A couple of years back, our investment advisor got us an invite to take a personality test from Gallup. It was part of a seminar/workshop that we signed up. This was one of the first such test I took so far. I’ve taken a handful since. This post is largely going to just talk about my experience with these tests and their findings.

I remember taking psychometry tests as part of the placement process back in the day. I usually tried to game the tests. In the sense, I’d align my answers to what I thought presented my best persona. I didn’t quite think if the tests were game proof. I didn’t try to be truthful either. It didn’t matter to me. Besides, in your early twenties you are more keen on getting your way than getting it right ;-)

Gallup Findings

Gallup was the first time I did not even attempt to game a psychometric test. I guess you learn some level headedness once you’ve come some distance in your career. And I found the results fascinating. They were fascinating, but they were somewhat discouraging. Largely because I didn’t know what I could do with the findings and it felt as though I was doing all the wrong things with my strengths. Here are my top 5 strengths according to the findings:

  • Learner
  • Ideation
  • Input
  • Deliberation
  • Intellection

I’d say they are a brilliant match. This is pretty much how I’ve identified myself over a very very long time. You see, though, my aspirations have always been to be an entrepreneur. And nothing about this screams entrepreneur. If anything, these aren’t the skills you need as an entrepreneur. The skills that could help you navigate that journey would be something that indicates extroversion, ability to work without details, ability to work without clarity, do well under stress etc. And nothing screams execution in there either.

Secondly, at the time of this test, I was running engineering for a startup that I was #2 of. I didn’t see a way to use these strengths to help my work. We want to wonderful things without spending anything (but that’s the definition of startup work). Deliberation or Intellection or Learner seemed like the things I’d need as a researcher or a thought leader.

So the test, although I agreed with the results, did leave me feeling a little disappointed. But I learnt to embrace this and decided I’d have to play to these and still be the entrepreneur.

Why OS

A couple of months back, after I took the jump to be an entrepreneur, I found a free workshop where the Why Institute was conducting a workshop in Singapore. They gave access to their Why OS methodology. I took the test and attended the workshop. In this methodology, you identify a “Why you do things”, “how you do those things” and “what you want to get doing those things”. It was a fantastic experience. Again, ideally, they want you to get a coach and learn to play to your strengths. Or bring your team together and understand how you can bring high levels of cohesion by knowing each person’s motivations very well. I don’t disagree, but perhaps for a later time.

My findings are like this:

  • WHY: I believe that success happens when we dive in deep and understand the nuances.
  • HOW: How I do that is by solving complex and challenging problems.
  • WHAT: Ultimately, What I bring is a way to contribute and add value (have an impact on the lives of others).

This is very encouraging. If you consider it carefully, it is not all that different from the Gallup results. They both found me intellectual, they both find me gravitating to hard problems. But the “what” is a very interesting find to me, personally. I’ve done “5-WHY” on my aspirations a lot. And every time, the desired outcome in my head is that I’ve positively changed somebody’s life. I’ve had a lasting impact on my society and on my people. And for a psychometric test to identify this was very delightful to me.

This was the primary win from this session. The icing on the cake was different. One of the take aways was to understand my career options given my “why, how and what” - which turned out to be

  • Entrepreneur
  • Speaker
  • Author
  • Hedge Fund Manager
  • Doctor
  • Athlete
  • Engineer
  • Researcher

I don’t think these are ordered in any fashion. The most important highlight of that list is that, I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur, and I’d love to be an author/speaker. I’ve regretted not becoming or a doctor and I’ve often wondered if I’d have made a better decision had I pursued research. Of course, hedge fund and athlete are the outliers that I’ve never even thought about much.

This is good news to me. While I didn’t go to this session for any validation (or maybe I did), I walked out fully validated. It was the shot in the arm confidence I really needed in this moment.

Marlee - Fingerprint for Success

Incidentally, I signed up with a founder coach last month. I will write about the experience in a different post altogether. The primary reason I did that was simple - I was getting swamped every other day, missing out on details and generally feeling a bit lost. I wasn’t feeling stressed or burnt - quite the opposite. I’ve never felt more alive. I am truly happy with what am doing in my life. And I just know this will pan out in the longer run and I have accepted that the short term is going to be crazy. What I did not recognize is just how crazy it can get.

I decided to go with a founder coach for this primary reason. The second one being getting guidance on the process of an early stage startup from someone who has seen both wins and losses. The founder coach I signed up with - Paul - is a serial entrepreneur, has been with incubators/accelerators and the whole 9 yards. And one of the first things he did was to send me a link to a profiling tool called Marlee. So I did that as well.

I don’t have the results handy at this time, but I discussed the findings with my coach on a call. The finding was very very motivating. Yes, there are a few things that I thoroughly lack for being an entrepreneur. And there are tonnes of things am super aligned for being one. Overall, the results align with gallup and why os and generally agrees with my journey.

Big Five Traits

Last week, I got into an incubator here in Singapore - ACE SG incubation’s July cohort. Again, the first thing they did was send me a personality profile test. Interestingly, their approach was not to identify if I was founder material (they sent this after accepting me into the program). It was more for us to understand where we stand and how to work with that.

The biggest takeaway from that session was that I might not be very different from some very successful founders. But I do need to recognize that I have some traits that could be a hindrance. After all, I don’t think anyone has a pin on what actually leads to success.

Lessons Learnt

The point of these exercises were not validation. While all of them just happened to show up in my life (I wasn’t searching to find this data at all), they all achieved three main things for me:

  • Embrace my strengths: I figured out my strengths. I figured out that I was always super aware of my strengths and I just didn’t acknowledge them. Rather, I always looked at my weaknesses and obsessed over fixing them. This journey taught me to acknowledge my strengths and leverage them instead.

  • Success is multifaceted: I figured out that in the larger scheme, nobody has a clue to what constitutes success. Eventually, you will succeed if you have sufficient clarity on what you want to achieve, open enough to understand and revise the goals and always have an eye on the goal irrespective of what you do. Understanding your strengths can help you strategise better but beyond that it won’t change your life.

  • Align with your values: I learnt my foundational quests. I realised that my focus on knowledge and expertise is somewhat driven by who I innately am. So instead of sweating at all the financial successes I could have had, I am learning to rejoice all the fulfillment I have experienced. Perhaps, the definition of success in my case doesn’t include financials. And that’s ok too.


Thank you Claude, for these concluding statements.

This journey of self-discovery through personality assessments has been enlightening and empowering. It’s taught me to embrace my unique strengths, align them with my entrepreneurial goals, and recognize that success comes in many forms.

I encourage you to explore these tools for yourself. Have you taken any personality assessments? How have they influenced your career decisions? Share your experiences in the comments below.

Remember, these tests are guides, not definitive predictors of success. Use them to gain insight, but don’t let them limit your aspirations. Your unique combination of traits and experiences is what makes you valuable in the entrepreneurial world.