Story Of Origin | A Better World With Character Strengths

Story Of Origin | A Better World With Character Strengths

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Creating a better world with character strengths

Our mission is to educate leaders and teams about the importance of character strengths as the primary driver to accelerate ethical innovation. We believe that practicing character growth is the only way to improve or solve the most complex problems of our time.

2021 - Growth Mindset

We decided that it is time to search for a strategic partner or seek funding to expand. Started marketing, SEO, PR, social media, and podcasting for the first time. Launched a new Academy for Laser Coaching and rebuilt our entire website to meet the new demand.

2020 - Over 100,000 users

Tilt approached COVID head on, helping clients in unprecedented ways and re-inventing the way we do business. Growth continued and we were fortunate to continue to have a year of growth. This success included hiring Sam Getty to assist with creating a marketing plan and process for growth. Changes included transitioning to a complete virtual experience for clients, launching an updated website, learning platform, and blogging site. Also named on the watch list for the first time.

2019 - The Shift

In addition to being named in the top 20 again for a third year in a row, we began a strategic shift to train an enterprise sales force consisting of 80+ consultants. 

2018 - Named top 20 again

Tilt completed the pivot to enterprise teams and this success enabled Pam to build the Tilt 365 Team Agility Profile and accompanying Team Climate Profile for intact teams. Tilt hired an award-winning learning design consultant to build a series of workshops - one each for the True Tilt Profile, the Positive Influence Predictor, and the Team Agility Profile. The Tilt Master Consultant and Tilt Practitioner communities thrived. Pam continued to keynote at industry conferences, and people began to grok that Tilt is better than a personality assessment. They started referring to Tilt as “DiSC on steroids” and “the next MBTI.” Part-time research consultant Amanda Young, whose work ensures Tilt’s continued scientific validity, finished her PhD and joined Tilt as the full-time Chief Science Officer. As Tilt’s new technology enabled enterprises to help themselves to the broad range of products, the client list continued to grow. The ability to scale growth enabled Tilt to start looking towards a growth mindset. The investment in the True Tilt Profile paid off as it surpassed sales of the first product (Tilt 365 Positive Influence Predictor) and moved toward exponential growth. Overall, the team beat their goals for the year to achieve 25% YoY growth. At the end of 2018, Tilt 365 was named to the Top 20 Assessment and Evaluation Companies of 2018 by Training Industry - the second year in a row for this honor, and Tilt’s future is bright.

2017 - The pivot is complete

As Tilt rounded the corner and began implementing the new strategy, the brand also needed to evolve. Teams needed a playful way to grow a culture where people can learn to laugh at their humanness and thus be more open to looking honestly at themselves. Another lucky break enabled Tilt to hire talented creative director and artist Bob Ostrom, who has produced work for companies like Nickelodeon, Disney and Bob helped Tilt 365 create a compelling brand image to grow awareness while using fewer words to accelerate openness and learning in teams. This decision put Tilt’s brand on the map and it began to get noticed everywhere. Tilt 365 also had to build technology that would scale. Fortunately for Tilt, John Crichton had recently sold his last company and was looking for something new. This was yet another lucky break for Tilt, as he and the team gelled immediately and he had a team of experts who could re-build a scalable version of the product. The team decided to build the new platform on open source software to enable working with large enterprise accounts. Tilt 365’s new investments paid off when Tilt was named to the list of Top 20 Assessment and Evaluation Companies of 2017 by Training Industry.

2015 - A new CEO and strategy

As often happens in startups, Pam was becoming exhausted from years of research on top of work. She and the team decided to hire a new CEO, Dr. Jeff Smith, to run the business, conduct research with key stakeholders, and form a fresh strategy. Tilt had also decided not to take further funding to maintain the integrity of the research, we realized we could not count on channel partners alone to grow our revenue. After a year of research, we determined that Tilt should pivot from the then-current focus of executive coaches to teams in enterprise organizations. This made business sense, but going directly into organizations would required a lot of re-work and re-investment. Jeff recommended that Pam step back into the CEO role after a year of regaining her physical well being and the pivot began. Clients expanded, and Tilt remained profitable enough to keep going.

2014 - More lessons in startup land

Tilt began to expand the team too quickly, ran low on cash-flow, and had a setback that forced the leadership team to make some hard decisions. They reduced the team to survive and recover. Selling a complex product proved challenging with such a small team and limited resources. The advisory board decided to sell the intellectual property and MVP to a bigger player in consulting to bring it to the world. When a great company came to the table and Pam thought the company would be in good hands, but it fell through at the last minute. The team was disappointed but pushed ahead, and Pam began building out the content for a new product that would change everything in the years to come. Facebook had told Tilt that their users needed a simple self-assessment. They needed to “start in the shallow end of the pool before diving into the rich depth of Tilt 365.” Pam had resisted building yet another personality assessment that would add to type bias. She believed we are more complex than that and can develop holistically in head, heart, gut and spirit. However, listening to key customers paid off, because she re-designed the content in a new self-assessment product that was more inclusive and enabled whole-person development in all four dimensions of the framework. Instead of saying “you’re a type,” which she did not advocate, she introduced the concept of Tilting to context. The True Tilt Profile launched in late 2015 using unique, growth-minded language.

2013 - An angel comes

In the fall of 2012, Tilt Inc, accepted a first round of angel funding from investor David Gardner of Co-Founders Capital in Cary, NC. Tilt was also awarded a NC Idea nomination and hired a team of technology engineers to build the MVP for Tilt 365, a real-time feedback tool for expanding Positive Influence. For the first time, Tilt could build the technology to replicate Aristotle’s Golden Mean Scale and collect data on a user experience (UX) platform that increased the scientific data collection process further. Dr Steven Toaddy joined the team as its Science Officer and worked with Pam to improve items, scales, content, and UX.

2010 - Facebook chooses Tilt 360

Another lucky break came when a coach colleague, Maggie Hensle, introduced two senior global L & D leaders at Facebook, Stuart Crabb and Bill McLawhon to Tilt 360. They were considering numerous assessments and commissioned a study by Dr. Phil Wilson to select the best assessment for their people development needs. Facebook selected Tilt 360 and became the first client on the west coast. Tilt 360 used an early certification curriculum to teach both internal and external coaches and HR partners over the next year. At one all-hands meeting, Bill surveyed the entire Facebook team, asking them how many had been touched by the Tilt 360 lessons. He reported that more than half of the employees raised their hands. As a result of this, Pam was introduced to Michelle Gale, a coaching leader at Twitter. Through Michelle’s influence, Pam was invited to be a keynote speaker at one of the first Wisdom 2.0 conferences. Michelle would later to leave Twitter and join the Tilt team. As a partner, she helped Tilt get accepted into a startup accelerator that funded their own technology development.

2009 - Life lessons and a book

Launching Tilt taught Pam some important lessons the hard way. Running a huge organization of hotels proved simple compared to the challenges of being an entrepreneur. Looking back, it was clear that every lesson learned helped Pam to examine another level of complexity under the Tilt framework. With every challenge, Pam dug into another course of study. Prior to 1993 she had studied and used many bodies of work to shape her leadership theories. MBTI, Transactional Analysis, Attachment Theory, Enneagram, Psychology of Self-Esteem, Psychology of Flow, Appreciative Inquiry, Happiness Hypothesis, Aristotle, Trait Theory, Leadership Theories by numerous icons and much more. In short, Pam was a lifelong learner seeking answers to the questions many of us have about how to achieve our greatest potential. In 2009 a partnership conflict threw her into a state of depression. To overcome it, she decided to test her theories in character development: She felt hopeless, so she needed to take action and do something that would drive inner self-respect - something challenging. She resigned from several board positions, stopped coaching for a summer, and devoted 100% of her time to writing a novel about character development. She told the stories of four executives on a quest for success. The act of writing the book gave Pam an opportunity for the creative healing and ultimate sense of accomplishment that helped her bounce back to work. She built new curriculum to teach other coaches about the Tilt model and approach, and launched Tilt Academy. Her husband, Dan, decided to leave his corporate career to join Tilt full time and support its internal stability. The business had begun to to show real promise as both partners made full time commitments to its success.

2008 - Thesis published

Once Pam’s research was complete and her thesis published, it was time to fully launch Tilt Inc. She set to work on building the proof of concept for the first assessment, a multi-rater feedback tool measuring the 12 character strengths of Tilt. In the midst of this work, the collapse of financial institutions cracked the foundation of business and industry around the world. Given that Pam had now spent over a decade testing her theory that character is at the core of business success, it was clear to her that lack of character was at the core of this crisis. But the world was not ready to admit it just yet.

2006 - A first client

Pam’s business continued to grow while she attended graduate school at NCSU to conduct quantitative research on the Tilt framework. Over a period of 3 years, she refined the traits and models and uploaded the first electronic version of Tilt 360 to an existing software platform. With the support of the Chairman of the Industrial/Organizational Psychology Department, Dr. Bart Craig, she conducted the empirical testing to confirm that the scientific validity of the Tilt model. She also confirmed that, when leaders are balanced in the metrics of the Tilt model, it correlates to 9 conditions of team-level climate that produce creativity and innovation. These surprising early results encouraged Pam to consider commercializing Tilt. Her first lucky break came before she even finished her degree. A professor in the MBA school at NCSU learned of her research and introduced it to Red Hat Inc.’s Chief of People, DeLisa Alexander. DeLisa was the first early adopter of Tilt 360, using it in a leadership development program intensive. She later introduced Tilt 360 to the senior team and CEO, and Red Hat has remained one of Tilt’s most loyal clients for a decade.

2005 - First modern research source

During a lunchtime conversation about her character strengths model one day, a colleague told Pam about a body of academic work being done on the topic. Pam then used Peterson and Seligman’s research, published as the book “Character Strengths and Virtues,” to establish 13 of the 16 categories on which she conducted criteria testing for the traits in the final Tilt model. This was a watershed moment, as Pam discovered that her ideas had even more merit than she had originally thought.

2003 - First proof of concept

Even though the coaching industry was an unproven business model at this point, Pam used her years of business experience to launch a six figure business in year one. Executive Suite Coaching, Inc., was a testing ground for Pam’s character strengths model. As she used it to help her clients thrive, her coaching business grew.

2001 - The rewards of character

As Pam continued to nurture her personal life and develop new character strengths, she found the courage to take on many new adventures. One such adventure landed her as crew on a sailboat in the Caribbean. During this vacation adventure,she met her future husband and business partner, Dan. A year later on they were engaged on another sailing cruise and six months after that they married. The newlyweds spent any free time on adventures and their professional time accomplishing a ‘bucket list’ of professional goals.

2000 - The big leap

After Pam’s employer went through two mergers and many changes, she decided to make a career change and followed her intuition that the Virtues Project was her ultimate creative purpose. In 2000, Pam gathered her courage and launched her own business in executive coaching. She continued to test her theories of character development with clients to see if the skills were transferable and actionable by others. She had seen with her own eyes that an investment in character development shapes our outcomes in positive ways, but wanted to see if her clients could be transformed by the concepts as well.

1998 - The model changes form

From the Virtues Project onward Pam had continued to use the list of virtues and the corresponding lists of the overuse and underdeveloped of each virtue. Over the years, she noticed certain patterns. As a result, she organized the traits, or virtues into a two-dimensional circumplex of character strengths that hold each other in an ideal balance. This evolved the Virtues Project into a leadership framework of 12 character strengths supported by a collection of character traits that would later be tested empirically. This early framework has held together for 20 years with few changes.

1997 - Influence Expands

As Pam continued to develop herself, she began coaching others in her organization. Having settled things in her personal life, she returned to her VP role and began to replicate the Virtues Project in numerous hotels. Pam created an agile culture of empowered leaders where everyone worked on continuous habit change. She coached her people to recognize when they were triggered and to resolve it swiftly so everyone could thrive. The business results continued to validate her theory that, when people feel the right balance of support and challenge, they perform at high levels.

1996 - Work/life balance

Between 1996 and 1998, Pam continued to work on changing her own habits and collect data on virtues and vices. As her professional life continued to soar, a divorce caused her to look at her personal life more closely. She had taught her team how to live a more balanced life but had not accomplished the same thing for herself. Struggling with self-esteem issues and reeling from the divorce, she decided to make some bold changes that would alter her life’s trajectory. She stepped down from senior leadership, returned to a role that didn’t require travel, and slowly repaired her personal life. She focused on her daughter’s well being and built a richer life outside of work. More importantly, she learned how to nurture herself and heal the part of herself that made her work too much.

1995 - A bold choice for ethics

In 1995, Pam’s employer implemented a new plan to cut operating costs. However, this plan would also counter one of the 7 habits Pam’s team had learned over the prior year. With courage and intention, Pam and her local team decided to continue the habit they thought was important while doing their best to cut extraneous costs for the sake of the company. Even though they knew that it could result in no bonus that year, Pam’s team and several others chose to stick to their ethics. At the end of the year, these ‘ethical teams’ out-performed all others and earned an award for being the top few hotels in the world for their brand. Even though they didn’t get a bonus that year, their influence expanded, and after the company’s worldwide conference Pam was promoted to Vice President of Operations for her region.

1994 - Habits of change

Pam became interested in not only observing one’s ‘virtues and vices,’ but also how to change her own common patterns. In “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” Steven Covey made a key distinction between personality and character, and explained why one’s character is shaped by one’s common habits. She also learned how Benjamin Franklin broke some of his worst habits and turned them into some of his best ones, one at a time. Pam used this method to change her own habits, but also taught others how to whittle away at their habits over time.

1993 - The virtues project is born

Pam started researching modern literature on leadership and team dynamics to see if others had noticed this phenomenon. After an exhaustive search and finding few answers, she dug into ancient philosophy and identified a very useful concept in Aristotle’s Golden Mean. He described the Golden Mean as the desirable middle between two extremes of behavior. Aristotle observed that this desirable middle (virtues) can become vices when used to extremes. For example, the virtue of courage would be recklessness if overused and cowardice if underdeveloped. Pam began The Virtues Project and continued her research over the next decade. She used her observations of traits in herself and others to compile a list of positive traits, or virtues and two corresponding lists: One describing the lack of each trait or virtue and one describing the over-use of each trait or virtue. She used the lists to collect data, and used that data to give her team feedback and coaching her team. More importantly, she used the list to observe and reflect on her own habits of behavior. She was one of the first pioneers of data collection on personal traits that influence others, whether positively or negatively.

1991 - The first insight

The idea for Tilt 365 originated in the early 90s. While Tilt’s founder, Pam Boney, was an operations leader in the hospitality industry, she became interested in a phenomenon she observed in her teams. She noticed that attention to work stopped immediately when certain ego-fears were triggered. For example, if someone was left out of a key meeting, their ego-fears plagued them with doubts about approval, status, power and attention. These questions distracted them from the work itself and they became consumed with finding answers about where they stood in ‘the system.’ What if. This observation led Pam to wonder what might be possible in a climate where ego-fear could be reduced by teaching methods to manage oneself when triggered. Would more energy and effort flow into work that served everyone, including the mission of the enterprise? She wondered if anyone in the academic leadership domain was measuring this. And further, if it wasn’t being measured as a part of job performance, why would anyone pay attention to it? Data collection begins. As Pam recorded observations of human actions and reactions, she was fascinated with how quickly human ego-fears hijacked energy and increased the frequency of extreme and distorted behaviors. The fear-frenzy would spread and much energy was lost by everyone until the emotions surrounding the fear instincts naturally subsided with time when an equilibrium could be re-established.

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