September 30, 2020

Solving the People Problem: Brett M. Cooper and Evans Kerrigan

Do you work with anyone who thinks or acts differently than you? Would you like to have a better understanding of why they think and act the way they do? If you answered yes, then Solving the People Problem by Brett Cooper and Evans Kerrigan is the book for you.

When you understand why your colleagues act and react the way they do, it’s easy to avoid common distractions–distractions that result in decreased productivity, lost profits, and countless hours of personal frustration. Solving the People Problem walks you through every aspect of the language you need to understand to capitalize on the personality differences of the people around you.

Drew Applebaum: Hey, listeners. My name is Drew Applebaum, and I’m excited to be here today with Brett Cooper and Evans Kerrigan, co-authors of Solving the People Problem. Gentlemen, I’m excited you’re here. Welcome to the Author Hour podcast.

Evans Kerrigan: Thank you, Drew.

Brett Cooper: Thanks so much, Drew. Glad to be here.

Drew Applebaum: First off, can you tell us a little bit about your background? Let’s start with you, Evans.

Evans Kerrigan: Sure. I’ve been in business for a long, long time. I got a start in the Air Force and then worked in several different industries, working primarily in organizational development and leadership development, as well as continuous improvement. I became a consultant in 2004, working mostly in continuous improvement.

I worked in that area with companies from Eastern Europe to Australia throughout the States and found frequently that we were getting great results in projects, but companies were not making some of the changes that we would hope they would make culturally. So, with a good friend of mine who I was working with, Brett Cooper, we actually founded a company called Integris about nine years ago, really trying to focus on, “How could we help companies make that cultural change to be more successful?”

From there, we got started in this continuous improvement organization but found that we really needed to focus more on leadership and on organizational team and individual development. And that’s led us down a pathway for 20 years that has actually resulted in us putting some of our thoughts down to paper and sharing a book with people this year so that people can take that journey themselves a little bit quicker than we did.

Drew Applebaum: How about you, Brett?

Brett Cooper: Evans and I have been working together for close to 20 years. When we first met each other, we were working for an organization doing Lean Six Sigma process improvement–strategic kind of consulting for organizations. We were delivering fantastic results as it relates to projects, process improvement, things like that. One of the things that kept jumping out of it though was that the problem we were facing in these projects didn’t have anything to do with the technical skills that we were teaching people.

What kept getting in the way was really what we’ve now termed the People Problem. We kept running into issues about leadership and team dynamics and people not being able to communicate very well with each other.

As Evans just mentioned, about nine years ago we decided, “Hey, we’re going to start another company that focuses not only on strategic consulting and Lean Six Sigma process improvement–organizational improvement. But let’s start an organization that brings in issues related to leadership and teamwork.”

That was when Integris was born in 2011. Since 2011, we have been working with hundreds of organizations and thousands of individuals. In every case, we found that if we can help them learn how to communicate more effectively or how to interact with each other more effectively, many of those problems that they were trying to fix, as far as operational consulting and operational improvement, many of those problems they were trying to fix started to go away a whole lot more effectively. Really, that was the impetus behind the book.

The People Problem

Drew Applebaum: Now, can you guys tell us, just at a high level–what is the People Problem?

Brett Cooper: The people problem generally is people not being aware and not being insightful about the natural biases that they have, the natural behavioral tendencies that they and all of us have. This really includes not being self-aware about your own biases, about your own tendencies, as well as not being aware of the tendencies of other people. This leads to things like being ineffective in the decisions they make and the decisions, the interactions that they have with each other.

Drew Applebaum: Evans, do you have anything you’d like to add onto that?

Evans Kerrigan: Sure. I think that a big part of this issue really comes from the fact that we all operate from our own head and our own view of the world. To react and interact successfully with other people, we have to have a better appreciation for where that person might be coming from or what that person’s background, experiences, behaviors, and styles might be. So, part of what we’ve done is laid out processes for helping people understand not only their own style but also the styles of others, so that they can get rid of some of the friction that happens because of our different styles when we interact with one another.

Drew Applebaum: Now, getting into the book, you guys speak of effective leadership meaning knowing yourself and connecting with other folks who have different styles and having overall emotional intelligence. Can you talk to us about what emotional intelligence is and why is it such a challenge to have it today?

Evans Kerrigan: Sure. Emotional intelligence is a term that’s been around for several decades, and what it really is, it’s our ability to both understand ourselves and understand other people, to make sure that we can have positive interactions with other people to get work done with other people so that we can enhance each other’s success, if you will. Some early research was done on this that says that actually emotional intelligence is a better indicator of future business success than IQ or technical skills. Our ability to work with one another, which has continued to grow with every passing decade, has become more and more central to our ability to produce results.

So emotional intelligence is the ability to know why we are reacting and actually have the ability to use a little separation between an action, and to think about what might be the best way to go forward, both for our own success but also for the success of a broader organization or group of people.

Brett Cooper: Really, there’s the idea around emotional intelligence and personality styles. There are literally hundreds of years of tangible research that tells us that people act and think very differently, even when they are given the same exact set of influence. A huge percentage of those different thoughts and those actions, they can be traced right back to people’s different personality styles.

In the book, when we talk about DISC emotional intelligence or DISC EQ, what we’ve really done is we’ve taken that concept of emotional intelligence, and understanding yourself and understanding other people, and being able to use that for better interactions. We’ve overlaid this language of DISC personality styles on top of it to really provide this language that people can use so that they can better understand themselves and better understand the people that they’re working with.

Emotional Intelligence

Drew Applebaum: You guys also found that they don’t actually teach emotional intelligence awareness in education or higher education. Why is this happening?

Brett Cooper: It’s a great question. My background, I started my career in finance actually. I was a financial advisor and then I went on to grad school with the full intention of being a Wall Street finance guy. So, I went to a top MBA school, took a lot of OD, organizational development kinds of classes. One of the things we never talked about in those programs was this idea around emotional intelligence. We never really talked about different people having different personality styles. We focused more in my MBA program about the technical skills, the marketing, the finance, the technical tools and skills that people use in organizations, and the kinds of skills that are typically highlighted on resumes. We didn’t talk a whole lot about what a lot of people call the soft skills of business.

One of the things that Evans and I have learned over the last 20 years of being organizational health consultants and working with literally hundreds of organizations and thousands of individuals, those soft skills, those tools that enable you to have better communication with other people that you’re working with, those are the skills that really rise to the top.

Evans Kerrigan: Part of the reason that I don’t think these ideas are taught enough in school is in many ways school was designed and built off of the Industrial Revolution, and there’s almost an underlying mechanism where we look at the people as cogs in a machine and improving the specific skills those individuals have in trying to fit those pieces together. I think there’s been a transformation over the last 30, 40 years where more and more of our work is actually done in teams. It’s not an individual’s contribution. It’s a contribution individuals make through a group to get great work done.

So, part of it is the changing world of work, as well as the fact that schools are trying to catch up a little bit in this. And you see that happening, and it is changing in schools now in many different ways. You see even in medical schools where surgeons were taught very much the technical skills. But more and more, you’re seeing in medicine more teaching of how to work with groups of people because it’s that contribution from multiple different people in different specialties that enables you to actually get a result. It’s not about the one. It’s about the many.

More and more, what we’re finding in some research that’s being done on an ongoing basis in different states is that they’re talking with their employers about what’s needed. We’re finding more and more that people are saying, “What I really need is I need people to be able to work together to make things happen. I can teach them the technical skills. We have plenty of smart people. I don’t have people who can actually work together as effectively as I need them to.”

The growing body of knowledge around emotional intelligence is this engagement. All these terms you hear in business now, they’re really about, “How do we work better together? Because we’re both our own greatest benefit but we can also be our own greatest detriment to actually getting great results done if we can’t make that interaction work smoothly.”

Drew Applebaum: Now, can you tell us what DISC stands for and what separates DISC from any of the other tools that attempt to explain personality style differences?

Evans Kerrigan: DISC is a construct that’s been around actually for quite a while, almost a century now. It’s actually a construct based upon the observable behavior that we can see. So, it’s something that becomes very usable. The DISC model is built upon two scales. One that is really about how fast-paced and outgoing we might be or how calm and reserved we are. So, kind of one continuum of behavior, and another continuum of behavior that is around how trusting we might be and how accepting we might be of ideas. Or how we might actually push back a little bit on the ideas. We might be more likely to be a little bit more skeptical.

We set up in an axis those two continuums of behavior. What we end up with is we end up with behavior clusters that really bring out basic styles. They stand for dominance, influence, steadiness, and conscientiousness.

What we find is that people, still with a great deal of variability inside of that quadrant, but they tend to have similarities in how they react to situations and how they interact with other people. If we can get a little bit better understanding of this, it actually becomes a language that we can use based on observable behavior–things that we can easily see to help us start to understand our own reactions, emotions, and the reactions and emotions of other people so that we can continue to grow our own emotional intelligence over time.

The reason that it’s different from a lot of the other models is it is much easier to both see and to apply. It’s that applicability that actually brought us to it. Because what we see from a lot of people is an interest in emotional intelligence and a challenge in getting into it and building their own emotional intelligence to be more successful. DISC brings that to something that I can actually do, I can take concrete steps that I can actually see results, and I can continue to develop and grow my own emotional intelligence over time.

Brett Cooper: Drew, there are a lot of different personality styles indexes out there and a lot of personality style tools out there. I think we used most of them at some point or another in the course of our business and the course of our careers. Our focus with the organizations that we work with, Drew, has always been around, “How do we make the organization more successful? How do we make teams more successful? How do we make departments more successful? How do we make people working together more successful?” One of the things that we found is that the DISC personality structure is something that is very easy to embrace. As Evans talked about, it’s something that is built on observable behavior.

The truth of the matter is that many of the people that we work with when we’re doing workshops or holding Zoom, whether it’s online, conferences, or wherever we are. One of the things that is true is that many of the people that are in our programs, and that we are working with, they are often told to be there. They haven’t actually decided on their own, “Hey, I’m coming to this to learn about DISC emotional intelligence.” It’s part of an organizational program.

The reason I bring that up is that the kinds of concepts that we want people to understand, we want to make sure that they can put those things to work. And one of the things that we’ve experienced with some of the other personality style tools that are out there, is that they’re way more complex. They’re a little bit harder to remember and somebody who isn’t really focused on trying to understand, “Okay. What’s all the detail inside this personality assessment?” Many of those insights, which are honestly very powerful, they can get lost.

The thing we like about DISC is that it is structured in a way that is perfectly set up to allow people to understand themselves and understand each other. It sets up a fantastic interaction between each other because the DISC structure itself is set on what we call a disc wheel. It’s a 360° wheel and those four quadrants of that wheel represent the D-I-S-C of DISC, which as Evans mentioned, is the Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness.

When we take a team and we plot what we call dots on that DISC wheel, we can see exactly where people are. And that DISC wheel will end up with the two spectrums of behavior, which are how fast-paced and outgoing are you versus how reserved and calm are you and how accepting of new ideas and new people you are versus how skeptical you are of new people and new ideas.

When we see people plotted on this DISC wheel, team members can very easily see, “Oh, okay. So, I see how we’re different. I see how we’re alike.” The really beautiful thing is that you’re able to start to draw some inferences around, “Okay. Well, how does that other individual prefer to communicate? Are we more fast-paced? Do they want to be really talkative? Do they want to be always social or would they rather kind of cut to the chase and get right to work?” These are the kinds of insights that we can get from looking at the DISC wheel and understanding the DISC model.

The DISC Model

Drew Applebaum: Now, out of curiosity, where do you guys respectively land on the DISC wheel?

Brett Cooper: Evans and I are actually on slightly different parts of the DISC wheel, and it served us very well, I think, over the years. So, I’m on the high side of the upper right-hand quadrant, which is the ‘I’ or the Influence style. And Evans is on the lower right-hand side of the DISC wheel, which is in the S, the Steadiness quadrant.

Simply, what that means is that Evans and I both are more accepting of new people and new ideas. We both really value collaboration, and I think that’s why, for almost 20 years, we’ve had a very successful collaboration with each other. But the difference between being on the top side of the wheel and the bottom side of the wheel is a significant difference, and it’s something that served us very well.

I, as in I, as in Influence style, I am much more action-oriented, more focused on let’s go, let’s go, let’s go–kind of driving at a fast pace. You might say that there are times where I am ready, fire, aim. Evans likes to say that I am a ‘talk-it-through’ kind of leader. When we are doing some of our brainstorming, I’ll get talking and it’s through the conversation that allows me to get to the ideas that will drive us forward.

Whereas Evans, being on the lower end or on the lower side of the DISC wheel in that S quadrant, he is definitely a little bit more reserved and a little more self-paced. So, when we are having conversations, I like to say that he’s more of a ‘think-it-through-kind’ leader. He likes to take some of the ideas that we’ve talked about, take a little break, give it some thought so that he can come back with a very, very thoughtful and a very diligent kind of response on things.

Evans Kerrigan: I’ll just point out that Brett chose to answer that question for both of us.

Drew Applebaum: Typical. Just typical, Brett. Guys, education is key, but implementation is just as important. Can you talk to us on how to apply what you find after receiving DISC results for yourself and your team?

Evans Kerrigan: Sure. I’ll hop into this. I was actually just working with a team this morning, and one of the beauties that I really like about this model is the observational cues that you can pick up. We had several really vibrant discussions this morning as people were working through this. And not only making plans for what they could do going forward but the amount of ‘ahas’ in the room about what had happened in the past and maybe why it had happened, that they had never figured out, because of the different ways they approached issues. So, it’s that insight about myself but also the insight I can get about others, and then providing the avenue and the opportunity to start to actually discuss what’s behind how we interact with one another and, “How can we do that more successfully?”

Everything that we do is really about application. It’s awareness and service to application because it’s not enough to know something. It doesn’t really have an impact or anything positive until we actually apply it. The applicability of this model and the way in which you can structure your conversations going forward. Think about it. Make it visible for people on a go-forward basis. That’s where the real payoff comes from. And it’s just exceptionally rewarding to see people who have not been able to work well together for a long period of time and how quickly they’re able to start making progress in those relationships with one another.

Sometimes, people have very big differences in style. Sometimes, it’s people actually have the same style, but they never understood why sometimes there was friction there. And all of that can be pulled apart if we can actually start to understand, see, and have a language to be able to talk about and understand what’s going on. Then make some minor modifications, really. We don’t change who we are. We make some minor modifications, a little bit of understanding, to be able to move forward in a much more productive way.

Drew Applebaum: You guys actually have great sections in the book where you ask readers and talk about applying it yourself. And you guys give real-world examples of how to use the DISC EQ in certain situations. So similar, like, what you just said, there are actually very great examples of even how to communicate with people on different sections of the DISC.

Now also, I think one of the more interesting parts of the book is you talk about your gut, and normally you’re told to go with your gut. But you bring up examples of how this always isn’t the best-case scenario. How could DISC help us with those gut decisions?

Evans Kerrigan: So just to hop in again, so very atypical to style here. My style tends to avoid conflict. It tends to try to smooth things over. I’m big on trying to support the people around me and make sure that everybody feels successful. But I’m also the CEO of Integris. There are times when my natural inclination, what my gut would tell me to do, is not in the best service to the organization or to our clients. So, there are times when, although it’s something that’s going to be more work for me, it’s going to be something that may be uncomfortable for me, there’s a time for me to appreciate the strength that is brought by the styles that are on the other side of the DISC wheel, for me to actually bring those into my decision-making and say, “Now, the right way to do this is not to use what would normally feel right to me but to use something that’s actually atypical for me.” I make sure that I’m taking account of the needs that usually aren’t the first ones to come out of my mouth.

Brett Cooper: Yeah. To the question about going with your gut and understanding your gut, a lot of it is about being self-aware of what your gut drives you to do. I’ll give you an example that came from our own team. There’s a technique that Evans and I use with clients quite often called the appreciation seat, and it’s quite simple. What the appreciation seat is, we get a team member to sit in what we call the appreciation seat for a few moments, and all the team members go around the table and essentially say something of appreciation to that team member. Tell them, “Hey, this is something that you’ve done for us recently that has really driven us forward,” or, “Here’s something that you do in general that really moves us forward.”

Then to balance it out and to make it about not just appreciation but making it about finding opportunities for improvement, we have everybody go around the table a second time and say, “Hey, here’s one thing that you do that kind of slows us down or something you do that would be an improvement that would really help us move better forward together.”

One time, we were doing the appreciation seat with our own team, and I happened to be in the appreciation seat. One of our colleagues, a woman named Renée, came around to me and just said, “Brett, the thing that I really appreciate about you is that you’re always ideating. You’re always coming up with the new ideas, looking at what’s forward, what’s ahead of us, and coming up with what’s the next thing.” That made me feel good and lines up really well with my personality.

Then we went around the table, and other people said some things, and then we came back around to that second-level, where we say, “Hey, here is something that you do that kind of slows us down.” We come to Renée and Renée says, “You know, Brett, the thing that slows us down that you do is you’re ideating.” Everybody gives a little laugh because she just said that was my strength, and now she’s saying it’s the thing that slows us down. I and everybody really knew exactly what she meant. She continued. She said, “When we get started on a project, oftentimes a project, an idea that you initiated, Brett, we get going and you’re already onto the next thing. You’re coming up with, ‘Hey, let’s do this. Let’s do that,’ and many of the rest of us are sitting here thinking, “Hey, can we just focus on finishing the project that we just started?’”

To your question about going with your gut, for me, that experience on the appreciation seat was a helpful self-awareness exercise because it really helped me understand that one of the things that is so powerful about my personality and about my behavior, the whole ideating, is I overuse that. If I don’t recognize that I need to check myself sometimes, well, I can then overuse it and it becomes a weakness. So, the idea of not always just going with your gut–we want people to go with their gut, but we want people to be aware of what that gut is actually driving you to do. And we want people to recognize that the things that you are best at if you overuse them, they can be a detriment to you.

Drew Applebaum: Now, Evans, you mentioned teams earlier. In the book, you guys talk about working in teams and how it brings in more variability, volatility, and opportunity. Now, as a team leader, are there questions you could ask yourself to know how well your team is doing?

Evans Kerrigan: Well, this could get into a much, much larger conversation, but I’ll try to keep this a little bit on target here. When we talk about teams, I think Lencioni says, “They are the competitive advantage you have.” And that is how well your teams work because very few people actually get results all by themselves anymore. All teams are going to have variation, which means all teams have the opportunity to have unproductive conflict, conflict that surrounds our styles, etc. Or they have the opportunity to have fantastic results by being able to use that diversity of thought that they bring to the table.

So, if I want to look for my own team and the health of my team, what I really will look for is, “How smoothly can communication happen?” Can we actually get into an impassioned debate without people feeling like they are at risk in that debate? Google did some research about what was leading to the best performance by their own teams, and one of the first things that they identified was psychological safety.

Part of DISC EQ is if I can have a better appreciation, a better ability to honor styles, not only my own but everybody’s styles, I can actually create an environment where we can communicate a little bit more openly and more authentically about who we are and how we think without feeling like that’s risky to do in the group. When I can do that, when we can be a little bit more emotionally intelligent, when we can bring more of ourselves to the table and more of our ideas to the table, we have the capability to achieve things that we never would’ve thought possible in our teams if we weren’t at that state.

That ability to build open, trustful communication, to be a little bit vulnerable about who we are, what concerns we have, what the things are that we might not do as well, starts to build a team that can continue to grow. And it can continue to provide great, great results over time. But part of it is about being able to understand both ourselves and our teammates and helping each of them understand each other better. We talk about it several times in the book. The phrase that always sticks to mind for me is, “Our ability to honor the differences.”

It’s not who’s right and who’s wrong. It’s the fact that we are all different. We all bring different things to the table that can help the team be successful. When we can honor those differences and actually hear them, it’s amazing the results that we are able to get.

Understanding Communication Styles

Drew Applebaum: That’s how you guys are getting these results within the organization. But ultimately, you have to deal with people that are outside of the organization. Are there ways that you can work just as cohesively with those that are outside, where you might not know where they land here? Are there signals you could find to put them in a DISC category in short order?

Brett Cooper: Absolutely. You’re able to use DISC and DISC EQ with both people on your team and with people outside of your organization. For example, we do a lot of work with customer service people and salespeople, and help them understand, “Okay, how can I interact better with my customers and with my prospects?” The construct of DISC being on those two spectrums of behavior, well, that gives you all the puzzle that you need to be able to start to understand where other people lie on that DISC wheel. Then you can start to draw some inferences about, “Okay. Well, how should I communicate with them?”

Again, those two spectrums are how fast-paced are you versus how reserved are you, and how accepting or how skeptical are you. So, if you are talking with somebody outside your organization, somebody new to you, somebody who you’re just meeting, you can kind of pay attention to how they communicate. Are they really chatty? Are they fast-paced in their conversations or are they a little bit more reserved? If they’re more chatty and faster-paced, well, then you can probably think that they’re either a D, Dominant style, or an I, Influence Style. If they’re more reserved, well, that probably means that they’re more in that area of either an S, Steadiness or a C, Conscientiousness. Then you could pay attention to the kinds of questions they ask, and how they react to statements that you make.

If they’re really accepting of your ideas and kind of adding on, “Hey, that sounds great. Tell me more about that.” If they’re having that kind of acceptance of what you’re talking about, well, you might then think that they’re more on that right side of the DISC wheel, in that I, Influence, or S, Steadiness style. Or if they’re more skeptical, if they’re saying, “Hmm, I’m not sure about that, show me more data about that.” If they’re really questioning some of the statements that you’re making, well, then you might think that they’re probably on the left side of the DISC wheel, in that D, Dominance, category, or that C, Conscientious, category.

Now, one of the things that’s really important to recognize is that this is not about trying to tag somebody as, “Oh, they’re this style, so let me just assume that everything they want is in line with that style.” This is about getting to know people and about getting to know people’s preferences and tendencies. It’s all about how we improve, and how we communicate with each other. So, when you’re working with somebody outside of your circle, it’s an ongoing series of observations.

You make some early observations. You start to understand. You start to adjust your communication style. As you have more and more interactions with that individual, you’ll be able to draw further observations and start to get an even better understanding of how you can communicate as effectively as possible.

Drew Applebaum: Now, Evans, for leaders, do you find it important to publicly embrace your DISC EQ, and what does that look like?

Evans Kerrigan: I think one of the most important things for a leader is to be able to set the standard, set the model for how they want to be with their people. And how they want to help their people move forward. We do a lot of work with some resources around leadership that talks about the practices of exemplary leadership from Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner. The first of those practices is that leaders actually need to model the way. So, if I want to help raise the emotional intelligence of the people that I’m working with and I want them to be able to be more successful, then I need to be able to show that it’s okay to share who I am. Where I come from, what are the thoughts that are important to me, how I make decisions.

It’s important for me to be able to share my style but to also honor those other styles. It’s really hard for a team to start to improve their own emotional intelligence if the leader is unwilling to honor the differences that come to the fore. So, when I have people who communicate in different ways than me, all I can actually change is myself. If I can actually honor those differences, it is much more likely for people to be more willing to share with me, for people to bring things to me more frequently, for me to actually be better informed in being able to work with them going forward. I think it really is important for us as leaders to continually try to build our self-awareness and our awareness of those around us.

Drew Applebaum: Brett, do you have anything to add to that?

Brett Cooper: Evans mentioned that we do a lot of work based on a research project called The Leadership Challenge by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner. That research, Drew, has discovered that there are certain behaviors, certain practices that leaders do, that when they do them more frequently, they are more effective as leaders. They drive higher levels of employee engagement. We take that DISC EQ and we apply it to some of those behaviors.

For example, one of those practices that research tells us that leaders need to be more frequently is encourage the heart, and encourage the heart is all about recognizing people, rewarding people, celebrating success. One of the things that, if we’re not careful, leaders will make a mistake on is they will think that, “Hey, everybody on my team wants to be recognized the same way that I do, right?” Or that they want to be rewarded for a great job the same way that I do. That is a huge error in judgment for a leader.

If you are a leader who, let’s say, likes the big fanfare, likes to be brought up on stage and have everybody basically say, “Hey, great job to you,” well, if you have someone on your team that is more, say, in that C category, that Conscientious category where they really don’t like being in the limelight, they don’t like having all those eyes on them, they’re more of a private person, if you take that person, bring him on stage and say, “Hey, everybody. Look at what a great job this person did,” well, that is going to be the farthest thing away from a reward that they could think of.

The idea of taking DISC EQ as a leader in understanding what your own DISC style is and understanding what other people’s DISC styles are and matching those two things together is a critical part of being a leader in making sure that every relationship that you have with the people on your team is exactly that–a personal relationship with that person, which means you understand how that person likes to communicate, likes to be recognized, and likes to work.

A Free Assessment

Drew Applebaum: Now, you guys have offered a free assessment to readers of the book. Can you tell us about that free assessment?

Evans Kerrigan: Sure. So, the free assessment that we’re offering with the book is a way to take a look at our DISC EQ model, which talks about knowing your own style, knowing other styles, and then in terms of application, choosing your actions wisely. And then the ultimate, which is to choose actions for mutual benefit, To always be looking for what’s going to be the biggest benefit for not just myself but for all of us, right? Looking for that mutual benefit.

So, we’ve created a survey that actually asks some questions, and you fill out those questions. What we’ll give you is how well you’re doing in each of those four quadrants. It will also give you some ideas on what you can do to further grow your capability in that particular quadrant of your DISC EQ. One of the nice things about that is you could take that, and you could look at some of those ideas. You can figure out which of the ideas you wanted to kind of put into practice to try and increase your own DISC EQ and then take a look at it about six months from now and see have you actually made some progress in that area. Are you growing in that area?

Each of the four quadrants, they operate. They correlate with one another. They support one another but they are a little bit different skill sets. So, it might be that I’m doing really well on the awareness, but I’ve got to do a lot more on the application. It might be that I’m doing pretty well on the self, both awareness and application, but I’m really struggling a little bit with understanding others a little bit better. Depending on how you do on the survey, it might help you to kind of focus on where you can spend your effort to actually increase your DISC EQ and your ability to work with people for successful outcomes for us all.

Brett Cooper: All people need to do is go to and click on the ‘What’s My DISC EQ’ link. Once you click that link, you will be able to go right into the DISC EQ survey. Now, this is a research-based survey for us, so we gather a little bit of demographics on who you are, and then you go right into the survey and you’re answering questions that are built around the DISC EQ framework. The DISC EQ framework is the 2x 2 matrix that Evans mentioned that across the top has awareness and application. Across the left, it has self and others. When we crosswalk those two things, we start with self when we go to awareness, and the DISC EQ survey will tell you how well you know your own style.

Then we go from self-awareness to self-application. The DISC EQ survey will give you some insights into how well you choose your actions. Then the second section is about others. It’s about the awareness of others and if you know other styles. It’s about the application of that knowledge in how you adapt your behavior for mutual benefit.

So that survey, once you complete it on, you immediately get your results and you can see where you are now. As Evans just mentioned, it’s the kind of thing that you can take again a few months down the road after you’ve done a little bit of work, after you’ve read Solving the People Problem and done some work and see if you’ve made some improvements.

Drew Applebaum: Gentlemen, writing a book is no joke. So, first of all, congratulations.

Evans Kerrigan: Thank you.

Brett Cooper: Thank you.

Drew Applebaum: Brett and Evans, it’s been such a pleasure. I’m so excited for people to check out this book. Everyone, the book is called Solving the People Problem, and you can find it on Amazon. Now, besides checking out the book and besides the webpage you just mentioned, is there anywhere else that people can find you?

Brett Cooper: Yeah. The main place people should go is which is all about the book, and that will give you some insights into DISC EQ. If you are interested in taking this even further to your team, to your group, to your organization, well, then you might want to go to, which is the name of our organization and we work with groups and teams and organizations.

Drew Applebaum: Great. Thank you so much for being on the podcast.

Evans Kerrigan: Thank you, Drew.