In 2000, Don Clifton and I wrote Now, Discover Your Strengths, which introduced the world to the Strengthsfinder Assessment.

About a decade later, and in honor of the late Don Clifton who, next to my father, was the wisest, most influential figure in my life, I wrote another book that introduced the world to the next-generation Strengths assessment: StandOut.  Over 10 million people have taken these assessments which makes me, as a researcher who is so passionate about changing the world of work through identifying and leveraging an individual’s unique strengths, super proud.

And now about a decade later (older, grayer, and I’d like to think wiser) I am finally doing something I’ve wanted to do for a very long time: Bring strengths to students, parents & teachers. Help us create an assessment for students to understand and leverage their strengths. Click To Tweet

So I decided to design a psychometric instrument – a strengths assessment – for students between the ages of 13 and 18 to help them discover, name, and then apply their unique strengths. I’m taking the existing StandOut assessment and rewriting it to make it specific and applicable to a student’s experience. And thanks to my industrious Director of Researcher, Dr. Mary Hayes, we’ve been able to complete the first phase of this project over the holidays.

Now – and this is where I need your help – I need about a thousand students to take this new assessment by February 29th so we can validate it against the original. Once the assessment is final and validated, we will put it into a mobile technology platform with the help of the ADP Research Institute and give it away to students around the world.

I want to start there: to give students valuable data on themselves and their strengths, then help them make sense of that data and how they can individually apply it in school and in life. Too many students leave school without any sense of what they can give the world – and I want every young person to know they have something unique to contribute.

StandOut Student is underway, and I’m looking for people to join me on the ground floor. We will build up together.


I should probably mention – the first 100 people to sign up will be invited to exclusive events with me to discuss making change in this space.  Hope to see you there.

For my fellow data geeks, you can read about our Psychometric Process and Technical Whitepaper here.


  1. Melody February 6, 2020 at 6:11 AM - Reply

    I’m excited about this opportunity! Would you recommend college students take StandOut or StandOut Student?

    • Meredith Bohling February 6, 2020 at 11:48 AM - Reply

      Hi Melody! Currently the StandOut Student assessment has been designed with classroom-specific scenarios, and targeted for young adults who do not have a long tenure of work experience. If your student has been working, it might be better to take the original StandOut assessment that is targeted at the working population. Hope that helps!

  2. Andi Dickens February 6, 2020 at 6:28 AM - Reply

    I have been discussing StandOut and Strengths with people for a number of years, especially fellow parents and educators within my personal network There is such a hunger for this work. Thank you for bringing this to the world. I am excited to see where it goes. Off now to forward the good news!

  3. Joe Holloway February 6, 2020 at 7:33 AM - Reply

    Signed up, received the link for the assessment to give out…I am assuming it is a multiple use link/code? I have set into motion for a few groups to take the assessment, and do hope there will be some tools I can use to help the students once completed. Focusing on youth groups at church to help support parents. I look forward to this as a way to work with our youth as my contribution to their growth personally and in leadership impact.

    • Meredith Bohling February 6, 2020 at 7:59 AM - Reply

      Hi Joe! Yes, it is a multi-use code. Someone from the StandOut Student Research Team will reach out to you about sending it to groups. Thank you!

  4. Teany Hidalgo February 6, 2020 at 8:28 AM - Reply

    I wish my son was old enough to take this. He’s 9, but on that note I do believe we can do something for the even younger population of kids to uplift them and help them see what amazing qualities they have now! Really passionate about that Marcus!

    • Daisy Tse February 13, 2020 at 7:56 AM - Reply

      I am a certified StandOut debrief practitioner for a number of years now. I know your work has helped so many leaders. I truly believe the StandOut student work will make a significant impact and help our kids be better people because they are empowered to be at their best everyday!

      Thank you for your generosity.

  5. Lynn February 6, 2020 at 8:44 AM - Reply

    I took the Standout Assessment a couple of years ago on the advice of my former career coach and I was blown away. I was always trying to come up with one sentence that described me and this assessment nailed it. It answered so many questions I have had about my career over the years and made sense of why I do the things I do. I am SO excited that this assessment is underway for teens as one of my goals is to work with teens and young adults when I am able to retire and put all my efforts towards this.

  6. Chris Jachimowicz February 6, 2020 at 10:28 AM - Reply

    I think this is a great idea, however if it doesn’t occur hand-in-hand with training school staff and parents how to leverage the results of the tool with the students, it will be less effective than it should be. My criticism of the Gallup Strengths for Students initiative is somewhat similar: there was no real content or structure provided to strengths advocates to work with groups of students. Most of what has worked has been created by enterprising individuals like Ken Barr Jr., Robin Stubblefield, and Craig Benson.

  7. Nathanael Small February 6, 2020 at 6:29 PM - Reply

    Just curious – will this be a new ADP offering, or something that’s running independently

    • Meredith Bohling February 7, 2020 at 6:31 AM - Reply

      Hi Nathanael – the research is being done with the ADP Research Institute, but it is not an ADP product.

      • Marvin Ferguson February 7, 2020 at 4:46 PM

        I just referred to my Standout this past week as a reminder of who I was created to be: powerful stuff
        Thank you Marcus for all your hard work

  8. Jose Miguel Longo February 7, 2020 at 6:15 AM - Reply

    Hello there!

    I am a Strengths Finder or StrengthsQuest Coach (not sure which one is preferred anymore)..lol

    But I have been coaching students, staff and faculty use the tools since 2011. I have impacted so many lives and want to continue to do this work.

    I am working on starting a career and life coaching business. I have 3 sets of populations I am looking to serve pre-college (14-18) post-college (21-25) and then career transitioners (30-62).

    Focusing on this new assessment that Mark created with Mary, is there a way to use this tool as part of my coaching business to help students and parents in understanding their student’s strengths and helping them explore college major, career options and even considering if college is a good fit?

    To use this assessment, since I am already a certified coach would it be available to me for use?
    How can I help in the process?

    Oh I thought I would also mentioned that my day job is as a Director of Career Service at SUNy Polytechnic Institute.

    • Meredith Bohling February 14, 2020 at 8:48 AM - Reply

      Hi Jose! Thank you so much for your question! Right now we are still testing and validating the assessment, so it is not ready to be deployed in any official capacity. But I hope you sign up to be an ambassador so you can stay connected and learn any new developments.

  9. Daniel Tiriteu February 7, 2020 at 10:09 PM - Reply

    Is the StandOut Student research open for input from students in other countries (i.e. Romania) or only from US?
    Thank you,

    • Meredith Bohling February 10, 2020 at 9:57 AM - Reply

      Hi Daniel – thank you for your interest! At this time the StandOut Student Assessment is only available in English. If students in other countries feel comfortable with the English language they are welcome to take the assessment. We are looking for a diverse sample and would welcome individuals in other countries!

  10. Mellani February 10, 2020 at 11:18 AM - Reply

    Both of my sons took it this weekend.
    Thank you!

    • Meredith Bohling February 11, 2020 at 8:54 AM - Reply

      Amazing, thank you!

  11. Jose Miguel February 14, 2020 at 6:21 AM - Reply


    I am still waiting for a response on my comment above.

    Thank you!

  12. Daniella Cunha Teichert February 23, 2020 at 8:40 AM - Reply

    my daughter just took it. I find this initiative excellent and am really forward to us this in schools in Germany to help kids feel empowered. I would love to join as an ambassador, as I have just recently initiated the MIT #ULAB Team #Transform2GrowUth and we talked about how to make kids aware of their strengths at an earlier date, so they are reach their highest future possibilities and do not succumb to a traditional school system that doesn’t appreciate their strengths.
    I am looking forward to hearing from you!

  13. Jose Miguel Longo February 29, 2020 at 6:19 PM - Reply

    Hi Meredith!

    Thanks for your response. How do I sign up to be an ambassador? I can’t wait to be part of this.

  14. Renee Hollis March 3, 2020 at 1:12 PM - Reply

    I absolutely LOVE the idea of starting this process young, and I think it is the perfect way to help young teens see themselves in a positive light. My son will be 13 at the end of March. I hope there is another opportunity for him to complete the survey.

    • Meredith Bohling March 3, 2020 at 2:25 PM - Reply

      Thank you, Renee! There will be – even though the test assessment is closed, that’s because we are working on creating a validated final assessment. Your son will be able to take it before the end of the year!

  15. Maren M. March 24, 2020 at 9:04 AM - Reply

    I love this idea. Have you thought about what this could look like for a younger group, maybe first grade (six or seven years old)? Thank you for the work you’re doing!

  16. Jessie-Lynn MacDonald May 25, 2020 at 6:04 PM - Reply

    Just signed up. I hope it’s not too late. I look forward to seeing what comes of this. This is very much in line with the work I do with children.

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