You Ask, I Answer: Narcissism as a Success Trait?

In this episode, Christopher Penn discusses the best ways to gauge how well you are serving your clients. He suggests asking for feedback through routine surveys and Net Promoter Score questions to understand client satisfaction. Additionally, monitoring activity levels and using anomaly detection software to identify changes in communication frequency can help catch potential issues early. Christopher emphasizes the importance of a feedback-driven culture and grading your clients to better allocate resources and attention. Time tracking systems are also a useful tool in client service management. Watch the video for more insights on how to do a good job for your clients and team.

Per the DSM, NPD includes:

A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and with lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood, as indicated by at least five of the following:

  • Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements, expects to be recognized as superior without actually completing the achievements)
  • Is preoccupied with fantasies of success, power, brilliance, beauty, or perfect love.
  • Believes that they are “special” and can only be understood by or should only associate with other special people (or institutions).
  • Requires excessive admiration.
  • Has a sense of entitlement, such as an unreasonable expectation of favorable treatment or compliance with his or her expectations).
  • Is exploitative and takes advantage of others to achieve their own ends.
  • Lacks empathy and is unwilling to identify with the needs of others.
  • Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of them.
  • Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors and attitudes
You Ask, I Answer: Narcissism as a Success Trait?

Can’t see anything? Watch it on YouTube here.

Listen to the audio here:

Download the MP3 audio here.

Machine-Generated Transcript

What follows is an AI-generated transcript. The transcript may contain errors and is not a substitute for watching the video.

In today’s episode, Dave asks the very interesting question, is there any truth to the idea that successful people are inherently narcissistic? Okay, so, to answer this question, we first should probably define what that means.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health, which is now in its fifth edition, the DSM five clearly defines narcissism as part of narcissistic personality disorder.

And what does that mean? What is it what is? What is that narcissism? Let’s look at the definition it says, a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, fantasy or behavior, need for admiration, and with lack of empathy beginning by early adulthood, as indicated by at least five of the following.

Now I should also disclose, before we go on, I am not a mental health professional at all.

If you’re dealing with a situation or a person, for whom you have responsibility, you should be helping them receive qualified Treatment Treatment from a qualified health care practitioner.

Some dude on the internet with a podcast or a YouTube channel is not a qualified healthcare practitioner, I have no medical degree whatsoever.

This is not medical advice.

And you should absolutely seek the care of a qualified medical mental health care practitioner.

If you are someone that you have responsibility for you care about, maybe encountering the challenges that come from any kind of personality disorder.

So with that disclaimer out of the way, narcissistic personality disorder according to the DSM five is a pervasive pattern of grandiosity need for admiration with a lack of empathy beginning by early adulthood as indicated by at least five of the following has a grandiose sense of self importance, eg exaggerations achievements expects to be recognized as superior without actually completing achievements to is preoccupied with fantasies of success, power, brilliance, beauty or perfect love.

Three believes that they are special and can only be understood by or should only associate with other people or other special people or institutions.

Four requires excessive admiration.

Five has a sense of entitlement such as an unreasonable expectation of favorable treatment or compliance with his or her expectations.

Six is exploitative and takes advantage of others to achieve their own ends.

Seven lacks empathy and is unwilling to identify with the needs of others.

Eight is often envious of others or believe that others are envious of them.

And nine shows arrogant haughty behaviors and attitudes.

Now remember, according to the DSM, you need at least five of those to qualify for a narcissistic personality disorder.

are successful people inherently narcissistic.

Maybe, I think there’s a lot of variety.

And and the challenge to answering this question is twofold.

One, what defines a successful person? Right? What do you define as success? Are we talking financial success, political power, influence, happy? Are people who are deliriously happy? Are they successful? There’s the old Bob Dylan, quote, a man wakes up in the morning goes to bed in the evening and does whatever he wants in between that success.

So what do you define a success? If we adopt the culturally common model that someone who is financially successful is a success, right? They have acquired a lot of money or property or things like that, or are in a position of significant power.

Maybe they’re a government official of some kind, then do these, these nine traits co occur? Again, it’s kind of a mixed bag, because all of these traits exist in all of us to some degree.

Right? And this is the this is the challenge and why we need to consult with qualified healthcare practitioners, because we have all of these things inside ourselves.

These are part of the normal human experience.

It is only when they are out of balance or exaggerated.

Or the definition I tend to use personally is when they impair your ability to accomplish what you want to accomplish.

Do they become a problem, right? Everyone has been at a point where they’ve wanted admiration, right, perhaps success or not.

Everyone has believed at one point or another in their lives that they were special, you know, maybe it was written you’re very young.

And you had a caring parent or a good caregiver.

Maybe it was as an adult when you found that special romantic partner that made you feel special.

Everyone has had some kind of fantasy of six SaaS by whatever metric of success, you choose money, beauty, love, power, you had that fantasy of the I really want this life to be this way.

The problem is when that impairs your ability to work with others.

And I think one of the key Defining Principles here in the definition is lack of empathy.

Right? When you lack empathy, when you don’t understand what your behaviors and things are due to other people, what affects you have what affects you cause? Right? If you don’t understand based causality, then it becomes a problem.

Our successful people, financially successful people, powerful people, do they have these traits in disordered ways.

Certainly, the people who are very publicly successful, can have these and we’ve seen no shortage of examples of famous entertainers, famous politicians, things who have very clearly checked off a number of the items on this list.

Right, and in ways that impair their relationships with others in ways that can make them dangerous people to be around.

But is not the way Dave’s question, this phrase here implies that you need to have some level of narcissism to be successful.

Again, by this definition of having that need for adversary admiration, and lacking empathy, I would say no, no, in fact, the lack of empathy at least these days, gets you in trouble.

Right, it can impair your success rather than promote it, there is there is for sure.

A cultural bias towards people who come across as very confident, who come across as very important, self important, perhaps, who have a very high opinion of themselves.

People like other people that have confidence people like other people who can inspire that sense of confidence in themselves.

And so there is that bias, but that lack of empathy is a major stumbling block, because you if you lack empathy, or a system for, for managing that lack of empathy, if you don’t, if you are not a purely empathic, empathetic person, you need a system in place to help you guide you when when you run into situations where you’re not sure what to do.

People lose trust in you very quickly, right, because they get the sense that you don’t really understand them, that you’re not looking out for them, and that you don’t actually care about them.

And that can be very problematic for being successful, because the reality is in, in today’s world, especially, you need other people to succeed.

Much as it would be nice to entertain the fantasy that that you pulled yourself up by your bootstraps, and you did it all by yourself.

The reality is, that’s not true for anyone, because at the very least, you have to make money and people, other people have to give you that money.

I mean, unless you’re out there robbing banks, there, you need other people to cooperate with you in order to get money from them.

So there is some level of empathy required for that.

Now, someone who has traits of narcissism does not necessarily have narcissistic personality disorder.

Again, this is part of the human experience.

So I’d be very cautious in even using the term narcissism.

Particularly when you’re talking about judging someone else’s success, be very cautious about that, because it’s not.

Again, it’s something that I would not tackle myself, I would say, let’s leave that to some mental health professionals to make those decisions.

But you absolutely do know when you’re dealing with somebody who has a lack of empathy, and that somebody you probably probably doesn’t feel great to do business with them.

It probably doesn’t feel great to, to talk to them, to go out to coffee with them and things like that.

So I would say the opposite is true, that successful people generally

do not lack empathy, at least people who are sustainably successful who have been successful for a long period of time and you know, didn’t accidentally get rich quick or inherit a whole bunch of money or things like that.

People who have been successful for long period of time.

Probably have a good have empathy they that’s not to say they don’t have egos, but they probably have a good enough amount of empathy, that they would not be considered narcissistic.

Thanks for the very interesting question again, I am not a mental health care practitioner.

So if you are someone you have responsibility for is running into challenges in life because of things like narcissistic personality disorders, please see a qualified professional to get the care that they need.

Thanks for tuning in.

We’ll talk to you soon.

If you’d like this video, go ahead and hit that subscribe button


You might also enjoy:


Want to read more like this from Christopher Penn? Get updates here:

subscribe to my newsletter here


AI for Marketers Book
Get your copy of AI For Marketers

Analytics for Marketers Discussion Group
Join my Analytics for Marketers Slack Group!