More then a year ago now, I parted ways with the startup Personality and Place. I had helped take the concept from a research paper to an Android app. But following the initial app release, I decided I would not be adding value by remaining with the startup. Part of the reason was the simple realisation that I didn’t believe in “personalities” as much as I needed to work for a startup all about personalities.
I am sure it seems strange to many people. Especially those who wear as a badge their status as an introvert or extrovert etc. But honestly, I have never been particularly curious about my personality type. I believe I am an introvert because I would rather stay home in bed then go party. But I have never felt the need to get tested. As part of the first iteration of the Your Happy Place Android App, I implemented the OCEAN personality test to assess the personality type of the users. But I don’t think I ever took the test seriously for myself.
The first time I took a personality test seriously was when I had to sit a DiSC personality assessment as part of the MIT Bootcamp. I attended the Bootcamp in February of last year, just as I was wrapping up my involvement with Personality and Places. My DiSC style came out to be Dominance. That means that I am direct, results-oriented, firm, strong-willed and forceful. All conform to my mental model of myself. So I was pretty happy with the result. But it also didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know.
The personality test formed part of the assessment that sorted me into my team. I did my best to be mindful of my personality traits and those of my teammate during the week. I think it helped with interpersonal interactions. But not because I could suddenly label myself but because I had some insights into how my teammates interacted with the world. However, most of my teams scored as Dominance or Influence on the DiSC assessment. As such, it didn’t stretch any of our imagination when relating to each other.
The DiSC test was not the end of adventures with personality tests in 2019. Because last year I was also part of the Impact Boom Elevate+ Social Enterprise Accelerator. As part of the program, I undertook a different personality test: the 16 Personalities test in which I came out as the Debater.
The Debater sounded like me too and again; I didn’t think I was learning anything new about myself except for the part of being “extraverted”. As I mentioned at the start of this article, I always considered myself introverted. But looking at the percentages, it seems I barely scraped into the extraverted side. That makes sense. I tend to dominate rooms when I am in them. It’s just that I much prefer to be in bed.
We didn’t use the personality test in the accelerator. We were encouraged to take the test to learn more about ourselves. That said, I do realise that personalities are a big part of the startup scene. The Belbin model is used by multiple venture capital firms when assessing founders and their teams. Also, the first time I visited The Connect Collaborative, the featured talk for the night was about personalities. Although for the life of me, I cannot remember which personality test the speaker was advocating.
I guess that’s my biggest issue with personality tests. There are so many of them. I know they have their place in helping us be more aware of how we present ourselves to the world. They can also help us be more aware of the people around us. But at the end of the day, my interest in personalities is minimal, which is why I walked away from Personality and Place.
The My Happy Place Android App has undergone multiple iterations and is also now available on iOS. I am happy for them. I hope that team now is more committed towards personalities. I would like to be involved in another startup or business with a focus on psychology. But maybe not one involving personality tests.