What Kind of Person Are You?

Forget the Myers Briggs and DISC and all those fancy assessments that try to tell you what kind of job you should have. I wish I was told this back in high school, but jobs can be easily broken down into a few simple categories:

  1. Create Value (Engineer, Artist, Product Manager, Doctor, Researcher)
  2. Create Efficiency (HR, Finance, General Management, Consulting, Operations)
  3. Sell Value (Marketing, Sales, PR, Real Estate Agent, Promoter)

Really, most jobs fit into one of those three buckets. What’s important is you have a job in the right bucket that fits with where you find your flow. Is it in creating new things? Fixing things? Selling things? Of course, each bucket has a wide variety of roles under it and not every role will be right for every person – but in order to be happy with the work you do, you need to ask yourself are you a creator, an optimizer, or a seller? If you find yourself in the wrong bucket, you will add unnecessary stress because the role with not fundamentally provide intrinsic satisfaction.

Take, for instance, yours truly. I am definitely a Type I (Create Value) but I am in a Type III role (Sell Value). This is a very poor fit for me. Now, would I be a great doctor? Probably not. But, assuming I could become a doctor, I’d be happier being a doctor over a salesperson (type III) or an accountant (type II).

Which type are you?

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4 thoughts on “What Kind of Person Are You?”

  1. Wow. I don’t agree with the categories under ‘Create Value’ at all. A doctor doesn’t create value. At best she or he heals others so that THEY can create value. At worst she or he doesn’t create much except a massive medical bill that destroys, not creates, value. A product manager doesn’t create value but instead manages the people who create value (i.e. do the real work). A researcher doesn’t create value but rather does research that may (no guarantees) enable others to create value in future.

    OTOH an engineer clearly creates value. And if you believe that art has real intrinsic value then an artist certainly creates value.

    1. I would disagree with you. Perhaps I see your point on doctors – I was thinking more in the sense that a doctor is providing a service (a product) and that service has value. Really all add value, it is just a question of how you LIKE to add value. #1 = do you want to be the product (i.e. a doctor or engineer = the product) whereas #2 you could be the product to make things more efficient, but you are being paid to fix things someone else came up with. A doctor can fit into this bucket as well in a lot of ways, as can a product manager.

      I disagree that engineers are the only people who create value. Designers create value. And product managers (in some companies) who research markets and determine what should be built definitely create value. Just because they aren’t hands-on building a product doesn’t mean they aren’t creating value. IE, determine what new product should be built and what features it should have, and then manage a team of people who create this, to me, is very much a “create value” job compared to sales or marketing where you clearly are “selling value” that you did not create. The difference between 1 and 2 is how creative you want to have to be – to be a doctor, yes, most of the time you are probably solving the same things so it’s more of a #2 role – but there are times when you have to think outside the box to solve problems and come up with untraditional solutions (i.e. drug combinations) and test things, which to me is still creating value as your mind is actually delivering something new, especially if you’re on the research side of medicine. Maybe some doctors are more #2. Product managers in large companies who just are told what to build and manage teams are maybe #2, but in a startup a product manager is more #1.

      I am viewing this more as being in charge of creating that value — sales will never wake up one morning and say “I have an idea for a new product and I have a team to build this product.” Sales is a role where you must be satisfied your whole life selling other people’s products, services and ideas. Optimization roles are roles where you must be satisfied your whole life just fixing things that other people created or broke. And the rest are those roles that add value in many different ways.

      Actually, IMO, an engineer is more of a #2 type because they generally are told what to build and their job is to focus on how to build it efficiently. Some engineers will create a new process which would fall into bucket #1, but many engineers get frustrated because they are being told what to build by a product manager and do not have that ability to “create value” in the sense of coming up with new ideas for what to build.

  2. I hear you. I agree with the three high level categories but would definitely put some people in different buckets though. On reflection yes I can see putting a product manager in #1 if they help to design the product. But doctors, researchers, lawyers, accountants, etc–basically all professionals of that type–I would tend to put in #2. Others may disagree with this of course. Professional type jobs may create value for their own organizations but most people outside of that organization would see them as a cost center. Entrepreneurs are an interesting category because it seems to me they need to simultaneously be good at #1 and #3 (but maybe not so much #2) which is why it is very hard to found a successful company–it is very hard to simultaneously fit well in two groups at the same time.

    1. What I’m trying to get is what drives you to wake up in the morning. Every morning I wake up thinking I have to go to work to market someone else’s product, I get super depressed. If I had to go to work to solve problems and create products, even if I didn’t like the people I worked with or the specific product, I know I’d be excited to have a job where I was responsible to solve problems and create. So I’m trying to get at that, because I think it’s important to start there – what type of contribution is going to make you excited to get out of bed and go to work everyday. I can see that doctor’s maybe don’t wake up thinking “I’m going to go create something today” so perhaps there is a fourth type which is more about service, less optimization, creation, or sales, but the fourth type is service.

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