If you’re Facebook friends with anyone interested in the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator — a personality assessment taken by about 2 million people each year, according to Vox — you’ve probably seen articles telling you where you should live, what pet you should get or which of history’s biggest dictators you most resemble based on your MBTI type.
Myers-Briggs enthusiasts never tire of handicapping the success rates of different personality types like race horses. This is evidenced by the popularity of an infographic that made its rounds a little over a year ago; the image, sourced by Career Assessment Site, proclaimed that ENTJs make far and away more money than any other personality type, with an average household salary of around $80,000 — almost double the U.S. median.
Here’s the good news: Not all rich and successful people are ENTJs — that just seems to be the type most attached to the self-made (often by ENTJs themselves). I’ve gone through and profiled some of the biggest finance experts today — trawling through old interviews, stumbling over link rot — and determined that a wide variety of personality types have made it into the ranks of Forbes’ richest Americans. Here are just a few.
But first, a quick explanation of the letters in the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (don’t call it a personality test, they don’t like that). The MBTI — based on archetypes created by psychotherapist Carl Jung — inventories the ways humans perceive and act in everyday life. The indicator looks at four different dichotomies and assigns one of 16 psychological “types” (ESFP, INTJ, etc.).
These four dichotomies are:
- Extroversion (E) vs. Introversion (I): Whether you’re stimulated by the outer or inner world. People often resort to the “are you staying in or going out on a Friday night” test, but a slightly less obtuse one is: Do you “recharge your battery” by being around people (extrovert) or being by yourself (introvert)?
- Sensing (S) vs. Intuition (N): How you gather information. Do you prefer to focus on concrete facts and details (sensing), or are you more interested in analysis, ideas and theories (intuitive)?
- Thinking (T) vs. Feeling (F): How you make decisions. Do you make pros and cons lists and approach each decision based solely on logic (thinker), or do you consider people first and “go with your gut” (feeler)?
- Judging (J) vs. Perceiving (P): How you deal with the outer world. Do you hate loose ends and need all the boxes on your to-do list checked off (judger) or do you prefer to keep your options open to gather more information (perceiver)?
It’s important to note that no type is “better” than the others and nobody can really tell you what your type is (though that won’t stop them). Taking the official MBTI costs money (your workplace might offer it — check on that), but you can find a number of fairly reliable knock-offs on the web. This one is pretty accurate.
Now, onto the types of the rich and famous.
Warren Buffett: INTP
“Seek to develop logical explanations for everything that interests them. Theoretical and abstract, interested more in ideas than in social interaction. Quiet, contained, flexible, and adaptable. Have unusual ability to focus in depth to solve problems in their area of interest. Skeptical, sometimes critical, always analytical.” — The Myers & Briggs Foundation
Warren Buffett, the business magnate and everyone’s favorite grandfather figure, is known for his near-prescient stock picks, which grew holding company Berkshire Hathaway from a flagging textile mill to $517 billion — and his own net worth to $72 billion. The so-called “Oracle of Omaha” has a near mythical status, thanks to his almost untouchable track record and the fact that he’s forever in the news for doing things like insuring Pepsi’s Billion Dollar Sweepstakes. And he’s an INTP — thoughtful, slow to act, and a forward thinker who’d rather get the end prize than win along the way.
- Introverted: Exhibit A: He spends about 80 percent of his day reading, according to the Omaha World-Herald. In fact, Buffett told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” host Becky Quick his idea of a perfect day would likely not include any human interaction: “I don’t have any problem being alone, and just sitting and reading and thinking.”
- Intuitive: Even though he’s an inveterate value investor, Buffett spends a lot of his time thinking about the unquantifiable elements of the stocks he buys — and imagining how they’ll translate into future returns. Speaking of the godfather of value investing, the Oracle once said: “Ben Graham wanted everything to be a quantitative bargain. I want it to be a quantitative bargain in terms of future streams of cash.” His future-focused nature places him solidly in the intuitive camp.
- Thinking: Buffett’s decisions are based on balance tables and careful consideration — not gut reactions. “To invest successfully over a lifetime does not require a stratospheric IQ, unusual business insights, or inside information,” Buffett said. “What’s needed is a sound intellectual framework for making decisions and the ability to keep emotions from corroding that framework.” Clearly, he’s a dispassionate thinker.
- Perceiving: Buffett plays the long game — the really long, get-rich-slowly game, and he advises his shareholders do, too. “The stock market is a no-called-strike game. You don’t have to swing at everything — you can wait for your pitch,” Buffett once said. “The problem when you’re a money manager is that your fans keep yelling, ‘Swing, you bum!'” His preference of more information over a quick decision makes Buffett a perceiver.
Robert Kiyosaki: ENTJ
“Frank, decisive, assume leadership readily. Quickly see illogical and inefficient procedures and policies, develop and implement comprehensive systems to solve organizational problems. Enjoy long-term planning and goal setting. Usually well informed, well read, enjoy expanding their knowledge and passing it on to others. Forceful in presenting their ideas.” — The Myers & Briggs Foundation
Best-selling author and creator of the “Rich Dad Poor Dad” franchise, Robert Kiyosaki is a personal finance powerhouse who became a millionaire in his 20s by manufacturing velcro wallets, lost it all, and rebuilt his empire within a year and a half with the help of his best-seller “Rich Dad Poor Dad.” Kiyosaki’s now the host of the “Rich Dad Radio Show” and author of the No. 1 best-selling personal finance book of all time, which outlines his credo: Make money work for you, take risks, think like you’re rich already. Kiyosaki is the prototypical ENTJ: Resolute, a big thinker who’s got little time for details and small gains, he plays the long game, too — but that long game starts now.
- Extroverted: Unlike Buffett, Kiyosaki champions risk-taking, once saying, “The more a person seeks security, the more that person gives up control over his life.” This is a pretty extroverted quality, according to Susan Cain, author of best-seller “Quiet: The Power of Introverts.” Cain writes that “introverts are more cautious than extroverts, but this doesn’t mean they avoid all risk. It does mean that they look before they leap, as Buffett is known for doing.”
- Intuitive: The man who once said “Money is really just an idea” is clearly more of big-picture rather than dollars-and-cents visionary. He’s also a future-thinker: “The rich are rich because they focus on the long-term acquisition of assets,” he writes. “Assets such as stocks, bonds, businesses and income producing real estate. Many times the rich will forsake meals, a steady pay check, a vacation, or the comfort of a nice home, to build or acquire real assets.”
- Thinking: Like Buffett, Kiyosaki trumpets the importance of keeping your emotions in check. “Intelligence solves problems and produces money,” Kiyosaki said. “Money without financial intelligence is money soon gone.” And: “To be a successful business owner and investor, you have to be emotionally neutral to winning and losing. Winning and losing are just part of the game.”
- Judging: Kiyosaki doesn’t like leaving money on the the table: “If you’re the kind of person who has no guts, you just give up every time life pushes you,” he once said. “If you’re that kind of person, you’ll live all your life playing it safe, doing the right things, saving yourself for something that never happens. Then, you die a boring old person.”
Dave Ramsey: ESTJ
“Supervisors [ESTJs] are highly social and community-minded, with many rising to positions of responsibility in their school, church, industry, or civic groups. [They] enjoy and are good at making schedules, agendas, inventories, and so on, and they much prefer tried and true ways of doing things over speculation and experimentation. … [They] have no problem evaluating others and tend to judge how a person is doing in terms of his or her compliance with, and respect for, schedules and procedures.” — “Please Understand Me II,” by Dr. David Keirsey
Host of a nationally syndicated radio show and author of numerous best-sellers, Dave Ramsey has never wavered in his message: Get out of debt. Stop spending money you don’t have, figure out where every penny is going, budget relentlessly. It’s a granular approach that puts him slightly at odds with Kiyosaki — the “rich dad” believes not all debt is bad, and sometimes living below your means you’re afraid of money. Maybe MBTI can shed some light on the difference of opinion; Ramsey is a consummate ESTJ — pragmatic, take-charge and detail-oriented, a strong believer that good things come to those who follow the rules.
- Extroverted: Ramsey’s a people person who got into personal finance by running debt workshops for community members. “If you don’t have people at your core, you will fail,” he said at an EntreLeadership conference. And: “If you help enough people, you don’t have to worry about money.”
- Sensing: Ramsey’s certainly a believer in process: He’s famous for his seven “baby steps,” a step-by-step system for getting out of debt that covers every detail from building a $1,000 emergency fund to starting to invest 15 percent of your household income.
- Thinking: Time and again, Ramsey has stressed: Don’t let your emotions take control of your budget. Take this line from “The Total Money Makeover”: “It pays to look past the weekend and suffer through going to the Laundromat with your quarters. When you think short term, you always set yourself up for being ripped off by a predatory lender. If the Red-Faced Kid (“I want it, and I want it now!”) rules your life, you will stay broke!”
- Judging: One quote should suffice here: “I mean, let’s face it — I’m a pretty hard-headed guy,” Ramsey said. “I make decisions fast and want to keep going forward without slowing down. This train is moving, so when you see me coming, get off the tracks!”
Suze Orman: ESTJ
“Practical, realistic, matter-of-fact. Decisive, quickly move to implement decisions. Organize projects and people to get things done, focus on getting results in the most efficient way possible. Take care of routine details. Have a clear set of logical standards, systematically follow them and want others to also. Forceful in implementing their plans.” — The Myers & Briggs Foundation
Known for what Oprah calls her “Suze smackdowns,” Orman is the wise-cracking, tell-it-like-it-is host of CNBC’s “The Suze Orman Show.” She’s perhaps best-known for her “Can I Afford It?” segment, where viewers call in to get her salty advice on whether they can finance something (a Tesla, a child, the list is wide). Like Ramsey, Orman is an ESTJ — a stickler for details and rules, decisive and completely unafraid of evaluating others.
- Extroverted: Forbes writer Carmine Gallo describes meeting Orman, another people person: “Before my TV show I walked into the waiting room to introduce myself to Orman. She wanted me to wait until she finished a conversation with our makeup person. Orman was just as animated in the conversation as she was with the TV camera on.”
- Sensing: With Orman, simplicity is the name of the game; her advice is actionable, to-the-point and lacking any pretense or flourish. “Some people criticize simplicity because they think their jobs could be eliminated,” she explained to Forbes. “It’s our fear of extinction, our fear of elimination, our fear of not being important that leads us to communicate things in a more complex way than we need to.”
- Thinking: Though “People first” is emblazoned in saccharine blue curlicue on her website, Orman is a pros and cons list kind of person — she doesn’t let emotions get in the way of her decision making. Take this vignette from a New York Times profile: “Just moments after wrapping up the filming of the CBS spot, she found herself talking with the cameraman, who, still sitting behind the camera, asked her how best to set aside money for his toddler’s college fund. Orman quickly determined that he didn’t have enough savings in his retirement account … [and] she came down hard. “You want to save for college before you’ve taken care of your own home, retirement, credit card, your eight months in your emergency fund?” she asked, still standing on the set. “You have to put your priorities in line. You’re 50? You’re no spring chicken. You don’t have that many years left, these things are heavy,” she said pointing at the cameras. “You throw your back out, where does the income come from? You’re a dime a dozen.”
- Judging: This one should be pretty obvious to anyone who’s seen Orman dispense lightning-quick judgments on her show.
Mark Cuban: The Word “No”
Mark Cuban just won’t take “no” for an answer. As he told Dave Ramsey, “Every no gets you closer to a yes. It’s a numbers game. … It’s just a question of making the calls.” With a net worth of $3 billion, we shudder at the thought of his phone bill.