Thursday, March 31, 2005

Erin "Depoted Home"

Well, Erin's ego finally did her in. The latest episode had the teams creating a product that they could demonstrate at Home Depot in a "do it yourself" class. Angie was the Project Leader for Net Worth and Craig for Magma. Craig had an idea for creating a box that you could personalize and his team really thought he was crazy. They offered almost no emotional support and little help in building the prototype for the demonstration. They mostly laughed or commiserated about what the results would be. Once Tana caught a little of the vision in how to make it something that could involve kids, things caught on fire and the class proved to be a wonderful hit.

Angie, on the other hand, opted to go with a suggestion for a kitchen cart. The problem was constructing it was so difficult for the team itself that they couldn't make it look easy. The team supported Angie for the most part, except for Erin. Erin placed herself above it letting everyone know from the beginning that she wouldn't set foot in a Home Depot, because it isn't a place for beauty queens and cheerleaders like her. She made no effort to learn and it rubbed on the rest of the small team--Stephanie, Chris and Angie. So when the class bombed because Chris couldn't even build the cart let alone encourage others to build it, the blame game began.

Here's where things got hot. Erin wasn't about to let anyone try to blame her and get her fired. She sharpened her advocacy skills to attack Chris and Angie relentlessly in front of Trump in the boardroom. Chris' anger erupted again, particularly when Erin brought up his tobacco chewing and immaturity. Sparks were flying. Chris' color is hard to determine because he seems docile but when the heat is turned up, he becomes a negative Red and attackes and screams andalmost foams at the mouth.

Erin brought that side out in the boardroom. Erin is red through and through. Most everyone was tired of her ego and prima donna attitude and her moment had come. What Erin did to defend herself was attack Chris--an easy target who already is on Trump's bad side because of his tobacco chewing and his eruptions. She almost had succeeded even though Chris really wasn't to be blamed for the defeat in the Home Depot challenge. One egotistical stupid comment and a wink to Trump in the presence of George and Carolyn did her in. Carolyn couldn't believe the blatent overture to urge Trump to disregard the advice of his two key assistants not to fire Angie. Once she did, her fate was doomed.

What to learn from this. Another lesson for Reds not to overplay their hands. They are deft at pouncing on weaknesses in others and in defending themselves most of the time. Their ego unfortunately misguides into believing they don't need to let up. Erin thought her supposed beauty could be the deciding factor instead of pointing out how weak Chris has been and will continue to be so Trump could see the value of essentially getting the obvious over with--Chris being fired. There's no way on earth Trump is going to let Chris govern one of his businesses and Erin could have played to that logic and won, but she pounced on Angie knowing it would divide Trump from George and Carolyn. The ego made her make unwise strategic decisions and so she suffered the ignominious fate of the lone cab ride out of the picture.

Focus on where the weakness is. Don't overplay your hand and don't make yourself such an obvious target to begin with by claiming that working on a project with any diligence is beneath you.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

The Apprentice--Charity Fundraiser

As I indicated last week, John had lost a lot of political capital from his war with Audrey the prior week. This new week started out with changes in team personnel. Stephanie and Erin joined Net Worth and Tana and Craig joined Magma. Chris was chosen to be Net Worth's project leader and Kendra was elected to be Magma's project leader because neither had been it before.

The teams were assigned to do a charity fundraiser on TV and they had access to a group of star musicians to use for their charity auction. Chris assigned John, Erin and Stephanie to negotiate with the musicians. Kendra asked Tana and Craig to negotiate.

John essentially took over on the negotiations despite Stephanie's and Erin's efforts to participate. Reds like to be in charge and they fall in love with their own ideas. That can lead to their own downfall. Reds are not inclined to ask for input particularly when they have concluded they are the strongest on their team. John thought his music background and his macho approach was perfect for his assignment so he came into the meetings with each of the three musicians with ideas already for what they could do for the auction. John's confidence and arrogance even kept him from asking the musicians for their input. Erin's and Stephanie's ideas were ignored if offered, so it became all about John.

When in the Board Room, John defended himself by saying that Erin and Stephanie should have told him if they thought they had better ideas, but John never really was open to their ideas even if they had offered them, because he fell in love with his own. That is what Reds need to watch out for in business. They try to reach a decision quickly. They are more inclined to act on what they came up with or at least what they think they came up with. They tend to get locked into a certain direction despite the fact that they have not had enough input from others as to their ideas and their challenging of the Red's ideas. Reds can act like a steamroller moving ahead with their own strategy. When things fall apart, Reds may then look to their team members and blame them for not having offered something different, oblivious to the reality that they would not have accepted the other strategies, even if they had been offered. That is what happened to John.

John had already burned bridges with Angie and he was ready to cut off Chris, his biggest ally. He immediately lost favor with Erin and Stephanie, so he had no political capital left with his team. He was alone trying to defend himself from being fired.

Chris is an interesting story. He handled the TV appearance very well as a Yellow can. He delegated the negotiations to John, Erin and Stephanie. That decision proved fateful but when cornered in the Board Room by Trump's assistants, Chris came out swinging and it almost proved to be his own demise. By calling himself the best negotiator of the team, which he wasn't, he was in a corner. Why then didn't he maximize the chances of winning by negotiating. His answers were weak. He would have had a better outcome if he said that he thought the three he assigned were solid negotiators and he had confidence they could do their part. His strength was better utilized in creating the actual show. It was his strength.

The episode illustrated how our behavior changes under stress. Chris became more red when he was cornered and he turned to self preservation even if it meant sacrificing John, who he thought was his ally and friend.

Tana seems Red but she knew better how to play to the egos of the musicians. She was adept and creative in coming up with the best use of the musicians and pushing the envelope. Her Mary Kay background as the top sales person had prepared her well. She knew how to close the deal and get the most out of the assets she was given. She demonstrated how powerful a positive Red can be. She was manipulating the musicians but in a subtle way. It worked.

Tana will be hard to beat if she keeps this up.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

The Apprentice--Miniature Golf Episode

Well, it is amazing how things can change in just a couple of weeks. Net Worth was invincible three weeks ago and now it seems in shambles. Magma went from divisive to cohesive in that same time span and now share a lot of smiles, jokes and laughter. Stephanie, the Red Project Manager, and the Magma team worked together and came up with a great result. She let Kendra and Erin take charge of the marketing after embracing their ideas and they really made the difference. Stephanie was an example of great Red leadership this week. Having won the Harlem Grafitti project took the edge off of the personality conflicts and internal warfare of prior weeks.

The "Clash of the Titans" this week was between John and Audrey on NetWorth. There were major sparks from the beginning of the episode and it reached a full scale eruption in the boardroom at the end.

Let's start at the beginning after Audrey returned from the boardroom with Craig. She started sharing with Angie her troubled past, but John has no sensitivity to other's feelings. He marched out onto the balcony while Audrey was spilling her guts and he was not about to leave, even when asked to do so.

John made very clear how he did not like Audrey and many of the others were not fond of her either. Audrey resented John but was determined to show how valuable she was to the team. Her way of showing it was to offer to take on the role of Project Manager. A few opted to support her right away but John did not, showing not only by his words but also by his body language (turned away from Audrey even as he spoke to her) that he did not want anything to do with her.

Audrey was strident in her determination to be Manager; John offered to have Chris instead. Then he relented. Why?

John is Red. He sees things as black and white and win/lose. John did not want to give up power to someone he did not trust because (a) she did not seem competent in past projects and (b) she seemed too emotional and unpredictable. Her arguments did not convince him otherwise, but John saw how the others were leaning Audrey's way and Chris, his nomination, didn't step up to the plate to offer himself as a better alternative. What to do? Go along with it and cover his flanks.

Chris has been easily manipulated by John and is not a Red. He seems reluctant to stand up to the plate or even to Trump, but he will be an ally with John and Craig when they need him. At this point Chris is probably an Aqua or Yellow. He did put on the clown suit first when Audrey asked while John was defiant.

From the beginning, John, Craig and Chris were not committed to success even though each was delegated certain responsibilities. John knew that the more he got involved in directing a substantial portion of the project, the more he was exposed. So John, Craig and Chris asked Audrey to tell them what to do. Chris did not seem able to think for himself. When John told him to talk to Audrey, that is what he did. It was all well planned to cut off Audrey at the knees, but the plan almost backfired because of John's arrogance and abrasiveness. His ego almost caused him to be fired and that is what Reds can do to themselves in a turf war. They can be so focused on "burying" the fellow "team member" that they undercut their own stature with the rest of the team.

This is what John did. "I am going to go into the boardroom and bury her". "She thinks this is the Clash of the Titans but it is like a lion swatting at a gnat." John thinks he knows how to wage political battles--hit them directly and hit them hard. That is the Red style. But his attitude and his condescending remark about Audrey being a "22 year old girl" turned off Ashly(sp?), Trump's assistant. His full on frontal assault certainly didn't get him any points with Tana and Angie. John escaped the guillotine. Audrey's immaturity, lack of leadership and her bringing in Angie probably sealed her fate. Trump saw her as the weaker of the two.

Reds are often blinded by the collaterol damage from their battles with others in the business world. They may beat the "opponent" but lose the support they need from all those who saw how this opponent--a fellow team member, boss or subordinate--was brought down. We shall see how much political capital John lost from what he perceived to be a victory.

So what is Audrey? She revealed a very tough childhood, which can really skew behavior. If her parents rejected her for who she was, she may have adopted a different personality to be accepted by them and by others. Many assume a Red personality in the workplace because they believe it is necessary for them to survive and succeed. Ultimately, it won't do the trick because these people send off mixed messages about who they are. Audrey tries to act Red but doesn't pull it off.

Audrey's parents were in prison by the time Audrey was in her early teens and Audrey even had to live in a car according to what she shared with Angie. Having that background definitely can cause authority issues. She resents anyone treating her "like a child" or anyone giving her any orders whatsoever.

If she was born a Yellow, she has lost most of it. She has to prove her value to the world--that she is something other than a pretty face--but she knows her beauty has opened doors. Her final comment in the cab showed some smugness that Trump thought she was beautiful.

Audrey likes to delegate and have those she has delegated responsibility to take care of their duties without having her make the decisions. She really did not seem to enjoy making decisions and preferred to have them write down what they had done during the day instead of having them take action. Reds like to delegate, but they take over if the person with the assigned responsibility doesn't perform. Blues don't like to delegate and don't do it well, but they usually take the project back over because no one can quite do it as well as they think they can. Aquas probably would not have caused the turmoil she caused up to that point with her teammates. So Audrey is not Aqua. That leaves Red or Blue and she behaves at times inconsistent with both colors.

In the boardroom, Audrey said, "I feel that this is what leaders are supposed to do." Reds rarely use the phrase "I feel". those are wasted words. Better stated by a Red: "This is what leaders are supposed to do." Audrey sought solace from Angie after they lost and before the final boardroom decision about whether she had delegated things ok. Audrey did not show strong leadership so I would have to say Audrey is a Blue trying to be a Red and not doing to well at it.

Reds are normally not inclined to expose themselves, which she did with Angie and Chris out on the balcony. That is unless what is shared is designed to get more power or influence over those with whom you share.

When Audrey campaigned for Project Manager, she affirmed how she "is in the business of business"--a Red comment; however, her indecisiveness when John and Chris asked her whether to work on the greens or do the marketing does not show a Red strength but a Blue or Aqua weakness. A tough childhood may have undermined her self confidence as well as her knowing that John and Chris were posturing to make her take the fall if they lose. So that too could have made her hesitate.

People are rarely a pure breed in any one color. Most all of us are blends. Audrey seems to be a blend between Red and Blue; I would venture that her primary color may be Blue, but her childhood likely has her trying to be something she is not. She has taken on a lot of Red to survive. What lies beneath the surface? Probably a wounded Blue trying to be Red to show her worth to others.

Now, the question is how many bridges has John burned? Some may admire his "in your face" power attitude. But others probably lost respect for John going over the top to "bury Audrey" We shall see.

So if you were Audrey and you knew from the outset of being Project Manager that John didn't want you there and probably wasn't on board, what should you do. This issue is what leaders confront all the time when one of the team members, usually a Red, shows open defiance or hostility to your leadership.

Do not put him in a key role. Recognize that he will likely not perform well what he has been asked to do so don't put him in a position that will sabotage the success of the project. Angie and Tana could have been assigned the marketing. Let John do a more menial task or something that she could supervise. If he refuses to perform, let him be isolated in his rebellion and move forward with the rest of the team. He may likely hang himself or start to cooperate.

Should Audrey have waited to try to take charge as the Project Manager. It was a calculated gamble. She could spend the time on the project building up trust by hard work and doing the best at what she was assigned to do so she could get back in the good favor of the other team members. On the other hand, another project manager who was intent on getting her off the team could have put her in a role that would achieve that agenda. Regardless, Audrey probably would have better chance to control her destiny by doing her best under another project manager other than John. That is what I would have done in her position because the key for me as a leader is to have some trust level established before I take the role. This process doesn't allow for me to get the trust over time as a leader. It is a one shot deal so I would not take charge until I knew I had some political capital with most of the team members.

Until next time, be yourself. Everybody else is already taken.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Colors at a glance

In my first post, I talked about Reds and Blues. So what does it mean and how many colors are there. This post will answer the questions. Feel free to contact me if you want to know more or to take the test yourself.

Everyone is born with one of four innate “personality groups” or “temperaments.” There are infinite variations of personalities within these four broad groups, but you, me and everyone we know or ever came in contact with, has a pivotal driver or drivers that literally “color” how we see and react to the world around us. I choose, as others have, to categorize these temperaments by colors because colors work better than animals (e.g., lions, peacocks, koalas, and owls), characteristics (e.g. driver, analytic, amiable and expressive), acronyms (e.g., Meyers Briggs—“ENTP”), directions, planets or other concoctions.

Colors influence how we feel and react. Our pivotal drivers do also. Colors are also more neutral than other means to categorize personalities. Being identified by a color can be liberating because it does not carry the weight of being linked to an animal, fish, planet, direction or single trait (e.g. analytic) you don’t like or to an abstract acronym that quickly loses its meaning.

The most powerful reason for using colors here is that each temperament resonates with the color chosen for it. I have not yet encountered an exception to this rule.

Each personality color has its strengths and its weaknesses, its needs and its way of communicating with and relating to others. The four color/personality groups are Red, Aqua, Yellow, and Blue. I sometimes will identify each personality group by using a trait that typifies that group: Powerful Red, Peaceful Aqua, Optimistic Yellow and Personable Blue. However, such traits are not intended to embody each of the personality groups. Rather, using such adjectives might help you remember the personality type that goes with each color.

REDS have high energy and are driven to make things happen and to take charge. They are doers and value themselves based on what they achieve. (Have you noticed that all power ties are …red?) . Reds focus on efficiency and results above the process or the people involved. Reds value competence and confidence, in themselves and in others.

AQUAS, akin to calm seas, want peace in their lives. They love to take time to reflect and “to go with the flow”—at their own pace and in their own way. Aquas value objectivity and independence and speak in softer tones and less often. They are naturally kind and tolerant of others and are the most prone to flow into the other colors by identifying with those who are not of their personality group.

YELLOWS are of sunny disposition and optimistically embrace life. They love excitement and stimulation and are open to the changes life brings. Yellows are spontaneous and value the freedom to do what they want to do when they want to do it. They are creative, out-of-the-box thinkers who warm up to and enjoy communicating with all types of people.

BLUES thrive on order and structure and love to relate to others at a deep level. Blues yearn to be “true blue”—honest and genuine to the core and to perform flawlessly. Blues feel blue when they fall short of their own expectations. Blues are more cautious in getting to know and trust others, but once they do, they will stay loyal to the end with those who have shown themselves worthy of the Blues’ trust.
The temperaments connect deeply, perhaps even at a cellular level, with their respective colors.

You'll get a better sense of each color as I talk about certain famous personalities and reality shows.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

The Apprentice--Harlem Graffiti episode--The "Red" Weakness Exploited

This is my first post--devoted to understanding what happened to Tara and the rest on the Apprentice and why. When the episode began, Magma had a losing streak going and were down to 5 team members. Net Worth was on a hot streak. The episode did not cover how each selected their project managers but Alex, an apparent "Blue", was chosen to lead Magma and Tara, a "Red", was chosen to lead Net Worth. Both had their weaknesses exposed but one was able to overcome his by turning to a strength and acting on it.

Tara leaked "Red" from the beginning. Reds like their own ideas and like to take credit for them. Once they have their idea in mind, it is hard for them to take anything in because they think they are right and everyone else does not know as much. This was particularly true with Tara who thought she knew Harlem better than anybody. She even commented at the beginning about how her street smarts about the people and the culture of Harlem makes her the favorite.

Tara formulated the idea even before she met the Playstation executives. She was confident and took in the information about how they wanted to attract the male hip group from 20-34 with the new game. Her focus then became doing something that would not offend the audience's sensitivities--the audience being those who lived in Harlem rather than what would sell the product. That stayed her focus throughout. She was decisive and had the vision. Those are Red strengths. Unfortunately the Red weaknesses proved to be her downfall.

At the beginning Audrey mentioned to her about the current software having all sorts of scenes, not just New York. She did not take it in. She wanted the art to express Harlem changing from mean to something newer and better--epitomized by the brownstone buildings in her graffiti mural. She was convinced she already knew what the people of Harlem wanted but she never checked it out with those living there to see if her idea would motivate them to buy the new product. Tara lost focus of the purposes of her mission--to sell the new game to the Harlem audience.

You hear Tara with enthusiasm state: "My vision right now is . . ." Sony "needs to show respect to the people here." "The last thing Sony needs is something they'll have a problem with." Her focus then became how best not to offend the people of Harlem rather than how best to motivate people in Harlem to buy the product.

Trump's visit and comments even increases her confidence such that when the Playstation executives come to see the mural, Tara uses the first person in taking credit for all that was done. "I did this . . ." I came up with this new slogan--Tear It Up" The slogan was hip jargon but it had nothing to do with the product. It was all about her and not her teammates. Her teammates sensed it but saw how strong she had been in working with them with prior projects so all but Craig wanted to kick off Audrey.

Here is the Red strength turned into a weakness: Her complete confidence in her vision became her Achille's heel because she really did not turn to other input to come up with a better idea. She didn't ask bystanders for their thoughts as to the effect of the vision. It was really interesting that one of the focus group felt that the vision really didn't represent the people of Harlem. Trump emphasized and foreshadowed the whole thing when he indicated at the beginning how important it was to listen. You did not have to go along but you at least needed to find out what you don't know about it.

What you saw was a great illustration of the urge for Reds to reach a decision as soon as possible. They can't dally and wait for all the information to come in. It drives them crazy not to decide and move ahead.

The other Red weakness that helped cause Tara to get fired was the selfishness. When you don't seek the input of your teammates, when you take credit for everything and move boldly ahead, then you may be engaging in self sabotage. Unless you have built up some credits from past experience, the team members may let you hang yourself and that is what seemed to happen here. There is no sense that anyone dared question Tara on her vision.

Alex, on the other hand, took a Blue approach to leading the team. He listened to input from all the sources and waffled in indecision for awhile. Of course, Stephanie, a Red, didn't like that at all and it looked as if Magma was about to crash again because someone could not come up with a direction. The indecisiveness of the Blue was being exposed.

Alex then turned to a great Blue strength. Get the input of those who were there. He recognized he didn't know the mindset of Harlem residents and none of those on the team could identify with it either, so he went to the experts to get the answers--the prospective customers. That one act proved to be the pivotal moment because once they gave him direction, even the creativity of the team started to ignite. Bren came up with the idea about the fist with the money in it and Alex embraced it. The Blue listened and that skill helped him win.

Alex showed his "Blueness" again when he commented how he would show Trump that their ideas were better followed up with a comment about making a few "Hail Marys". Alex did not have the same confidence as Tara, yet he proved to be the winner by listening to others who knew better. That is what all business leaders need to do to be successful. If they fall in love too much with their own vision without affirmatively seeking feedback to get many different perspectives, they will ultimately be compromised in their leadership.

Away from the teammates, Alex was critical of them. He expressed at the beginning of the episode how he wanted Stephanie off--why? Because he clashed with her "know it all" critical attitude. Only when she returned from the Boardroom in tears and with shades of humility and vulnerability did Alex soften and the rest of the team take her back in the fold. Stephanie took in the feedback and decided to learn from it. The question is whether that attitude will remain or will her Red determination to win cause her to stumble into arrogance, abrasiveness and self preservation.

You could tell that Trump wanted Tara to win--a fellow Red. Why would it take so long to meet with the Sony executives when it was so cut and dry in their mnds as to the winner? He really seemed to be rooting for her. It may have been a rouse but he did not know what the Sony Executives would say or the focus groups. Even at the end, he praised her saying she would go places. What he chose to do is apply the leadership principle of accountability by firing Tara--Tara would have taken all the credit for the win so she needed to take the responsibility for the loss. There wasn't enough evidence there to inculpate any other member. He knew it and he had to stick with it.

There are tough undercurrents in The Apprentice. Your teammates want to win but they also want not to be fired if they lose so many strategize how best to have the Teflon coating so that nothing sticks. That may include letting the team leader go with their ideas because it is safer than coming up with something else, having the leader adopt it and losing with that concept.

Tara assumed the leadership mantle but it is too bad she chose to assign the blame to others when her concept failed. A great leader takes responsibility for the mistakes and fully gives credit to others for the successes. Tara had to bring in two people and she chose the two who supposedly withheld information. Audrey, in fact, did not. Tara just wasn't listening. Even if John had repeated the same information, she probably would not have changed her concept. Tara's mind was set and when it is set for a Red, it is highly unlikely it would be open to change based on the information she thought was withheld. Her focus again was on not having Sony offend the sensitivities of Harlem residents. Changing to add more scenary for the road would not coincide with her purpose for the graffiti mural.

Trump probably understood that so he saw no basis for firing anyone but Tara.

Audrey is a potential time bomb. She has authority issues and doesn't seem willing to follow. She emphasizes how she had to take care of herself from age 13 and that Craig has children and she is not going to be treated like one of his children. What color is she? Because she seems to have some psychological issues, that masks her true color. She certainly has an issue with her parents and assumes that when certain people, maybe everyone, tell her to do something, she doesn't have to listen. She refuses to be ordered around. Stay tuned to see if that proves her downfall. The scenes from the next episode seems to suggest a meltdown. I use this color to write about her because I am not sure what is her true color--Red, Blue, Aqua or Yellow

If you are interested in knowing more about the personality colors I refer to or in taking the Personality Cues Profile to see what color you are, feel free to contact me at Until next time... Be who you are. Everybody else is taken.