There’s always something to howl about

Using the DISC system to understand the boys of Entourage

I’ve talked about the DISC system of personality profiling in past. I’m talking about it again, now, because I want to use it to discuss how we are going to build our ideal real estate team. For now, I just want to talk about thinking in a DISC-like way, using on-the-fly DISC analysis to evaluate and respond to the people you come into contact with.

Here are the four DISC categories:

Dominance; Influence; Steadiness; Compliance

That’s less than useful. Here’s a better way of understand what DISC is measuring:

D’s are drivers. They’re all about getting things Done. A high-D (c’est moi) can be a prick to work for (yeah), but every successful boss will have a lot of D in his personality.

I’s are all about Image, about the way other people perceive them, their accomplishments and their stuff. Many successful salespeople are strong on I traits.

S’s are strongly associated with family life and social communities generally. If your office has a Secret Santa gift exchange, it’s being run by an S.

C’s are associated with calculation, computation and a comprehensive attention to detail. If the till comes up three cents short, a D will toss in some coins to get on with business, but a C will keep counting and counting until the cause of the discrepancy is uncovered.

Here are two more axes for understanding DISC profiling:

D’s and I’s are about telling, where S’s and C’s are about asking.

And D’s and C’s are about process, where I’s and S’s are about people.

It would be terribly convenient (at least for me) if people fell neatly into one DISC quadrant or another, but of course they don’t. Some people are chameleons, with just about the same amounts of each characteristic. More commonly, people will tend to have one strong trait and another that is fairly strong, with the other two coming in less strong.

So, for example, in my own idealized self-image, I am all D and nothing else. But in the reality of day-to-day life, I am a high D with relatively high I-like tendencies — which you could guess just by reading this post. I want to hone this procedure, but I also want to talk about what we are doing.

I don’t know how other people deal with DISC. Cathleen and I have evolved a notation that looks like this: Di — high-D, strong-I, not much else. Cathleen turns out to be a Sd — the soccer-mom profile, expressing devotion to family and friends with highly-efficient procedures.

(Incidentally, if Cathleen were not such a high-S, I would very probably be a D for Divorced.)

Okay, so what about Entourage? I’ve mentioned that we like to watch the show, and we tend by now to DISC everyone we see, real or fictional. So here is a short run-down on the cast of the show:

Super-agent Ari Gold is a high-D, obviously, an off-the-charts D. And Ari also has a lot of I; he could not survive at his level without a lot of overt male-display behavior. But the fun of Ari’s character comes from a small but treasured reserve of S, which he hoards for Mrs. Ari and his children.

Movie star Vincent Chase is an Si. We would expect more I-like vanity from an actor, but Vinnie’s first motivation, almost always, is to the “family” that is his entourage.

As an interesting contrast, Vinnie’s brother Johnny “Drama” Chase is an Is. Everything Drama says or does is imbued with an I-ronic subtext: He is always striving to portray himself in a better light than his actual behavior warrants. This is a comic dodge older than Plautus, and Drama is pitch-perfect in his posturing. Even so, he is redeemed by his S attributes, which come out in emergencies.

Salvatore “Turtle” Assante is almost entirely S, especially where Vinnie and the family are concerned. He has a little bit of I, in the sense that he doesn’t like to be cheated out of credit for the things he does well — such as his sartorial sensibilities. But in the end, Turtle wants nothing more than to smoke pot and roll with the boys.

Eric “E” Murphy is the driving character of the dramedy: He’s an Si who is trying very hard to become a Ds. His D-like initiatives frequently collide with Ari’s divergent goals, which creates interesting conflicts. He is intensely loyal to Vince and to the family, but he expresses that loyalty in ways that don’t seem very S-like to the others.

You will note that there are no C’s at all in the group. This is why Vinnie, who is paid millions of dollars per movie, is always broke. No one in the family can make a buck last from now until the end of the episode.

But: Really: What’s the point of an exercise like this?

If you learn to think in a DISC-like way, you can learn to identify what motivates the people you’re working with. Big, beautiful house set back from a busy street? The I’s will love it and the S’s will recoil in horror. Got a smokin’ deal on a rental property? The D’s might take your word for it, and the I’s will dig it for the bragging rights, but the C’s will expect you to prove your claims down to the penny.

This is not “working” people. This is working with people, helping them to find exactly what they’re looking for by learning to look at the world through their eyes.

And thinking DISC will make you more productive, even if you’re not in sales. When I get a chance, I’m going to talk about the ideal DISC profiles of the team members we plan to add this year.


7 Comments so far

  1. Missy Caulk December 31st, 2009 7:01 am

    I have future team members take the DISC on line. I learn their strenghs and weaknesses. How they will handle clients and disappointments. Like you said most folks are not just one but a combo.

    Happy New Year.

  2. Beth Incorvati December 31st, 2009 7:32 am

    This high D/high I thanks you for this post! The DISC is a very powerful tool that helps me enormously in recruiting and retention. I teach my agents to understand the DISC so they may better meet their clients “where they are” and serve them in a way that makes them most comfortable.
    Perhaps I should prospect for a high S husband…two high Ds in a marriage – round 1, LOL – certainly made for a lot of fireworks!
    Happy New Year!

  3. Jeff Brown December 31st, 2009 8:25 am

    The core principle of this post ‘working with’ is the essence of Conceptual Selling, the latest edition, the New Conceptual Selling. Knowing/understanding Disc is now on my list. Thanks

  4. Chris Johnson January 2nd, 2010 6:20 am


    I’ve got very little “S” in me, and rougly equal parts DIC. I guess that makes me one.

    I’ve got a newfound respect for S’s after having worked with a few on my team and I used to have contempt for them. D’s undervalue S’s, and tend to forget that competence is competence.

    A few years ago a training material for sales people used BOLT: Bull, Owl Lamb Tiger. The Lambs and Owls were the S’s and C’s. And they were held in contempt for asking questions.

    What we must show is versatility. Our “D” is only effective inasmuch as we are able to interact with, and gain the trust and cooperation of, people around us.

  5. Wayne Long January 3rd, 2010 4:35 pm

    The personality profiles are very useful. I have used the DISC profile and I am an off the charts D with just a little I. I have also taken the Myers-Briggs profile and find it interesting as well. Have you taken a look at these?

    The most interesting part of personality profiles to me is that it has helped me to understand and appreciate the strengths of all the differing personality types.

  6. Greg Swann January 3rd, 2010 7:15 pm

    > I have also taken the Myers-Briggs profile and find it interesting as well. Have you taken a look at these?

    Yes. We’ve played with Myers-Briggs and also enneagram. What I like about DISC is that it enables you to predict how people are going to react, so you can prepare yourself in advance.

  7. Rick Kristensen January 4th, 2010 10:03 pm

    Thanks for writing this article and bringing to the forefront a very important attribute/skill that really is a necessity to successful consultative selling.

    These two sentences were well put regarding the need to understand personality types: “This is not “working” people. This is working with people, helping them to find exactly what they’re looking for by learning to look at the world through their eyes.”

    Our tag line is “Satisfying every client, individually”. Therefore, when hiring RE agents for our team, we’re searching for “The Chameleon”. Chameleons have the capacity to serve a broader market due to their flexibility, agility. Though one can develop the skill to recognize personality types, Chameleons are naturals. It is almost an innate behavior, a personality that can’t be taught easily. One crafted by life’s lessons from a very young age. They recognize instantly the personality they’re dealing with and melt into it in a complementary way.

    Though one can develop the skill to recognize personality types, if they don’t have a flexible personality type themselves it is very difficult to then “act” in a complementary way with the person they’re working with.

    Sure there are successful sales people in all personality types. However, for our RE agents, we’re going for the Chameleon.