The revelation that led to

I’m going to write this as a note to you, Suzanne. That will discourage me from trying to edit it.

Over the past three years, running Us is Two (I’ve taken the site down, btw), I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about personality types as one of the major factors to consider when deciding if a client and service provider or manager and direct report/hire are going to work well together.

I spent a lot of time learning about the MBTI, talking with Ann Holm (, who’ll I’ll introduce you to, as soon as she accepts her Sugar Maples invite. She’s a MBTI master practitioner.

But I recently had a bit of a revelation that all that wasn’t necessary.

If a person is empathetic and a passion-driven master of their chosen craft, it doesn’t matter what personality they have, MBTI or otherwise. Anybody two people with these two characteristics will work great together, assuming the person with the problem needing to be solved is being honest with themselves about what the problem really is.

Aside: Much of the time I spent with my clients was trying to, in a kind and non-coercive way, try to help them dig down beneath the ‘presenting problem’ and figure out the problem closest to the root problem that they’re willing to confront. So, for example, a CEO might come to me thinking that their social media efforts aren’t effective enough. However they might realize, after talking through it, that the problem isn’t the social media efforts. A deeper level problem, for example, might be that the product itself needs to be better, so the social media efforts will be more effective (and less necessary). That might be the level to which the CEO might be comfortable digging. But they might be able to dig further and realize for themselves that the reason the product isn’t as good as it could be is because they don’t care about the product or the industry their in. It’s not something they’re passionate about. The solution to that much deeper problem might be selling the company and starting another.


I’ve run a little consultancy, connecting CEOs (mostly) with people who can help their businesses. Typically service providers and new hires. When I started out doing this kind of work, I was very keen to take personality into consideration, when making those matches. I learned a lot about the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and dove into the topic of personality on- and offline. (I’m an ENTP, by the way).

But over the last few months, I’ve come to realize that putting the right people together is very simple, if both people in a pairing have two characteristics.

The first characteristic is empathy. Does the person take into account the feelings of the vendor when they’re deciding whether to pay the invoice on time? Do they put their grocery cart back into the corral, even when it’s raining? Are they focused on really hearing what someone is saying when they reach out during a personal crisis?

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Thanksgiving at Aunt Mickey’s

My mother held an annual Thanksgiving day celebration from the time I was about 5 years old. Big crowd every year. Many of the annual attendees turned into “aunts”, “uncles”, and “cousins”, as close to me as the blood ones. My mom has always had great taste in friends and that had a big impact on me.

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Passion-driven mastery & the most important question to ask someone you’re thinking of hiring.

The most important question to ask someone you’re thinking of hiring is not “What do you know?” or “What have you done?”

It’s rather, “Why do you do what you do?”

And the only acceptable answer to that question is “because I love it”. If the answer is anything else, move on.

You are only a true master of your craft if you understand its nuances and subtleties. And only people who love the act of doing their craft ever internalize and fully appreciate those minute details. People who take up a craft as a means to an end, rather than for the love of the craft itself, never dig as deep.

Here’s a musical example of what I mean.

Listen to these two recordings of this short piano piece by Maurice Ravel, A la Manière de Borodine. The first recording is of Werner Haas, a relatively young pianist with a large and varied repertoire. The second is of Vlado Perlemuter, a much older pianist who dedicated his life almost exclusively to the works of Maurice Ravel.



Can you hear the difference?

Wondering what is? Found out here.

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