Surrounded by Idiots by Thomas Erikson

Published by Tim Levey on 24 February 2020

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Even before the advent of the internet and smartphones, there was evidence that business books could be bought but then sat on a shelf and were never read and only a small proportion of them were ever finished. In today’s busy world that is even more the case. Add to that the feeling that most business books could be boiled down to a very good magazine article and it made sense for me to think about doing some brief “smartphone friendly” book reviews. Short, but just long enough to give the reader the flavour of what was being covered, so that you can decide whether you should buy and see if you can get to the end of it…

What made me read this?

I have been carrying round some Insights coloured cards for many years and using them every so often to understand people better.  More recently I have seen a very short questionnaire which attempts to place you in one of the four categories.

What’s the Big Idea?

There are 4 basic personality types; Dominant (Red); Inspiring (Yellow); Stable (Green) and Analytical (Blue).  80% of people have a combination of two of these which dominate their behaviour.  Just 5% have one colour and the other 15% will have 3 colours.  There will be people who match your colour who you understand and can relate to, but there are also other combinations in people where you think they are “idiots”, but they aren’t at all – they’re just different.

Best quote

“Behaviour patterns are like a toolbox.  All types are needed.  Depending on the occasion, a tool can sometimes be right and sometimes be wrong.  A thirty-pound sledgehammer is great for tearing down walls, but it’s hardly the thing if you want to hang a picture in the foyer.”

Key learning 1

Reds are stressed performance seekers, Yellows are creative bon vivant people, the Blues are perfectionist Knights of the Excel spreadsheet and the Greens are the most balanced.  If we were all Red then there would be nobody to lead..

Key learning 2

The Christmas party can change the way that people would behave in a work environment.  Yellow people do not need alcohol to be the life and soul, but it does make them quieter.  Blue people come out of their shell and will engage in animated conversations like never before.  Reds quieten down and can apologise for their brusque behaviour, while the Greens can speak up and give the Reds a piece of their minds.  Everything goes back to normal on Monday..

Key learning 3

If you can’t really analyse someone, then go Green, be quiet and listen to them.  Even a person who is passive will exhibit some form of behaviour, but they will probably be Blue.


To explore these ideas at a deeper level, you can get your own copy of the book on Amazon.

And contact me if you want a copy of the questions that will indicate what colour you might be.

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