Built For Growth: How To Understand Your Builder Personality And Use It To Shape Your Business With Christopher Kuenne

All entrepreneurs, big or small, have specific builder personalities that shape the way they do business and handle their teams. Although there are several ways in which a builder personality can take form, there is no one attribute that defines a successful entrepreneur. Whatever personality you have, there are core strengths that you can maximize to take the win for your business. Serial entrepreneur, educator and author, Christopher Kuenne does a wonderful job in explaining this in Built for Growth, a bestselling book that he co-authored with John Danner. Chris is the former founder and CEO of Rosetta, one of the biggest marketing agencies focused on customer engagement. Since 2014, he has founded and led Rosemark, a platform of interdependent companies focused on cracking the code of personalized customer marketing. Whether you’re interested in Chris’ take on the builder personality or his visionary insights on digital marketing, this conversation with Dr. Diane Hamilton is going to be a treat for you.

TTL 801 | Builder Personality


I’m glad you joined us because we have Chris Kuenne here. Chris is the Founder of Rosemark and the former Founder and CEO of Rosetta. He’s got some interesting work he does in personality, in addition to being a Princeton professor, and some of the other things he does. This is going to be a fascinating show.

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Built For Growth: How To Understand Your Builder Personality And Use It To Shape Your Business With Christopher Kuenne

I am here with Chris Kuenne, who is the Founder of Rosemark and former Founder and CEO of Rosetta. He’s a highly successful entrepreneur, business builder, bestselling author, and member of Princeton University’s faculty. It’s so nice to have you here, Chris.

Thank you so much, Diane. It’s a pleasure to join you.

I was looking at some of your videos, other interviews, and things that you’ve done. You’ve been hugely successful. I want to get into the sell of Rosetta and all the things that you’ve done, your bestselling book, Built For Growth, and everything that you’ve worked. I want to get a backstory on you because a lot of people always like to know how did you get to this level of success.

We all know that life is very humbling, and with success comes lots of failures. If you’re lucky, you have more success than failure, not too many more failures than success. You’re nice to put it that way. I like to describe how I became who I am as a function of growing up in an academic family. In fact, I come from five generations of college professors. I was the first person in my family not to go into academia. Sure enough later in my career, now I’m back in academia. My mom, putting on her best Jewish accent likes to say, “Finally, you’ve returned to the family business.”

I grew up in an academic family where ideas reign supreme. We would have incredibly interesting and intellectually challenging debates at the dinner table or at breakfast. I’m a little perplexed by my academic parents and their colleagues feeling that an idea reached its highest usefulness when it was published rather than turned into impact. Very early on in my growing up, I thought, “Ideas are cool but what makes them cool is to do something with them.” I headed off to college, and then was a product manager at Johnson & Johnson, converting ideas into businesses, into ultimately enterprise value. That’s ultimately what led to starting my own company and becoming an entrepreneur.

We have a lot of things in common of the things that we’re interested in. I used to work for AstraZeneca for many years. Our backgrounds led to probably our interest in writing different things. I mentioned you wrote Built for Growth. How did that become a Wall Street Journal bestseller? That’s pretty impressive to reach that level. What do you think resonated with from that book?

At Rosetta, the company that I started, we developed a piece of intellectual property that we called Personality Based Segmentation. It was borrowing from some of the leadership thinking of Myers and Briggs. I always like to point out that Myers and Briggs are not two old white guys, but a mother-daughter team, which very few people know. We converted or translated some of Myers-Briggs’s thinking into marketing. When I started my academic career, I was asked to come to teach at Princeton. I thought it would be interesting to take that concept of putting people into buckets based on the core dimensions that drive their behavior, and apply that to entrepreneurs to try to figure out if all entrepreneurs are the same with regard to their personality or alternatively, are there different types, just like Myers and Briggs found different types, and how those types might shape how you build your business?

My co-author, John Danner and I did the research. We’ve now typed over 30,000 entrepreneurs using our structure. Indeed, we find that there are different types of entrepreneurs, not just one, although many people feel that Steve Jobs is the archetypical entrepreneur. Everybody must have to be like Steve Jobs. In fact, we found that there is a Steve Jobs type, we call it the driver. There are indeed three other approaches, other personality types that can be very effective entrepreneurs.

TTL 801 | Builder Personality
Built for Growth: How Builder Personality Shapes Your Business, Your Team, and Your Ability to Win

What are they?

The driver, then the next one is the explorer. The driver is what it sounds like. The driver is driven by a sense of product-market fit. How do I come up with ideas that the world hasn’t seen and solve problems that the world may not yet know they have? The iPad is a wonderful example of that. The explorer is someone who’s obsessive, curious about how systems work. The explorer sees systems in everything she or he observes, and then figures out how to create businesses out of the way the system works. The third type is the crusader who, like its name, is driven to make the world better through high levels of empathy, and drawing teams together to solve very important worldwide problems. The last one is the captain who’s motivated to unleash the productive potential of the team, and is a leader of people first, and ideas and problem-solving second.

Two-part question. First of all, which of these are you and what Myers-Briggs type are you?

I have to say, sheepishly, I’m the driver type. For better and for worse, I have some of those tendencies of being impatient and expecting everybody to be as motivated and as driven as I am. Earlier in my career, I found that I was probably burning out some of my teammates as a result of that intensity. Hopefully, I’ve matured a little bit since then. My core personality is certainly that of the driver. I am an ENTJ. Perhaps you are also.

I am an ESTJ. I’m not intuitive. I was extreme on my scale. The funny thing to me was the T versus F, I had zero F. I’ve never seen anybody else get a zero. Apparently, I don’t make any decisions based on my values, which is interesting.

Maybe your values are so embedded in all those other things that don’t show up in that.

I don’t know. I’m a very facts and figures person. I know Myers-Briggs because I’m certified and gave those in the day. I love personality tests. We were talking a little before we started and we’re going to have plenty to talk about this stuff. As you were listing these things, I see myself as a driver to some extent but also, since I’m super curious, an explorer. Can you be on the border of these things like Myers-Briggs?

[bctt tweet=”Ideas are cool, but what makes them cooler is when you do something with them.” via=”no”]

Yes. Given all the work you’ve done in personality, we know that context has a big impact, so does maturity and development. What we found, and we did this research a few years ago. We don’t have a longitudinal view of individuals. Our hunch is that over time, as you are buffeted by the challenges of leading people and managing businesses, if you’re successful, you tend to take on aspects of each of the personalities while retaining this home room or home base, which is your originating cell for essence. At the end of the book, we talk about the idea of, are you a master builder? Meaning that you are attempting to meld together the best in each of these types, or are you an expert builder in which you say, “This is my expertise. I’m going to stay the way I am. I’m going to surround myself with the other types to be able to lead and manage my team?” We don’t take a point of view as to which one is better or worse. We posit that as you begin to learn your own style and how that style plays out for your team, you should make a deliberate decision as to how you want to continue to progress your own development.

You’ve obviously learned a lot from everything that you went through at Rosetta to be super successful. I loved watching some of your former interviews because I was learning a lot about what you did to be able to be successful. I know that you sold it for $575 million, which is unbelievable. Congratulations, but you turned down an offer for $600 million. Tell me about that. How did you turn down that?

There’s another book in this perhaps. It starts with the proposition that perhaps most sales of businesses end up failing. They fail for a whole bunch of reasons that we probably don’t have time to go into. There is this intuitive moment where the leadership team who’s been building and scaling a business needs to decide who they want to be partners with going forward. Who feels right and what system feels like it will be the most productive to continue to scale the business. We made the decision to take an offer that was less than the highest offer. Believing that the culture, values and structure of Publicis was a better fit than the other bidder. Unfortunately, the story doesn’t have a happy ending in that Publicis did not get all of the value they could have or should have out of Rosetta. I’m sure there are lots of blame going around on both the Rosetta side and the Publicis side. It was unfortunate because we chose the second bidder believing that this would perpetuate the business that we worked so hard to create. It turned out that it didn’t, and who knows whether the other bidder would have been more or less successful.

You’ll never know. When you nurture a company like that, I thought it was fascinating how you achieved a symmetric growth that you eventually started having to acquire. Tell me how you did that.

It reaches right back to what we were talking about because of this concept of using personality. In this case, the personality of consumer categories. Imagine you are a credit card personality or a toothbrush personality. We were able to build a model within each consumer category that explained brand choice. That became the basis for growing an idea into a business. A business that became so big that we were able to bring private equity money in, and then make three acquisitions with investor money. We were able to scale. We brought a wonderful private equity firm called Lindsay Goldberg into our business in 2007 when we were about $50 million in revenue. We’d gotten to $50 million on our own. With their capital and wisdom, we were able to go from $50 million to $250 million in four years.

The essence of that growth came from this idea of how to make marketing work better using personality-based segmentation but we needed other vectors to implement it through. Vector is a fancy word, but what it means is other platforms to take this deep understanding consumers, and make the marketing work better. The first acquisition we made was of an eCommerce implementing company, a systems integrator. We were able to bring our marketing expertise and insight expertise to the way they built eCommerce sites for companies like Coach and Borders Books, which doesn’t exist anymore, and other large consumer brands. We were able to take our one marketing technology and know-how, and their one marketing implementation of eCommerce, and turn it into three. We then did it again in each of the subsequent two acquisitions. It was creating the synergy of our marketing know-how and their technology implementation know-how.

You took all these and you grew the company. What makes you decide to sell it?

There are many torturous decisions of being an entrepreneur, but this is certainly one of the bigger ones. Can you continue to go it alone or do you need to merge your business into a larger platform? What we were finding for companies like AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, and our pharmaceutical vertical is that we were working for them around the world and putting our team on planes to fly to all the major cities from New Jersey. It wasn’t practical not having a global network of offices. We had a choice between building that out, perhaps even getting on a path to go public, or merging Rosetta into a business that already had that infrastructure. Of course, we chose the second one. In many respects, the decision was a wise one in that the Publicis’s global infrastructure and offices around the world immediately allowed us to start winning business that we didn’t have. As a quick example, we teamed up with other Publicis teams to win the Samsung business. It was a $100 million client and we didn’t have any clients of that scale. By teaming up with Publicis, we were able to win much bigger businesses around the world.

TTL 801 | Builder Personality
Builder Personality: As you begin to learn your own builder personality and how it plays out for your team, you should make a deliberate decision as to how you want to continue to progress your own development.


It’s interesting to look at companies if the founder sells out. What kind of windfall do you get with that? You have a certain percentage of the company. I’m curious because we never get into that aspect. I’ve had a former CEO and the founder’s son of Dunkin’ and different people on the show. Is it as profitable as you were expecting it to be? Tell us a little bit about being the founder after a big sale like that.

Every business model is different. Rosetta was a professional services business, which means that there aren’t any assets. The assets, as they say, is take their car home every day or down the elevator. This requires a distribution of the ownership that’s much broader than a franchise business like Dunkin’ or if you make widgets. The founder often controls a much larger percent of the business. By the time my cofounder, Kurt Holstein and I were selling the business, we owned way less than 50%. In fact, probably less than 35% of the business because we had both distributed a good amount of the ownership out to the leaders who were helping to build it. Also, because we’d brought private equity money and they own a big piece of it because they were putting the capital in. It depends. There are some businesses that sell for billions of dollars and the founders don’t get anything because of the way the capital structure works. It depends on what kind of business and what the capital structure is.

I know many startups right now are all wanting to be unicorns. They’re waiting and waiting and they get close. I know one company keeps getting like $800,000 offers but he keeps holding out. Is there a risk in how long you wait?

Absolutely. We entrepreneurs think that it is all about creating value and winning customers, which it certainly is and building a great team. The reality is that your business could be worth 1X or 10X based on timing alone. The timing is so important. You never know. This is one of the agonizing parts of it. You never know whether you got the timing right until it’s over. Years later, you look back at it and you say, “Did I hit the apex point in the value of the business or not?”

It is a challenging thing. I have worked on the board of advisors at DocuSign, so I know Keith Krach. I was watching what he did with Ariba and DocuSign. It’s fun to hear these stories. I teach a lot still. I know you teach at Princeton and I teach a lot of business in different courses of leadership, and marketing and what impacts things. The GameStop thing has been very interesting to me, and the impact of influencers on company stock. There’s so much going on right now. It’s such a weird time. I don’t know what other word to describe what’s going on. You’ve started this newer company, Rosemark. I want to know a little bit more about what you do at Rosemark, and what made you want to go into another company. Are you a serial entrepreneur?

I’m not sure that I’m a serial entrepreneur. I’m certainly a serial student and aspire to be a teacher of entrepreneurship. Rosemark represents a completely different business model in some regards. The content of the business is identical. At Rosemark, what we’re doing is meeting and ultimately acquiring businesses like Rosetta, where we think we can help the management team scale their business faster. We think of ourselves as both an investment platform but also importantly, as coaches and tool builders to management teams to help them build their business faster. The mechanics of what we’re doing is we’re an operating company. That means that we will acquire businesses in partnership with our investor. They will become part of Rosemark, and then we’ll scale Rosemark.

Our role is a bit different in that we’re teaching these management teams how to scale their capability in the context of our business. We’re making very good progress. We’ve met a lot of great management teams. We have a view on where digital marketing is going. We’re finding like-minded entrepreneurs who were at $10 million, $15 million, $20 million in revenue. We believe they have an idea that can get to $100 million or $75 million. We believe we can help them get there by bringing them in as part of Rosemark.

When I was the MBA Program Chair for Forbes School of Business, we wrote this brand publishing course for Forbes and for the school. It was so interesting to me how challenging it was for CMOs to know where things were going, how to reach customers with their personalized message but at scale. When you say you know where digital marketing is going, I’m curious, where is it going?

[bctt tweet=”Your business could be worth 1x or 10x based on timing alone.” via=”no”]

I’m not sure we know. We have a theory, and the great thing about business is you find out if you were wrong or right or somewhere in between. I’ll give you the 90 seconds spiel or less. One of the things that happened in digital marketing over the years is there’s been this obsession over driving the transaction. We all experienced this as consumers where you shop for something, and then you get barraged with something called remarketing, which is the digital form of junk mail. Every time you open your browser, sure enough, you’re getting whacked with more banner ads, the cowboy boots you were looking at or whatever it might be. If you made the mistake of giving them your email, you get even more messages to your email box or whatever it might be. This is an obsession over the transaction.

We believe that digital marketing is going to focus on the relationship. If you and I are building a relationship, I wouldn’t keep telling you the same thing over and over again until you finally get convinced of it. I would get to know you, what are your underlying motivations and preferences or we go back to personality. By understanding what makes you tick, I as the brand can then build a deeper and enduring relationship, which ultimately is measured in something we call customer lifetime value. Our belief is that digital marketing needs to move from this transaction obsession to a connection in relationship. This is why and where we believe personality can play such a huge role. We’ve developed a methodology or a technology that allows us to score customers of a given brand to identify what their motivations and preferences are, such that the brand can then build a relationship on the things that are most important to that consumer.

When I developed the Curiosity Code Index, my whole thought behind that was I want to quantify the things that keep people from being curious. To me, curiosity is the key to innovation engagement. It builds the empathy that you’re talking about. I wrote my dissertation on emotional intelligence. I was very interested in that and having Daniel Goleman on the show and a lot of people here. We talk about all these different things. What frustrates me when you’re talking about measuring customer lifetime value, it’s very hard to measure the impact of curiosity. When I talk to leaders to say, “Here’s what we’ve seen for engagement, here’s what we’ve seen for innovation, and how much money it’s going to save you.” I’ve worked with Novartis and they measure curiosity quite a bit. They measured it in terms of engagement. They look at their engagement prior to doing their curiosity training and they moved the needle. Since you’re a measurement guru like all this, I love that, and personality, how can we get more data about the value of improving curiosity building that empathy? Does this tie into what you’re doing at all?

I applaud all the work you’ve done on focusing on curiosity. There are many dimensions that we could plant our flag on. I agree with you entirely that curiosity is one of the most discriminating dimensions. When you’re trying to put people into groups or segments, what you’re looking for is the smallest number of dimensions, curiosity being a dimension, there are sub-dimensions of it, I’m sure, that discriminate people. This isn’t about racial discrimination. This is discriminating, meaning putting them into distinct groups based on that dimension. You are exactly right. Curiosity is a highly discriminating dimension. In fact, what we find is that if you were to sort consumers of a brand in two buckets, those people who are, in your terminology, curious and also engaged. Engagement is the single biggest driver of that consumer’s value. In fact, it turns out that depending on the category, anywhere from 30% to as high as 60% of a given consumer category. Category here means things like cell phones, deodorant, toothpaste, or automobiles. Every category has a different level of engagement or incidents of engagement.

The reason that marketing doesn’t work most of the time is that we spend half our money, as the famous expression goes, “I know half of my marketing is not working. I just don’t know which half.” It’s more like about 80% or 90% of marketing doesn’t work. The reason it doesn’t work is the exact point you’re making. You’re spending so much money on disengaged consumers. You can keep hammering them with banner ads, TV ads and radio ads, but if I’m not engaged in the category of auto insurance, none of that advertising is going to work for me. One of the key dimensions, which you’re right on, is what’s my curiosity, which is an indicator of my engagement and what’s my level of engagement? The next thing you need to know is, why am I engaged? On what level of motivation and preference engages me? That’s where a greater personalization can drive to better lifetime value.

My current position as a dean of business is looking in education fields. Let’s look at education. You’re trying to drive business and connect with students who are potentially interested in going into higher education. Using what you said, what advice would you give to how we reach those who are engaged or get them to be engaged in the first place?

This is such an interesting question because I used to be on the board of The New School in New York. We built one of these personality-based segmentation structures to reposition and sharpen the New School brand and positioning. We figured out which high school senior personality types were best aligned with the New School brand, and then pointed all of the marketing of The New School toward that mindset. As a general point, I believe every school particularly those that are very tuition-driven should understand what is their distinctive competency, and then which high school personality type or college student personality type best fits their brand. This is exactly what Anne Adriance, who’s the Chief Marketing Officer of The New School did brilliantly using the Rosetta system. I think you were asking a more general question which is, what are the characteristics of high school seniors who have the curiosity and the engagement to be considering college?

I work in the more online realm. We have all age groups. It’s not just the high school seniors, so it’s such a broad market. Where do you start?

TTL 801 | Builder Personality
Builder Personality: As the economy becomes more complex, the idea of certificate-based or expertise-based programs will really start to take off.


The proposition for your school, is it a honed proposition about the artistic community, the technology community?

It’s more of a military school. Military background for a higher education business school is what I work for right now. They’ve done great within the military market. Does that help you answer the question?

Yes. You have a focused target population, which are either current or former members of the military. That’s the target. What you’re asking is what is the subset of that group who are most likely to be interested in. That profile or that target would have a series of personality. What are the underlying motivations? Some people are motivated out of pure intellectual curiosity. I would love to learn more about whatever the topic is. There are some who are much more pragmatic and say, “I need the degree. I need the knowledge. I need the expertise to advance my career.” I may or may not be interested in it, but what I need is the knowledge and the credentials.

Those are vastly different motivations, although both could be equally attracted to the institution, but they’re attracted to the institution for different reasons. There’s probably a third core underlying motivation and curiosity, which is a social one. School and school connection, even online connections are very socially driven. How do I connect with people and connect with ideas? Identifying these tall poles of the tent of distinct motivations, and then which one or ones are best aligned with your brand and can you matriculate?

It’s interesting as you were talking about credentials, that made me think of certifications and different things. I’m curious, since you and I are both in the education realm, where do you think the degree programs are going? Do you think we’re going to see more certifications? I know right now companies still value degrees. That is going to still be a big part. I know you have a degree from Harvard. You can’t get nicer than that, and Princeton. You have a wonderful education background. We’ll always probably have the doctors in the different groups who need a specific four-year degree. Do you think we’ll see more stacked certification programs or à la carte things? If so, where does that leave the glue that holds it together, like the humanities and soft skills?

This is a topic we have been discussing with my Princeton colleagues. There’s a lot there. I’m going to start with the first comment. That the higher education is going to bifurcate into a full 2 or 4-year degree. A degree is made up of a series of requirements and so on. You got the stamp of approval of such and such school because you got a Bachelor’s or Associate’s degree. They will easily choose a number. The college graduating population is something like about somewhere between 45% and 55%. Roughly half of America does not go or complete college, and yet our economy is becoming more and more complex, requiring more and more training. This is the other half of the bifurcation. The trade schools have had this for years, centuries.

To learn a trade, you would be an apprentice. I believe that the idea of programs that are certificate-based or expertise-based will start to take off. The problem will be the schools in the middle, the small Liberal Arts schools that are neither high brand value, 2 or 4-year programs. The economic argument for the training you’re getting is challenging. It sounds like the institution you’re associated with is very well poised to be a training ground, a certificate-based program, along with those who want the full degree. There’s a huge opportunity for that proposition.

There’s a lot of room for different things. I can remember years and years ago, I used to be the editor-in-chief of an online education website. He was talking to me as part of this, about how he thought that we would pick and choose from different universities. Maybe take a class here and a class there. You would no longer all go to one school. I remember thinking, “That’s going to be interesting.” I remember talking to a guy who was working on blockchain to keep track of this through Salesforce. He was talking to one of the universities here about some of that stuff. It’ll be interesting how they track all this.

[bctt tweet=”Marketing needs to focus more on relationships instead of transactions.” via=”no”]

I’m on a board for Flourish, which is a Reid Hoffman backed app. He’s one of the major investors in this. Everybody who’s reading knows that he’s the LinkedIn co-creator. This is an app to prepare students and people in their career in their lives. As I was working with them on this, we created a curiosity journey and it’s a game thing. There are four things that inhibit curiosity. There’s fear, assumptions, technology and environment. You would maybe go up the fear path or the technology path or different things. Do you think gamification is going to be part of this certification? From my experience, I hear a lot of that coming up. Gamification is like you make it into a game of sorts where you’re getting credits or red stars.

Gamification has been huge at the younger age. Khan Academy and others are using gamification to teach and we’ve discovered this is like the 1970s commercial of the person hitting as far ahead and saying, “I could have a V8.” Kids love games. Kids aren’t so crazy about learning some science, “How about we put games and learning together?” “A-ha. It works.” I think gamification as a form of learning, as a form of reinforcing knowledge that you’re gaining is huge. It’s a huge opportunity. Brands are using gamification as a form of engagement, back to the topic we had earlier. Gamification will play a very significant role. There is a question that I have and you as the curiosity expert probably have the answer to it. Is gamification creating a false positive? Meaning that am I curious about this topic or am I getting dragged into it through the dopamine feedback loop of the gain versus the curiosity? Maybe it doesn’t matter. What do you think?

The outcome of where that game takes you is what matters. Whether you enter the room and get a star for entering a room, or once you get in the room, what do you do? That’s where it comes into play. You may get a reward, “I did this,” but do you continue to explore? Do you continue to see what else is in that room? When I train companies, because I work with Novartis and Verizons of the world, you learn the things that keep people from being curious, that keep them from wanting to get that gold star or go into that room or whatever you want to look at it. To build curiosity, that’s what my frustration was when I started to write the book.

I’m like you, I’m a personality person. I even wrote a book about all the personality assessments. I started to look for what keeps people from being curious. Where’s the assessment for that? I’m like, “What do you mean there isn’t one?” I started to look at the curiosity assessments. There’s openness to experience. There are different ones that measure if you’re curious or not. I’m like, “So I’m not, then what do you do?” You need those assessments to tell you the level of where you are, but then you can do training and things to see where you’ve gone. You don’t have anything out there until I created it that would tell what’s stopping you.

For me, if you don’t know what’s stopping you, it’s much harder to move forward because, what do you work on? It’s like a personal SWOT analysis or whatever. You look at what this is. It was interesting to look at those four factors. I knew fear would probably be a huge one, which can lead to the assumptions of what you tell yourself, “I’m not going to like this. It’s going to be boring.” You get the technology. You have people who are over and underutilizing technology. You may be the greatest mathematician in the world, but if I throw you a calculator and don’t tell you what’s behind it. There are all those kinds of things.

The environment is such a huge impactor. How many families tell you, “You’ve got to be going into this business,” or your teacher can’t talk to you because they’ve got many students. It’s all throughout your life. It’s a challenge to look at what keeps people back. You may get that dopamine rush that we know that curiosity causes us to get that dopamine rush by opening a room. You’ll get that from playing Candy Crush too. You have to get this focused on and that’s what we do. You do that personal SWOT and you create these measurable goals. Why didn’t I like this? This is why. Let me look into this again. Do I still like it or not? Maybe not, then I go this direction.

It’s a path you’ve got to create. Does that make sense? It’s an interesting thing to research because there’s so much that we can help people. 2021 is going to be a big one. It sounds like you can do so much in terms of training, and mentorship is such a big thing. I serve on the Global Mentor Network, which Keith Krach was part of creating that. We’ve had Khan on from Khan Academy and different people, and there were big mentors in that. Where do you see mentorship going?

TTL 801 | Builder Personality
Builder Personality: It’s incredibly important to become a good mentee and chain great mentors along the way.


I leave my students with a number of things at the end of the semester. Mentoring is one of the core gifts or points of reinforcement that I leave them with. Choosing your mentors, being a good mentee, and then chaining mentors along so that you have mentors at different points of your development are unbelievably important. I still owe so much to my mentors. I mentor a number of former students and former employees under the belief that by being the right sympathetic ear, the right coach, the right question, the right loving support at the right moment in one’s career can be game-changing. It’s so powerful.

It’s the same with your curiosity measures. There are indicators as to whether you would be a good mentee or how to become a better mentee, and whether you could become a better mentor. All of us who’ve been lucky enough to have some measure of success, we owe it to the system, to the world to pay it forward as the expression goes. I’m a huge believer in mentoring. We can even coach people on both sides on how to be a better mentee and how to be a better mentor.

Do you think that we need to get a mentor who’s like us or not like us? I’m thinking DISC or Myers-Briggs and all the different types. I’m an ESTJ, I’m a high D in the DISC or whatever. Do I go for the S to mentor me or do I go with another D?

I’m not sure. My sense of it is that there are two key elements of mentoring. One is, where are you in your career? What’s the kind of advice and support that you’re looking for? It is independent of your personality. There is your readiness to engage with someone else. Some of us are built in a way that would allow us to be mentored by people that are wildly different from ourselves because we’re so focused on getting advice at this time of my career with this set of questions. There are people who are not wired that way. They have to have someone whose empathy and connection are similar or resonant with you. It is individual-based and context-based. Even if something like that could be helpful, you and I could probably, with an afternoon’s work, spin up yet another instrument that could say which mentor you are looking for now, and help that matching process.

I love these instruments and I’m curious of that. We talked about what you created. Of the four types, are the unicorn leaders more the driver, the explorer, the crusader, or the captain? Which one of those has had the most success?

We get this question all the time and I’m happy to say that it is fairly evenly distributed. The driver is a little higher incidence among the most successful but not like from one of the personalities is 70%. It’s more like one of the personalities is about 35% or 40% of the most successful people. One of the freedoms we hope that Built for Growth provides is that you can be any of these and be wildly successful. We use, in the book, very famous people as examples of each of the types. If I could put a quick plugin. If anyone would like to understand what her or his entrepreneurial builder type is, you could go to BuiltForGrowth.com. There’s a quiz right there on our website and it immediately tells you what type you are. It gives you a little profile. You don’t have to buy anything. It’s all free. Anyone who wants to learn what her or his type is, feel free to check it out.

I’m going to do that. I waited to talk to you because I wanted to see what you thought just from talking to me. What do you think I am?

You did tip your hand a little bit that you’re a driver, but you have some explorer in you because you clearly see things as the system. You’re wildly curious about how the system works, and then how you capitalized on that understanding. My hunch is that you’re a driver-explorer type.

[bctt tweet=”Those who have been lucky enough to have some measure of success owe it to the world to pay it forward.” via=”no”]

I am. Let me guess some company leaders. Can I guess for the four?

Yes, please.

Steve Jobs we’ve already got for the driver. How about Zuckerberg for explorer?

Yes. Think about the system that he knew existed out there. It’s network. It was brilliant.

He expanded and made it better for what was already out there, which is interesting to me. I’m going to go with Sergey Brin for crusader maybe. Captain, I don’t know. Maybe Jack Ma from Alibaba.

The story of Jack Ma is remarkable. Eighteen of his friends, he’s an unemployed or underemployed English teacher in China. He says, “Let’s meet in my apartment and let’s build a company.” It’s unbelievable. It’s such a great example of unleashing the creative potential, the curiosity potentially, using your term, deploying a team to create one of the most valuable companies in the world. We’re big Jack Ma fans.

I’m a big Jack Ma fan. It’s interesting to watch the success. I was thinking of some of the top companies. Anybody else you want to mention or were those pretty good examples of them?

Those are pretty good examples. We also went out to lesser-known entrepreneurs and hold them up in our book and on our speeches of examples of each of them. We believe that anyone who has the entrepreneurial itch could be a heroic example of any of these personalities. This is demystifying and hopefully democratizing entrepreneurial leadership. It’s an intimidating thing. What we’re trying to say in our book is regardless of your type, you can be wildly successful. There are patterns of vulnerability and patterns of strength for each of these types. Therefore, figuring out which type you are can give you a sense of what might be over the next horizon for you, both challenge and opportunity.

TTL 801 | Builder Personality
Builder Personality: Anyone who has the entrepreneurial itch could be a heroic example of, of any of the builder personalities. You can be wildly successful regardless of what your type is.


I don’t mind being a cross between Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg.

Let us know as you’re building your company, so we can invest.

You’re on my list. This has been so great, Chris. I was hoping you could share an aside or anything you wanted to share for people who want to follow you and learn more.

BuiltForGrowth.com is a great place. Rosemark is Rosemark.com. I can be found on LinkedIn. I’m happy to respond to anyone who reaches out and try to be helpful.

This has been so fun. We can talk all day and I’d love it. Thank you so much for being on the show, Chris.

Thank you so much, Diane.

I’d like to thank Chris for being my guest. We get many great guests on this show and it’s hard to keep up. I know there are more than 1,000 of them. If you missed 1 or 2, you can catch them at DrDianeHamilton.com. We get many different guests, different personality, behavioral and cultural things that we talk about. There are many great guests that have weighed in on that. If that’s a topic that interests you, please check out the site. There’s a whole bunch of dropdown menus at the top and also at the bottom for more assessments and information. You can find them there. I hope you enjoyed the episode and I hope you join us for the next episode.

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About Christopher Kuenne

CHRIS KUENNE is the founder of Rosemark and former founder and CEO of Rosetta. He is a highly successful entrepreneur, business builder, best-selling author and member of Princeton University’s faculty. For more than 30 years he has been fascinated by the question of what motivates people to act as they do in a commercial context. He has devoted his career to translating insights about customer motivation into personalized sales and marketing techniques that accelerate enterprise growth. He is the bestselling author of Built for Growth.




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