A while ago, at the suggestion of @LizZurekBeaudry I watched the movie The Intern starring Anne Hathaway and Robert De Niro. It was a pleasant and heart-warming movie with some great messages. Plus it provides a somewhat realistic peek of a tech startup. (HBO’s Silicon Valley is the hilarious real deal for startup culture if that’s what you are looking for.) While by no means is it a deep story, the two main characters are fleshed out enough to learn some things about MDNA. Specifically Ben, played by Robert De Niro who is the perfect IAF/SSA.
IAF/SSA – Intuitive Alignment & Fulfillment / Sacrificial Service & Authority
In the thousands of assessments to-date, we find a lot of primary IAF have a secondary SSA. They tend to go hand-in-hand. And by this, not always in the best way. The IAF, who always wants people to be happy, can often default to a position of service (servitude) in order to fulfill their intrinsic motivation. While there is nothing fundamentally wrong with this, it can lead to basically being a pushover with the inability to say no–especially when others break your boundaries. This nullifies the power of these two gifts working together within one individual.
Ben, a senior widower that decides to become an intern at an e-commerce startup, however, represents the full potential of the IAF/SSA. While I know a handful of individuals that operate in the same potential, sadly, they are few and far between. This is how come, if you watch the movie, you should consider learning to be a secondary SSA no matter what your primary gift is.
The IAF Man
The IAF man has no problems with their sensitivity. Ben did not either. He even tells his boss Jules (Hathaway), that beneath his exterior, “I am a sensitive man. I’m a sensitive bowl of mush.” This was reinforced by the fact Ben started to cry watching Singin’ in the Rain.
The IAF man wants people to be happy. When asked his opinion on what Jules should do with the company, he simply states that her happiness is the most important. He also had no issues in connecting with Jules’ daughter the same way. A true heart of gold.
The IAF man is intuitive about personal fulfillment. In the opening scenes, Ben narrates, “I just know there’s a hole in my life and I need to fill it… soon.” and, “I still have music in me, absolutely positive about that!” In the same way he pursues his own fulfillment, he wants others to be fulfilled as well. This propels him to give the speech he does at the end of the movie (no spoilers here).
The IAF man has a certain “presence.” All IAFs have the ability to affect the atmosphere in both positive and negative ways. In one scene, Jules tells Ben, “The truth is… something about you makes me feel calm, or more centered, or something. And I could use that. Obviously.”
The IAF man sees and cares about the details. If you look at Ben’s regiment through the movie, from his clothes to office gear, you will see he is a very detail oriented person (notice the two alarm clocks?). He was constantly observing details in people too. In fact, his boss Jules at first asks Ben to be transferred to another intern position because she deemed him too, “observant.”
The reason I am focusing on the IAF “man”? Well let’s just say that I believe more men can operate in the IAF gift and still be a man’s man like De Niro. I’ve read a few reviews where men complained that his character made them cringe if you were used to De Niro as a tough guy, like the Godfather. I believe today’s new school IAF man can take healthy lessons from the old school and create the ultimate gentleman. But I digress.
The SSA Intern
What I also enjoyed was how Ben approached his work. Throughout the entire movie he was constantly sacrificing, serving and earning the authority within the office. He built a platform of success under everybody, starting with of course Jules. Ben knows the times to offer grabbing sushi and grabbing soup without being asked. He helps fellow employees with romance and professional etiquette. He took a fellow intern into his home and mentored him like a Father. Ben even admits that he felt like everybody’s uncle in the office.
Ben’s favorite quote was, “You’never wrong to do the right thing.” That is an SSA’s quality of being without guile. There are no hidden agendas with the true SSA. They just always try to do the right thing.
Probably one of the coolest moments that demonstrated the detailed IAF, fusing with the servant leadership SSA, was between Ben and Davis, the fellow intern living with him:
Davis: “Okay, what’s the deal with the handkerchief? That one I just don’t get at all.”
Ben: “Okay. It’s essential. That your generation doesn’t know that is criminal. The best reason to carry a handkerchief is to lend it.”
The handkerchief really becomes the symbol of the gift that Ben is to Jules and the entire company. In this, Ben the IAF/SSA is a true hero. What if the world had more managers, community leaders, mentors and fathers like Ben?
Is This Reality?
Some called the The Intern a “strange workplace fantasy.” And yes, because it is fictional, it is a fantasy. But that doesn’t mean it is impossible. There are some that say having an amazing culture at a workplace is also a fantasy. And while it is indeed very difficult to develop a thriving culture in any organization, SSAs like The Intern are not some mythical creature. If we are willing to empower the SSA, and more importantly, learn to apply the principles of the SSA in our own lives, fantasy can become reality.