The New Personality Poker Cards are Available!

September 14, 2010

The Personality Poker book is available in 6 weeks and 2 days.

But starting today, you can buy the new and improved Personality Poker cards from the “Change This” site.  These are the guys who bring you the Change This manifestos.

For the past few years, we have been selling the cards for $200 for 6 decks with instructions.  But after printing 50,000 decks of cards, our production costs have dropped significantly.  Therefore we are pleased to offer the cards for:

Aside from the reduced price (over 50% less), the cards have 2 major improvements.

  1. The cards have new words: We partnered with a psychology professor from Columbia College who did some scientific analysis.
  2. The cards have a new design: When you hold them in your hand you can read the words along the side.  This makes playing the game even easier.

If you want to energize a meeting, supercharge your innovation team, or just have some fun, you’ll want to get your decks of Personality Poker now.

P.S. The 800 CEO READ guys, the owners of Change This, wrote a blog entry on Personality Poker

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Is Your Organization Playing with a Full Deck?

September 3, 2010

Look at any group of people who effortlessly work well together. Odds are the individuals share a lot in common with each other. They might have similar backgrounds, expertise, interests, or personalities. This is natural. Contrary to conventional wisdom, opposites do not attract. We find it easier to work with people who are like us. As a result, teams that lack diversity are the norm.

In fact, there is plenty of scientific research suggesting that homogeneous teams do indeed perform better than more heterogeneous ones for “low difficulty” tasks – those with lower levels of ambiguity, uncertainty and complexity.

However, research also shows that in situations involving “high difficulty” tasks, heterogeneous groups consistently perform the best. Innovation is, by its very nature, fraught with uncertainty and complexity. It is obviously a high-difficulty task. Although homogeneous teams are more efficient, it is the uniformity of thinking on these types of teams that limits breakthrough ideas and reduces innovation. Ensuring a range of innovation styles should be the goal in constructing such groups in order to maximize team performance.

Unfortunately, diverse teams, left to their own devices, are rarely efficient. Differences of opinion, creative tension, and infighting will naturally emerge. Individuals who think differently do not naturally communicate well with each other. Therefore, it is important that innovation teams be given the tools to “play well together.”

Putting this together, we end up with three simple principles. And these are the three key principles of Personality Poker:

  1. People in your organization must “play to their strong suit.” That is, make sure that everyone understands how they contribute to and detract from the innovation process. This includes ensuring that you have the right people with the right leadership styles in your organization.
  2. As an organization, you need to “play with a full deck.” Embrace a wide range of innovation styles. Instead of hiring on competency and chemistry, also hire for a diversity of innovation styles. Every step of the innovation process must be addressed with people with the right innovation styles.
  3. Deal out the work.” That is, you must divide and conquer. You can’t have everyone in your organization do everything. Instead, get them to divvy up the work based on which style is most effective at a given task. You can’t have everyone generating ideas, or focusing on planning.

Innovation is the life-blood of your organization. It is crucial for long-term growth. Without it, your business will almost certainly become irrelevant and commoditized. Unfortunately, although it is important, it is not always easy. However, applying these three simple principles can help you create high-performing innovation teams that consistently “beat the house.”

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Pictures of My Baby, Delivered Today

August 20, 2010

No, I did not give birth to a boy or a girl.  I gave birth to a book.  I’ll be handing out cigars later.

But in the meantime, I wanted to share the photos of my new baby.  Here is the first copy of the Personality Poker book, hot off the press.  Previous photos were “glamor shots.”  These are the real deal. You have to see it to appreciate how cool it is.

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Looking for Reviewers of the Personality Poker Book

August 19, 2010

Today marks 10 weeks before the release of the Personality Poker book.

And just a few hours ago I received 100 copies of the “galleys” (the uncorrected paperback proofs).

Over the next few weeks, we will be compiling a list of those in the media, including bloggers, who we think would be interested in receiving the book, along with a deck of the specially designed cards.

Unfortunately, I don’t know everyone out there who might be want to read this “masterpiece.”  Therefore, I am reaching out to see if YOU want to receive a copy.

If you are in the media (TV, print, radio, internet, etc) and would like a copy, please email us at info (at) personalitypokerbook (dot) com.

P.S. Be sure to read my article, Is Your Organizations Playing with a Full Deck?, published on the Pearson Learning Solutions website.

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Everything Has a Personality

August 16, 2010

While developing Personality Poker, one thing I discovered is that lots of things have personalities: People, Political Parties, Products, Places, and Organizations (I could not find a “p” for this last one).

When you look at everything through the lens of a personality, you begin to see why individuals gravitate towards (or away from) certain people, companies, political affiliations, products, and geographies.

Contrary to convention wisdom, opposites do not attract.  Human beings prefer to be surrounded by people who are “like” them.

Therefore, the desire for “sameness” creates homogeneous personalities in everything we see.

Saying that people have personalities is nothing new.  Personality typing has been around for over 2,000 years, since the days of Hippocrates.

But organizations also have personalities.  In some circles, this might be referred to as a company’s “culture.”   The personality of a company impacts the people they hire and the methods they use to motivate and retain employees.  People who don’t fit the mold, never join or eventually leave.  The result? More of the same.  Although highly creative individuals may thrive in a company with an innovation-driven personality, they will most likely whiter in one which is overly bottom-line, short-term focused.  If you want to change your company culture, a good first step is to distinguish its personality.

The same is true with political parties, which are basically organizations with common points of view.  The Republican party has a very different personality than the Democratic Party.  Because like attracts like, the beliefs associated with each party get cemented. It also makes it difficult to understand and appreciate the perspectives of opposing party beliefs.

Even products have personalities.  The personality of an Apple MacBook is quite different than that of a Window’s based PC.  And the people who buy each product is a reflection of the individual’s personality.  A person who drives a BMW is making a statement about their personality.  Someone driving a Ford F150 is saying something quite different.  Yes, sometimes we buy  a product for its features and functions.  But more often, we buy things because they are a reflection of our personality.  [Or maybe we buy a product based on what personality we want others to think we are, such as buying a Ferrari during a midlife crisis].

Places (cities, states, and countries) have personalities too.  Although both are in Texas, Austin has a very different personality than Dallas.  Austin is weird (proudly so) while Dallas is more conservative.  Due to the perceived differences in personality, the influx of new residents into each city helps cement their personality over time.  What’s the personality of your hometown?  Does it reflect who you are?  Are there cities where you would not live because the personality clashes?

Maybe everything has a personality.  In a class I am taking, I am supposed to ask people a number of questions about me.  One of them is, “If I were on the cover of a magazine, which one would it be? And what would be the title of the article?” Nearly everyone I spoke with gravitated towards business magazines, saying that Fast Company, Wired, or Entrepreneur were the right choices for me.  Most felt that Forbes or Fortune were too serious.  Clearly that says something about my personality, and the personalities of the magazine.

It is fun to look at everything through the lens of personality.  And when you remember that we naturally gravitate towards those (people, places, products, etc) with similar personalities, you will begin to see why we make the decisions we make.

From an organizational perspective, there is a greater opportunity.  If you are struggling to innovate, it might be because you do not have a wide range of personalities in your organizations.  Your company’s personality might be repelling potential and current employees.  As a result, you attract and retain only those who fit the personality.  This is the enemy of innovation.  But more on this in future blog entries…

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From Tarot Cards to Poker Cards to Personality Poker

July 9, 2010

The video above is a beautiful rendition of Sting’s “Shape of My Heart.” In it, he tells the history of poker cards.

In my upcoming book, “Personality Poker,” I had an appendix which discussed the history of poker cards and how this led to the Personality Poker card game.  But when it came time for the final printing, the publisher felt that the book was too long.  Therefore the appendix was cut and is included below for your enjoyment.

From Dominoes to Tarot

At first, I thought that linking personality styles to poker cards was a new concept. However, as I dug deeper, I discovered that this was done more than six hundred years ago. For those who are interested, this article shares some of the history of card playing, and how a game can evolve from ancient, mysterious beginnings to a modern-day pastime enjoyed by millions.

Poker cards have a long and rich history. By some accounts, card games were in existence in China as far back as the third century and may have originated in the form of dominoes. Other accounts suggest that cards emerged in the ninth or tenth century.

Regardless of when the card games were developed, we know that the poker cards used today in casinos can be most closely tied back to Tarot cards. Historians believe that the Tarot deck originated in Italy, with the oldest surviving examples dating from the mid-1400s in Milan.

For those who are unfamiliar with the basics of Tarot cards, and I suspect that’s most of you, let me give you a quick summary. The standard Tarot deck comprises seventy-eight cards. There are four suits—Swords, Cups, Coins, and Wands—each with “pip” cards numbering from ace to ten and four face cards (Page, Knight, Queen, and King) for a total of fifty-six cards. These are often referred to as the Minor Arcana cards, and the suits represent the four main classes of feudal society: military, clergy, mercantile trade, and agriculture, respectively. Because Tarot cards emerged during feudal times, it makes sense that they were based on how society was set up. In addition, the deck of Tarot cards is distinguished from poker cards by a separate twenty-one-card trump suit (often referred to as Major Arcana cards) and a single card known as the Fool.

From Tarot to Poker

The French Tarot decks became the basis of modern-day poker cards. The Page became the Jack. The Knight was eliminated. The four suits were changed to spades, hearts, diamonds, and clubs. And the trump cards and the Fool were dropped from the deck.

Later, when they were transformed into modern-day playing cards, the symbolism and meaning of the cards shifted. The question remains as to how the suits in the Tarot deck map to those in poker cards. In his song “Shape of My Heart,” Sting provides a simple and somewhat accurate depiction of the meaning of each suit. He sings, “I know that the spades are the swords of a soldier. I know that the clubs are weapons of war. I know that diamonds mean money for this art. But that’s not the shape of my heart.”

The actual meaning behind each suit is a bit more complex. And although there is not complete agreement on which suits in a poker deck correspond to which suits in a Tarot deck, there seems to be support for the following mapping:

  • Spades = Swords in Tarot and they represent thoughts, the intellect, conflict, and communication. In Personality Poker, the spades represent those who like facts and principles. They are considered the more intellectual of the bunch. This is somewhat consistent with the Tarot’s depiction of swords as those who battle with the mind and body. The Swords were the military and aristocracy, which included the scientists of the day.
  • Diamonds = Coins (also called Pentacles) in Tarot and they represent money, manifesting, and property. In Personality Poker, the diamonds are motivated by experiences and ideas rather than money. They are often thought of as “worldly.” Although the diamonds are typically not materialistic (seeking money and property), they are often the best at manifesting things because their diverse experiences seem to make them luckier. The Pentacles were the merchants and they traveled extensively (i.e., they were worldly).
  • Clubs = Wands (also called Staves) in Tarot and they represent activity, energy, business, and work. In Personality Poker, clubs are the prototypical workers. They like both plans and actions. They are about activities and getting things done. They are often driven by success in the business world. This is a very common style in most large corporations. Wands were the farmers and hardworking peasants.
  • Hearts = Cups in Tarot and they represent emotions, relationships, love, and intuition. In Personality Poker, the hearts are the ones who like people and relationships. In Tarot, the water molds itself to the cup. Hearts do the same. They mold themselves to the needs of others. Cups were the clergy.

For the first three hundred years of their existence, Tarot cards were used in various parts of Europe to play card games such as Italian Tarocchini and Triumphs. They were largely used for entertainment purposes only, just as playing cards are today. Then, in the late 1700s, occult organizations adopted Tarot cards as a tool for divination. Over the centuries, reading of the Tarot has incorporated various concepts, everything from astrology and Kabbalah to runes (which predate the Tarot by a thousand years) and the I Ching (which predates the Tarot by 2,500 years). Today, Tarot cards are one of the most popular tools for providing spiritual guidance and predicting the future.

Those who use Tarot cards for spiritual purposes believe that when a deck is shuffled, the resulting order tells the reader everything about their past, present, and future. The person whose fortune is being read has no conscious role in card selection. The spiritual world is aligning the cards in the deck.

This is in stark contrast to Personality Poker, where you consciously choose the cards that best fit your style. There is no magic or mystery. It is not left to divine intervention or luck. It is a matter of choice.

Although we attempted to preserve the deep meaning of the suits associated with Tarot cards for our game, we are not suggesting that Personality Poker is a tool for mystical or occult purposes. It is also not intended to be a game solely for entertainment purposes. Although playing Personality Poker is a lot of fun, it is designed to be an educational tool.

Tarot and Personality Typing

Interestingly, psychologist Carl Jung, one of the fathers of personality typing, attached importance to Tarot symbolism. Unlike poker cards, Tarot cards have pictures that tell a story. For example, in the Rider Tarot Deck (one of the most popular sets of Tarot cards), the nine of swords depicts a warrior resting on a table, weary after a battle, with a colorful stained-glass window in the background.

Jung regarded Tarot cards as representations of personalities. He felt that since each Tarot card tells a different story, an understanding of the subject’s self-perception could be gained by asking them to select a card that they “identify with.” In essence, this is how we play Personality Poker. You choose the cards, based on the words you identify with best.

I don’t expect you to fully understand Tarot cards, nor do I expect you to be an experienced poker player. But it is useful to be aware of the historical underpinnings to this common modern game and understand that we can derive “personalities” from the symbols and hidden meanings of this ancient practice. As you can see, although Tarot cards are now known as the tool of fortune-tellers, they were originally developed for entertainment and competitive purposes.

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I Need Your Help: Personality Poker Book Subtitle

January 8, 2010

I need your help!

I am in the process of finishing the manuscript for my next book, “Personality Poker.”  The book will be published by Penguin’s Portfolio books and is expected in stores September 2010.

We have been working on a subtitle for the book – and I would love your input.

I realize that you don’t know the details of the book.  But in general, it is about creating high performing innovation teams through the use of my specially designed poker cards.  There are a few key concepts:

  1. Individuals should “play to their strong suit.”  In Personality Poker, the four suits correlate to the four primary innovation styles and the four steps of the innovation process.  Therefore, if you understand your innovation style/suit, you can maximize your contributions to your team.   [NOTE: "strong suit" is actually a term from bridge and not poker]
  2. Organizations must “play with a full deck.”  That is, companies must have all of the styles (and sub-styles) in order to truly be innovative.  Most organizations are out of balance and have too many of just one or two styles.  This inhibits innovation.
  3. Deal out the work.”  Once everyone is clear about their role in the innovation process, you want to divide and conquer.  Avoid having everyone do everything.  Give people specific tasks and roles.

That’s the 10,000 (maybe 30,000) foot view.  You can learn more – and watch a video – on the Personality Poker page.

So, the question is, what is a good subtitle? Here’s a list of some ideas we had…

  • “[How to] Play Your Best Hand to Win Big in Business”
  • “[How to] Play with a Full Deck to Win Big in Business”
  • “[How to] Play to Your Strong Suit to Win Big in Business”
  • “[How to] Play with a Full Deck to Create High Performing Teams”
  • “[How to] Play to Your Strong Suit to Create High Performing Teams”
  • “[How to] Play Your Best Hand to Create High Performing Teams”

Do you like any of these?  Note that the “How to” is optional as each subtitle can stand on its own without those words.

Better yet, I would love to get new ideas for a subtitle.

Please leave your suggestion (either a new idea or a vote for an existing idea) as a comment.  If we end up using your subtitle, we will send you the Personality Poker system (a $200 value).  Plus, when the new book is published, we will send you a signed copy (with an additional deck of the redesigned cards).

Thanks in advance for your help.

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Take Our Ultracool Test that Assesses the Unconscious Mind!

December 30, 2009

As many of you know, I am working on the manuscript for my next book.  It is based on “Personality Poker,” a game that is primarily used to help organizations be more innovative.  But everyone enjoys it because it is a fun card-based game that tells you all about your personality.

As part of my research for the book, I partnered with a professor in the psychology department of a well-known Cambridge, MA based Ivy League University (I’m sure you can guess who they are).

This university (ok, it’s Harvard) developed an approach for testing the implicit or unconscious mind.  You can read about it a previous blog entry.  This is fascinating stuff!  Read the article if you have not done so.

I loved the Implicit Association Testing so much that I had them develop a Personality Poker version. There is nothing out there like it!  Admittedly, it is not as much fun as the card-based version.  You take it on your computer.  And it takes A LOT of concentration.  But it is an interesting process.

And for the holidays, for a very limited time, I am allowing people to take the current version of the test with 4 simple stipulations:

  1. You will not share the “experiment file” with anyone else.  This is important because we are constantly refining the process to make it more accurate, simpler, and more insightful.
  2. You will take the entire test which lasts for about 30 minutes without interruption.
  3. You will send the “dat” file to me via email after taking the test.  This will help us compare explicit and implicit beliefs.  Your personal information is confidential.
  4. You agree not to sue me for damages if your head explodes after taking this test!

If you are interested in taking this test, please write us at (please note it is a .net and not a .com).  We will send you the link and the password.  You will not be added to any lists.

Please let me know if you have any questions!

Happy New Year.

NOTE: I am told that the software will not work on a MAC unless you are running a Windows emulator such as Virtual PC.

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Are Your Conscious and Unconscious Minds Aligned?

August 1, 2009

While working on Innovation Personality Poker® over the years, one question has lingered in my mind…

How do we know we are getting the most accurate picture of someone’s personality?

Personality Poker is based on a 75 year old psychological testing technique called a Q-sort.

According to Encyclopedia Britannica, in a Q-sort, “a person is given a set of sentences, phrases, or words (usually presented individually on cards) and is asked to use them to describe himself (as he thinks he is or as he would like to be) or someone else.” In some variations, the cards are sorted from most like the individual to least like them.

If you read academic paper about Q-sorts, you will see that the question arises as to whether or not a self-assessment is accurate. Researchers question if other methods of personality testing are more accurate.  They posit that there are three testing methods…

  1. Self-assessment (of the conscious mind)
  2. Assessment by a friend, family member, or colleague
  3. Assessment by an unbiased 3rd party who is expert in the Q-sort process

Which method is most effective?  It appears that the answer is “all of the above.”  All methods are accurate, depending on the situation.

However, there is a 4th method that is not listed above that may prove even more interesting.

Can our unconscious mind be a better predictor of our personality than our conscious mind?

There are very few methods available to answer this question. Fortunately I was introduced to people at Harvard University who developed a tool called “Implicit Association Testing (IAT).”

Harvard’s website gives a very simple introduction to the concept…

“It is well known that people don’t always ‘speak their minds’, and it is suspected that people don’t always ‘know their minds’. Understanding such divergences is important to scientific psychology. This web site presents a method that demonstrates the conscious-unconscious divergences much more convincingly than has been possible with previous methods.”

In short, these tests tell you if your conscious mind (i.e., explicit) is aligned with your unconscious mind (i.e., implicit).

We are about to start work with Harvard that will assess if the conscious mind (tested via the card-based version of Personality Poker) correlates with the results from the unconscious mind (tested via a specially designed Personality Poker IAT).

One of three scenarios will prove to be true:

  1. In most people, the conscious mind is perfectly aligned with the unconscious mind
  2. In most people, the conscious mind is not aligned with the unconscious mind
  3. Alignment between the conscious mind and unconscious mind varies from person to person

If scenario #1 proves to be true, then we will have proven the validity of the Personality Poker at both a conscious and unconscious level.

However, if scenarios #2 or #3 prove to be true, we have a new opportunity…to develop an online IAT-based Personality Poker game that we can make available to the public. In some respects, scenario #3 is most interesting, because it means that in some cases “explicit” personality testing (done via cards, questionnaires, and other diagnostics) is accurate. However in order to get a full picture of one’s personality, “implicit” testing is also required. Only through both types of testing can we get an accurate assessment of one’s total psyche.

In order to better understand Implicit Association Testing, I encourage you to take some of the tests on the Harvard IAT website. This may give you some interesting insights into your own personal biases…some of which you might not want to even admit to yourself.

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My New T-Shirt

June 25, 2009

For any die-hard Boston Red Sox fan, the New York Yankees are the evil empire.  Therefore, being a native Bostonian, this T-shirt makes me laugh.  I particularly like it because it uses the suits from poker cards.  This is perfect for me, the creator of Personality Poker.

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