Date posted: 21/05/2019 5 min read

Let’s talk about me

Delve into the weird past of personality tests, then engineer your way to a long life of happiness with CA Library resources.

In Brief

  • The Myers-Briggs personality test is not the rigorous psychological tool you might believe. Read its surprising history in Merve Emre’s What’s Your Type?
  • Also available is Solve for Happy, where former Google engineer Mo Gawdat reveals his equation for a life of happiness.
  • All library services, excluding the cost of returning books, are free to CA ANZ members

By Alexandra Johnson

What’s Your Type?: The strange history of Myers-Briggs and the birth of the personality test

What’s Your Type?: The strange history of Myers-Briggs and the birth of the personality test

By Merve Emre (HarperCollins)

It’s used in prisons, schools, the echelons of corporate leadership and dating sites. The Myers-Briggs personality test, with its 16 personality types, is so widespread many consider it a genuine tool to decipher personalities with accuracy.

Merve Emre pulls together a thrilling and entertaining history of how the Myers-Briggs personality indicator became a US$2 billion industry.

Devout Christian Katharine Briggs performed education experiments on her daughter Isabel to prove her theory that curiosity and discipline were paramount to learning. Extending her attention to the local community, she conceived a questionnaire in order to decipher what conditions raised a civilised adult.

When her daughter left home for college, Katharine fell into a depression. Her mood only lifted when, in 1923, she became obsessed with the work of psychoanalyst Carl Jung, who she believed to be God’s representative on earth, and his theory of personality archetypes. She wrote him letters and devised personality types and questionnaires based on his teachings.

As an adult, Isabel came to share her mother’s obsession and sold her first personality indicator to the US military to predict recruits’ suitability to be spies.

Neither Katharine nor Isabel had any training in psychology. Instead, they based the Myers-Briggs personality types on people in their lives. Their achievement in bringing pseudo-scientific psychological testing to the masses is extraordinary. What’s Your Type reveals how the Myers-Briggs test helped forge the cult of self, now firmly entrenched in the billions of personality quizzes plastered over the internet. But while the Myers-Briggs indicator can be fun and food for thought, this book shows that’s where its usefulness should end.

Solve for Happy: Engineer your path to joy

 Solve for Happy: Engineer your path to joy

By Mo Gawdat (Pan Macmillan)

In algebra, equations can be solved in many ways. Engineer Mo Gawdat realised he was desperately unhappy, despite his career success and wealth. Then he had an “aha” moment – he had been striving to solve the wrong problem.

The chief business officer at X, Google’s so-called “moonshot factory”, Gawdat spent the next several years creating an equation for happiness – and it turned his life around.

Gawdat’s premise is that humans are designed to be happy and his equation is simple: happiness is greater than or equal to your perception of the events in your life, minus your expectations. In other words, it’s all about how you look at things.

That equation was put to the ultimate test when Gawdat’s beloved son died during a routine operation. Seventeen days after his son’s death, and in intense grief, he began to write this book with the aim to help 10 million people become happier.

Solve for Happy questions some universally accepted aspects of our existence. It looks at the illusions that cloud our thinking and hinder our ability to make sense of what’s going on around us. It brings to light the blind spots that blur our perception of reality and make us pessimistic and, finally, it offers five ultimate truths to move into a state of joy that is not conditional on external events.

Gawdat draws on psychology, philosophy, personal experience, research and religions to present his recipe. This is an engaging, intelligent book, that while perhaps not ground-breaking in content, is original in its analytical approach.

How Do I Get There from Here?: Planning for retirement when the old rules no longer apply 

How Do I Get There from Here?: Planning for retirement when the old rules no longer apply

By George H Schofield (Amacom)

Many of us alive today can expect to reach our 100th birthday, double the lifespan of our ancestors who were lucky to make it to 50. But living and being active for longer requires more money, conscious engagement, new interests, extended good health and the ability to adapt.

Psychologist George Schofield’s core strategy is to have multiple, overlapping professional and personal interests and commitments. An advocate of lifelong development, he says a long and fulfilling life requires careful, thoughtful and courageous choices of what to bring forward and what to leave behind as we progress through the years.

Drawing on case studies and interviews with specialists from financial advisers to leadership coaches, Schofield’s book helps you to imagine your future, identify useful skills, and prepare for the inevitable speed bumps along the way.

It Doesn’t Have to be Crazy at Work

It Doesn’t Have to be Crazy at Work

By Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson (HarperCollins)

Is your life frantic? This book by the founders of Basecamp software debunks the idea that business owners and entrepreneurs must work day and night to achieve success. Well written, jargon-free and often funny, it offers practical strategies to create a calm and effective company culture and soothe the stress that plagues both workers and organisations. Workaholics take note.

Microsoft Excel 2019 Bible 

Microsoft Excel 2019 Bible

By Michael Alexander, Dick Kusleika and John Walkenbach (Wiley)

A complete guide to Excel 2019 for beginner, intermediate and advanced users, this comprehensive handbook covers Excel from spreadsheet basics through to advanced data analytics.

The Third Door

The Third Door

By Alex Banayan (Crown Publishing)

Feel like you are plodding along? Join Alex Banayan on his adventure while he chases business and entertainment icons to find out how they achieved success.

From hacking into Warren Buffett’s shareholder meeting to partying with Lady Gaga, this thoroughly entertaining story will remind you there’s always another way in.

The Wise Advocate: The inner voice of strategic leadership

The Wise Advocate: The inner voice of strategic leadership

By Art Kleiner, Jeffrey Schwartz and Josie Thomson (Columbia University Press)

A strategy expert, psychiatrist and executive coach join forces to describe how cutting-edge neuroscience can help business leaders make powerful decisions and influence their people to be forward-thinking and self-reflective.



Managing Your Digital Presence for Career Success 

By Drew Adamek, FM Magazine (Run time 25 mins)

What social media platform works best for finance professionals? This podcast examines how accountants can reach their target audience, post effective content and boost their careers.


When Technology Can Read Our Minds, How Will We Protect Our Privacy? – TED talk

By Nita Farahany (Run time 13 mins)

Lawyer and philosopher Nita Farahany takes privacy concerns to a new level in this TED talk. She says future tech might read our minds, and our thoughts could become commercial commodities.

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