Joanne Wilson

7 words to describe yourself

Last night I had a conversation with a friend about what it takes for women to get ahead in the work world.  We look around and see that some of us aren't being developped, and we have talents we could be applying in certain capacities that aren't.  My friend said that neither of us sell ourselves well enough.  We can both cite people that aren't as smart or educated, but know how to sell themselves, and have gotten further ahead than we have. 

Now that I know the Enneagram and can more or less identify types, I look for the type Eights wherever I go, because they know how to sniff things out where others don't.  I have the pleasure of working with three or four Eights, and I watch them really closely.  Their natural ability to sell themselves, say no, see through bullshit, protect their boundaries, strategize, figure out where the opportunities are, maximize their efficiency, protect their rights and resources, and stay focussed on long-term goals help them get ahead by miles compared to others who get sidetracked by little things that eventually drain them of their energy.  Eights know how to ask for things, or even just insinuate themselves into awesome situations because they know how make it clear to their boss that their needs are important.  They just carry themselves that way.

 A list of things I wanted from 1991. 

A list of things I wanted from 1991. 

I went out for breakfast with my mom this morning, and she handed me a piece of paper she found when she was cleaning the house, and it was a list of things I wanted, from 1991.  One of the items was a raise.  When I was a kid, I got 25 cents a week for weeding our massive backyard garden (this was Regina in the insect-infestation era of the 80's when you couldn't step anywhere outside without crunching on a grasshopper or a cricket- going into that garden was terrifying), cleaning the bathroom, and vaccuuming.  25 cents was pretty piddly, even for the recession of the late 80's when I was doing these chores.  Other kids in my grade were getting 5$ a week.  I did ask for a raise, and I think I eventually got one in high school.

In Joanne Wilson's blog this morning, she invited her readers to do an exercise started by Paul Holdengraber of the New York Public Library, and describe yourself in 7 words.  My first instinct was to think of all the things that held me back from getting that raise, or getting my talents used, or finding the right circle of influence.  But then I decided to go along with the spirit of the exercise, and say 7 positive things I knew were good about me.  I felt like I was cheating, like someone opened the front doors to a Tiffany's store and said, go ahead and take 7 items from the shelves- you can have them for free.  But it was the best exercise I'd done in a while, and I'm going to incorporate it into my course.

Here are mine: "Fierce, loyal, protective, opinionated, creative, talent-cheerleader, big-picture-seer.

What are yours?


"Terra non est centra mundi"

The best quote I've heard all month came from Paul Holdengraber, the director of public programs at the New York Library who said that he approached all his subjects with "a euphoria of ignorance", which is exactly how I feel about my course.  Like him, I'm producing Science and Alchemy School because I'm fascinated by the topic, and I'm excited to have some really great speakers enlighten us as we learn how two profound systems of inner growth-- astrology and the Enneagram-- are modeled in our planetary system, and how, in turn, we are, in our biological make-up, products our planetary system.  We belong to each other.  Not only is the universe's unfolding a fascinating story, but it's the cradle for our own psychological unfolding, and as both narratives come together in the 21st century, enabled by technology and research, there is also profound meaning.  Science and mysticism are revealing themselves to be intertwined in fascinating ways in our modern-day universe, so these are exciting times.

Another quote I heard this week was from Russ Hudson's talk on the historical context of the Enneagram.  "It takes time for ideas to cook."  That's an understatement.  In about 150 AD, a Alexandrian astronomer, astrologer, and mathematician named Ptolemy wrote Almagest, which became the standard textbook on astronomy for generations of students to come.  Indeed, for the next 1200 years, it held its place as the authority on the planets and stars, how they moved around the earth, which was the centre of the universe. 

  Nicolaus Copernicus, a Polish cleric.  His ideas weren't accepted until centuries after he died.   Image from Wikipedia.

Nicolaus Copernicus, a Polish cleric.  His ideas weren't accepted until centuries after he died.  Image from Wikipedia.

It took a man named Nicolaus Copernicus in the mid-sixteenth century to get the gumption- and the science together- to challenge Ptolemy's ideas, and his resulting book was ignored by the Church.  Copernicus was a Polish cleric who studied religious law, medicine and astrology, (since it shed light on the nature of his patients' illnesses), and as he did so, found that Ptolemy's calculation tables were a little cumbersome.  Over the course of his adult life, he developped a heliocentric model of the universe, and his ideas didn't become accepted until the 19th century. 

Talk about taking a while for ideas to cook.  Yesterday, Joanne Wilson profiled a city in South Korea that decided to go without cars in one particular neighborhood for one month.  It took TWO YEARS to convince everyone to get on board.  People just didn't think it could be done. 

I love new ideas.  I soak them up, although sure I get threatened by my fair share of them.  But I like to stay ahead of the curve as much as possible so I'm never taken by surprise. 

Becoming Like Your Top Five Influences

Yesterday, I read a Fast Company article on bassist Nathan East, "the most famous guy you've never heard of."  Basically, he's played bass on every major record you love: The Beatles,

Making Decisions from the Gut

A friend of mine is trying to make one of the biggest decisions of her life right now: when and where to retire.  She could retire where she feels comfortable and where she's got her circle of friends, or in Eastern Canada where her children are.  Understandably, she's torn- how do you choose between the two? 

Last night, we talked about making decisions with the head, heart, and gut, and how they each have different voices, speeds, and energies.  The head and the heart tend to come up with the logic, math, and reasoning,  and the dream, vision, and the aching respectively.  The gut is the centre of action.  It recognizes opportunity or danger and springs the body into action. 

Everyone operates primarily from one of the centres, has secondary access to another, and has trouble getting in touch with the third.  So for example, you could be a head type, a heart type, or a gut type and be completely literate in that centre's vocabulary, but then you could have real difficulty deciphering what one of the other centres is saying, which can have you unconsciously flying in long, slow circles over the bird sanctuary of your life with a clipped wing for years on end. 

  Jim Treliving .  Image from

Jim Treliving.  Image from

Jim Treliving is a Canadian entrepreneur and investor, known as the RCMP officer-turned-owner of the international Boston Pizza franchise and now a fixture on CBC's the Dragon's Den (like the US' Shark Tank).  He's possibly a lusty, gut-driven, tough yet self-effacing Enneagram Type 8w9 (although I'm not positive on that), but one thing is clear in reading his book Decisions- he accesses his gut to make decisions over and over again in his business deals.


My RCMP training taught me the most crucial business lesson there is: Always do something.  That's the one thing that sets successful people apart from not-so-successful people-- the ability to actually make a decision.  Unsuccessful people freeze in the face of choice.  Why does this happen?  It's fear of the unknown that keeps us stuck.  Or fear of making the wrong decision.  Sometimes it's easier to continue doing things the old, familiar way, even if that way is all wrong.  But a big change will take you to a whole new place in business, and in life.

Joanne Wilson, an entrepreneur with a powerful presence whose gut decisions have served her well.

At a workshop a few years ago with Enneagram teacher Ginger Lapid-Bogda, she had a participant come up to the front who was trying to make a major decision in her life.  This woman - a heart type- was trying to decide whether or not to pursue her passion by opening a Body Shop-type of business.  The purpose of the exercise was to "hear" from all three centres, and she was to put her hands on each of the three centres in turn, picturing that body part in her mind's eye, and talk about her business idea, as if she was in that centre.  It was interesting to notice how her voice changed when she spoke from each of the centres.  Sometimes the words had the ring of a parents' dissaproval, or betrayed desire with the way the breath carried the words.  The voice from the gut was meek, but there's something about the gut- how it knows things.  (Actually, we now know from neuroscience that it literally knows things, as nerve fibers from the nervous system surround our hollow internal organs [ie. our visceral organs] and are the first point of contact for our internal sensory perceptions that get sent up to the pre-frontal cortex in the brain via the insula, hence the expression, "a gut feeling".)

A lot of us don't listen to the gut and turn the volume way down because we're afraid of action, and we get stuck in the head, or start stewing in the heart.  It can get really sterile in the head or stinky in the heart if we don't get out to the other centres.  I'm reminded of a Kaballah principle for those with a weaker connection to the gut: "When challenges appear overwhelming, inject Certainty. The Light is always there!"  I'm not sure how reliable this is, but Rav Berg says the Israelites fleeing from the Egyptians had to walk into the Red Sea until the water reached their nostrils before the water started parting for them.  That's injecting certainty into a difficult situation!

  "You know what my favorite quote is?  It's right here:  'I seen my opportunities and I took em.'"  Mr. M, a gut-type.

"You know what my favorite quote is?  It's right here:  'I seen my opportunities and I took em.'" Mr. M, a gut-type.

On the other hand, some lucky people have immediate access to their gut and can act instinctively.  Those are the people who get things done in a self-assured decisive way- they tend to be society's leaders; later in life, however, they may find out they've neglected the head or heart centre and have to make corrective action at that point.

We all have to make corrective action- the question is how long does it take us to recognize that we're slightly out of balance?  For most of us, 50 years or so.  Less for some people.  More for others.

Whatever your main intelligence centre, getting into that third, under-utilized "brain" is the spark that lights the match, the redirection of the flow of energy that brings our lives into a balance heretofore unattained.


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Worth Staying Up For

I was going to go to bed on time tonight, but I saw a lovely treat in my inbox from Fred Wilson's blog, so I'm staying up to watch that.  Usually I insist on 8 hours of sleep, but when there's an Fireside chat between your two favorite venture capitalists in your inbox, it's okay to only get 7.

But first- what a great day today- I woke up at 5, went to the gym, then went car shopping with my mom.  I'd gotten my car totalled a month ago, and she decided to help me out financially, and we finally hit a jackpot tonight.  My mom is a great stats person, and always makes up Excel spreadsheets for everything, and me, well, I just wanted a new car, so I was motivated to keep us focussed and just keep lining up the next viewing and the next viewing.  It turns out I'm quite comfortable negotiating too.  My birth chart says I'm bad at managing my own money and great at managing others' money, so I was dogged about keeping us under my mom's budget, and voila- LAST car of the day- my mom had a gut feeling about a car, we go to check it out, and this great young lady- a real credit to her parents who clearly raised her to think intelligently about finances- showed us an impeccable car that she took great care of over the years (and barely drove).  We made her a good offer and she accepted.  For two women who - let's talk Enneagram here for a second- who don't do power plays as first recourse- my mom and I were a solid team today and I'm proud of us. 

Now back to Fred Wilson and Jason Calacanis.  Back in 2011 when I left my government job, I became a bit of a tech nerd, I guess- my other passion besides the Enneagram and the Victoria's Secret franchise (I love the VC business, I love all things Victoria Secret, but I want people to know me first and foremost as someone who challenges them to look inward.  When I die, I want the bells to peal "Know yourself.  Know yourself". )

Anyway, in 2011, I developped a love affair with the internet and the people who invest in the technology that make the internet such a great place.  The article I read that got it all started was about a Jason Calacanis presentation to a computer science class at UPenn- I think I've written about it before- STILL the best pitch in my mind for entrepreneurship.  A must watch for all kids contemplating their direction in life after high school or university.  So I started watching Calacanis' TWIST videos, and when I started dating Mr. M, I connected him to this one interview between him and Brad Feld, another great investor in the Venture Capital field.  Which started us both just digging into this really exciting world of tech investments and the VC's who blog about it. 

One power couple we fell in love with was Joanne and Fred Wilson- proud New Yorkers, wife and husband, best friends, really sharp investors, and longtime bloggers who share their perspectives on new developments in technology.  Joanne, Fred, and their buddy Jason all got into the internet in New York in the late 90's when the first browser- Netscape- came out, made some good bets over the years, and have made very good return on their investments in the internet since.  So this fireside chat is Jason and Fred doing a retrospective of the last twenty years of their friendship and their investments- it's mostly about Fred, but you get to know Jason a bit here too.

One day I'm going to write about their Enneagram types.  Jason is a Type 7- probably a social/ sexual/self-preservation, and I'm still undecided about Fred's type- he could be an Eight or a One, but he's got two very important people in his life who are already Eights and Ones, so my back-up is Type Six, but he just doesn't worry enough to be a Type Six.  I just don't have enough information yet.

On the one hand, he could be a self-preservation One because I do see him being a body type, and he's about substance and "here"-ness, (not that that's a word, but his presence has heft to it, as opposed to buzzy and aversive head-space energy, or the ethereal and craving heart-space energy.)  However,  Fred's business partner, Brad, is definitely a Type One, and it would take some very special magic for two Type Ones to work together as effectively as they have over the years.  Fred and Brad definitely complement each other's strengths and weaknesses.

On the other hand, he could be a Type 8, but Joanne, his wife is a type 8.  I have a good mind that she's a social/self-pres Eight w Seven (although she could also be a 7w8), so because they also complement each other really well, it's possible he's also an Eight, but with an instinct stack of self-preservation/sexual or self-preservation/social. 

Fred is confident, has a drive toward "realness" and likes talking straight, getting to the point and cutting through bullshit.  He disdains fluff and goes with his gut- all Eight traits.  Another interesting trait- he and his wife don't invest in public markets because he doesn't like putting his money in with other people; for an Eight with the resources to make his wealth independently, you can see the type's signature survival instinct at play.  And then, some type Eights have this thing where they lower their forehead when they talk to you or pose for pictures, which you can see Fred doing in this interview- they've realized over the years that they come on too strong for some people and to minimize that effect, they unconsciously angle their head down, almost to prevent the intensity of their energy from drilling a hole in the other person.  Eights are intense whatever their instinct stack, and you get a taste of his intensity here, despite it being a laid-back interview.

So it's a really great, insightful chat between two long-time friends.  I hope you enjoy it.

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