Find the Key to Each Person

Why are you writing about Alan Horn on a Color Code blog? Well let me tell you: During the interview, Mr. Horn was asked if he could share what his biggest key to success was, and I found his answer to be wonderfully applicable to what we try and teach here at Color Code.

I recently had the privilege of hearing Alan Horn being interviewed for The Hollywood Reporter. Now, for those of you who don’t know who Alan Horn is, let me bring you up to speed. He was one of the founders of Castle Rock Entertainment (Seinfeld, When Harry Met Sally), then went on to become the President and COO of Warner Brothers (where he managed the entire Harry Potter and new Batman Franchises among other things) and now is Chairman of The Walt Disney Company. So, ya, you could say he’s a pretty successful guy and might know a thing or two about success and leadership.

That’s very well and good you say, but why are you writing about Alan Horn on a Color Code blog? Well let me tell you: During the interview, Mr. Horn was asked if he could share what his biggest key to success was, and I found his answer to be wonderfully applicable to what we try and teach here at Color Code.

He said, that when he was serving in the US military, he had the privilege of working under an officer that was an incredible leader. One day, Mr. Horn asked this officer what made him so good at what he did. This officer told Alan that he liked to imagine himself carrying around a giant key ring with 100 different keys on it; and, his main goal was to find which key belonged to which person. Once he could figure that out, the rest was easy. When he knew what made a person tick, he could inspire them, guide them, motivate them and even discipline them in a way that was mutually beneficial. This advice stuck with Alan and he decided to try his best to replicate the strategy. He told the interviewer that this approach to leadership and working with others has been the one thing he would pinpoint as having the most impact on his success.

As you can imagine, Mr. Horn’s words really struck a chord with me and I couldn’t help but relate them to what we teach here at the Color Code. You know, about how important it is to communicate with people from a perspective of their driving core motive instead of ours, and continuing to develop those interpersonal skills we love to share with everyone we can, etc.

So, my challenge for you today is to consider creating your own imaginary key chain with the skills you’ve learned—or have yet to learnfrom Color Code and other sources and find the right keys for the people in your life. Who knows, maybe in a few years I’ll be listening to you speak as some big shot? I certainly hope so.

Here’s to a better you and me,

Joe England

joeJoe England has known about the Color Code ever since 1994 when his Grandpa caused quite a family controversy by “quick coding” everyone.  Luckily, Joe could see the value in what Grandpa Don was going for and years later, when the opportunity arose to work for the Color Code, Joe jumped at the chance. He is a Yellow, enjoys Swedish Fish and typically gets along with children better than adults.



Ask The Expert

Dear Jeremy,

Our leadership group recently had some Color Code training for a team building event. It was a great experience, we learned a lot, and people have had nothing but positive things to say about the event.

One concern that I’ve had since then, however, is that one of our team members seems to be using his Color Code as an excuse for the way he acts. Is that common, and do you have any advise for addressing that particular issue?

Thank you for your help!



Dear Cynthia,

First of all, I’m glad that you enjoyed the training. The classes are meant to be a rich learning, growth-oriented, and overall positive experience. They’re usually a lot of fun, too, which is always nice. 🙂

But let’s talk about your “Mr. Justification” now…

I wouldn’t say this is a terribly common scenario, because we try to emphasize the concept of taking 100% responsibility for the success of your relationships throughout the workshop. However, I wouldn’t say that it’s a rare occurrence either.

The fact is, if a person is unwilling to change or feels that other people should simply always cater to him, then you do tend to run into these kinds of issues.

Here’s how I would discuss it.

The Color Code can either be utilized as a tool or as a weapon.

The whole goal of learning this material, of course, is to be able to use the Color Code as a tool. We use the Color Code to improve communication, strengthen leadership, reduce conflict, build rapport, encourage others, and create success on both an individual contributor level and as a team.

Certain individuals – again, usually a miniscule percentage of people – may, on the other hand, choose to use the Color Code as a weapon. To understand this completely, you have to think both in terms of weapons of offense and defense.

For example, using this as a weapon of offense might mean that the person chooses to stereotype others. This generally takes the form of limiting their opportunities or “putting them in a box”, so to speak. It’s when you refuse to promote someone to a leadership position because, “Whites can’t be decisive”, or “Yellow’s aren’t responsible”, etc.

That kind of approach is quite blatant and completely ignorant. First of all, any Color can succeed in any job. That’s a fact. Second of all, each individual is different. We all have different strengths and limitations and we all learn and adapt over the course of our lives.

The Color Code should never limit anyone. Rather, it is designed to empower.

Let’s talk next of using this as a weapon of defense—think “shield” or “armor”. This is what you are observing in your co-worker, and it is actually more common than the previous, offense-based scenario.

You said that your team member has been using the Color Code as a means to excuse the way he acts, and I’ve seen this many, many times before. For example, an overly aggressive or critical Red who generally treats people poorly might excuse his/her behavior by saying something like, “Listen, you all went to the training and should know that’s just how Reds are. So, just stop taking what I say personally and get your work done!”

And it’s not just Reds, of course… ALL Colors do it.

Blues will excuse themselves for being moody, suspicious, or self-righteous. Whites have reasons for being non-communicative, unmotivated, or socially aloof. Yellows say they can’t possibly be blamed for being irresponsible, forgetful, or uncommitted.

(And that’s just scratching the surface).

Of course the more insecure an individual is, the more likely they will be to justify their bad behavior or blame others for their problems.

The bottom line is that limitations are limitations, period.

Just because you are a Blue, for example, doesn’t give you license to judge others. That’s a limitation that you would do well to work at eliminating.

So remember, the Color Code is a tool, not a weapon. It is designed to help us overcome our limitations and perform on a much higher level, not cripple ourselves with excuses.

Good luck to you, Cynthia. I hope this helped.
Very best of living,



JeremyDanielJeremy Daniel (Core Color: Yellow) has been working with the Color Code since 1998 in various capacities from training in the field personally with Dr. Taylor Hartman to designing customized corporate solutions and new training programs for various industries.  To ask about Jeremy’s training or speaking services, please email and inquiry to

Mother’s Day? We Have Your Back

May 11th is Mother’s Day. To some it’s a big deal and to others, not so much. Either way, we are full of advice for successfully navigating the day.


I am breaking with Color Code tradition by beginning this advice with the Blues. Why? Because, I’m afraid those of you with Blue mothers will fade before you get to the Blue advice, and that would be a big mistake—BIG. So, pay attention.

Let’s talk about your Blue mother. All your life, she was there for you. She was the mother who volunteered for your field trips, cake bake, sports… the list goes on. She drove you to school when you slept in, and believed you when you fibbed. She made sure your laundry was done perfectly, even after you went to college. She worried that you weren’t eating right, sharing your thoughts, being safety minded… and again, the list goes on. She lived for you.

Best mother EVER.

But, (and this is a big but), your mother can be a martyr. While she has been indulgent, devoted and single-minded in raising you, she does require acknowledgement of these selfless acts.

In your mother’s case it is the thought that counts. Set aside some time, sit down and write her a long and sincere letter. Tell her how much you appreciate everything she’s done—and be specific. Remember things from your childhood, because you can bet she does. Do not (even playfully), criticize her in your letter. It will be her main focus. Otherwise, you will be her hero for a very long time.


Red mothers are very different from their Blue counterparts. Your mother took an interest in your life, but in a less nurturing way. She was there for you, just less emotionally. She always gave good feedback and good advice (maybe too much sometimes) in a way that left no question that she was right. She expected you to look good, act well, be appropriate, and measure up to her own high standard.

She is the most likely of mothers to view Mother’s Day as a frivolous “Hallmark Holiday”. Still, don’t think for a second that her disdain for the holiday will give you a free pass. Your mother demands respect, and ignoring her on Mother’s Day is disrespectful. For your mother, the best gift is respectful acknowledgement. If you have children, make sure they acknowledge her as well. Never give your Red mother anything that says world’s greatest mom, grandma, etc.


Your mother is the kindest and gentlest of all mothers. While growing up, she showed you patience and care. She was able to endure any problem you could throw at her without getting ruffled. She had a quiet elegance, and fortitude. She wanted to give you the best childhood possible. She wasn’t one to offer direction, because she didn’t want to come across as pushy or demanding. In fact, if anything she could be over-indulgent—hesitant to set boundaries.

Your mother doesn’t like being the center of attention, nor does she appreciate fanfare. However, as with any mother, she appreciates acknowledgement. Celebrate Mother’s Day in a quiet way. Let her know how much you appreciate her, but don’t overdo it. Unlike Blues and Yellows, she won’t appreciate effusiveness.


Because of your Yellow mother, your childhood was a whirlwind of ups and downs. She adored you and wanted nothing more than for you to have a fun and happy childhood. Your mother wanted you to experience everything life has to offer. Unfortunately, some of the things life had to offer were, running out of gas, parent-teacher nights sans parent, and other missed commitments. Still, she built your self-confidence like no other parent could.

Unlike Reds, Yellows are all about superficial holidays, or any other holiday—especially one that celebrates them. She won’t care if you remind her of all the crazy things she did. She’ll remember them with mirth. Create a day for her that will celebrate her motherhood. Invite everyone, buy gifts, get party hats… she’ll love it.

Hope this helps. To all you mothers out there, Red, Blue, White and Yellow—Happy Mother’s Day. CC


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Teresa Glenn has been working with the Color Code since 2006, where her main focus is product development. She has been in the publishing and product development field for over 20 years. Teresa is a core Red with a strong Yellow secondary.