August 24, 2019 48

How to spot a leader in their handwriting | Jamie Mason Cohen | TEDxUBIWiltz

How to spot a leader in their handwriting | Jamie Mason Cohen | TEDxUBIWiltz


Translator: Queenie Lee
Reviewer: Peter van de Ven Do you procrastinate? Sometimes? I’m a teacher, and when my students
leave studying for an exam until the last possible moment, they pull an all-nighter, in which they try to cram everything
from the entire school year into their head,
the night before the exam. If you admit it, which you did –
thank you, sir – like me, and you sometimes leave things
to the last minute, then you have something in common
with two of the greatest leaders, two of the greatest visionaries
of the past 50 years: Nelson Mandela and Steve Jobs. You see, both of these men
left things to the last minute. Now, how do I know this? Am I making this stuff up? Don’t say no. Yeah. The answer is it’s in their writing. You see both of these men sometimes
cross their T’s to the left. Handwriting – and first of all,
I’m fascinated with handwriting analysis. It shows you what lies
beneath the surface, and shows you that your first perception
of another person is not everything, that your leaders, your heroes,
the person beside you – yes, ma’am – the person in front of you
are so much more than their signature. So earlier today, you were asked
to write on a piece of paper. I have been bugging you, walking around during the break
and telling you to write something. Get that card out in front of you,
if you will, please. And for those of you who are watching
this at home on YouTube or in the TED community, why don’t you join us, and why don’t you write down how to spot or recognize a leader
in their handwriting – and sign your name – and over the course
of the next few minutes, compare your signature and your writing
to the leaders that we look at. Let’s take a look
at some leadership traits that you have in common
with some extraordinary leaders. Harvard Business Review did a survey of tens of thousands
of workers around the world, and they asked them, “What’s the number one leadership trait that separates a leader
from a non-leader?” You know what they said? 72%. Vision. The ability of a leader
to look into the future to define a shared purpose
for the organization, to give the workers a sense of meaning
and articulate a hopeful new direction. And that’s what Mandela did. And that’s his T. That’s Mandela’s T, beside it’s an H. Do you notice that the line
is right at the top? That represents an achievable,
really high long-term goal. You know what I found fascinating? You know who else has this? Steve Jobs is the top one. Abraham Lincoln is the next one, and the third one is Albert Einstein. How cool is that? All these leaders,
they have this one thing in common. Now if you’re looking at me
and saying, “Okay, I don’t have that T” – but look, do you have that T? If you don’t, well guess what,
neither does Nelson Mandela at times, because that’s also from Mandela’s Ts. And what that shows you,
that’s called the practical T, it means you’re setting goals,
if you have this T. If you have this T, it means you’re setting day-to-day goals, that you like everything
planned out ahead of time. And you’re thinking about –
right now you’re thinking, “What am I going to do
when I leave TED?” I’m not thinking
about five years from now. And it showed me that you need a balance,
to be an effective leader, between the long-term vision and the day-to-day goals
of the organization. Now I was sitting
with my wife much earlier, and actually, I was standing,
and I was talking to someone in here, and they probably know
whom I’m talking about because I talked to them, and this person started a new company. And I could tell by the way he spoke,
by the way he carried himself, that he was going to set high goals
and then he was going to reach them because of his confidence. Now, you can see the confidence in the first well-shaped letter
of your signature. So if you look at Oprah Winfrey – Look at the O. See how big that O is
compared to the rest of the letters? And look at this next one:
Richard Branson – Sir Richard Branson, the entrepreneur – that B in his last name
is much bigger or well-shaped than the rest of the writing. If you have a high T bar, plus you have that type of an O
or that type of a B, that means that you set high goals, and that you are definitely
going to achieve them because you have that type of confidence. Often with self-confidence,
there’s self-reliance. Self-reliance – Emerson, the writer,
called it trusting yourself and being a non-conformist – doing the difficult things that you
have to do to get your goal done even though you don’t want to do them. And self-reliance can be seen
with a stroke under the name. If you have a stroke
under your signature, that represents self-reliance,
or it can be some kind of squiggly line. And this could be said for –
that’s Indra Nooyi, the CEO of Pepsi’s signature, who in 1979
while a student at Yale University went for her first job, and she went in for the job wearing a new suit that she paid for
with that job, and she got rejected. And she said to her professor,
“What happened?” And her professor said,
“The next job interview: be yourself.” So she wore a sari
in her second job interview, and she got the job. And what that taught her
is always stay true to who you really are. Do you know who else I like? Any football fans here? World football. OK. One of my favorite
sporting personalities, even though I am from Canada,
we still like football or soccer, is José Mourinho, the coach of Chelsea. Now José Mourinho, if you know anything about him –
if not, doesn’t matter – he really is independent
of a good opinion of other people. He doesn’t care what you think about him. He makes his own rules,
and he’s been very successful at that. José Mourinho also
has the streak under his name. On the plane, I read this article that said 95% of the ocean
remains undiscovered, like, we don’t know
what’s going on underneath. That’s how I feel
on the first day of classes often, where I look at my student’s name –
I don’t know anything about them. It’s pretty intimidating
for a teacher on the first day. You see the kids looking at you like this. And, you know,
some of the girls rolling their eyes, and the guys with their hands
in their pocket. A couple of years ago, I taught overseas. And I remember this young woman
who seemed really intelligent in terms of the brief interactions, but she was totally disengaged. I felt like a failure. We’re talking about –
I just couldn’t reach her, but I saw on the first day of class, when I asked them
to write a paragraph, this. This is from her writing
and what this shows is creativity. And I gave the students
an assignment to write a song. And that song was so moving that I asked my friend
who is a New York City music producer to Skype into the class and to listen to all the students’ songs. And he pointed, he singled
this girl out, and he said to her, “That was one of the most moving songs
I’ve ever heard a young person write. Can I take that song
and can I distribute it and help get it out to North American
music producers across – everywhere?” And that was the first time
I equated this crazy thing, I do handwriting analysis, to teaching. At first, all you see is a name until you really get to know
that person beside you are in front of you and see what lies beneath. Fast Company magazine
did a survey of 1500 CEOs across 33 different industries
and 60 nations. And you know what they asked those CEOs? “What is the number one leadership trait
the CEO looks for today?” And you know what they said?
Take a guess; what do you think they said? Not handwriting, but it’s in handwriting. Creativity and innovation. That’s what they’re looking for today. And you can see creativity
in the following ways. That’s Walt Disney’s
first letter of his signature. That’s a W. See those upper loops? If you have upper loops in your name,
that represents abstract imagination. You’re very good at generating ideas and really getting other people excited
about them if you really believe in them. Next one, Frida Kahlo, the artist,
who is both a good artist and a writer. Again look at the loops. John Lennon. That’s the H in his first name
and the L in the second name, again very good abstract ideas. Michael Jackson, look at the J,
upper loop and the lower loop. I’ll talk about the lower loop in a minute because some of you
will probably have that. Next. Now this one, this is Bono. This is Bono’s lower loop, and if you have a lower loop –
I think you have a lower loop – it’s a creative problem solver. It means that you like
to really create and build something. And if you have a combination of those, then you really have a kind of
whole creative instinct or personality. What I found cool about this is –
you see that under his name? Just go back. It says Dublin,
which is where he’s from. So he equates his creativity
or his gift to the world with what he does for a living. Well, did I say that right? Yes, he equates his creativity
with where he is from. Now, you would expect the head
of the treasury of a country, who is in charge of billions of dollars, $14 billion a year to be exact, would have writing that looks like this. Now, this is analytical writing. For those of you who are involved
in business in some way, that means when you have something
like this, especially the Ms and Ns, that represents analytical thinking. And if it’s reverse, that represents you like
to investigate deeply into a subject. You wouldn’t expect it to look like this. Now, this is the actual handwriting, most of the signature,
of the secretary-treasurer of the U.S., Jack Lew. Now at first, I thought wow,
I judged this, I said that’s crazy. But then I thought afterward,
wait a second. Jack Lew, he thinks outside of the box,
he’s a creative problem solver. And in today’s world in business, you need to be both an analytical thinker
and a creative problem solver, like Jack Lew, like Steve Jobs,
like Richard Branson, like Indra Nooyi, you have to have all those things,
so then it made sense to me. All these are great, but if you don’t have
this last one, none of these matter. That’s integrity. Leaders walk their talk,
who live their highest truth. There’s a story
I really like about Gandhi, in which a mother took
her young son to see Gandhi, walked a great distance, finally arrived,
pushed through the throngs of people and then said – she had only one question with Gandhi, what then would you ask Gandhi? – and she said, “Gandhi, can you please
tell my son to stop eating sugar?” (Laughter) And Gandhi said, “No, I cannot
tell your son to stop eating sugar. But you can come back in one month.” The mother was in shock, she was angry: how could Gandhi
not approve her parenting? But she came back one month later. She pushed through the throngs of people,
she saw the great leader one more time. And then this time,
Gandhi recognized her and said, leaned down, embraced
the boy’s hand in his own and said, “My child, you must stop eating sugar
for it will rot your teeth.” Hugged the boy, turned it back
toward the mother, and the mother was perplexed but she said, “Mahatma, why didn’t you
tell him that one month ago?” And Gandhi said, “Well, one month ago,
I was still eating sugar.” (Laughter) Which just shows that a leader
walks their talk on a big vision and also on the little things. Now, you can see integrity or honesty
and frankness in handwriting in the Os, the circle shapes. Check this out. The second O on the top,
that’s Gandhi’s O, that means clarity of integrity,
or he is very honest. But look at the other one, the first one. There’s a line through it
from left to right, which represents secretiveness,
a little private secretiveness. The bottom one is another leader
we equate with magnanimous integrity: Mother Teresa. Now what this showed me was, our leaders are just as frail
and vulnerable and human as all of us, and you can have these paradoxical traits
within you and still lead with integrity. When I was 12 years old –
and a few people asked me, so now I’m going to tell you
how did I get involved in this. When I was 12 years old, I saw my mother
do something extraordinary. I saw her analyze the handwriting
of a famous hockey player of the Toronto Maple Leafs,
our local hockey team. I started to do this again and again
with people that we would meet. I know that’s a bit weird. You know, “Mom, what are we doing today? Let’s go analyze
random people’s handwriting.” Every time she did it, though,
I saw something fascinating. It gave people hope. It gave them a sense of something
that lay dormant, that maybe they forgot about. And I’m going to do that
right now on the spot. I’m going to analyze someone’s handwriting
that the TEDx team has put on my slide, and I’ll be seeing it at the same time
you are, on the spot, right now, I’m going to analyze their writing
and tell them a few things that I think would make them
a good leader. OK, let’s see it. This person is very direct. When you speak with them,
they get right to the point. They have good intuition about people. I’ll tell you why, first of all. The directness comes in, there are no added flourishes
in any of the writing. See how it’s the how, boom boom boom. There are no extra lines. The O’s are relatively clear, which means there’s one that’s not,
but for the most part, Gandhi’s mostly were clear, don’t worry,
I’m not saying you’re a liar. Most of your O’s are pretty honest. So this person, most of the time, 95% of their life is someone you can trust
because they tell the truth. Now, here’s the thing.
This person is trying now to – they watch what they say. They’re a little bit cautious, because on the A in “leader,”
it’s hooking around, yet it’s open. If it’s open, it means talkativeness, hooked over means
that they’re trying to stop it. They have a dot on the I
that is pretty pronounced, that means loyalty, it means they pay
close attention to detail. This person has had some
of the same friends their whole life, and they don’t let friends in easily; they really need to be trusted. OK, their signature. OK, that upper loop,
that means more someone who has a deep grasp
of any type of spiritual abstract idea that they put their mind to. You see how it goes across like that, that’s drive, that’s energy,
that’s determination, yet a little bit of cautiousness. Who are you? Can you stand up? OK, sir. Well, can I ask you,
by the way, what do you do for a living? Man: Government finance.
JMC: Government finance. So government finance, you need to really get right to the point
in terms of you’re dealing with numbers, you need to have integrity,
which you do clearly by this. You need to also deal with people without any type
of unnecessary worthiness. They want no BS, they want you
to get right to the point, and I see that in you. I also see you as a man
who has a great deal of depth in terms of your spirituality. I think you’re someone
who is open to ideas and really grasping those ideas
in your life. And you’re loyal, you’ve had some of the same friends
your whole life. I think you’re someone – people who know you as a friend
really count on you as a friend, and you’re someone
who they can talk to, they can listen to, but yet you only speak
when you really have something to say. And those friends count on you,
and they listen to you, and they get to know you. Thank you. (Applause) You see handwriting analysis gave me, a shy 12-year-old boy who was terrified
of speaking in front of others, the realization that I had it within me
to express myself with words, and I had the power and the vision
to do it one day. And now, 27 years later, I’m in a castle, in Wiltz Luxembourg, standing in front of a packed
TEDx audience with all of you. And that vision,
that dream came true today. You see, hope is the word that you write of what you want
your future to hold. It shows what exists
when no one else does, no one can extinguish
that passion without your permission. Strangers – it may be invisible to strangers
and maybe even invisible to yourself, but it’s there, and it’s here. I ask you, I plead with you to write more – it’s not a lost art –
to write down your vision, to write down your goals, to write down what inspires you, to write what you’re grateful for, like Oprah does and Richard Branson and Sheryl Sandberg
and Jose Mourinho and Gandhi, they all wrote down what inspired them
in their life in a journal. And I ask you one more thing,
which is to cross your T-bars high and create a vision that inspires you
and underline your name and be proud of who you are
and be true to your own path. Look at your writing. All you have to do is
look at your writing. You all have the power to lead. All you have to do is
look inside yourself. Thank you. (Applause)

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