A couple of months ago, I found out about KickStarter, a web site that matches entrepreneurs with regular people to help fund their businesses. In exchange for a small financial pledge, those who contribute to a new business idea are rewarded by the entrepreneur with some kind of swag (usually whatever the new business intends to sell). The catch is that the entrepreneur has a limited amount of time to raise their pre-established funding goal. If they don't raise enough, they don't get anything for their business.

I decided to pitch an idea to KickStarter, and they liked it and agreed to feature it on their web site! After many hours of hard work, I'm proud to announce that I have officially launched the funding project for my new business on KickStarter. Check it out HERE!

Personality (Part 2)

“It’s better to be a first rate version of yourself than a second rate version of someone else.”
- Judy Garland

It seems silly to me in hindsight, but two months ago I was genuinely concerned that the companies I would be interviewing with would all be looking for "more celebrated" Type A personalities rather than Type B's like myself. That left me wondering, "should I try to act Type A in my interviews, and potentially during my internship?"

When I reached out to Dan Pink asking him this, he told me that I was better off sticking with my natural personality, for three reasons:

1) It's easier
2) I probably wouldn't be good at feigning Type A
3) Any company that hired me thinking I'm Type A would probably not be a place where I would be happy or do my best work.

With this advice, I approached my interviews with the intent to portray my natural personality. Not every company I talked to was looking for a Type B, but in the end I landed a spot at my top choice, P&G.

Thanks to Dan Pink for reminding me of something I've been taught since I was a kid: Be yourself.

Personality (Part 1)

People inside the business world love personality tests. Whether it's Meyers & Briggs, DiSC, the Color Code, or another system, I believe corporations love these things because the task of human management becomes much less daunting if you can categorize all of your employees into four buckets. I believe that these systems have varying levels of merit and practicality to them. My intent in this post, however, is not to compare and contrast them, but to comment on a separate, simpler, and more ubiquitous personality profiling system.

In my working career, and ever since I have entered business school, I keep running across the phrase "Type A". When I first heard this in high school, I had no idea what it meant. Although I didn't formally learn about what "Type A" was until much later, I was able to take from context that it was used to refer to someone who was very driven, impatient, and outspoken. A natural leader. I eventually learned that there was another kind of person, "Type B", but no one ever really talked about them, and I didn't really know what they like.

In the mean time, I kept hearing people refer to themselves as Type A, as if it were some sort of badge of honor or medal that proved that they were cut out for business leadership. I started to get worried because I didn't feel like I had these "amazing" Type A qualities. I must be a Type B, whatever that was. At any rate, B was surely not as good as A, right? Just think of a report card.

Then just two months ago, I was reading Daniel Pink's insightful book, Drive. In it, he explains that the origin of Type A/Type B was not even meant to describe business leadership attributes. Rather, it was invented by a couple of physicians (Meyer Friedman and Ray Rosenman) in the late 1950s to identify patients who were prone to heart disease. Type A's were found to have a set of complex personality traits, including "excessive competition drive, aggressiveness, impatience, and a harrying sense of time urgency".

Type B's, on the other hand, were found to be "just as intelligent, and frequently just as ambitious, as Type A's". They just expressed their ambition differently. I found this to be great news, because it validated that as a Type B, I was just as good as all of the Type A's out there.

But there was still the conflict of perception. In Part 2 of this post, I'll explain my conundrum of being a Type B in a Type A world, my inquiry to Dan Pink for his take, and the advice he gave me in return.

Selling Shovels and Stars

Two of my business heroes are Samuel Brannan and Sylvester McMonkey McBean. Brannan was a pioneer who made his fortune during the Gold Rush in California, not by searching for gold, but by selling shovels and other tools to prospectors. McBean, otherwise known as the "fix-it-up-chappie", capitalized on the pride of Sneetches as they ran around getting and removing stars on their bellies.

In essence, these entrepreneurs not only found and met a customer need, but they also leveraged social disruption to their advantage. It was brilliant of them to tap into something much deeper than a mere want for a product or service. Instead, these two examples show the importance of understanding the motives why customers make the decisions that they do, and then finding a way to help them achieve their desire.

Another interesting point about the Dr. Seuss example is that McBean didn't care a bit about whether the Sneetches wanted to get a star or have a star removed. He simply fed off of their fickleness and facilitated their changing tastes. Greedy? Maybe. But also genius.

Earlier this year, Ian's pizza made a killing feeding capitol protestors here in Madison. No matter pro-union or anti-union, Ian's knew that a hungry protestor = $$$.