What is Your Primary Color? And How Will This Knowledge Impact Your Career?

Jul 10, 2009 | Career Management, Featured, Popular Psychology, The Leap

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Are you in a job that leverages your strengths and passions every day? 

As your career continues on its current direction, are you getting closer to your ideal role, or farther away from it? 

Are you willing to invest 15 minutes of your life to find out? 


I am excited to debut the Primary Color Assessment online at www.primarycolorassessment.com.  This tool was conceived from a single insight I had 8 years ago, and developed and tested since that time in partnership with a leading industrial psychologist.  For a limited time, I am making it available to everyone for free. 

First, Some Background

In early 2000, while conducting research for a white paper on leadership, I became increasingly frustrated with the amount of complexity associated with describing human ability (and the resulting absence of usefulness).  In a cab leaving LaGuardia airport, I noticed a billboard with three overlapping circles representing the primary colors, and wondered, “Why is there not a similarly simplistic model with which we can understand and analyze our own abilities?”  In the cab, I scribbled down on a napkin this image:


I then completed the diagram with the logical extensions (leadership combined with execution is management, leadership with curiosity is creativity, etcetera). 


Over the next several years, I continued to refine and test this model, eventually using this framework to develop a spectrum of ability.  Working with psychologists and other experts, I was able to mathematically map distinct sets of behaviors onto specific sections of the spectrum…

snapshot-spectrum snapshot-relationships

Now, this assessment can help you identify your own unique Primary Color – that point on the spectrum that is unique to your greatest strengths and passions. It also allows you to identify the region of the spectrum that your current job occupies – and highlights how close or far your primary color is to that.  Close?  Then you are more likely to be satisfied at work and developing rapidly.  Far away?  Likley frustrated and potentially stalled. 

snapshot-primary-color snapshot-color-cluster

Additional research will even allow for the mapping of specific career paths over time (in this case, a Business Consulting career), or to project what types of jobs others with your color find the most satisfying as their career progresses.  The future applications of this tool are extremely exciting. 



I am a Purple Heart.  My wife is an Electric Lime, and my daughter is a Candy Apple Red

What is your Primary Color?  Take the test now and find out! 




Ready to live your ideal life? Visit LeapBuilder.com.

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Date : Jul 10, 2009

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33 Responses to “What is Your Primary Color? And How Will This Knowledge Impact Your Career?

  1. Brandon

    The Primary Colors are Red, Blue, and Yellow. Green is made by combining the primary colors blue and yellow.

  2. Rick

    From Wikipedia

    "Primary colors are sets of colors that can be combined to make a useful range of colors. For human applications, three are often used; for additive combination of colors, as in overlapping projected lights or in CRT displays, the primary colors normally used are red, green, and blue. "

  3. Chaimirija

    Ocean Blue:)

  4. Sharon Hadary

    Have you tracked whether there are consistent gender differences in the results? That would be very interesting as we study the differences in women's leadership styles. As you probably know, recent research shows that women tend to be more inclusive in their leadership style, more focused on getting the job done than on scaling the highest mountain, and tend to have a longer term perspective. Wonder if there might be consistent differences in the results from this assessment.

  5. Rick,

    Your book, Leap, was a great read and very informative. I’ve been enjoying your Twitter comments and blogs and am a strong believer in your thoughts on finding our colors and direction in life and will share your insight with others in my Executive Search practice.

    I thought you would be willing to answer this question for me given your background in Executive Search: What is/are the ideal primary colors for someone in Executive Search (at the Consultant / Managing Director level)?

    Thanks in advance for your reply.


  6. great question! So, truth be told, I came up with the idea for the Primary Colors in a cab on my way out of laguardia airport. I saw a billboard with the primary colors on it, and I thought, how elegant. There are an infinate number of colors in the visible light spectrum, and it all comes down to three overlapping circles. Infinite complexity, and yet a simple, explainable model. I thought, why could there not be a similar model. For whatever reason, I wrote down the words curiosity, execution and leadership.

    curiosity was to question. execution was to carry out. leadership was to inspire. I came to understand this as a "mind, body and soul" construct, and it seemed to work nicely to distinguish different areas of the spectrum.

    As for your question about contribution, harmony, etc., this assessment is really geared to strengths (defined as types of challenges that you are best at overcoming), and passions (challenges that most engage you). If you can overlap this primary color with a cause that is really heartfelt, there is no stopping you…

  7. Kevin, interesting question. We have had over 400,000 pageviews for the primary color test, and this lets us mathematically track which careers are most aligned with which colors and specific points in time in a career. For example, a business consulting career starts off aligned with colors in the bottom left of the spectrum, independent research types of work. But moves up through the middle as you lead teams and projects, and when you become a senior partner, it is in the upper right – strategy selling.

    Executive search also has alignment, but what i found so interesting about that industry were the different personalities who were able to do well. If there was a very central spot, i would say it would be deep blue, in the upper right of the spectrum. lots of leaderhip (inspiring others, selling the opportunity, selling the candidate to the client), but NOT a big emphasis on creativity. Clients like to say they want recruiters to be creative, but in reality, they just want someone who has already solved their problem twice, and is willing to do this again for a bit more money. I am a purple heart, upper left – combination of creativity and inspiring others. In executive search, i migrated toward creative searches – i recruited mostly replacement ceos for venture capital backed companies. Each search was different, and the solutions were mostly creative. However, this was not the firms bread and butter. The most productive search consultant was the one who did CIO searches, knew the top 500 people, and were on their phone with the top 3 candidates as they left a new clients office.

    But that was WAY too rote for my primary color.

  8. Kevin L.

    Thanks Rick. How would you interpret a Snowy White?

  9. Nina Bhela

    Could you please interpret Wild Blue Yonder and would becoming a realtor be a good career choice for this kind of primary color?

  10. Nina B

    Could you please interpret Wild Blue Yonder and would becoming a realtor be a good career choice for this kind of primary color?

  11. Kevin, snowy white correlates to an area on the spectrum that has a very balanced blend of curiosity, execution and leadership. The closer to the center of the spectrum, the more adaptable you are to many different career paths. You are also more likely to be inquisitive and continue to question, than to be a command and control type. There are lots of positive paths open to you, and you can succeed in many. The key for these colors is to find a job that you are not only good at, but really are passionate about.

  12. Hey Nina, Wild Blue Yonder has a strong inclination towards leadership – inspiring others toward a direction. I would see working as a realtor as a good fit here, as the core of what you are doing is working with clients to lead them through an emotional decision with excitement and confidence. talk to others who are in the business about what the day to day is really like, but strong chance you could do well here.

  13. Kevin L.

    Thanks Rick. Along with adaptability comes the tendency to not stick with one thing. May explain why I've been a generalist for 11 years and have a tough time sticking with one industry. Thank you for your insights, I enjoy reading your comments and will pass your book along to others.

  14. jennifers

    Could you please interpret Sun Flare? I currently have a teaching fellowship and am unsure where to proceed from there. I like the field of education but worry that my skills are not being used there. Any advice of careers in the same field that would work with a "Sun Flare"?

  15. Barbara

    We've seen great interest here in people wanting to understand more about their own colors, as well as how to use them to understand themselves and others they work with. The writers here on the blog seem to want the same thing – more about how to use the colors once they are discovered/uncovered.
    Having teams take the color test and then share the results would also offer great work in appreciating the diversity of individuals and how they can all work better together.
    I hope your next book will provide much more detailed information about the colors, how they work,how to manage people with different colors, how they affect people's motivations, etc. as was done in Marcus Buckingham's book "Now Discover Your Strengths."

  16. Paul

    Hi Rick,

    I enjoyed reading the book, and I've taken the assessment. I ended being classified as a "Sassy Salmon". I read the description, of course, but if you have any further insights on how to interpret the results, I'd appreciate it.

    One question that I have about the assessment, in general, is how repeatable/reliable is it? That is, if I were to take the assessment again, how likely is that I would be assigned a different color? I know that the format of the assessment requires selecting a statement that is "most" like me and one that is "least" like me, and I'm confident that for some questions, I'd answer them the same way, but for other questions, I'm not so sure.

    Finally, is is there a list and description of all 37 colors?


  17. This is my first visit of this blog and it`s awesome. i will subscribe for him and keep reading. thank you.

  18. Bridget

    Hi Rick,

    I have been trying to find my niche in the workforce since I graduated college. I used to view my weaknesses as much more important than my strengths because my weaknesses seemed to hinder me much more than my strengths helped me. This lead to constant struggles, personality conflicts, emotional exhaustion and ultimately depression.

    Now, I am on a mission to accurately define my strengths and maximize my potential. I desperately want to have a life that is joyful and exciting, not desperate and dull. I have taken several personality tests and the like and feel only slightly closer to my goals. I have no idea how to take this information and put it to good use.
    I am a RAZZMATAZ- CREATIVE INTUITION. Which appears to align very closely with my Myers-Briggs classifications of INTP and INFP. Have you done any studies with this?

    What does this mean? I understand the description given, but I don't know what to do with it. It's like being given a safe with all the riches you could want locked inside, but you don't know the combination.
    I don't know where to go from here. Please help.

    Thank you.

  19. We actually use a similar classification in our daily recruiting work. The results are often stunning and very accurate.

  20. Ghoul

    never heard about CYMK? :))

  21. You did a very good job for creating such an interesting article like this, I am looking forward on your next post. I am going to share this post to my psychologist friend, she could really relate on this topic.

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  24. So if color has an impact on your career, everybody's favorite color should be the business color blue, right?

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