Blog | Personal Finance

4 Personality Types in Business

Here’s why knowing the four different types of people is important for your business.

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Some time ago, I was talking with a friend of mine, and he kept expressing frustration over a woman he was mentoring. He had been encouraging her tirelessly to start her own business, but it wasn't happening. Despite his exhaustive efforts, she wasn't making the effort and instead, did nothing.

"I'm so frustrated,” he said, “she doesn't seem to have the motivation, and she doesn't have the drive. And no matter what I say or do, it's not happening."

That’s when I introduced him to four different personality types in the world.

  • The “I must be right” people;

  • The “I must be comfortable” people;

  • The “I must be liked” people; and finally,

  • The “I must win” people.

Overview of the Four Personality Types

Here are some brief descriptions before we dive in:

First, the “I must be right” people. You know these people: they've got all the answers. They're the A students, and when you're having a conversation with them, they say: “yeah, I know all about that,” or “yep, I read that book too.” In short, they have to be right at all costs and can be difficult to have ongoing creative conversations with because they have to know all the answers ALL the time. That makes it difficult for them to learn (because they “know” everything). Being “right” is a must, and it’s their constant mode of operation.

Second, are the “I must be comfortable” people. This is the woman my friend was trying to mentor. No matter what he said to encourage her, she wanted to remain comfortable. These people dread pushing the limits, they hate stress and are fine living in a perpetual state of mediocrity. I’ve met many people like this who, when I approach them with the opportunity to partner, will do nothing despite their initial excitement. Comfortability is the most important thing to these people - going outside of their comfort zone is not in their makeup.

Third, is “I must be liked.” These are people that say whatever they think you want to hear. Though they may be popular, they are almost never good for honest, constructive criticism. Their driving force is to plant positive perceptions of themselves into others.

Finally, The “I must win” people. This was my friend, who was trying to mentor “I must be comfortable.” We know a lot of these people; Donald Trump, Michael Phelps, Robert Kiyosaki, Oprah… You get the point. These are people that know what it takes to win, and stop at nothing to do so.

The tie to women’s empowerment

So what does this have to do with you? Perhaps you’ve identified who you are, and are trying to become an “I must win” person. Or, maybe you already are an “I must win” person, but don’t know what to do next.

Let’s dive in.

I read an article several years ago "When Leaving is the Only Option," published in The Atlantic. Author Li Zhou shared the experiences of women who, at the height of their careers in corporate America, had no other option than to leave in order to succeed.

Zhou shares the stories of a VP veteran in the software industry, Ellen Pao of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers fame, Hollywood stars like Reese Witherspoon, Lena Dunham, Shonda Rhimes, and Eva Longoria, and even a fictional character from a new novel called Opening Bell.

As Zhou writes, "In all of these cases, women are conducting business on their own terms, by circumventing the barriers present in existing systems. For some, starting their own companies is the only alternative to hitting the glass ceiling at their current jobs."

These are the “I must win” people; and, they had nothing left for them in their existing careers.

The only alternative or the alternative?

While the conditions many women face in corporate America are wrong and tragic, the outcome of more women-owned firms is no unfortunate byproduct. Indeed, women are not the only ones who leave a company because they feel they can't get ahead or operate in a culture that they want to.

The prerogative of the entrepreneur to do things her or his way is one of the ultimate benefits of starting your own company! And it's something that should be celebrated, not looked at as the regrettable secondary option.

Becoming an “I must win” person

Women becoming “I must win” people, then turning to entrepreneurship, ultimately become major catalysts for social change.

While many women have gone outside the dated, discriminatory models in sexist industries to excel, often via smaller, boutique firms, the influence and power of industry giants within these fields remains unparalleled. These organizations, too, desperately need to change so that men and women have equal opportunities to achieve success. Perhaps the external pressure from women who've left to start their own companies and tell their own stories will play a role in making that happen.

For years, I've been a proponent of entrepreneurship as the vehicle for social change. The more women and minorities we have who start their own businesses, the more empowered those communities become.

Long ago, Robert and I decided that it was better (and more fun!) to start our own revolution than to try and start one in the confines of a business or industry. That's one reason why, though we create educational products for personal finance, we never work with the education industry. Why waste our time? It's much better spent building a world we want to be a part of and being solution-oriented rather than fighting everything that's wrong with something already built.

Celebrate your success

If you're a woman reading this and you feel you need to leave your job to achieve your dreams, I want to encourage you! It's a bold, noble, and exciting endeavor! You don't need a title and a salary to be respected - that's a lie our culture gives us about success.

However, it’s critical that you know what type of person you are, and what type of people you need around you to be successful.

Why is this important? Because when it comes to success, 90 percent of the battle is mindset. And if you’re surrounded by a bunch of “I must be right’s” and “I must stay be comfortable’s” the truth is, you just might not get that far.

Today, take a look around, and see if your world is filled with the people you need to succeed. Then, make the changes you need to win.

Original publish date: December 15, 2022

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