So what’s a Show person? Let’s use modifying your car as an analogy. If you’re a Show person, you’re more likely to tint the windows, throw on a rear wing or throw on bigger wheels. There’s no real performance enhancement to your car after doing these things – it won’t accelerate faster or turn any better, but it sure does look faster (even menacing!) to the casual observer.
A Go person, on the other hand, will modify their car in ways no one can see – unless they go for a ride. They’ll modify the suspension to make it turn better, the ECU to make it accelerate faster, or maybe throw on a short shifter to make it shift quicker. No one can see these modifications on the outside by just looking at the car, but they’re all designed to make it perform better.
The inner “I wish the world were purely meritocratic” side of me wishes that only Go people won – but that’s just not the way the world works. For certain personality traits I often think it’s better to be largely on one side or the other…Followers versus Rule Breakers, for example. But in this particular case, I think you need a little bit of both to win.
Show people tend to be good at getting people to follow them. They’re fantastic at convincing folks of things and getting them to follow their lead. They’re so good at the sell, that they often convince very Go oriented people (who naturally tend to look down on Show people – admit it – you do) that they’re in fact Go people themselves. Now, if they’re too far over on the Show side of the equation, things tend to fall apart – their followers come to realize that they’re largely hollow. But if you combine a Show person with a smart person who has great insights that they lead other Go people to execute on – you end up with a very powerful combination.
And it turns out purely Go people don’t tend to win without a little bit of Show either. Go people are fantastic at building things, accomplishing things, getting things done. The problem is, they may not be able to get people to notice. Dean Kamen, much more a Go person than a Show person (and obviously wildly successful), recently talked about how much it bothers him that he has built amazing things that could revolutionize people’s quality of life in developing countries, but he’s just not been able to get society to adapt quickly enough to adopt these technologies. Go people execute on and build amazing things – but if success is defined by how much one creates impact in the world, you’ve got to Show people how great what you just built really is.
And for me, that’s the rub. At heart I’m definitely more a Go person – I don’t want to Show people what @Meebo has done, I just want us to do it and have people magically discover it. But, I’ve learned a lot from Meebo over the last few years – and one such lesson is you really do need to get out there and Show people the amazing things you and your team have built. If your goal is to maximize impact on the world – you’ve just got to have a bit of both Show and Go.