When Barry tells people that he’s a clinical psychologist, he gets two rather interesting reactions. “Some people like to open up to me and share their personal problems straight away, while those at the other end of the spectrum are suspicious that I’m observing them too closely. It just shows how everyone is different.”
When asked if he has any of his own secrets to share, he declares that he’s an open book. “I’m pretty transparent,” Barry declares. “I don’t hide things.” However, there might be one exception. For a person who is constantly interviewing, assessing, coaching and presenting—including regular keynote speaking engagements—he’s not the natural extrovert you might expect. “At my core, I’m a naturally shy person,” he confesses. “In school, I would panic if the teacher called on me and I would never ask a question in class.”
Soccer, Squash and Soft Rock
There’s an athletic history to Barry that features soccer and squash. He was most accomplished as a soccer player, and though he still stays fit, he admits to missing the action of competitive sports. But he’s added one winter sport to his regimen since emigrating from South Africa to Canada five years ago. “I took up downhill skiing and became hooked. If I could be anywhere right now, it would be at a ski resort,” he confides.
To unwind, music is a great distraction for Barry. “It goes well with exercise, but also when I’m just sitting and relaxing.” Rock and soft rock classics are his go-to, including Elton John, Supertramp and Queen. “Speaking of Queen, I really enjoyed the Bohemian Rhapsody movie,” he notes. “Some interesting dynamics there.” Perhaps a little therapeutic intervention could have benefited the group?
How Many Psychologists Does it Take To…
Barry describes himself as a very family-oriented person. “My wife is a psychologist and has been a big influence on me both personally and professionally.” They have a son and a daughter in their twenties who are also embarking on their own careers. And yes, their daughter wants to go into psychology too! But let’s not forget their three dogs, who are also high-ranking family members, having made the trek with them from South Africa. “We’re seriously intense with our pets,” Barry asserts. They’re all different breeds with “their own personalities and needs for attention.” Is there psychotherapy for canines?
From Private Practice to the Corporate World
As Partner and founder of Circle & Square, Barry has adapted psychological theory to the demands of the corporate environment. He was previously a therapist in private practice and, though he found it challenging to transition into the corporate world, he concludes that people are people—whatever the context. “In work, there are often things going on behind the scenes. People can come to the office looking like they have it all together but they may be carrying a lot.” As Barry surmises, “Everyone has some significant challenges at some point in their life.”
Barry’s been with Farber for five years now and describes the firm as dynamic, respectful and entrepreneurial, yet cautious. “It’s a very human organization where people walk the walk.” He sees Farber’s 40-year history as providing depth and great foundations but that in some ways it’s like a 40-year-old start-up, “We’re constantly developing a range of entrepreneurial offerings that clients see as unique. Most firms, regardless of size, don’t have as many complementary lines of business as we do.”
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