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.