The 4 Personality Types – Branson, Buffett, Oprah & Cuban

March 23, 2014

The ability to relate to all kinds of people is crucial to your success in business, and in life in general. Today we examine the four personality types through the lens of four high-profile people who embody them: Richard Branson, Warren Buffett, Oprah Winfrey, and Mark Cuban. As you read through, think about which personality type best describes you, and also which of your close friends and business associates match the four types. I’ll also give you some tips on how best to relate to each personality type. Let’s go!

1. The Dolphin – Richard Branson

Dolphins love to have fun!

A classic Dolphin personality type, Richard Branson is notorious for his celebrations (last year he re-launched his renovated Necker Island home with a massive party – if you want in, the place is yours for $64,000 per night – when Richard is not in town, that is). Branson is symbolic of the good-time entrepreneur. His love for life is infectious, and this attitude infiltrates his business and those around him.

Dolphins will push aside responsibility to have a good time. They are the life of the party. When they arrive everyone knows about it because they light up the room. They’re always joking around, and they tend to be very charismatic and charming. It is rare to see a dolphin alone. You also can’t get a word in with a dolphin because they love to talk! If you want to get a dolphin involved in what you’re doing, emphasise how much fun they’ll have and they’ll be in. Of course, if it’s not fun you’re going to struggle to get them engaged.

2. The Urchin – Warren Buffett

Urchins are extremely detail-oriented individuals. They want to know all the information. They like to analyse things to death before deciding upon the best course of action. Ask them where you and your friends should go out to dinner on Friday night, and they will ask you, “How many people are coming? Does anyone have any allergies I should know about? Which side of the city are we looking at? Are we driving or taking the train? When was the last time you ate tofu?”

After collecting that data, they will get online and Google all suitable restaurants within a 5km radius, and present you with a 10-point report outlining their recommendations and the reasons that justify their selection.

So urchins tend to be perfectionists. They are going to take longer to make a decision, but the good thing is that once they’ve made a decision, they are sure of it because they are invested in in and hence, they own it. Urchins are great planners, and they pride themselves on getting things done right, so it always helps to have one around.

Warren Buffett could be considered an urchin. The depth of his research into his investments in the stuff of legend, and he has a simple strategy for how to get smarter:

Read. A lot. In an interview Warren Buffett once said, “I just sit in my office and read all day.”

From the same article:

“He estimates that he spends 80 percent of his working day reading and thinking.

As he began his investing career, he would read 600, 750, even 1,000 pages a day.

Buffett’s formula worked, giving him more knowledge that helped him with what became his primary job — seeking the truth about potential investments. ”

If you happen to be working with an urchin like Warren Buffett, the best way to work with them is to give them the details-oriented tasks that they can sink their teeth into. Think spreadsheets, planning, reading, and number-crunching. Give them these tasks and they’ll get right down to work.

3. The Whale – Oprah Winfrey

OPRAH sydney 2

A whale is a caretaker. Whales want to save the world! The purpose of a whale’s existence is to help people. You’ll often see whales volunteering to sell raffle tickets, setting up the room at events, and generally making sure everyone gets along because whales are peacemakers. Whales are often involved in charitable causes. Whales are great listeners. Whales will drive you to the airport.

You can see why Oprah fits the description well. She has made an empire out of connecting and uplifting people. Oprah lifts others up onto her stage, and over time her stage has grown significantly. Everybody loves a whale, and with good reason. Whales add tremendous value. If you want to get a whale interested in working with you, demonstrate to them how much they’ll be able to help people by getting involved.

4. The Shark – Mark Cuban

Sharks want to win. Mark Cuban is an entrepreneur with an estimated net worth of $2.6 billion. His business interests range from tech companies to venture capital, television (Shark Tank) and professional sports (he owns the Dallas Mavericks of the NBA).

He has been fined a total of $1.9 million by the NBA’s former Commissioner, David Stern, for criticising officials and generally making his views heard, regardless of the consquences. Unlike most of us, he could not care less about getting fined nearly $2 million. In fact, he matched his most recent fine of $100,000 with an equal donation to charity. Such is the viewpoint of a super shark! He is pragmatic and will do what it takes to get his way.

Sharks are competitive and ambitious. Often you’ll find professional athletes tend to be like this. They want to know the bottom line, so you need to get straight to the point with them because they don’t want to hear any fluff. What do I have to do, when do I have to do it by, and how much do I get paid when (not if) I get the job done. Sharks are natural leaders. They want to be at the front of the room, they want to be in charge, and they are willing to take responsibility for the victory or defeat of the team who is riding on their shoulders.

Think Michael Jordan. He wanted the ball when the game was on the line, team down 2 points, 5 seconds left, he shoots the 3, wins the game. Sharks can sometimes rub people the wrong way because they can come off as arrogant, when this is not always the case. They simply have a strong belief in themselves and they have a white-hot desire to achieve greatly. If you’d like to get an insight into the shark personality, Mark Cuban has written a great book called How to Win at the Sport of Business: If I Can Do It, You Can Do It, which I highly recommend.

So they’re the four personality types – and don’t let anybody tell you any different! (That’s a shark joke). To succeed to your greatest potential in business, you want to be a chameleon. That is, you want to be able to relate to all four personality types with ease. You must be able to quickly assess which is a person’s primary personality type (Dolphin, Urchin, Whale or Shark) and communicate to them in a style that they will connect with. Remember that people are usually have one primary personality type and one secondary. For example, Mark Cuban would be a Shark/Dolphin – he loves to win but he also loves to have fun.

A side note for those of you who want to be speakers or presenters: Generally speaking, the best people to have at the front of the room are Shark/Dolphins. This is because they speak with authority and confidence, they can influence people, they are comfortable with all eyes on them, they are funny and engaging, they speak with passion and purpose, they ooze charisma, and they can get people enrolled and on-side. There is, of course, room for all personality types, and other personality types can be equally effective as presenters. However they must be true to their own unique style, and more importantly, they must be able to relate to their audience.

Which personality type are you? Can you think of any successful business leaders who embody a certain personality type? Tell me in the comments!

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