How Your Personality Correlates With Your Occupation With Professor Paul X. McCarthy

Would you believe that your personality, even your social media one, can have an impact on your career? This is what Professor Paul X. McCarthy and his team sought to prove when they created Ribit. Professor McCarthy theorizes that a student’s personality would impact the job they would eventually get after graduating. He is an author, speaker, and technology consultant based in Australia. His book, Online Gravity: The Unseen Force Driving the Way You Live, Earn and Learn, is about the nature of the new rules of economics that stemmed from his personal experience and observation. In this episode, he joins Dr. Diane Hamilton to discuss one of the new rules of economics wherein competition leads to global oligopoly. He also shares about the study he did about the correlation between one’s personality and his job, where he found that more often than not, people who have similar personalities tend to gravitate towards similar careers. Take a look at your coworkers. Do you notice if you share the same personalities?

TTL 665 | Job Personality


We have Paul X. McCarthy. He’s a technology and innovation researcher. He’s an author, a speaker, and he deals with a lot of things that are fascinating to me in the area of personality. We’re going to get into that and it’s going to be an exciting episode.

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How Your Personality Correlates With Your Occupation With Professor Paul X. McCarthy

I am here with Professor Paul X. McCarthy. He is an author, speaker and technology consultant. He’s had many years of experience in private research. His book, Online Gravity, explains how technology has rewritten the laws of economics and how individuals and businesses can prosper by understanding the new digital DNA of business. It’s so nice to have you here, professor.

Thank you, Diane.

I was very interested in your work. We started to see your work on Twitter and LinkedIn and we eventually started chatting about our common interest in some behavioral issues. We have a lot to talk about. I’m looking forward to this. I want to get a little background on you. I’m sure everybody’s read your book, but in case they haven’t, can you give a little background before you wrote Online Gravity and what led to that?

I’m a technology professional. I’m based in Sydney, Australia. I’ve worked around the world. One of the things that I had observed having worked in technology is that businesses in this sector tend to abide by different laws of economics. I thought I’d needed to communicate this and with the birth of the web many years ago, we’ve seen a transformation of not only the business world, but the rules of economics. Online Gravity is a book about the nature of these new rules. It’s an idea that I’ve been thinking about for some time. I put together a proposal and I was having a conversation with a book publisher. Because I’m Australian, I was talking to the News Corp publisher, HarperCollins. One of their rivals, Simon & Schuster, tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Stop talking to these guys. We want to sign a worldwide deal with you because we love this idea.” They published the book in New York, London and Sydney where I’m based. Subsequently, it’s being translated into Chinese in Beijing and I’m delighted to say there’s a Russian edition. It’s my own experience and having worked at IBM. I worked there for ten years. I’ve been in the startup world and then in the research innovation ecosystem. A lot of it comes from personal experience and observation.

Is your education more in economics? What was your dissertation?

It’s a combination, Diane. I started in technology and then I’ve always had a broad range of interests. I studied Fine Arts while I was at university. I studied at the University of Sydney. I did an MBA. I also did another second Master’s in Digital Media in the very early days. It was at the dawn of the web if you like. One of my key interests has always been digital media. I’ve worked in finance, in lots of different areas, but it’s the intersection of technology and other industries that interests me and how it changes things.

[bctt tweet=”As companies grow and compete, there’s this natural sort of consolidation that happens. In the end, you tend to get a global oligopoly.” username=””]

I am interested in all those subjects so I can see why we would have a lot to talk about. You mentioned the new rules of economics. What are the old rules? What are the new rules for somebody who’s reading this going, “What?”

There’s this thing in economics called decreasing returns. It means that in most industries, they have this pattern of evolution. You get innovation driven by technology, for example, the automobile. You get a flourish of new companies, a lot of competition burst on the scene. There are hundreds of companies at the birth of the car industry. There’s consolidation. As companies grow and compete, there’s this natural consolidation that happens. You tend to get at the end a global oligopoly. If you think about the automotive industry and as the big three giants in the US, but there are also a dozen companies worldwide that are very successful in these spaces.

If you think about most industries, whether it’s fragrance, soft drinks, fashion, management consulting, you’ve got BCGs and McKinseys, Coke and the Pepsis. Visas and the Mastercards and so on. There’s Burger King and McDonald’s. There’s that structure where you’ve got the leader, the challenger or a number of challengers often. The big four, the big six, the big five or whatever industry you’re in. They’re all competing on a level playing field. The reason this is, there’s a thing called decreasing returns. Why is it that Coke or Pepsi haven’t managed to outcompete each other?

If you look at the market share of soft drinks over the last 100 years, they’re almost straight lines. Coke and Pepsi market share haven’t changed. They’re both very successful global profitable enterprises. In terms of stealing share from each other, they’ve done all sorts of things as we know over the years. The magazine advertising, branding and all sorts of interesting things with consumers. There’s a point at which it becomes uneconomic to steal more share. You can spend more money on advertising or product development, but there’s a price to that and the price is beyond what it’s worth to get more. There’s also tribalism. There are a number of factors. You naturally end up with these oligopolies. The thing is that in the online world, you’ve got increasing returns. There are actually economic benefits to being a dominant player.

The name of the book, Online Gravity, is a reference to how our solar system formed, which started with like most new markets, lots of little players. In other words, lots of little rocks and dust. Our solar system was built out of rocks and dust. Gravity did its magic and the rocks joined together under the forces of gravity and they formed what we are now familiar with the eight distinct planets. The thing about our solar system, if you notice, there’s no dual planets, so there’s no Coke and Pepsi. The planets are all very clear. Similarly in the online world, if you think about, for example, the evolution of the market for social media. There are a lot of players in the early days like there is in the offline world. Friendster, I don’t know if you even remember, it was probably too young, but all these early players turns into a title fight or a tournament between, in this case, MySpace and Facebook.

The winner, as we know, goes on to become a planet. The loser doesn’t end up being Pepsi, as Rick Murdoch knows. Similarly, in search, you had a number of players and Google being the 14th or 15th player. Not the first player, interestingly. As the tournament fought to the death type of match, in this case it was between AltaVista and Google, and we know what the result is with AltaVista. Again, it’s not Pepsi. The sub-caption was always there’s no Pepsi in cyberspace. You end up with this structure. We’ve got dominant players in a functional sector. They ended up being planets. You end up with the eight planets of our solar system at the moment, that being Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and China, Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent and there are some other things, but that’s basically the summary of the book.

What is this supposed to help us to do differently if we don’t know that?

TTL 665 | Job Personality
Online Gravity: The Unseen Force Driving the Way You Live, Earn and Learn

It’s by understanding this type of economics that you can see we’re competing now, how does it make sense to compete? One of the things is being aware of the factors of Online Gravity. I use this analogy of the voyage or space products. For example, NASA sent out a satellite outside our solar system and it couldn’t carry enough fuel to get outside our solar system on its own. What they did was they used the gravity of Jupiter to slingshot to pull it outside. In the same way, by being aware of these phenomena, you can use the momentum, size scale and distribution of these massive planets in the way that WhatsApp did.

WhatsApp was a voyager product built on the back of Apple. Famously with 70 employees, they didn’t build a $22 billion company in five years, which has never been done in history before. You can’t do that from the ground up. You have to do that leveraging someone else’s scale and market. That’s one of the key things. It’s understanding. There’s also a huge new opportunity for businesses in satellite or being moons. Global niches, a fabulous new area where you can now, instead of being a dominant player locally or regionally in your city or your country, there are opportunities to compete on a global stage that they haven’t been before.

It’s interesting how many opportunities have opened up. I teach a lot of classes still, where we talk about that with my students. You teach still, correct?


Where do you teach?

I’m at the University of New South Wales, UNSW, Sydney and I’m an adjunct professor there in computer science. Also, some other affiliation. I consult with CSIRO. Their data science unit, Data61, CSIRO Australia science agency.

[bctt tweet=”Within industries, there are different functional roles. There’s a job out there for everybody. ” username=””]

I looked at some of the stuff you had written and there was that work you had published. You said you nearly fell off your chair when you saw the results of your work from the New South Wales study. I’m very fascinated by that because I study a lot dealing with personalities. You’re talking economics and you’re talking personalities. How did you get into personality when you’re mostly focused on economics prior?

Personality is not my background, as you can tell. The interest is one of the things that big data and the web has enabled us to do is it gives us this X-ray vision. I talk about this a bit in the book and it enables us to see in ways that we haven’t been able to see before. We can see it a scale we’ve never been able to see before. These big companies, as we know, have incredible insights. Obviously, in terms of consumer behavior, which is hugely valuable, which is why one of the reasons they’re so valuable. There are also other things that we can see about human behavior, behavioral economics. We can understand things at scale and in a historical context that we haven’t been able to see before because of these new troves of what I call unconventional data.

One of those areas is understanding personality. We’ve got a project at CSIRO called Ribbon and it’s a platform to try and connect. It’s a platform connecting undergraduate universities, college students to career-related work while they’re studying because we’ve learned that that’s one of the best ways to promote employability and to help people, help students get jobs when they graduate. We realize that they get jobs based on what they’re studying. Their skills, their experiences are very important. One of the reasons to do internships is obviously to build those skills and experience. There’s another dimension which is soft skills and personality. This has fascinated me personally for a while. We’ve got this old-fashioned idea that stems from religion and vocation, people having a calling or purpose in life.

I thought, “What if you could see people’s personality at scale?” I learned about the work of Michal Kosinski, who’s a professor at Stanford a few years ago. I reached out to him. I met him when he came to Australia and talked to him about his work. He showed for the first time that you can infer with a high degree of accuracies, people’s personal tribe. A whole bunch of personal information, including their personality and their political persuasion, their religious beliefs, sexuality, all this stuff from a small amount of social media data. When you look at people in a very large context, you can use big data to understand people that are offline or their offline characteristics. I was curious about this and thinking, “Could you do a similar thing and try and understand how they had career choices line up with their personality and are there any patterns?”

I started with tennis players, software engineers and computer programmers. That’s my background. That’s working in computer science. I got the top computer programmers, software engineers in the world working in the open source world. There’s this thing called GitHub, which is a common shared place to exchange software and open source code. Many people will be familiar with it and it’s you can see who the most productive and most liked as a social network too. They can say who’s the most productive and the most followed influential software developers are in the world. In tennis, the Women’s Tennis Association, the ATP ranked the world’s top tennis players and most of them are on Twitter.

There are two groups because they’re very different. Their occupations are different, but they’re also at the top of their game. We’ve got the world’s top 200 tennis players and the world’s top software engineers and we worked out their personalities based on their Twitter feeds. We found that they were firstly similar to each other by occupation. Secondly, they are completely different from each other so that the tennis players were highly conscientious and highly agreeable. They must be the best people to have at dinner because they are so friendly. Conversely, the top software engineers are highly open, which makes sense. They’re highly intellectually curious, interested in many things, got through the same thing twice.

They’re also not afraid of an argument. They’re very disagreeable in other words and not that conscientious. It’s interesting to say this contrast and then I thought, “Could you do this at scale?” We’ve got data on 100,000 people across 3,000 occupations. We got their occupations and correlated that to their personalities. When I credited this multidimensional map for the first time, which showed the personality of careers. I don’t know whether you’re familiar with the literature, Diane, but there’s a lot of personal career literature out there. Previously, most of it said employers like conscientiousness. In fact, some people go so far to say that’s the only thing that matters. Who doesn’t like a hard worker?

TTL 665 | Job Personality
Job Personality: Instead of being a dominant player locally or regionally in your city or country, there are opportunities to compete on a global stage that there haven’t been before.


If you’re in sales, extroversion is probably a good thing clearly. There hasn’t been a lot more than that. If you’re a candidate, that’s not very helpful. If you’re not that extroverted or you’re not that conscientious, how will that help me? What this has revealed is a totally different situation where it’s more like dating. There’s almost like a job there for everyone. All the jobs correlated with personalities are amazingly similar. All the tech roles have very similar footprints. There’s the front of house roles. The thing that I’ve learned is also that within industries there are almost these different functional roles. I use the restaurant analogy. You could work in the hospitality industry if you want to be in the restaurant business. You could be in front of the house, you might be on the tables, you might be at the back, in the kitchen. You might be creating the food. You might be working with the suppliers and the ingredients. There’s a spectrum of roles and whether you’re in health or technology or the law or whatever, you can almost say this plays different roles as well. There’s a job out there for everybody.

It’s very interesting because it ties into the research I did for my dissertation that is around emotional intelligence. I became certified in different personality tests, including Myers-Briggs and different things. In my research for curiosity, I looked at the big five factors, big five personality test, which you used for your work with the Twitter group. Openness to experience is very closely tied to curiosity and what I researched. What I’m thinking when I’m trying to look at what you did, I don’t see the actual research in front of me, but looking at an article about it. If you’re not having them take the big five, are you assuming how they fall on the Likert scale based on what they’ve written?

It’s exactly right. With 50 tweets, you can infer with a high degree of accuracy someone’s big five. We use the big five, plus we also use this Schwartz values. It was a combination of personality traits and values. Firstly, we did it hand-curated, so we did ten occupations. We did tennis players, software developers and a bunch of others. Secondly, we did the map at scale. Thirdly, we went on to do a prediction piece. That’s the science that’s overwhelming. That’s descriptive. From the personality data, you can predict what someone’s occupation might be. We did with 70% accuracy classify. We took the top ten occupations we had by frequency and then we were able to predict seven out of ten by using the personality data or line. If you did that randomly, you get one out of ten right.

I find this fascinating because this ties into everything I love, but how much people share on Twitter of the reality of what they have as a personality? On my Twitter feed, I very rarely talk about myself. It’s who’s on the show. I don’t say, “Look at what my kids are doing,” or “Here’s my thing.” Is there a difference in being able to predict their personality based on their occupation? It would be fun to see if the results that you’ve got on their big five of what that software did for you is accurate to what they would say.

There have been offline tests of this system. The system itself is developed by IBM. It’s part of their Watson. There has been a lot of testing offline and online comparison and it’s been shown to be accurate. There is a question at that whole mask of social media you put on. My understanding is also that the Instagram life, people present typically a projection of what they’d like their life to be. It doesn’t always reflect reality and that there is some sense of aspiration or you dress for the job you want rather than the job you’ve got type of thing. There is some truth.

The magic thing about language is it’s so revealing, even if you are talking about other things, you’re not sharing personal details. The work that Kosinski did, for example, looking at Facebook likes. He used Facebook likes to infer all these amazing personal data and then lined that up against actual offline information to try and understand the accuracy of it. It’s breathtaking, the accuracy, and it’s not things like, “I liked this political party or that political party therefore, you can see my political beliefs.” It’s, “I like this TV drama and I like this type of food.” In the context of a very large data set, you can see that there are correlations that put the probability of me being this political persuasion. With 100 data points, you can get incredible in inference.

It’s interesting to look at the world from a scatterplot. I’ve always been an outlier whenever they test me on anything. What did you find out about outliers?

[bctt tweet=”Personality is your modus operandi or the way you get about in life. We tend to be born with preferences for the way we like to be. ” username=””]

That’s a work in progress, Diane. The work so far says that jobs have personalities. That’s a big finding. Most people within occupations display a similar combination of personality traits that they’re all different, but they are clustered by the similarity of the job. We did this map, which if people are interested, they can have a look at it in the paper. The paper is published in PNAS, which is the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in Washington. It’s one of the top three scientific journals in the world alongside nature and science.

Are you talking about the scatterplot looking map?

Yeah. You can see the occupations. They’re near to each other. They’re mapped in terms of their proximity by personality. You can see a lot of technology roles are near each other. That’s the bit that I nearly fell off my seat. I thought, “If you ask someone, do all software developers have the same personality?” You go, “Of course not. What a ridiculous idea.” It turns out that most of them do. Not only that, they knew other occupations. There are all sorts of practical things downstream from this. One of the questions is, are there outliers? That’s the other thing that interests me. I’ve dug into the data a bit and from this continuity, it looks like there might be about 6% of people who have very different personalities. They’re atypical. The question is these misfits. Are there roles for just this being contrary to time? If you’re the empathetic banker or if you’re the extroverted software developer, how does that play out? Can you be a jester? Are there roles for justice within professions or is it as is often the case, I suspect people is in the wrong job sometimes?

I’ve been in sales for most of my life and I am surprised by how much I hear about introverts in sales these days as compared to you never heard about them in the past. Now they’re starting to focus on listening and things that we were never taught in sales in the day. It will be interesting to see how many are outliers. About 5% to 6% didn’t probably fit where they should. We have 2/3 to 3/4 of the workforce disengaged. If we’re aligned to the jobs that we think should be based on our personalities, why are we so disengaged? Do you have any insight on that?

No, to be honest.

That’s an interesting question that I deal with the curiosity aspect. If we’re letting people explore and ask questions and get aligned properly, it ties a lot into curiosity. I’d like to see more research. If you’re doing more research, I’d love you to do it on that.

I’m interested in curiosity too. I’m interested in your thoughts on that.

TTL 665 | Job Personality
Job Personality: Most people within occupations display a similar combination of personality traits. They’re all different but clustered by the similarity of the job.


It’s very interesting to me because of the big five, openness includes more than curiosity. You look at it, it could include creativity and a lot of other aspects. That’s why Kashdan’s work was used a lot to measure levels of curiosity specifically. I’m doing some work with Novartis. They’re looking at before and after levels of their curiosity using Kashdan’s measurement, but then using my Curiosity Code Index in the middle, and give them that to see what impact it has on their curiosity. What I’d like to see is his research that ties it into how it impacts engagement, innovation. You can get a financial picture. I don’t know if you guys are doing any of that research, but if you ever do it, I’d love to see it.

On a natural instinct level, it makes sense. This all goes together. I was talking to the Thinkers50 number one in the whole world, Roger Martin. We were talking about this and he was saying it’s hard to talk to some of these people about the value of something when it’s never been measured before. You’re talking about something in the future. That’s what you’re dealing with is measuring some of this stuff that’s never been measured before. What’s the next thing you want to measure?

I think that this area of misfits is interesting in trying to understand. We want to do some experiments, some failed experiments, with students and unemployed people and try and understand, can you, if you are offered the opportunity to, explore this map from your perspective? You either do a quiz and you try and understand. People who aren’t familiar with the concept of personality, it’s basically your modus operandi, I like to call it. It’s the way you like to get about in life. We tend to be born with preferences. We have this where we like to be. Some people like to be extroverted and have a lot of facetime and other people obviously prefer solitude and thinking about things.

If you had an online tool that enabled you to explore this map of jobs. We know there’s a strong correlation between occupations and people’s personalities. There’s a German research. We saw it in our paper that shows that there’s a 10% economic uplift for people that are in roles aligned to their personality. If you apply that nationwide, that’s a massive economic uplift. Not to mention more importantly, the personal benefit being in something that’s fulfilling and it’s engaged also. The first thing is one of the things is testing whether interventions might work. If I can say, “This is my personality. This is where I sit,” especially if I’m a student or I’m unemployed. If I’m a student, I don’t have a lot of experience.

Most people and experienced professionals in the workforce, my suspicion is that they find jobs aligned to their personality. Most of them do. Some of them, the best fits don’t, and some people who struggle maybe around employment or other issues. It could be in part because they’ve not found that career that’s suited to them. They’ve grown up in a family that’s expected them to be in certain roles, certain professions or I haven’t had the opportunities or whatever. Some tool which says, “This is where you sit on the map,” and then you can explore careers that are around your preferred way of working in and then to get feedback on that tool. Does that work? Does that help? Has that changed my view on the world and so on?

You bring up something that I found in my research on what holds people back from being curious. It’s fear, assumptions, technology and environment were the four factors that I found. I looked at my lovely scatterplots of how the factors align and the environment. Your parents might have always wanted you to take over the family business or whatever it is. There are so many different factors that impact people on what they feel comfortable doing. As you were talking about this, it made me think when I was the MBA program chair at Forbes. We talked about this quite a bit about how do you offer courses and get people degrees for jobs that maybe aren’t even created yet. You’re preparing, writing these courses now. It might take a couple of years for those courses to even become active. By then, there are new jobs, new industries, and it’s a very difficult thing. Do you find that you have those challenges when you guys are teaching the courses you teach that maybe by the time you’re out there teaching it, the jobs have all changed?

That’s a constant challenge with technology and education. There are the nonspecific skills that you learn, resilience and grit and so on. By having done a PhD as you have, you understand that you learn more than the topic. It’s like you get match fit at the end of it. There’s also this other dimension. Now we’re seeing two where there’s an alignment to your preferred way of being your personality if you like, but also your values. The values are different. Again, as we know, there are things I can change and that there are things that I’m holding. We found that being able to predict occupations was significantly improved when we use the values as well as the personality.

[bctt tweet=”The fundamental role of economics is productivity. ” username=””]

It’s going to be interesting to see how much we can do with predictive data. I remember reading on your book summary that you were talking about Online Gravity’s replaced 2.6 jobs for every one lost. That’s something that I’m dealing with a lot of organizations that are worried. Everybody’s worried that this technology is going to take over and jobs are going to be replaced. We heard this back in the ‘80s when I was selling with IBM. We heard it back then. What’s going to happen when this System 36 or whichever it was back in the day, takes over. Back then, we saw there were new jobs created. We never knew there would be social media managers and things now that we have because there was no social media, no online. I found that number interesting that you came up with the 2.6 jobs for every one lost. You’re saying that we have many more jobs being created, more than twice as many, for everyone that we lose. That is due to what reason?

It’s actually a McKinsey number. If you look at the long sweep of history, technology has always replaced jobs. The fundamental role of economics is productivity. How do you increase productivity through the introduction of technology? If you think about what people a couple of hundred years ago did, there was a lot less variety in occupations. Most people probably have worked on the land. There was like, “Am I going to be a potato farmer or a corn farmer?” With automation, mechanization, the industrial revolution, things change. We live in cities. We’ve got a lot more diversity. One of the big changes is the trade and the ability to trade, to have a variety of products and specialization and comparative advantage. What we see in this current wave is the last twenty years is an acceleration of globalization with the web, increasing specialization further and the born global companies. It’s a big opportunity. A lot of those jobs are coming from the ability to do more and more specialized things and to serve markets globally. This is this idea of these satellite companies that you can create. GoDaddy is in your neck of the woods and the fabulous global gravity job. They’re killing it.

It’s interesting to see how much of an impact as we get these new jobs and as technology is taking over the jobs that are harder skills. Are we teaching the soft skills in the university system in the K through 12? That’s one of the things I’m sure you speak about and I speak about. Companies are all looking for people who can get along. They hire them for all these technology-based type of skills that they can do, but then they fire them because they can’t get along with one another. I am thinking as we have all these new jobs, how are companies preparing to train people to have these important skills? That’s the stuff I find interesting is looking at the importance of emotional intelligence, especially empathy and interpersonal skills of getting along in the working world.

My next research is on perception and it’s all very important of you to start companies and all these different countries. Your country is different than the United States, then how we perceive each other is going to be a big part of combining IQ, EQ, cultural quotient, CQ, maybe curiosity quotient and did this altogether PQ of your perception quotient. If you ever do any research on perception, I’d love to see that as well because I think that you study some interesting things. It’s so important to the future of the workplace. What’s your next research going to be on?

I’ve got a lot of different frontiers going on but I think that perception is on the money. That’s an interesting area. The other point you made was teaming. I heard you say teams, which that’s another area that we’ve got on our radar is how do you get an optimum team dynamics, interpersonal skills as we know probably more important in life than actually knowing about a specific thing. In one way is one of the fabulous things about this research is it shows everyone’s already tense about the fact that there’s new technology coming along all the time. You may have to keep up with all this new stuff and so I’m going to have to reskill all the time.

There’s all this obsolescence built into every industry and fear of losing their jobs and stuff. To some extent, this personality stuff, yes, that is true and you might need to learn new things. Probably what’s more important in the longer-term is the fundamental things of, are you working in some way that’s aligned to how you like to be basically? Part of that could also be a team dynamic. How do teams function effectively? I suspect there’s this issue around diversity and it’s not just the diversity, where I’m talking about, but the diversity of views, personality and values as well.

Amy Edmondson was on who is a very interesting woman professor from Harvard and she’s one of the top thinkers and Thinkers50. She did a great TED Talk about teams versus teaming and how they were able to get Chilean miners out from underneath that rock. She brought up all the things that were required. It was all about collaboration in some respects. A lot of what you’re talking about, diversity, they were a hugely diverse team of people who never worked forever. When it’s not a life and death situation like that, how can we get that same level of cooperation? A lot in that case, their egos weren’t so high because life and death are on the line and they’re willing to ask questions. If people open to that curiosity of asking and getting so that they could collaborate, we need to make them feel comfortable doing that when it’s not life and death.

TTL 665 | Job Personality
Job Personality: Everyone’s tense about the fact that there’s new technology coming along all the time. What’s more important in the longer term is how you are working in a way that’s aligned to how you like to be.


That’s so true. I heard an expert from Finland talk in Australia about innovation and they’re the most collaborative country in the world when it comes to technology. I asked him, “We’re very interested here in Australia because I don’t think we’re very good at it,” particularly California where we’ve got some very successful industries and that’s part of the problem. Quite honestly, he said, “We collaborate because we’re paranoid because of history.” It comes back to that life and death thing. There’s another thing tying back to your perception thing. One of the key things about this idea of team dynamics that makes them successful is the ability to see things from different perspectives. I think you get closer to the truth the more perspectives you have. I’ve got this other thing I talk about in the book.

I have this concept of if Picasso were around now, he’d love machine learning and artificial intelligence. I don’t know whether you’re familiar with that. If you think about the history of painting, it started out as 2D. It was basically outlined on caves of horses. You’ve got this idea of, especially in the Renaissance, the idea of perspective and this idea of three-dimension. Caravaggio’s horses are quite different from the cave horses. You get another horse later, which is Picasso’s Guernica. What he did was he split the plane and tried to present this idea of many people’s perspectives, in this case, the terrors of war through this cubism. This idea of breaking up the plan and presenting it on a flat canvas in totally new ways.

What machine learning and artificial intelligence do is exactly that. They take data from a variety of different perspectives and they represented in ways that we can’t see as individuals, you can then now see collectively. That’s what we’ve done with this study with what we’re calling vocation campus research. You can see the world from many people’s perspectives at the same time. This is the same thing that drives, by the way, drones and gives drones the ability to fly, automated cars and automated stock trading. A lot of the technology around artificial intelligence and machine learning is simply being able to see things from multiple perspectives at the same time.

I’m looking at your data here. You’re saying that tennis professionals were less open to the experience.

That makes sense too. The thing is if you’re less open, that means you’re open to routine basically. To be a top tennis player, you’ve got to be willing to do the same again and again. You’ve got to enjoy that routine and repetition. It’s the reps that get you in training those muscles. Try and get a computer scientist or an academic to do the same thing twice.

It was interesting to look at this data because I noticed the elementary school libraries. They were all over the board with their openness to it. They weren’t necessarily all at the top or all at the bottom.

I should say there’s a sampling issue with those occupations in the middle. The tennis players and the software engineers are the top people in the world in their field, whereas the others are searched- ranked. There’s some variance there, probably more than there would be, some sample variants.

[bctt tweet=”One of the key things about team dynamics that makes them successful is the ability to see things from different perspectives. ” username=””]

It is interesting to look at the different ones that you’ve listed. Doctors, architects and female futurists, that must’ve been fun data to work with now. The name of the software you use that IBM created was what?

It’s part of their Watson platform, which is their cloud offering and it’s called Personality Insights. It infers big five and other personality traits from people’s Twitter feed. It’s a commercial service. Companies are using it to try and understand how their brands align with their customers. If you get brands to the personality of brands aligning. This is a great side of this. I read this guy in Taiwan looking at data on about 30,000 customers of an Amazon-like company as an online retailer. He looked at the different brands of beer. You’ve got to have an actual purchase history of all these people. I don’t exactly know but somehow, he also got their personalities as well. He looked at the correlation between the beer that they bought and the brands of beer. He found those four different broad personality types and they correlated to different types of beer drinkers. People that drank European beer, the people that like the local brew, which was the Taiwanese thing. There were people that liked Japanese beer.

What if you don’t like beer? There again, I’m an outlier. This has been interesting, Paul. I’m so glad that you were able to join me because this is right up my alley of things I’m fascinated by. You’ve obviously been super successful and I appreciate you taking the time to do this. A lot of people would probably like to know how they can reach you and find out more about your work.

Thank you. Anyone can contact me. I’m open to all communication. My website is and my email is there. You can contact me there.

This has been so much fun and I enjoyed our conversation. Thank you.

I’d like to thank Professor Paul McCarthy for being my guest. We get so many great guests. Anything you need to know about curiosity is at the site or you can go right to that part of it if you go to If you’re a consultant and you’re interested in becoming certified, you get five hours of SHRM certification credit for going through the training. We’re doing a lot of different training with organizations to improve curiosities because we found that it ties so much into innovation, engagement, productivity, and a lot of great information on the site. If you do have any questions about curiosity or how it can help transform your organization, please reach out to me at I’m more than happy to answer all of your questions. I enjoyed our interview. I learned so much from Paul McCarthy and I hope you take some time to look up his work and go to his site. I hope you join us for the next episode of Take The Lead Radio.

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About Professor Paul X. McCarthy

TTL 665 | Job PersonalityProfessor Paul X. McCarthy is an author, speaker and technology consultant. Based on twenty years of experience and private research McCarthy’s book Online Gravity explains how technology has rewritten the laws of economics and how individuals and businesses can prosper by understanding the new Digital DNA of business. Online Gravity is published by Simon and Schuster in London, Sydney and New York. A bestselling Chinese language edition is published by CITIC Press Group (引力) in Beijing and recently AST have published a Russian language edition (Бизнес в интернете) in Moscow.

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