Before we start
Here you will find a glimpse into how I perceive myself and my place in the world. Check out now, futures, and my CV for things that I am working on. This page is self-indulgent and personal by definition. However, if anything piques your interest, please don’t hesitate to reach out and start a conversation - I would love to hear your thoughts and perspectives.
Now that we are friends
I am a learn-overt
This is a portmanteau of learning and intro/extrovert. Personality is helpful when it provides clues to the motives of a person’s actions. My actions are mostly motivated by the prospect of learning something new.
Learning boosts my energy
I may appear as an introvert because it is efficient to learn through condensed materials (e.g. books), but I also enjoy acquiring undocumented knowledge, empathy, and communication skills through conversations with people. Unlike introverts, I do not feel drained after talking to multiple groups of people. However, if I am not learning, I can become easily tired whether I am alone or in a group.
When having conversations, I enjoy discussing deep and abstract concepts rather than surface-level topics. It is understandable to start a conversation with small talk such as “what did you have for lunch” as it helps us understand the context and circumstances of the person we are talking to. However, it will be more interesting if we eventually move on to the importance of nutrition, rather than where to shop for groceries; if we discuss where to shop for groceries, it will be more engaging to discuss the market structure of supermarkets than to discuss the traffic of the store. Interesting discussions are not about where we start, but about the direction we take1. I believe the more abstract the concepts, the closer they are to a mental model, and therefore the more transferable it is. The world is vast and complex, with an overwhelming amount of information and knowledge. It can be compared to a sphere, where the number of facts and insights are represented by the surface area. By going deeper (reducing the sphere’s radius) and understanding the underlying mechanics of nature and society, we are able to focus on fewer but more relevant facts to gain a better understanding of the world.
Meanwhile, I tend to avoid conversations that are impractical, like those that no one has any idea of or control over. Such topics are polluted with noise with little signals to act on.
Being learning-driven means I usually benefit from my interactions with other people, which encourages me to give back and give forward. Even if there is no learning involved, I see it as my responsibility to help friends in need. I also allocate time to help proactively
I advocate for radical honesty with emotional correctness
I believe that being truthful about our observations and thoughts helps us to get closer to reality. No one is always right. Instead of second-guessing and self-censoring, we should be open to being (nicely) corrected and correcting others’ mistakes. I believe this is essential for building deep and mutually beneficial relationships.
We should aim to be emotionally correct instead of politically correct. We need to respect everyone’s well-being in society, but that does not mean we should bend our reality against evidence.
Expand my life at the extremes
Similar to my desire to learn, I enjoy expanding my life and make discomfort zones feel like home. I may appear as a workaholic because my work is one of the easiest ways to live at intellectual extremes. That is a result of blessings in my life that allowed me to learn and work with world-class colleagues in cutting-edge research and innovation fields. However, I also love challenging myself with new experiences like gliding and skydiving. I have a wishlist of items from which I randomly pick one to complete every season.
Progress over ideologies
I am a pragmatic person. For example, regardless whether it is a state-directed tree-planting program (left), or a tax reduction in green technology (right), I support policies that make progress.
I understand progress can be dangerous and lead to unintended consequences. I recognize it can be much more rewarding to work on things that lead to progress than to work on regulations; people do not appreciate successful regulations (because their success lies in that nothing (bad) happened). Therefore, I actively seek rational pessimistic people to work with me.
Many technological advancements may not be enjoyed by the mass in their infancy. Meanwhile, many frugal innovations bring already developed technologies to the mass. I believe both are important and we should not favor one over the other. It is too easy to criticize the former as an indulgence, but we need the early adopters’ investment for these technologies to be possible.
My personality/team role assessments
Belbin team role
According to the assessments completed by myself and my colleagues, my top three roles are plant, resource investigator, and specialist.
This means that I am good at generating ideas (plant), gaining opportunities for ideas (resource investigator), and building challenging ideas (specialist). This result fits the profile of a technical entrepreneur, who can build and sell their ideas effectively. I have found that many entrepreneurs are also bloggers, probably because they are equally idea-driven.
This result also indicates areas that I should pay attention to. These roles are more idea-driven and this may make me appear self-focused. As a plant, I should communicate my ideas effectively with others. As a resource investigator, I should gain opportunities for the team, the collaborators, not just myself. As a specialist, I should bring the team together. I would love to work with colleagues who are more result-focused and people-focused, so that team can carry through the ideas and take care of everyone’s welfare at the same time.
These are just the top three results. None of the roles is ill-fitted, and I may adopt other roles when needed.
I am not sure about the scientific validity of this test and my result shows around 60% inclination for any area (i.e. none of my inclinations are strong). My result was E/INTJ when I took it in 2015.
I suspect it is good to keep an open mind, learn everything from scratch, and continuously questioning assumptions and conventional wisdom.