How Your Color Should Approach the New Year

January 2nd, 2017

Happy New Year! For your Color, there are definitely some things you should consider for this coming year:

Blues: Let go of the guilt of not being perfect, and the constant wondering if you’ve done enough. You have – you’ve done your best, and that’s perfect enough. And while you’re letting go: Forgive others (as well as yourself) AND forget. You don’t need more of an explanation than that, do you? Make this a year you’ll take better care of yourself, before you take care of everyone else. Choose to not make that seem selfish, or make you feel guilty. You love self-development, and this is the big one for you! That’ll help make it a year of inner peace, giving from a full (rather than empty) cup, and lessen the need for a lot of the comfort food when chocolate becomes your best friend…

Greens: Even the most introverted people do need to get out of the house or their office more often – make this the year. Make a little more time for the people in your life. Appreciate their gifts, and tell them that you value and appreciate them – don’t just think it – that doesn’t help. Spend some of your thinking time on what behaviors can have a negative impact on people and resolve to change them, and start with being more cognizant of your Green face.

Oranges: You live in a world of ideas and action. When you feel stagnant, stop a minute and think of all the things you DO have happening as they’d make other Colors dizzy. As you’re charging head first into the New Year with 50 ideas and all the changes you want to see, remember that others don’t function at your speed. It can all happen, but not at the speed of Orange. Then decide if having a little more patience (even just counting to 10) is worth it, in order to make it happen. Lastly, perhaps you can take a few days to wrap up some of the dozens of things you have on the go. It’ll give you the “room” to start new ideas and projects if you set a deadline for yourself to get x number of “last year things” that are semi-dead, half done, or almost done, out of your hair.

Golds: OK, take a deep breath and get into the moment more often. You’re constantly thinking about the next whatever and thus spend very little time in the “now.” Think back on everything, every day, that you DO accomplish, instead of the negativity of what still needs to be done. You’re extremely hard working, but be aware of some of the negative habits that impact your life around others. One would be to learn to not reply “yes, but…” to almost every new idea or change? Could you (that should read: would you, because you certainly can…) learn to love every new idea for at least a minute? And if that seems possible, could you also test-drive asking for help the odd time before you burn out or become stressed? YOU love to help others, why not remember that the other three Colors also love to help for their own Color reasons. News flash: It’s not a sign of weakness.

Cultivating a Respectful Work Environment

January 2nd, 2017

A senior manager in the Federal civil service was kind enough to give me an interesting report recently. It’s a review on how to cultivate a respectful work environment. It’s very well sourced and powerful information for any company and team. Here are some of the highlights:

Disrespectful behavior is “disturbingly common” in the workplace. While everyone is familiar with the issue of harassment, incivility and disrespectful behaviors are just as destructive. They’ve become more commonplace, and can undermine and erode the culture of a team as well. Part of the reason is that they may be much more frequent, taken less serious, perceived as ‘normal,’ or thought of as acceptable conduct. Or is that just being hyper-sensitive? That’s for you to decide.

What’s included in that definition? Demeaning remarks, taking credit for someone else’s work or ideas, questioning someone’s judgment, taking behind people’s back, not turning off cell phone, or maybe doubting someone’s motives, judgments, or intention. Beyond that, the report suggested more negative behaviors of blaming versus taking responsibility, texting during meetings, hiding behind emails, forgetting the basics of please and thank you, or talking down to someone.

94% of people responded that they’ve been on the receiving end of many of these. What’s worse is that most don’t differentiate between the “offender” and their company. They see their employer as a willing accomplice. And that impacts performance when two-thirds admit it declines when exposed to these behaviors. 25% of people even admit they take it out on clients or customers! If these truly are, or should be, thought of as a problem, there’s a measurable impact when they don’t happen.

So-called “respectful teams” have 26% more energy, and are 30% more likely to be enthusiastic. 36% say their job satisfaction increases and 44% are more engaged and committed to their company.

The report specifically discusses the downside to emails and the risk for miscommunication. To translate that into Colors: The large group of Blues can more easily interpret a benign message in a negative light. Yup – nothing replaces face to face conversations. In broader terms, the motives of different Colors can be interpreted very differently. The downside is that sometimes perception can be reality.

Employees look to their leaders and managers to set the tone and to get their sense and direction of “how things work around here.” Or in the words of Russian novelist Leo Tostoy: “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one things of changing himself.”

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Colors quiz answers: Blue – Gold – Green – Orange

Hubby May Not Be Green

January 2nd, 2017

Quite often during the Colors seminar, a Blue lady shares with me that her husband is a high Green. Makes sense, as opposites attract, but not so quick in this case. When I asked her a few casual conversational questions, the answers were kind of unusual:

So hubby must be happy that he gets this night alone at home? No, not really…

He doesn’t want any alone time? No, he wants to be around people all the time…

Do you phone him during the day and he wouldn’t rather you text him? No, he wants me to call him all the time…

But he doesn’t usually talk much, does he? No, he does…

At that point I gave up. Those are four broad Green values and hubby seems to fit none of them. Or does he? Your behaviors are not your Colors, but some broad strengths and preferences tend to be present in most people of each Color. Perhaps her husband’s non-Green behaviors apply only to his relationship with his Blue wife. That would be awesome, because every relationship at work or at home, with your kids, or managing staff, is “let’s make a deal” in honoring someone of another Color and their “language.”

Christmas and Charitable Giving

November 14th, 2016

Each Color has very different values and motivators when it comes to donating to a charity. You’ll see and hear different radio and TV ads for specific charities that attempt to target a specific audience. Some do it very well, some are a horrible waste of money. But that interpretation can depend on which Color is doing the judging. Sometimes all Colors also unite behind a cause in spite of the fact that evidence keeps showing their very high administration and salary budgets, and very small amount actually going to their cause.

Oranges value their gifts targeting projects or causes that are innovative and big or audacious. They look for something out of the ordinary that’s bold and daring. Donating to what everyone else contributes to has limited appeal to them. Sure, they’ll donate when there’s a need, but it should also stand out and do something different. When they find something they can get behind and get excited about, they can write the big check. Don’t forget that 60% of entrepreneurs are Orange, so they have access to their money and control their company’s donations, too. One great example is the Clinton Initiative started by Orange former U.S. President Bill Clinton and its work in Africa.

Golds tend to want their gift to go to a charity that has credibility and a long-term track record. They really don’t want to reinvent the wheel. They look for substance over style and want to assure none of their money is wasted. They will often search the sites that list the percentages of admin versus the project. That drive made many Gold leery of the Red Cross after many stories of “re-directing” donations to new computer systems after 9/11 and their significant “trouble” in Haiti after the earthquake. Golds are also the largest group to attend church on a more regular basis. As a result, donating or tithing to their church keeps the money in their community, and lets them “see” first-hand how it’s being spent or invested.

Blues, if given a choice, would rather help and become involved hands-on, instead of writing a check. That allows them to see and feel that they’re making a difference in more powerful ways: On the front line, instead of a check or in the boardroom. They want to help those who are hurting the most. In war they want to bring peace – with the wounded, they want to see healing. Their donations often go where their heart feels the most need. The downside is that they wish they could do more, and wonder if they’ve done enough. A big payday for Blues is to see the feedback, to see a youtube video of their donations in action, a newsletter follow-up, or progress report, and a thank you.

Greens are driven to support sustainable solutions and not quick fixes. It’s not so much about the latest plan of the month or the long existing “same-old” type charities. To Greens, some of the largest and well-established groups can seem to enable more than help. Green will never give someone a fish, but they’ll spend a huge amount of time, energy, and their money teaching someone to fish. Emotional appeals will have no impact on their donations – sorry. But if it’s innovative and nobody else is attempting to solve a fundamental need, they’ll get involved. The people with real money (Bill Gates) will create that environment in setting up their own foundation to be able to accomplish exactly what they believe in. Then the Gold Warren Buffet (and many others) became involved with it as well. One Canadian charity, Developing World Connections, became involved in Napal after the earthquake, but doesn’t do “tents and tarps.” They tell the locals that they won’t supply them, but will build them a new earthquake proof school and teach them innovative farming techniques to raise their incomes so THEY can support themselves.


The Green Search for Perfection

November 14th, 2016

It’s the common response: Asked at a job interview what his biggest weakness is, he pretends to think for a moment before answering, “I guess I’d say I can be a bit of a perfectionist.” The impression he’s giving is clear. Though he may sometimes be perceived as a bit negative, this is simply a byproduct of his excellent work. In other words, his weakness is actually a strength.

I am a writer, and lately my work has slowed to the point where I spend days rewriting the same sentence over and over. I believe the line will get better, and it does, but what is a reasonable amount of time to spend on a single sentence? Thirty seconds, two minutes, an hour? Certainly not a couple of days! And yet, though I know this to be true, once I’m locked in on it, a sentence isn’t just words and information, it’s an amorphous blob that must, under the threat of humiliation, be poked and prodded into absolute flawlessness before I can even think about moving on.

I’ve begun to think that I’d be a better, more successful writer if I was more willing to fail. Perfectionism affects every aspect of my life. It tells me, “no matter what happened in the past, you can validate it now by being perfect.” Why do I analyze something that, by the count of ten, will no longer exist?

Perfectionists’ relationships can suffer too. I also hold my girlfriend to the same brutal standards as I do myself. Which is wholly unfair…I want the world around me to be as perfect as I should be…

Happiness is a word for weak-minded people, for self-help gurus and “Please share this” Facebook posts. Consequently it’s a word I haven’t spoken aloud often, except to say I’ll have it when I’m perfect.

Even with this almost written, I still fear that I’ll break down and edit it until there’s nothing left… Excerpts from James Nolan post at

Colors & Christmas Prep Insights

November 14th, 2016

Candy cane lane is a ten block stretch of about 200 homes in West Edmonton, Alberta. Last year, all but 9 homes had their yards decorated for Christmas, most of them with pretty elaborate decorations. It’s a major attraction that draws tens of thousands of visitors each Christmas season.

Last year, Global Television did a story on Bobbie and Rob as they were getting ready to decorate. She wanted something realistic that could be accomplished by the deadline. Rob wanted something impossible that “puts me on the edge of divorce.” Our plan? Who knows what the plan is…”

Their kitchen table meeting to decided on a plan had Bobbie sitting there with a piece of paper and a pen, stressing that it was going to be a “zero budget”…while Rob was moving around the kitchen multi-tasking on other things.

Fast forward to the opening day of Candy cane lane: “Deadlines bring out the best in me,” shared Rob as he was finishing his giant snowman in the garage. This, at the exact time the Mayor was doing the opening ceremony and people started strolling down the street. “It’s not done yet! I need another hour…” while holding up two fingers to his wife. Then came the issue of the power load factor for his entire lit up display (think Christmas Vacation movie)…no worries…as Rob takes his 50th or so extension cord and uses his neighbors outside plugs…

While it’s doubtful that your Christmas preparations will be viewed by tens of thousands of people, there are some things you need to remember:

Don’t: Hassle an Orange that they’re not done present shopping way in advance. They work better under pressure, and your pushing them will stress you out (not the Orange) while accomplishing nothing.

Do: Know it’s OK to get a Green a gift card or cash. They want the perfect gift, and you don’t know what that could be. When in doubt, make it for Amazon, a bookstore, or large electronic retailer.

Don’t: Get a gift card or cash for Golds. They’ll likely be insulted that you had all year and still couldn’t come up with one personal gift. If you’re really stuck, head to Staples or the Container Store in the U.S. Remember that you’re buying for a Gold, and not your Color! And Gold women typically don’t want a kitchen gift. A gift for the whole family is not a gift for them!

Do: Start thinking about a gift for Blues that will touch their heart. Something sentimental would be a great place to start looking…but it’s the spirit of the season, too. One of the best gifts is often the gift of your time, your full attention, holding hands when out for a walk, or cuddling on the sofa. Quality time with them is a gift that will pay big dividends all year long.