Nothing Floppy About DiSCs

Have you heard of the DiSC profile test? Me neither, until 20 minutes into the first day of my internship at redpepper, when all of us interns were filling out our names to start the test.

It’s a series of questions that determines your priorities, whether it be dominance (D), influence (i), steadiness (S), or conscientiousness (C). The results can be any combination of letters, or just a singular letter as well. Basically by knowing what you are, you’re able to figure out how to work best with the other types out there. In collaborative work, you’re more efficient if you know to let the D’s implement their ideas, the i’s take action, the S’s create procedures, and the C’s ensure accuracy. More importantly, everyone is happier when they’re being understood, which is the ultimate goal.

So 20 minutes earlier, I had just walked in through the front doors at redpepper, thinking that I was coming in with an open mind, eager to learn and ready to work. Little did I know that I was so wrong and unprepared for what this internship would teach me in just 20 minutes.

Everyday we walk around with certain assumptions that we’ve made based on past experiences. These can be stories that we’ve heard or ones that we lived ourselves. Try as hard as you might, but these assumptions are hard to shake. So, even though I had thought I was prepared for all the new things I was about to learn, I still had some assumptions ingrained in me that I wasn’t even aware of.

Assumption #1: You don’t always know what you thought you knew
At first, I was so confident that I knew what my profile was. I’ve taken the Myers Briggs personality test, and I know what people tell me everyday. I’m an introvert and I care about people most of all. So I could guess that I was probably a C or an S, someone who doesn’t really like to make waves with the people I’m working with. Surprisingly, I’m an iD. At first, I immediately rejected the profile, thinking that I knew better than this new info. I had this misconception about what iD’s were, that they always had to have their way and were always dominating the group. First of all, I was way off the mark with that assumption. My mentors quickly explained how to go through the rest of the report, where it explained that iD’s love to take action, develop new relationships, and persuade others. All of that was true for me, especially in the way that I work. Second of all, I hadn’t taken a workplace profile test like this before, so it was completely irrational for me to be assuming that I knew myself in this context already. And why had I accepted what others thought of me as the truth before? I needed to toss these assumptions out and take these new ideas to heart.

Assumption #2: All of this culture doesn’t actually matter
What I love above redpepper is that nothing about the culture is taken lightly. Those five core values on the wall power the company, and that’s something that can’t be ignored. (Take a look at Andie’s blog post for more insight on our values.) The DiSC profile plays a part of in our culture as well, because it helps root this company. When we understand each other, we recognize our uniqueness but we’re able to grow more effectively as a whole. Whenever I ask my mentors “why do we do this,” the answer is always ”because it’s part of who we are” or “it’s what we believe in.” So, even though it might slip my mind, I’m constantly reminded that a business needs to stay true to its roots, kind of like people. And isn’t that the point, because what would a business be without its people?

Assumption #3: Forget about it
We didn’t just forget about the DiSC profile after onboarding, which is what I assumed would happen. I’ve worked in places before where everything they teach you during training can just be forgotten about 5 minutes later because no one actually implements it. I assumed this company would be just like all those other places. I was wrong. We checkback to the DiSC profile so much, and it is necessary. Often times, I’ve heard “oh it’s the high i in her,” and it’s not an insult. It’s a simple explanation that reminds everyone in the room that everyone works differently, and the best way to work together is to understand where they’re coming from. We’re not going to change who we are as individuals, but we can compromise to generate the best work possible. Sometimes I wish I could make everyone in my life take this test, because it makes communication so much easier when you know exactly what someone prioritizes in life.

Assumption #4: You can’t always be who you want to be
Always stay true to who you are. If you’re an iD, be an iD. Take what you need from your work environment and be aggressive about it. If you need to be creative, ask for the work that will let your ideas flow. If you need time to zone, go for it and don’t be scared of giving yourself that personal time. This is why we take the DiSC profile test; to understand ourselves as workers on a deeper level. Take the information the test gives you, and allow yourself to apply that clarity to the work that you do. When you’re doing what you need to get done for yourself, you’re developing your best work, and that is all redpepper wants for you.

There you have it; the 4 assumptions I made but really shouldn’t have. Even so, I’ve learned more by learning over what I had learnt before. So all in all, I’ve come to realize I shouldn’t shame myself for those assumptions. Everyone has them, and the only way to overcome them is to admit that they exist. Only then can you accept another novel truth.


Wes Lu, Operations intern, Montgomery, NY