Josh Allan Dykstra - Founder of Strengths Doctors

[quote style=”boxed”]Your strongest possible life lies at the intersection of your talent, your passion and your life experience.[/quote]

 Josh Allan Dykstra is a work revolutionary, author and speaker. He is a founder of Strengths Doctors, a consulting firm which helps leaders design energizing work environments. He has an eclectic work background in a variety of industries, varying from Fortune 500 companies like Apple, Starbucks, and Viacom/CBS to startups, nonprofits and government agencies. He has an MBA in executive leadership from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a Bachelor’s degree in liberal arts and leadership.

Josh has been leading teams and working with talented individuals for more than 10 years and has a proven track record of increasing employee engagement and maximizing organizations. He has helped develop hundreds of high-potential leaders by helping them discover and leverage their natural talents and strengths. His passions include social trends, cultural movements, technology and helping to create a more positive future.

His new book about the changing world of work and thriving in the emerging economy is entitled Igniting the Invisible Tribe: Designing An Organization That Doesn’t Suck, which will be released in 2012.

Josh lives with his wife in Los Angeles, California.

What are you working on right now?

I am always working on one thing: figuring out ways to create a work revolution. Whether I’m writing, speaking or consulting, it’s all about this.

Where did the idea for Strengths Doctors come from?

Over the years, my partners and I have had almost every conceivable type of job and through our individual journeys, we noticed one consistent issue: the vast majority of people do not like their jobs. Humanity has a well-being epidemic and much of it stems from deep disengagement at work. This problem then causes a tremendous loss of productivity from a business perspective. We decided to pool our collective expertise (and a boatload of cutting-edge research from fields like behavioral economics) to help organizations create a win-win situation in which employees can be more energized at work and companies can be more profitable as a result.

What does your typical day look like?

My days are never identical, but they almost always contain some form of: responding to emails, meeting new friends (either for lunch/coffee or over the phone), talking with at least one business partner, checking in with clients and prepping for the next big project (book, speaking, conference, etc.).

How do you bring ideas to life?

The best way to bring ideas to life is to have the right people onboard. Once the right mix of passions/strengths/motivations are there, execution is easy.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

The unraveling of institutions. Right now, we’re approaching a tremendous institutional renaissance (i.e., entrepreneurs and change agents are reinventing the way we do pretty much everything) and it is incredibly exciting.

What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?

One summer I did data entry for a title policy insurance company. A couple weeks of this project included moving about 20,000 manila files from one enormous group of shelves to another in the most dank, dingy basement you can imagine. It was lovely. That was sarcasm.

The biggest thing I learned was that people like very different things. There were people who had spent their entire careers there. While that seriously blows my mind, they were mostly content. I realized it is never OK for me to judge what other people like or dislike, especially when it comes to their work.

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

I would love to have found my purpose earlier; I spent a whole lot of time meandering through jobs trying to figure out what I was supposed to do with my life. Looking back, however, I’m pretty sure it’s all of those strange and seemingly random organizational jobs I had which allow me to be good at what I do now. So I guess I wouldn’t do anything differently!

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Keep learning. Henry Ford once said, “anyone who stops learning is old, whether at 20 or 80.” However we learn (and we’re all a bit different), we must find a way to keep doing it. It’s one of the best things we can do to create a progressively better future for ourselves.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Your strongest possible life lies at the intersection of your talent, your passion and your life experience.

This works for a business brand, too.

Tell us a secret.

I grew up in a town of 1,311 people in South Dakota.

What are your three favorite online tools and what do you love about them?

  • It compiles all links posted on various social media sites. I love having a database of all the things I link to. It was recently acquired by AVOS/Delicious; I’m hoping it doesn’t disappear.
  • Dropbox: Dropbox stores copies of documents on a cloud server. I love being able to not worry about backing up my most important files and being able to access them from anywhere.
  • WordPress: The system that powers my website. I love the ease of use and the clean design themes.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

The Fourth Turning by William Strauss and Neil Howe. I’m recommending it because hopefully it will be new to many readers and because it provides essential insights into understandings different generations. Furthermore, it contains a prophecy about the intense cultural transition we are just now beginning to experience.

What’s on your playlist?

If I am addicted to anything, it’s new music. (I am a musician, and before doing what I do now, I released a couple albums. That’s the last secret you’ll get out of me!) A few of my favorite things over the past while are: The Weepies, fun., Hem, Augustana, Brandi Carlile, Gotye and The Book Of Mormon Soundtrack. Ben Folds is almost always somewhere in my playlist and I always love Billy Joel and Simon & Garfunkel.

If you weren’t working on creating a work revolution, what would you be doing?

I literally have no idea. I don’t really do Plan B’s.

Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?

  • Umair Haque: Brilliant, futurist, economist, provocative
  • Hugh MacLeod: Interesting, funny, cartoonist, edgy
  • MIX: Always poignant links on reinventing management

When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?

Earlier tonight catching up with an old friend at the bar. (Cliched perhaps, but true.)

Who is your hero?

My grandfather. He made a huge impact on the people around him and lived a life of genuine kindness.

Why all this obsession about a “work revolution?”

Where do we spend the majority of our lives? At work. What are the most powerful entities on the planet? Corporate businesses. To a very real degree, the future of the world is wrapped up in how we work with each other. Given the state of most companies right now, that’s a pretty depressing notion. But I am convinced that we’re entering a time when we’ll have an opportunity to re-imagine the foundational rules of work. That’s what the work revolution is about: helping business become a positive force in the world and creating work environments that are life-giving instead of life-sucking.

You made music albums? Can I buy them?

Sure, if you so desire; they’re all on iTunes under “Josh Allan.” I did a cover of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah that people seem to like.


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