All posts by Michael Berland

New York Post: 60 seconds with Michael Berland

NY Post: 60 seconds with Michael Berland
August 18, 2009

You interviewed dozens of well-known achievers, from Heidi Klum to Richard Holbrooke. Why should someone with no ambition to be a CEO study ultra-successful people?

None of the people started as ultra-successful. In fact, many of them were on second or third careers. Brian Williams was a fireman. Mario Andretti washed dishes. But they looked inside and said, “What am I really good at? What do I find fulfilling?” And they put themselves in situations where they could achieve that.

Is there something wrong with people’s definition of success?

We always define success as moving up to the highest level of the totem pole. We’re always trying to look at the next step rather than finding fulfillment where we are.

You break your subjects down into five categories.

Natural Born Leaders find fulfillment in managing complex challenges and leading people. If you’re more focused on your own goals, you’re probably an Independence Seeker, who wants to live life on your own terms — to do what you want, when you want. Then there are the Do-Gooders, who get their satisfaction from working for the greater good.

Visionaries are the people who really change our world. Like [TV exec] Geri Laybourne, who said, “If it ain’t broke, fix it anyway.” She was looking for better solutions and she revolutionized children’s TV at Nickelodeon.

Then there are people who know at a very young age exactly what they’re going to be. One was David Carey at Condé Nast — while other kids were playing with baseball cards, he was playing with magazines.

Do you envy people like that?

The key is to be introspective. I envy people who took the time early in life to think about what was important and made some affirmative decisions. They don’t teach that in school. And yet that’s probably the single most important class any of us could take.

The Huffington Post: Obama: The Natural Born Leader by Michael Berland

Huffington Post: Obama: The Natural Born Leader
By Michael Berland and Doug Schoen
Published July 10, 2009

As the representative of General Motors’ new majority owner — the U.S. government — and the chief officer of the major banks in the US, President Barack Obama has become a de facto chairman of sorts and can now add ‘Captain of Industry’ ‘to his resume. Although Obama was not elected nor even appointed to these roles, his leadership style is perfectly suited for this complex challenge and many of the other similarly tangled problems facing the country today.

Obama is what we in our recent research on the various success archetypes among leaders at the top of their fields, have come to define as “a Natural Born Leader.” That phrase is not new. However, we believe we’ve defined the finer points in a new way and that President Obama exemplifies that definition.

On the campaign trail, even his opponents recognized that Obama had an awesome power to inspire, a telltale trait of a Natural Born Leader. Those who have dismissed Obama as a superficial orator — satisfying on the stump but lacking in true leadership — have missed the point entirely: leadership by inspiration is a major — perhaps the major — aspect of Obama’s success archetype. People who characterized Obama’s Cairo recent speech as “just public relations,” don’t understand that for Natural Born Leaders, inspiration is a valid product in and of itself.

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Personal Branding Blog: Interview with Michael Berland

Personal Branding Interview: Michael Berland
July 26th, 2009

How do you discover what makes you tick?

You need to take some time to be introspective. What feels gratifying to you? It’s not about what others think about you but rather, what do you find really rewarding? Is it when you have an idea and you’re able to mobilize yourself and others to bring it to fruition? Is it when the end-goal is helping others? Is it when you’re able to jump on new projects or ideas and pursue them independently? Is it when you are able to stay big picture and inspire others? The answers to those questions help you figure out what success archetype you are.
How should you deal with things that make you tick?

The success archetype that I fit best from the five we identified in the book is “Independence Seeker,” which means I am fulfilled by pursuing varied interests and working with lots of different people, clients and projects over time. This works really well for me since I consult for clients from virtually every business category, from high-tech to Fortune 100 companies, to cosmetics companies to major sports teams and entertainment figures. I like to take chances to work on new things and I feel motivated and rewarded by recognition from the people I work with.
You say graduates should pursue what they’re passionate about. What if these things are very diverse? How do you know when to leave one pursuit and follow a different one?

There’s been a lot of great books written on trying to answer those questions, but our work comes at those questions a bit differently. To be sure, a lot of the people in the book tried different jobs on for size before finding what they ultimately led them to great success.

* NBC anchor Brian Williams told us he worked as a firefighter.
* Chef Bobby Flay very early on was a clerk on the floor of the American Stock Exchange.
* Craig Newmark who founded Craigslist said he thought about going into paleontology.

But our work is more about identifying what feels fulfilling based on your personality and finding your natural strengths in relation to other people. We encourage people to be introspective and try to identify what motivates you internally, what motivates you externally and the role you tend by nature to play in organizations so that you can pursue situations that will let you thrive and feel fulfilled.
Is there a common strength across all five of the success archetypes and how can you harness it?

“A common theme that most people defined very early on for themselves was that they knew they wanted to be successful.”

Again and again, they told us they realized it’s never about money or the title you have, but a passion they wanted to pursue or a world they wanted to be part of – fashion, sports, broadcasting, Broadway, business. And once they were in the world, they felt successful and fulfilled when they got to operate in a way that fit with their natural motivation traits and leadership style. Critically, because not everyone is motivated by the same thing, if you follow someone else’s motivation, you will never feel fulfilled. You have to define what’s going to feel worthwhile for yourself.
What are the so-called “success archetypes” you identified in your research?

There are four main ones:

* Visionaries see what others do not. These are the people that change our world, who see beyond the accepted models.
* Natural Born Leaders find their fulfillment in managing complex challenges on a national and global scale.
* Do-Gooders get their satisfaction comes from working for the greater good and helping other people. They are all about personal contact and connection.
* Independence Seekers want to live life on their own terms—to do what they want when they want. They are inspired and challenged by a specific project rather than a position.

CNBC: Attention Grads: What Makes You Tick?, writes Michael Berland

CNBC: Attention Grads: What Makes You Tick?
Published on Jun 15, 2009

A lot of advice is being offered up to the graduating class of 2009 – especially since the job market seems so bleak.

And nearly everyone who has some words of wisdom for the grads suggests they “follow their dreams.” Sounds good, sounds hopeful, sounds ideal – but, you gotta wonder, do dreams really pay the bills?

Well, yes in fact they do – if you believe what the authors of “What Makes You Tick? How Successful People Do It – And What You Can Learn from Them”.

The authors – two pollsters – interviewed some of the world’s most successful people and found a constant theme. Those who have found success found early on in life what they were good at – and learned how to leverage their strength.

Good advice for graduates looking to show the world (and their parents) they’re more than ready for the challenge.

Below is a guest blog written by one of the authors, Michael Berland:

Dear Recent Graduates and the People Who Love Them,

This commencement season, anxious graduates have gotten advice urging you to hang tough or “buck up” until things recover and you can begin climbing the career ladder of your choice.

What many commencement speakers miss is that no matter what the economic climate, your waiting for your career path to reveal itself is as misguided as your waiting for the Titanic to pop back up to the surface.

Forget false optimism. My business partner in the polling and research firm we run and I did a recent analysis of how extremely successful people found success in their chosen field.

We interviewed and tried to find commonalties and distinctions among 45 of the most successful people in business, sports, fashion and entertainment.

Here are the take-aways:

Your first job will not be your last job. And it shouldn’t be; the people who are at the top of their game in their chosen fields now are living proof.

NBC anchor Brian Williams [GE 15.39 -0.17 (-1.09%) ] told us he started out as a firefighter. Chef and restaurateur Bobby Flay described how very early on he was a clerk on the floor of the American Stock Exchange. Barry Sternlicht, founder of the W Hotels and Starwood Resorts [HOT 47.32 0.37 (+0.79%) ], sold knives door to door and cut onions in a restaurant.

Be ready to take a chance on the unlikely or unfamiliar. Experiment. Be fearless.

It’s been said many times in other ways before, but Ambassador Richard Holbrooke put it to us like this “Failure is a great teacher. People who are trying to learn how to succeed should try failure more often.”

Be inventive. As tempting as it is in tough economic times, don’t automatically take the first “safe” or “stable” thing that comes your way. Go for something that fits with who you are or the kind of person you want to become.

Today, the opportunities are there for people who are smart, have learned lots of different kinds of things, and are still flexible and curious. Even in a seemingly dead-end job or a corporate job, be entrepreneurial – it helps you grow.

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Investor's Business Daily: Welcome Dissenting Views To Broaden Your Thinking says Michael Berland

Welcome Dissenting Views To Broaden Your Thinking

You’re a visionary. That’s why you chose to build a business from the ground up.

Your commitment to turn your vision into reality drives your success. It allows you to radiate confidence and survive setbacks.

There’s just one problem. Visionaries are often wedded to their grand plan — and they may not welcome dissent.

“Independent-minded entrepreneurs are typically visionaries with a specific goal in mind,” said Michael Berland, a partner at Penn Schoen Berland, a research and polling firm in New York City. “When one of their employees suggests doing things differently or provides a contrarian perspective, they become frustrated.”

These clashes can make or break a business. Owners who are willing to learn from strong-willed personalities tend to prosper. But stubborn entrepreneurs may drive away talented employees and find themselves adrift.

A Change In Vision
Rather than shut down dissent, the highest-achieving visionaries spur their management team to engage in lively debate.

“The best visionaries accept an employee’s point of view, internalize it and gain the employee’s buy-in,” said Berland, co-author of “What Makes You Tick?”

That involves listening with an open mind to even the most bold or disruptive proposals, while sharing your concerns.

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