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I have three siblings. All brothers.

We all know who my mom’s favorite is: Brother number two. And we all know who the smartest one is: Brother number three. But the one who is the most fun to talk to is brother number one.

(Before we go on, I’m sure you’re wondering where I fit here. I am smarter than brother number two, who we all agree is the dumbest of all of us. But when it comes to social skills, brother number two is so far and away better than all of us, that he would be insulted to hear that I am ranking one of us so close to him as to be social skills second best.)

So anyway, brother number one is the most fun to talk to. And now I know why: He’s an INTP.

For him, there is nothing too sacred to challenge, and nothing too complicated to research. He’s in finance but spends a lot of his time talking (to anyone who will listen) about why most finance guys are full of shit.

Sometimes this brother has been unemployed, but he seems to have the same thirst for knowledge when he’s unemployed as he does when he’s investing five billion dollars. It’s all the same to him: He says what if this, did you read, I’ve been thinking, did you notice. That’s how he is.

God help me if I disagree with his line of reasoning. For example, he thinks Monsanto’s genetically modified seeds are a great way to solve world hunger. This is heresy where I live, because Monsanto prevents farmers from planting their own corn seeds. (Yes, Monsanto takes small family farmers to court. And wins.) My brother used a scolding voice to tell me Monsanto is doing the world a service.

My brother’s universe is about questions and facts and more questions about the facts. He is not so much interested in answers (like, what is the key to solving world hunger?) he is more interested in asking sharper and sharper questions: should we sell modified seeds in order to grow corn more efficiently? He can parse a big question into ten thousand questions that no one else would have considered.

Well, no one except an INTP.

The upside of an INTP is that I can talk to my brother every day when I make lunch and suddenly making lunch is more fun. The downside is clear when my sister in law, who gets way more INTP than most of us, says to him, “Okay, okay, we heard you. Now be quiet.”

What she means by that is, “In order for life to progress we need to be practical and to take peoples’ feelings into account.” She understands this emotional input is not intuitive to an INTP.

My INTP brother is the king of scheduling meetings. It seems that anyone in finance will take a meeting with him. Not because he has a billion dollars, but because people like to know what he’s thinking. They wonder what he’s been reading. They wonder what is his take on the pedestrian topics that are no longer pedestrian in his hands.

In the world of introverts, INTPs are pretty outspoken. They have two modes of being: investigating or reporting on the investigations. Which means they have a lot to say, and mostly, they can’t believe no one else want to talk about what they want to talk about. An INTP can wear anyone out with their questions, so see my brother in the picture? That’s him visiting the farm. When he has exhausted our ability to follow his line of queries, he picks up the phone to see if someone else is interested.

Traits of an INTP: serial hobbyist, internally motivated, analytical and imaginative. How do these add up to a successful, fulfilling career in a world that is largely too conventional for an INTP? This course will tell you.

Session One: Find people who won’t annoy you . (And where have they been all your life?)
INTPs are known for their brilliant theories and unrelenting logic – in fact, they are considered the most logically precise of all the personality types. This means you need to be able to recognize illogical types before they can get near you: People who rely on their rank. People who lie. People who are overly emotional. You will never work well with these types.

This session will also help you target the people who will enhance your life. Who will be fun to debate? Who will be a good sounding board? And, of course, why is it so hard for you to get a date? We will ask all these questions, and since I’m an ENTJ and not an INTP, we will actually answer the questions as well.

Session Two: How to make a decision. (Find someone to do it for you!)
Look, you’re not going to ever have enough information to make a decision. Which is fine with you, of course, because closure is not your sweet spot. Fortunately, decision makers love you because you help them make better decisions. So stick around them – they’ll make you look less crazy.

(Hold it. Did you know people think you’re crazy? Yes. They do. They think you don’t understand how the world works even as you ask more questions than anyone to understand how the world works.) Find the way people succeed without having to make those random, ill-conceived decisions that plague most top leaders.

Session Three: Resume rescue for the INTP. 
Most creative thinkers have irregular career trajectories. INTPs are extreme versions of this. Fortunately, because the INTP is very useful to rigid, hierarchical types, the INTP resume can always be saved. This session will tell you how to rework your resume to get the best job for you.

You’ll also learn how to sell yourself in an interview. The hiring process is often emotional, which is an uncomfortable spot for you. This session will show you how to focus any interviewer on your stunning ability to spot patterns and discrepancies before anyone else. Because in most cases, that’s what you’re selling in an interview.

Session Four: Ask me anything (and I’ll try to keep up!)
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34 replies
  1. Madeleine
    Madeleine says:

    Calling us fun is a great way to flatter us at our most secret vulnerability of wanting to be loved.

    Now I can’t tell if we are actually fun or if this is a really good sales pitch!

    • Karelys
      Karelys says:

      I am an INFJ and I find this way too fun. I suspect I have a few INTP’s in my life and now it makes sense why I like them so much. There’s so much adventure when you’re asking so many questions that the answers really do become irrelevant.

      • Madeleine
        Madeleine says:

        Aw I think INTPs and INFJs have a natural affinity. The shared Ti/Fe means we have a similar kind of conversational cadence, I find. I know some really interesting and funny INFJs. You folks are the warmest introverts yet the edgiest NFs, which makes for a really fun combination.

  2. Tim
    Tim says:

    The problem with being an INTP: your brother is so busy discussing ideas on the phone, he doesn’t see that shed in the distance sneaking up on him.

  3. Sarah M
    Sarah M says:

    Hm, I wonder if I’m close to the line between J and P. I’ve always scored INTJ, but some of these things feel true to me, as well.
    Sarah M

    • Sarah L
      Sarah L says:

      I am also consistently typed as INTJ but this description describes me and my life to a T. Penelope, in your experience do you see folks on the boundary of INTJ/P often? What kind of advice would you give someone like us?

  4. Helen
    Helen says:

    Hi Penelope,

    Will this course be available on demand? I probably won’t be able to purchase until November 20th?


    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Yes, you can purchase the course on demand. But it’s more fun for me when it’s live! So email me separately to arrange a payment deal so you can see it live — like your first born or something.

      No. really. Email me.


  5. Natasha
    Natasha says:

    ISTJ!!! Do ISTJ!

    You can call it something like, “Stop having Meyers Briggs envy” or “How to do the boring stuff nobody else wants to do and get paid a lot more than you are getting paid now”

    • Catherine
      Catherine says:

      ISTJs are rigid thinkers, and find new untested theories to be really scary. They prefer to stick with what works and think anyone who says something that’s factually incorrect is stupid because they care so much about being right. That being said, if the world was coming to an end and saving it meant calculating something without a single error they would be the person for the job. Or to pick out irregularities in details.

      • jessica
        jessica says:

        Yes, they are good at calculating but their views are often so narrow that they get the right answer to a tiny part of a much bigger picture and often ignore the main point.

        I have noticed a strong “rearranging the deck chairs on the titanic” propensity in some of them. If pointed in the right direction, they can be good workers though.

  6. Beth
    Beth says:

    The INTP in my life, my husband, is very introverted and would never be described as fun. The description in this article does not seem to match the description of INTPs on Quistic:
    INTPs are independent, reserved, and live in a world of ideas. They can work well on a team but prefer to work alone in sporadic bursts of energy.

    Although private, INTPs can at times seem totally outspoken because of their directness of communication and economy of words.

    Other people may assume that INTPs say very little, but this is only when there is nothing to say. The general chitchat of social life is not for them.

    They prefer to speak only about areas that interest them, things they consider important

  7. Shanna
    Shanna says:

    So, I’m a bootstrap entrepreneur, and I haven’t had a resume in a dog’s age. Is there anything in this course for me?

    I agree with Madeline, I’m flattered to be thought fun, but I don’t need to take a course that is just an ego boost.

    I actually want what your brother has– to have anyone willing to take a meeting and listen to me talk!

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Honestly, I could have written the post to say my brother is a bootstrap entrepreneur, because he’s that as well. And I talk with him almost every week about how to make it work.

      Most INTPs have to paste together a career — unless they are in academia — because the world is not set up for the intellectual energy an INTP can muster.

      So, this is to say that most people in the course will be like you, facing the problems you face, and that’s why courses by type are so useful. Most people who share a type share the problems that come with that type, and we can address those problems head-on.


  8. Val
    Val says:

    I’m a cranky middle-aged INTP woman, and married to an INTP man. We talk about ideas all the time. We compeletely understand one another’s need for solitude. It’s good.

    I would never describe an INTP as “fun”. Just my opinion.

    Here’s what I’d like to know:

    – how to hire an assistant. Need someone to keep me on track and accountable to life’s tedious requirements. AND I need someone highly intelligent and flexible, who can help someone who hates to take advice. What type of person should I look for?

    – Procrastination and extreme divergent thinking. How to make it work for me? Because I can’t unwire those traits from my brain.

    Still on the fence about this course.

    Penelope, I will be blunt. On this blog, you have written very little and opined even less about the INTP. Do you really know enough about us? Are you bringing experts?
    Is the term “boot camp” a joke? This INTP does not like being ordered around and subjected to boot camp strictures.

    I am very very curious to hear what you have to say about us.

    (Delete this if you will. I don’t mean to undermine your recruiting for the course.)

      • Val
        Val says:

        I’m glad you like my comment, above. I regret posting it — I was snarky, and more confrontational than I intended.

        I signed up for the INTP Bootcamp (though I will refer to it, privately, as INTP Sneakercamp.) I signed up because I’ve long admired Penelope’s creative thinking and her ability to distill unique relevant concepts from a wide variety of sources.

        And… I need to know the stuff she is planning to teach us.

        • Kate
          Kate says:


          I just took the ENTJ class, which I really liked. Penelope is also an ENTJ. As such, I really don’t think she’ll mind your direct confrontational (as they seem to you) remarks. And I agree, she hasn’t talked at all about INTP on her blog, and I’ve looked because I have a lot of that in me too and have a number of best friends that are INTP. I am very curious about the class and was tempted to take it too. Let me know how the class goes!

          It’s funny, I hate when people ask me what I do for fun. I don’t think I’m any fun at all. I’m like, “uh, work? read? think?” But my best friend of 30+ years who is also INTP just described me as “tons of fun,” so there you go.


  9. Tim
    Tim says:

    It’s interesting how different the tone is of these INTP comments from the usual comments on this blog.

  10. CeeBee
    CeeBee says:

    Can I ask what would be the major difference between an INTP and an ENTP? My husband tests as the latter, but boy does this sound like him, so I’m wondering what would be the big difference here?

    • Madeleine
      Madeleine says:

      ENTPs leads with extroverted intuition, which means they are an ideas generating machine. INTPs leads with introverted thinking, which is a judging function – they want to get to a concise truth.

      ENTPs talk more, and are more combative. They engage with ideas by running rhetorical circles around people, generate ideas and figure things out as they talk. INTPs retreat into research mode, usually through direct engagement with the subject matter, and tend to talk about things once they understand it really, really well.

      ENTPs are more likely to get into a fight, INTPs are more likely to stay at home.

    • LisaP
      LisaP says:

      Yeah, I’d reiterate what Madeline said…I’m INTP and my husband is ENTP.

      I’d also add: The dominant intuition can also make them seem like stronger Ps. They are less focused in debates and life in general, but their saving grace is that they’re more action-oriented and can better utilize other people to get what they want. INTPs are more observant and tend to be on the sidelines.
      INTPs are also more analytical. ENTPs don’t like to go as deep into a subject as an INTP. Talking to my husband is fun and interesting, but it can be draining because he wants to jump all over the place. Ooh look, a squirrel!

  11. INTJ
    INTJ says:


    This Myer Briggs stuff is fun but I think it has been pretty thoroughly discredited. No serious psychologists use it. Here’s why:

    . Sixteen types of people on Earth? Really? Only 16? I think there’s probably seven billion types of people. Of course there are similarities but you can’t put all of humanity into only16 boxes.

    . Introversion / extroversion is an important personality trait but the others? Is whether you are intuitive or methodical really one of the most important things about a person? Do you say to yourself when you first meet someone “What a great guy. He’s so methodical”?

    . There’s a pretty high correlation between some of the traits. Some MBTI types are more common than others. This is a fault. It means there is some redundancy across the categories. Stuffing humanity into 16 boxes is bad enough but some of the boxes are fuller than others makes it worse.

    . The people selling this stuff use flattery rather than validity to sell it. As an INTJ I get told I’m a “mastermind” or “systems builder”. I don’t get told I’m a withdrawn, cynical, impersonal, intellectual snob which is probably a better description.

    . Finally there’s the problem of reliability. Fifty percent of people get a different type whenever they do the test. In one trial people were randomly told they were a particular type, yet most agreed with the classification.

    Psychology is far from an exact science but it is much more grounded in reality than when Jung came invented these classifications. If you are really interested in personality types there’s things like the Australian Personality inventory (free) which classifies people on a continuous scale in five categories.

    Anyway, just thought you should know.

    JESSICA says:

    Interesting overview. It sounds like you think your INTP brother is the smartest (brother number 1) but you state that brother number 3 is the one that everyone knows is the smartest. What is brother number 3’s type? Also, I thought most testing puts the INXX group as having the highest average IQ’s. I realize IQ is only one factor, so what do you mean by smartest? Most philosophical? Practical? College? Career, earnings?

    Your statement that “the world is not set up for the intellectual energy an INTP can muster” would further indicate that your opinion of INTP intellect is that it is almost superhuman, not even understandable by most others and virtually tireless and accurate.

    • Dutch Driver
      Dutch Driver says:

      Jessica, our minds are full of inner conversations…these eventually tire us out. And being in front of an audience for any amount of time on a regular basis depletes my energy reserves usually resulting in going to bed by 8 p.m. or 7:30 when it is prolonged exposure. And weekends are crash times for me to get back on my feet.

  13. Dutch Driver
    Dutch Driver says:

    Penelope, I am sad I missed this INTP course. Maybe next time around? Why? Because the session descriptions of 1-3 are descriptive of my abilities. BTW, maybe you remember I took another of your courses on networking I believe.

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