Posts Tagged ‘leadership’

A friend of mine just re-posted an article via Facebook called 25 Struggles Only ENFPs Will Understand — it’s put out by a blog called Thought Catalogue and, despite much skepticism of tests that “objectively” discern the vicissitudes of our personalities, I can’t deny these folks are on to something.

At my law school we have a leadership program that, up until now anyway, has largely been built around the use of personality types referred to in this article.  It’s Myers-Briggs to be precise (although there are a couple more we’ve taken that when I say their names they sound like venereal diseases — examples being a “FIRO – B” — I mean, really, wtf??)

Seriously though, I think the bad taste I developed for these tests stems at least partially from an experience I had just out of college.  A woman, whom I later found to be a staunch Republican of the Ayn Rand AND George Bush Jr. variety, literally pointed her finger at me on the street one day and said, “I see it!  Totally corporate, totally artistic!”  She then convinced me to come in for what would be two weeks of interviews enroute to my first ever salaried position.

I never even got to the point of being paid a real salary, as my probationary period as a light/industrial temp recruiter was, simply put, short lived.  I was told my footsteps weren’t “heavy enough.”  Not to mention it went quite unappreciated when I tried to give education and career consulting to some of the temp agency’s applicants (very poor folks whose job it essentially was to call us every day and inquire if we had any back-breaking work for extremely low pay that they could do).

I should have seen it coming, really.  I mean, when you take a personality test and your about-to-be employer’s secretary calls to say they need you to re-take the test because the results, basically, indicate that you have multiple personalities, well, it shouldn’t be too hard to see that you might not fit into the culture of that particular workplace…

I distinctly remember re-taking that test and seeing exactly where they wanted me to answer differently because it’s what followed, according to their logic, from the answer I gave in the previous question.  It was that ridiculous.

So when I got to law school and was asked to do the same kind of little dance, it felt pretty forced.  I felt uncomfortable. And pretty dubious of how well this sort of testing can steer us in terms of (effective) leadership development.

Alas, I took all my tests.  I listened to their lectures.  And here’s what I’ve learned —

1 – It’s okay to be “sensitive” and actively value compassion, even when you are studying (and I believe practicing) law.

2 – It IS harder to be sensitive and compassionate and function in the legal world, but it is also better!  It is what our system (and the world) needs.

3 – The same can be said for creativity and optimism.

4 – A persisting obstacle is the feeling of isolation that can come when what gives you energy is to be with people, but what allows you to work productively on legal problems requires being, or feeling, alone.  It’s a toughie…

5 – Self-care practices are key.  Especially if you are someone who is inclined towards feeling joy and gratitude even for the smallest of things, giving space for yourself to experience those things, even while you are “working” is ESSENTIAL.  Otherwise, you risk losing what feels most important to you on a fundamental level every time you engage in the level of focus that the study and/or practice of law requires.

6 – Because we are sensitive, creative people, innovating self-care practices that fit our physical, mental and emotional needs is something we love to do!  It’s an opportunity to ‘think outside the box’ and push ourselves to find forms of expression that burst what could feel like a prison, wide open…

Here’s to finding our way as un-lawyerly personalities and please comment if you have thoughts or feelings to share!!

Today’s post is a review of a book I’ve recently been soaking up, called Disruption Revolution: Innovation, Entrepreneurship & the New Rules of Leadership.  It was written by David Passiak, who was once a scholar of religion.  His focus then was on how emerging communications technologies tended to coincide with periods of religious, political and cultural/social innovation, from the “Great Awakenings” of the 1700s and 1800s catalyzed by innovations in the printing press, through the Civil Rights and Sixties counterculture movements accelerated by the mass adoption of radio, television, film and music (see

Passiak left academia though to pursue a career in innovative technologies consulting, working for companies like Volkswagen and a number of start-ups.  He also founded a company called Social Meditate, an innovation and strategy consulting firm.

Disruption Revolution is a collection of interviews with a laundry list of successful leaders in the arena of tech innovation, from those who are more design-inclined to Harvard Business School professors and New Economy media moguls such as the editor of PandoDaily – a site reporting on the cutting edge of entrepreneurship.  These chapters provide perspective on the technology that’s driving changes in our business landscape, as well as on the mentalities and approaches that seem to bode best for innovators and entrepreneurs.

The book also contains an interview with Vincent Horn, an entrepreneur I recently spoke with myself about his site  Horn’s interest, and the galvanizing force of BuddhistGeeks, is the intersection (or perhaps more accurately, overlap) between technology and mindfulness.  His thesis is, basically, that not only can we have both, but we must.  And he, along with his partner Emily Horn, have succeeded in building a community of thought on this subject, not just a platform for their own beliefs (visit the site to see what I mean…).

Another piece in the book that spoke to me featured a conversation with Jeremiah Owyang, an expert on the emerging collaborative economy.  His interest is in the big crowd companies (i.e. Zipcar, Airbnb, etc.) as opposed to smaller-scale, more private enterprises you might find out about upon researching sharing law (also known as the sharing economy).  The emphasis here is on the burgeoning prevalence of companies that seek to provide services to customers within the confines of people’s various financial situations.  The idea is, people are wanting less and less to ‘own’ things in a traditional sense (i.e. vacuums or even houses), both because the cost of these things is so expensive, and because of social media, they simply don’t need to.  “Sharing” rides or tools or places to stay for temporary or even extended periods of time is becoming more and more the substance of commerce.  Disruption Revolution explains this and contextualizes what it means for the future of entrepreneurship in our society moving forward.

One last tidbit I’ll share (pun intended) is how much I enjoyed the chapters on leadership, in which the ‘monsters in your head’ and the concept of “choosing yourself” in the process of negotiations are discussed.  The themes here revolve around being in touch with what has brought you to the place of decision-making you are at, being clear about why you are there, and being open and honest with even your competition in order to achieve the best results.  Game-playing in the New Economy, the experts are even telling us, is stupid.  Authenticity is key.  Being present with your own intentions and through that being aware of others’ intentions is essential.  And through all of that, tapping into your intuition to guide you in discerning the right moves for you and your business is perhaps what matters most.

As a law student, and as an entrepreneur, I’ve found this volume super interesting.  It flies in the face of much that we learn in school growing up, and certainly in the face of what we hear in the mainstream media about what makes for a successful leader and business person.  It’s not about assuming you are right, it’s about being able to question, and from there, deriving vision and confidence.  Then comes the translation of vision to others, the attraction of capital, and the capacity to make real what you see.