“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” – Jim Rohn, renowned businessman and inspirational speaker.

Recent events had me thinking about Jim Rohn’s remark. One event was my brother’s promotion to a Director-ish position overseeing the organization’s information systems group. Meanwhile, I’m fielding many questions about what my Next Great Move and what my fellow Body Boss co-founders are up to. They, too, are heading up software engineering of their respective companies. Add to these events, my interest in the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) was rekindled by online forums – I wrote this last week.
I started considering the success of those around me, and how they motivate me to do and begreater. Also, what about their personalities are affecting me? Considering Jim’s law of averages comment, I asked those closest to me to complete MBTI assessments.
I’m an ESTJ (Extrovert-Sensing-Thinking-Judging) personality type – I wonder if I’d be the average of those around me?
I assigned binary values to each letter for each position (E = 0 and I = 1; S = 0 and N = 1; etc.). Then, I took the average of the values rounding to the nearest integer.
Of the five people closest to me:

  • Two are INTP
  • One ENTP
  • One ESFP
  • One ESFJ
According to Jim’s law of averages, I would be an ENTP. Kinda, not really close to what I tested as.
If I expanded to 10 of my closer (not necessarily “closEST”):
  • Three ESFP
  • Two INTP
  • Two ESFJ
  • One INTJ
  • One ENTP
  • One ENFP

Using these 10, my average would be ENFP – more different than the earlier.

My conclusion: The law of averages doesn’t quite hold for me right now. However, my circles are fluid – meaning people enter and exit inner and outer circles constantly.
Also, based on who I am and how I work, I know I like to complement others. That is, I surround myself with people who are different than me to challenge my perceptions, show me different ways to work, improve communication, etc.
Interesting and fun exercise all the same.
If you’ve taken the MBTI, in the assessment and write-up, what surprises made sense as you thought about them? How do you think you and your circles complement or reflect each other’s collective MBTI types?
I love psychology. I love getting to know people – what interests them, what are their tendencies, and the like. One of the best ways to learn more about people (and yourself) is to go to a therapist. Or, like the rest of the world today, you can go online and take a test. Enter the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).

MBTI is a self-reported survey revealing the psychological tendencies of people – how they view and react to the world.

MBTI was first developed by Katharine Briggs and later refined by (and with) her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers. The original Briggs Myers Type Indicator Handbook was published in 1944 with several editions published since then, including the 3rd in 1998. 
The MBTI aligns people into 16 personalities along four dichotomies:
  • Extraversion (E) vs. Introversion (I) – where one draws energy (external sources or internal)
  • Sensing (S) vs. Intuition (N) – information-gathering functions
  • Thinking (T) vs. Feeling (F) – decision-making functions
  • Judging (J) vs. Perception (P) – preference for using either the thinking or feeling functions vs. sensing or intuitive functions

Using something like MBTI can help in business in all sorts of ways. You can use MBTI internally with team members as a colleague and leader — communication, work styles, etc. MBTI personality types can help salespeople communicate with prospects. MBTI can also help marketers better understand value points and spark emotional intrigue in customers.

You can find more about MBTI at 16personalities.com, and even take a personality test to discover yours – it’s an abbreviated version, but can be generally in the right direction.
How else can MBTI be used in the workplace? What are advantages to using a personality tests in the workplace? Disadvantages?

On any given day, there’s about a 60% chance you’ll find me at Starbucks working.  It’s a great, free working space complete with vibrant energy, wake-up aromas, and, especially this time of year, snowman sugar cookies.  Ah, and there’s usually a fascinating collection of people hanging out/ working.  This past Friday night, I was writing some Holiday/ Thank You cards to our customer-partners and other prospects when I was complimented on our cards by a fellow Starbucker (yes, handwriting them – crazy in this day of keyboard and touchscreen typing, I know). 
My new friend is an MBA student at Georgia State, and was a previous Psychology major in undergrad.  She was worried a bit about having a non-business background and post-graduate opportunities.  This was a great conversation for me because I’ve long appreciated how psychology intertwines with business.  It’s not readily apparent, but it really is.  Talk to any good salesperson, and he’ll know exactly how to talk to you and potentially what makes you tick and tock. 
Some quick thoughts on how psychology is engrained in entrepreneurship and business overall…
  • Know Your Strengths and Weaknesses.  Assessments like the Myers-Briggs, DISC Profile, Berkman, etc. can be simple ways of finding out more about yourself.  These assessments may help you realize more about yourself to capitalize on your strengths and limit your weaknesses while building your career around your personal interests.  I’d recommend, however, that as much as you limit your weaknesses, to also work on those weakness or what stresses you — this can help you be a stronger performer – “be comfortable being uncomfortable”.
  • Building a Balanced Team.  As a continuation of the Strengths and Weaknesses above, building a team for a startup or small business with balanced strengths and weaknesses allow for a stronger company in addition to its product/ service offering.  For Body Boss, we do actually have differing personalities, and it challenges each of us to think more about why one another feels the way we do when we consider marketing campaigns, licensing and selling opportunities, or even just philosophies that shape our startup’s culture.

  • Put Yourself in Your Customers’ Shoes.  Marketing has psychology all over it.  You have your target audience in mind.  Do you know what language they speak?  What style of communication they perceive?  How about what really resonates with them so that you can grab their attention right away?  Marketing is all about diving into the psyche of your customers and compelling them to engage with you.
  • Sales is All About Your Customer.  Many people will tell you that an effective sales strategy is to have the customer speak.  I think this can be somewhat true in terms of getting engagement.  However, why I like this rule of thumb is so that it gives me a break and a chance to listen to the customer and analyze him/ her.  Customers are all different, and chances are, your product/ service has many value propositions.  By sitting back and listening to your prospects, you can hone in on what matters to them and cater your value message accordingly.
  • Threshold of Pain.  My new friend asked me what signs a successful entrepreneur exhibits/ has.  I have many thoughts to this, not necessarily from my own perspective, but witnessing others.  One of the standout factors?  Mental and emotional fortitude.  Beyond the physical demands of being an entrepreneur (like lack of sleep), it’s the mental and emotional toll of going through the roller coaster ride that is entrepreneurship including feeling INCREDIBLE when new customers finding out about you to incredibly FRUSTRATED due to low user engagement, then back to a HIGH after a great exhibition at a conference, then dipping back down LOW from unsuccessful trial conversions.  Because much of entrepreneurship is about passions and the creation of your own product, it takes a toll both mentally and emotionally.  I recommend you watch Angela Lee Duckworth’s TED talk about this in “The Key to Success?  Grit”.

A company, a product… in the end, behind the curtains are people.  Perhaps this is also why psychology actually plays a significant role in business.  For my fellow Starbucker, I think having a background in psychology will give her a different perspective, and with an MBA to help round out her business abilities, she’ll have a strong platform to build on.

What are your thoughts on how psychology plays a role in business and entrepreneurship?  Where else do you feel psychology plays a critical role in business?