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Risk-Taking Entrepreneurs, Investment, and Personality Type


Risk-Taking Entrepreneurs, Investment, and Personality Type

Had a super educational event yesterday! Ted Pearlman invited me to provide the Type perspective during a presentation by Larry Swedroe about investment to the many freelancers and entrepreneurs at studiomates

Here's what I learned about investing:

  • Never buy variable annuities 
  • Investing in the stock market is never safe
  • Only work with registered advisors who provide a fiduciary standard of care
  • Ask them what advice they gave 10 years ago, and if they invest in the same funds they're trying to sell you
  • Make a will and get a durable power of attorney
  • Be clear on what money represents to you and your family (this is where working with a Type coach comes in handy!)
  • Buy when others are fearful, sell when others are greedy
  • Make a plan and stick with it - no need to pay attention to indices or forecasts
  • Review the plan when underlying assumptions change

In the end, we didn't have time to present on how Type influences risk-taking or decision-making. But you know what? That's ok, because I got to spend a whole week with a group of smart creatives in their space, talking Type 1:1 with some of them. Plus, I prepared some quick&dirty handouts available on Ted's blog. 

I love sharing how Type awareness really has a lot to offer to everyone who is open to learning more about themselves, and the studiomates were great participants. The process of finding your core preferences may be challenging, because really, when was the last time someone asked you how you communicate, which roles you are naturally drawn to, or whether you tend to focus on outcome or process? Thankfully, the consensus was that the effort of self-analysis is worth it in the end, because the knowledge you gain opens you up to a new way of looking at - everything. 


Books by investment expert, Larry Swedroe

Books by my Type Guru, Linda Berens, Ph.D. 

Image by Tax Credit, Creative Commons, flickr



How Type and Culture interact

expats_MBTI overlay images

expats_MBTI overlay images

We come into the world born with a pre-disposition to use our brains in certain ways. We go out to seek interactions and experiences that allow us to shine and use our preferred functions, reinforcing their strength and our aptitude in using them. At the same time, our surroundings influence how we express our preferences. Depending on when and where we grow up, society’s and our family’s feedback may encourage or suppress development of our natural preferences.

Different cultures developed as a response to outside threats to ensure survival of the species. Today, cultural behavior is driven by values.

The introverted Feeling (Fi) function gives meaning to values. The position of Fi in our type code gives clues as to how conscious we are of our values preferences. An exploration of our own values is the first step to understanding our cultural preferences. In turn, we can begin to understand how and why people from other cultures behave differently.

For expats, international assignments are tremendous change processes. Temperament™ / Essential Motivators™ information helps expats to prepare and adapt to un-expected changes. The fourth function provides insight into potential stress triggers, while the third can be applied to reduce stress and being playful, enjoying one’s time abroad.

In my experience, especially with German clients, we have to pay particular attention to the verbiage of competence and experience. For Germans, these words – as well as education, knowledge, and mastery – are anchored in cultural beliefs. It is therefore common when discussing Theorist™ descriptors for Germans of all types to be drawn to the NT profile.

When working with international clients, it is important to verify their personality types through their cultural lenses. The practitioner or coach should ideally be aware of their own cultural programming and personality type preferences to reduce projection and misinterpretation, as well as have a basic understanding of the cultural values and beliefs in the client’s home country.



Type and Culture Model

Do you believe people can change? Or do we come into the world and go out the same?

I'm fascinated by how these paradoxes show up in everyday lives. While I love having one-on-one conversations, I also try to extrapolate patterns and apply meaning for larger groups.

For example, when I look at my friends and family, I see many of them how they have always been. They grew up to be who they were meant to be. When I look at myself, I think I have changed a LOT since I was a child, and yet those same friends and family tell me I'm just the same as always.

Who's right?

One way of reconciling the different selves is Linda Berens' model that I've adapted with her permission.

Nature and Nurture Model - Living Systems are integral wholes

Going counter-clockwise, the Contextual Self describes those skills and behaviors that you're using now. You're a person in the 21st Century, familiar with IT, sitting in front of a screen reading this article. If you were praying in church or drinking at a bar, your demeanors and behaviors would likely be different and adapt to those circumstances.

Your Developed Self is the totality of everything you have been and learned so far.

It's helpful if we see ourselves with a "yes, and" attitude. We're never just one or two traits alone, we're always a conglomeration and mixture of things. No need to be "in control" or "organized" or "the caretaker" exclusively all the time - when you're also feeling spontaneous, overwhelmed, or tired at the same time.

Our Core Self describes those personality type preferences and predispositions we come into the world with. In an ideal environment, we get to be who we are and live out our preferences, develop them to the fullest, become all that we were meant to be, realizing our potential.

At the same time, our cultural context also lays down some behavioral norms. Where we grow up matters: the actions and behaviors accepted and morally supported by our surroundings will shape the expression of our type preferences.

It's no wonder the question became "which came first: type or culture?" and more importantly, "which matters more?"

I believe type comes first, AND that culture has an equally important influence in the shaping of our character, our behaviors, our selves. If culture came first, we could probably expect most inhabitants of that culture to have the same type preferences. That is clearly not the case, as all preferences show up in all cultures.

So - when I look at my friends and family, I see my past experiences with them, filtered through my own preferences and what I think is right or weird. When they see me, it's the same deal: they see me through their various lenses.

Type and culture alone don't explain everything about us, but taken together they provide a more complete picture. And I don't know about you, but I think that's fascinating.



Personality Type and Graphology

From At our recent DFW APTi chapter meeting, we welcomed Karla Garrett to help shine a light into how our Jungian functions come out in our handwriting.

According to Karla, our writing reveals information about our emotional foundation, communications, mental processing, and fear or defense mechanisms.

Letters with a circle in them, like o's or a's reveal communications. If the loops are open, the person is likely to be open and easily share personal information. If the loops are closed, the person is likely to communicate more easily about business than personal matters. Twisted circles may indicate deliberate deceit, and intrusions into the circles may indicate past abuse. For people with a violent streak, the brain will cause the pen to stop and the ink to blot. Looking at the e's in your writing will indicate your listening skills - narrow e's may indicate restricted hearing, while open e's may indicate you're a good listener.

Mental processing can be glanced from m's and n's. Rounded tops show slow, methodical, cumulative thinking. Pointed tops would indicate curious, investigative thinkers. Rounded bottoms of m-connections would indicate a comprehensive, intuitive thinker. In combination, this may mean that someone who writes closed a's and round m's is slower to speak and may be processing.

Punctuation, particularly the way you cross your t's also holds information. Crossing your t at about 3/4 height shows you set practical goals. If your cross is lower to the base, you may lack confidence. Crossing the t right at the top shows you're shooting for high goals and may actually be chronically disappointed. Someone who crosses their t above without a connection to the letter is likely an inventor or idealist (not in the temperament sense).

ISTJFor example, someone with ISTJ preferences is generally described as objective, dependable, orderly, thorough, reliable, and realistic. This will likely be demonstrated in their writing by a steady baseline, regular size of writing, and measured consistency. Margins in their documents will be organized, and punctuation will be precise. Letters with an upper and lower loop, like the f will likely show even-sized loops.

The upper loop indicates mental processing, the lower zone indicates action. Since all Types have balanced functions in terms of judging-perceiving as well as introverted-extraverted, we might expect all Types to have equal loops. We haven't discussed it in the meeting, but one guess would be that dominant perceiving functions' upper loops would be more pronounced, and lower loops would be more pronounced for people with dominant judging functions.

When we sent out the invitations to this event, some people criticized the premise of graphology as unscientific and not trustworthy. Personally, I like to keep an open mind. Sure, evidence may be anecdotal and it may not fit for everybody. It certainly depends on where you learned to write, e.g. in Germany, our capital I's, all r's, and small f's are simply different. And let's not forget children now don't even really learn how to write cursive anymore. Does that mean their personalities will develop differently? I don't know. Limiting our understanding of ourselves to any one model is never going to give us a complete picture though. I like my input from various sources before I decide whether I believe it or how I'll continue to use it.

If you'd like to learn more, here's a more detailed article on Type and Graphology. I'll also post our chapter's findings for those who were at the meeting over the next few days.


Personality Type and Your Brain


Personality Type and Your Brain

Dario Nardi, Ph.D., is an author and award-winning UCLA professor. Since 2005, he has been strapping EEG caps on his willing students to study real-time brain activity. He discovered that people of different personality type use their brains in fundamentally different ways. In particular, he found correlations to the eight Jungian functions. For example, the electrical activity pattern of someone with dominant extraverted Intuiting preferences - at least on his EEG reader - resembles the twinkling lights on a Christmas tree. All modules are firing at the same time, quick connections established, inferences made, new ideas found.

I'm certified to share his program and would be delighted to bring a presentation or workshop to your company or community, but for now, let's hear it from the horse's mouth. Here's a video of Dario at Google:

Image by ngorongoro45, Flickr, Creative Commons License.



Bringing you all the way home, Part 2

Part II of my interview with Jim Peak, co-author of Introduction to Type and Reintegration --

Jim Peak: Another thing that got me thinking more about Type and reintegration was Ken Burns' documentary "The War". They highlighted a couple of WWII soldiers from Alabama and Minnesota, which of course I had ties to. The last segment was about coming home, and throughout the documentary you had gotten to know these people, and the actual soldiers themselves talked about how tough it was coming back, "but so-and-so had a much harder time adjusting." You could see that these two people had completely different Types. Now I'm guessing, but I could imagine they were ISTJ and INFP, a more sensitive guy who liked to write and express things that way. Just that made me realize, hey, if I can pick that up, obviously it can relate to how a person can adjust and try to get back to normal.

That was an incentive for me to do some research into Type and military, and all I could find were case studies on PTSD. But what I was looking for were stories from people more like me: not really engaged in the horrors of combat, but still going through a huge, intense experience, that you still had to readjust no matter what. The chaplain and I would talk, and he said that the vast majority never really sees combat, but they're still affected. We really need something that can help the 90 to 95 % who don't fall into the PTSD category.

Doris: So you set out to create something that could also help other people working in war zones, like the NGOs, aid workers, missionaries...

JP: That's right. They also go through the same stuff trying to readjust to life in the US when they're coming back. One of the things I really like about using MBTI is that it's something stand-alone, not a unique military-endorsed program, but already very well-established, popular, and reliable. If people really understood it as such, my hope was they'd take the time to look at it again and be open and think this really could be useful.

D: How did you find participants for the book?

JP: For the research, I started asking questions, sending emails to members of my local Association of Psychological Type International (APTi) Chapter, and getting in touch with CPP and the Center for Application of Psychological Type (CAPT). Some of my contacts happened to have been in the military or military brats, so they were very familiar with the challenges and really encouraged me to go ahead and write it up. Sandra (Krebs) Hirsh eventually put me in contact with her daughters, Katherine and Elizabeth. We met a few times for coffee, and the more we talked, we started to prepare a proposal, look at some numbers, and decided to go for it. We split up the work, they wrote the bulk of the Type information, I've added to the intro and case studies, and we went back and forth for a bit. I had lots of colleagues and friends to bounce ideas off of, we still have people out in the field, some people coming back from Afghanistan in July... Writing is not as easy as I thought!

D: Welcome to the club! How long did it take from inception to completion?

JP: I think we got the final go-ahead in August, and the first draft was ready in January, and then published in May.

D: That's your second anniversary this year then, congratulations. Any one story that stands out in your mind?

JP: What we found is that ISTJ just "soldier on", so to speak. They come back home, file that experience away, and don't look at it again. Or I know one guy who's an ISTJ, and he just signed up for multiple tours, and kept going back and deployed over and over. He probably spent more time in Iraq and Afghanistan than any other guy I know. He just fit into the framework over there and was content.

D: That probably goes to the SJ temperament need for belonging and structure, it helps to know who you are and where you fit in. You belong to a group, there's a camaraderie and you trust them with your life. And these shared intense experiences create strong bonds.

JP: Indeed. Another contractor and I left Iraq on a C-130 aircraft, a military plane, and we flew out with a young soldier who had been killed that day. His body bag was in the back of the plane with us, and that was just such an emotional way to leave the country. Realizing that the young soldiers who were helping us out there, keeping us safe, were in danger and we had no idea who that person was. About five years later I realized that both the contractor and I ended up both doing some research independently to find out who that was. We found that he died due to an accidental discharge, it wasn't hostile fire, but he was dead just the same. He was from a town in Wisconsin about 100 miles from where I live. The contractor and I both also found a website that had been set up to honor him and other fallen soldiers, and we had both posted a message. (note: read Jim's message here.) That was a very moving experience. We had a couple of other close calls under attach in Iraq, but until then I never really thought about it. After that, I did.

D: You've been abroad three times, how were the reintegrations similar - or different?

JP: I spent about 5 years in Saudi Arabia, my family was with me, and when I came back, I moved into a new job with a new team and new responsibilities. I spent 8 years in Japan. Again, my family was with me, and when I came back, I moved into a new job with a new team and new responsibilities. Four months in Iraq left a much greater mark. I went alone, and I came back to my familiar job.

I tell people, that three or four months I was there was so much different than the eight years I spent in Japan for two reasons. One was the intensity of it. And then the second reason was, my family had been with me in Japan and Saudi, but from Iraq I came back alone, and I had no one else to share those common experiences with. I brought back a lot of stuff from Iraq, but it's like somebody else has been there, because I can't really talk about it in a way that others would understand.

The tour I did in Iraq was the first time I really felt plugged in and able to help people directly, not only in a roundabout way. It was very rewarding for me to see how the little bit that we were doing really made a difference.

D: In closing, what advice would you give someone coming back after a tour of duty?

JP: Recognize that going abroad changes everything. Once you make that first move - it's going to change everything. Coming back and readjusting is a process, and it takes time. Work through it. The more aware you are of yourself, the better. Type helps with that, and not just for you, you'll also be more aware of other people around you.

:-) Couldn't have said it better myself.



How Consistently do you apply rules?

Imagine you are a passenger in a car, your best friend is driving way over the speed limit, and hits a parked car. The police arrives, and your friend asks you to lie and say they were not speeding. Would you? This is one of the (paraphrased) questions Alfons Trompenaars and Charles Hampden-Turner asked thousands of international managers for their book, Riding the Waves of Culture (1997). They identify seven dimensions of cultural differences, five of which concerned with interpersonal interactions. One dimension, described by its opposite extremes of Universalism and Particularism, looks at how consistently a culture applies rules. No one person or one culture is every completely on either side of the extreme; rather, they can move and span up to 50 % of the spectrum.

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In Universalist cultures, rules apply across the board. Treating everybody in the same way is considered a sign of fairness. This reminds us of the Thinking function: “Thinking is a process of evaluating and making judgments based on objective criteria and principles or logic.” (Understanding Yourself and Others, An Introduction to the Personality Type Code, Linda V Berens and Dario Nardi, 2004)

In Particularist cultures, the operative word is: “depends”. Rules may be bent according to who is involved. This reminds us of the Feeling function: “Feeling is a process of making evaluations based on what’s important, where personal, interpersonal, or universal values serve as guideposts.” (Understanding Yourself and Others, An Introduction to the Personality Type Code, Linda V Berens and Dario Nardi, 2004)

Germans, as well as most Western and Northern nationals, are more likely to take a Universalist approach. If we only look at the Type description, we might expect someone with a dominant Feeling function to place the relationship above the rule, and lie for their friend. I, ENFJ, born and raised in Germany, would not. I may not volunteer the information, and feel badly for my friend when giving my statement, but I would not lie. If that speeding friend of mine is German, too, they most likely would not ask me to in the first place.

Korea is a Particularist society where you would probably preemptively offer your support to spare your friend the embarrassment of having to ask for your help. That is not to say Koreans do not value order and rules, but protecting the personal relationship is more important. Friends rely on each other for everything, there is strong interdependence within colleagues of an organization, and the extended family provides a sense of stability and security (Kiss, Bow, Shake Hands, Terri Morrison and Wayne A Conaway, 1995).

Now consider this follow-up question: imagine you’re a passenger in a car, your best friend is driving way over the speed limit, and hits a little girl on a bike. The police arrives, and your friend asks you to lie and say they were not speeding. Would you?

Universalist participants still - perhaps more emphatically - respond “no”, but the answer from Particularist participants can now go both ways: either, they respond “no”, because someone got hurt. Or they stick by their response “yes”, because the consequences for the friend would be even more dire. It will take more targeted and specific research to ascertain under which circumstances culture overrules type preferences, and vice versa.

What would you do?