Customer Reviews: StrengthsFinder 2.0
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on July 14, 2009
Strengths Finder 2.0 is the follow up to Gallup's Now, Discover Your Strengths. The book includes a revamped version of the StrengthsFinder test that shows you not just what your top five strengths are, but also how you rank in the rest of the 34 strengths from Clifton's model. The new book is light on content (very light) but the test is a substantial improvement.

Here's how the book is set up:

StrengthsFinder: The Next Generation
(A short introduction explaining the need for the enhanced edition of the test based upon new thinking and research in strengths psychology)

I: Finding Your Strengths
(A 30-page overview of strengths psychology and how the Gallup system works)

II: Applying Your Strengths
(150 pages outlining each of the 34 themes including what people with that strength look like, how to manage them, and ideas for action if you have that strength).

The StrengthsFinder
(If you haven't taken it before, the code to take the test is provided in a packet inside the book. You actually have to buy the book to take the test)

Emotional Intelligence 2.0 is another book I really enjoyed that follows the SF 2.0 format. Obviously, that test measures emotional intelligence (EQ), but Emotional Intelligence 2.0 has a unique format where the test tells you which of the book's 66 strategies will increase your EQ the most.
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on April 2, 2011
This book was provided by my employer as an HR exercise. Being one who rarely feels motivated to leave reviews, I have two main thoughts about this book:

Thought #1: "What a Brilliant Idea!"
As an entrepreneur, I can readily appreciate that this is the first book I've ever come across where the author ensures that:
a. You provide them with your email address, name, demographic info (such as age, gender, zip code, birthplace, etc)

b. Each and every reader must purchase the book new at an inflated price, because each book contains a unique code that can only be used once for their online test. In other words, you can't share the book with others as the book itself has no value. So don't plan on being able to get this from the library, lending to your family/friends, etc.

c. You really should think of the book cost as payment for an online personality test -- the kind that you normally wouldn't bother doing even if it were free.

Thought #2: "What a Total Waste of Money."
a. Firstly, I found the structure of the quiz itself to be fairly annoying. For instance, each question in the quiz asks you to rate two self-descriptions. However, many of these questions are not dichotomies. For instance, one question may be:
"Which characteristic to you most strongly identify with: (a) Motivating People, or (b) Encouraging People?"
Sorry, I've forgotten the exact questions now...)

b. Secondly, the actual results of the test are useless. After taking the online personality test, you are presented with a list of 5 "Strengths", each accompanied with a checklist of about 10 fairly obvious action items. For instance, my top strength according to this book is "Strategic". The book's top Idea for Action in my case is "Take the time to fully reflect or muse about a goal that you want to achieve...remember that musing time is essential to strategic thinking." Wow, such insight!

c. Before you bother buying the book, I fully recommend that you flip through it in a book store to see the kind of advice that you may get for a particular strength that you feel applies to you. If you find the simplistic suggestions to be as obvious as I have, then there is absolutlely no reason to buy the book. After all, there's no point in paying for the personality quiz (and giving the publisher all of your contact and demographic information) if the resulting suggestions have limited value.

The central concept of the book is: "Focus on utilizing your strengths, and don't get caught up on your weaknesses." There, now that you read that line, you have no further need to purchase this book. You know what you are good at -- now look for ways to implement those strengths to help you to advance your goals and achieve your personal definition of success.

However, from a purely business standpoint, I must say: Kudos to the author and publishing house for trailblazing this new approach of closely linking interactive web content with the physical book. This is guaranteed to be a huge moneymaker for them, and will likely motivate other publishers to figure out how to require the use of one-time use activation codes in their own publications! Unfortunately, this doesn't bode well for shared knowledge and the free-exchange of ideas and resources with friends/family and libraries, but what an innovative business idea!
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on March 24, 2008
The book is a quick read and very helpful in getting one to think about one's strengths and the potential complementary strengths to look for in others to offset one's weaker areas, if you work in a team environment. However, once I completed the online test and obtained the resultant reports, I was shocked to learn that I would only get the Top 5 Themes, and the other 29 remain a mystery. Upon contacting the company, I learned that for an additional $550.00 I could then obtain the other 29 themes, as well as their order of ranking. It is obvious to me that this book is being used as a sales "hook" to try to get you to spend more money with the company and may also be being used as a "beachhead" sales device to penetrate into potential corporate accounts. I was not surprised or enlightened at all by the results, as I have been through a number of these types of profiling and behavioral characteristics tests over the years. However, they were "somewhat" useful to reconfirm some of my prior findings as still being current as of today. I would recommend the book and online test if you have never been through something like this before. They are quick and very easy to use. Just be aware that the top 5 themes are only a glimpse of your total "being" and the other 29 are just as important to your knowledge about yourself. However, unless you are willing to cough up another $550.00, you may end up disappointed and still a bit "in-the-dark" about your overall strengths. Good luck.
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on August 28, 2012
This book gives you a description of about 32 different strengths that people have, and at its core is an access code to an online Myers Briggs type assessment you can take to identify your strengths.

The book is merely a reference for the strengths that an online assessment helps you identify, along with strengths that others may have and how you might identify these in people to work better in teams together. The strengths identification is worthwhile, but only if you buy the print version (otherwise you don't get a code and can't take the test!)

I originally bought the hardcopy of the book a few years ago and took the test, and then my girlfriend and I were recently reading over my assessment. Wanting her to take the test too, I searched the Gallup website in order to purchase another code. Ridiculously, the only way that it seems that one can take the test is by purchasing another (hardcopy) book to get a new code. Not wanting to uselessly own two of the exact same hardcopy book on my shelf, and before I knew, I paid $14 for the Kindle version just to get a new code. I would be happy to pay $14 just for the StrengthsFinder assessment tool for my girlfriend.

As said, it turns out that the Kindle version doesn't contain a new code. I'm basically asking Gallup to take my money in any which way that doesn't include buying and shipping me the same useless hardcopy book again.

To be fair I'd recommend the hardcopy book and taking the test once, but not buying the Kindle version, or owning the hardcopy twice.

It's been around for years and I've seen many people with complaints about not being able to purchase just a code. That's pretty lame.
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There are many different assessment tools available for people who want to learn more about their personality types, attitudes, behavior, and/or leadership styles. These include, for example, tests and inventories that measure individual qualities and abilities and those that relate these competencies to the interaction with other people. Over the years, I have used numerous assessment tools either offered at work or in graduate-level courses. These include, for example, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI) and various leadership questionnaires for skills, styles, culture, interaction, and many others. I found all of these assessments interesting and helpful for my development, yet none of them alone would have been sufficient to give me a comprehensive understanding of myself in order to use my abilities most effectively. In other words, I found that the combination of several assessment tools ultimately helped me to understand myself as a person and my behavior towards peers at work, friends, and family members.

Strengths Finder 2.0 is an approach by scientists of The Gallup Organization to provide users with a tool to identify their strengths, or more precisely, their talents. Tom Rath explained it as follows: "We were tired of living in a world that revolved around fixing our weaknesses [and ...] we had discovered that people have several times more potential for growth when they invest energy in developing their strengths instead of correcting their deficiencies." When I read this, I thought this is an interesting and powerful way to look at personal characteristics. I was anxious to use this Strengths Finder 2.0.

Tom Rath guided me well through the book and the online test, which allowed me to discover my top five talents out of the 34 common talent themes compiled by the Gallup scientists. The combination of the interpretations of these talents and the development of an action plan for the future was excellent. Rath described that TALENT (i.e., a natural way of thinking, feeling, or behaving) times INVESTMENT (i.e., the time spent practicing, skill developing, and knowledge-base building) equals STRENGTH, which he defines as "the ability to consistently provide near-perfect performance." This means that knowing your talents is only the beginning of growth - the rest is up to you (i.e., to use and further develop the areas where a person has the greatest potential to develop strengths).

It is important to mention that Rath recognizes that it is helpful to also know the areas of "lesser talent" because they can lead to weakness and can become a hazard in a person's career. I agree with his opinion that the key to success is to be aware of both your potential and your limitations.

In conclusion, I consider Strengths Finder 2.0 a valuable book in that it can help individuals to discover talents and more effectively use them. There is no doubt that this book helped me in my professional and private life, and I believe it can help others as well. I highly recommend this book to all people who want to learn more about themselves and see how far they can go with this knowledge in their lives.
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on January 2, 2012
I didn't buy this at Amazon, but sure wished I had as I naively paid full cover price at a local big box retailer because I was so excited to discover it and what it promised and didn't want to wait.

Yes, it was nice to identify my top 5 strengths. No real surprises, but good to have specific words and wording to describe them.

The disappointment is that I mistakenly assumed it would actually be able to help me pinpoint career options using the combination of my top themes. It does not. Each strength is given a very short list of general suggestions (maybe 5-7). Most of mine were similar for each of my strengths and several were positions I have held in the past and did not enjoy in the least. (Hence why I bought the darn book to figure out where ELSE I could use my strengths.)

As a former career advisor (yes, I am fully aware of the irony-- know that it's always easier to help others than yourself), I believe there is a definite limitation to an assessment instrument that forces you to choose between two options that are similar. I too found that often the choices were equally strong or equally weak. So in choosing "neutral" as my answer, the instrument has no way of distinguishing between those I hated equally and those I loved equally. Suffice to say given this flaw, I have little faith in the online tool's ability to truly measure my strengths and provide any meaningful guidance. If I were designing it, I would have a continuum for each option individually so the tool would definitively be able to measure whether both were very high or both were very low interests/strengths. Or another option might be to have two different "neutral" options: hate equally and love equally.

I would not recommend this book as it does not begin to scratch the surface as say something like the classic What Color is Your Parachute (still in print and annually updated after all these years).

For those poor souls who mistakenly bought this book used, Amazon needs to figure out a way to do a better job of describing that the main value of the book is that code and that without it, the book truly is worthless. (Honestly, it isn't worth that much more with the code so I'd consider yourselves lucky you didn't pay full price like me.) Perhaps it should be flagged as a book that can't be sold as used or in the title it should have to include "code already accessed" or "code not accessed/still valid for a single user" in the same way it identifies whether it is hardcover or kindle version. I don't believe there is a way to just go online and pay just to take the test so these poor people truly were ripped off and will have to repurchase the book new in order to ever use it. Once that access code has been activated, this book is only good for the recycling bin after the user is done with it.

For now I'm looking for resources to go beyond what little I gleaned from this book.
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on October 23, 2012
we used this book for our high school senior. it has really helped him understand his strengths and what he is good at. we are using it to help determine what his major in college should be. it seems it is really designed for an employee to assess his/her skills, but we think it is helpful for a 17 year old. The online test is a must.
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on July 9, 2011
I got this book on a recommendation of a friend- and after reading the introduction I realized it was yet another hokey self-help book. I thought I'd take the test anyways, but my initial assumption was correct. The test is described in such a way as to make it seem objective, but it's just as accurate as reading the descriptions in the book yourself and figuring it out. For example, you're asked questions like "I work hard to include others." Well, if you know yourself well enough to answer that question, then there's no need to take the test. You have only 20 seconds to answer each question, but most infuriatingly, you cannot go back and change an answer if you accidentally clicked the wrong one. And of course you can't take the test over again.
Also, there's no real guidance on what to do after you know what your strengths are. There are no suggested careers, which would probably be the most useful to the people taking the test. One piece of advice given for the "Input" strength is "Don't be afraid to position yourself as an expert." Thanks, Strengthsfinder. I'm sure I'll use that for the rest of my life.
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on September 21, 2009
After lead researcher Donald Clifton left this world and Marcus Buckingham left to found his own firm, Gallup leadership must have wondered how they could milk the Now, Discover Your Strengths cash cow. It seems Strengths Finder 2.0 a "NEW & UPGRADED Edition of the Online Test from Gallup's" was their answer: a beautiful little book in a shiny white cover, with a powerful red font and the "2.0' that was all the rage in `07-'08.

Since "2.0' embodies new, what's new? Well, the author: Tom Rath, Global Practice Leader for Workplace and Leadership, and author of great books we will review in time: How full is your bucket?, Strengths Based Leadership. My question to him is: what did you write in this one?

Anything else? Yes. The book is a lot lighter, and unfortunately, it really is what they say on the cover: a "NEW & UPGRADED Edition of the online test"; not a new book. As far as content, you will find:

* a short section explains what strengths are in Clifton/Gallup speak. Section is verbatim the first edition's.
* a longer section describes one by one the 34 strengths from the Clifton StrengthsFinder. It has a lot less content. The litte additional content is already available on the website. As far as "real change":
..1. Two strengths have changed name: Consistency became Fairness and Inclusiveness became Includer, but the descriptions remain the same, verbatim.
..2. The strengths descriptions are a little different from Now, Discover Your Strengths: the "Introduction" and "examples" remain the same; the "Ideas for action" replicate the recommendations you on the website after passing the test, and the "Working with others who have..." section is a shorter version of Now, Discover Your Strengths "Managing Strengths" section.
* a passcode, the real core of the book, enables you to pass the test on Gallup site. The test is said to be shorter, but I did not notice a significant difference. It is said the insights are better, but I am not convinced I did get anything that was not in the first book.

Enough for the rant. What will you get from this book?

In case you would not know the Clifton Strengths Finder, it is the result of a massive study on the workplace that Gallup conducted over the course of 25 years, interviewing millions of people. One of the results, the 34 strengths are patterns that can be combined, in the spirit of architect Christopher Alexander's work The Timeless Way of Building, to create not building and communities but individuals.

You will learn two key principles from this study:

* "You cannot be anything you want to be.
But you can be a lot more of who you already are."
* Strengths (ability to consistently provide near-perfect performance) = Talent (a natural way of thinking, feeling or behaving) x Investment (time spent practicing, developing your skills, and building your knowledge base)

You will learn about the 34 strengths: Achiever, Activator, Adaptability, Analytical, Arranger, Belief, Command, Communication, Competition, Consistency, Context, Deliberative, Connectedness, Developer, Discipline, Empathy, Focus, Futuristic, Harmony, Ideation, Includer, Individualization, Input, Intellection, Learner, Maximizer, Positivity, Relator, Responsibility, Restorative, Self-Assurance, Significance, Strategic, Woo. This is a long list. You do not need to learn them or know them all.

You will learn about your own strengths, how they manifest, and how you can play on them. This awareness will be a great foundation or accelerator for your personal or professional development effort.

You will also be sensitized to the diversity of strengths. And you will discover ways to help others contribute as only they can and build productive interactions with them. This is important for anyone who works with others (everyone?), but is critical for a leader or manager.

Is this book worth the price?

A thousand times yes, if you need to pass the test! The test itself is undeniably 5 stars. It seems to hit the nail every time, and people I have offered it to and debriefed had a feeling of "yeah, that's who I am", with a little bit of pride: a good basis of awareness and self-acknowledgment. A good gift for people you want to coach or mentor. As for the book, less content really means less outcome and still means less trees. Gallup Boo.

In closing, if you do not have Now, Discover Your Strengths, buy Stengths Finder 2.0, just to get a key at a lower cost, and get hold of a copy of Now, Discover Your Strengths, used or at a library, to read the insights of the final section.

If you have read Now, Discover Your Strengths and would like to pass the test again to see if these have changed or if the results are consistent, by any means, get Strengths Finder 2.0. It is $10 cheaper, and the insights are worth the price.

In both cases, it's just a pity to kill so many trees for so little new content.
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on March 24, 2010
Please note that this book is only good for a one time online test! I purchased 4 of these books, which I knew were used, but didn't think much of it. It turns out that 3 of my books had the code used, and so they were of no use. Luckily one of the books still has the unused code.
Don't purchase this book used!
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