We are thrilled to be connecting with Tony Alessandra again. Tony is an Online Behavioral & Employee Hiring Assessment Provider and is also a content partner. Content partners help Voyage in so many ways from spreading the word about the work that we do, sponsoring our mission and collaborating with us on content like this. Check out our conversation with Tony below.
Hi Tony, thank you so much for sitting down with us again. For folks who might have missed our initial interview, can you start by briefly introducing yourself?
I have been a graduate professor of marketing, Internet entrepreneur, business author, and hall-of-fame keynote speaker.
I earned a BBA from Notre Dame, an MBA from the Univ. of Connecticut and his PhD in marketing in 1976 from Georgia State University.
I am the founder of Assessments 24×7 LLC, a company that offers a variety of online assessments, including the widely used DISC profile, Motivators assessment, Emotional Intelligence assessment, and several 360º effectiveness assessments.
I have co-authored 41 books, including the best-selling The NEW Art of Managing People; The Platinum Rule; Collaborative Selling; and Communicating at Work and have been featured in over 100 audio/video programs and films, including DISC Relationship Strategies; The Dynamics of Effective Listening; and Gaining the EDGE in Competitive Selling.
I was inducted into the NSA Speakers Hall of Fame in 1985. In 2009, inducted as one of the “Legends of the Speaking Profession;” in 2010-2014, selected 5 times as one of the Speakers.com Top 5 Sales/ Marketing/ Customer Service Speakers by Speaking.com; in 2010, elected into the inaugural class of the Top Sales World Sales Hall of Fame; in 2012, voted one of the Top 50 Sales & Marketing Influencers; and in 2012, voted the #1 World’s Top Communication Guru.
I was also recognized by Meetings & Conventions Magazine as “one of America’s most electrifying speakers,” as a consummate business strategist consistently earning rave reviews and loyal clients.
You have built a highly successful speaking business and a very successful online assessment company. Where did it all start and why did you choose your profession?
Well, it’s hard to put a finger on where it started. In my opinion, where my attitude and aptitude for success started was when I was a little kid. I grew up in “the projects” area of New York City, right in Manhattan, in the Chelsea section of New York City; my father was a New York City cab driver. The area known as the projects is the lower income area of the city and there were several of these.
When I went through school, I actually was quite a good student. I earned very good grades, though I was a troublemaker, mischievous, and a “wise guy.” I didn’t go out looking for fights, but I was a class clown, so I’d get in a lot of trouble with my teachers. Even though I irritated them and I got detention every so often, they gave me a little bit of leeway because I did well in school. This was another thing that led to this concept of success. So, it was my NYC upbringing, my grades, and then sports. I found that I had a natural aptitude toward sports. I excelled in baseball and football. I never wrestled competitively in my life until I went to college. I went to the University of Notre Dame. They didn’t have an intercollegiate wrestling team, but they had intracollegiate or intramural wrestling. It involved all classes. It wasn’t freshman against freshman, it was freshman, sophomores, juniors, and seniors, and anybody—as long as you were within a particular weight range. Someone pushed me into wrestling because he had heard my stories about street fighting. So, I entered the tournament and won a gold medal in my weight category, even though I had never wrestled before.
The dominoes kept falling that way—one success after another. I graduated Notre Dame and went to grad school at the University of Connecticut. When I was there and graduated with an MBA, I decided to take on a teaching position. I taught two years at Susquehanna University and one year at Cal State Fullerton. After three years as a college teacher, I decided that I wanted to make teaching a profession, so I enrolled in a doctoral program to earn a PhD in Marketing in Business at Georgia State University. This was a major turning point because one of the senior professors on the senior faculty at Georgia State University, in the Department of Marketing, was a gentleman named Dr. David Schwartz. Dr. Schwartz, it so happened, was author of one of the three books that I believe had an enormous impact on my life. Those three books were: 30 Days to a More Powerful Vocabulary, Psycho Cybernetics by Maxwell Malts, and The Magic of Thinking Big (by Dr. Schwartz). The first book helped me improve my vocabulary and my articulation skills.
The second book was about the mechanics of the mind. And “thinking big” was a subject that intrigued me. When I went to Georgia State University, Dr. Schwartz became my Doctoral Dissertation Chairman and it so happens he was also a motivational speaker. He was my role model and gave me the impetus to enter the field of professional speaking. I was a doctoral student in 1973 to 1976 and I finally got all my course work out of the way in 1974. I was working on my oral exams and my dissertation when I started doing outside consulting, training, and speaking. I earned my doctorate in the spring of 1976 and I taught for another two and a half years at the University of San Diego. That’s what brought me out to California. I started doing speaking part-time in the fall of 1974. In December 1978, I left teaching to go into speaking full-time, beginning in January 1979. I was a good speaker and I continued to be a good speaker until the winter of 1981. This was another major turning point in my success. There was gentleman named Bill Gove who was the first President of the National Speakers Association. I did a one-on-one weekend coaching, speaker/coaching session with him. During that weekend he pulled me to the side and said, “Tony, when you are not trying to give a speech, you have a playful, mischievous New York City Italian personality. But when you try to speak, your professorial style comes to the forefront. It’s not working for you. You’re trying to do a style that isn’t your natural style. What you need to do is let more of that playful New York City Italian style come to the forefront.” I have to tell you, this was the major turning point in my career. Once I went in that direction, I went from good to very good and, in fact, by the summer of 1985 I was inducted into the Speakers Hall of Fame. That’s how big a turnaround it was in my career. So those were some of the success forks in the road, where if I went one way or the other way it got me to where I am and got me into professional speaking.
I’m a storyteller and I knew this from the time I was a kid because I would tell stories about things that happened to me. When I was telling these stories, I would have groups of people listening and I’d have their rapt attention. I should have realized that I was a natural, gifted storyteller. I could tell the story but in a compelling and funny way. Once I brought that technique to the platform, I really got people’s attention. People love to listen to stories, especially stories that leave them with a learning point. Another way to get people to listen and create excitement is to bring it into their world. What I do before I give a speech is to do a lot of information gathering and research with either the executive or the meeting planner. Sometimes I phone some of the attendees and ask questions like, “Will this fly? Is it relevant? Am I using the right language? Do you use different language?” And I try to make it real for them. When I can tell stories and give examples that let them know I really understand what they do, they know I’ve gone the extra mile to learn their business and they’re going to take my message much more seriously. That’s how I get people to listen—I tailor the message to them by doing my homework about what they do and I tell stories, making it entertaining. I founded Assessments24x7.com in 2000, where we offer numerous different assessments that help with personal development, leadership effectiveness, team building, and employee hiring & selection.
Who are some of your mentors and what did they do for you?
1) My mother – she instilled in me the desire to succeed and the motivation for continuous daily improvement by going the extra…inch
2) Phil Wexler – a hall-of-fame speaker and a co-author of mine – who pushed me to read more novels and do NY Times crossword puzzles
3) Dr. David Schwartz, author of The Magic of Thinking Big and my doctoral dissertation chairman who inspired me to become a professional speaker
4) Jim Cathcart – a hall-of-fame speaker, co-author of mine & business partner who taught me the nuances of professional speaking
5) Bill Gove – a hall-of-fame speaker and a founder of the National Speakers Association – who showed me how to use my NYC Italian personality on stage as a professional speaker that turbo-charged my success
Everyone has heard of the Golden Rule but you have coined The Platinum Rule®? What is the difference between the two?
An indisputable business fact is that people do business with people they like. It makes sense, therefore, to like and be liked by as many people as possible. The ability to create rapport with a large number of people is a fundamental skill in sales, management, personal relationships, and everyday life.
We have all heard of the Golden Rule—and many people aspire to live by it. The Golden Rule is not a panacea. Think about it: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” The Golden Rule implies the basic assumption that other people would like to be treated the way that you would like to be treated. The alternative to the Golden Rule is much more productive. I call it the Platinum Rule: “Treat others the way they want to be treated.” Ah hah! What a difference. The Platinum Rule accommodates the feelings of others. The focus of relationships shifts from “this is what I want, so I’ll give everyone the same thing” to “let me first understand what they want and then I’ll give it to them.” Building rapport with people based on the Platinum Rule requires some thought and effort, but it is the most insightful, rewarding, and productive way to interact with people. And it is easy to learn. The goal of The Platinum Rule is personal chemistry and productive relationships. You do not have to change your personality. You do not have to roll over and submit to others. You simply have to understand what drives people and recognize your options for dealing with them.
At Assessments24x7.com, you offer numerous online assessments. How do they help people?
NINE PROVEN REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD USE ASSESSMENTS: Assessment tools are not always designed to reveal apparent “right” or “wrong” answers. Individuals participate freely because they know they will not pass or fail, but uncover important information about themselves, and increase the likelihood of finding their own personal and professional happiness. A good assessment is designed, in part, to increase awareness of their own tendencies relating to how they interact with others. Our assessment systems come with support materials and action plans to help everyone, new or long-time employees, partners, friends, leaders, management, etc., maximize positive outcomes through building mutually beneficial relationships.
When used in business, quality assessments are flexible and capable of embracing optimization for a complete professional spectrum – customer service, vocational, technical, sales, management or executive needs. It’s important for employees to have the necessary skills to demonstrate the attitudes and behaviors that would enable them to succeed within each company’s unique environment. When used in personal and professional relationships, great assessments reveal perceptions and perspectives that can either hinder or enhance our ability to connect, communicate and interact in a way that supports mutual growth and understanding. For decades, clients that have relied on our assessments recognize that these are powerful resources capable of transforming individual effectiveness, company culture and profitability with uncanny speed.
The benefits of using assessments can be profound! IMPROVE HIRING AND SELECTION The right person in the right job is vital. A bad hire is not only costly, but also can be detrimental to an organization. Using assessments, you can identify strengths and potential risks of job applicants before the interview and make thoughtful, scientifically-informed decisions. INCREASE SALES Teach your sales team powerful behavior observation skills that work, applying them in an effective sales cycle.
Help them to see their own sales strengths and development areas, and focus on going from good to great in their interactions with others.
CREATE WORLD-CLASS LEADERS Building a leadership team of forward-thinking, engaging, supportive and effective leaders isn’t always easy, and ensuring they continue to be the best leaders they can be for their teams requires constant awareness and continued focus on honing their skills.
INCREASE PRODUCTIVITY Measure performance and identify critical companywide issues. Identify with scientific accuracy the gaps across the organization’s key performance areas: culture, operations, leadership, training, service.
REDUCE EMPLOYEE TURNOVER Ensure employees needs and wants are met in a way that increases employee satisfaction, happiness and engagement, and helps them feel like what they are doing makes a difference in a way they value.
CREATE CONNECTED TEAMS Build effective, connected teams in an environment of coachability and transparency by embracing how EIQ and emotional expression impact interpersonal relationships and business success.
MODEL TEAM BUILDING Know which styles are going to work best together and what potential conflicts may arise. Build teams based on compatible skills, traits, and styles for maximum efficiency and improved culture.
MAKE THE RIGHT, BRIGHT DECISIONS Critical thinking and decision making is a vital success skill. In day-to-day decisions or strategic plans, identifying what risks may exist is essential in building a strong organization capable of innovation and responding effectively to change.
CUSTOMIZE EMPLOYEE TRAINING Discover how people learn best and tailor training toward their learning style. Target learning styles to make training more effective and “sticky” the first time, reducing costly retraining efforts and lost productivity.
In your various books, you identify four different behavioral types. Give us some examples/descriptions of these four behavioral types.
1) Dominance Styles Dominance Styles are driven by two governing needs: to control and achieve. Dominance Styles are goal-oriented go-getters who are most comfortable when they are in charge of people and situations. They want to accomplish many things-now-so they focus on no-nonsense approaches to bottom-line results. Dominance Styles seek expedience and are not afraid to bend the rules. They figure it is easier to beg forgiveness than to ask permission. Dominance Styles accept challenges, take authority, and plunge head first into solving problems. They are fast-paced, task-oriented, and work quickly and impressively by themselves, which means they become annoyed with delays. They are driven and dominating, which can make them stubborn, impatient, and insensitive to others. Dominance Styles are so focused that they forget to take the time to smell the roses.
2) Influence Styles Influence Styles are friendly, enthusiastic people who like to be where the action is. They thrive on the admiration, acknowledgment, and compliments that come with being in the limelight. Their primary strengths are enthusiasm, charm, persuasiveness, and warmth. They are idea-people and dreamers who excel at getting others excited about their vision. They are eternal optimists with an abundance of charisma. These qualities help them influence people and build alliances to accomplish their goals. Interactive Styles do have their weaknesses: impatience, an aversion to being alone, and a short attention span. Interactive Styles are risk-takers who base many of their decisions on intuition, which is not inherently bad. Interactive Styles are not inclined to verify information; they are more likely to assume someone else will do it.
3) Steadiness Styles Steadiness Styles are warm and nurturing individuals. They are the most people-oriented of the four styles. Steadiness Styles are excellent listeners, devoted friends, and loyal employees. Their relaxed disposition makes them approachable and warm. They develop strong networks of people who are willing to be mutually supportive and reliable. Steadiness Styles are excellent team players. Steadiness Styles are risk-averse. In fact, Steadiness Styles may tolerate unpleasant environments rather than risk change. They like the status quo and become distressed when disruptions are severe. When faced with change, they think it through, plan, and accept it into their world. Steadiness Styles-more than the other types-strive to maintain personal composure, stability, and balance. In the office, Steadiness Styles are courteous, friendly, and willing to share responsibilities. They are good planners, persistent workers, and good with follow-through. They go along with others even when they do not agree because they do not want to rock the boat. They are slower decision-makers because of their need for security; their need to avoid risk; and their desire to include others in the decision-making process.
4) Conscientious Styles Conscientious Styles are analytical, persistent, systematic people who enjoy problem solving. Conscientious Styles are detail-oriented, which makes them more concerned with content than style. Conscientious Styles are task-oriented people who enjoy perfecting processes and working toward tangible results. They are always in control of their emotions and may become uncomfortable around people who are very outgoing, e.g., Interactive Styles. Conscientious Styles have high expectations of themselves and others, which can make them over-critical. Their tendency toward perfectionism-taken to an extreme-can cause “paralysis by over-analysis.” Conscientious Styles are slow and deliberate decision-makers. They do research, make comparisons, determine risks, calculate margins of error, and then take action. Conscientious Styles become irritated by surprises and glitches, hence their cautious decision-making. Conscientious Styles are also skeptical, so they like to see promises in writing.
It was so great to reconnect. One last question – how can our readers connect with you, learn more or support you?
Dr. Tony Alessandra DrTony@Assessments24x7.com 1-858-456-0028 (cell) San Diego, CA
- Website: www.Assessments24x7.com
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Assessments247
- Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/6379191/admin/ AND https://www.linkedin.com/in/tonyalessandra/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/assessments24x7
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/assessments24x7online
- Other: www.Alessandra.com