Most People Won’t Practice with Marcus Bell

Marcus Bell of Bellringer Productions, a music producer in Los Angeles, CA, explains how counter-intuitive it is to focus, and why so many people have a difficult time simply practicing.

Beginning piano at age two, Marcus Bell of Bellringer Productions, a music producer in Los Angeles, CA, explains how counter-intuitive it is to focus, and why so many people have a difficult time simply practicing. Also, we’ll bring you a taste of one of our most popular webinars by listening in on a talk with Co-Founder Kirkland Tibbels. This webinar introduces the principle of ‘Personality and Transactional Behavior’ and describes how it impacts your ability to get what you need or want.

Below you’ll find a transcript of this podcast episode that has been edited for your reading pleasure. You’ll also see links at the bottom of this post where you can find more information on the people and ideas mentioned in the episode.

Produced by: John Patterson, Jason Kelley & Tyson Crandall

“Sometimes I would get caught up in practicing things that were not going to be beneficial. A lot of what I had to learn was what exactly to practice, and oftentimes, it’s the practicing of the basic things that will empower performing at a very high level.”

John Patterson: Good morning. Good afternoon, good evening, wherever you are in the world. I am your host John Patterson, the co-founder, and CEO of Influence Ecology. We are the leading business education in transactional competence, broadcasting from Ojai, California. This is the podcast for you, the ambitious professional who simply wants an advantage and that you won’t settle for an ordinary life.

You want real results, real satisfaction. Not just at work, not just in your career, but in every area of your life. Our primary feature today is an interview with Marcus Bell of Bellringer Enterprises. He’s a music producer in Los Angeles, California. Beginning piano at age two, he explains how counterintuitive it is to focus, and why so many people have a difficult time simply practicing.

Also, we’ll bring you a taste of one of our most popular webinars by listening in on a talk with Kirkland Tibbels. This one will point out your personality and transactional behavior, and you’ll find out how that impacts your ability to get what you need or want. Now, Marcus has been an Influence Ecology member for a little over four years, and his deliberate practice is now legendary.

First of all, if I were to introduce you properly, I think it might take the next 15 minutes because there are so many things that you’ve accomplished. I love that much of your story begins out with the imagery of you sitting on a phone book at two years old learning to play the piano. I was preparing a little bit for this interview and thinking about who might be listening to this.

I thought about all the creative professionals, I thought about all the artists, I thought about so many people that would love to involve themselves in the creative profession in music and art and theater and so many different things. We have the unique opportunity, Marcus, you and I, to help them along, and you have an enormous amount of specialized knowledge. You have a rich history, but before we get underway, can you tell us a little bit about you, and who you are and what you’ve accomplished?

Marcus Bell: I write and produce hit songs for TV, film, commercials, celebrity artists, and developing artists. I train celebrity artists and Independent artists through my company Star Bootcamp. I’ve been in the music industry since I was two years old and I’ve started my first company when I was 12 years old. It was a record label called Ring A Bell Records.

Now, I didn’t know anything about the music business then, but I ended up learning a lot, failing a lot, and using everything that I learned when I was young and have been applying it as an adult. I’ve worked for various record labels, pretty much every major record label in the entertainment industry from Sony records to Universal, to Warner Brothers Records. I’ve worked with and worked for projects, whether it’s marketing and promotions or music producing or songwriting or vocal coaching or licensing artists like P Diddy, Usher, Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Nicki Minaj, and a slew of other recording artists in different entertainment enterprises.

John: Going through the early days of being an entrepreneur, can you just say a little bit about some of the early lessons?

Marus: Sure. If I go all the way back, I first started in musical theater. So I tap danced and sang, and I acted in a lot of different productions. I wrote a contract with Virginia Opera back in Virginia where I’m from, and they ended up putting me on tour. I got this permission from the school board to leave school and do the tour. That’s when I decided, “Hold on a second. I’m in front of thousands and thousands of kids and I write songs. I think I need to start record label.”

At the time, I was being mentored by the then time president of the Family Channel and an executive at M&M Mars, and a few other African-American business owners. They didn’t really know specifically the music industry, but I would have lunch with them and they would give me all kinds of business advice. My first lessons I learned the hard way, because I had all these tapes and CDs in record stores all over Virginia and had no system to track what was going on, had no help. They were supportive, but my mom, my family had their own careers.

As soon as I got my driving permit, I started taking off and going from record store to record store. That was my first real lesson, was that if I was to do anything of significance, that I could not do it alone. Anything that is going to be successful must happen with the cooperation of others and happens in a team. My first big lesson was, get help and good help. People that are qualified.

John: That’s a great word. Get help, valued help. I got to wonder, too, because I don’t know what happened between two sitting on the phone book and here you are now. Was there something that had you discovered? Did you play in front of somebody who said, “Wow, this guy’s got talent?” What was that moment?

Marcus: A couple of things happened. I was doing a lot of performing and the newspaper in Virginia started writing articles about me. They started to discover me. I had some press happening in the news media and on Television, different news outlets. All of a sudden I get this call to come and perform at Clinton’s inaugural event.

John: That’s amazing.

Marcus: That’s where it started. I was with the group, and at the time it was Will Smith, Boys to Men and some other artists who were performing at the same event. Backstage, the rest of the kids that were there, they were all trying to get autographs from Will Smith and some of the other artists that were there and I was not. I noticed this guy that was over in a corner. He had this camera that I had never seen before. I think it was one of the first digital cameras. I was attracted and drawn to him.

I went over to him. Just to give you a little funny story, the reason why I had all these different mentors when I was young, my mother would read about people in magazines, and cut out the articles and then reach out to them and ask them to be my mentors. My mother had cut out this article on a guy in People Magazine who was-

John: Wait a second. Did she just decide that one day she was going to do that or was she just being a very ambitious mother? Or was she already knowledgeable of that kind of thing and was already doing it in some other capacity, or did you just have a great, a really ambitious mom? I can’t imagine my mother doing that.

Marcus: Well, my mother, she’s one of the smartest women that I know. She was a civil rights activist. She herself was a tennis prodigy. She was one of the first black women to play tennis in the US Open. She came from a very unique experience. At the time, my father, they had gotten divorced. My mother and my father, my parents got divorced. My father wasn’t in my life for about 10 years of my growing up when all this activity was happening. She decided that she was going to move ambitiously and put African American male figures in my life.

When she read about someone that she thought would fit the bill and had enough status or whatever, that I would actually listen to them, because I thought I knew everything, she would reach out to them. I don’t know how many people she reached out to, but I had some really great mentors.

John: That’s amazingly fortunate. It’s like having someone reaching out to centers of influence before you even have the thought to do so. That’s fantastic. Wow.

Marcus: Just to catch up this story, I’m at the inaugural event. That was the other thing, I was always told, “Don’t be afraid to talk to anyone. Talk to strangers.” Whenever I performed, I’d always sell out of CDs. I’d always go home with a book bag full of cash, because in every performance, I would walk around the audience, I would meet and introduce myself to every single person in the audience, and created some type of rapport with them and then sell my CD. I remember opening my first bank account when I was six. I would always deposit this money. I’d go in with all these bags of cash.

Anyway, so I wasn’t afraid to approach this person. I went over and I started talking with this guy about his camera. I was like, “Oh, wow, I haven’t seen anything like that.” We started talking. He said, “Okay. Who are you and what do you do?” I was like, “Well, I’m a saxophonist and I produce my own music, and I have a CD. If you want to buy it, I can send it to you if you give me your card or your information. I can send you a copy if you want to buy it.” He’s looking at me. He says, “Okay.” He gives me his card, I put his card in my pocket, and then I move on through the show or whatever.

I get home, and of course, on that trip I accumulated a bunch of cards. I look at his card and it was the head of A&R for Warner Brother Records who ended up being the same guy that my mother had pulled an article out of People Magazine and given it to me and said, “This is somebody that you should meet.” Very successful person in the entertainment industry. That was the first music executive I ever met.

John: I just got to say I’m smiling from ear to ear just because it’s so fun to listen to the story. I’m thinking, on the one hand, how lucky, but I’m also aware of that saying, and I’m going to trash it, but it’s something about where practice meets opportunity or something like that. I can’t remember the saying, but you know what I’m talking about. Obviously, a guy who practices quite deliberately.

Marcus: I didn’t have anything to compare what I was doing to at the time until competing for scholarship money. I won these talent competitions to get a scholarship for college. I was participating in the NAACP axle competition. I won for Virginia and flew out to Dallas, I think it was. Basically, it was talent from all over the country. That’s when I got to see where I was, because everybody in that competition, they were all incredible virtuosos and things like that. That’s when I realized, “Oh, okay. Well, in my area, I was on top of my game, but when you started stretching out to the rest of the country, wow, I still have work to do.”

That’s what I got from that, but I want to say something else about the practice. What I discovered in practice was sometimes I could focus on the things that would not advance me in my playing, and get caught up in practicing things that were not going to be beneficial. Part of what I had to learn was what to practice. Sometimes it’s the practicing of the basic thing is what will empower your performing at a very high level. Whenever I practice at all on any instrument, now I play about 12 different instruments, I always focus on the basics. It’s kind of like training that we do here Inside of Influence Ecology. I’m always pulled back to, “Okay. What are the basics about transactionalism? What are the basics about how to look at my business? What are the basic fundamental things like focusing on one thing, not allowing the offers that come to my company to take us off course?”

John: So great, Marcus. Let’s just go back for a second. I want to take us back to there you are backstage, the guy with a camera, the digital camera, the producer you’ve just met. It’s the guy that your mom had written to from People Magazine and everything. So, that was the lucky break in the story, is that correct?

Marcus: Yes, that was the break that got me thinking of possibilities outside of local Virginia.

John: But between then and now, is there anything else that we should know about your journey?

Marcus: Now, part of my life’s journey is helping other artists learn how to make money in the music industry. Learn how to avoid the pitfalls that happen with most artists, actually, in being able to make a living because it is possible to make a really great living in the music industry. You don’t have to necessarily be world famous in order to make a living as a creative. It’s all about perfecting your craft and targeting specific markets and being known for something.

John: That’s great. All right. Well, I’m curious about how you heard about Influence Ecology and why you started to participate. How’d that go down?

Marcus: One of the things that is really important to me, is that the work that I do does something to impact humanity. I’m a music producer, but I recognize that my real role is creating cultural conversations. So, inside of creating cultural conversations, what I’ve been studying and looking at is, how do I impact culture for the good of humanity and use my music to make a difference in people’s lives and using entertainment to make a difference for people? I was in this course and a couple of people mentioned Influence Ecology to me, “Oh, you should check out Influence ecology.’’

I was like, “Influence Ecology? What’s that? That sounds interesting. Where influence and ecology, that together, okay, what is that about?” I was having lunch with a friend of mine and he began to talk to me about this book called Influence that he had been studying with this organization, and we start talking about things like scarcity and reciprocity and social proof and liking, and all these different tools of influence. That really got me excited, and then another woman approached me and said, “There’s this Influence Ecology,” and then it clicked for me. “Wait a minute. That’s the same company that my friend that I had lunch with was talking about.” That’s how I got exposed to Influence Ecology.

She made an introduction and then I got on the phone with you, and I’ll never forget our conversation, because in that conversation, because I’m very much into growth and development and I’m always studying and reading. I’m a bookaholic and I like environments of rigor and study. So when I was on the call with you to talk about my potential participation with influence ecology, there are a couple of things in that conversation which hooked me. One, because I’ve been to a lot of sales presentations, I’ve sold a lot of things, a lot of music, I’ve encouraged a lot of people to play music in radio stations and transacted a lot in the entertainment industry.

There was something in our conversation that happened that had never happened to me before. It was something that you said. You asked me, how much money would it cost for me to retire. It was a money question that you asked me. I think at the time, was I still in debt? Or I was coming out of debt. Maybe I was out of debt. Anyway, it hooked me. I said, “Wow, okay. I recognize that some tool had been just used on me, and I don’t know what that is. I think it’s brilliant, because it seems like I have some things that I can learn here.” That’s how I got in Influence Ecology.

John: There’s so many smart people. You’re obviously an intelligent man, you’re educated, you have an enormous ethic of practice, you obviously are someone who cares deeply about people, and like so many of our customers here, those kind of people who seek to produce offers that produce an enormous amount of money for them and satisfaction and value for the world. When you first started studying here, are there any other examples of where you saw how naive you were or you saw that you weren’t thinking accurately? Anything like that?

Marcus: The first thing that I was completely naive about had to do with my identity as a music producer. One of the things that I faced was because I have an ability to produce music in a lot of different genres, I was under the impression, and I had been told how great that was that I could do all these different genres, and that was always exciting being able to do that. Then what I recognized when I started studying with Influence Ecology about that was that it made me an incredible generalist. Me being able to do all these different things, so my job description looked like something like I play piano, I vocal coach, I play saxophone, I can even hop on a organ, I can be a choir director.

John: I can teach choreography.

Marcus: Exactly. Performance coaching, tap dancer, tambourine player, and let’s see, I also play spoons.


Marcus: Oh, did I mention I’m an entrepreneur.

John: And you work golf at the weekend.

Marcus: And I have a marketing company. A marketing company, a health and fitness company. So not only a generalist in music, but a generalist in business. Okay, I decided I wanted to be like Richard Branson and have 300 companies, and that’s with a team of one, or a team of four. So, one of my biggest lessons that helped me get more on target was that lesson about being first in mind for one thing. What is the thing that you will be first in mind for?

John: For all of people that have the fantasy to be the Richard Branson or the Will Smith, or all those things that they now have afforded the opportunity to do, what’s the thinking that you would say is common? Because there is a common thought that people have about all those different things that you could do. Can you see if you can give a voice to that narrative that’s so common in the marketplace?

Marcus: Yes, well, it’s the whole entrepreneur mystique, the do it yourself, don’t work for people, make it happen, there’s a whole environment around being able to do everything, and I fell victim to that kind of thinking. Partially, as a creative, it was, “Okay. I’m making income from all these different things, and so I looked at it as like, “This is kind of a survival strategy, being able to do a bunch of different things. So, okay, I’ll take these different things that come my way.” I wasn’t really focused and honed in on, “Okay. I’m going to target doing this one thing and develop my relationship base for that one thing,” and all of that.

I wasn’t really making offers or invitations, or really going after one thing in the way that I am set up to do now. The more I focused being a music producer, which in itself has a lot of different definitions and so forth, but when people come to me as a music producer, they’re plugging in to decades of experience and knowledge, and I’m able to be help in a way that I wasn’t even present to before as a specialist in the music industry. As I began to communicate more and more about that specialization, the more and more my income increased. Then it started to double, and then my income started to triple.

The more I stopped talking about, “Oh, I play the tambourine,” the more I stopped talking about, “Oh, I can this or do that,” and distorting what people would come to me for, the more my income increased. The more work for that one particular thing happened.

John: You did that so well. Can you say that one more time.


John: That was beautiful. Being all things to all people, or being this thing and that thing and that thing and that thing, it is a survival strategy for many people. So to focus or specialize in one thing often seems like they’re going to cut off the opportunity to make money. In other words, I’m going to cut off the opportunity to survive. How come that such an opposite effect, in your own words, how come focus produces the opposite effect of cutting off some route to survival?

Marcus: The quote that comes to my mind, I don’t remember who said it, but it was something like, “Be yourself because everyone else is taken.”

John: I think I’ve heard it. I don’t know who said it, but maybe we’ll just attribute it to you.

Marcus: Exactly. So it’s the same thing, I think, in the market place. The more you identify what it is that makes you unique, the more I identified what makes me unique, the more differentiated I became. I just gave an example. I was doing a lot of music internationally. I was combining different genres of music. So I would go to India and take bongo music and carnatic Indian music, and I would mix that with hip hop and pop music. Or I’d be in Japan and I would take traditional Japanese music and I would mix that with hip pop. Then I would listen to middle eastern music and work with some middle eastern artists and then take that and mix that.

Then people started coming to me for that. If you had a song that could have a international kind of flavor thing with it or whatever, I started to become the first person that people would think about, that knew who I was or that had been exposed to my work. Whenever something international oriented came up, they would call me and say, “Hey, I have this Indian artist. I think it would be great for you to work with them.” Because I started developing this identity as a global music producer.

So with that, to respond to what you were saying, it is kind of like people when they’re deciding what they’re going to spend their money on and they have a need. Then what is the first thing that comes to your mind to fulfill that need, or who is the first person that comes to mind to fulfill that need? If you have enough people thinking of you, then your business is going to grow. If people are thinking of you in terms of, “Oh, you do a lot of different things, and I don’t really know what to come to him for. I like him, but I don’t know exactly what to go to him for,” then there’s less opportunity to increase and dig in and produce results in the business.

John: For the creative type, for somebody in the creative professions, or we have a lot of business people who are CEOs or they are what we would call an inventor personality. For them, what would you say to them if the thought of doing one thing and doing one thing well just bores the crap out of them?


John: Like, “Oh my God. I might as well die. That just bores the crap out of me.”

Marcus: Oh my goodness.

John: I also experienced something as an inventor myself. I experienced something quite counter intuitive about that, but for you, what would you say to that?

Marcus: I say I feel your pain. [laughs] There’s a story I want to share. One of the things about this that I learned and identified was as a creator, how important it is to have your own voice. Having your own voice, your voice can be heard and people will be able to know, “Okay, well, oh, that’s Marcus’ voice,” or, “That’s Bell Ringer’s voice.” So, same thing with the painter. If there’s a particular way that you paint that can be identified as you, then that brings you a step closer to being able to cash in on that uniqueness. I think there’s a lot of thing in the marketplace of being a copy cat.

So I’ve run across artists all the time who sound like Beyonce or rap like Jay Z, or different artists, or someone’s trying to do their Andy Warhol thing. There are a lot of people that are copying. When I start thinking about those successful artists and those successful music producers and all successful creatives, whatever the field, whether it’s a dancer or whether–whatever the field may be, they’ve created a uniqueness for themselves.

Now, in terms of getting bored with that thing that people keep coming to you for, such as when you have a hit song and there’s a big hit song people start coming to you because they want one of those, and you get tired of recreating that same thing, one of the ways that– one of my vehicles for being able to deal with that, kind of get it out of my system and I built my business around this, is instead of confusing the market place with doing something different and completely tainting my brand, what I’ve done to satisfy that itch, and it is an itch, is I create a whole other identity. That other identity I would do some side projects, and that’s just to get the itch out.

I want to create something that’s crazy, I want to create something that my current audience will completely be turned off from probably, but there’s an audience for the crazy thing that I did. So let me call that something else. Let me create another identity for you.

John: That’s a very similar kind of thing, it’s the difference between brand extension which is just more of your identity and some other brand altogether. Absolutely.

Marcus: Yes. It’s funny I’ve run across my identities, various identities popping up in the marketplace. Different identities getting fan mail. [laughs] Because they each have their own personality.

John: All right. Well. What are some of the things that you might say to artists or creative professionals, what is it that you find they often get so wrong? What’s your advice to them about that?

Marcus: The first thing we talked about earlier was to focus on one thing and get known for it. I find a lot of, especially really creative artists come and they want to do a project that has classical music in it, and then I want to have a beatboxer come in, and then I want to be hip hop, and then I want to do this rock song, and then I want to do this dubstep song, and then I want to do this mumble turn, and I want to do a salsa song, and all of that. The first thing that we have to do is free all that out and decide, what is the one thing that this project is going to be known for? What is the one thing that this artist is going to be known for?

With anybody in the creative field or business period, what is it that your company is going to be known for? What is it that you as a entrepreneur and the products that you create, what are you going to be known for? That’s the first thing. The second thing that I find is I call it shiny objects syndrome. That’s all these different opportunities that may not be right to take, that don’t necessarily align with the thing that you’re known for, that would take you off course. They’re are all kinds of business opportunities that I’m approached with constantly, that I have to say no to because it will completely derail what I have in mind for my company and plans.

There are things that come to me that will be completely away from what my identity that is me, authentically me, in the market place. So that’s the second thing I would say, is watch out for the shiny objects, because they’ll get you every time. The third thing, we talked about before, is get help. People that know what they’re doing and know what you don’t know about things that you need to know. There’s the, “I know what I know, I know what I don’t know, and then I don’t know what I don’t know.” Make sure that you have people that know what you don’t know, and you’ll be that much more aligned with meeting your aims.

Then the other things that I would recommend for artist, and I’ll share a little story for this, is I recognize that a lot of people were chasing the US Billboard charts, looking to have success there. I decided that I was not going to do that and that I would focus on territories that were not the US and get success outside of the country. I focused where other people were not focused, and I looked for opportunities that other people were not pursuing, and put myself there. If the crowd is going in one direction, look for a hole where they’re not going and get in there.

John: Beautifully said. All right. Why study transactional competence?

Marcus: It’s like playing the piano. The better you are at foundation scales and chords, the more when you’re sitting in front of a piece of music you’re able to actually make the piece of music sing. Transactionalism and transactional competence is like that. The more you have those tools under your belt that you have command over, the better your company can sing, the better your enterprises can sing, the better your health can sing, the better your career can sing, because you have the tools to transact powerful-

John: Is there anything that you’d like to soapbox about, whether or not it’s your own passions, vision, whether or not it’s about what you’re up to now and where you’re headed. I know that you’ve had also some interest in a lot of things in the world and wanting to make a difference there with the shootings that have happened recently and how the world is responding to them. Anything else you’d like to soapbox about?

Marcus: Yes. I stand for oneness, justice and health and happiness and creative self-expression for myself and the world. One of the things that I’ve experienced in my own journey, and a lot of people don’t know this, but I was involved in a busing case that was about integrating the school system in Norfolk, Virginia. I was involved in a lawsuit that was an attempt at desegregating the schools there. My family and I, we experienced death threats and all kinds of hate back then. Then fast forward, there was riots down there in Virginia Beach and I was there when that happened and there was the historically African-American high school.

There was an attempt to close that school. I, at the time, was the student government president and was part of the effort to save that school and keep it that historical school alive, who had a grace like Arthur Ashe and Missy Elliott went there, and a lot of people. Ruth Brown came from that school. There’s this thing that persists where it’s an us-and-them kind of mentality and with the shootings that have been happening, that us-and-them persists.

My soapbox for it is that it really is a one, and the death of a police officer is pain. The death of an African-American youth is pain for all of us. The death of anyone is pain for all of us. I really am passionately at work on being able to transform some of these conversations, these cultural conversations that create the environment that has discrimination and racism and all kinds of isms. I’m at work on that, and using entertainment as a platform to help change some of those narratives.

John: Marcus Bell, you are an amazing man. It’s been a pleasure to interview you today. I’ve enjoyed it. I can talk to you for another hour. All right, we’re going to go ahead and-

Marcus: John, before we end, I got to do this.

[bell rings]


John: Ladies and gentlemen, that was the bell ringer.


John: We’re giving you access to a portion of a webinar led in May of 2016 by co-founder Kirkland Tibbles. For those unfamiliar with us, this webinar is a focused lecture for our membership on the specialized study that Kirkland began almost 30 years ago. Work that is now the foundation for the curriculum of Influence Ecology. You could say he is our guru, and each podcast will feature what I like to call a guru talk. A take away we want to give to you, a way to listen in on our webinars and live conferences.

Now, in this talk, Kirkland introduces one of our most popular topics. We all demonstrate a kind of personality and transactional behavior. As you listen, you can discover your own personality and how it impacts your ability to get what you need or want.

Kirkland Tibbles: Living lives with other people through language, and in fact, language is how we construct the world around us to take care of so many things. It’s how we construct in our cooperation with one another. Language. We live and create worlds in language. Then finally, what does it mean when I say human beings are transactional? It starts with that fundamental concept that we’re a critter in an environment, and that we are social critters at that. We are social animals. We are social. We depend on others and we need help and we need lots of help. We get help how through reciprocal exchange. We transact. We are transactional.

We are as Adam Smith said, creatures of exchange. We get help through helping. It’s reciprocal exchange, folks. All transactions we say are fundamentally the same. They are a series of exchanges. We’re social animals, we need help. To get help we give help, and we exchange goods and services and our talents and abilities to help, and all transactions are fundamentally the same, but we’ve noticed something as we’ve observed people out there in the world transacting. We’ve noticed that individuals tend to demonstrate certain styles and characteristics when engaged in exchanges, when engaged in these things called transactions, and that those individuals, as they begin to transact, start to demonstrate four particular styles of responses, reactions and performance.

They become evident over time. They’re observable. You can see them. Social animals, we live in a world of language where we create reciprocal exchange. We transact fundamentally, the same way by helping people. You can observe four styles of responses and reactions. What are those four styles? This goes back, all the way back to the ancient Greeks when they first began to observe behavior. In much of the writing around the four temperaments, for example, we find that these four areas where you can identify people responding and reacting as they move in exchange are these.

There’s a fundamental personality that is wired for the ideas in the world. There’s a fundamental personality that relates to people and relationships. They seek agreement in our social constructs. There’s a personality that is hardwired for work and action and there’s a personality, a set of characteristics, that is demonstrated by people who rely on and who depend on narratives of fact. These four styles of personality have been observed and are written about since the ancient. In fact, in almost every single culture, in almost single kind of culture in many different discourses in cultures from ancient to today, we see evidence of the recognition of these four kinds of dominant styles in how people move in their work and how they take care of their most fundamental aims and needs in society.

We have much evidence today of the four quadrant styles that I’m going to talk about tonight. I could load up this slide. In fact, I could spend the entire time tonight giving you example, after example, after example of the multitude of written material in white papers and research that back up and ground this whole notion of four quadrant personality theory. They exist in every single discourse I could find. In fact, in Influence Ecology, we have now identified nearly 200 different programs and distinct articulations of this four quadrant personality theory. Some of them take it all the way into very distinct studies like religion, and ontology, and psychology, occupational Theory and therapy.

It’s in social study, it’s all over business. You name it, you can find it. In fact, there’s quite a bit of work right now going on in medicine and neuroscience in this particular distinction that there are simply four styles of ways and characteristics, sets of characteristics, for how people relate to one another. We concentrate this entire study of these four styles into specific ways that people act when they are in the heat in the middle of the most important exchanges of their life. I’m going to expand on these for a moment. I want you to listen again to the narrative. Listen to the narrative that I’m going to produce around the whole story around how this all fits together.

There is a personality that is hardwired for big ideas. They think long term and they think in stories of possibilities. Possibilities for how we could live a better life, possibilities for future consequences. These are people who think long term. They live in a kind of subjective narrative. There are people who need people. There are people who live in the present. For those folks who have big ideas, the thing they need the most is someone to help bring that idea to the people. They need to find those folks out there who are hardwired for gaining agreement and commitment in the social constructs where transactions occur.

There are people who are hardwired for relationships, that are not hardwired for big ideas. There are people who demonstrate consistently when they get in the middle of transaction, that they are short-term thinkers. Like 30 to 90-days thinkers. They want to get the job done. They’re doers, they make list, they concentrate and focus on work and action. They may not be that good with the social constructs, they may not actually be concerned with or very good at the big idea, but what they are masterful at getting done in the world is producing those things that the idea guys and the relationship folks build and are handing them to get done.

Then there is the personality that is past-based. This is the personality that recognizes that after all those good ideas and the people get involved and the work gets done what’s left is something to judge, to assess, to turn into, the facts of the matter and to deal with the consequences and results of all that behavior and action. Another look at this is from a philosophic view. Those folks up there in the sky, those idea folks, they tend to follow and tend to adhere to the constructs of philosophies of subjectivism and idealism. They’re very high concept personalities. They think about what could happen out there in the world and they are in many ways egotistical personalities. They have to be, think about it.

What kind of a personality and ego does it take to walk out in the world and go, “We’re going that way,” or what would it take to have an ego [chuckles] to say, “People don’t know what they want until I tell them,” Steve Jobs. The next personality in line that tends to fall in behind the subjective thinker is the person who can construct narratives that build relationship and agreement in the social constructs where those ideas can take hold. These personalities are personalities that tend to be a little flaky. Why? Because they live in a world of maybe.

They live in a world where as we go along in the present, in the most present sense building relationships they are constructing narratives together. This is not a world of absolutes, this a world that gets constructed along the way. This is a world that might adhere to a constructive philosophy like anything the mind of man can conceive and believe it can achieve. Behind that philosophy, if anything is ever going to get done comes on objective view, those personalities that are hardwired to actually take the good ideas and the social constructs that are built.

The promise is made to those other people, and keep those promises are personalities based in work and action. They do committed work, they live in a short-term time frame and they are objective. That means that they see the world in a black or white way. Things are what they are and they are not what [chuckles] they are not. They don’t argue with the fact that there’s gravity, they count on it. They are not looking to construct narratives that about some possibilities, they’re looking to construct narratives of getting things done.

Then finally, without the skeptic, without those people in the world to take all of those good ideas and all of those people and all of that hard work and take care of it, preserve it, turn it into evidence and skeptically assess and criticize and be critical of it, to give a good solid evaluation of its utility and its value in the world, to judge it as something that is useful in the world, without that personality, the rest of us would be in serious trouble. So, we need that skeptic, we need that fact-based personality to come in behind us all, and in many cases, clean up the mess and form it into something that can be taken into new ideas where new concepts can be constructed.

More people can be involved and helped ideally, or new work and action can get done, and round and round and round it goes. That gives us the framework of what we will introduce now to you is called the transaction cycle. These are those four styles laid upon a transaction cycle.

John: In our next episode, we interview Trisha Tyler, a principal at Mercer Health and Benefits. Trisha talks about how to create value for the companies that you work for. One of the reasons I love this interview is that we have members who at first believe that they have no way to increase their income or shape their role when they work for a major corporation. You’re going to hear that this is simply not true.

Trish Tyler: When you create value for the companies you work for, then you really should be having conversations about being compensated what you’re worth. When you become reliable to be able to create that value, whatever that thing is within your company, they will figure out a way, if it’s valuable to them, to compensate you for what you’re worth.

The Influence Ecology Podcast is produced by Influence Ecology, LLC in Ventura, California. This episode was recorded April 8th, 2018 and was produced by John Patterson and Jason Kelly. This program is made possible through the assistance of the Influence Ecology faculty, mentors, and students around the world. We’re grateful for Co-founder Kirkland Tibbels and his 30+ years of specialized study in the philosophy of Transactionalism and the fundamentals of Transactional Competence.

This episode includes contributions by Karal Gregory and Tyson Crandall. For this episode, the sound design and editing are by Jason Kelley. The podcast theme is by Chris Standring and titled ‘Fast Train to Everywhere.’ You can subscribe to the Influence Ecology Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. You can also find us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or via email at

If you haven’t yet offered a rating or review, I ask that you take a moment go to iTunes or your podcast app and let us know what you think. This helps us more than you know.

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Influence Ecology is the leading business education specializing in Transactional Competence, having published and contributed to the only comprehensive text on the subject, Transactionalism: An Historic and Interpretive Study by Trevor J. Phillips. Co-Founder Kirkland Tibbels has authored more than 500 papers on the subject, study, and discipline of transactional competence and is a sought-after lecturer at universities, major corporations, and civic organizations around the world. 

Influence Ecology’s curriculum includes conferences, webinars, online tools, podcasts, and mentorship utilized by men and women in over seventy countries around the world. Our membership includes an international assembly of accomplished professionals, faculty, and peers from a variety of countries, industries, and cultures.


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