We’re having these conversations at work about how to screen people for interviews and how there aren’t more women in strategy and so on. One big question floating around is “does being a woman give you any kind of advantage in this job?” And don’t answer ‘female intuition’.
One advantage I can think of is that we’re better at remembering things about people (personal details and behaviour) and compartmentalising them accordingly. This often terrifies men and is manifested in the wedding seating plan. “No, I want to do it” – said no man ever.
Workplace people, like relatives and friends, fit a few large categories:
The energy bombs (or ‘proteins’): the smartest and brightest, with the best stories, interesting jokes, crazy adventures and curiosity. You always want to hang out with them because you feed off them and they feed off you. You want to have lunch and coffee with them all the time (if possible).
The ‘human kettle’ (‘carbs’) – press button, always expect the same thing. Reliable as in they get shit done, they’re not particularly notable, you can’t get past pleasantries with them most of the time and they’ll never admit to being bored or out of their depth/league. Just happy to be there.
The egocentrics – the world is there for their entertainment, but no way they’ll ever lower themselves down to everyone else’s level. Feel like they have a higher calling, just not sure what it is yet – just not what they’re doing now. Somehow end up leaving as they feel their expectations aren’t met. Not that they know what they are exactly.
The rockstars - they think they’re doing everyone a favour by gracing with their presence. Usually can’t believe you’ve never heard of their work, blog, twitter, talk or engagement and will point it out to you just in case. There’s an aura about them that egocentrics don’t have because at least they’re recognised for A Big Thing, but there’s rarely anything beyond that.
I’ve seen them at university, seen them in previous agencies, see them everywhere. University got group dynamics so wrong, I actually think it hurt at times.
- Energy bombs just don’t mix with others (aka ‘don’t disperse the protein’) – the proverbial whimper, not bang happens when people think others will benefit from their level of intellect. No, they just go well with others like them. Brilliant people (extroverts and introverts alike) hang out with brilliant people because game recognise game, end. That’s the only way they’ll be able to come up with things that influence those not as energetic.
- Energy bombs don’t need rockstars - rockstars do not amplify the ‘fame’ of a protein. A rockstar is by definition insecure in a lot of areas an energy bomb will be really good at. One will get bored and confused about their role, the other paranoid that they’ll get called out on bullshit at some point.
- Rockstars and egocentrics thrive in boring environments – the ones filled with ‘carbs’: plenty of people to admire them and stroke the ego and no real challenge.
- Forcing introductions is almost always a bad idea: particularly when you don’t know the reputation of the person doing intros (like a bad blind date). Even worse when you’re aware of someone but never felt compelled to chat to them and you’re suddenly forced to talk and report back on how it went. It’s like your first day at school. If we’ve met (or are aware of each other via the internet) and he/she isn’t in my inbox or phone, it’s probably not meant to be.