On a muggy night in May I sat stranded in an Asian airport. Only the floor sweepers punctuated the late night desolation. It was the end of a long, very overscheduled business trip—one of the many I took each year in the search for new banking clients. In the midst of a large pile of waiting room debris, I noticed a book. Dog-eared and well-used, it caught my attention. I picked it up, and my view of the world was altered forever.
“If a man does not keep pace with others, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer,” it began with the oft-quoted Henry David Thoreau. The book, an obscure and since-discontinued interpretation of Swiss psychologist Carl Jung’s theories, outlined the seemingly obvious differences in the way people take in information and make decisions. Some of this I knew intuitively. Yet the information hinted at a new way to deal with my clients and associates.
On returning to my Hong Kong office, I set out to color code each of my customers based on their Jungian behavioral profiles. Each file contained brief instructions for support staff to follow in the event of my absence. “When a Gold comes in, make sure all statements are up to date and organized in date-sequential order. If a Blue makes an appointment, call our investment guys in New York and get three new ideas.” And so it continued, outlining a strategy for each of four color groups.
It proved uncannily effective. Almost overnight, our new business increased by 60 percent. But there was more. I began to enjoy my clients more, my stress level went down, and, in time, my relationships with others outside of work began to improve as well.