VIA Institute On Character Empowers Through Strengths


Being human, we all have strengths within ourselves. Those strengths are our greatest assets. Nurturing them has been proven to not only energize us to learn and reach for our goals, but also to lead us toward a happier, more satisfying life. However, we may not even be aware of what they are and even more likely we may not proactively engage ourselves in exercises to heighten those assets.

VIA Institute on Character logoThe VIA Institute on Character is a Cincinnati-based nonprofit organization with a global scope of empowering people through the advancement of the science and practice of character strengths. Their aim is to fill the world with virture.

One very important way they do this is by offering their VIA survey free of charge across the globe – and since VIA’s inception in 2001, more than 2 million people in 193 countries and 17 languages have taken it. (There is also a survey for youth.) Professionals can use the survey to learn more about their clients or employees.

I highly recommend setting aside 30 minutes to take the 240 question survey. You will be given a free personalized description of your 24 strengths in their order of importance to you, as well as some suggestions for flexing your strength muscles. For an additional $20, you can receive an indepth VIA Pathways Report that shares much greater information on exploring and using your strengths. There are additional resources on the VIA website.  There are additional free and paid resources on the VIA website – and on the new VIA blog – to help you nurture your strengths.  They offer courses too for individuals and professionals whose work is focused on bringing out the best in others.

According to the VIA survey results, I actually have 7 signature strengths (highest rated strengths) because I have numerous score ties. They include:  Honesty, Kindness, Leadership, Perspective, Humor, Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence, and Fairness.

I can see so many of my life choices wrapped up inside these seven virtues. Much of my career has been focused on communicating to inspire positive change in individuals, organizations, communities and even pets. Both my Good Things Going Around blog project and my So Much PETential pet training have to do with bringing out the best in others.

Ironically, just this past spring I spent a lot of time developing my personal, professional ‘brand’ (with great thanks to T.J. Budd and Tessa O’Neal from Centennial, Inc.). This is what I came up with:

I guide organizations to communicate their core mission and brand with integrity and resolve, telling their story strategically and compellingly. An out-of-the-box thinker, I thrive on developing creative tactical ideas for raising awareness, educating constituents, and building consensus around communication goals. When it comes to relationships, I enjoy being both a leader and a team player, supporting the strengths of others.

My pet training brand (which I am still tweaking) is:
I believe training is not just about modifying behaviors and teaching skills, it is also about epet training quote by Lisa Desatniknhancing quality of life for our pets. In my quest to have well mannered pets, I began studying the science of animal behavior and positive reinforcement strategies over 12 years ago; and I can’t stop learning. My behavior change strategies blend science with kindness, integrity, creativity and fun. Seeing how that approach has not only set myself and my pets up for success, but also strengthened our relationship, is the driving force behind my passion for educating and helping others achieve similar outcomes.

Wow, I can absolutely see how my VIA strengths are an integral role in all that I do. And by my focusing on them it has led me to make career choices that are very satisfying for me.

I’m excited to say that my latest career path – is working with VIA! As a contractor, I am part of the communication team with two very positive, motivating people – Kelly Aluise and Breta Cooper – and I am working on telling their story through social media. I’d love it if you’d follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+,  AND please stop by the all new VIA blog that I am managing.

This is absolutely the stuff I thrive on!

It is so easy for us in life to focus on our own and other’s shortcomings, and when times are difficult to lose sight of those virtues that give us the capacity for greatness.  However, by shifting our focus instead toward those virtues of strength an amazing and beautiful transformation can happen. We grow and prosper in new, meaningful ways. Our life is so much more satisfying.

I am choosing to focus on nurturing my VIA  strengths. How about you?

YMCA Character Awards Celebrated Future Leaders


If you want to truly be inspired…spend an evening surrounded by young people who are making a difference in this world in their own very personal way. This was the 15th year that the YMCA of Greater Cincinnati celebrated teen role models for caring, respect, honesty and responsibility. It was such an honor for me to work with them and get to know them in writing their bios and working on the publicity. A special thank you to FOX19, who I got to partner with us in promoting it. Each day the week leading up to the event Tracey Johnson (who emceed the event) interviewed honorees on her Morning Xtra show.

Cincinnati Enquirer story on YMCA Character Awards


One of Tracey Johnson’s interview with YMCA Character Award honorees

A Teen’s Perspective On ‘Caring’


On April 17, 2012 Erin Daniels, a junior at North College Hill High School in Cincinnati, will be among 40 local students who will be honored by the YMCA of Greater Cincinnati as a YMCA Character Award recipient. Each of the honorees has her/her own very unique story of making a difference but what they all share is how they are role models for the character values of caring, respect, honesty and responsibility.

I was with Erin recently for a television interview and afterward asked her what it means to be ‘caring’. This is what she said.

YMCA Character Awards 2012 news release

2012 YMCA Character Award recipients 2012

The YMCA Character Awards Event will be April 17, 2012 at the School for Creative & Performing Arts. Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets for the event are $25 for an adult or $10 for a youth. To purchase a ticket, please call 513-246-3205.

I have a few tickets to give-a-way. I will be drawing on this coming Wednesday from among my Good Things Pledge champions. Not a champion yet? It’s simple. Just visit the page and add your contact information.

YMCA Celebrates 40 Examples Of Character Values


I’d like to introduce you to pretty awe-inspiring youth who I’m very lucky to be getting to know. They are some of our Greater Cincinnati area’s great role models for caring, respect, honest, responsibility and caring. I’m talking about the 40 teenagers who will be celebrated on April 17 as YMCA of Greater Cincinnati Character Award recipients.

Take for example…

Linnea Head, a student at Seven Hills School, whose influence has been described as ‘legendary’. A fearless model of ethics, it was during a school assembly when she stood before her student body and inspired every student to choose ‘trust’. Again she rallied her classmates to a cause when she heard about a Ugandan elementary school for displaced children.


Dion’te Riley, a Withrow University High School student who traveled to the Domincan Republic to participate in a food drive. He personally collected enough food to fill 17 grocery carts for families in need.

Each one of the YMCA Character Award recipients has his/her own very personal story for impacting their world. I encourage you to please click the link and read more about them. If you know one of them…please congratulate them.

Or better yet…please join Tracey Johnson of FOX19 and the YMCA of Greater Cincinnati at the YMCA Character Awards Event on April 17.  It begins at 6 p.m. at the School for Creative and Performing Arts. Cost is $25 per person for adults; $10 for youth. You can call 513-246-3205 to reserve a seat.

2012 YMCA Character Award recipients 2012
YMCA Character Award recipient list 2012

I will have two pairs of tickets to the event to give-a-way. I will be randomly
drawing two names of people who are Good Things Pledge champions. An additional
chance will be given for participating in the Good Things Going Around Facebook page.
Drawing will be on Wednesday night, April 11, 2012.
Not a Good Things Pledge champion yet? Just add your contact information on the Pledge page!

Honoree Shamari Hinkston Talks About ‘Caring’

People Who Inspire Me: Ian Martin


Earlier this year, Ian Martin, a senior at Cincinnati’s School for Creative and Performing Arts, was one of 40 area teens recognized by the YMCA of Greater Cincinnati as a Character Award recipient. The Award recognized young people who exemplify the core values of the YMCA – caring, honesty, respect and responsibility.

Growing up in a single parent household for the majority of his life, Ian has grown to appreciate some of the smaller things in his life. As the oldest of four children, he made up his mind at an early age that he would be somebody great. Ian strives to constantly be a positive role model to his siblings and others around him. He has volunteered at the U.S. Bank Boys and Girls Club in Avondale since he was 13 years old, tutoring and providing homework assistance to children. Ian also served as president of the One Voice Poetry Club and Keystone Club. In 2009, he was selected as the Cincinnati Youth of the Year. Through networking he has established volunteer connections with Ceasefire Cincinnati at the Urban League and is currently part of the YMCA Cincinnati Youth Council as Vice Mayor.

I spoke with Ian about some of his life choices.

What motivates you to give back and be all that you can be?

“My mom is a single parent and I have three siblings. She is a strong woman and encouraged us to do better than she did, to go 10 or 12 steps above her. She taught me to aim for the sky. My mom also taught us to value the smaller things and always be grateful. I remember people who were extremely helpful to me and my family so I feel an obligation to give back. It is rewarding to know I can help someone like I’ve been helped. It’s a cycle.”

In my younger years I also had teachers who told me that material things didn’t matter. It is what is in your heart that matters.

What do have character values mean to you?

“I believe character values are the person you are, taking the initiative in your community, school and home to make them better. Character values are your motivation to succeed in all categories. They include having responsibility to take up actions that others may not be willing to do.”

Tell me a little more about your volunteer work and your passion.

“I had to grow up real fast and was always real quiet. I actually went to the Boys and Girls Club first before I became a volunteer. A woman there asked me if I’d consider poetry. I was the only guy in their poetry club but I found a passion for it. Now I write plays and monologues too.

As a volunteer at the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Cincinnati I help kids with their homework or we play games in the gym. It is helpful for them to have a youth there who can relate to them. I think I’m making a small but powerful impact and that’s more than good enough for me.”

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