Real Idea Men

It is one of the biggest corporations in the world, with yearly revenues greater than the gross domestic products of 169 countries. Not bad for a company that was co-founded by two young nerds on April 4, 1975 to develop and sell software on computers. They didn’t have much money then.

In fact, one of those guys who arrived in Albuquerque, New Mexico airport from Boston in 1975, didn’t have enough money to afford the “upscale” moderately priced motel the computer manufacturer who was interested in buying this software had reserved for this nerd while he proved that his software worked on their computer. He was very nervous about the software — everything was riding on the code — which was punched onto a small role of paper computer tape he carried with him. But, it worked the first time, largely because they had used an emulator of the computer (a software program written by this guy) to build and test the code back in Boston.

This guy, although he didn’t have much money at the time, he did have a big idea. Now others had similar ideas,which was to sell software for computers. That wasn’t the big idea. He and his co-founder shared a firm belief in this big idea, but they were a little different in personality.

What Paul Allen, that young nerd who had that big idea, shared with his cofounder, Bill Gates, was they are both “nerds:” they are of the Rational Temperament. But, they are different types: Paul Allen is an Inventor Rational (ENTP) and Bill Gates is a Mastermind Rational (INTJ).

If you read Paul Allen’s new memoir, Idea Man, you will quickly see each type of personality has strengths and weaknesses. When you combine bright individuals together in an enterprise, each person “makes up” for the weaknesses of the other and a synergy can be formed. That big idea, that writing software for a computer affordable by an individual — in effect, a Personal Computer — and starting a company to do that, in 1975 before anybody else, became worth billions.

Anybody can come up with a good big idea, but if one cannot execute on that idea, it does not become a good idea that is real. A Real Idea. When one takes an Innovative Leader — the Inventor, Paul Allen who had big ideas (and many of them) — and combine him with a Pragmatic Leader — Bill Gates, the Mastermind, the guy who had the strategic plans and able to get them executed — one gets something that is much more than the sum of the parts. What we got, in this case, was Microsoft, an institution, a society of approximately of 90,000 individuals, whose software is used throughout the entire world, including those 169 countries.

15 thoughts on “Real Idea Men”

  1. I found this post extremely interesting and am eager to learn more. I’ve had a business idea for a few years now but it hasn’t gone anywhere, which I think is partly because it requires my doing activities outside my INFP comfort zone (e.g., marketing). It would be great to figure out who would complement what I bring to the enterprise…PLEASE WRITE MORE ON THIS TOPIC. Thank you!

    1. Keirsey Temperament Theory asserts that “Temperament” does not change, so by definition, no Bill has not become an Architect Rational just because he has appeared to be more laid back in his latter years. The difference between the Engineers (NTP) and Coordinators (NTJ) is the relative interest in the theory(questions) versus results(answers). Both are of course intrigued with theory and results, but the Architects tend to be more interested in the theory and the questions that are asked by that theory, whereas the Mastermind Rationals are more interested in results that theory helps in and answers that the theory addresses. I have been observing Gates for about 35 years. I don’t think Gates has changed from his younger days, and my initial view was he was a Fieldmarshal Rational for he was very directive. Only when I read Paul Allen’s autobiography did a get a different take on him, being a Mastermind Rational. He really hasn’t slowed down in his drive for results.

  2. David. Do you know any INTJ’s in real life?

    Myself (INTJ) and an INTP friend have been typing for many years and have yet to meet another INTJ in real life. I analyse nearly everyone I come into contact with and document and discuss many as well. Yet I read a lot of ridiculous assertions online “Me and my INTJ mom and dad, and her 5 INTJ friends” etc.

    Yet there seems to be a heavy self-reporting bias in the data towards this type.

    Other INTJ’s I’ve typed are, Elon Musk and Charles Munger (Buffet’s partner), Nikola Tesla, Isaac Newton and Mark Zuckerberg.

    1. Do I know any Mastermind Rationals (INTJs) in real life? Yes. I have a PhD in Computer Science, so in my career before I began to work with my father I was pretty much surrounded by Masterminds. They abound in the university science and technology departments. You would find many of those social retards wandering in the halls of CS, Physics, Chem, Math in the 60’s and 70’s (and I could imagine now days too.) Kidding aside, many VCs (Venture Capitalists) are your “cap them at the knees” Masterminds. They don’t suffer fools gladly.

      Yes, many people believe they are Mastermind Rationals because they “take a test” — telling them so — but no way, Jose.

      I am not sure about Elon Musk, haven’t done enough analysis on him. Inventor Rational — possible. Tesla, I have studied extensively — Inventor Rational. Zuckerberg — not sure about either way. Newton: you might want to read

      Yes, Munger and Newton were Mastermind Rationals.

      Remember, Myers types are not exactly the same as Keirsey Temperament types.

      1. David, I just read somewhere that you reject cognitive functions (since I referenced them in my post) I thought I’d bring this up. Is that true of your position?

        Furthermore I see a lot of evidence of cognitive divides in the world. Si’s (stores facts longterm, aligns with traditions, better with storing numbers etc) vs Se (processes dynamic data quickly, good at spotting trends, knowing large amount of shallow temporary facts, not good at long term). Ti (precise logical, surgical like a knife, wieldy, long winded) vs Te (black and white, hierarchal, categorizes, ranks, blunt crude hammer,expedient, efficient) thinking and Fe (group feelings/values) vs Fi (individual/subjective values) feelers. Ne (see patterns in external data, empirical) vs Ni (synthesizing known models together, similar to a bayesian inference engine)

        These are my own rough definitions and by no means complete or canonical, but align mostly with observing reality. Of course they can be refined with more precision, but I would typically leave that to an INTP to do 😉

        PS I also disagree about Tesla being an ENTP, he strikes me as a archetypal INTJ. David, how much do you know about him? Have you read a biographic on him? If you say ENTP, you’d have to back it up to overcome the a priori, or common sense estimation that he is an introvert. Eg he kept to himself, and was a loner. That does not fit the pattern of an extrovert. That’s not to say he can’t be an extrovert of course, but you are going against a body of truth and hence extraordinary claims, require extraordinary evidence. There are of course plenty of other reasons to think he is INTJ, which I can expound on if you like. I’ve never seen your reasoning on that or evidence that he is ENTP. Introverted, stoic, ascetism, loner, rational, etc those are some of his traits. Ignoring bodily demands.

        Also when you say MBTI is not the same as Keirsey (KTS), that is irrelevant to me. They are grossly the same (Te). So for expedience sake I treat them equal. They are not different enough as to cause a fundamental change in the mapping of types to actual people, IMO. Neither MBTI nor KTS nor Jung himself or any other system is canonical. Type is a combination of DNA + Environment. That is the sum of a human being. One’s DNA is canon on type if you like. In the future with the advent of personal genomics it will be possible to have personality more accurately mapped based on one’s genome. DNA does not change throughout a person’s life and neither does a person’s type. Yes a personality develops but that is different. For example there is a study that shows introversion vs extroversion exists in the brain (using fMRI scans). Genetics largely determines type. All that MBTI is, or KTS, is a model. I take a pragmatic view. Whatever works I use. MBTI/KTS works. Socionics mostly doesn’t work. For example one has to keep explaining away inconsistencies within Socionics, I see people defending and explaining away, similar to how people explain away religious inconsistencies with reality. Now I’m sure we will refine the current MBTI/KTS model more in future, that is how science works. Einstein’s relativity is an improvement on Newton, it doesn’t make Newton “wrong”, just less accurate predictor of reality. But it’s the best model we have for now. It’s a far superior model for example to the “Men are like x, Woman are like y” model that most people crudely operate daily.

        If I sound critical, I’m am, but just on the specific issue I disagree with (eg Tesla), and certainly not with you as a person in a private or professional capacity. I constantly defend your knowledge and respect with regards to these matters. Too many fools online on the internet and in forums would dismiss a man that has spent 50 years of his life on this subject. Sure you may get stuff wrong, but on average you will know immensely more than your average internet armchair opiner.

        1. Many things to respond to. First, the Keirsey Temperament Forum is probably best vehicle for exploring these issues. We have discuss some of these issues before there.

          I am not sure I “reject” ‘cognitive functions’, rather, I find very little use, if any. It is true many people find them useful. I can’t (seem to) remember what the slice-and-dice of “cognitive function” means of these Te, Ti, Fe, yada yada, and of course, yes, I am biased.

          We have not much use for “introvert” and “extrovert” — those Latinated-German words of 1850. They have a lot of baggage (e.g., Jung defines “extroversion” as the “outflow of limbo from the subject to object” — ahh… we aren’t too thrilled with that baggage.)

          As I have said elsewhere, the “NTs” (Rationals) particularly don’t do well with the “E/I” distinction of Myers and Jung. We are not particularly “people-oriented” — so our sociabilty is contingent on “the context” much more than the three other Temperaments.

          So it is very likely Tesla would “test out” as an INTP via both the MBTI and the KTS, but the Inventor Rational description is still the best description of Tesla for I did study of the man (yes I do know a fair amount about him, and his engineering) and think overall it is the best fit. Lots and lots of Inventors are “extroverted.” We use “expressive” and “attentive” as alternatives to “extra-vert” and “intro-vert” — they aren’t the same thing. (Humans use both words and TOOLS to be expressive– physical prototypes (inventions) being the most visible evidence of being expressive in this case. I am still working on trying to outline different “incarnations” since there are so many interesting highly likely Inventors (Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Sergei Brin, Larry Page ….) Architects, being more interested in the idea (structure) than the product (function).

          Last quibble.

          “For example there is a study that shows introversion vs extroversion exists in the brain (using fMRI scans).” “introversion” doesn’t “exist” — as you point out it is a model. However, I would be interested in that reference if you have it.

      2. 1. I’d love to see you reasonings behind typings, eg Tesla. I’m sure you have studied him and I of course respect that, however no-one is infallible.

        2. With regards to introversion, we have no disagreement when you say that introversion and extroversion are models. I agree.

        However, I have a model in my head of the Sun, so do others, yet the Sun itself also exists independently of the model in my head.

        People have a remarkable thing where they see different phenotypes and genomic differences in people, eg skin color, eye color, height etc. Yet when it comes to brains, because of their limited understanding of neuroscience assume we all have the same “grey mushy thing with two halves”.

        The reality however is that our brains differ quite a bit person to person. So yes Extroversion/Introversion is a model. The model is not 100% accurate, but it does correlate with brain structures in reality.

        So for the sake of complete clarity when I say Introversion exists in reality, I mean introversion exists as neural structure and combination of blood flow, glia cells, neurons, synapses and electrical impulses.

        In fact nothing exists outside reality and everything is *real* at a fundamental level. Even mathematics *exist* in a physical sense. It exists as a pattern of neurons in my head and your head (although the pattern in your head is slightly different to the pattern in my head). Nothing “unreal” exists.

        Lastly as for your forum, I have no interest in debating with less skilled and knowledgeable people anymore. I have found forums a huge was of time.

        Furthermore it is not clear from your link if you are on the forum and engage or if it is your son.

        Oh and one more thing, I would be interested in your reasoning behind Neitzche. He seemed to be very chaotic, not driven by utility and stuck in the past (Si).

        1. Sorry You are not commenting (and hence corresponding) with my father, Dr David West Keirsey — rather it is the son — me, Dr. David Mark Keirsey. So your out of luck in this regard. Yes, he, my father, is retired from public life and does not participate in discussions over the Internet (Forum or otherwise). Both he and I have studied Tesla, and we both agree Inventor Rational.

        1. If you click on my icon, you will see.  Architect Rational (and actually took the MBTI, about 45 years ago, INTP)

  3. Interesting. I have a Bsc in CS, and probably did meet one or two during my studies but my memory is shocking (I’m an Se user). Si’s tend to have better long term memories than the Se’s (who are better at processing current realtime data quickly)

    However I’m surprised you think a lot of VC’s are INTJ’s. Maybe it’s a US thing but our VC’s here (South Africa) seem far more STJ. A common mistyping is STJ because of the “black and white” type of thinking that is Te. It is a strong common cognitive between NTJ’s and STJ’s and people pick up on that. VC’s tend to be cautious and go with numbers and tradition or the herd (“what were previous deals like?”) (Si) over the (Ni) which is a strong subjective self belief. Ni just *knows*. (it can of course be wrong too)

    I’m relocating permanently to Silicon Valley next month so I will be able to get a better grip on the VC’s there and potentially (if I remember report back). But I suspect it will be dominated by STJ’s. (Traditions, watching sports, conservative, good with numbers etc) I’d be very interested and intrigued if that weren’t the case.

    1. I thought I’d follow up my 2011 comment above. Having lived in Silicon Valley for close on 2 years and interacted with with a few VC’s, here are my observations.

      On the “lean startup” side of things or there are the NTP’s, like Paul Graham (INTP) and Dave Mclure (ENTP).

      Traditional VC’s like Sequoia appear to be STJ dominated. Andreessen Horowitz is likely a mix. NTP and STJ. Sadly I’m unable to find a single example of a Mastermind VC.

      So the evidence bears the original claim, that STJ’s are mistaken for NTJ because they both share the visible Te and work off the same Fi feeling framework (mechanistic).

      Thus I’m genuinely interested by your prior claim about Mastermind VC’s. Would you be willing to support that claim with evidence?

      1. Obviously, I can’t come up with too many specific examples, since my exposure to VCs has been limited (luckily!?). No doubt, there are many Monitor Guardians (correlating to Myersian STJ) in the VC business, and that will grow. Hey, Guardians dominate business — pretty much any business (yes I have lots of data for that assertion). But, ultimately we are both guessing, our sample can only be anecdotal. Angels, I would suspect, are much more of a mixed group. The herd mentality of VC funding would indicate many Guardians afoot. “My VC experience” has been unusual but my colleague very well connected (an Fieldmarshal Rational) who has been more involved with that side of the business from the beginning (he was one of the first outside CERN that obtained Tim Berners-Lee web software directly from him) and has been in the Valley all his life, reports informally that many he had encountered were cap them at the knees Masterminds. The two VCs that “funded” our business were “nice” Masterminds and I just met, based on random circumstances, an VC (from the Seattle area — coming from Microsoft, originally) was a Mastermind, he has moved downstream as has my original VCs.

        Clearly guys like Steve Ballmer (Supervisor Guardian) will become more dominant in the Internet business as it matures, that probably also goes for the VC business. Guardians rule! Rationals disrupt and regulate, and then move on and then retire.

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