Strengths Spotlight: Relator

by Dr. Roopa Rawjee, Director – International Student and Scholar Services

Top 5: 13497957_10156994785485150_6802467246397068746_oRelator, Strategic, Learner, Arranger, Restorative

I see myself as a “people person.” I am warm, friendly and easy going and this seems to be the first thing people notice about me. I can make people feel comfortable right away. I am also sensitive and intuitive, so I can read body language, emotions, and between the lines. So my interactions with people are friendly, respectful and insightful.

Prior to coming to BSU I had studied and worked on a large campus in California. I was used to a depersonalized, highly professional work environment where emails were the preferred means of communication and hierarchy and bureaucracy helped to maintain and preserve order. I was not used to having people, especially cabinet members pick up the phone and call me directly. I was taken aback by the warm welcomes I received from some of my new colleagues and it took me a while to adjust to the warmth of a smaller campus. Soon I found that my strength as a relator was an asset. I had used StrengthsQuest on my previous campus, so I understood and was able to see what would facilitate my adjustment. I reached out to colleagues to meet me for a coffee or lunch meeting. I felt comfortable and safe when expressing my questions or concerns to my colleagues. As I continue to grow and work at BSU, I feel comfortable in groups, sometimes I am the person to ease a tense situation, or help a colleague to see a different perspective, or frame a conversation in a non-judgmental, non-threatening context. My colleagues on and off campus tell me that “I tell it like it is” and often reach out to brainstorm or confide in me. The challenge with this is that sometimes I feel that I am perceived as a “social butterfly,” especially by my male colleagues.

As I continue to grow as a professional, an educator and human being, I find that I utilize this talent a lot and in many different ways. I am growing into a valuable mentor for colleagues on and off campus. I have always been a good teacher and am very comfortable with students of all ages both in and outside the classroom. I provide strong co-curricular education and can make effective connections between theory and practice. As a friend, partner, daughter, I am accepting and respectful of the people I care about and I am able to communicate without making the other person defensive, or getting into an argument or fight. I find that I get better results this way and it has become more effortless over time because I have learned to recognize and work with my talent. I have also grown more comfortable with the concept of appearing vulnerable or showing the “softer side of me.”

I offer you peace.
I offer you love.
I offer you friendship.
I see your beauty.
I hear your need.
I feel your feelings.
My wisdom flows from the Highest Source.
I salute that Source in you.
Let us work together for unity and love.

–Mahatma Gandhi

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Strengths Spotlight: Positivity

by Kayla Flaherty, student

It can be no surprise that those who have a strength in Positivity are constantly looking for the silver lining, discovering a bright side and bringing positive ideas out, it seems almost self-explanatory. But in my own experience, the theme of Positivity enables other qualities such as empowerment, inspiration, and perseverance to blossom. In finding the words to describe this talent, I found this wonderful quote: “What you think, you become. What you feel, you attract. What you imagine, you create” –Buddha. I feel that this quote is quite fitting for describing what it means to own my strength in Positivity, which perspectives can always be seen with a light of positivity and that attitude is everything.

10645327_854309054599448_2509870613515604393_nWhen this talent is applied, it has enabled me to do much more than I thought possible in my role here at BSU. For example, as a student leader I often found myself needing to find a balance of my different responsibilities; with classes, two jobs, being involved on campus and having a social life—being positive meant everything. On days when it seemed that my plate was too full, all I needed was to remind myself that people believed in me and through reminding myself of the reasons in which I was so passionate in each of my responsibilities helped me push through whatever was put in my way. In group settings, I often find that I am the collaborator of the group. I try to find a way that everyone’s voice is heard and that we all put in the same amount of effort to produce something of meaning or taking a creative approach to our goals.

I feel that this theme can often be misunderstood as either overly idealistic or indecisive. During a class I recently had, one of my peers that I was working on a project with said that my ideas were “not grounded enough” for a class presentation we had to work on. I still feel that this is not entirely correct. I do however believe that once the creativity mindset of a person with positivity is engaged, the sky is the limit and that is not to say, that our heads are in the clouds.

In a few ways this talent has helped me to mature over the course of my undergraduate career and experience but it most of all has given me the gift of charisma. With Positivity, I find that it is very easy for me to relate to others and that I am quickly able to pick up on the mood of an audience and build off of that to create a positive environment. I find that public speaking has become one of my greatest assets through the development of this strength which has allowed me to shift my tone and manner to reflect upon certain events or present on projects without losing my own voice.


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Strengths Spotlight: Maximizer

by Dan McHugh, Director – Conference and Event Services Office (CESO)Dan McHugh

When I first heard Maximizer was my number two theme I thought I was being cast in the next Transformer movie.  Upon further investigation I realized, according to Gallup, that my Maximizer strength can be used as a way to stimulate personal and group excellence and that I seek to transform something strong into something superb.  I interpret this to mean I’m always looking to makes things better or to be the best they can be.  I want to take areas of my life and career to the next level.  Quality is important to me and I seek out ways to ensure both myself and those around me are striving to be the best, or do the best we can.  This drive isn’t about competition, it’s not about being better than someone or something else, but rather about having high expectations and striving to meet those expectations even when the deck may seem stacked against me/us.

Thinking about my role here at BSU as the Director of the Conference and Event Services Office (CESO) I see how I utilize this talent daily.   As Director of CESO I have the privilege of overseeing 13 full-time professional staff, 3 graduate assistants and close to 100 undergraduate students.   We manage over 20,000 event occurrences each year on campus, which include faculty, staff and student programs as well as external client meetings/events and conferences.   I take this responsibility extremely seriously because at the end of the day, every success and failure reflects upon me, our staff, the department, my division and ultimately the University as a whole.  We are in a service-driven role; therefore if either myself or any one of those working with me doesn’t deliver quality, we’ve let those depending on us down (which can result in a poorly executed event and/or lost revenue in the case of an external paying customer).

I don’t usually quote movies other than Caddyshack and Better Off Dead, however, for a person with Strategic and Maximizer as his top two talents and working in the event planning industry, I found H. Jackson Brown Jr’s quote  “The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today” from the movie  P.S. I Love You to be spot on (I’ll deny ever having seen this movie if anyone asks).  Preplanning helps lessen the opportunity for issues or failure.  As a department we preach this both within the office and with those clients we work with.

My quest to ensure quality, to train our staff (professional and student) at the highest level is for no reason other than to strive to offer the best possible service and ensure a successful event from beginning to end.  It’s not about competition or bragging rights; it’s simply having higher expectations and expecting the biggest results.  It’s easy to simply go through the motions and just do your job.  It’s more challenging…and rewarding, to expect excellence.  My insistence on constant feedback and assessment helps feed my need to ensure we offer the best possible service.   If I’m not open to both criticism and praise then how do I get better?  If I’m not honest with my employees about their quality and quantity of production, how do they get better?  If I don’t listen to my customers/clients about their experiences, how can we continue to do what we do well and address the areas holding us back?  We can’t be the best if we don’t invest the time into hiring and training and we can’t get better if we don’t continue to assess and adapt.

We continue to adapt to the changing landscape at BSU.  As the University grows, so do expectations.  Because of this we’ll conduct SWOT analysis to help better gauge the departments Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (as well as those as our other service providers).  Over the past eight years we’ve utilized the results of all of our assessment tools to continue to invest in the areas that will ensure our success.  When feedback showed that it was taking too long to process reservations, we revamped our entire process and added staffing to better manage the process.  With an effort to support a growing trend in night and weekend programming, we extended our hours to better staff according to the needs.  We, along with the Registrar’s Office, struggled for years with outdated reservation software.  We fought for and ultimately purchased new event management software that revolutionized how the campus requests space (both academic and otherwise).  These are just a few examples from the past few years where we put the time into ensure we took our service to the next level and it has shown a tremendous return on investment with customer satisfaction.

BSU often utilizes the tagline Expect more, Achieve more.  As a person with Maximizer as his number two talent, those words resonate with me.  If you don’t strive for excellence it’s difficult to achieve it, if we don’t have higher expectations we’ll never be the best.

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Wegmans & University?

by Jennifer Amiccuci, Director of Admissions Operations

While recently browsing LinkedIn, I came across an article that was posted via The Chronicle of Higher Education, entitled “What a University Can Learn from Wegmans”.  While I immediately was drawn to the article because of the mention of one of my favorite grocery chains, I found it to be an interesting read regarding how American University’s research with a grocery store (and the Cleveland Clinic) could relate to their “Reinventing the Student Experience” project.  It details the initiative to research ways to enhance the satisfaction and retention of its students in order to create a strong alumni network of those who will want to further invest into the university post-graduation.

It was another great example of looking “outside-of-the-box” to get ideas that they were seeking, rather than going in circles of trying the same initiatives over again. 

If interested, please click here to read the article.


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Strengths Spotlight: Learner

Beth-Moriarty-2by Beth Moriarty, Director – Residence Life and Housing

Top 5:

When I first took the Strengths Finder Assessment and found out my number one theme of talent was Learner, I was really taken aback.  I had some preconceived notions that made me react negatively.  I thought learner = nerdy.  But as a true learner, I set out to find out everything I could about my Learner theme.  Initially, I thought I would “learn” about this theme and prove that it was not a strength of mine.  Do you see where I’m going with this?  I immediately began to use this strength.  The truth is that Learner actually suits me to a “T”.    I love the description from my Signature Theme Report:  “You love to learn and you simply enjoy the process of learning”.  Reading this I thought, wow, how did they know that about me?”

 Q1:  How do you define this theme of talent for yourself?

For me the learner theme manifests itself in my natural curiosity.  I hear about something new and I immediately want to know more.  I want to research what it means.  I want to know how I can use this knowledge.  Most importantly, I want to share what I have learned about whatever it is that I am currently learning about.  I believe this is why I love to teach and I enjoy presenting at conferences so much.  Teaching in the graduate program and presenting workshops at conferences gives me the outlet to share my learner strength with others.

 Q2: When this talent is applied, what has this theme enabled you to do in your role at BSU?

It’s hard to separate my learner strength from the other themes of talent in my Top 5.  I have often stated that having learner, input and achiever together help to make me a strong Director of Residence Life and Housing, however on the flip side, I sometimes feel that this combination can make me difficult to work for.  How this helps to move my department forward, in my opinion, is that I’m constantly looking for new and better ways to do things.  I like to read up on new trends and to be first to try to implement them.  I think an example of this would be instituting on-line room selection for students.  We undertook that process at BSU long before any of our peer institutions did.  I like to constantly raise the bar and my learner strength facilitate that.

Q3: How is this theme of talent sometimes misunderstood?

Again I feel that it’s a combination of my learner and input strengths that are most often misunderstood.  Both of these themes involve a level of curiosity.  When a staff member has a new idea or project that they are trying to pitch usually in a staff meeting, my Learner and Input will often come into play by asking lots of questions.  Often times staff members misread these questions and think I’m against their new idea and I’ll shoot it full of holes.  In fact, it is just the opposite, the more interesting I find the idea; the more questions that I will ask because I can’t wait to hear more.

Q4: What are ways you have helped this talent to “mature” over the course of your career and experience?

Like a true learner, the more I have discovered about this strength the more I want to continue to use it and to embrace it.  In my career, I have most used this strength in my role as an educator; whether it’s one on one learning opportunities with students, teaching in the graduate program here at BSU, presenting at conferences or attending workshops, I’m always trying to take my development to a new level.  On a more personal level, I’m an avid reader and I enjoy reading all types of books.  I seldom go anywhere without my Kindle and I’m often reading more than one book at a time.

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Strengths Spotlight: Intellection

by Kaitlyn Dyleski, Assistant Director – Office of Student Involvement and Leadership




Seeing Intellection in my top 5 initially brought those words to my mind; all of which I fully embrace.  However, as I read more about Intellection as a talent, I began to see the moments in my life when I had been utilizing it. I began to notice moments when a thought would get away from me and I would just start thinking about it and researching more information (this is where my Learner talent intersects). I began to notice that other tasks would be left undone because I had gone on to pursue this other idea or thought. In those moments, I was not just casually thinking about this idea.  I was thinking about it from multiple perspectives, I was considering alternatives, and I was interested in gaining a deep understanding of the concept. Basically, I like to think, a lot.


In my work, I have found Intellection to be useful because for me it is inherently interesting to research things that are only slightly relevant to my specific job responsibilities.  For example, I am not directly responsible for deciding how a lounge space is shaped, furnished or painted, yet I have read several different articles about what makes a room functional and comfortable for students to study in, build community in, or have an event in. What type of seating is best, what color paint should be used, etc. I know, I sound like I should have considered a career in interior design.  Still, for me, having that information in my back pocket makes me feel prepared to talk to students and colleagues about what might be needed in the campus center. Simply having the information makes me feel comfortable. And, I found it really interesting to read about; just because.

Like any other theme of talent, Intellection has not been without its downsides. I have always been slow to add my two cents to a conversation, both personally and professionally.  I used to attribute this to my introvert personality, but now I understand that Intellection was likely playing a role as well.  I like to really process whatever is being talked about and develop my own opinion internally before voicing it.  Unfortunately, many times this has led to me not sharing at all because the group has moved on to a different topic or the meeting has ended altogether. Missed opportunities, for sure.  When I was in graduate school, this was incredibly frustrating for my supervisor.  He kept saying to me, “your ideas and opinions are valuable, but the whole group needs to hear them.”  After that, I worked to add my opinion more quickly and frequently.  It was becoming apparent to me that the thinking I was doing would only be valuable if I shared it.

On the other side of that coin, however, is the great benefit that I usually fully filter and vet whatever is about to come out of my mouth.  My initial, knee-jerk reaction is rarely shared because I spend so much processing before I vocalize my thoughts.  This has saved me on countless occasions.

I have also found ways to utilize my talent of Intellection in tandem with my other talents (Learner, Context, Input, Connectedness). With four out of my five falling in the Strategic domain, I have found ways to use these to collect information that will help me to accomplish my tasks if I can plan them out appropriately.  Now in the day to day life of student involvement, the best-laid plans are usually interrupted, but because I have collected the information and planned ahead of time, I am also able to adjust because I feel prepared.

In a society that values the non-stop, go, go, go mentality I am challenged by my Intellection talent, but I also find immense value in it. I try to create moments to tease out a concept or dissect a new article about student development. Only if I utilize it can this talent become a Strength and only if I share my knowledge can it be valuable to my team.




I think those are a better fit.

“I don’t pretend we have all the answers. But the questions are certainly worth thinking about.” –Arthur C. Clarke, writer

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Strengths Spotlight: Input

by Ann Doyle, Coordinator – Outreach Education

Top 5: Learner, Individualization, Intellection, Relator and Input

I am so excited to share some information about my talent of Input. It’s #5 on my list after Learner, Individualization, Intellection, and Relator.

Input makes me inquisitive and a collector. As a talent it can be super helpful and it can also be overwhelming. I love to gather information and make sure I know just about everything about a topic – which is great when I have the time to really do thorough research. Frequently though, deadlines approach and I have to stop collecting and start writing.

In my role in Outreach Education, I use Input daily. It is so important to be current on health related topics to be sure I am providing the best information to the BSU Peer Educators. I follow several online digests that provide information in summary formats and then if I want to do more research, I can later. The summarized formats keep me current without bogging me down.

At meetings, I have learned to hold myself back from asking too many questions. In the past, my inquisitive nature has been seen as ‘questioning’ of those who are trying to make a quick decision. I need information to feel well informed, doesn’t everyone want as much information as possible? Combine my Input with my Learner and you get the idea that I can be full of questions and just love to learn new things, which can make some people a bit put out. People who want a quick decision, and don’t want lots of questions, can become frustrated with my asking and processing but those who know me and have worked with me appreciate the thorough nature with which I approach problems. Plus, I have knowledge that can be shared later. I collect information just because it’s fun!

Related to work, I have developed the skill of limiting my information gathering. I get so excited about the research that I would spend far too much time doing the research. I have learned that most people are not that excited about research and data. Sad, but true!

In my outside work life, I can spend all the time I want researching and making a decision. I start my buying process, or better said, my buying research, much earlier than most. I began looking for a car about two years before I really needed one. I read Consumer Reports, check websites, read all sorts of reviews on repairs, owner satisfaction, car buying experience with various dealers. Some would find this overwhelming but I enjoy the experience. It’s so fun to know almost as much as the dealers! I want to be armed with all the info I might possibly need.

So, need a person for a trivia team? Find someone with Input. They enjoy gathering information and are generally able to pull it back out to share with others.

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