Marc's INTJ Blog

Similar-psychology Lookalikes, and the Still Photo Conundrum

Wednesday May 15, 2019

My wife could tell you I’m pretty hung up on appearances lately. I keep sending her photos and screenshots of people of various personality types.

“Doesn’t Person A look SO MUCH like Person B?” I’ll ask. “Do you want to see the Youtube video? Here is the link!”

“Wow, yeah! SO fascinating,” she’ll reply. I’m never sure exactly how fascinated she is, but I’m 99% sure this is legitimate fascination. :-)

Anyway, I know I am fascinated by this and so I’m going to continue down this path. And heck, I probably couldn’t stop even if I wanted to. And exactly how would you stop the INTJ’s dominant mode of perception from working? And why would you even want to do that?! Anyway. It just does its own thing.

So I feel like I’m hot on the trail of a couple different ESFP appearance-connections, with groups of people for evidence. Same with INTJ, INTP, INFP, ISFP, ENFJ, and ENFP.

Dammit, give us something to work with here

OK fine. Here’s an ESFP example: (with some amazingly ghetto-theorist text captions; you’re welcome)

The two unwitting assistants here are Nataly Dawn of Pomplamoose, and Elaine Perliss, hypnotherapy instructor.

Oh and I just remembered that my mom looks a lot like Elaine Perliss, too. lol. Will have to dig up photos. I don’t need her permission because she’ll take it all in stride ;-)

BTW I lightened Elaine’s face with the levels tool, but mostly because the video is so dark that I wanted to make it easier to see for people who have darkened their screens. (Do you guys do that? I darken my screens quite often, but my eyes tend to get really dry. But INTJs tend to be sensitive to little things like that too.)

This one is funny because I sent Elaine’s photo to my wife and together we quickly named four other ESFPs that resemble her. Personal friends, sadly. Maybe they’ll allow me to take photos? They are ESFPs, after all. Anyway, it was just a moment about which I knew I’d be blogging soon.

Another Example

Here’s a photo of my dad, an INTJ dentist, and Greg Prince, also a kickass INTJ dentist:

You can see the video where I got Greg’s photo, here.

Improper Mormon Language Warning

Two Mormon dentists, both INTJs, AND they both look alike. Jesus Horatio Christ, with apologies to my more orthodox Mormon friends. I wonder what the f*** would happen if they were in the same room together?! Instant best friends? One of those “separated at birth” news spots on CNN? Or something a bit more X-Files?

Unfortunately, my dad’s long gone. But beyond the photo comparison, these two people also share a certain intensity to their communications. Watch Greg Prince for a while and it seems like he’s constantly acting as if his crazy-deep historical insights are as clear as day and you’d be dumb not to think so, too. My dad could be like that. See? 1 + 1 = 5! Chin down, eyebrows up, “you’d better believe it!”

I showed the photo to my ESFP mom, who looks like Elaine above, and who said, in true ESFP form:

Yes, there’s a great resemblance! Dad tied for 1st place in the National Written Dental test. Received A+ on the 9 piece bridge he completed at U of W. The largest bridge work ever done at U of W.

The largest! The best! Great! Woo hoo! Gotta love that Se. But yeah, these guys are no nitwits! The INTJ look of champions!

And also…

Photos kind of sell it short

One problem I’m facing is this beyond-skin-deep aspect. These similarities are not all still-frame photo similarities. In fact, still photos really sell the effect short, if that’s all you’re comparing. In this case, yeah, probably you’re not going to find video examples of Nataly and Elaine interacting with others using even roughly similar levels of intensity. (Wouldn’t we love to see Elaine rocking out, and Nataly teaching hypnotherapy though? We would.)

But when you do experience that sort of thing, say when you’re talking to someone in real life and realize how much they resemble another person at this deep and really solid core level that runs through their entire being, it’s really weird and cool.

So I guess what I’m saying is that there’s a psycho-sensory similarity, in a way. If you can take in the experience of that person, including their mannerisms, preferred means of perceiving and judging, AND their overall appearance, you can get a better idea of what I’m talking about.

And that kind of leads to the most annoying part. As always. This needs to be organized somehow. I’ve got a new theory in the works here—possibly; I don’t want to inflate my gigantic ego too soon—but now I need to organize all this “stuff”. Which takes judgment, and as perceptive-dominant types, us INTJs, well sometimes it’s just easier to think about stuff. To just sit around and be fascinated—great. But people these days, they want things to be done. Evidences provided. Youtube channels created. Blog posts to be regularly published.


Oh yeah and another weird thing

I’ve also noticed some striking similarities between opposite types. I know some of you might think, “you probably confused opposite types” but we’re talking about ISFJ-A and ENTP-A, for example. Not super easy to confuse. And man, the visual similarities. Really obvious stuff.

Well, let’s see how it goes.

This feels a bit like a setup for some niche and unintentionally-ironic oriental diagnosis type thing in a way, but I do entertain a faint hope of overcoming some of the shortcomings of such a possibly-comparatively-limited model. I’ve seen and podcasted about some other models for this kind of thing as well, though there isn’t much meat to them that I’ve seen so far.

One last super-creeped-out note

I am pretty creeped out to think I’m going to find some INTJ out there who looks like me. If it’s you and you want to get in touch though, don’t hesitate. We will freak people out together, and it will be glorious, I promise.

By the way, my “INTJ Sub-types” model made the rounds in beta form recently, and the feedback was good. I need to polish it up a bit but I’ll publish it soon.

Filed in: /11/

Alas, Poor Trebek

Friday May 10, 2019

Recently, incurable check-out-these-Chronosonic-speakers aesthete and INTJ Canuck friend A. asked me my feelings on Alex Trebek, host of the American game show Jeopardy who recently shared with his audience his diagnosis of terminal cancer. I shared my feelings, to which A. replied that I should share them here…

So! Here are my feelings on Alex Trebek, as shared with A.:

Psychological Ground Zero

Trebek, to me, has been a fixture. He’s in my head for good. How can you not like the guy, at a kind of archetypal level, right? However after really looking into his life, I’m pretty sure he’s an ISTJ-A. Which is like normcore to the normcorth power on the one hand, but also “how to succeed in business by being born into it” in a nutshell (with some exceptions of course—we are talking type here, not individuals) on the other hand.

If you look at his life through that lens, and simultaneously sort through the information available on his life, really actually study the guy, it becomes clear really fast that he’s never really had to stretch in ways that other, very impressive people have.

Like you, man [I’m referring to A. here]. You have had to pull some serious own-psychology strings just to make it through the day sometimes, and your flexible persona really shows that.

Everyone Else Can Just Be Like Trebek, for all Trebek Cares

Trebek though, has never, ever been where you’ve been. He hasn’t done that. I guarantee you that when he feels a prompt to flex, he pushes back or explodes or just leaves, or all three. His wife seems to be shouldering this burden, the eyes-out life-exploration side of his psychology, for him. She not only explores the unknown; she enjoys it! Maybe he notices that and appreciates it; maybe he doesn’t. I hope the latter, fear the former.

Trebek, well, he’s comparatively grounded. As in, literal ground: He’d rather be out gardening. Just like his psychological compatriot Richard Nixon would rather be mashing potatoes.

And unfortunately this psychology has yielded Trebek’s firmly-grounded, stoic, and tormentingly passionless approach to having cancer…it’s hard to watch, almost cringe-level.

“I have some news to share with you. I’m just like 50,000 other people in the US every year. Also, I’m going to keep working AND beat this.”

So no big deal guys!

A Lesson: How to Use the Wrong Psychological Tools for the Job

Well, good luck with that. Trebek could get out of that studio contract so easily at this point, but I think he’s scared that a lack of work will kill him. Or: He just doesn’t know, so he’s not going there. This has a lot to do with the “exploring the unknown” factor I mentioned above.

In that way I think he’s doing his fans yet another injustice. In that way Jeopardy has always been about trivia, never the applied-humanity sort of wisdom and reflection which results in knowing and un-knowing. Jeopardy is all about knowing, and never about un-knowing. If you wonder in Jeopardy, you are lost. In fact, you are probably going to get a derisive sneer! Seen in this context, those sneers are terribly sad. Stay with what is known. Don’t deviate. Wondering will get you nowhere.

Heck, while we’re at it, feeling will also get you nowhere. You want to see an ISTJ make an ENFP uncomfortable for being themselves—for feeling? There’s your video!

And that’s so huge here, that ENFP Ne/Fi missing piece, and we know it’s so important to humanity especially in times of suffering and pain, that I have to speculate that it’s a big part of the grand system of personality that is going to escort him to an early grave.


I grew up on Jeopardy, man. I love that show. My wife always tells me when it’s on a TV somewhere, like waving a Scooby snack at the dog himself. “Trebek!? Where?!”

But I wish I had more of a say in where this cancer track was going for him. It’s really unfortunate that his chiseled-af persona is basically already a psychological coffin, and fear of the unknown (like what would happen if my life changed somehow! gosh) is obvs a huge part of that for him.

Poor Trebek—well, rich Trebek in one way. But poor in another. You will always be a fixture, but you could have really lived.

Anyway, I’m grateful for Alex Trebek and what he’s given us all. It’s clearly the best he had to offer. That he left some crucial, amazing, life-changing tools on the table because they were simply off his radar is not 100% his fault.

It’s a damn shame though, that’s for sure. I wanted a guy like Trebek to have the best I knew was possible.

Filed in: /20/ | /30/ | /11/

The Fascinating World of Youtube ESFPs, the INTJ's Opposite-Yet-Similar Type

Thursday May 9, 2019

I’m not the type of personality-type-guy to proclaim, “I perceived that your personality type is X, therefore it’s God’s truth,” so take this list with a grain of salt. However, I’m also one of the few personality type-interested people around who has been tested multiple times on my ability to type people. I passed the tests. And they were not easy. Man, there were some serious red herrings on those tests. (I’m looking at you, Susan Nash!)

So, cut that grain of salt in half, maybe.

But here are some Youtube people who I think “would make great ESFPs” ;-) and seem to be “ESFP-values-centered” individuals. Ha.

See if you can spot the Se (extraverted sensing) values: External objects, their importance, we need more external objects to compare and examine! Object-curiosity! However, the internal, deeper sensory qualities…the health aspect of eating all that fast food and chugging huge amounts of liquid…hey maybe don’t eat so much…this can be ignored (Si) in favor of that I want it all extraverted, broad psychology. And of course Fi (introverted feeling) values: I feel like goin’ out and having fun…oh and look, some people care about little ol’ me…so sweet, I care for people…individuality is important, let’s all be ourselves…love you guys, etc.

Furthermore, don’t miss that interaction style: Get Things Going. Give the viewers what you know they want to see. Leave it all on the stage. Make people feel energetic and happy and satisfied.

As an INTJ: This psychology is a big part of your psychology. And for a lot of you, it’s part of your unnoticed psychology. It makes demands of you and you immediately respond to those demands, and then later you wonder why you acted in such a shameful or embarrassing way. The more you can be aware of this side, find healthy ways to encourage it, the better. Related: Attending to the Turbo Lover (don’t ESFPs make good Turbo Lovers?)

And ending with a decidedly ESFP-values podcast called “System Mastery” we have come right back to INTJ, the home of the systems-view. :-)

Aside: As a tech guy, one of my favorite signs of an ESFP client is when they send me their password to something, and for the really Turbo Lover ESFPs it’s always some combination of words like GOLD and SEXY and MAMA and things like that. “GOLDSEXYMAMA1990”. Oh yeah baby. It’s gettin’ hot up in here with these passwords!

Filed in: /2/ | /12/ | /7/ | /11/ | /30/

Musical Interlude

Monday May 6, 2019

It had been a while since I made any music, so when I found some of my old songs over the weekend I started to feel really nostalgic. Just for fun I decided to blow the dust off the Mac, fire up Renoise and SynthMaster, load some TR-808 samples and put together a mellow retro-electronic tune.

The process was a little bit fiddly; at one point I was laughing while I watched the song playing backward, with no apparent way to stop it. I’m still convinced that this is a bug and not a feature. Force-kill, restart. On top of that, I had decided to make this happen over the weekend, full stop, no matter what, and since I only remembered a smattering of mixing techniques I learned from a Russian guy back in the early 2000s, smatter-mixing it was. No time to Google around for sweet mixing tricks like I used to do.

The song reminded me of one of my Ni-collages which had a computer and a photo of Seattle (my birthplace) in it, so I grabbed that and glossed it up a bit. “UltraPioneer” was one of the first names that came to mind and actually does resonate personally with some challenging experiences of late (hope to talk about those soon, nothing super terrible).

Anyway, this exercise somehow ticked my “therapeutic” box and I look forward to more of this kind of therapy in the future. ;-) This is just for personal enjoyment of course, nothing serious planned…

Filed in: /28/ | /34/ | /7/

Attending to the Turbo Lover: Ramping Down Work Stress with Values-directed Activity

Friday May 3, 2019

Speaking of work stress, I recently posted about the way I update this website when things are stressful, because this is one of my interests. It energizes me in its own way, and I need that kind of energy. I wanted to follow that up by giving examples of some other values-related (and you can say “interests”-related as the two words are very similar in meaning) activities that I use to rebound.

I find that too much work stress and just too much work, no matter how much my job is related to my own interests, will leave me with a dry, empty feeling. As a young INTJ I didn’t know what this meant, and I don’t really recall sensing it before others would point out that I seemed “down.”

Yesterday you may have noticed that my Youtube Music links section practically exploded with new links as I found good tunes to celebrate the completion of a big project for a client. That was a lot of fun and I think I’m a new Judas Priest fan, after listening to Turbo Lover about 50 times in a row. The monolithic, dominant voice quality of the chorus just kills me. “Turbo Lover.” What a funny concept. But there’s something applicable to INTJs here, and I will speak to that in a bit.

At the end of the day, I walked into the house thinking, “I was going to program that new ham radio,” a gadget I had bought off of AliExpress. But without much reflection, I decided, “Oh well, I’ll do it tomorrow.” This is one regret: Even just putting a little work toward something you value, or a personal interest, can feel like a great reward at the end of the day. I was tired, sure, but this would have been hobby-energy, and that can bring its own sense of rejuvenation.

I also had a nagging feeling—you know that feeling you sometimes get from your intuition, that something’s not right and you just can’t enjoy the situation no matter how hard you try? Well, I had just left the house to go on a long walk and talk to some friends on the radio when I felt that. So I turned on my phone’s voice recorder and talked it out. I kept going back to my mind’s eye for more imagery, which I interpreted as metaphor. Mostly what came back was a sort of icky, dark feeling. Shortly thereafter, my intuition figured it out and tipped me off that I was unsettled because I had no plan for the following day. As soon as I addressed that and developed an idea of preparing for the next day as soon as I got home, I was able to enjoy the walk again. That nagging gut feeling disappeared.

Today, after completing some more big steps at work, I walked into the house feeling really dry, worn out, and empty. And just kind of down. I thought, I’m probably not giving my own sense of value and my interests enough of a share of this day. So I went and found the USB cable for the new radio, installed the software interface, programmed in the local channels, and got on the air. It felt great, and that empty feeling completely vanished, leaving me feeling still a bit tired from work, but also fulfilled and upbeat.

Sometimes you have to force in the things that rejuvenate you, even if you feel too tired to do “optional” stuff. When you give a lot of work energy, the answer is not necessarily only physical rest. Focusing on new interests and personal pursuits is a fantastic way of reconnecting with a sense of being alive, and during these times you may find that your mind lets you come around and plan the next steps for a work project you’ve been putting off, or another long-term goal.

In which we learn a lesson from a Judas Priest song

In a metaphorical way, this “personal interests” side wants to be your Turbo Lover. There’s this really effeminate “more play, less work” side to all of us INTJs which needs clear and frequent attention.

In the absence of that kind of child-like attention to your interests and values, you might find that this effeminate spectre pops up quite randomly and forces you into an “I don’t wanna do anything” mood; you start to feel symptoms resembling those of a neglected love interest.

Under these conditions you may find yourself increasingly and inexplicably craving the effeminate in life (literally or metaphorically) and slip into a defenseless state. What you might have prevented by a little bit of productive “me-time” and some gentle attention to your well-being turns into a craving for activities that make you feel worthless inside, and it can be a reckless and selfish craving at that.

You won’t hear me, But you’ll feel me
Without warning, something’s dawning, listen.
Then within your senses,
You’ll know you’re defenseless
How your heart beats, when you run for cover
You can’t retreat – I spy like no other.
—Judas Priest, Turbo Lover

If you want more control over your life, don’t run from the Turbo Lover. She is different from your inner hard-worker, your wise and mature masculine side. She’s young, vibrant, she wants you to feel that kind of energy. And she is still an important part of you. She needs your attention, and she will reward you for it with a deep sense of self-connection, foundation, and identity.

Filed in: /34/ | /16/ | /30/ | /28/ | /7/ | /17/ | /9/ | /4/

The Importance of Allowing for Nuance in Relationship Judgments

Friday May 3, 2019

A. wrote some things that I want to send out to you guys in case they’re familiar and maybe even troubling to some of you.

My therapist tried to convince me to be less “moral”, re:making moves on engaged women. I’m not a “nice guy”. By a long shot. But I just think it’s a truly unholy thing to do.

Reviewing my notes in this case, it’s funny because A.‘s most recent “engaged woman” was making moves on him!

In the general case, I think it’s at least a good idea to say something like, “I know you’re engaged and I totally respect that, it’s awesome for you and I wouldn’t ever want to misread you and overstep that boundary. But here’s what I’m getting from you lately…I feel like I’m getting signs that you’re maybe a bit more seriously interested in me, and I wanted to just put that out there and ask if you’d share your thoughts? I’d really appreciate it—again, if I have misunderstood I apologize.”

Right? It’s totally OK to do that no matter how much you have misread that person. AND it will probably make you feel about 200% better to get if off your chest, out of your system, and acknowledge that it’s really a shared burden of judgment.

Also note that in this case, A’s tendency to find comfort in rather severe perceptions of morality has “mysteriously” upgraded the problem from “therapist thinks I should respond in kind to a rather open-relationship-oriented person” to “therapist thinks I should make a move on an engaged woman.”

The fact is, these two already went out together several times without her “other man” around, there was a certain mutual attraction; she invited him for some rather physical shared activities between her and the other guy.

So: this is not quite as A. describes it, right? As easy as it would be to suspect that the therapist is somehow undermining his morality.

Thus, a big point here: Be super nuanced in your communications (even self-communications like journaling) about moral decisions. Be aware of any tendency to be a severe, black-and-white moralist. It’s a good idea to resist the urge to skim and leave out important details like those I listed above. What will likely result from this kind of generalization is the same old INTJ problem—a very black-and-white judgment process which ends up making the INTJ feel like their relationships are horribly unfair or even deeply damaging.

A. continues:

Re:friends who don’t have your back. Selfishness. I get it, nobody can ever be reproached for caring most about themselves. But as I expressed earlier, I thought the point of a friendship was…to facilitate a certain ease of living. To help out.

This is part of the same family of thoughts / judgments: Introverted feeling, or Fi, also known as Valuing (Linda Berens). Those who aren’t very experienced with Fi are more likely, I find, to make black-and-white judgments that do not echo or overlay well on top of our shared, more objective reality.

So what happens a lot to INTJs in this kind of situation is that they 1) fail to communicate their values and expectations to their relationship partners and then 2) explode or door-slam the partner when their values and expectations are violated.

Here are some tips in this area:

  • Do your best to come up with a blend of choices, when you have a decision to make about a relationship. Be nuanced. Such a mindset is generally a sign of education and wisdom. Watch for a tendency to engage in black-and-white perception and judgment.
  • Don’t make important relationship decisions when your stress or exhaustion levels are high. Ask for more time to get some rest (like actual sleep or time off), or do your best to make a decision that seems fair to both parties.
  • Involve others in your decision-making. Don’t be really general—give them the key details. Listen to their input, and push back gently only when necessary. See if you can try out their advice and be open-minded in this experiment. If what you trust is only what you’ve tried before, you can lose a lot in a new friendship.
  • Along similar lines, try not to worry too much about friend gossip. Most of it is background noise that will never come back to bite you, unless you are legitimately causing a friend or associate a lot of pain. If you’re imagining someone gossiping about you, keep in mind that at least some of those involved will probably take your side, or feel sympathetic. ;-) Working in a gossipy organization in the past, I learned that a lot of people who gossip are doing so without any serious values-judgment, because they themselves are practically values-blind! The serial gossips are just hypocrites; they know it and laugh about it. They think that because they need to gossip, everybody’s doing it! There’s a perception filter which rewards them for gossiping. They also may be scared or feel overwhelmed, or simply need to get the information off their shoulders and process it. Again: Most of it is just humanity doing its thing; it’s noise, and that’s OK.
  • Talk about the kind of friend you want to be, and listen to feedback! “Listen friend, I have these really high expectations of my friends sometimes, and I want to make sure that I communicate up front—I’m the kind of guy who does his best to watch his friends’ backs. And I just want you to know that if I could use your help, I will do my best to be considerate and communicate my needs while keeping your own situation in mind. But if you see that I’m in trouble, please don’t hesitate to jump in and help.”
  • Listen to your friends’ responses. Are they really hyperbolic? “DEFINITELY BUDDY I’VE GOT YOU” can be equally concerning or comforting. But so can a long, twisty, winding set of phrases that leave you feeling confused about how the other person sees the relationship. Ask yourself how you feel after the conversation. And keep in mind—ANY of this is better than no conversation at all.
  • If they do something that demonstrates “I SO DON’T GOT YOUR BACK,” let them know! Again, gently. Avoid the urge to freak out. But let them know—“hey, I realize it may be asking a lot, but I really want to trust that my friends have my back in a situation like this. Maybe that’s extreme. Anyway, I’m hurting over here man.” Let them recover, give them another chance. And it’s never a bad idea to temper your expectations a bit, as opposed to just cutting them off completely. Realize that if you need someone who will come through for you no matter what, every time—that’s an extremely rare individual, and those are very special needs.
  • While you get this experiment going, keep in mind it’s traditionally a weak area for INTJs. You may have to push yourself further toward “risk” than you have before, in order to learn key lessons that will really help you in the future. We all make mistakes, and if you’re not making any mistakes in your values-related decision-making, ask yourself if you’re even developing in that area at all. Are you stretching those muscles for when they need to be used? Something to think about.
  • Keep a sense of humor. You get major bonus points if you can laugh about your own set of “uptight” morals, when there’s a higher risk that others will perceive them as such. You get major bonus points if you can laugh at your past self, who was much more awkward and direct about door-slamming relationship partners.
  • Study personality type. As a tool, it will give you a powerful new way to perceive and judge relationships. For example, knowing where Fi is in someone’s stack of cognitive functions, and what that means, can be a huge benefit that helps you navigate new relationships. Generally speaking, close relations with types with Fi in their 5-8th functions can be more difficult for INTJs who are hyper-attentive to black and white Fi / Valuing, because we tend to perceive their general lack of Fi-preference as “superficial” or “values-blind” or even “crafty”. This is also generally unfair, and it’s just one of many models of human relationship psychology. Again, try to be nuanced and ask them how they see things. Learn about your relationship partner and ask yourself what you can do about it.
  • Learn about Ti, a still-nuanced, and yet more logical way to think about relationships. Maybe you didn’t get a relationship partner who’s super close this time, in this or that friendship? No sweat, at least you have a friend, and you never know what benefit that might bring! Now: Is there anything they’d love to help you with, that you’d need? Can you give them something in return? In such a situation, it’s clearly less manipulative to ask them for this help than it would be if they gained nothing. INTJs are also very brittle thinkers in this area in general, so it’s good to know about for a challenge once in a while, as well as for your overall development.

If you made it this far—congratulations, I know this can be a really, really touchy area for INTJs. In studying it and getting to know the dynamics, you are setting yourself up for a more satisfied, energetic, and peaceful future.

Filed in: /18/ | /34/ | /7/

Some More Reader Questions: Mysterious Blog Productivity, Family Relations

Wednesday May 1, 2019

E. writes:

Thank you for writing your blog posts. Lots of them have been practical (eg journal template, music suggestions, media links).

Nice work with the journal! I’m glad the blog has been helpful.

A comment: You appear to be in a 30 day challenge for writing daily on your blog. Am I right?

Not only no, but unfortunately I should probably emphasize that with a “hell no”, E., given the actual circumstances. :-) Sorry to be hyperbolic. Not that I’m against 30-day challenges, but here’s what you’re seeing.

My day-to-day coaching and web development businesses are like this lately:

Just a lot of activity. A lot of stuff to sort out. Problems to solve, deadlines to meet, and people to help. Maybe a few actual aliens to kill, or at least a few big spiders in the house. I wish those guys would stay out!

So the blog is my blowoff valve, and really—and I feel like a lot of you will understand this—my side-productivity gig, the thing that gives me a nice break to talk about whatever feels good and interesting as an INTJ.

As a coach I feel like it’s important for me to see it for what it is. Otherwise I tell my clients, “oh hey, did you read [productivity book]? It’s so freaking great” even though I woke up this morning and procrastinated 3 hours away just like the pre-productivity-book self would.

I’m considering urging most INTJs to treat productivity research as a hobby—that’s another finding. You can’t stop us from kicking our own kind of ass when it’s time, but we do kind of torture ourselves in between those times, thinking of ourselves as lazy, which isn’t true at all. The 3-hour procrastination session is often just one’s own body screaming for rest.

Speaking of 30-day challenges, I’ve tried the X-Effect before, and you know what I found? It was funny. I kept making those damn cards, man. Pretty soon I had this ideal of reaching like 10 x’s a day. I might try it again sometime, but I found it really hard to throw all my money in the “change your clothes daily” pile, or whatever it is I’m lagging at.

E. continues:

Also, I was wondering if you may write about the dynamics of your relationship with your wife? For example, maybe talk about her MBTI type, how you guys communicate, your frustrations and how you cope, etc.

I think I’ve mentioned this before but maybe not! My wife is a beautiful ISFJ. The dynamics seem to get better every year! I like that dynamic. We have gone through a lot of difficult experiences together—the loss of twin girls at birth, a wearying adoption process with a couple of near-adoptions, the traumatic birth of my ISFJ son, and more. So it feels like we have grown together a lot in this sense that transcends type: The shared experience, in which many of our perceptions are intertwined.

We also have a pretty vibrant life lately. Megan is very active. She works with refugees and arranges trips to gather their stories with the storytelling team at TSOS Refugees, an international refugee non-profit which recently published a very impressive book.

Even more undeservedly on my part, Megan is a REALLY good cook. She learned how to make pasta and pizza from a gracious Italian mamma while living in Italy. And she will try making my favorite Japanese food even though it’s not really part of her own past, but then she wont stop—she’ll theorize how to make it better next time, and the time after that! It’s awesome.

Plus she runs marathons, she’s really into helping with local school and community efforts, and she actually likes taking day-to-day productivity stuff off my plate, which is very helpful.

I am not sure what I give in return, but she likes that I’m a coach and refers clients my way all the time. She’s way more socially adept than I am in the “somehow remembers to maintain friendships” way.

My kids: ISTP son, 9, ISFJ son, 8, and ENFP daughter, 6. I watch Doctor Who nightly with my sons before bed. They remember stuff about that show wayyyy better than I do. And they tell me some seriously funny stuff sometimes. One of my favorite things is hearing them laugh about something they read in a book, or something somebody said at school.

My daughter, well, she’s just a cutie. She likes to write sweet cards with those little ENFP-Fi caveats, like “Dear Mom and Dad, I love you both, even when you get mad at me.” In that way I’m glad I know about personality type, or I’d probably be like, “CAN YOU NOT JUST WRITE A CARD THAT’S 100% NICE.” We laugh about it though.

The kids come out to my office and play every couple of days, when I leave my office door open. We’ll play a few rounds of golf on the computer, or have a dance party, or talk about their friends at school.

Our most recent family purchase is a putter, some golf balls, and an indoor putting hole. We are attempting to get ISTP trying some more introvert friendly sports because he’s really introverted and yet athletically gifted. He’s also amazing at video games. Fortunately I helped a client’s son get a full-ride e-sports scholarship, so ISFJ trusts me with the job of making sure his video game play doesn’t just mean lazy stuff. Which is what it totally looks like, but his brain is whirring the entire time.


We communicate really well just hanging out and chatting. It’s fun to send articles and memes back and forth. It’s a little bit harder to communicate on projects together when there’s something on the line, like an important deadline. In those cases we both have our “own way” of doing a thing, so it’s really important to watch that we don’t exclude the other by snapping back to only our own way. A quirk of the Je (extraverted judgment; Te-Fi/Fe-Ti) personality combination. We each have to be patient with the other’s dominant process sometimes as well.


OK, an example. With an ISFJ, part of the game of life can be something like “schedule Tetris.” I’m not sure if you’ve ever seen the way ISFJs naturally do this Tetris thing with their Ti, but not only can they be REALLY good at the video game, they are (I should really say they can be because I don’t mean to paint every ISFJ with that brush) good at things like loading moving trucks, packing up boxes, etc. Like, amazingly good—no space wasted. The same goes for a schedule, or a block of time to fill.

So when you go on vacation as an INTJ and you’re thinking “ahhh, relaxation,” you better run that by the ISFJ because vacation often means doing things together and “gosh I sure hope you’re OK if we visit friends A, B, and C while we tour this distant and foreign continent? I promise we will do things you want to do in between.” When actually, watching entire days float by is probably one of my favorite vacation activities, period.

So, I find that one really helpful thing is to not get run over by all this. Right? I don’t want to feel really pouty at the end of the day because not only did I let it float by, but all of the stuff we did involved connecting with Facebook friends. So I’ve learned that I need to be a good J-personality and let her know that I’m doing this or that tomorrow, and then asking her to help me figure out how we can each do what we want. She wants me to enjoy the vacation, too.

It’s really a Fi-Ti sort of concern: Figuring out the kind of activity you value, and setting a boundary: OK, we’ll do your stuff too, but I want to do my stuff in there somewhere. So let’s figure it out: Can it work? For a long time I acted as if “being a good husband” meant “just let her do her stuff” but that didn’t help at all. And being a coach, I know how important it is to do stuff that is meaningful to you. As an INTJ-T, always open to change and learning, unfortunately one of the traps is that you get to be so perceptive that you can end up letting people walk over you. Megan never really did that, or wanted to do that, but I didn’t do anything to prevent it from inadvertently happening.

Does that help? That’s one thing. Like I said, there’s a lot. Sometimes even just knowing that while an ISFJ might be echoing your exact sentiments (a gift I envy in some ways!), they don’t necessarily agree—that alone can be really helpful. You might say, “man I hate yellow cars!” and they’re laughing with you, but then a couple days later you might also hear, “when you said you hated yellow cars, honestly that really made me feel angry inside. I’m sorry but I kind of still like them, BUT I also see what you mean.” This can happen—it’s not terribly logical, it’s not how INTJs prefer to operate, but it’s important to understand that it’s also part of being human.


I can always detect a little bit of sensitivity on the part of my INTJ clients when they talk about their family members’ personality types; maybe they’re afraid I’ll tell them they chose the wrong spouse, or whatever. But really, my philosophy is that your spouse reflects a part of you, and often a very aspirational part at that.

Knowing about personality type has overall been really great for our family.

Have a great day E.!

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One of My Best Productivity Tools

Wednesday May 1, 2019

One of my recent favorite productivity tools is a graphics driver issue which forces the shutdown of the Chrome browser about 4x daily.

All my tabs freeze up, and I have to kill the browser application and restart. Naturally, harnessing this as an opportunity to make a fresh start in life, I refuse to allow the browser to restore the previous 20-40 tabs.

Should I risk an upgrade? Unsure. I’m seriously considering writing such a script for all my browsers, randomly killing them after, say, an hour has passed.

Maybe Relevant Note: I am generally anti-productivity-pride when it comes to INTJs. In my experience, treating ourselves as productivity warriors is dangerous and needs to be balanced with an understanding that we are also procrastination warriors. Run with it, ride the wave, don’t sweat it. So laughing at my productivity levels has become a favorite activity, even though I’m also most definitely a secret badass like every other INTJ. ;-)

Filed in: /40/

The INTP, the INTJ, and How Differences in Taxonomy May Vary by Personality

Wednesday May 1, 2019

Working with taxonomies, categorization, and tags a lot in my other, tech-oriented business, I generally find a philosophical taxonomy-thinking split across INTP and INTJ developer personalities, like so:

  • INTP developers don’t generally enjoy the idea of a single taxonomy and categorization system for a given body of information. Instead they prefer to develop those only as needed. In my opinion, the technology we refer to as “tagging” evolved from the Ne-Ti mindset: “Anything can be an anything. Don’t limit me. And, precisely speaking, a “doohickey” is also a word that ends with y, in addition to being a word that starts with d. Tags naturally suggest themselves.”
  • INTJ developers don’t generally enjoy using tagging systems without also developing a firm categorization, or a way in which the information ought to be consumed. We can be pretty didactic in that way. However, a typical INTJ has, or likes to think they have, a natural intuitive sense for the type of presentation that would benefit people using the system, and this often involves a firm information hierarchy. The INTJ prepares an interface for the foreseen best-outcome, and if some of the outliers have to look a bit harder to find what they want, so be it.

It has helped me greatly to be able to walk into a meeting with a client and get an idea of the ratio of those preferences, one to the other.

And these days, a lot of developers would say: ¿Por qué no los dos? However, one thought system usually takes priority in the overall scheme.

[Aside: Wading into philosophy a bit deeper, you might say the is-ought problem reflects a key perspective of the INTP psychology, and is related to this blog post’s question of ought information structure vs. is information structure.]

Well, thus & therefore one of my intuitive visions for this blog has always been the integration of a menu system which goes into topic and sub-topic, as opposed to only reverse-chronological content and loose tags. Because dammit, let’s get some structure around here!

I generally hate using blogging software for websites that will need that kind of topic & sub-topic formal taxonomy. But this blog evolved pretty organically on purpose, and one of my outcomes was, “this time I’ll fix it and make adjustments as I go along, for fun, which will get me on the road faster.” So far, it’s worked. The tech is really easy to manage with regard to presentation.

However, this menu system thing—getting that on the road could take a bit of thinking and it’s tempting to make the thinking pretty grandiose. Which is kind of the opposite philosophy, as compared to what got us this far.

There’s quite a breadth to the information I’ve shared here, and also a certain depth, and this (my head is expanding by the second) gets us into some pretty nerdy layout possibilities. I hate to say it, but I’m almost thinking we could really benefit from three columns or more for the wider screens here, guys. :-) We’ll see. In my personal projects I’ve been up to five columns where it made sense.

The important part, I’ve learned, is to keep gardening. Where I used to abandon sensory projects like this after a few weeks or months when form didn’t match vision, I’ve learned to kind of let them take their own shape over time, with adjustments made on an ongoing basis. I started this blog as a humble study blog, just a place to keep myself accountable and enjoy yet another secret blog where I could tool around.

One way of keeping it humble and avoiding a near-certain, raging, late-night design session is to start keeping a simple log regarding my thinking on the blog design. And so I’ve started a simple log, next to all of my other logs on topics from keeping a houseplant to birthday shopping for my wife.

I’ve also looked backward into this blog’s past a bit, and reviewed some old notes. INTJs are generally the type of people to hesitate to look back at the early phases of their projects because it makes them cringe, but after studying SJs for so long, I’ve learned that when you write the story you almost always end up celebrating the history. There’s a lot to that, and it does feel good to be able to stabilize the project in that way. Otherwise it’s simply never good enough—it never just is what it is, and that’s kind of a bummer.

Well: I’m looking forward to my next 100 years of blogging, as various progeny take up the task of keeping the dream alive, family relationships are strained, feuds are started, wars are waged, and incantations listing the hex color values of favorite pixels are chanted in between furious exchanges of laser fire.

[OR: You may see some big changes here, or you may not. This depends on how busy I am—the busier I am, the more procrastinating I do, the more changes you will likely see here.]

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