The Enneagram is a system designed to help people better understand the ways they view the world, react to certain situations, handle trauma, and interpret their emotions. There are nine different Enneagram types, and they include: 

  • One – The Reformer (Conscientious and Ethical)
  • Two – The Helper (Supportive and Sincere)
  • Three – The Achiever (Self-Assured and Charismatic)
  • Four – The Individualist (Self-Aware and Reserved)
  • Five – The Investigator (Alert and Curious)
  • Six – The Loyalist (Committed and Reliable)
  • Seven – The Enthusiast (Enthusiastic and Spontaneous)
  • Eight – The Challenger (Confident and Controlling)
  • Nine – The Peacemaker (Calm and Trusting)

Success-oriented, pragmatic, and adaptable, it comes as no surprise that Threes often find themselves starting businesses and leading teams. There is, of course, a dark side to such outwardly influential attributes. Threes can find themselves entirely overworked, overly critical, and acting extremely vain. Sound like a business person you know?

It’s not to say the Enneagram is how someone will always react to certain stimuli, but it does give a good view into the rationale and behaviors that people have. In the business world, it’s a great tool to help people learn how to better communicate, especially when navigating stress (e.g. Fours love to frantically clean when they’re in distress, so perhaps helping a friend-Four maintain an organized workspace is a way you can help them.) For teams and leaders, the Enneagram is a great option to understand your peers’ driving motivations behind certain actions. We can use this knowledge, as leaders, to have the most beneficial meetings and conversations with different members of our organization.

 

Playing to Enneagram Type 3 Strengths

Intense Work Ethic

Enneagram 3 are magical leaders. They’re excited, adaptable, and love involving the whole team. They are visionaries who see the strengths in others, and love involving the whole team. Seriously, they’re everything you want out of a leader. Oprah’s a Three, what else do you want?

As an entrepreneur, it’s your job to invigorate your team. Use your contagious charm to your advantage, because after all, it’s genuine. A positive, infectious attitude trickles down in a company, and if you show your team that you’re excited about the work you do, they will be too.

Don’t let your infectious Three energy stop at your team, though. Let it seep into the interactions you have with prospects and other entrepreneurs. If founders and CEOs are in your ICP, remember that you’re probably dealing with other Enneagram Type 3 folks. As our Type 3 CEO Alex Boyd puts it:

“We [founders] are empaths, and yet we have to control the instinct to become deeply invested in everything and everyone, because we’ll be non-functional if we’re constantly vulnerable all the time.”

Be a beacon of strength and calmness for the founders you’re interacting with. They’re looking for someone’s whose strength, knowledge, and experience they can rely on. While it comes naturally, putting yourself out there isn’t always easy, so use your vulnerability wisely.

Threes Are Chameleons

As a Three, you have it within yourself to mirror others and adapt to social settings in the moment. This is extremely valuable as an entrepreneur, because you’ll often find yourself amongst people that you feel “out of your league.” Well guess what? You deserve a seat at the table just as much as they do. Remind yourself of that! And if need be, remind those you’re talking to that as well. Give the assurance and affirmation to the founders you’re working with, because they likely want it.

When it comes to finalizing a deal, remember the value in mirroring the tone and language of your prospects. As humans, when we hear something we’re familiar with, we automatically have an emotional connection to it. Whether it’s a song we know we heard once before, or a phrase you might have read, don’t underestimate the importance of showing prospects you’re listening and adjusting to what they say and do. That isn’t to say you should take on their accent or completely mirror their motions. That’d be pretty strange! But, definitely use the nuances someone is giving you as part of your deal-making arsenal.

Threes Create Security

Self-preservation and sufficiency are vital to Threes. As an entrepreneur, part of your company ethos is running a business that gives others the same sense of security that you so badly desire. You want your team to thrive, have freedom to create, and be paid well. You also want that for yourself. Don’t ever let that go! You’re not a selfish person for wanting those things. Quite the opposite.

One thing you can do to ensure that your team always stays ahead of the curve is by diversifying what your company offers. I once had a CEO say to me, “If you’re not coming up with something to put yourself out of business then someone else will. So come up with whatever that is.”

As a Three, you already go to great lengths to advance your work, so this should come easily to you. Perhaps you started as a service company, started using an internal software, and now you’re thinking of packaging that software for others. Start by looking at what your organization does well internally and think about how you can make that work for others.

 

Weaknesses for Enneagram 3 & What to Avoid

Core Fears

Entrepreneurial Threes hold their appearance to the highest standards. More than just physical appearance, the way others view their education, income, influence, social standing, and career is extremely important to them. While that fuels them, it also is their Achilles heel. The hyper-emphasis on external validation for any entrepreneur is futile, though painfully present. (Why can’t we just believe in ourselves!?)

Though external validation isn’t inherently bad, for an Enneagram 3 it can be a problem when your only source of pride comes from other people telling you you’re doing a good job. As a CEO, you’re often going to be someone that people run to when something breaks. That’s never going to feel good, and it can be extremely easy to fixate on the one bad thing going on instead of the multitude of positive things your team is doing.

Don’t strive for approval; strive for authenticity. Inc. looks at external validation as “an empty victory at best and elusive and confidence and soul crushing at worst.” Train your brain to find approval from within yourself, because quite frankly, people are too busy to constantly tell you “good job!” By affirming yourself, you set the precedent that you have control over which metrics you get to use to determine success. There’s power in that.

Threes deeply fear not reaching their full potential, but they also fear losing themselves in producing for recognition. This ties into their grander fears of being viewed as ingenuine and fraudulent. As an entrepreneur, Threes are extremely likely to fall into deep Imposter Syndrome, thinking they don’t deserve anything they’ve achieved and that somehow someone will come away and reveal them to be a fake. (Heck, even Adele told Rolling Stone she feels “[my career] is going to turn out to be a hidden-camera show, and someone is going to send me back to Tottenham.”)

If you find yourself rolling in the deep pit of self-doubt, at least make sure you’re aware of it and don’t linger there too long.

Enneagram 3 Under Stress: How to Deal With It

As a Three myself, I can say I’ve personally felt myself succumbing to the common Three downfalls, often entering manic fits of creation to plow through work. As an entrepreneur, try the following tactics to address your Type 3 weaknesses:

  • Have an Unscheduled Day: give yourself space to not look at your Google Calendar (even if it means you’ve blocked the whole day on your calendar, so technically you have used the calendar but we need to be realistic.) It might not be easy to have an unpredictable day, but let it happen.
  • Affirm Yourself With These Ideas:
    • The expert in anything was once a beginner.
    • Someone way less informed than me was able to create something huge. I can do it too!
    • I deserve a break.
    • People depend on me and respect me.
  • Let Your Mind Wander: don’t control your thoughts! Let your mind drift and don’t stimulate it with work or tasks. When we hold space to breathe, we often find that in the long term we can innovate more and come up with fresh ideas.
  • Take On a New Craft: having a side project unrelated to work can be a source of fulfillment. As an Enneagram Type 3, you’re likely pleased by checking off your to-do list. Having a project separate from your business endeavors gives you something to accomplish which is yours and yours alone, with an entirely different set of “success metrics.”
  • Don’t “Impress”: really focus on not over-sharing every small accomplishment you have. It might be tough, but slowing down the amount you “brag” about what you’re doing will help you start to curb the amount you seek external validation.
  • Practice Gratitude and Humility: don’t inflate your importance, especially to your close circle. Your inner circle gets to see the real you, entrepreneur hat off. Let that be the case.
  • Spend Energy on the Right People: if someone isn’t thinking about you, don’t spend your energy thinking about them! It’s easy to fixate on others, but let that energy be spent on people that deserve it.
  • Listen to Music: like this song, specifically designed for an Enneagram 3.

 

Enneagram 3 Strengths & Social Selling

Threes are really good at talking. Really, really good. They’re often charming and compelling, which makes them excellent when it comes to social selling. As an entrepreneur Type 3, you’re likely hyper passionate about your business. That’s great! Use that to your advantage when you speak to others about what holes your service fills. Use your natural storytelling abilities to talk about what you do without blatantly talking about the features you offer.

Type 3s are notorious for motivating others and helping them find the best in themselves. It comes as no shock that Type 3 CEOs are such good listeners, because they pride themselves on wanting to give genuine and honest advice and guidance. Social selling works when you put the emphasis on the “social part.”

Remove the fluff from your conversations. If you’re speaking with a friend, do you use filler language? Probably not, so don’t do it in your sales conversations. Focus on the person you’re having a conversation with and help them learn how they could do their job better, not on the niche features your product or service has.

As a CEO, it’s easy to want to list off every feature you’ve meticulously worked on creating, but people don’t really care what the feature is, they care what it looks like for them and how it’ll remedy a specific problem they have. As a Type 3, use your sociable and charismatic nature to show your prospects you’re listening. They’ll open up to you and you’ll be able to educate them, which is what social selling is all about.

Drive Conversations as a Thought Leader

If your target audience is on Linkedin, then a Linkedin selling strategy is right for you. By publishing valuable, insightful, and personal content, with professional relevance, people will turn to you when they’re ready to buy. Easier said than done, right? Sort of.

As a Three, you already have the natural charisma and likability that people work their whole lives to achieve. As an entrepreneur, you possess the knowledge to solve someone’s problems. So write about that! Tell stories, share examples, give insight, and start thought provoking threads.

People no longer blindly make purchases from companies. They do their research and want to know that whoever they’re buying from is an expert in their field. Show people you’re an expert. Use your charming nature to your advantage. Engage with people that engage with your content. Write back to them, and when the time is right, go in for a meeting. By that point, you’re already at an advantage, because they trust you.

There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy to make this work, because there’s only one you.

 

It’s really fun to find out which Enneagram type you are. Once you do, you’ll have a better understanding of why you act the way you do. It can be empowering to have insight like that. Before you dive into the test (give yourself roughly 15 minutes) which type do you think you are?

At RevenueZen, we work with all types of entrepreneurs to help bolster their growth strategies. Contact us to talk social selling, marketing, content strategy, or anything branding related. All Enneagram types are welcome.

Jake Moffett

Jake is the Growth Manager at RevenueZen. He works with a number of entrepreneurial clients to help them tell their personal stories as it relates to their professional brands. He has three cats, loves bread, and is a pop singer under the name Jame Doe.