The CIA Has Replaced Waterboarding with On-Campus Interviews

In a move being lauded by both the Right and the Left, the CIA officially replaced waterboarding, the aggressive interrogation technique used on suspected terrorists to simulate drowning, with on-campus college interviews. The CIA explains the move is a “win-win” as it actually inflicts more pain on the subject and requires less space. One anonymous CIA official told us at The Young Professional, “I can’t believe it took us longer to figure this out. On-campus interviews were actually created by the CIA back in the 60’s, and used to great effect on hordes of foreign A-holes. We only switched to waterboarding because on-campus interviewing frequently pushed the terrorists past the point of cooperation and into total physical shock too quickly. We hope we’ve fixed that.”*

On-campus interviews suck. Finding a job after college generally sucks too. I know that when I attended career fairs, I felt like I was speed dating a room full of Lorena Bobbits – uncomfortable at best. The reason this happens is that college doesn’t prepare us for life after college. It prepares us for more college. Attending college to prepare for life after it is like eating a thousand donuts to prepare for a swim meet.

It doesn’t have to be that way. It shouldn’t be that way. You deserve the life you dream of, and if you do a few things right, then you will make it.

What’s that you ask? If I told you here, I’d have to kill you.

But fortunately I have released all of those secrets, and more, in The Young Professional’s first book: Life After College Doesn’t Have to Suck. But it Will. (if you don’t read this). Want to make sure you are the first to know when it is released this month? Just drop in your email address to follow this blog. I’ll let you know before anybody else.

-The Young Professional

*The CIA would like me to state that none of the things I said about them are true, and they did not coerce me to get me to say that. Really, they didn’t…

Fortunately for Me, My Desk is a Damn Mess

Do people think you are disorderly? Do you fear commitments? Do you love multi-tasking? Do you enjoy surprises? or Do you run a tight ship, keep everything in order, follow a strict schedule, and follow tasks through one at a time?

The 4th, and final, personality spectrum on Myers Briggs categorizes personalities on is from Judging (J) to Perceiving (P).  It measures the way that people organize the information in the world around them.  Whichever way a person is wired, is the way that their personalities need to order their environments to avoid tension.  While a strict schedule makes a Judger happy, the very thought of being forced to stick to an exact schedule causes a Perceiver to feel sick.

You can evaluate your preference by addressing one simple question.  Are you more likely to find yourself saying:

1) How on earth is he able to even get through the day in such a mess?

OR

2) How is she able to live in such a rigid structure?

Judgers usually answer #1.  They need an ordered environment.  They prefer structure, order, and timeliness.  They naturally feel tension and anxiety when these are absent.  Judgers make up about 70% of the North American population.

Perceivers usually answer #2.  The prefer fluidity, variability, and flexibility, and feel tension and anxiety as their environments become more rigid and inhibit that.  Perceivers make up about 30% of the North American population.

There is a natural tension between the two types, even when they don’t realize what is causing it.  By being aware of these natural differences (that you cannot change) and learning to work with them, you can be much more successful than your peers who dismiss it all as hogwash.

I am an extreme Perceiver.  I loathe scheduling.  I love spontaneity.  I thrive when I have a million things going on at the same time.  I enjoy the surprises that turn my day into something I didn’t plan.  My desk, no matter how hard I try, always looks like a tornado hit it.  If I just fed these desires without thinking, I would never get anything done.  However if I structured everything with a firm schedule, I would become utterly miserable and quit.  Instead, I’ve found a way to harness my desires but control the weaknesses.  Knowing that schedules terrify me, I work off of lists.  Each day has a list, that I can work on in any order I choose, in whatever spurts I choose.  If i get interrupted, I can run and chase whatever entertained me.  But before the day is over, I have to have checked off the things on my list.  Other people see my day and notice that I seem to be doing a million different things.  Other people see my desk and think there’s no way I could ever get anything done.  But somehow I manage to always develop the reputation in the office of the guy who gets things done.  How do I do that?

I harness my mess.

-The Young Professional

Facts or Feelings

The third spectrum Myers Briggs breaks people into is Thinkers (T) or Feelers (F).  This spectrum measures how we evaluate information to make decisions.  After much scientific study, I have boiled the entire personality profile into one question:

Which do you more often find yourself thinking:

Why doesn’t he care?

OR

Why doesn’t she think about the facts?

If the argument sounds familiar, it might be because it is.  This personality spectrum is the only one that shows a strong gender bias.  While the population is split 50/50 between Thinkers and Feelers, 2/3 of Thinkers are men and 2/3 of Feelers are women.

Thinkers give more weight to facts and data, and place a higher value on objectivity, when making decisions.  They prefer to make the decision that is the most logical, regardless of the emotional impact on people.

Feelers give more weight to feelings and emotions, and place a higher value on the emotional impact of a decision.  They prefer to make the decision that makes the most people happy, regardless of the objective results.

This personality difference leads to the most explosive exchanges.  It means that two people can look at the same situation, agree on all the facts, and completely and passionately disagree on the proper solution.  Neither side is right, and neither side wrong, so there’s no way to ensure that you are always initially on the right.  The only thing you can do is make sure that you are aware of the preferences of the people around you, and that you work to approach problems from their perspective as well.

Otherwise, the fact of the matter is that you will both be quite unhappy.

– The Young Professional

General Specifics

In the world of personality profiling, Myers Briggs‘ second spectrum groups people on their preference towards either Intuition (represented by the letter N) or Sensing (represented by the letter S).  This spectrum measures how you take in information from the world around you.  In keeping with my attempts to keep it simple, and save you money, I offer a simple test to see whether you are an N or an S.  Of course, you are welcome to take the longer, more expensive, and debatably more accurate test at Myers Briggs.

What do you find yourself saying more:

Give me some damn specifics.

OR

Quit wasting my time with all these details.

If you find yourself more often wanting more specifics, you are likely an S, as is about 70% of the North American population.  People with a preference for Sensing prefer dealing in the present, dealing with specifics, and working on projects that yield immediate, tangible results. The prototypical sensor is the accountant that delights in making entries, or the coder that delights in programming.

If you feel yourself nearing a panic attack with each additional detail, then you probably have a preference towards Intuition.  People with that preference (like myself), love abstract thought, and see everything as part of a bigger pattern.  The prototypical Intuitive is the philosopher who delights in abstract theory.

It’s important that you realize what your preference is so that you can find the best way to utilize your natural preference in your career.  It’s also important so that you don’t drive the people around you crazy.  If you are working with someone of the opposite type, but are communicating the way that you like information, then you are unknowingly setting yourself up for failure.  I once drove one of my assistant managers insane, which hurt our offices performance, because I gave the manager the general directions that I wanted and thrived under.  The assistant thought that I was either intentionally being difficult, or an idiot.  Fortunately, I realized the disconnect before the damage was irreversible, and once I did, adapted my style and saw the manager thrive.

Whether your mind gravitates to the big or the small, if you can’t work with the other, your problems will be HUGE.

-The Young Professional

He’s So Loud I Can Hear Him Not Think

Likelihood is, you’ve experienced one of the following two sentiments:

Why the hell won’t he just shut-up?

OR

Why the hell isn’t she saying anything?

Ok, so you’ve probably experienced both, but I bet there’s one that you experience more than others.  In fact, science says there has to be.  Yep, science.  That’s a fact.

There’s an entire field of personality study that covers in deep, complex detail how different people are genetically hardwired to experience the world around them.  Myers Briggs breaks the way that people get energized and interact with their environment into two groups: introverts and extroverts (some people spell it extraverts but I’m pretty sure those people are jerks).  For the small fee of $100, you can take a 6 hour test that determines which you are.  For a small additional fee of $900, you can find out your test results.  Thanks Myers Briggs! (some numbers are estimates).

OR… you can take my simple “Why the hell?” test.  It is personally guaranteed by me to be about 100% accurate some percent of the time, all of the time.  The “Why the hell?” test, fully disclosed at the beginning of this post, covers all the key points of the introversion to extroversion personality spectrum.  Basically, some people get energy from peace and quiet and naturally experience their environments internally.  We call these people introverts, losers, or thoughtful, depending on the moment.  Other people get energy from interacting with others and experience their environments externally – they talk as they think.  We call these people extroverts, blowhards, or engaging, depending on the moment.  If you say “why the hell aren’t they saying anything?” more often than you say “why the hell won’t they shut-up?” then you are likely an extrovert.  If you find yourself wondering the reverse, then you are likely an introvert.

The point is that everyone has one side of the spectrum they naturally fall on, and if they aren’t aware how the people around them are oriented, they risk looking dumb when they aren’t (and when they are), and ticking people off.

I happen to be pretty close to the middle of the spectrum, but still have a preference towards extroversion.  Even with all of the thought that I have given to personality profiling, I made the mistake of assuming that someone I worked with had no idea what was going because she never spoke up in our meetings, which were a free-flowing stream of consciousness for everyone else.  Finally, I asked her why she wasn’t participating, was it that she didn’t know anything or didn’t care.  She responded by saying how upset she was that had taken this many meetings for anyone to call on her, that she hated listening to everybody think out loud, and that she had the answer that we were looking for if we would ever have asked her to speak (she did).  This was not my shining moment, but it did serve to remind me that people are different, very different, and if you aren’t always aware of that fact, you will screw up.

And then you’ll just be saying What the hell did I do wrong?

– the Young Professional

Flip the Napkin (TM)

In my work with entrepreneurs, I spend a lot of time reminding startup companies pivot an average of 2 to 3 times in their early life.[1]  Said another way, the most successful startups confront their very own death, reevaluate everything that they used to hold sacred, freak out, and make a decision to do something that they never intended to do – 2 to 3 times in their early life.  It’s no wonder most startups fail.

Change is hard.  Confronting something that you used to believe was absolutely right, putting all of your blood, sweat, and tears into creating it, and then considering that it might be wrong – that’s nearly impossible.  But if you want to create a wildly successful company, the evidence says you will have to do exactly that – repeatedly.

When I first started working closely with dozens of different entrepreneurs each day, I thought that it must take a special sort of person to thrive in those pivotal moments.  And it does – not everyone has the physical constitution to see the world burning down around him and decide to fly.  But what also became abundantly clear, was that a person can be much better prepared to fly.  People can be taught how to handle pivotal moments better. I call those  “Flip the Napkin”(TM) moments, because they are moments that we have to abandon one idea, start fresh, and think of a new one.

But the ability to pivot, to know when to change course, and be able to do so, isn’t just a skill that makes entrepreneurs succeed.  It’s a life skill that everyone needs to succeed.  No life journey is a straight path.  Things never go completely according to plan.  Successful people adapt to the chaos.  They evaluate their environment, searching for opportunity, and then they reevaluate it, challenging all of their own assumptions.

As a world, we need to Flip the Napkin(TM).  It will require the courage of smart, determined people to Flip the Napkin(TM) on the bitterness consuming our national dialogue, the struggles of the Great Recession, and the pessimism that has replaced the hope for a better a future.  We can build a better future.

Join the movement. Make the change.  Flip the Napkin.

– John Murdock, the Young Professional


[1] According to the Startup Genome Project, 2011.