Plastic Players

The Einstein Within

By Laura Tiffany

What's your sign? What does your business's name add up to in numerology? What color is your parachute? Answer those questions, and you still won't know why you're lost under a heap of paperwork you'd rather be doodling on, or why you're leading a sales meeting when you'd rather be designing the office's computer network. If you really want to analyze your entrepreneurial personality, you've got to answer these questions: Are you better at reading maps or understanding numbers? Do you prefer to create activities or carry them out? Would you rather spend spare time working on a jigsaw puzzle or a crossword puzzle? Do you tend to work best with open-ended tasks or a detailed timeline?

Jane Hurd developed the Discover Your Everyday Genius personality profile using questions like the ones above to measure how a person operates best in business and in life. As a co-managing partner of executive search firm Rollo Associates in Los Angeles, she found most personality tests just didn't do the trick. Testing whether an individual is right-brained or left-brained may tell you if they want to be an accountant or an artist, but it doesn't tell you their best work environment. "[For that,] you [need to] measure another aspect: How people tend to handle decisions--whether they like closure or like to keep their options open," says Hurd.

"Each of us has a natural `genius zone,' and when we're operating within that zone, everything we do is easy and comfortable," explains Hurd. "When you get outside your zone, it starts to feel like you have to put your nose to the grindstone to really accomplish anything." The Discover Your Everyday Genius profile questions determine which combination of left-brain/right-brain and process-oriented/closure-oriented you are--that is, whether you're a genius visionary, genius planner, technical expert genius or genius manager. (Discovering your inner genius doesn't come free; Hurd charges $300 an hour for her services.)

Knowing your genius not only helps you design a better work environment, it can also show you how to better relate to business partners, clients and associates. "It's important to recognize other people's geniuses--to not get in a position where you're trying to change people and make them think or operate like you do, but rather where you're leveraging everybody's contributions," points out Hurd. "It takes all four types [of genius] to make anything a success. It takes having the idea; it takes a plan of execution; it takes technical expertise; and it takes management skills."

So if you find out you're a visionary genius (i.e., you've got the idea), you may want to consider partnering with a genius planner who develops marketing and business plans, a technical expert genius who engineers the mechanical kinks out of your product, and a genius manager who can hire just the right sales reps. Says Hurd, "By knowing yourself clearly and knowing what your skills are, you know what kind of expertise you need to bring in to round out the picture."

For more information on the Discover Your Everyday Genius personality profile, e-mail Jane Hurd at

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This article was originally published in the May 1999 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Plastic Players.

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