Recently, I heard about a gentleman who put together an “owner’s manual” for potential co-workers to better understand him. His intention was to ensure his personality and quirkiness did not drive people away. In other words, he wanted to make sure people had an idea of how best to work with him so they did not just co-exist but they could thrive together.
I was so fascinated by the idea that I shamelessly stole it and have put this page together. Here are the most important things to know about me, at least at first.
I am an introvert. And this means that I get re-energized by time alone with my own thoughts and interests and hobbies. It also means that one-to-one I am typically just fine and I am also mostly good in and around small groups of people (i.e., 3 to 6 or so). If I have to interface with larger groups of people I find myself easily exhausted and probably a little too irritable for most people’s comfort.
I am shy. And this means that if I am not already acquainted with you, I usually hesitate to make the first move to get to know you. It’s just how I am wired, there is nothing wrong with either of us. I am working to make it a habit to be the first to reach out and introduce myself. Why? Because I do not like being hostage to my own weaknesses. I may never turn it into a strength, but something as simple as shyness should not be debilitating.
I am sometimes (or, more accurately, often) socially awkward. For a variety of reasons, I am often socially awkward. If I miss a social cue, or read too much into a look or a gesture you give me, I apologize and promise to try harder next time. I am not trying to offend you or put you off. I literally do not know better, sometimes. If you need more context for this, see the previous two items.
I have an unusually broad sense of humor. I like almost all forms of humor from the ridiculous to the sublime. In my daily life, I tend to do wordplay and obscure pop culture references (thanks to the show M*A*S*H and a few other influences, such as Groucho Marx). And I very often mock things I consider stupid and/or abhorrent (such as racism) by taking it WAY, WAY, WAY beyond the pale. I am nearly guaranteed to offend you at some point, until you realize I am trying to highlight the stupidity in order to take away its power to harm us. One notable exception to my comedy “rule” is “easy” or “lazy” comedy. For example, if I hear a liberal comic bashing a Republican or conservative simply because they are a Republican or a conservative, I am immediately turned off and will never listen to that comic again. Period. (Yes, the exact same rule applies for a conservative comic bashing liberals.) And I am turned way, way off by a comic who simply throws around filthy language and pretends it is funny.
I consider myself a polymath. Some people have told me this is simply a nice way of saying I get bored easily. But that is not true at all. Simply put, this only means that I am interested in many, many things. And that is one reason I love to learn (see below). I tend to get totally fascinated with something, learn all I can about it in a relatively short time, and then move on to the next thing. This allows me to create interesting and novel solutions to “unsolvable” problems. In this, I like to characterize myself as two miles wide and two inches deep.
I love to learn. I made a rule for myself at age 12 that I would not go to bed at the end of the day until I had learned something new. That is one reason I prefer TV shows about history or technology to nearly anything – except comedies. And I will go out of my way to watch a show about one of my personal heroes or a show that marries ancient history with engineering. If I cannot find something learn-able on TV, I will go to the trusty ol’ Internet and try to learn something about a field I know very little about, such as hydrology. And these all assume that I have not learned something from the book(s) I am reading.
I want YOU to love to learn. And I will often try to share everything I am learning, while I am learning it. If this irritates you, just know that it will pass…until I begin learning the next thing. And then it will start all over again. This cycle will repeat itself as often as I learn something new or believe there is something you should learn.
I love to read. I am still partial to physical books, although I will use my Kindle or a Kindle app if needed. But I would still rather have a physical book in my hands. With any luck, the book I am reading is chock full of new ideas I can put into practice in my life to make a real difference. I may not ever finish a book and I am learning that is acceptable. I usually do not jump on the bandwagon for a new novel or new business book. Instead, I prefer to wait until they have lasted at least a couple years so I can ensure they are worth my time. Notable exceptions are Harlen Coben novels, Simon Sinek books, Jocko Willink books, and Walter Isaacson biographies.
I love listening to podcasts. I have several podcasts I routinely listen to and these are becoming one of my primary sources for learning and gaining new ideas to implement in my life. When I discover a new one, I tend to go all-in and listen to all the episodes I can get my hands on, and eventually get into the groove of their regular release cycle. Current favorites include the Lore podcast, the Worship Artistry podcast, the Revisionist History podcast, anything by Mike Rowe, and Jocko Willink’s often intense podcast. I am also becoming a fan of the Harvard Business Review Ideacast, the Ron Burgundy podcast, and the Michael Jr Off the Cuff podcast (I frequently laugh myself into hiccups with this one).
I love to play guitar. And I often get frustrated that my current level of ability does not allow me to play what I hear in my head. But I love to play, especially bluesy things. I practice far too little to become the virtuoso I would like to be, but I have developed a level of artistry that allows me to contribute VERY creatively to my church’s worship team.
I love old time radio. And I have tens of thousands of episodes in an electronic format that I often listen to. I am also subscribed to several old time radio podcasts so I can get a weekly fix in addition to my normal listening. There are several shows I enjoy, such as Jack Benny, You Bet Your Life, and Fibber McGee and Molly. And there are a couple I will never listen to, even if you paid me to do it, such as Amos and Andy…I just cannot find any humor at all in the overt and covert racism.
I love old movies. This has been true for as long as I can remember. My favorites in the “classic movie” arena are the madcap comedies or movies set in one of the world wars. I do not fancy myself an aficionado of cinema. I am just a guy who likes movies from an era in which sex was implied, comedy was simple and fun, and I wasn’t being preached to by the studio, the producers, the director, and the stars.
I have likely left something off this list that you would find fascinating. Or, at the very least, it is something that might have prevented an argument or an uncomfortable situation. For that I apologize (in advance) and promise to continually expand this page to include those things as time goes by.