing theme in today’s workforce: you’re never too old to make a career change.

This topic is being increasingly addressed across many avenues, particularly in entertainment as there have been a number of TV shows and even movies, like The Intern with Robert DeNiro, that address the idea of a Baby Boomer returning to work in a new environment after retirement.

But it’s not just Boomers making these big career changes. At the age of 28, I found myself questioning my career in PR. I had been working tirelessly to build my career as a PR executive, but after investing nearly 10 years in the industry through both internships and full time positions, I found myself burned out and questioning if I really loved the job. I kept thinking 28 is too young to be burned out, to question your career path. Something must be wrong with you. You chose wrong and now you’re stuck.

But as it turns out,

  • I wasn’t stuck following a career path I wasn’t sure was for me, and
  • I wasn’t alone.

According to a study from LinkedIn completed in 2016, millennials will jump jobs an average of four times within the first 10 years they’re out of college before they settle on a career, double what was seen from the generation before during that same timeframe.

Though the study wasn’t entirely clear about whether those jobs were within the same industry or if they involved industry changes, it still illustrates that making a change can be healthy.

I took the 3AboutMe Talent Assessment and really studied my results, thinking long and hard about the opportunities that knowing my Big Three presented for me. I ultimately decided to try something different that aligned to my core strengths and passions.

After about a year, I realized the move wasn’t the best fit; though I enjoyed elements of the work, it wasn’t what I thought it would be. This wasn’t a waste by any stretch of the imagination, though. It actually gave me the opportunity to try something new, and to reaffirm my love for PR and marketing. As a result, I pitched the creation of a new role, one the company did not have, and was tasked with creating the job description, interviewing for the position and, when I accepted the job offer, continuing to help the role evolve as I went along.

What will be interesting to see is how millennials in the workforce continue to evolve over the next 20, 30 or 40 years. Will we keep job hopping? Or will learning how to be more self-aware help us zero in on roles that are a better fit earlier on so we don’t continue to make job changes? Or will we continue to follow in the footsteps of the Boomers and choose to make big career changes long after we’ve decided we’re “too old” to make a change?

Regardless, I think we can all agree: you’re never too old to make a career change. Sometimes it just takes us a while to find our spot.

Considering a career change in the New Year? Take the 3AboutMe Talent Assessment to get to know your Big Three to help you find your fit in today’s world.


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