Becoming a Decision-Making Expert | Cheryl Einhorn


How can leaders become experts at decision-making?

Cheryl Einhorn is here to help you discover your Problem Solver Profile and investigate how you approach decisions.

Cheryl is the founder of Decisive, a decision sciences company that trains people and teams in complex problem solving and decision-making skills using the AREA Method. 

In this episode, she’ll share her expertise, including:

  • How we can overcome biases to make better decisions
  • The clues to discover someone’s Problem Solver Profile
  • Why leaders should begin with “a vision of success”
  • And more



Cheryl Einhorn: My hope is that everybody feels a greater sense of agency and therefore resiliency, that they can take on ever bigger challenges, because your decisions are truly the only thing that you ever really have control over. So if you can make them better, you can feel like you’re leading a more satisfying.

Voiceover: You’re listening to the Build a Vibrant Culture podcast with professional speaker, coach and consultant Nicole Greer.

Nicole Greer:  Welcome everybody to the Build a Vibrant Culture podcast. My name is Nicole Greer, and they call me the vibrant coach. And today on the show, I have Cheryl Strauss, fine horn. I am so excited to have her here because don’t miss this everybody. He has written three books. All right, the first one is problem solved. The second one is investing in financial research. And the third one is problem solver. So Cheryl’s expertise has been sought after by multi national companies, high schools, nonprofits, government agencies, universities, just about everybody. And she is the founder of a leadership training and professional development company called decisive and she’s an adjunct professor at Columbia Business School. That is not a joke, and he is at Cornell’s new NYC Technology campus for investigative stories about international political Business and Economic topics have won her several journalism awards, and have been featured in publications. Listen to this list, Barron’s Council on Foreign Relations fortune, Harvard Business Review, Huffington Post New York Times, and Stanford Social Innovation Review, that isn’t enough, she’s totally qualified to tell us what she knows. Welcome to the show. I’m so glad you’re here. 

Cheryl: Nicole, thanks so much for having me. 

Nicole:  Yeah, it’s my pleasure. It’s just a privilege to be with you. What’s your definition of leadership? I think the leaders are so imperative to a vibrant culture.

Cheryl: Well, I think the leader is very important because he or she sets the tone. So to me, leadership is somebody who really models the behaviors, the actions, the processes, and the norms that we want to have for the teams that we’re working with.

Nicole:  Yeah, that’s a fantastic definition. And one of those habits, one of those skills that we want our leaders to have, and to get everybody else in the organization doing is becoming a problem solver. So how did you become an expert in decision making, right? So we make good decisions, we solve problems, can you kind of tie that together for us?

Cheryl: I can tie that together with you. You know, my background, as you mentioned, is in investigative journalism. And for over a decade, I was the editor and columnist at the business magazine Barron’s. And while I was there, I ended up specializing in what you might call the bearish company story. Those are stories that take a skeptical look at a company’s finances or their strategy. And what ended up happening with my stories is there was really an unexpected and outsized response from so many of them. For some of them, the stock exchange halted the shares. For some of them, regulators got involved. For one company, the CEO went to jail for 10 years, a couple of companies went out of business. And these were such outsized responses, that I just started to think about, Well, who am I as a decision maker. These types of articles are not just impacting share price performance, they’re impacting your ability to get up the good work, if you work at one of these companies. They impact how you feel about the products and services of companies that I raised questions about one of the companies was the largest maker of diabetic test kits. This is a product that people invest their wellbeing in their feelings about their overall health. And, and so I just started to think about, well, how do I know that I’m telling stories that are true? And that should be told? How do I know that they are marshaling the right evidence? And then I’m also having an opportunity to really listen to the people who I’m gathering information from into consider as well, their incentives and motives. And so at the time, I was just beginning to learn about how we all have mental mistakes, these cognitive biases that impede clear thinking. And so at the time, the books were basically saying, heighten your awareness to the fact that these mistakes exist, which to me, if I am a flood thinker, how would I actually know that I’m making these mistakes in the first place? So with my background and research, I started to think about maybe I’ll put together my own system to check and challenge these cognitive biases to think about expanding knowledge while improving judgment. And that’s how initially I came to decision making, just by thinking about doing a more ethical job. work. And then from there, I ended up teaching my system at Columbia and now at Cornell, and then I ended up writing these three books all about what I now call my area of decision making system.

Nicole: That’s fantastic, right? So you saw a lot of people, it sounds like having like, integrity issues, if people are winding up in jail, and all these other kinds of things, right. So this, this bias, or this inability to make a good decision is for real. All right. So why would I, you know, want to investigate my own decision making? I mean, I’m good to go. I make great decisions. Maybe I’m thinking that, you know, why would somebody want to like the wait up, I need to investigate?

Cheryl: Well, I think there are times where we just want to kind of fall forward. Right, we have small decisions, and they may have small consequences. But sometimes even small decisions can have very big consequences. Something that you say or does can hurt an important relationship. Sometimes you have a very big decision. And you know, it’s a big decision ahead of you. And you say to yourself, maybe I don’t just want to fall forward, maybe I want to have a better opportunity to invest in my own wellbeing, by actually giving myself some time and attention with this decision. And so I think that we all grew up to be decision makers, but we’ve never formally been taught, what does it mean to own the skills for complex problem solving? What are the steps? How do you follow them? And then how is it that we can pry open cognitive space to allow for new information and new insight. So we don’t only have to engage with these well worn pathways, which are really a dirty windshield that we operate through, as our mind tries to help us think a little bit less. So we can maybe do a little bit more?

Nicole: Well, in all of this research that you’ve done, what have you learned about the different ways that people make decisions?

Cheryl: Well, the new research in my newest book called problem solver, which is about the psychology of decision making, identifies five Problem Solver profiles. And these are dominant ways of how people make decisions. I’ve given them fun names, because that helps us to remember them. And they are the adventurer, Detective, listener, thinker, and visionary. And each of them have beautiful strengths. And each are also correlated with some specific cognitive biases that impede clear thinking. By learning all five, you can really better appreciate intellectual diversity. And you also can learn to be a more dynamic decision maker yourself. So let me just run through the adventurer is an optimistic competent decision maker. She is somebody who feels like you know what the future is more interesting than the present. And she can keep making decisions. Because if a decision is subpar, she has the next decision. I don’t. The detective is a slower Problem Solver profile. I’m a detective. I tend to really like facts, I consider myself rational. And I don’t consider people in their opinions as evidence, I actually usually want numbers. And so the detective is somebody who really wants to feel like they can test their assumptions against evidence. The listener, this is a collaborative cooperative decision maker, she generally has a trusted group of advisors. And one of her cognitive biases is social proof, because she does like to know what the wisdom is not of any crowd, but in particular, of the crowd of her trusted advisors. The Thinker is probably our slowest decision maker, this is somebody the action is up there for them. It’s in between their ears, they like to understand their options. They tend to spend more time in problem solving than decision making. And one of the cognitive biases that gets in their way as a relativity bias because they look at one option against the other. The Final Problem Solver profiles, the visionary, this is a creative person who likes and favors originality, she may come to a conversation with something new that’s not even on the table. And so a cognitive bias that might get in their way is a scarcity bias where they tend to overvalue things that they think are rare original. Sometimes something that is mundane and commonplace is perfectly good. So each of these five Problem Solver profiles are optimizing for different things in their decision making. And they each therefore bring a different perspective to problem solving.

Nicole: They say I’m really fun. So I bet you the listeners are sitting there going, hmm, this is the one I am. So if somebody wanted to figure out which type they are type of problem solver profile they are, what would they do?

Cheryl: So there’s two ways. The first is you can go to app dot area method, a r e a And you can sign up, you can take your problem solver profile quiz, it will help you to self identify into one of five of the problem solver profiles. And then it will give you just a brief template. To help you learn a little bit more about your problem solver profile, where you can read my new book problem solver, where I discuss all five of the problem solver profiles, and it’s filled with what I call cheat sheets. All of my books use this idea of the cheat sheet as graphic organizers, the cheetah, she’s the fastest land animal accelerating over 60 miles an hour. But her real prowess is that she can decelerate up to nine miles an hour in a single stride. And the reason why that’s so important is now you’re building agility, and flexibility and maneuverability. And in a quality decision making system. That’s what you need. So throughout the book, I have cheat sheets, where you can basically rip the skill right off the page and plug it into your life by following the questions in the cheat sheet, which guide you on how to use the skill that is being dumped, in addition to giving you empty cheat sheets that are just for you. I also throughout the book have filled out cheat sheets by somebody who I’ve worked with. So you can see how the questions have actually gotten into logical progression to get the epiphany and the aha, that’s fantastic.

Nicole: So don’t miss that everybody, this book is so helpful in terms of it is highly applicable, you can put it to work immediately. So it’s not just full of a bunch of theory, it’s got stuff you can do do, which is so so important. Now, you’ve talked about each of the problem solver profiles. And what I’d like to do is maybe think of a decision that would needs to be made. And how would all five of those different profiles look at that one decision that would kind of help us tease it out a little bit. So would you share with us maybe a problem through the five PSPs? Everybody that stands for Problem Solver profiles? Will you do that for us?

Cheryl: Absolutely. So I’ll give you just an experience that we all have. Say you’re out to dinner with a group of friends, then you’ve got the five Problem Solver profiles assembled, and everybody has the menu right in front of them. And the waiter or waitress comes by and adventure looks at the menu, see something that looks good, tells the waiter this is what I’m having to detect it looks at the menu thinks about the ingredients and says Oh, this one has olives, and it’s got the anchovies. I love these things. Those are the facts of that particular dish. And she ordered that the listener is listening, what’s everybody ordering, she may notice that she wanted something on the menu that’s far more expensive than what everybody else is thinking about. And when she gets that cue by listening to what other people value, she may decide that she’s going to do something more in line with everybody else. The Decker is going to look at the menus, think about what they’ve had to eat earlier in the day. Maybe think about how they’re going to balance out the different parts of their diet, that they’re looking to make sure that they have the right fruits, or did they miss their vegetables that day and may order looking at all these different options. And then the visionary looks at the menu she loves to fish that’s in one dish but the sauce from another and she created something that’s entirely her own. And what I think you can take away from an example where we have such common experiences. What does this mean? We might definitely do it for reviewing a resume. And we’re thinking about hiring somebody? Or what does it mean when we’re thinking about staffing a particular team, we are going to comment these decisions from different vantage points. And by knowing all five of the problem solver profiles, no matter what the intellectual diversity is of the group that who you may have assembled to make a decision. You can always bring in the wisdom and the perspective of those who are missing by having this familiarity that all five different perspectives offer you something different.

Nicole: That’s fantastic. Yeah, so you can kind of step into the shoes of a different problem solver profile. That’s fantastic. What will the world be like if we can step into other people’s shoes? Oh my gosh would be amazing. All right. So since each of the PSP PSP are associated with different biases. Is there a bigger takeaway about bias in general? So would you first of all, just in case somebody’s like this bias word I hear it? Could you define that first and then maybe, answer the questions from there?

Cheryl: Sure, wonderful. So cognitive bias is basically a mental shortcut. It is something that is from our past, where we have a specific comfort zone. And when we’re in a perfunctory mode, and we’re acting as our usual habits and patterns of the day, we’ll just engage with it, because it’s worked for us. But when we are solving for complex problems, those same biases, those same well worn pathways don’t go away. And there’s a series of very common biases that almost all of us engage with. So I’ll just give you an example. A liking bias is that we tend to overweight and overvalue information from somebody who we have an affinity for. That’s a common bias, or confirmation bias, which is very prevalent for the detective. That’s a bias where I may look to confirm a favorite hypothesis, I may cherry pick in the data to show you that of course, I’m right, as opposed to looking for disconfirming data. But I would say that cognitive bias is two sides of the same coin, the same thing that trips up the listener with a liking bias, or the detective with a cognitive bias is also a strength. So I’m very comfortable looking for information and identifying facts, just like the listener is very good at identifying people who she has an affinity for who she feels like she can trust their opinion. And so understanding that there are two sides of the same coin is one of the things that my new book Problem Solver goes through so that you can actually think about strengthening what you’re already good at, and also working against the downside of those particular pitfalls.

Nicole: Yeah, so how can we change our PSP? 

Cheryl: So the personal profile is very different from other types of assessments that you might be familiar with. There are things like Myers Briggs, for instance, that’s a personality quiz, which basically says, Okay, this is who you are. Now, go see if you can have a world that fits into that. The problem solver profile is not prescriptive. Think of it like handedness, most of us favor doing things with either the right or the left hand. One is just more comfortable. But we can be ambidextrous, if we are willing to put in the time and the effort. And discomfort is not a bad thing. Discomfort is actually where the growth is. So by first learning your own calm software profile, and then learning the other four, you have an opportunity to let’s say, go to the supermarket as an adventurer, or make a dish like a visionary, or buy insurance like a detective, and so on. And so by trying on aspects of the other problem solver protocols and decisions that you choose, you can also see where’s their friction for you? What’s uncomfortable? Why is that uncomfortable? And by continually working on it, you can become a more dynamic decision maker.

Nicole: That’s fantastic. Yeah. So I can kind of try on all these different hats to look at the problem that I have in front of me. That’s great. All right. So can you tell us a story about how maybe a team that had different PSPs on the team how they were successful, successful because they had all of these different problem solving profiles?

Cheryl: Yeah, actually, one of the companies that I’ve been working with has an adventurer, CEO. And she has a senior leadership team that is primarily comprised of listeners and thinkers. These are very different problem solver profiles. And actually, I have an article that is in Harvard Business Review last week, and that they shared today as their management tip of the day on are you frustrated with your team as problem solvers? Because I tell the story of how she initially came into our work together. Feeling like her team really wasn’t performing well. She was the only one coming with ideas. Well, once we all started working with the problem solver profile, and she began to realize the different problem solver profiles in the room. She realized that she needed to allow these decision makers the time that they need to make a decision and the information that they need, which are fundamentally different from what the adventurer needs. And once you recognize this, she could change the way that the pre meeting materials were prepared, and what actually happened in the meeting, so that by the time they all got together, everybody had a chance to think about digest and prepare their responses. So the meetings actually could be about the decision making that you wanted to have happen there. And so really understanding the five Problem Solver profiles can not only reduce friction, you can really strengthen your relationships to increase productivity and efficiency together.

Nicole: Yeah, that’s fantastic. Yeah, she’s making up ideas on the fly, she’s putting that sauce with that fish. That’s what she’s doing. And she’s expecting everybody else to operate in the same way.

Cheryl: That’s right. And the listener wants to give her the space to air all her ideas. But she needs an opportunity to hear what everybody is thinking and to sit with the material before she’s going to respond. And the thinker needs to understand what the options are. And it’s not that one mode of decision making is better than the other, we now that the problem solver profiles, and having this lexicon, we don’t have to think that somebody’s hasty, or somebody’s too slow, or somebody’s not paying attention and is off with the rainbows, we now can understand that we have people who are optimizing fundamentally for different things, and that they therefore bring different value to whatever the conversation is that we want to have.

Nicole: Yeah, so that’s a great example of a team. But you know, I’m thinking about a different team. When you were working through the profiles, I’m thinking to myself, I’m a total adventure decision maker, Problem Solver profile. Right? And I think that I am married to a thinker. So I think, you know, you know, that old saying opposites attract. So you know, I’ve got lots of ideas about what we should do. And David’s thinking about, do we have the resources? Do we have the time? Do we have the energy, you know, these kinds of things? He was looking for data points that make all my dreams, hopefully come true. So will you talk a little bit about how I might use this, like, even in my marriage, or like with my kiddos? I know you got two kiddos?

Cheryl: Yeah, it has absolutely transformed my relationship with my mother. So since you just brought up a personal example, my mom’s an adventurer. And during COVID, I realized, I did not know any of their passwords to anything, not their phones, or the code to the house or so many other different things that become important. And I knew that if I just went to adventure mom, and I said, Hey, can I have your password, she would think this is boring. And she would say, I’m not doing this. The good news is, my dad’s a detective. So I was able to know the problem solver profiles to decide first, since I’m a detective, and I think this is important, and I need the evidence, all these passwords. I decided I’d like the mini map. So this prevents mom from rejecting the outright. And I put both of them on the email, which means she also has to sync with my dad. When my mom said, Absolutely, we’re not doing this, my dad, the detective said, Judy, it’s about time, we should do this together. They’re both in their 80s. When I came over to actually get the passwords, my dad goes to his computer, and he opens up an Excel spreadsheet, my mom goes to a folder. It’s filled with little slips of paper, it has the same password, written over again with different passwords, meaning she’s changed it over time. And we have no idea which one is now you can see that this way, I am optimizing for a good relationship. And I still need to get the project completed. And so I’m also bringing in somebody else who approaches their decisions in a different way. So I’m thinking about the example you just gave about you and your husband, you may have wonderful ideas. And he then is thinking about what is possible and what is practical within those options. So that together, you can make better informed decisions and as you mentioned so beautifully he can help your dreams come true. So you can see how valuable it is to know the different profiles and how they can work well together.

Nicole: Yeah, and I think like with any of these different personality profiles that are out there, you know, embracing kind of the opposite or the different profile is a big part of success. So do you have like a business story where you saw the balance between one profile and another made a big win?

Cheryl: Over my colleague Emma at our company decisive, she’s an adventurer is so lucky for me, because we see things from very different vantage points. And what I find is even with the knowledge of the problem solver profiles, self awareness is a daily practice, it’s even more than a daily practice, it’s an hourly practice, because our day gets busy. And we tend to stay in our perspective, most of the time, working with somebody who fundamentally is going to keep reminding me to get out of the weeds, who is going to help make sure that we move through things, and that we stay on task means we get so much more done, than if it was just me staying in my own perspective. So I feel like not only is it a joy to work with somebody who is different from you, but I find now that when I meet new people, or when I’m in a conversation, I’m constantly listening for clues that will help me identify their problem solver profile. It’s like a little mystery. Because if I can identify the clues, from what questions they’re asking how they’re entering into a conversation, I can work to actually build a relationship. And that’s really, what makes it possible to solve problems.

Nicole: That’s fantastic. So let’s, let’s play with that for a second. So let’s work through the five profiles. What would be a couple clues? couple, two, three clues that would help us know, oh, I’m married to this, I work with that. This is my neighbor and my sister in law. Could you kind of share with us those little clues? 

Cheryl: Sure. First, I would say in problem solver, obviously, you’ll get a very, a much more complete answer of this. And I also have a dedicated cheat sheet. When you feel like you can’t ask somebody to take the problem solver profile. What are some questions that you can ask or what is some reflection? You can give? But I would say if somebody basically says, Well, what evidence do you have for that? You’re probably working with a detective. If they say, what are the options, that’s probably somebody who’s a thinker. If they say, Hey, I have an idea that we haven’t thought about, you’re generally with a visionary. If they say, I want to make sure that I bring my colleagues in on this, you might have a listener. And if we have somebody saying, I know what to do, here’s what I think is the best answer. And jumping to a solution right away, you’ve got an adventure, we have a couple of problem solver profiles that lean towards solution, that adventure. Additionally, we have a couple that lean back towards problem solving. And that’s your detective, your listener and your thinker.

Nicole: That is very helpful. All right. So you have amassed a dataset with 1000s of responses to your problem solving profile. So this isn’t something that you just dreamed up yesterday, people this is legit research stuff, right? So how do people kind of fall out in the report? How many people fall into this category in that category? What does your data show about the five different problem solver profiles?

Cheryl: So as of now, and we’re always getting new people taking the problem solver profile every day, the largest problem solver profile group that we have is the thinker. And there are also a lot of detectives. One of the things I think has been interesting in this conversation to call us right away, you said I’m an adventurer, you haven’t taken the quiz yet, right? The adventurer knows she’s an adventurer. And one of the things that I wonder about is does the adventurer basically say, I know, I don’t really need to take the quiz, or is it that I just haven’t found enough adventures that they have overtaken the thinkers yet? And so I think that I’m hoping that over time I get an answer to why the thinker is adjusted, they’re more likely to take a quiz to help them understand their decision making, because they think of their decisions as waiting.

Nicole: Yeah, and so I think that taking the assessment is gonna be an adventure. So I am totally up for that. And you’ll get a report how it came back for sure. Yeah, so um, let’s say I’m putting together a team. And I want to have the right mix of problem solvers, the right mix of PSP. So how do I figure out who I have on my team? What’s the ideal group?

Cheryl: So that’s a terrific question. Our former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, you Cisco said you go to war with the team you have, not the team you wish you had. And that’s what it is with the problem solver profiles, I find a lot of times I work with companies, and it looks diverse. And it sounds diverse. You’ve got people that come from different backgrounds, different languages. But that doesn’t mean that you have intellectual diversity. So even if you have a group that seems to be one dominant Problem Solver profile, this idea of learning all five means that you can still have all five sitting at the table by bringing in the questions. This morning, I ran a workshop for a group and one of the scenarios that I gave them, we were thinking about risk was which Problem Solver profiles would you put on this team to solve this particular problem. And it’s interesting, because very few people often think of putting the adventurer on one of these teams, they think of a visionary or listener or a detective, they are worried a little bit about thinkers and how long it might take them. And they’re worried about adventures, that they might go too fast. But the truth is that all fives have tremendous value, the adventurer is going to make sure that you’re synthesizing the information moving on, and that you are staying within your timeline. Just like the thinker is somebody who can really make sure that you understand the problem that you’re solving, before you get to the decision making. So there’s no perfect amalgamation. It is actually knowing all five and bringing in questions from the different vantage points to get a fulsome understanding.

Nicole: That’s fantastic. So like this expectation that you can learn all five, right? Get your cheat sheets out, let’s go people. All right, I love it. Okay, so you have a methodology. You talked about it earlier, that area, and it’s all capitals. So I’m guessing that that method, you could run through that and how it syncs with the problem solver profiles? How does your area method kind of dovetail with everything? Well, first,

Cheryl: I would say the problem solver plus all came out from what I’ve learned after publishing problems solved, which is about personal professional decision making. And after putting out investing and financial research, which is about financial and investment decisions, both of those books, go through my area method areas, an acronym for the steps of my process, that as I mentioned, uniquely focuses on checking and challenging cognitive biases so that we can expand our knowledge to improve our judgment. And what I realized when I put area out into the world, is it got a much wider adoption than I ever would have imagined. You know, everything from, as you mentioned, meditation groups, to, you know, high schools, to colleges, to multinational companies, and so on. And what I realized is that, although everybody can use this system, they use it as they are not as it is. And that begs the question, Who are we as decision makers, so students who were used to a comparative analysis, were very interested in literature reviews, which is the second step of area relative, and people in finance, who were very comfortable with numbers. They were very comfortable with the absolute phase of area, the first step, but didn’t necessarily see the value of doing the interviews in area exploration, the third step, whereas counterterrorism professionals were very comfortable with interviews and exploration, but didn’t think that they needed to get the lay of the land in the second step, because they already knew it. So by asking this question of who are you as a decision maker and coming up with this problem solver profile quiz, I thought it could give people immediately something about themselves, and what they’re good at and show them why they tend to gravitate towards certain kinds of information, and why they skip other pieces so that they can know where to lean into the discomfort to give them a more fulsome understanding of their decisions.

Nicole: Wow, that is fantastic. And so if we want to know more about the area method, we will buy your first book, which is problem solved.

Cheryl: And I have a TED talk on the topic too. But very quickly, the steps are absolute which is up close on the target of your decision are relative is sources related to the target of your decision, and then the ease in area get beyond document based sources and are the twin engines of creativity. One is about exploration. Identify Good people and asking them great questions. So it’s interviewing, giving you the difference between the map and the terrain of your decision. And then area exploitation turns the lens of inquiry on yourself as a decision maker, and gives you creative exercises, to test your assumptions against evidence. And then the final analysis will help you think about failure, strength, test your decision, and put the pieces back together. So you can come to conviction on your decision.

Nicole: That’s fantastic. So my guess is if people would slow down to learn all this and to work through your area method, they would have seriously positive outcomes. Maybe we would save money, make money, grow the business, you know, decide who to marry? I don’t know. So can you tell me like a success story of somebody who led a team or a group that slowed down, worked through the area method and knew what their PSP was, and made something fantastic happened, tell us a success story?

Cheryl: Well, there’s so many different kinds of stories. You know, one of them is in problem solver. And it’s about these two visionary leaders, the nonprofit that was trying to entrap child sex trafficking in India, and they wanted to use area. And at the same time by both being visionaries, they felt like they really couldn’t adhere to a consistent strategy. The problem that they were solving these thought was such an intractable difficult, ever changing problem, that they could never adhere to a strategy. Now, the truth of the matter is as visionaries, they were always coming up with new ideas. So what was right for their problem solver profiles, wasn’t actually right for their organizations, and for building a stable foundation, with a coherent strategy that all the people working for them could follow. Once we were able to work with their problem solver profiles, we then were able to run the idea of how they could approach this age old, intractable, horrible problem through area and settle on a strategy that would satisfy their need for something big and ambitious. And also something that was practical and actionable. Where they could consistently be able to collect the data so that they could also then convince other people to see the beautiful vision that they have, as well as the actual successes that they were having. So that they could raise money, convince governments to give them resources, and be able to rescue women and children who were trapped in this terrible system.

Nicole: Fantastic. Yeah. So don’t miss that everybody. This, this method, the area method and knowing your problem solver profile can set people free like don’t miss that. That’s fantastic. All right. So it is the top of the hour. And I know that there are some special listener going wait, she’s got more to share. I’m wondering if you’ve got like one more nugget. What other questions should I be asking you right now that I haven’t asked that will kind of help us see how powerful knowing your problem solver profile is, and working through the area method.

Cheryl: Thank you for asking. And thank you for this lovely conversation call. I would say that one of the core area methods skills, no matter what your problem solver profile is, that I think if you just wanted the entry point help you make every decision a little bit easier, is to not begin with the problem. Most of us begin with how am I going to solve this problem. And that means that you have something that is just open ended. And it doesn’t give you a place to start. So what area guides you to do is to invert that idea and begin instead with what I call a vision of success, which is a question that jumps beyond the decision, and basically says what has to happen in the outcome of the decision for you to know that you personally have made a successful decision. You don’t therefore have to know at all how you’re going to solve it. But each of us probably knows for us what success looks like after that decision. And in that vision of success that you’ve defined, which is usually only one or two sentences. Now you’ve probably have identified a few things that you need to deeply and creatively investigate, to help solve for what you’ve done. able to be a success. And through improving your decision making and using the problem solver profile and the area method. What I hope is that everybody feels a greater sense of agency, and therefore resiliency, that they can take on ever bigger challenges, because your decisions are truly the only thing that you ever really have control over. So if you can make them better, you can feel like you’re leading a more satisfying life.

Nicole: That last little bit was just so beautiful. Yeah. So it’s really the only thing you have control over. I love that. And so your company talks about being decisive. That’s the name right? So how can we get a hold of you? How can we work with you if we want to become more decisive and make big decisions even better? Where do we find you? How do we get connected?

Cheryl: Thank you. So my website is area method a r e a And if you come there, you’ll find my articles and my books, and the four things that we do, which is developing curriculum and offering professional development tech companies doing a variety of individual and small team coaching, writing articles, and books. So thank you so much for this opportunity today to talk about my area method and my new book problem solver. I hope that if your listeners have questions about decisions or teamwork that they will reach out to me. Yeah,

Nicole: I know they will be. Gosh, I am so grateful for you being on the Build a Vibrant Culture podcast. Hey, everybody, if you absolutely love this session, and you’re thinking, oh my gosh, I gotta go figure out my problem solver Pro. I gotta check out this area method. And we’ve provided a lot of incredible content. Will you do me just this very small favor, go down and hit the like button, and then maybe even leave a very nice little note for Cheryl about what she shared with you in the comments, we would really appreciate it. And if you would come back and listen to another episode of Build a Vibrant Culture. With me, your host, Nicole Greer. I’d be very grateful. Thank you so much, Cheryl, for being on the podcast.

Cheryl: Thank you, Nicole. This has been lovely. 

Voiceover: Ready to build your vibrant culture? Bring Nicole Greer to speak to your leadership team, conference or organization to help them with their strategies, systems and smarts to increase clarity, accountability, energy and results. Your organization will get lit from within. Email And be sure to check out Nicole’s TEDx talk at

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