What kinda person is Tom Ortega?

I was chatting with Brendan the other day. He asked what kind of person am I to attempt to carry a full time job, put on conferences on the side, manage a successful user group, write articles for the Edge and Adobe Development Center, be a good husband, be a good father of two, and be a good cub scout den leader.

This got me to thinking. Most people only know the Northern California Tom Ortega. Prior to my move to the Silicon Valley, my list of activities were quite different. In Southern California, my plate consisted of holding a full time job, being a good hubbie, being a dad of one and a whole lot of commuting. I didn’t blog, didn’t really participate in any tech community and flitted from one business idea to the next with none taking shape or form.

I had always wanted to move to the Valley. I mean, for a geek, it’s the closest thing we have to a mecca. John forwarded me a job post in October of 2005 and before you knew it, my family was moving to the Bay Area. My wife wasn’t too keen on moving at first. One thing that helped convince her was an idea of mine. I explained that it would be easier to make a name for myself in the tech space in the Valley than elsewhere. Therefore, after a few months of settling down, I got started on that task. This meant I would have to break out of some comfort zones, but oh well. If I wanted to be comfortable, I would’ve stayed in Southern California.

The biggest fear I had to overcome was public speaking. Despite my keynoting at 360|Flex, presenting at MAX and heading up the Silvafug meetings, I actually don’t like public speaking. However, in this day and age, being shy doesn’t get you very far. Therefore, I do what is required. When in Rome (or the Valley), do as the Romans, right? I can still remember the first time during a Silvafug meeting where I realized internally that I was no longer scared to talk in front of people.

So I don’t like public speaking, big deal. Who does? That still doesn’t explain how I take on so much stuff and don’t go crazy. The closest thing that I’ve found that explains it well is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. According to the test, I’m an INFP (Introverted iNtuitive Feeling Perceiving) which translates to Introverted Feeling with Extraverted Intuition. You can read all the details here, but there’s a few I’d like to point out and explain how they relate to me.

“INFPs are focused on making the world a better place for people. Their primary goal is to find out their meaning in life. What is their purpose? How can they best serve humanity in their lives?”

Prior to coming up north, I was constantly struggling to figure out how I was going to do this. Now, I’m slowly discovering the many ways I can serve some portion of humanity. Granted, my articles, user group meetings, and conferences don’t make the “entire” world a better place for people. I can only hope, however, that it does make it a nicer place for those that I serve.

This also explains why profits weren’t a priority for the first few 360|Flex shows. It was more important to me that we learn how to put on a good conference. It also explains on why I didn’t insist that we get paid for the first year of the business either. Now, John agreed to all this as well, for his own reasons that you’ll have to ask him about. Overall though, we both just wanted to help developers by giving them a better bang for their buck.

“When it comes to the mundane details of life maintenance, INFPs are typically completely unaware of such things. They might go for long periods without noticing a stain on the carpet, but carefully and meticulously brush a speck of dust off of their project booklet.”

I so fit this description. My wife is constantly asking me how I can walk past my dirty socks in the living room or ignore the cluttered countertop in the bathroom. “How is it that you put on a conference for hundreds of people in your spare time, but can’t remember to pick up your socks everyday?” Truth of the matter is, I just don’t even see it. I wouldn’t say my head is lost in the clouds, but that description isn’t too far off.

The thing is that I tend to move from one focused task to another: answer conference emails, play with kids, eat dinner, work on a bug for work, etc. This helps me from going crazy with my workload. I never view all the work at once, that would be too scary. Instead, I just focus on what needs to be done that day and that makes the list more manageable.

In business, I’m constantly breaking jobs into a set of processes. I then optimize these processes to achieve optimal results. There’s no reason I can’t apply that same logic to my marriage or bad personal habits. Therefore, I’m trying to pick up those socks and help minimize the clutter. To work on this “unaware” fault, I recently added a new task, “Be a better hubby.” This way it doesn’t get lost in the shuffle of other ToDos.

“INFPs have very high standards and are perfectionists. Consequently, they are usually hard on themselves, and don’t give themselves enough credit.”

Recently, I was explaining to John that I think it’s this perfectionism that prevents me from wanting to hire employees. Even on some menial task, I think to myself. “Why pass on that task? They’ll likely not do it right.” I’m starting to work on this as well though. A good businessman can delegate and help others grow. I just have to work on letting go.

For those of you that have hung with me, I’m sure you’ve noticed I’m hard on myself. That’s because I know that there’s room for improvement in all that I do. My problem is that I think all those improvements should have been done like last year. If you see me, be sure to remind me: “You done with those improvements yet?” LOL

“INFPs are usually talented writers. They may be awkard and uncomfortable with expressing themselves verbally, but have a wonderful ability to define and express what they’re feeling on paper.”

I hope the talented writer part is true. People really like my Edge and ADC articles. I have some good poems for my wife (they’re not all good since i’m supposed to write one daily). Deep down though, I can’t wait for the day where I can kiss all you tech and business folk good bye to just sit and write fiction all day. I have plans for novels upon novels to write. Nothing feels better to me in life than when I sit at a keyboard or notepad to create a world that exists only in my head. Someday, I’ll do that. For now though, I’m having too much fun doing all the other stuff.

Hope that helps you get a better view of the wackiness that is me.  Got some quirks of your own you want to share?  Drop them in the comments.  This way, I know I’m not the only crazy one.  🙂  If you figure out your Myers-Briggs Type, add that in there too.

4 thoughts on “What kinda person is Tom Ortega?

  1. “INFP”

    I’m an ENTJ, but I with strong ENTP tendencies as well.

    “I so fit this description. My wife is constantly asking me how I can walk past my dirty socks in the living room or ignore the cluttered countertop in the bathroom.”

    I thought that was just some male attribute. If it wasn’t moving, we didn’t notice it.

    “Deep down though, I can’t wait for the day where I can kiss all you tech and business folk good bye to just sit and write fiction all day.”

    Here here…and shoot some photography, and learn to play my violin. And teach my little one too. 🙂

    “I have plans for novels upon novels to write. Nothing feels better to me in life than when I sit at a keyboard or notepad to create a world that exists only in my head.”

    BTW, I intend my first personal AIR project to be an author’s tool for keeping track of chapters, characters, scenes, loose thoughts, and which characters are featured in what.


    If I ever get time to code this, I’ll send you a copy. Need to find a simple tutorial for using SQLite in AIR. More so, need to find some free time. *lol*

    The Saj is an interesting creature, first off, he has a tendency to speak in the 3rd person. Second, he doesn’t really fit any typical mold well. I do programming because I have a creative idea streak that works fairly well. In truth, I don’t think it’s really my perfect forte. Largely, because I’m very much the extrovert and people person. I think I’d excel if I worked in tandem with one of those people who enjoy spending 18 hours of their day inside code. Too much of the world around me interests and captures me.

    On the flip side, I also tend to be an innovator or maybe more accurately an improver. I’ll often see things or pick up things and quickly come to a conclusion as to where such things are failing and require improvement. I’ll walk around IKEA both amazed and highly critical. Because I’ll look at some product, find it fascinating but then declare it incomplete. It’s 80% there, but with just a few things (sometimes mere pennies or even savings) it could be so much better. Same thing with Apple.

    It’s a rare occasion when I look at something and don’t have some idea as to how to improve it. But I struggle with ADD/ADHD/ADDDDDDDDD & ADOhlookatthatoverthere!!!!


    I also struggle with a very high sense of justice, fairness. But also very compassionate. I also greatly respect and admire charitable people. I know a couple who are always going around blessing others. I talk with my wife about how when we’re older I’d like to be in a position to be like them, and act similarly. My respect and admiration for you is quite high as well. Thank you for all the kindness you showed my family in Atlanta.

    What are the great moments in our lives? I think these are when we excel at being noble. I was at a summer party/picnic a few years back. For whatever reason, I found myself in the very strange and unusual role of being Mr. Popular. (Yes, the one who was always seemingly uncool and the outsider found himself Mr. Cool at this event.) We were playing Volley Ball. And I was made a team captain. A friend and I were talking the game before how we were always the last to be picked. (And at least in my case, it was not usually skill level.) Well here I was a team captain. I made a decision. While I picked one person I had been playing extremely well with as my first pick. I decided to pick my friend as my second pick. He was really a lousy volleyball player. But I said to myself, sure, I could pick so we’d likely win. And in a couple years I won’t even remember this game. Or I could make a difference in someone’s life. I chose the latter…guess what, I’ve never forgotten that day.

    I gotta run. But I wanted to encourage you, if you haven’t already, check out the Gallup’s Strengthfinder. It arose out of a study where they were asked to select the top 3 candidates for a law company who had three partners retiring. They had several candidates but only wanted the absolute best 3. Money was not an issue. What they did was ask a number of questions to extremely successful lawyers. They then asked the candidates those same questions. They went back to the company and said “These are the three you want to hire.” When asked why, they explained because these three answered the questions in like manner to the best lawyers out there. In otherwords, they had similar strengths and tendencies.

    Anyways, essentially what the study does is determine your top five inherent strengths. The reason they do this is that they discovered that most successful people operate mainly in their strongest strengths. Rather than focusing on their weaknesses. If you invest in your strengths, you see good returns. If you invest in your weaknesses, you may see very low to zero returns. It might be better to delegate that aspect or responsibility to someone with that strength instead. (As I recall, you can buy a book called “Now, discover your strengths” and it had a coupon to let you take the exam.

    My results were quite interesting:
    – Ideation
    – Woo
    – Input
    – Strategy
    – Restorative

    Part of what made me interesting is that my first two strengths were at a 100%.

    > Ideation, essentially is “Idea creation” and this is truly who I am. I am really just a box full of ideas.

    > WOO = Winning Others Over, essentially it describes the type of individual who can interact with strangers as if a friend. They may depart not knowing any names, might not remember faces. But they can essentially treat someone as if they’re a friend they’ve known for quite a while.

    > Input, ability to absorb lots of knowledge and info. This was shown during the course where I took this. While many people were exclaiming “info overload”, I sat there wanting “more, more, more!!!”. It also explains my mind’s tendency to have knowledge on a variety of topics and for my high school knickname of “Encyclopedia”.

    > Strategy, I have a good mind for strategy, be it a board game or a business plan. I’ll often see aspects of potential pitfalls possibly missed. I think this also comes in play with my habit of looking at things and thinking how they could be improved. (ie: I sent an email to Microsoft before the Xbox 360 and Zune was released. Expressing that they should consider a removable hard drive. With a further media player model akin to an iPod. That would allow you to play music while gaming, save your games, characters, and videos of gameplay. This could have made the Zune a very successful unit, as most Xbox 360 owners would have likely bought a Zune over an iPod. Instead the Zune has struggled to maintain a significant presence in the market.

    > Restoration, I feel a need to fix things, make things better. Be it on a compassionate level to a human being or the broken toilet paper holder.

    Just thought I’d share with you Tom, thought you might find it insightful and give you a better glimpse into “The Saj”


    PS – Keep up the good work.

    And in case you’re ever looking to expand. Holds up brown cardboard sign that reads “Will work 360Flex ‘San Jose’ for hotel room + a few seminars (to convince work to let me have the time off).”


    Give me a year or so, then I’ll hopefully be ready to be a presenter. 😉

  2. Truth of the matter is, I just don’t even see it. I wouldn’t say my head is lost in the clouds, but that description isn’t too far off.

    Yeah this bugs me a bit, I seem to lose tract of everyday things when programming over 9 hours in a day

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