Jamie Mason Cohen: How to Spot a Leader in Their Handwriting (Transcript)

Jamie Mason Cohen at TEDxUBIWiltz

Here is the full transcript of handwriting analysis expert Jamie Mason Cohen’s TEDx Talk: How to spot a leader in their handwriting at TEDxUBIWiltz conference.

Listen to the MP3 Audio here: how-to-spot-a-leader-in-their-handwriting-by-jamie-mason-cohen-at-tedxubiwiltz


Do you procrastinate, sometimes? I’m a teacher and when my students leave studying for an exam until the last possible moment, they pull an all-nighter in which they try to cram everything from the entire school year into their head the night before the exam. If you admit it, which you did — thank you, sir — like me, and you sometimes leave things to the last minute, then you have something in common with two of the greatest leaders, two of the greatest visionaries of the past 50 years: Nelson Mandela and Steve Jobs. You see, both of these men left things to the last minute.

Now, how do I know this? Am I making this stuff up? Don’t say no. Yeah, the answer is it’s in their writing. You see both of these men sometimes cross their t’s to the left. Hand writing — and first of all, I’m fascinated with handwriting analysis. It shows you what lies beneath the surface, and shows you that your first perception of another person is not everything, that your leaders, your heroes, the person beside you – yes, ma’am — the person in front of you, are so much more than their signature.

So earlier today you were asked to write on a piece of paper. I have been bugging you, walking around during the break and telling you to write something. Get that card out in front of you, if you will please. And for those of you who are watching this at home on YouTube or in the TED community, why don’t you join us and why don’t you write down how to spot or recognize a leader in their handwriting and sign your name. And over the course of the next few minutes, compare your signature and your writing to the leaders that we look at.

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Now let’s take a look at some leadership traits that you have in common with some extraordinary leaders. Harvard Business Review did a survey of tens of thousands of workers around the world. And they asked them: what’s the number one leadership trait that separates a leader from a non-leader? You know what they said? 72%, vision. The ability of a leader to look into the future to define a shared purpose for the organization, to give the workers a sense of meaning and articulate a hopeful new direction. And that’s what Mandela did. And that’s his ‘T’. That’s Mandela’s ‘T’, besides it’s an ‘H’. Do you notice that the line is right at the top? That represents a achievable, really high long-term goal.

You know what I found fascinating? You know who else has this? Steve Jobs is the top one. Abraham Lincoln is the next one. And the third one is Albert Einstein. How cool is that? All these leaders, they have this one thing in common. Now if you’re looking at me and saying: Okay, I don’t have that but look, do you have that ‘T’? If you don’t, well guess what, neither does Nelson Mandela at times, because that’s also from Mandela’s Ts. And what that shows you, that’s called the Practical T, that means you’re setting goals if you have this ‘T’. Look, look, if you have this ‘T’, it means you’re setting day-to-day goals, that you like everything planned out ahead of time. And you’re thinking about — right now you’re thinking: what am I going to do when I leave TED? I’m not thinking about five years from now. And it shows — it showed me that you need a balance to be an effective leader between the long-term vision and the day-to-day goals of the organization.

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