Monday, November 17, 2008

Personality Test Results - Gullible

Tell people what they want to hear, and they'll like you. Tell people what they want to hear, but throw in some fancy lingo, and they'll give you money. It's a fascinating quirk in the human DNA that is ruthlessly exploited by 58% of those who call themselves "consultants" (it also never hurts to toss in a few made-up statistics). Whenever you meet a consultant that tells you what you want to hear, you are in financially dangerous territory, and you should drop to the ground and play dead until they start chatting with someone else. Do not worry about the consultant causing a scene by calling an ambulance - that would be actual helpful behavior, and consultants invariably refuse as a matter of professional pride to do anything which would actually be helpful.

The latest consultant madness burning through the local blogosphere is a concept being sold by Tamara Lowe called Motivational DNA Types. No, I'm not kidding - she really, truly does stoop to using the term DNA in her sales pitch so that gullible people will assume that there is some kind of fancy science involved. I assure you, though, that she cannot explain what deoxyribonucleic acid has to do with anything - she just picked the term because it sounds scientific.

To find out what "motivational DNA type" you are, you can take an online test - a common tool for "consultants" whose money-making scheme is so ambitiously far-reaching that they cannot be bothered to take your money one-on-one. I haven't taken it, but several local bloggers have, and the results delivered are absolute classics. One local blogger announces that he is a "Visionary" (notice that the labels used by these schemes are always scientific or complimentary - nobody ever gets labeled as "lazy sack of dung" or "mediocre grind" or "self-promoting buffoon", even though a 38.5% of the American workforce falls into those three categories - again with the statistics). Another local blogger is a Refiner and yet another is a Supporter.

(I'm not going to link to them, because these are some of the nicest people I know, and I don't want them to feel like I'm making fun of them in particular, when this phenomenon is universal in a world increasingly resembling Dilbert.)

But take a second and read the "insight" that this test produces for Supporters:
CSI Motivators: Facts and information, peer respect, sincere appreciation, private recognition, specific positive feedback, an inspiring work environment, co-workers they enjoy, clearly defined objectives, a sense of accomplishment, and time to reflect and plan.

CSI De-Motivators: Hype and hyperbole, infringement on personal or family time, perceived inequity and demands for rapid change.
For Refiners it's:
CSE Motivators: All the facts plus enough time to analyze them, competent team members, recognition by superiors, special privileges, freedom from controls and genuine respect.

CSE De-Motivators: High pressure deadlines, too many cooks in the kitchen, rapid change, infringement on personal or family time and perceived inequity.
For Visionaries it's:
PVI Motivators: Inspiring work environment, opportunity to originate and initiate ideas, peer respect, credit for work accomplished and a strong sense of mission.

PVI De-Motivators: Rigid structure, routine, delays, time-consuming details and bureaucracy.
Umm, yeah. Which of these do you fall into? Is there anyone out there who is NOT demotivated by "perceived inequity", "perceived inequity", or "delays"? Is there anyone out there who is not motivated by "peer respect", "genuine respect" or "peer respect"? In other words, is Ms. Lowe not simply wrapping up common traits in pseudo-scientific lingo and selling it as insight?

So, what's the harm in a cutesy online test and a little HR mumbo-jumbo? Here's the chilling conclusion of the Visionary:
The funny thing is that it is very accurate. I think this is a great tool for managers to read their employees, or sales people their potential customers. I ordered her book and plan on reading it. The simple online test gives you more than the usual; it actually gives you some tips on how to get motivated right now in ways it will work for you.
It's like the Pod People in Invasion of the Body Snatchers! The guy who wrote that is a young, smart, hardworking guy who is probably going to rise up into middle management or upper management someday! He's wasting his own money buying books now, but soon he will be using company resources to order the book for his entire department, or even for the division he manages. And then he'll decide that his company should have a retreat and have Tamara Lowe come in and do her cutesy psychobabble intellectual striptease for everyone, and then the entire company will be sucked in to a world of artificial insight and simplistic, jingoistic gullibility.

This stuff makes the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator seem like hard science, even though serious academics know that it is nothing more than a parlor game with all the real-world validity of a Ouija Board.

I don't need an online test to generate the Gone Mild Gullibility Score. Just take a blank piece of paper, copy down the following questions, and put two ovals in the space next to the questions, labeling one "yes" and the other one "no" (a lot of people have their sense of inadequacy triggered by filling in ovals, and you want your subjects to feel as inadequate as possible for the whole "testing" thing to work):

1. Are you a Consultant? 0 Yes 0 No
2. Are you deeply suspicious of consultants and personality tests? 0 Yes 0 No
3. Do you believe in Personality Tests? 0 Yes 0 No

If you answered "yes" to question #1, let's do lunch sometime and discuss book deals.

If you answered "yes" to question #2, you have a good head on your shoulders and will eventually lose your mind in a corporate environment. I pity you.

If you answered "yes" to question #3, you are a "Genius". You are motivated by good things and demotivated by bad things. Send me cash, a check, or, best yet, a credit card authorization, and I will send you a deeper analysis consisting of multiple pages of the blatantly obvious. Your "genius", however, needs "coaching" to fully develop, and, if you act within the next 7 days, or if you are from Kansas City, I have a special offer for you! For only half your earnings (gross, not take-home), I will serve as your personal life coach, and I absolutely guarantee you that your life will change.

(If, upon reading this last offer, you dropped to the ground and played dead, congratulations.)

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16 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. You nailed it. This should be published in the Wall Street Journal.

11/17/2008 8:34 AM  
Anonymous Whistleblowme said...

I think the Wall Street Journal is already tackling another one of Dan's favorite topics - look for something out on Funkhouser soon.

11/17/2008 10:23 AM  
Blogger les said...

I am inspired by your comments, and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

11/17/2008 11:04 AM  
Anonymous Testing Corp. of Brookside said...

Did you vote for Funkhouser?

If yes, Gullible.

If no, move on to the next question.

11/17/2008 6:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Didn't UMKC hire one of these sort of consultants a few years ago? See Pitch article

11/18/2008 5:19 AM  
Blogger Tamara Lowe said...

Thanks for attending Get Motivated! I'm delighted to see my very first critical piece about the work! And I'm also thrilled that it was written by someone articulate! Thank you for taking the time to opine. It's no fun to debate with people who are not thinkers.

I hope you'll read the book (Get Motivated, being published by Random House, for release on January 27, 2009). I believe it will abundantly answer your concerns. It's hard to describe in 30 minutes on stage what took 8 years of study with thousands of people to conclude. The reason you see overlap of analysis is that the types do in fact overlap!

You'll also find that not everything I say about every type is positive! Far from it! In fact, in my candor I can be a little too abrasive at times. Not just trying to suck up to everyone, y'know!

I'm confident that you'll enjoy the book-- and if it provokes debate-- that's fine with me! As I said, I like thinkers! That's part of the reason I wrote Get Motivated to begin with. I was disgusted by the lack of substance on the market when it comes to the subject of motivation. Regrettably most motivational books are little more than hype and hyperbole, fluff and filler-- what's worse they appear to be written to third graders. Honestly, it's an embarrassment.

I trust that after reading my book you'll agree with Publishers Weekly that Get Motivated is a "refreshing and inspiring book, sure to keep readers on a path to self-realized, self-motivated success." And even if you don't like the book the worst thing that happens is that you supported some great causes. (I am donating 100% of the proceeds of Get Motivated to children's charities, including World Vision, Feed the Children, Toys for Tots and Big Brothers Big Sisters).

Thanks again! I enjoyed reading your comments. Please post more after reading Get Motivated!

12/15/2008 11:58 PM  
Anonymous Doc said...

I feel the need to respond to Tamara, for I too am intelligent and have articulate things to say!

However!

I find that a dearth of exclamation marks on my keyboard has crippled this attempt!

Help!!!

12/16/2008 9:38 AM  
Anonymous prowse said...

You really all must check out Tamara's Blog!

3/30/2009 5:51 PM  
Anonymous Lantana said...

I think there is a lot of truth to the concept that people have different "currencies" that motivate them and we need to pay attention to what gets each employee's engines revving to maximize their performance. This is hardly a new concept, I learned about it in HR school over 10 years ago. Tamara has just slapped some cutesy new labels with a scientific acronym on old ideas. The old Buick got a new bumper sticker.

I saw Tamara at a Get Motivated Seminar as well and though I agreed with the basic principles of this concept, I was flabbergasted at how Narcissistic she was. She talked about herself ad nauseum and even craftily worked in pictures of herself with as many famous people as possible, proclaiming that she was not name dropping by doing so. Her presence in the pictures served absolutely no purpose - if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck... well, it probably is name dropping.

Then she painfully pleads for you to go out and help the world (yes, she really did say that) by buying her books (#1 best seller on lots and lots of lists). And don't be selfish by buying only one for yourself, but buy them as gifts to everyone you know - "buy cases of them." Seriously? Perhaps this is how she got on the best seller list. People were applauding this embarrassing act of begging and I felt like I was one of the few not drinking the Kool Aid.

I was then teletransported to another dimension and I'm suddenly at a Christian Convention. A big old Jesus-fest. To the point that she asks us (if we want to to be anything in this world and not go to hell thereafter) to each silently affirm that we each need Jesus in our hearts and need to reconnect with our love for Him.

Huh? I check my ticket and it is still proclaiming to be a business seminar. I look at my employee, who is Jewish, and she is staring painstakingly at the floor. I mouth, "I'm SO Sorry" and she gives me an uncomfortable nod.

It made me pretty angry that at a business seminar with nationally acclaimed speakers, she would be so presumptive as to assume that the 10,000 people in the room not only agree with her beliefs, but cares what she thinks on the topic. It was a total insult to the professionals who follow other faiths or belief systems and mind their own business about it. No wonder half the world thinks we're arrogant and disrespectful of their religious beliefs.

5/27/2009 6:12 PM  
Blogger Mister Agenda said...

I had a similar experience. It's very uncomfortable to accidentally attend a revival meeting when you're not a Christian.

7/08/2009 11:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just got home from a Get Motivated event and found it, (surprise), quite motivating! As for Tamara Lowe's presentation, it was in no way implied that "Motivational DNA" had anything to do with genetics - D.N.A. is simply an acronym. Many of us live in a world where acronym's are tools to clarify and recall very helpful concepts. The concept that being optimistic, and working to change the person in my mirror was echoed by each of the speakers in one form or another. So, I find the criticism excessive compared to Ms. Lowe's presentation, (which I enjoyed thoroughly). By the way, I took the online test and will be ordering the book in order to learn more about the potential zits on that character in the mirror.

8/20/2009 6:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a Christian I found the whole thing uncomforable. True Christianity is about relationships, not how many people you can do a Jesus rap in front of. I actually sent out an apology email on behalf of the Christian faith to fellow employees once we got back in the office.

9/24/2009 9:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I attended Get Motivated yesterday with several co-workers. I too found myself sitting in a Revival and found it somewhat uncomfortable after Tamara's presentation. While I did buy her book, and am interested in her studies...I was SHOCKED at her 'alter call'. While I don't disagree for one moment that Spirituality is a cornerstone, I also belive that Spirituality is not religous, and her belief in the Christian God has NO place in a business seminar. Especially when there are Hindus, Buddists, Jews and WHATERVERS. All people's beliefs should be respected in this type of venue. I must say that I do have to applaud her convictions, but I just feel like this type of 'conversion' would better be done outside of the arena.

10/30/2009 10:50 AM  
Blogger Christel said...

I went to the seminar last week in Orlando, loved it! Enjoyed the speakers from Laura Bush to Terry Bradshaw. I came away with something from everyone. The office staff has benefited from taking the motivational DNA online questionnaire. It's fascinating to share results and see how you can improve your relationships with co-workers. As far as religion, the seminar was ALL day and Ms. Lowe spoke her religious beliefs for approximately 5 minutes. As the president preaches tolerance constantly, certainly 5 minutes or so shouldn't be offensive. The doors were open for anyone to leave at anytime if they took offense.

11/20/2009 3:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Christel, I agree with you. I attended my third Get Motivated seminar yesterday and once again found insights that will benefit both myself and my frinds and co-workers. Spirituality has no ownership. What I took away was that whatever or whomever your go to for spiritual support and guidance should be imbraced. I did not feel like I was at a revival but with inspiring people that now you do not gain real success with out the giving something back, and boy were these speakers successful and knew their stuff.
I would strongly suggest before passing any judgment on these seminars you attend one. They are really inexpensive so even you can afford to go and learn from so very humble gifted individuals.

2/05/2010 9:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I attended the Get Motivated! event and LOVED it! Especially Tamara! I thought she was funny, loved that she shared her struggles, and it gave me the reassurance that there is room for women at the top. So funny that she says she's not name dropping, and then proceeds to show pics of her with various celebs... UMM, that's really funny!! And, as for the alter call, so cool! Who cares if you're Jewish, Christian, LDS, Muslim, atheist or otherwise, she OWNS THE EVENT! She is allowed to express her beliefs, and tell me you didn't get anything from the event! If you got one thing, wasn't it worth it, alter call or not? I guess if you didn't, you missed the point of the whole day! Get out of your own way, stop making excuses, and GET SOMETHING DONE, make something of your life. I'm so over stupid people! Go Tamara! I've never heard of you before this week, but I am a FAN!!

4/21/2010 11:14 PM  

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