Why You Should Care About Personality Self-Assessments

It’s not what you’re thinking.

When you spend as much time as I do researching leadership traits and taking leadership courses, you come to realize there is a personality self-assessment and framework for everything. From Myers Briggs to HBDI to Principle You, there’s an endless amount of ways to understand ourselves. The trick that no one tells you is that the self-assessments are NOT for you, it’s for the people around you. Taking these personality tests are only useful if there are people in your life to apply them to.

That’s not to say it’s not also critical you understand how you prefer to think and communicate. If you want greater success in life, it’s up to you to relate to others and, therefore, be flexible in how you think and talk in order to get others on board with you. If you’re the leader, you’ll have to meet them where they’re at, not the other way around. Foster your empathy for more success.

Lastly, I think in order to be recognized as an expert in this field, you must come up with your own gimmicky framework explanation with your own catchy system (Myers’ has 4 letter, HDBI has colors, Strength Finder has 34 identified strengths, Principle You has islands, etc.). That’s why today I’m proud to announce my own system based… but more on that later!

HBDI: Brain Dominance

I first used the HBDI almost 15 years ago. I’ve taken tons of self-assessments over the years (including Buzzfeed’s) and the fact that I still reference the HBDI must mean it’s made an impact. Why? I ‘think’ it’s because the simple framework has helped me understand my preferred way of thinking and what happens to it when I get stressed out.

In other words — I know how my brain thinks, how I prefer to communicate, and why others may not be getting me.

But first, here’s the quick primer on the 4 different modes of thinking:

BLUE: Analytical thinking

  • Key words: logical, factual, critical, technical, quantitative.
  • Preferred activities: collecting data, analysis, understanding how things work, judging ideas based on facts, criteria and logical reasoning.

GREEN: Sequential thinking

  • Key words: safekeeping, structured, organized, complexity or detailed, planned.
  • Preferred activities: following directions, detail-oriented work, step-by-step problem solving, organization, implementation.

RED: Interpersonal thinking

  • Key words: kinesthetic, emotional, spiritual, sensory, feeling.
  • Preferred activities: listening to and expressing ideas, looking for personal meaning, sensory input, group interaction.

YELLOW: Imaginative thinking

  • Key words: visual, holistic, intuitive, innovative, conceptual.
  • Preferred activities: looking at the big picture, taking initiative, challenging assumptions, visuals, metaphoric thinking, creative problem solving, long-term thinking.

Which one resonates with you the most? Chances are, that’s your primary, preferred way of thinking. Mine is yellow, big picture thinking. For example, I’m in the process of building a home and before I was able to make any decisions, I wanted to get all the quotes in so that I could see the “big picture” of all the costs, and then make decisions on what is most important to me.

The other cool thing HBDI does is it measures your preferred way of thinking under stress. For example, when you’re in a tense argument, what happens to the way you think? For me, I get higher on red, sensory and feeling. I hone in on how the other person is feeling and I use my emotions to help calm the situation. I don’t bother with logic, structure or big picture in those moments.

Principle You: Adam Grant Made his own Self-Assessment Tool… with Billionaire Ray Dalio

Let me next introduce a free new tool created by Adam Grant (organizational psychologist, multiple bestselling author, podcast host) and Ray Dalio (founder of Bridgewater Associates, author of bestseller Principles, super-rich) called Principle You. It’s 10 minutes of rating questions, then it spits out your thorough results. No gimmicks, no give me your email address if you want the results.

But to be honest, my point is not to say this tool is how we should live our life. Nope, it’s just another way to understand ourselves and, just as importantly, understand others.

So, here’s the graphic that explain how they’ve setup their framework.

What are your results, or maybe just look around the islands and if you’re being honest, which one would you get assigned to? For me, my results said I’m an Orchestrator, Commander, and Starfleet Captain. Just kidding about the Starfleet Captain, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Star Trek has their own personality assessment.

Now look around at the other islands. Chances are someone you know identifies with one of those. In practicing empathy, make a mental note to appreciate what those other styles bring to the table. As frustrating as it can be sometimes, there’s a positive aspect to each style.

“One key principle [Dalio] discusses is to “Be Radically Open-Minded”. He explains the importance of questioning your own beliefs, seeking out expert opinions from a number of relevant professionals, and really refusing to rely solely on your own interpretation and understanding of situations we are presented with.” — Winterowd [7]

That’s code for empathy. By staying open-minded, questioning what we think, that opens the mind to the possibilities of things we can’t imagine and haven’t experienced. That’s empathy.

Primal Astrology: Find Your Spirit Animal, Find Your Future Success

Next, we dive into the realm of horoscopes and astrology! Wait, what? “Isn’t Venture Out supposed to be backed by science and relatable personal experiences?” Yes, but we can also have some fun!

I was reading GQ’s cover story on Steven Yeun, probably best known for playing Glenn on The Walking Dead and now in the Oscar nominated Best Picture Minari. An increasingly fan of his, I enjoyed this little fun fact:

“Some of Yeun’s friends had told me, specifically, to ask the actor about his fondness for something called primal astrology. Primal astrology is a quasi-evolved version of its more popular zodiac cousin, with a little more spiritual razzle-dazzle — the main difference being that, instead of, say, Scorpios or Sagittarii, the birth signs are meerkats or bees. According to Primalastrology.com, the system is designed to help people “discover far, far more about your path in life than was previously possible” by combining their Eastern and Western zodiac signs along with “past lives” and “karmic balancing.” (According to a female colleague, “It sounds like astrology, but for dudes.”) Steven Yeun’s spirit animal is a camel — an assessment he agrees with.” [6]

@stevenyeun on @GQ

For me, I’m a Panda. “They are popular but loners, bears who don’t hibernate, carnivores that eat 99% bamboo, are territorial but don’t live in one place, are strong and potentially dangerous but shy away from confrontation. Humans born under the sign of the Panda share many similarities. Members of this sign tend to be popular but loners, want to go with flow but have to feel in charge of their own destiny, long to relax but are always working on projects, are ambitious yet uncertain, want to do things that help others yet are often self-focused, and have creative minds that are often focused on success and achievement.”

The takeaway is don’t take life so serious. Look up your spirit animal, vibe with it, and enjoy another interpretation of yourself. Then look up your significant others, best friend, or boss’s spirit animal. As trivial as it may sound, this is just another way to create empathy. In opening our minds to how someone else behaves, we begin to understand them better. And that’s empathy.

The Last Self-Assessment You’ll Ever Need

Finally, we’ve arrived at my own self-assessment survey. I’m proud to announce my own system based on the X-Men characters! The original X-Men has 7 members, so which one are you? I’m halfway joking, but read on to get in on the joke.

  • Professor X — Assembled a team to fulfill his vision, manipulates people as needed to make his vision come true.
  • Cyclops — Uncontrollable eye beams made it tough to make friends and thus became a loner, but a superb strategist.
  • Jean Grey — Telepathy to read other people’s mind, and influence them to do her bidding.
  • Wolverine — Passionate and heightened senses, lives in the moment.
  • Iceman — Literally chills and just has fun.
  • Angel — With wings, flies high and feel above others. Great success (and wealth) justifies that attitude.
  • Beast — Academic and researched, uses logic and evidence to make decisions.

Hopefully you can identify with one of those personalities, and better yet identify someone you know with them. The joke is that we could look at any framework and draw some interesting insights from it, about us and about others. In having fun trying to understand the people in our life, we put ourselves into their shoes just a little bit more and that makes a huge difference in relating to them. In the end, if we want what’s best for them and greater success for ourself, empathy is the key.

Ready To Level-Up?

If you want to have a better chance of achieving your goals, then check out my Epic Life Planning with a free downloadable tool. No catch, no gimmicks, just a step-by-step guide to help you obtain your unobtainium.


  1. Principles You
  2. Adam Grant and Investor Ray Dalio Just Created a Powerful Self-Assessment You Can Take for FreeWhat’s your archetype? By Minda Zetlin
  3. Ray Dalio Launches PrinciplesYou, a Free, Innovative Personality Assessment Backed by Best-in-Class Psychometrics
  4. Herrmann International Announces Release of the HBDI® App for iOS and Andriod Devices
  5. Flex Your Brain to Embrace Those Who Think Differently Than You Do by David Nour
  6. Steven Yeun’s New Frontier by Chris Gayomali
  7. Will Empathy Make Us Better Investors? By Paul Winterowd

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