by S. Thomasin Barsotti
Clients at Johnson O’Connor fit many descriptions; they are all different ages, come from all different backgrounds, and are at all different stages in their careers. Many clients are looking to solidify a path or make a change sometime in the near future. Many others, like Vincent Lacey, are already in the midst of a shift in their professional lives, and their test results provide a fresh perspective on that new direction. Vincent had been working for years as an actor in Chicago, developing a reputation as a comic performer and improviser, as well as a versatile character actor. He was also working at a Catholic church in Chicago as a coordinator of Young Adult Ministry. In addition, two years prior to his testing, Vincent had been integral in the launch of the Chicago Fringe Festival, an annual independent multi-arts festival.
The Chicago Fringe follows the model of other fringe festivals in places like Kansas City and Minneapolis, as well as the original “Fringe” in Edinburgh, Scotland (“Fringe” refers to art, especially performance-based art, that is generally riskier, nontraditional, and weirder when compared to productions seen in commercial and regional theatres). A group of unpaid volunteers organized and executed the inaugural Chicago Fringe Festival in 2010. Vincent was among them. “[It] was a passion project,” he says.
What all three of Vincent’s jobs—performer, producer, ministry coordinator—had in common, was that all three involved a great deal of creativity, communication, and independence. With high scores in Ideaphoria and Foresight, these aspects to work are crucial for Vincent. When he learned that his most significant aptitudes were in divergent thinking, he was not surprised. “It confirmed what I thought about myself,” he says, “It’s very easy for me to allow my mind to travel in many directions at once, see consequences and generate ideas quickly.”
Divergent thinking is considered to be essential to creativity. So when someone shows an aptitude for divergent thinking like Vincent, finding creative outlets at work becomes paramount. This creativity may manifest in content creation, writing, communications, teaching, or even research and development. Vincent found some obvious outlets for his divergent thinking aptitudes in his artistic and producing careers, but recalls, “one of my jobs at the church was doing two-hour talks during the summer on specific topics. I loved doing this…to share knowledge of things where I feel I am an expert and can make a difference.”
From the standpoint of a Johnson O’Connor consultant, interpreting Vincent’s scores is about as straight-forward as it gets. Like most examinees, the majority of his test scores were in the average or low percentile ranges; but then, jutting out from the pack like twin redwoods are those bars representing his Ideaphoria and Foresight scores. These scores, combined with a Subjective score on our personality test, give him the clear pattern of a creative specialist. That can mean different things to different people, and is a role that can find an outlet in diverse fields. For Vincent, his Subjective personality score explained a key part of how he likes to function, in particular the emphasis on autonomy. “I need tons of independence in my work,” he says, “I need to figure out how to make something work and then be trusted to do it—or even better, discover what needs to be done on my own.”
Among his aptitudes, Vincent finds Foresight to be especially defining. “The ability to see a need or absence, observe a possibility, and then formulate a plan of action is easy for me to do,” he says, “This was essentially how Fringe started. Same for my acting career.” High Foresight scorers tend to find satisfaction in thinking this way, setting their sights on long-term challenging goals. “Anybody who chooses to be an actor is aware of how it works—you gotta be in it for the long game,” Vincent says. He also shares some concerns that are common among people who score this way, such as too frequently living in the future and at times having trouble appreciating what’s happening in the here and now.
“Oh yeah, I am full of ideas,” he says of Ideaphoria, a bit knowingly. At Johnson O’Connor, we suggest that people who score high in Ideaphoria literally have more ideas and at a faster pace than other people do, like comparing the flow of Niagara Falls to that of a quiet stream. Especially in auditions and in improvising, Vincent says his Ideaphoria is helpful, “[I can make] a quick change and still stay on point.”
However, it’s the combination of these abilities that feels most significant to Vincent. It is often the case that an examinee who scores high on one of these tests does not score high on the other. For someone like Vincent, who scores high in both, it can make for a uniquely prolific creative mind. “[It’s] easy for me to generate, jump around and find what works, explore things. Putting [Ideaphoria] and Foresight together I feel makes me effective as a businessperson, too,” he adds.
That enterprising attitude is all the more important for Vincent now, as he recently quit his jobs at both the church and the Chicago Fringe (he still serves on the board for the latter) and moved to Los Angeles to pursue a new path. He’s off to an encouraging start. Currently, he works as a guide and presenter for Sony, leading tours around old MGM/Columbia sound stages and talking about how movies get made. “I got trained [for the job], but what I show on the tour and choose to focus on really makes it ‘my own’ tour. And I’ve also started a small food business on the side. Both let me be creative.” At the same time, he’s staying busy as an actor in LA, and thinking about writing more as an additional outlet. When I ask him what else the future might hold, he divulges that he has an interest in running for public office someday (Vincent’s college major was political science). Ultimately, he wants to reach people. “It’s just who I am. Always hopeful. Big picture thinker.”
Vincent’s food business, Not Your Grandpa’s Paleo, can be found on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/NYGPP/