I found Chris Ferdinandi's blog, Renegade HR, while doing research for my Freak Factory book. Chris is a human resource and social media professional at EMC in Boston. He's a beach bum, weekend warrior, musician and clean hippie, which means that he loves recycling AND taking showers.
I'm glad he took a break from writing his new book to share his freak factor story, which mirrors many of my own experiences.
1. Do you have any apparent weaknesses that are actually strengths?
I'm really energetic. If I was a kid today, I'd probably be diagnosed with ADHD. In school, it was a bit of a problem, because you're expected to sit still, pay attention, and think inside the box. Memorize and recite. Do it just like you were taught to.
My brain doesn't work that way. I need to question and push boundaries and take things apart. I can be a bit easily distracted when dealing with rote, repetitive types of tasks. But if I'm working on a unique and complex problem, I have laser focus on it. My boss recently told me that when I throw myself at a problem, there's no stopping me.
I think strength and weakness are really two sides of one coin. In order to be great at some things, you have to suck at others.
2. How have you capitalized on your weaknesses to succeed in your life and career?
When you first hit the business world, most of the jobs involve a lot of rote and repetitive work - the kind of stuff a trained monkey could do. You kind of have to suck it up and deal for a while.
But I always made it a point to seek out work - in addition to my day job - that played to my strengths. I identified problems, offered solutions, and then played a key role in implementing them. It's opened up a lot of doors for me professionally, and allowed me to meet a lot of great people I wouldn't have otherwise.
3. Have you ever had a manager that allowed you to flaunt your weaknesses?
I had a boss who really understood what I rocked at. He made it a point to seek out opportunities for me to do things I was naturally good at. It made grinding through the stuff I wasn't as good at - but was just part of the job - a lot easier.
4. Are you secretly the twin of actor Chris O'Donnell?
That's hilarious! I just did a comparison. You're right!