E5: Are You An Initiator or a Refiner?

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Episode Summary:

Listen to the full episode on iTunes (and please leave a rating to help the podcast reach more people): E5: Are You An Initiator or Refiner?

  • Initiator: Entrepreneur with many ideas
  • Refiner: Refines the idea and takes the idea to the next level.
  • All work has 3 main parts: initiation, continuation and refining.
  • Most people are only good at one of these.
  • The one you’re good at will depend on your personal characteristics.
  • Main characteristic of an initiator: Creativity.
  • Main characteristic of a continuator: Discipline.
  • Main characteristic of a refiner: Perspective and specific skill.
  • Good exercise: Look at various industries and try to identify the initiators, comtinuators or refiners.
  • Example of initiator and refiner in the book and movie industry: The initiator is the author who writes the book that becomes successful and the refiner is the professional script writer who turns that book into movie format.
  • Example of initiator and refiner in the music industry: The initiator is the artist who comes up with the song idea and the refiners are the producers and team who refine the song.
  • Example of initiator and refiner in business: The initiator is the entrepreneur who comes up with the business idea and starts the business and the refiners are the investors or board of directors who refine the business to increase its market value.
  • How about you? Ask others.
  • Initiators: Have ideas but don’t know how to execute.
  • Continuators: Want to take action everyday but they will go crazy without direction. Don’t have so much perspective.
  • Refiners: Have the perspective and specific skill, however they miss the creativity to get a new project started.
  • Example of music artist: If they come up with a tune of sound they may not know it already exists or how to market it.
  • Example of movie business: Even if you have an original idea it comes down to the script writer and director to make the movie.
  • You need to team up with people that are different and thereby can cover your weaknesses.
  • Do you like to organize or perfect things? (Refiner). Or do you come up with a lot of ideas that you never see to fruition? (Initiator).
  • Who do you need to team up with to see your projects to fruition?
  • Specialize: Its rare that someone can do all 3 things alone. And even if you can, it’s best to specialize in the one you’re best at and team up with complimentary personalities.
  • If you’re a group of refiners or continuators but you have nothing to work with, you will get nowhere.
  • If you’re a group of initiators but you have no refiners or continuators you will get nowhere as well.
  • Exercise: Think about when you were back in school and you got a lot done during group projects. What role did you have and what role did other people in your group have?
  • Mikael Syding: Thought he is a genius who has new ideas. But he found out that actually he just takes existing ideas and refines them.
  • Think of initiator vs refiner as a spectrum.

We are right now creating the Future Skills Program which will be an online video course covering decision making, building the 4 Capitals, and other actionable tips for improving your life and career. It will include weekly homework and evaluations.

The course will be presented by Mikael Syding, the European Hedge Fund Manager of the Decade 2000-2009.

* Why decision making? Because better decisions and risk management equal better finances, better relationships and an overall better life.
* Why the 4 Capitals? Because most people are deficient in at least one of them, but can easily build the others if already high in another.


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  1. It’s fun that by learning to commonplace (and doing it for some years now) thanks to the TUCS Book of Ludvig I find myself more on the Continuator side of the spectrum than on the creative side (I started as a music artist).

    Something like what Mikael described at the end, more synthesis-based ideas based on others’ ideas/CSSing rather than coming up with my own ideas without “inputs” (which I still do since this is more of a spectrum thing, but the synthesis-based will always beat them). Thank you

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