Sunday, December 16, 2007

Take it from the striking Hollywood writers ... December is a great time to network!

I have parachuted into L.A. for a few days to visit, among others, my friend Henry who was once a lawyer and is now a glamorous TV writer. However, just moments after he inked his new deal with a certain well-known star's production company, the Writers' Guild went on strike. So now he has to work that picket line.

It does not surprise me at all that, amongst the various striker antics (like Star Trek-themed day) the strike itself is turning out to be a great networking event. Because, basically, when you have a lot of verbal people hanging around for hours at a time every day, they end up getting to know each other a lot better.

One of the hazards of being any kind of entrepreneur (and writers are basically entrepreneurs) is that it's very easy to get isolated. Especially when you have to turn out the next episode of a show that's already jumped the shark, like Desperate Housewives. ("Let's see, we've given Lynette cancer and had a tornado come out of nowhere. Wait, I've got it! We'll send Carlos to Thailand for a botched a sex-change operation!") Networking is one way to counteract this isolation. It helps people keep up on relevant information, forge connections, and brainstorm possibilities, and writers need it as much as anyone else.

You don't have to be a glamorous striking writer spending his days chatting up Valerie Harper (as my friend was doing last week) to be a good networker. Just spend some time accessing some of your weaker ties (people you don't know all that well or whom you used to know but have fallen out of touch with).

There's a misconception that you can't do much job-related networking in December, since people stop working, go off to wherever they came from, and in general spend their days in the swamp of holiday commercialism. But actually, December is a great time for networking. Whoever is left in town isn't really doing all that much work and the upcoming New Year has made people a bit more reflective of where life is taking them. If you manage to get in touch with them, they are probably available for conversation. Since the normal rhythms of professional life are off it's a good chance to mix things up a little bit.

Facebook can wait, people. And so can that shelf take-down memorandum. Get off your computer and get out there in the world and connect!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Hillary Clinton, misunderstood INTJ

Hillary Clinton is an introvert. I'm quite sure about this. My best guess is that, in Myers-Briggs terms, she is an INTJ (details below). This explains a lot about how the world regards her and why the press seems to find her so problematic.

Let me start backwards. In today's New York Times, a lengthy article about Hillary Clinton's political persona ends by comparing Hillary and Bill at the eulogy of one of Hillary's best friends, Diane Blair. Hillary gave a great eulogy, but apparently it wasn't tearful enough. "It was left to Bill Clinton to bring the service to its emotional peak," the article concludes. "When he spoke of Mrs. Blair, Mr. Clinton wept. 'I felt about her as I have rarely felt about anyone,' he said. His wife, Diane Blair's best friend, held steady in the front row.'"

Presumably, what writer Mark Leibovich would like us to conclude is: "oooh, yet again Hillary is so cold and emotionally flat. Oooh, what a strange person she is."

What I concluded was, "yeah, big duh, Mark Leibovich. Hillary is an introverted thinker, and Bill is an extraverted feeler, and each was behaving in a style appropriate to his or her type."

According to the theory behind the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), each of us uses four different types of mental processes, each of which has two poles: introversion/extraversion, intuition/sensing, thinking/feeling and perceiving/judging. We have access to all of these functions, but we tend to prefer one of each pair. This theory is unprovable, but in my personal and work experience, it is valid.

Introversion/extraversion refer to where people get their energy. Extraverts get their energy from other people, the external world, and experiences. Introverts get their energy from themselves or their own space. Extraverts are often chatty, social and open; introverts are often quiet, reflective and contained. Introverts open up to their close friends; extraverts open up to everyone. Bill Clinton is clearly an extravert; I think Hillary is an introvert.

Since 75% of the population is extraverted, extraverts are considered normal. By comparison, introverts are considered a little weird ("why can't you just open up?"). (As I’ve written in The Creative Lawyer, law is an exception: the majority of lawyers are introverts.) Introverts often have to feign extraversion to succeed in the professional world; their natural style is often not valued. Much of the criticism of Hillary Clinton's authenticity is criticism of her introversion. She's basically criticized for being private and for being careful about her words; and then she's criticized for inauthenticity when she tries to act more extraverted and social.

The second Myers-Briggs function is intuition vs. sensing. Intuitives look for concepts, the big picture, and possibilities. Sensing types are more interested in facts, details and concrete reality. Hillary has some strong sensing skills but my guess that she, like Bill, is an intuitive abbreviated as "N").

The third Myers-Briggs function is thinking vs. feelings. Both of these are ways of thinking. Thinkers prefer to make decisions based on impartial, objective principles, whereas feelers prefer to make decisions based on strongly held personal values or the effect on other people. Thinkers tend to think logically; feelers tend to think associatively. Though Hillary talks a lot about her values, I think that she, like the vast majority of lawyers and virtually all the men running for president (with the possible exception of John Edwards), is a thinker. Bill is a feeler.

Around 60% of women are feelers, and around 60% of men are thinkers. This means that both Hillary and Bill are in the minority for their particular gender. This is where the press gets wigged out. The words commonly used to describe presidential presence are all thinker-ish: strong, clear-headed, tough, questioning, blah blah blah. So the press is constantly evaluating whether she's enough of a thinker to be president. At the same time, the press seems discomfited that Hillary is not more girly: they also want her to be compassionate, open, nuanced -- apparently she is supposed to cry at eulogies.

The final Myers-Briggs polarity is judging/perceiving. This refers to attitudes about closure. People with a preference for judging like to be scheduled, organized, and know where they stand; people with a preference for perceiving are more spontaneous and open-ended. Hillary is a J, Bill is a big P.

Conclusion: Hillary Clinton: INTJ. Bill Clinton: ENFP.

What's the point? Since Hillary is in the spotlight, more or less 24/7, people assume that everything she does has some core meaning that has implications for her potential presidency or her character. But sometimes Hillary is just

Thursday, December 06, 2007

And now, eleven minutes of the mellifluous vocal stylings of Michael Melcher . . . . My ABA podcast has arrived!

The ABA Publishing homepage has a podcast featuring ME, talking about my book, lawyers, and how intelligent people can attain work happiness. Click here to go to the home page, then just follow the directions to listen.

Special thanks goes to my high school speech and debate coach, Mr. John DeNike! All that articulateness is the direct result of those many thousands of hours of preparation back at Valencia High School. Hooray.