In this article, we’re typing nine prominent and successful figures from different fields.
Because using Enneagram to figure out why people do what they do is a great place to start understanding or learning from them.
Bill Gates: Type Five (Detective)
A detective needs to figure everything out. They focus on honing their skills and improving their knowledge of their field and world. Bill Gates is the epitome of this. Without a keen thirst for knowledge, he wouldn’t be able to be one of the top dogs in technology. Detectives are also interested in developing ideas and insight. Before Gates dropped out of college, Paul Allen, a friend he was in business with when he was 15, showed him a copy of a magazine that featured the Altair 8800 mini-computer. This intrigued Gates and Allen, who then pitched the idea of developing a basic software that would maximize the Altair’s potential. This eventually became the humble beginning of Microsoft.
Throughout Gates’ career in Microsoft, he was careful and protective of his product. In an age where distributing software for free is acceptable, he lobbied extensively to change that, since he viewed the use of developed software for free as stealing. For Gates, Microsoft is his and Allen’s product. Detectives show this tendency to be possessive over what they think is their best area of expertise. In a way, Gates was insecure and understandably angry about what he considers to be his forte not shown the credit it was due.
Detectives are head types, which tend to be detached with their feelings and emotions since they would rather focus on ironing out or simplifying complicated ideas. In most of his interviews with the media, he rarely talks about feelings. Instead, he relays facts and concrete details to the interviewer.
Jeff Bezos: Type Seven (Explorer)
Explorers are enthusiasts for broad overviews of topics instead of a laser-focused probe. It’s evident that this is what Bezos believe in as well. In an internal memo that Bezos wrote in 2004, he declared that Powerpoint presentations are now to be replaced by narrative memos. He believes that this puts everyone on the same page because the language is more comprehensive and clear.
One of Bezos’ greatest strength is his clarity in terms of decisions that are made in the company. Explorers tend to be hesitant in making decisions because they are constantly being inspired by new and interesting ideas. Bezos’ uses two different decision-making processes. Type 1 decisions are that can’t be reversed and therefore require a more careful process. On the contrary, Type 2s are decisions that can be easily reversed. He believes that if all decisions are made like Type 1 decisions, not only will he miss time-sensitive opportunities, but it would also hinder the growth of the company. This clear definition for decision-making process encourages Bezos to play around with new ideas that would potentially make the company better without permanently harming it, which contributes to the growth of Amazon under his stead.
Tony Robbins: Type Three (Medalist)
Tony Robbins sparked controversy in 2018 when he explained his views about the #metoo movement, citing people who quoted #metoo as “using a drug called significance to make yourself feel good”. After that, he offered a Facebook apology in response to the backlash.
What has that got to do with Robbins being a Medalist? Let’s dissect it.
For starters, Medalists are charismatic, energetic, and self-assured. There’s no mistaking this if you’ve ever been to a Tony Robbins seminar. In fact, this is what he builds his brand on – he uses his cool competence and confidence to motivate others to do the same. Medalists believe that anyone can do great things, which is why the #metoo movement irked Robbins in the seminar. He believed that using the movement as a crutch hinders people from achieving greatness.
Medalists constantly strive for improvements, seeing each failure as an opportunity to push themselves to new heights. Even though he was slammed by a lot of #metoo sympathizers, he demonstrated his desire to improve himself through his apology. He didn’t make excuses for how his message came across or that he was misunderstood. Instead, he reached out to women of the #metoo movement to understand the movement better.
What came of that is left to be determined. But Robbins’ response could have stemmed from a Medalist’s status-conscious tendency. It’s not to diminish his achievements, but his tact in an apology towards a highly-divisive movement shows how aware he is of his image. Not only did he used this as a way to show other people that he’s also working on himself despite being a life coach, but he also used this as an opportunity to further develop his narrative as a positive role model.
Donald Trump: Type Eight (Fighter)
We can’t include Hillary without including her adversary in the 2016 election, The Donald. Trump has proved to be quite a combative and controversial president. Like all Fighters, he attempts to dominate his surroundings, often resorting to name-calling and finger-pointing to assert his point. Fighters are true industrialists. In certain cases, they might get lost in their conviction to do what they want and disconnect themselves from the world. Trump’s constant whining about how some people don’t acknowledge his hard work can be seen as a testament to this. Despite branding himself as a president who speaks “what the people is thinking”, he seems to be out of touch with reality.
Fighters want to leave a mark on the world. Trump’s mark is being the president of the United States. Trump’s campaign on being the figurehead of political incorrectness can also be an indicator of a Fighter’s refusal to give in to social conventions. To retain the power he possesses as POTUS, he would manipulate or fabricate facts. Unhealthy Fighters show this tendency to avoid being controlled by other people, which might explain Trump’s tendency to veer off the politician script.
Barack Obama: Type Nine (Diplomat)
A Diplomat’s greatest strength and weakness lie in their need to avoid conflict. Because of this, Diplomats often struggle with making decisions, since they would always strive for decisions that make everyone happy. Even though Obama has done well by the United States throughout his time as president, he has always been criticized for not pushing policies and changes fast enough. He told Slate that he limits the number of decisions he had to make in a day to focus his decision-making energy, no matter how much turns up in his day. That said, Obama’s delay in decision making isn’t all bad since his decisions are made through careful mulling and consideration for the consequences.
Diplomats also value internal and external peace above all. It can prove to be difficult in a chaotic world. So when Diplomats are stressed out, they tend to numb out and create a “happy place” to escape to. In a New York Times Magazine article, White House staff reported that Obama frequently creates a cocoon in the White House for movie nights and talent shows. In true Diplomat fashion, Obama describes his peak as when other people are connected to him and when he’s doing things that make other people happy.
Adolf Hitler: Type Six (Strategist)
Strategists hold on to their personal beliefs longer than most types on this list, even if it’s later proven that they are wrong. Hitler’s conviction that Jews are less than human resulted in one of the most heinous crimes against humanity in the world. His loyalty to his belief is also demonstrated in his illogical fear of contamination through blood, which fuelled his desire for an Aryan Germany, his ideal master race.
Strategists also tend to show difficulty in making important decisions – not a trait you’d expect to see from Hitler. According to “Analysis of the Personality of Adolph Hitler”, Hitler often breaks down and has frequent nightmares due to his guilty conscience. He also often has long spells where he felt drained and powerless. Despite that, he emerges at the end of a melancholic period with renewed confidence and resolution to double down on the attack ruthlessly.
Hitler is a master of manipulating circumstances to his agenda. Strategists display the same affinity in building a network of trust over unsteadiness and fear. He framed his anti-Semite beliefs as an “us versus them” problem, winning over Nazi Germans who aren’t happy with the Jews. Strategists are also great at coming up for reasoning for their beliefs since they long to cling on to some sort of belief for a feeling of security. Hitler’s popularity among his fellow compatriots is a good indicator for this, as the people deemed his beliefs reasonable enough to follow.
David Bowie: Type Four (Artist)
David Bowie embraces all the traits of an Artist: self-aware, emotionally honest, and expressive. For most parts of his career, he was dubbed as the “Chameleon of Rock”, a moniker he earned through his ever-evolving aesthetics and music. But just because he adopts a variety of persona doesn’t mean that he’s not unique as all Artists fear. David Bowie is nothing if not original. He pursues his personal artistic vision and risks alienating his more mainstream audience.
Artists are acutely aware of themselves. They would actively look within themselves to discover their motivations and their thoughts. They don’t actively try to hide it and they don’t rationalize it. Instead, they put forth their vulnerability in whatever medium they choose. Bowie frequently puts himself under scrutiny, both as a public figure and by himself. He used his music as a medium to express his vulnerability and his protest to the increasingly vapid state of rock in the 70s. Despite that, maybe it’s because of the Artist’s uncertainty of their own identity that leads to Bowie’s constant shedding of identities.
Hillary Clinton: Type One (Perfectionist)
To top off our somewhat politically-charged list, we have Hillary Clinton as the Perfectionist.
Hillary Clinton’s political career is built on her will to build a better world for people who she considers as being disadvantaged. True to her Perfectionist roots, she’s driven by a sense of purpose of building a more inclusive world for disadvantaged demographics like women and students. Despite being guided by their well-meaning intentions, they often feel the need to explain themselves. In preparation for that, Perfectionists would think of the consequences and the rationale behind every action they take. Because of this, Clinton’s responses to many topics are often well-thought out and diplomatic.
However, running the risk of hypocrisy is a problem they have to deal with since they can’t always uphold their rigid sense of right and wrong. As a result, when they are outed for their less-than-honorable actions, they tend to defend themselves by pointing out “the ends justify the means”. When Clinton’s email scandal surfaced, she downplayed her actions in her campaign by essentially forcing her voters to choose between her and the greater evil – Trump. This didn’t work since her struggle with being forthcoming lost her the presidential election.
Suze Orman: Type Two (Caregiver)
Suze Orman is a financial guru and economist well-known for delivering practical financial advice with a beaming smile. Because of their cheery disposition and willingness to listen to others, Caregivers tend to forge great relationships with other people. Before her debut on radio shows and TV, she was a waitress who earned roughly $400 per week. She made a great impression on her long-time customers. One of them, Hasbrook, gave a check of $2,000 and rallied other customers to raise money for her dream restaurant.
Caregivers are also motivated by the fear of not being needed, which pushes them to work hard to avoid being replaced. After Orman lost all her money in a high-risk investment by a broker in Merill-Lynch, she joined the company and was given the “woman quota”. She was told then that women don’t last more than six months in the industry. Yet, within three years, she completed her training there and sued the firm for unscrupulous practices by the trader who lost her money. She even became a broker good enough to be the vice president of another firm. Her personality and impressive financial knowledge she’s gotten from her days in Merill-Lynch landed her a TV show, The Suze Orman Show.