It Was A Hot Summer Day In Boston…

I recently had an epiphany that I want to share with you. Bear with me as I begin my story almost 15 years ago…

When I graduated from college, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I spent years switching jobs, moving from city to city (NYC, Boston, Concord, NH, just to name a few) and generally being aimless.

At one point I decided “wouldn’t it be fun to work in an art gallery?” So I walked into the nicest one, on Newbury Street (Boston) and asked if they were hiring.

When the gallery curator interviewed me, the conversation went (something) like this:

“Do you have any sales experience?” — “Uh, no.”
“Do you have any art background?” —“Hmmm. Nope.”
“Have you ever done anything like this at all?” —“Well, last summer I visited 45 cities in 60 days to hand out Dentyne Ice chewing gum samples on street corners. Does that help?” [See pic at right]

Maybe they were hurting, because despite my un-qualifications I got the job. So I packed up, left bustling Concord, NH, and moved to Boston to sell art.

By the 3rd month, I hit #1 in the Boston gallery. In month 9, I ranked #2 among ALL of the art consultants across the entire national franchise. What happened?

I didn’t get this back then, but in retrospect, it’s clear. I’d studied psychology in college, and in the absence of ANY art knowledge OR sales skills, I relied on a basic “Psych 101” technique: personality profiling.

When people walked into the gallery and it was my “up,” instead of accosting and trying to “sell” them, I focused on reading their body language, adapting to the cues, and developing rapport, mostly by educating them and focusing on the stuff that they wanted to talk about. The sales followed. Lots and lots (and lots!) of sales.

The lesson that I see now, in retrospect, is that I was successful selling because I wasn’t focused on the sale. Instead, I was focused on building relationships, and ultimately TRUST. People want to do business with regular people – not with salespeople, not with logos, not with marketers. Moreover, they want to do business with people they LIKE.

To that end, one of the most powerful ways to connect with other human beings is to adapt to their unique personality type. Do you know the 4 basic types? If not, here’s my “secret weapon” so you can use it too.


First and foremost, it is important to understand that we ALL have elements of all types, but like a preference for right-handedness or left-handedness, most of the population exhibits a natural preference for certain ways of being over others. When we understand our natural preferences, and those of others, communication and interaction is just easier.

In addition, there are MANY different ways of categorizing personality type – The Myers Briggs Type Instrument (a 16-type distinction that, incidentally, my company is certified to administer and interpret), DISC, Keirsey Temperament Sorter, and many, many more.

Below is a SIMPLIFIED 4-type distinction* that can quickly get you to a place where you are recognizing and adapting to different styles. In this type paradigm, there are 4 basic personality types: Lions, Monkeys, Owls and Koalas.

The below designations are adapted from several sources, but the essence is based on my favorite: The Referral Institute’s Behavioral Styles model.

The Lions and Monkeys (top of the chart below) tend to do things FAST. They walk fast, talk fast, drive fast and decide fast.

The Owls and Koalas (bottom of the chart below), tend to take their time. They like to consider things more carefully and tend to be more circumspect in making decisions.

The Lions and Owls (left side of the chart), tend to be more TASK-oriented, whereas the Monkeys and Koalas (right side of the chart) tend to be more PEOPLE-oriented.

The below chart helps you by giving clues about how to adapt to each type.

So, can you tell which type you are? Let me know here. And if you have any questions, post those too!

Michelle Villalobos (veeyalowbos)
(888) 531-3830

3 thoughts on “It Was A Hot Summer Day In Boston…

  1. Loved the personality information you shared! I am both a director and promoter but would love to hear what you have accessed about me so far! Don’t worry I won’t take it personal or hold anything against you….see you soon chica! Let’s have that brainstorming session sometime soon 🙂

  2. Michelle, I always enjoy reading your postings.
    I am familiar with the concept of the different personalities. I am a Koala and a bit of an Owl. My questions is how can I leverage my personality to grow my career when I see most of the people in upper management are Lions with some Monkeys here and there. As you mentioned in your sales story, people like to associate themselves with those who are like them. Do I need to put on my Lion custom and play fast and hard to get further ahead?

    • To some degree, yes, I would advise adapting to what the situation requires. That said, you will always be more comfortable and effective when your natural skill set is a “fit” for your environment… So if and when you are ever looking to make a change in that environment, consider your personality type and the personality profile of the new place. Good luck!

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