#187: Surrounded by Idiots and How to Write a Bestseller

This episode was streamed live a couple of weeks back, where I interviewed best-selling author and behaviorist Thomas Erikson. We discussed Thomas’ journey to becoming a successful author through perseverance and self-publishing.

Thomas shares insights from his work profiling personalities using colors and how understanding different communication styles can help build diverse, high-performing teams. He also offers advice for engineers on effectively presenting solutions to senior leadership. Additionally, Thomas provides perspectives on dealing with perceived “bad bosses” and shares lessons learned from his career writing books.

Listen to the full discussion here:

  • Stream by clicking here.
  • Download as an MP3 here.



Connect with the Guest:

Thomas Erikson is a Swedish behavioral expert, active lecturer, and bestselling author. For more than twenty years, he has traveled all over Europe, delivering lectures and seminars to executives and managers at a wide range of companies, including IKEA, Coca-Cola, Microsoft, and Volvo.

Since its first publication in 2014, “Surrounded by Idiots” has been a Swedish runaway bestseller, it has sold over 3 million copies worldwide and has been translated into 42 languages.


Questions I Asked:

  • What was the journey like when you self-published his book “Surrounded by Idiots”? How did it achieve unexpected success?
  • How did you emphasize the importance of understanding different personality types and communication styles through his colored profiling system?
  • What advice can you offer for building diverse and high-performing teams that can leverage different strengths effectively?
  • What are some tips for engineers and supply chain professionals on effectively communicating solutions to senior leadership?
  • What insights on dealing with perceived “bad bosses” and toxic leaders in the workplace?
  • What lessons have you learned from his career in writing books, including trusting one’s instincts and developing writing routines?

Show notes:

  • [1:14] Could you share some inflection points or key moments on your journey that made a significant difference in shaping who you are today?
  • [3:59] What inspired you to transition from writing thriller fiction to creating a book like “Surrounded by Idiots”? Was there specific feedback or interactions that made you feel confident that this book would be valuable and help a wide audience?
  • [11:40] Could you share the story behind the title of your book, “Surrounded by Idiots”? It seems counterintuitive and might have sounded negative to your publisher at first. How did you convince them to go ahead with it, and how do you think the title contributed to the book’s success?
  • [19:27] When you work with CEOs as an advisor, mentor, and coach, are there any principles or commonalities related to the four personality types and the four colors that are important for building high-performing teams? What top things should they be mindful of, both from your book and your observations with C-level executives?
  • [23:21] While reading your book on the topic, could you highlight some common strategies or principles for handling difficult bosses?
  • [28:36] Do you believe there is an inheritance in leadership traits, particularly within a framework that categorizes them into colors such as red, yellow, green, and blue? Each color is associated with strengths and areas for development, especially in offense. Are there certain colors that tend to produce more leaders? Furthermore, if there are fewer leaders emerging from other colors, are there strategies those particular colors can employ to address this imbalance?
  • [35:42] Any top pieces of advice or principles that have helped you the most and led you to where you are today?

Quotes from the Episode:

Soundbite from the Episode:


About the Host:

What a great discussion I had with Thomas Erikson. I am your host, Radu Palamariu, Managing Director of Alcott Global for APAC and Europe, working on C-level and top management executive search assignments with Top Fortune 500 companies and local conglomerates in value chains for manufacturing, logistics, transportation, supply chain management, and e-commerce and also the co-author of “From Source to Sold – Stories of Leadership in Supply Chain”.

Alcott Global provides Executive Search Solutions for key positions at all pillars of the end-to-end value chain: planning, procurement, manufacturing, logistics, e-commerce, and overall supply chain operations. 

In our Makers & Movers face-to-face events, we bring together value chain executives to connect, collaborate, and innovate – a forum focused on business value creation. 

Yearly, we celebrate and award the Top 30 Leaders in Supply Chain for their achievements in digitizing operations, decarbonization, and sustainability, as well as in creating a diverse and equitable environment for supply chain teams to thrive and excel.

Related Episodes:

#184: What it Takes to be a Great CSCO with SupplyChainBrain

#185: Ditching the Self-Doubt Tax by Developing Authentic Confidence at Work

#186: Shaping a Greener Future for Chemical Supply Chains




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