Six Traits of People I Like Working With


dartClassic Countdown In the month leading up to the fourth anniversary of this blog’s launch, I am sharing my favorite posts. This was published on May 13, 2013.


Any success I might claim as a marketing and communications professional would necessarily include a lengthy and sincere list of acknowledgements. The English poet John Donne observed, “No man is an island.” In other words, we are all interdependent. Other people always contribute to our success.

In my work, I am most productive when I am surrounded by people who are:

  1. Grateful. They are glad to be alive and they find things to be thankful for. With an abundance mindset, they focus on what they have rather than obsessing on their deficits.
  2. Strategic. They think before they act. Before succumbing to the gravitational pull of tactics, they think things through in a purposeful way. They wrestle with questions that begin with the word why?
  3. Competent. Once they see the big picture and understand why something is important, they know what to do and how to do it.
  4. Curious. Curiosity never killed anyone. I love interacting with those who think with a beginner’s mind. They are the antithesis of so-called experts who already know the right (and only) way to do something.
  5. Creative. With a curious mind, creative people look at things differently. They see patterns that others miss. They are able to juxtapose existing ideas in a way that creates something new.
  6. Innovative. The Harvard professor Theodore Levitt put it this way:  “Creativity thinks up new things.  Innovation does new things. There is really no shortage of creativity or of creative people in business.  The shortage is of innovators.  The major problem is that so called “creative” people often pass on to others the responsibility for getting down to brass tacks.  They have plenty of ideas but little business-like follow-through.  They themselves are the bottleneck.  They make none of the right kind of effort to help their ideas get a hearing and a try.”

On the other hand…

Occasionally I encounter individuals who drain my energy and erode my effectiveness. They are:

  1. Victims. When something goes wrong, it’s never their fault. Someone else is to blame. They’ve had bad luck and were the unfortunate victims of circumstances. They feel powerless, living their lives in a reactive rather than a proactive mode.
  2. Dinosaurs. They remember the good old days when things were much better. (I really think they just have very selective memories.) The world changes too fast to accommodate those who cling to the status quo, refusing to adapt to the climate changes.
  3. Devil’s Advocates. They don’t move conversations forward, though they try to appear intelligent with their searing questions. They hinder progress. They are usually part of the problem, not the solution.
So, that’s my list. What’s on yours?

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3 Responses to Six Traits of People I Like Working With

  1. Rob Smith says:

    I try to pride myself on each of those 6 good ones, Duane. I also keep #1 and #2 as far away as I can on the energy drainers. However, I do embrace the Devils Advocate in some instances, just to ensure I have everything covered. I think there is a time and a place where it can be effective. Great post!

  2. I completely agree with the 6 things you like… it makes work so much more fun when people are curious, innovative, and most of all, just grateful in general. I cannot stand Devil’s Advocates… you hit the nail on the head: “They don’t move conversations forward, though they try to *appear intelligent* with their searing questions. They hinder progress.” So true, Duane, so true!

  3. Katie says:

    Motivating. Nothing gets me through a hard day at work like a coworker who reminds me why we are here and believes in your ability.

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