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Here's what handwriting analysts say about the signatures of Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and 13 more successful people

You can learn a lot about people from looking at their signatures, two professional handwriting analysts say.
You can learn a lot about people from looking at their signatures, two professional handwriting analysts say. Business Insider
  • Handwriting analysts claim you can learn about someone's character by looking at their writing style.
  • We asked two of them to analyze the signatures of Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Oprah Winfrey, and other successful leaders.

Handwriting is like fingerprints: No two people have exactly the same.

Although handwriting analysis has plenty of detractors, experts in the field claim that one's handwriting can telegraph clues about their personality, work style, and psychological state.

Handwriting analysts are known as graphologists, and we asked two of them - Kathi McKnight and Elaine Charal - to analyze the signatures of 15 well-known business leaders and tell us what they saw.

Note that graphology isn't a foolproof method, and we have no way of confirming the personality suggestions below. Rather, take this exercise in the spirit it's meant: fun, and as a reminder that as you advance in your career, just about everything you do matters.

Here's what they said about the signatures of Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Oprah Winfrey, and other icons.

Tim Cook, Apple CEO

Tim Cook, Apple CEO
Wikimedia Commons

Elaine Charal: "Tim's illegible signature indicates he is a private person who is particular about who he allows close. The circling within his signature reflects a protective stroke that helps him admit only those to his inner circle that he can absolutely trust.

"His high capital letters indicate his strong level of confidence, his ambition and his promotional talent. The hooks at the end of each portion of his signatures are known as tenacity hooks that indicate that Tim will achieve whatever he sets out to do, and won't give up until every avenue has been explored; they also suggest that once he achieves something, it is his - he doesn't let it go."

Warren Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway CEO

Warren Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway CEO
Wikimedia Commons

Kathi McKnight: "The far right slant of this signature reveals a true extrovert who is sentimental about his friends and family and is prone to impulsiveness. Even the best billionaires amongst us can be impulsive.

"But he has the north-to-south running loop kick-starting the letter W in Warren, which reveals he will definitely take responsibility. He is a man of vision who can see the end result quickly. He will always be eager to get to the end game."

Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO

Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO
BI

McKnight: "The left slant of his first name shows someone who will need to pull away from the maddening crowd from time to time and withdraw to his cave for some introspection. The 45-degree angle of the final stroke in Bezos reveals he will come out with a new insight one that is full of courage and a philosophy that says, 'there are no problems, only solutions.'"

Charal: "The final stroke of his signature zooms upward, indicating optimism, ambition and an ability to 'shoot for the stars.' His signature moves up on his page, indicating his optimism."

Bill Gates, Microsoft founder

Bill Gates, Microsoft founder
Wikimedia Commons

McKnight: "There is no wimpy pressure in that T-bar crossing: He is determined! The closed (retraced) L's reveal he is no pie-in-the-sky dreamer but keeps a close check on reality.

"The open loop in the T reveals a sensitivity to sensitive to criticism so when engaging with him personally or professionally, choose your words carefully or he may take offense."

Bill Gates, Microsoft founder (second signature)

Bill Gates, Microsoft founder (second signature)
Wikimedia Commons

McKnight: "Any signature which includes the formal first name, middle initial and last name (and of course 'III') reveals a writer who adheres to social norms and customs and will also do what is expected of him. He is not easily talked into or out of things by the closed bottomed 's.' He takes much pride in himself and has fierce powers of concentration."

Charal: "Both of Bill Gates' signatures are legible, indicating he is very genuine. Both of Bill's t-bars are placed high on his t-stems, indicating he'll set high goals; both t- bars are firm, indicating his firm willpower. All of Bill's letter a's resemble o's, indicating he is someone who works hard and makes it appear easy."

Oprah Winfrey, media mogul

Oprah Winfrey, media mogul
Wikimedia Commons

Charal: "Oprah's dynamic initials indicate good self-confidence (high capital letters) as well as excellent self-image (wide capital letters). The needle point on her letter 'r' in her first name as well as the same stroke in her family name indicates sharp mental perceptions.

"The 'stick' stroke on her letter 'p' indicates her love of debate and discussion, and her love of being effective at making her point. Her letter 'a' in her first name is open at the top, indicating her love of sharing her ideas and thoughts with others."

Mary Barra, General Motors CEO

Mary Barra, General Motors CEO
Wikimedia Commons

McKnight: "Notice how the first name is legible and the last name is not and also notice there is great space between her names and middle initial. Give this woman the space she craves so she can be the genius that she is. Do not crowd her.

"There is both depth of character and thought with the deep wedges in her M. The 'Y' closes well before it reaches back up to the baseline showing she likes to associate with those with whom she feels a kindred spirit."

Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan Chase CEO

Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan Chase CEO
Wikimedia Commons

McKnight: "One cannot miss the towering first letters to Jamie Dimon's first and last name! The sign of a person who possesses an extreme sense of self, or healthy ego as it's also been called. His mind works like a steel trap as he writes with great speed. His mind works so fast his pen can barely keep up with his mind."

Charal: There is no i-dot in Jamie's family name. When this occurs in a mature, intelligent writing such as Jamie's, it is known as an 'executive type stroke' that indicates that Jamie delegates detail, is a quick thinker and is 'eager to get on with it.'"

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO
Wikimedia Commons

Charal: "The rounded top of the capital 'M' in Mark's first name suggests he will be patient and methodical when he is doing what he is interested and invested in. The mid-portion of his capital 'M' is suspended above the baseline, indicating Mark's ideas are visionary and that he will carve his own reality. The k-buckle at the end of his first name towers over the other letters - This is a 'defiant k' that indicates Mark will need to be his own authority figure."

McKnight: "Privacy is the name of the game with this signature. He guards his personal privacy as his own business."

Michael Bloomberg, Bloomberg LP CEO

Michael Bloomberg, Bloomberg LP CEO
Wikimedia Commons

Charal: "Michael's signature is all about speed; because his mind works so quickly, he will do best when he associates with those who are equally quick minded. All his letters connect, indicating his logical, sequential mind and his ability to solve problems. The final stroke of his 'l' in his first name plunges below his baseline, indicating his enduring determination."

Mark Cuban, investor and Dallas Mavericks owner

Mark Cuban, investor and Dallas Mavericks owner
Dallas Mavericks

McKnight: "The height of the letters show he places great importance on achievement and takes great pride in what he has accomplished. This man will never know the meaning of defeat, ever. The final ending stroke compounds this theme even further."

Charal: "Mark's signature is illegible, suggesting he is a more private person, no matter how outward his personality seems. His high capital letters indicates confidence and a healthy ego.

"The hook on his capital 'C' on his family name and the fact that it is leaning against the other letters is a protection that indicates no one will be entering that 'inner circle' unless Mark absolutely allows it. The final stroke of his signature zooms to the skies, indicating optimism, ambition and an ability to shoot for the stars."

Richard Branson, Virgin Group founder

Richard Branson, Virgin Group founder
Wikimedia Commons

Charal: "Richard's signature is vertical-slanted, indicating his poise, objectivity and ability to stay outwardly calm under pressure. His very high capital letters indicate his confidence and healthy ego strengths. His fully-looped 'h' in his first name indicates Richard's active imagination."

McKnight: "Large first letters to each name in a signature reveal a person with a strong sense of their own worth. The tiny letters that fall after show he has strong powers of concentration. The vertical slant reveals that Branson trusts his brain over his gut feelings. He is logical and practical in his business savvy."

Indra Nooyi, PepsiCo CEO

Indra Nooyi, PepsiCo CEO
PepsiCo

Charal: "The underscore beneath Indra's signature indicates her strong self-reliance. The hook at the beginning of this underscore is an acquisitive hook indicating her desire to acquire goals and ideas. The period after her name indicates her decisiveness. The two dots beneath her underscore is her sense of flair and showmanship."

"Her stick-like 'y' in her family name is known as a 'loner' stroke, and indicates she'll do her best work independently; it also indicates management and leadership ability."

McKnight: "The connected first and last name suggests that family is extremely important to her, despite the fact that the down stroke of the 'y,' which has no loop, reveals she simply must have time to herself."

Larry Page, Google co-founder and Alphabet CEO

Larry Page, Google co-founder and Alphabet CEO
Wikimedia Commons

McKnight: "Clear and easy to read, the signature is friendly and legible - meaning he's willing to let the public see who he is. 'Hands-on' in more ways than one, the flat tops of the r's show he works well with his hands and likes to invent things."

Charal: "Both his letter r's have flat tops, indicating his manual dexterity. The small loop in the 'y' of his first name indicates he will be very particular about his choice of close friends, even though he may know many people."

Barbara Corcoran, investor

Barbara Corcoran, investor
Fanmail/J. Madigan

Charal: "Barbara's signature is illegible, indicating she is a private person; the capitals in her signature are overwritten, which is a protective stroke to further keep people from entering her inner circle, unless she absolutely permits it. There is a subliminal dollar sign in her signature that indicates she is positively money-oriented. The final stroke of her signature zooms upward, indicating her ambition, optimism, and ability to 'shoot for the stars.'"

Jeff Immelt, former General Electric CEO

Jeff Immelt, former General Electric CEO
Wikimedia Commons

McKnight: "With 'steamroller' strokes in his handwriting, it's a definite indication that the only thing standing between him and what he wants, is … nothing! He goes after what he sets his sights and the 'tie stroke' in the last letter of his name shows he has the persistence to back it.

Charal: "The flat-bottom loop in the 'J' of Jeff's first name and the 'I' of his family name indicate his need to excel and to best his personal best.

"The star shape in the 't' of Jeff's family name indicates his tenacity: Jeff doesn't give up until every avenue has been explored."

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