Ed is co-founder and creator of MDNA
and the rest of the institute’s intellectual properties. He now works as a consultant and mentor for MDNA certified partners while exploring his passions as an executive chaplain. Previously he has worked as a venture capitalist, brand consultant and even an animation director. He is also an accomplished speaker, author, social business coach and an ordained reverend. After four years of social projects and humanitarian relief in Nicaragua, Ed now trains others to follow their passions and do the same in other countries. Ed is married to his wonderful wife Tae-Young and uses MDNA to raise his two boys Orlando (UCD) and Julian (IAF).
The MDNA Story…
Ed Kang – Creator of MDNA
At the beginning of 2008 I had, working as a COO successfully accomplished an item on my personal bucket list—taking a company public. While it wasn’t the grand IPO I had initially envisioned, I was satisfied with our penny stock holdings corporation. At the height of our self-made success, our market capitalization was $55 million.
Of course by the end of the year, the global economic recession changed everything.
Over the next 12 months, I went from fortune to famine. Our family’s net worth was completely wiped out and then some. As a company, we did everything we could to stop the bleeding. Our decisions only seemed to make things worse. Our stakeholders lost millions in assets. But the lowest point was telling my wife that our home was being foreclosed on by the bank. It was one of the most difficult periods of my life.
During my personal economic recovery, I began asking myself an important question, “Why do I do what I do?” My experiences and decisions during the economic crisis changed me—in both positive and negative ways. It was an important time for introspection.
This was when I was introduced to the psychographic assessment industry—otherwise known as “personality testing.” It started with the more popular assessments such as Myers-Briggs and StrengthsFinder. But through deeper exploration, I discovered more obscure yet accurate personality frameworks. My picture of self-awareness started coming together one puzzle piece at-a-time.
I had several “Aha!” moments through the hours of research, but there was something still missing for me. There seemed to be such a wide spectrum of opinions out there, from psychological to spiritual and cultural viewpoints, when it came to the human personality. I kept digging.
This is when I began dabbling in creating my own personality test trying to improve on what I was learning. I couldn’t help myself. It’s naturally who I am. I began testing my ideas on any pour soul that would agree to be subjected to my crazy ideas around the end of 2009.
Months later, as I continued my personal experimentation, I read the book Drive: The Surprising Truth of What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink. I was introduced to the concept of intrinsic motivation and Self-Determination Theory. This opened up an entire new avenue of social science to explore. The power of intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation was a no-brainer to me. But now I had the contemporary research to back it up.
I quickly realized that, at least to me personally, the most effective psychographic frameworks, touched on intrinsic motivation. Yet I could not find any specific assessments or systems (outside of paying thousands for training and certification that is) that really encapsulated what I was looking for.
This is when my previous “Aha!” moments turned into “Aha!” ideas, which eventually morphed into an entire “Aha!” vision.
I decided to combine all my research of personality tests and intrinsic motivation into one consolidated framework that could be used to solve my personal and professional problems.
You see, by this time I had become the executive director for a socially responsible business conglomerate. This meant I experienced daily management challenges, especially when it came to the differences between generations—Baby Boomers, Generation X (where I fall) and Millennials (also known as Generation Y).
It was also during this time, I was still working through my previous business failure. Therefore advancing MDNA was also a form of self-therapy. I’m convinced it saved my marriage and helped raise our children through the negative circumstances.
Part of my social business portfolio was taking teams of volunteers, most of them complete strangers, down to third world countries for humanitarian relief projects. As you can imagine, this presented an even different set of challenges where a personality framework to make decisions would be quite useful. In fact, it was the experience of a complete breakdown in social dynamics between me and our team during one trip to Nicaragua that provided more than ample motivation to refine MDNA as a tool.
It’s been inspiring to see how MDNA has impacted others, especially knowing that MDNA was birthed as a result of my own emotional pain and financial turmoil. I learn something new every time I use MDNA with a client or project. I talk to users every day and ask them how MDNA can solve their own problems. I’ve had the tremendous blessing of collaborating with researchers, thought leaders, associates and close friends, to help the “Aha!” vision become a reality.
~ Ed Kang
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