Author Archives: Ben

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Ben Woelk Speaking Schedule–Spring 2019

Category:EDUCAUSE,Information Security,Internet Safety,Introverted Leadership,Leadership,Lessons Learned,Schedule,Uncategorized

Spring 2019 Speaking Schedule

Here’s my virtual and in-person schedule. I hope to see many of you.

Don’t forget to listen to the Hope for the Introvert podcast!

 

Schedule

Date Event Topic Format More information
30 January Southwestern Ontario Webinar The Introvert in the Workplace: Becoming an Influencer and Leader Webinar
31 January Content Wrangler A Tale of Two Podcasts Webinar With Allie Proff. Register today!
6 February STC NYC Metro Lessons Learned on an Introvert’s Journey to Leadership Webinar
23-24 March CPTC Training Class at RIT CPTC Training Training Class Rochester Institute of Technology
25 March STC Rochester Spectrum Conference Leadership Opportunities May be Closer Than They Appear Presentation Rochester. With Sara Feldman
25 March STC Rochester Spectrum Conference Closing Keynote: Building the Next Gen Technical Communicator Presentation Rochester. Spectrum website
9 April TNConX webinar series TBD Presentation Webinar
5 May STC Summit Conference Leadership Opportunities May be Closer Than They Appear Presentation Denver. With Sara Feldman
7 May STC Summit Conference A Tale of Two Podcasts Presentation Denver. With Allie Proff
13 May EDUCAUSE Security Professionals Conference Know Which Way the Wind Blows: Security Awareness that Soars Preconference Seminar Chicago. With Tara Schaufler
15 May EDUCAUSE Security Professionals Conference Considerations for Security Awareness and Inclusive Design Presentation Chicago. With Tara Schaufler
22 May Genesee Valley Chapter SHRM monthly meeting Cybersecurity and HR Presentation Rochester

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Episode 012: Helen Harbord–Culture, Temperament, and Meeting Behavior

Category:introversion,introverts,Podcast

Episode 012 Show Notes: Helen Harbord

Introduction

Helen Harbord and Ben Woelk discuss the impact of culture on temperament,  and how Americans, Brits, extroverts, and introverts behave in meetings.  

Key concepts

  • Culture and Temperament
  • Introverts and Extroverts in Meetings

Quotable

I think when people talk about introverts it tends to often have a bit of a negative connotation, and I think the worldview of it is that it’s better to be an extrovert, or it’s easier to be an extrovert

I don’t know if it correlates with introvert/extrovert or not, but some people will wait for a gap in the conversation before they say anything. They’ll literally wait for space and then they’ll speak. And then other people will just keep talking until somebody else says something. And I think both of those groups can really conflict.

At work, we’re sort of a half British and half American team and we definitely notice a difference in terms of just the way on a daily call, it’s nearly always run by people on the American side. They’re the ones that put their ideas forward first, and then it’s the Brits who kind of come along and give their opinion. And I’ve really noticed this, and it’s not to do with the structure of the team. It’s just–I think it’s definitely a cultural divide and it is really interesting.

I think one of the introvert things that I definitely do notice, because I struggle with it, is the whole not speaking up in a meeting thing, and it frustrates the heck out of me. It really does. Because it’s not that I’m shy. It’s not that I don’t want to speak. I literally don’t know why I do it.

Resources or Products Mentioned in this Episode

Links

Transcript

Ben: Joining us today is Helen Harbord. Helen describes herself as a sociable introvert who spends her working days as a technical writer for Elsevier. She’s responsible for creating all kinds of user assistance for a clinical trials application used in the health research industry. Helen has been working in technical communication since 1996 and is a Fellow of the Institute of Scientific and Technical Communicators (ISTC) in the UK. Helen does film extra work, voice-over work, and actor training. She also runs yonndr.com, a site where you can search for novels set in specific real world locations. I met Helen this fall at the TCUK conference in Daventry, England, where I delivered a keynote on introverted Leadership. Helen participated in my workshop, Temperament-based Strategies for Excelling in the Workplace. Although Helen didn’t speak at the conference, her background fits the conference theme of Pursuits of the Polymath well. You can contact Helen on LinkedIn or at Helen@HelenHarbord.co.uk.

Ben: Hi Helen. I’m really excited you’re joining us today. I’m looking forward to your perspectives on introverted leadership and getting to know you a bit better. You have some really fascinating side interests. Can you tell us a little bit about your work and what a typical day or week might be?

Helen: Yeah, sure. I work for quite a large organization, but my actual team is fairly small. It’s probably about 12 of us on a day-to-day working [basis]. Half of our team is in Philadelphia and the other half in London here. I’m the only one of me on my team, so I’m the only technical writer, and that’s quite nice because it gives me quite a lot of autonomy. I can make my own decisions and that kind of thing, and we’re an Agile team, which if you’ve not come across that term, it’s a particular approach to software development. There are lots of opportunities to connect with the team on a daily basis, so work is divided into about three week sprints, and then for each of those sprints we have a whole set of meetings that we do, so we call them the ceremonies. They’re particular kinds of meetings and they happen every day. So there’s lots of regular contact with the team.

Ben: Is there a specific kind of tool that you’re using to do that contact?

Helen: Oh, we have so many channels! We mostly use Lynk which is a bit like Skype for our actual meetings, and we use Slack, we use Jira, we use Confluence. There’s so many–and actually that can make it quite difficult to keep track because you know you’ve just had a conversation with somebody, but you have to remember which channel it was and where you’ve written down the thing that you want. So that can be quite tricky. But on the whole, we use conferencing software. When we are in big meeting rooms, we use the camera as well. When we’re at home, we just use audio.

Ben: Yeah, I’m running into the same problem: starting to use all these multiple channels to converse with people and probably spending more time looking for, “Where was that conversation?” then it should take by far to do that. They’ve given us more power, but now we have more opportunities to not be able to find where we were talking.

Using all these multiple channels to converse with people and probably spending more time looking for, 'Where was that conversation? Now we have more opportunities to not be able to find where we were talking. Click To Tweet

Helen: I think so, and also the company I work for, they’re a research organization. They’re particularly keen on new tools and new stuff, so I think we have it particularly bad.

Ben: So one thing that came up–you and I were talking before the podcast and this question of introversion versus extroversion and wondering–we were discussing whether you were an introvert or you were an extrovert. Let’s talk a little bit more about that. What have you found when you take these different types of inventories and what conclusions are you drawing at this point?

Helen: Well, I’ve always assumed that I was more on the introvert side. I think as a child I was quite shy. I was quite quiet and I definitely identify with quite a few of the introvert characteristics in the way I always think before I act. Yeah, I am fairly quiet, so I’ve always assumed I was an introvert. But then, whenever I do these tests, I generally come out as just slightly into the extrovert spectrum, which was a real surprise, I must say. But then when I think about it, I do love people. I love meeting people. All those sorts of things ring true, so I think I’m kind of a bit in the middle. I think I definitely veer a bit more towards introversion, but then I wonder if it’s because…I don’t know. I think when people talk about introverts it tends to often have a bit of a negative connotation, and I think the worldview of it is that it’s better to be an extrovert, or it’s easier to be an extrovert, and you know we talk about it’s an extrovert world. I’m not sure it really is. I think they just show up a bit more. You know extroverts are really obvious, aren’t they? So I think you’re more aware of them, but I’m really not sure where I am now. Having thought about this a lot more preparing for this talk. I think I definitely am an introvert, but I think I’m an introvert with some extrovert tendencies or the other way around. I haven’t quite decided. Maybe I’ll know more by the end of our chat!

I think when people talk about introverts it tends to often have a bit of a negative connotation, and I think the worldview of it is that it's better to be an extrovert, or it's easier to be an extrovert. Click To Tweet

Ben: Yeah, or I’ll have you totally confused by then, which is possible too!

Helen: Oh, I like that! [laughing]

Ben: It was interesting, because at the conference, we had Karla Reiss there from Brazil and I talked to her a little bit about this, too, because one of the things when you start looking at countries and whether they have dominant personality types, there are a lot of articles out there that say there are no introverts in Brazil–that it’s a totally extroverted population there. I found one list that they had the top ten extroverted countries. I don’t know how they measured it, but the idea was it was all of the Latin types of cultures. So it was really–it’s kind of interesting, and I don’t know how much real research has been done on that.

Helen: And also, who did the research? Was it people from outside of those countries? So what were they comparing it with and what was their sort of baseline in a way? Because I know at work, we’re sort of a half British and half American team and we definitely notice a difference in terms of just the way on a call–on a daily call, it’s nearly always run by people on the American side. They’re the ones that put their ideas forward first, and then it’s the Brits who kind of come along and give their opinion. And I’ve really noticed this, and it’s not to do with the structure of the team. It’s just–I think it’s definitely a cultural divide and it is really interesting.

Ben: Yeah, I agree. I think that is interesting. I looked at some temperament typing around the UK and the US, but of course, it’s very similar. The surveys they had done around that were very similar, because the cultures still are in a lot of ways alike, although of course there are some big differences.

Helen: I think another thing too. So many things come into it because you think all introvert/extrovert, and then there’s so much else–how you’re brought up and what’s your environment. And the fact that I work from home most of the time, so I have to make even more effort to be part of the team, really. And I love working from home. I really do, but I absolutely love going into the office and it energizes me, which is absolutely an extrovert thing. But, is that because I’m working from home the rest of the time? And you kind of look up sort of the traits of introversion and it’s saying they need time. They need time alone, or the extrovert things as too much time alone drives them mad. Well, too much time alone will drive anyone mad! What is too much?

Introverts need time alone. For extroverts, too much time alone drives them mad. Well, too much time alone will drive anyone mad! What is too much? Click To Tweet

Helen: I have a colleague who also works from home and I would definitely put him in the introvert category, but he says he works from home and if he goes too long without seeing anyone, he says he starts singing. He starts doing a commentary, like he’s making a–he’ll sing it to himself, and then he’ll sing that he’s walking upstairs, and he realizes that when it gets to that point, he needs to get out and see someone. You know, just talk to somebody. But I would say he’s definitely an introvert, but then if he did the test, he would say, “Oh yes, I come alive when I see people,” so that pushes you straight into the extrovert side. But it might not be a true assessment if you see what I mean, because I think working from home every day, I don’t think it’s a natural thing for a person to do. I think we’re supposed to be with people, aren’t we? We’re a community. So I think if you put someone in that artificial environment, I think that’s going to sway the outcome of an assessment.

Ben: Yeah, I think that’s definitely the case and I see that. I work on a college campus and there are plenty of people around. So for me, when I get home, that’s kind of good. I can get away from all of these crowds of people. My wife is an extrovert, but she works from home and she is climbing the walls by the end of the week, if not earlier, because she has not had this social interaction with people. But it was funny this last weekend, I was at a–actually a Society for Technical Communication board meeting this last weekend, and one of our directors works by himself from home, and he was just so happy to see people at that point in time. And we were joking around “Well, we’re glad you remembered to put clothes on for this, because it’s like, oh, I got dressed today, because I’m actually going to see people!” [Helen laughing] And my wife also says that she’s becoming more introverted, and again, I don’t know whether, you know, that’s probably from working at home, as much as anything else. So we’ll run with the idea that you’re probably introverted, [Helen laughing] but we’re not really sure with this.

Ben: How do you feel like your temperament affects how you approach your work and maybe life in general?

Helen: Well, I think one of the introvert things that I definitely do notice, because I struggle with it, is the whole not speaking up in a meeting thing. And it frustrates the heck out of me! It really does. Because it’s not that I’m shy. It’s not that I don’t want to speak. I literally don’t know why I do it. I just–I can’t understand it. I know there’s this thing about some introverts feel they’re sort of quite slower thinkers. They take their time to think about things. And that really confuses me, because I know I’m not a slow thinker. I know I’m quite quick and my husband’s always commenting on it that I grasp something really quickly or whatever, but I think there’s a difference between thinking about things and actually processing in terms of what to actually say. I really don’t know. I studied linguistics at University and I would really like to go back and study this because it really–I think it’s really interesting. Why do we do it? And it makes you appear as though you’re really shy or you’re lacking confidence, which is dreadful in a work situation because if you’re genuinely not, that’s not how you want to come across.

I think one of the introvert things that I definitely do notice, because I struggle with it, is the whole not speaking up in a meeting thing, and it frustrates the heck out of me. It really does. Because it's not that I'm shy. It's… Click To Tweet

Helen: And then I think sometimes there’s a pressure to just say anything, just literally anything. I read an article on how to be an introvert in the workplace thing. One of the things it said was make sure that you say something in the meeting quite early on. It doesn’t matter what it is, just say something so that people know you’re there, and I think especially when you’re on an online call, that’s quite a good piece of advice because people literally don’t know you’re there unless you speak. But I think sometimes you end up just saying stuff that you don’t really mean or stuff that you don’t really–it doesn’t come out quite right because you’re rushing to get it there. So I think that’s the one thing that I would say is a struggle, but it’s definitely not all struggles and I think there are definitely a lot of good things that come out of being a bit more of a somebody who sits back and observes a lot more. I think if you can listen and observe and not be constantly thinking what you’re going to say, you get a lot more out of the meeting.

Helen: Yeah, It’s interesting, but another thing that…I think another Ph.D. waiting to happen in Linguistics, is this whole thing about different types of speakers. I’ve noticed this in business meetings, too. I don’t know if it correlates with introvert/ extrovert or not, but some people will wait for a gap in the conversation before they say anything. They’ll literally wait for space and then they’ll speak. And then other people will just keep talking until somebody else says something. And I think both of those groups can really conflict. If you’re the person who’s waiting for a gap and sitting there thinking, “Will they ever shut up! Am I ever going to get a word in edgewise?” And the other people are talking on thinking, “Is this woman never going to say anything?” And it’s like this kind of clash of sort of talking personalities, if you like. And I think often that comes from family upbringing. If you’ve been brought up in a big family, you have to speak in order to be heard, because no one’s gonna give you a chance otherwise. I think that has a lot of that to do with it. I think it has a lot to do with politeness and all that kind of thing. Does that correlate with introversion? And that’d be really interesting to find out.

I don't know if it correlates with introvert/ extrovert or not, but some people will wait for a gap in the conversation before they say anything. They'll literally wait for space and then they'll speak. And then other people will… Click To Tweet

Ben: Yeah, I think that’s a really good question. One of the things that I have found in talking with my extrovert friends, sometimes there’s a discomfort with silence, and because silence can be judged as negative. If the other person’s not saying anything just to kind of–I think Kirk talked about this as cuing behavior in a prior podcast, where you’re at least making sure that the other person knows that you’re engaged whether you’re talking or not. There are so many times I can be in a conversation with someone and I’m thinking and I’m thinking a lot, and of course you can’t hear that going on outside, but the assumption may very well be (and has been at times) that I’m just not paying attention or that I think poorly of the situation and that I’m not commenting, but it’s very much–It is an interesting facet of meeting behavior because I am very much wanting to wait for a gap before I’ll say something, and there are times that that gap just doesn’t happen, or someone else jumps into the gap and then I’ll be pushing back and saying, well, “I–that was my time to say something.” Generally, I probably appear in meeting behavior now more extroverted, and I think part of it is that I have learned more about–I still will not process verbally, but to make sure that I’m getting whatever point out that needs to be said while it’s still the appropriate time. But they’re oftentimes like, “Can we go back to this?” Because the conversation has moved on, but I did not take advantage of the opportunity to contribute to it. I’m very much more–I’ll sit back there and analyze and part of it is, “Well, hmm, should I say something because I know this isn’t going to work for these specific reasons?” but I also don’t want to just shut down conversations sometime.

It is an interesting facet of meeting behavior because I am very much wanting to wait for a gap before I'll say something, and there are times that that gap just doesn't happen, or someone else jumps into the gap and then I'll be… Click To Tweet

Helen: Yes, that’s tricky. And I think part of that–managing that is just, not being apologetic for who you are because whatever it is that makes us like that, whether it’s introversion or whatever it is, I think being able to–just feeling you can in a meeting say, “Oh, can we just go back to this?” or “Something just occurred to me about what you said earlier,” you know, that kind of thing. And I find certainly in my team–it could be that I’m really lucky because I have a really nice people to work with–but nobody ever minds. They just don’t mind if you have to say that, and people are fine about it. And I think also it sets a good example to others if we can do it, because then it shows that that’s acceptable, and it’s the thing you can do.

Ben: And the thing that you said earlier about what you had read that advised saying something early in a meeting, I think that’s important in a sense. Even if it’s not something really substantive, just to get you in the pattern of engaging verbally in the meeting, rather than just sitting back towards the end of it and then coming up with a, “Well that’s a great observation,” but you wait until the very end of the meeting. So I think there may be some–it may be a–I don’t know if it’s a practice type thing or cuing thing for ourselves or something that just kind of gets us more in that verbally engaged mode rather than just engaged in our thoughts around it.

Saying something early in a meeting, I think that's important in a sense. Even if it's not something really substantive, just to get you in the pattern of engaging verbally in the meeting, rather than just sitting back towards the… Click To Tweet

Helen: Also, I’m trying to look at it from the other side as it were. If you were an extrovert in a meeting and then someone who sat there silently the whole time, didn’t speak, and then said something at the end. I would think that was a bit weird, to be quite honest. And I think anytime you’re in a meeting, particularly if you’re physically together and somebody’s sitting there not speaking, you do start to think, “Well, what are they thinking? Are they just–are they disapproving? And you now you start to get that whole sort of lack of confidence about why are they not saying anything? It’s almost like, yeah, they’re just disapproving of you. They’re not speaking. Because they’re not speaking, you just can’t gauge it. So I think in a way it’s kind of unfair on the rest of the team to sit there silently. Although, I do sometimes do it myself. But yeah, just trying to see it from the other point of view.

Extras

Yonndr.com screenshot


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Episode 011: Janine Rowe–Introvert Role Models

Category:Higher Education,introversion,Introverted Leadership,introverts,personality,Podcast

Episode 011 Show Notes: Janine Rowe

Introduction

Janine Rowe and Ben Woelk discuss the importance of introvert role models, Matilda, Eighth Grade, and a couple of painful public experiences we had as introverts.  

Key concepts

  • Influencing and leading
  • Classroom superlatives
  • Role models

Quotable

I remember so clearly–the day that I found out my Myers Briggs type and how validated I felt, how I felt heard and understood, and I felt that I wasn’t alone. So I think the first recommendation I have for my fellow introverts is if you haven’t experienced the Myers Briggs Type Indicator or the Keirsey Temperament Assessments, is to do a complete assessment and really explore how those aspects of your personality are working together and what unique advantages you might have. It has been such a gift for me, just in embracing rather than working against myself.

(Speaking about Matilda) So talk about introvert power! She’s showing us that even though people may not understand, because you’re not outwardly expressing yourself or telling them what it is that’s important to you or what your goals are. She’s able to just work on herself and really her skill.

How painful it can be if you are called out in a public way for your quietness, for your introversion, or for your shyness, as painful, because you’re at the center of attention, which, if you’re an introvert, you probably don’t like that anyway.

It’s not that we don’t like people and extroverts are the ones that like people, that’s just where our energy comes from, especially as it’s related to that interaction.

One of the things that I’ve had to practice doing,…is I’ve learned to verbalize more. For example, I’m really excited about this event or about this project and just putting it out there for people is not my typical nature to do that, but I found that it’s really important for my colleagues who do tend to be more extroverted. They really rely on that verbal feedback,

Resources or Products Mentioned in this Episode

Links

Transcript

Ben: Welcome back Janine. Looking forward to another great conversation today. Let’s talk about the ways that you’ve been an influencer or leader. What are the active steps that you’re taking in that? Is it something that you’ve recognized that you want to be or something that’s been thrust upon you? How would you describe your role or pursuit or non pursuit of being an influencer or a leader?

Janine: Yeah, certainly that’s something I’ve been working on over the past recent years. I’m currently finishing up a term as vice president of the New York State Career Development Association, which is our state affiliate to the national association, and I’m president for these upcoming two years. So that’s a big test for me. But I have really good support in my most immediate past president. I’ve also found out–I realized that I’ve been seeking out some leadership opportunities within professional associations that are by their nature, small committees that may work really deeply and significantly on a specific issue. A lot of people gave me advice, “Well, just run for the board,” or you know, “Just go up for a position,” and I hope to do that someday. But in the meantime, I’ve been a part of a counselor education academy and a leadership academy, which are both small groups that meet regularly over the course of two years to advance a specific advocacy project within the association.

Janine: That’s really been perfect for me because it’s a small group of about 10 people. And we can have an audience to give our findings to the board. Another thing that’s been helpful is seeking out leadership in spaces where there’s a lot of other introverts in the group. So within something like a national career development association, a lot of us are introverts and counselors there. So I feel that it’s really–it’s home–and there people don’t mind if you sit out of sessions and things like that because I think they understand how overwhelming the convention can be.

Ben: What recommendations do you have for introverts who want to become influencers or leaders?

Janine: When I think of this question, I think–I remember so clearly–the day that I found out my Myers Briggs type and how validated I felt, how I felt heard and understood, and I felt that I wasn’t alone. So I think the first recommendation I have for my fellow introverts is if you haven’t experienced the Myers Briggs Type Indicator or the Keirsey Temperament Assessments, is to do a complete assessment and really explore how those aspects of your personality are working together and what unique advantages you might have. It has been such a gift for me, just in embracing rather than working against myself. Other than that, I think there has been some element of “fake it ’til you make it” and just trying different things out in terms of speaking up in meetings or going out to do a presentation or professional development training, because for me, the more I have put myself out of my comfort zone, the more I do–the more I can do in the future. So even though I’m not always 100 percent comfortable in those settings, it does help me to develop those skills and be more comfortable now.

A recommendation I have for my fellow introverts is if you haven't experienced the Myers Briggs Type Indicator or the Keirsey Temperament Assessments, is to do a complete assessment and really explore how those aspects of your… Click To Tweet

Ben: Stretching yourself or kind of pushing yourself beyond what you’re comfortable with has been a recurring theme in the conversations that I’ve had in previous podcasts as well. So I think for our listeners, I would really embrace that, because we don’t change unless we do something different. And I’ve looked at every step I’ve taken on my leadership journey and many, many times I’ve taken a big gulp and then stepped forward into it, worried or afraid of what the results might be. But overall it’s worked well for me. So I think that’s a really interesting point as well.

We don't change unless we do something different. And I've looked at every step I've taken on my leadership journey and many, many times I've taken a big gulp and then stepped forward into it, worried or afraid of what the results… Click To Tweet

Ben: One of the things that Janine and I have talked about is the idea of appropriate role models for introverts. And I think this is really important in our Western society, given that the ideal is an extrovert leader and that’s who many of the business schools train people to be. And even though we’re probably close to a 50/50 split in the population between extroverts and introverts, I think most of the studies have shown it’s extroverts who tend to have the higher positions in companies, even though there doesn’t seem to be any real evidence that they’re going to be any more effective doing this. So what do you think about this idea of introvert role models. And the other way you phrased it was, classroom superlatives?

Janine: Definitely. I think we really need to be on the lookout for individuals who are influential or powerful or who we just admire for the quality of their work who are introverts. Because I do think that sometimes extroverts can be better at promoting themselves and letting others know all of what they’re capable of and all of their accomplishments. A nd I’ve also noticed that introverts–especially maybe in TV or movies–they can be associated as lacking in social skills or that the introversion is a negative aspect of their personality and something that they need to work through. And so I think we should pay attention to those examples where the introversion is a kind of a key aspect of an individual’s success.

Ben: I think given our society that we are often presented with introversion being a handicap or a handicap towards leadership of some kind. And as I’ve learned more about my temperament type (which is INTJ), I found that I learned more about what I can do as an introvert. And I’m not really seeing it as a detriment at this point at all. It’s really more, these are the strengths I bring as an introvert. And that informs my approach to leadership, because I can build on the strengths and stay–not stay away completely–but try to avoid some of the things that are not going to work well for me. Well–and I think this works for all of us–we each kind of learn our own path and what works for us and what things don’t work as well. Now you had mentioned role models and I’m struggling a little bit with this as well, trying to figure out who are our introvert role models, because much of what we do see on TV or in media in general does seem to be people who have very, very poor social skills. Do you have any thoughts about who would serve as a role model? Maybe if not real life people at this point, what about fictional characters?

Janine: The first thing that comes into my mind would be Matilda in the Roald Dahl book and the movie. Matilda definitely is an introvert role model. I actually identify a lot with her because as a young child, she spent a great deal of time on her own and she loved reading, and she was because of this, really misunderstood by her family, and they just saw that as a negative trait and she was really an outcast from her own immediate family unit. And another way we know she’s an introvert is because she was so choosy and particular with who she would become close friends with. And that was primarily her teacher. And she had one friend whose name was Lavender. And throughout the book, her introversion is really her power, because she’s discovering that through really intense conversation and through practice.

Janine: And she always practiced alone, which I think is a really, to me, a very important aspect of introversion is we don’t like to practice new skills in front of other people. Neither did she. So she learned that through concentration she was able to manipulate objects in the environment just with her eyes. And so she gets really good at doing this and she becomes the hero, because she uses this power to exact some revenge on the villain in the story, which is her horrible, awful principal at the school. So talk about introvert power! She’s showing us that even though people may not understand, because you’re not outwardly expressing yourself or telling them what it is that’s important to you or what your goals are. She’s able to just work on it herself and really her skill. It’s a very lovely book and movie, so I recommend it.

Ben: Yeah. it sounds like a really good role model for an introvert. It’s trying to think in terms of introverts in say, in real life, I don’t really like to term and who the better known introverts are in initially. Of course I was drawing a total blank with that, so I Googled it and pulled up a list. So for our listeners, some of the well-known introverts in history, (those are the ones that have been regarded as most successful) include Albert Einstein, Rosa Parks, Bill Gates, Steven Spielberg, Sir Isaac Newton, (who I’m sure did not take a Meyer Briggs), Eleanor Roosevelt, Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Page, and the list goes on and on. And Abraham Lincoln, JK Rowling, Warren Buffet, Gandhi, you know, very, very well known names. So we do have people that we can look at as role models who have been very successful as introverts and of course they work in different ways than the extroverts that we would see in the world around us.

Ben: Janine, what else could you share that would be helpful to our listeners?

Janine: I had the most intense and just unexpected reaction to a movie which is out now. And I recommend that listeners go and check it out because I think us introverts will find a lot to identify with. The movie’s called Eighth Grade, and in it, there’s a main character who is an eighth grader–a young woman and she really–not just as an introvert–she really suffers with social anxiety, and there’s a scene early on when they’re handing out Classroom Superlatives for the Yearbook. And so these are things like Most Likely to Succeed or Best Eyes that her classmates are winning and they’re so happy to be doing so. And then she wins for Most Quiet. So she’s recognized as the most quiet person in her school and she’s just mortified by this. And I couldn’t believe it because when I was in high school, I was voted Most Likely to Come to School and Leave Without Talking to Anyone.

Janine: And–and I was so embarrassed to receive that so-called recognition award. It was painful to be called out publicly for being quiet, when I did not consider that to be a detriment or a flaw at all. That was just where I was most comfortable. And it was true that sometimes I would go into a room and leave and not talk to anyone, so I was so pleased to see validation of that experience, even though it was fictional, to show how painful it can be if you are called out in a public way for your quietness, for your introversion, or for your shyness, as painful, because you’re at the center of attention, which, if you’re an introvert, you probably don’t like that anyway. And also because it’s really a mischaracterization of our experience. In the movie she is shy, but she has definitely a social appetite and a want to connect with friends.

How painful it can be if you are called out in a public way for your quietness, for your introversion, or for your shyness, as painful, because you're at the center of attention, which, if you're an introvert, you probably don't like… Click To Tweet

Ben: Most of our listeners right now are saying, “What’s the problem with being quiet again?” But I know high school, junior high and high school, it’s like everything that could possibly be different or unique is just called out at some point. It’s like if you don’t fit the mold of whatever that ideal is, somebody draws attention to it.

Janine: Exactly.

Ben: So one thing that’s interesting, you talked about introverts not wanting to be the center of attention. I know for me personally that there have been a couple of times where I’ve received public recognition for things unexpectedly and my mind has just gone blank at the time, because I think there’s such cognitive dissonance that I’m just not prepared to deal with it. And I’ve mutely gone up and accepted whatever that recognition or award is, but I have not had a clue as far as what should I say, should I say anything? So it’s–it’s interesting. But that whole being unexpectedly put on the spot, at times I found that, I don’t know if I could say I’ve found it terrifying, but it’s definitely been really uncomfortable.

Janine: It’s definitely an uncomfortable experience. And then if you’re anything like me, which I think you are, you spend a lot of the remainder of the day and the next day thinking about how you could have handled that differently.

Ben: Now, I’m going to think about the one time however many years ago and why, why couldn’t I have been more socially apt and been able to handle that better?

Janine: What was the situation?

Ben: That situation was–actually, it was college and I was part of a band service fraternity called Kappa Kappa Psi, and we had a sister organization called Tau Beta Sigma. The chapter was Beta Xi, and they had an award each year for their Beta Xi Guy, who had been helpful to them through the year for their organization. And I was at a picnic where they were giving out these recognition awards and they announced my name for it, and I just sat there. I didn’t have anything to say. I had no response and I hope they understood. I was appreciative of being recognized for the–for that award, but I just wasn’t prepared to say a thing. Now, if I’m going into something and I have some idea, hey, you’re going to be recognized for something or attention is going to be placed on you for some reason, it’s a little bit different because I can get ready for it psychologically, but otherwise no, I just totally draw a blank with it.

Janine: I can understand that. Yeah. Being prepared with a heads up is definitely a key and I’m quite sure I could not have conjured up a different response than you did in that situation.

Ben: No. What ended up–and this is probably going to be no surprise to our introverted listeners. When Janine and I get together we can talk about pretty much anything because we’re comfortable with each other, because over time we’ve been able to build that relationship. So it is interesting that the public view of what an introvert is like doesn’t necessarily meet that inward reality at all.

Janine: Absolutely. I think that’s key. And we both do have a social appetite, so we’re introverts who are quite motivated by forming relationships as well. And I want more people to understand that about introverts. It’s not that we don’t like people and extroverts are the ones that like people, that’s just where our energy comes from, especially as it’s related to that interaction.

It's not that introverts don't like people and extroverts are the ones that like people, that's just where our energy comes from, especially as it's related to that interaction. @janinemrowe Click To Tweet

Ben: Any additional thoughts that you think would be helpful to our listeners?

Janine: I have realized early on in my career as a counselor that I sometimes come off as aloof or uninterested in my colleagues, and I really don’t want that because that’s not true. It may just be I’m oriented not to make small talk and those types of things. And so that was creating kind of a misunderstanding or mischaracterization of how I was really feeling. So one of the things that I’ve had to practice doing that may help our listeners is I’ve learned to verbalize more. For example, “I’m really excited about this event or about this project”, and just putting it out there for people is not my typical nature to do that, but I found that it’s really important for my colleagues who do tend to be more extroverted. They really rely on that verbal feedback from their colleagues so I try to provide that for them.

Ben: I think that’s a great way to wrap up the program. Thank you, Janine, for agreeing to be on the podcast with me and we look forward to you joining us a guest again in the future.

Janine: Thank you. I enjoyed talking with you.

Extras

STC Lightning Talks from STC Rochester on Vimeo.


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Episode 010: Janine Rowe–Neurodiversity and Finding Your Niche

Category:introversion,Introverted Leadership,introverts,personality,Podcast

Episode 010 Show Notes: Janine Rowe

Introduction

Janine Rowe and Ben Woelk discuss neurodiversity and career counseling, MBTI, career choice and finding your niche, and presentations. 

Key concepts

  • Neurodiversity
  • MBTI
  • Preparing for presentations

Quotable

Neurodiverse students and diverse individuals–that really refers to individuals who have some variance in how they learn and think about the world…So what we’re finding is that individuals who are neurodiverse often have a lot of skill sets that are really in demand in the workplace

As an introvert I also have a preference for really getting to know people on a deep level. Rather than knowing a little bit about a lot of people, I can get to know people deeply.

It was very important to me to pick a career where my listening abilities, which is something that just comes naturally to me, that I would be able to use that as a primary skill set that I use every single day, and it’s really a key to being able to do my job well.

(Speaking about presentations) So for me, listening to music through headphones is very important in terms of preparation and I think it serves a couple of purposes for me. One, is so that I can control some of the sensory input that I’m getting, and just drown out what I don’t want. And it helps kind of manage some of my nervous energy, so I like to listen to something that I know very well–something I know by heart. So I also don’t get overstimulated from that as well.

Resources or Products Mentioned in this Episode

Links

Transcript

Ben: Joining us today is Janine Rowe. Janine is a career counselor at the Rochester Institute of Technology where she provides guidance to students on identifying educational career and life plans that suit their interests and goals. Janine is also a counselor, educator and supervisor, author, and advocate for the advancement of neurodiverse individuals in the workplace. She has an M.S. Ed. In counselor education from the College at Brockport, SUNY, and is a certified MBTI practitioner. You can contact Janine at Janine.Rowe@rit.edu. Janine and I are colleagues at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Janine was a contributor to the February 2017 issue of Intercom magazine where she wrote the “Intersection of ASD and Technical Communication,” where she interviewed technical communication practitioners who had been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.

Ben: Hi Janine. Welcome to the podcast. Let’s talk about your role as a career counselor at RIT, and I’d like to know more about how you advocate for the advancement of neurodiverse individuals and what that actually means.

Janine:Thank you, Ben, for having me. Happy to be here. My role here at RIT is primarily to meet with students one-on-one and help them explore a lot of facets about themselves that go into making an informed educational choice and career choice. So it really has a lot to do with encouraging self awareness and self exploration and connecting that with information about the world of work. And in doing that, I have found I’m kind of in a niche area. And working with the neurodiverse students and diverse individuals–that really refers to individuals who have some variance in how they learn and think about the world, and primarily that’s our students who are on the autism spectrum, but also includes individuals with dyslexia, learning disabilities, and other related disorders. So what we’re finding is that individuals who are neurodiverse often have a lot of skill sets that are really in demand in the workplace. But unfortunately, what was happening is when they’re going–competing against their peers, they didn’t have as much success as their neuro-typical peers or individuals who are not on the autism spectrum. And so a lot of my work is helping people who are in the position to make hiring decisions and make promotional decisions on behalf of these individuals. They really understand the unique contributions that neurodiverse employees can make in the workplace.

What we're finding is that individuals who are neurodiverse often have a lot of skill sets that are really in demand in the workplace. @JanineMRowe Click To Tweet

Ben: Now, is that just something that is specific to RIT or is this something we’re starting to see more of across higher education?

Janine: That’s a great question. It certainly was born out of the need to work with the individuals that were already here at RIT who are neurodiverse. And since we’ve been doing that, we get quite a lot of questions from individuals in the community, from employers from all around the world really, who want to know more about neurodiverse hiring. So it’s been very rewarding.

Ben: That’s really interesting. So what is your workplace like? How do you typically spend your day? What do you find challenging as an introvert?

Janine: So I have a pretty large staff team. There’s about 35 of us, but I feel within this team I have the absolute ideal role for an introvert, which is the majority of my time (up to 80 to 90 percent) I am doing one-on-one counseling and able to just meet with students individually. And so that gives me a lot of time to just reflect and work with the students in that one-on-one setting where I don’t have a lot of interruptions, and I don’t have a lot of demands to do multitasking–things like that. So that’s really what I set out to do. I knew that that setting would be a good fit for me. I also teach undeclared students in a class called Career Exploration Seminar that meets once a week. And my office in general, Career Services and Cooperative Education, we put on a lot of events and we’re in general, very externally focused–we conduct a lot of outreach. So I do get involved with those somewhat, but it’s not a primary focus of my role.

Ben: What do you find to be most challenging as an introvert in your office?

Janine: Even though I do have in a lot of ways, an ideal role for an introvert, there are some things that routinely challenge me, and the biggest one I think is when my phone rings, especially if I’m not expecting it. That’s just a–I guess–an occupational hazard. But I do find it challenging to speak up in meetings. I know a lot of us share that trait. Especially if I am speaking up in a meeting and I’m interrupted at some point, which you can imagine that can happen in team meetings–as much as 35 people. Another thing that I find difficult is when I’m being put on the spot to generate my thoughts and ideas extemporaneously and I don’t have time to prepare. So, I really need to seek out time to prepare when I have those meetings so that I don’t feel that pressure.

Ben: So Janine, it sounds like in a lot of ways you’ve picked a perfect environment for you and your temperament type, which was INFJ, which is Counselor, which we haven’t really talked about yet.

Janine: It was very important to me to pick a career where my listening abilities, which is something that just comes so naturally to me, that I would be able to use that as a primary skill set that I use every single day, and it’s really a key to being able to do my job well. And I appreciate that in my role, listening and taking time to respond is considered the ideal response to most of my sessions, and jumping right in with that verbal response, that’s typically kind of discouraged within counseling. So that works out perfectly for me. And as an introvert I also have a preference for really getting to know people on a deep level. Rather than knowing a little bit about a lot of people, I can get to know people deeply. I also have a small team that I work on as a part of the larger team and they know that I’m an introvert, so they are courteous enough to give me lots of space in meetings to express my thoughts.

As an introvert I also have a preference for really getting to know people on a deep level. Rather than knowing a little bit about a lot of people, I can get to know people deeply. @janinemrowe Click To Tweet

Ben: Janine, you’re the first guest that I’ve had who is MBTI certified. Can you talk about that a little bit and what you’ve discovered through that certification maybe about yourself and working with others?

Janine: Absolutely. I think working with the MBTI everyday, administering the test, interpreting results for our students and RIT alumni, and providing consultation to my peers on Myers Briggs temperament types, is a huge benefit as an introvert and just to me personally because of the value that I think that it provides. So within the certification process I certainly learned It did help me to embrace my introversion, because of course, as we know, there is no ideal type. No one preference or one trait is a more highly valued than another, but there are certain environments that allow those preferences to shine. And so that’s really the orientation that I take when I work with students is that it’s not, “okay, here’s your personality type” and here I’m trying to put people into boxes and and predict where they’re going to be the most successful, but helping them to recognize where their natural strengths lie and helping them connect that to the world of work. An example we use all the time is handwriting. You’re right handed or left handed. That’s your preference. You don’t even have to think about it and if I ask you to write for a little bit with your non-dominant hand, that’s going to be really challenging for you. You’re going to want to stop pretty soon after you start that, because you’re going to be fatigued, and you’re going to have to really think about it and you’re going to want to go back to doing what’s most natural and comfortable for you. So that kind of analogy we use all the time with students just to help them have a picture of how learning about personality types can benefit them in their career.

Ben: One thing that I found was interesting looking at the Myers Briggs and for some of the work that I’ve done in some of the articles and in a workshop that I do, I think many people might assume that the 16 different personality types identified are actually broken evenly across the population, but that’s not the case at all. And some personality types or temperament types, it’s a very, very small percentage of the population. Could you talk about that a little bit and then I’m really kind of interested if you see dominant or dominant side, the right is the right word, but more frequent personality or temperament types among our students here at RIT?

Janine: Certainly. You’re absolutely right. This is not an even distribution across all 16 types. I think that is a common misconception and we do see that extrovert ideal playing out (in my opinion) within the types that are most prevalent in the United States. So according to our figures which we use from the accreditation body that actually certifies MBTI practitioners and provides us the test materials, some of the most common types are ESFJ which make up to 13 percent of the population. And interestingly, ISTJ, up to 14 percent of the population. One of the things that I see often playing out with my individual students is how gender can influence how people experience their types in their preferences. So females for example, may feel more socially rewarded for operating in that feeling preference; In males, maybe more towards a logical in some cases. And here at Rochester Institute of Technology, I do work with a lot of engineering students, a lot of computing students. So luckily for me, I do work with many introverts on a daily basis, and some of the types that we work with quite frequently here would be the INTJ and the INTP, especially who tend to–I find them in engineering fields

Ben: And both INTJ and INTP are relatively small slices of the population as a whole.

Janine: Absolutely. I don’t have figures on the entire student population. That would be a very interesting project for us to work on. But just anecdotally, I would say if we’re looking at INTJ and INTP as about four percent of the population each, I would say it seems to be over-represented in those two types.

Ben: Let’s talk about doing presentations. Doing presentations has been an interesting topic that we’ve discussed in the podcast, but also among a lot of my friends in general, about what they find to be helpful in their presentations, what they find to be especially challenging about them. And most of the guests so far have been active presenters, although a few of them would prefer not to get up in front of people at all if they can help it. Do you enjoy presenting? What do you find the benefits to be? What do you find the challenges to be?

Janine: I do enjoy presenting, whether that be in a classroom setting or in my professional home, which I would consider to be the National Career Development Association and the National Association for Colleges and Employers. I Have been fortunate to present primarily around my neurodiversity work in those spaces. I do really enjoy it, but it is exhausting. I have found when I’m attending a convention or a conference, if I’m presenting, I cannot relax at all until that presentation is over because it’s just weighing on my mind. So I’ve come to develop a little bit of a routine to help me with that. And that involves activities–what I’ll do before, even down to what I eat and drink before a presentation and then what I’ll do after.

Ben: Can you expand on that a little bit?

Janine: Yeah, absolutely. So for me, listening to music through headphones is very important in terms of preparation and I think it serves a couple of purposes for me. One, is so that I can control some of the sensory input that I’m getting, and just drown out what I don’t want. And it helps kind of manage some of my nervous energy, so I like to listen to something that I know very well–something I know by heart. So I also don’t get overstimulated from that as well. During the presentation, I will often ideally identify some people that I already know in the audience and I may even ask them if they wouldn’t mind asking me a question, and I may even tell them what type of question I think would be beneficial to ask, and that helps manage because the Q and A is the worst part for me as an introvert, because I can only prepare for it so much.

Janine: And so if I know that I’ve got someone, a friend, who’s going to maybe ask me a question that I already know the answer to, I find that something I can really look forward to. And that helps kind of balance all the energy that I’m expending.

Ben: It’s funny. Alisa Bonsignore. who was a guest on a previous podcast, talked about the same type of issue that she has where she’s rock solid through the prepared material, but then has to deal with Q&A. In the story that she told she had gone to her doctor and he had given her a Holter monitor because it had been some time since her heart rate had been measured, and she wore it when she was presenting. And the night that she was presenting, everything was fine and then she hit the Q&A part, and she said it measured like she was in a sprint the whole time. So the Q&A, so she runs Alisa faces those same issues in terms of the part that is prepared is straightforward, but it’s the unknown that’s coming at us that makes it really confusing. Or really the unknown that’s coming at us that produces anxiety.

Ben: I do have to ask one question though, because someone is going to want to know what is on your track that you listen to before you present…

Janine: I knew you were going to ask me that! [Laughing] It might surprise you. I like a lot of Motown and music from the Sixties and Seventies. And I think the reason why is that’s what I listened to when I grew up, and it has such intense positive associations for me of being in my hometown or being with my family. And it just–I just can’t help but have a happy reaction to listening to that. So I will make sure that I find time in my schedule to get some of that.

Ben: That’s absolutely great! And I would say for the benefit of our listeners that I have been at conferences where Janine presents and she looks totally unflappable. So although there may be anxiety going on, it’s not something that’s apparent on the outside. Now, you had mentioned earlier that you find presenting exhausting and by extension, I’m assuming some of the conference attendance and activities as well. What do you do when you finish presenting, and you finished the Q&A, what do you do?

Janine: A lot of times I’ll try and hide, just to be totally honest! I will definitely need to take a break and recharge. And often as an introvert, that has to be either with a very small group of people I know very well or alone. So that means many times I may sit out in the next session after I’ve presented.

Ben: Yeah, actually I do the same thing once I’ve presented. I typically do sit out the next session, just to kind of–And I guess it is an energy recouping, but it’s also just to maybe settle the nerves down some. Though I’m not super aware of nerves when I’m presenting at this point either, but I do like to be able to wind down, and exactly like you said, I’m fine being around friends who will just let me sit there and wind down, but I not so great with follow-up questions immediately after a presentation, though the follow-up questions can be very good and they are very important. And what I found, especially when I started talking about introversion, there are a lot of follow ups through the remainder of the conference.

Janine: Hmm. That’s an interesting point. That’s what we do as introverts. Right? We process.

Ben: That’s true.

Janine: After the fact.

Ben: Yeah. Oh, that’s good. That’s interesting.

Janine: Hmm. That’s an interesting point.

Extras

 


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Episode 009: Jennifer Kahnweiler–Introvert Champions

Category:introversion,Introverted Leadership,introverts,Leadership,Podcast

Episode 009 Show Notes: Jennifer Kahnweiler

Introduction

Jennifer Kahnweiler and Ben Woelk chat about introvert champions, the 2nd edition of The Introverted Leader, diversity and introverts in the workplace, and the four Ps of introverted leadership–Prepare, Present, Push, and Practice.

Key concepts

  • An extrovert championing introverts
  • The four Ps of introverted leadership
  • The rise of the introverts

Quotable

Trends-on a positive note, extroverts are realizing it is a spectrum and that we all have introversion within us.

Once I started speaking about introverts and introverted leadership, I just had so many people start talking to me about how important it was for them to hear the message that they could be leaders.–Ben

We want them to understand that both groups [extroverts and introverts] have things to offer in the workplace and it’s important to tap into that group that’s usually quiet.

If [extroverts] are not hearing from 40 to 60 percent of their team and really engaging those individuals [introverts], then they are missing out.

Resources or Products Mentioned in this Episode

Links

Transcript

Ben: Welcome to Hope for the Introvert. Our special guest today is Jennifer Kahnweiler. Jennifer is a well known author about introverts and introverted leadership. She’s a certified speaking professional and a global speaker, and she’s been hailed as a Champion for Introverts. Her best bestselling books are The Introverted Leader, Quiet Influence, and The Genius of Opposites. They’ve been translated into 16 languages. Jennifer helps organizations harness the power of introverts. She’s been a learning and development professional and speaker at leading organizations like General Electric, Freddie Mac, NASA, Turner Broadcasting, the US Centers for Disease Control, and the American Management Association. I had the pleasure of meeting Jennifer at the October NYSERNet conference in Syracuse, New York, where she was the keynote speaker and spoke about The Genius of Opposites.

Ben: Hi Jennifer. Thanks for joining us today.

Jennifer: Hey Ben. It’s great to be on your podcast. Congratulations on this.

Ben: Well, thank you. I appreciate that. So I know we’re going to talk about your book today, but I wanted to ask you some questions as well. It’s really interesting because I think many of us assume that someone who’s interested in working on introverted leadership and writing about introverts would be an introvert themselves, but you’re actually an extrovert. Could you talk a little bit about your background and what drew your interest to the subject?

Jennifer: Yes, you’re absolutely right that most people do assume that I’m introverted and they reach out to me with that thought in mind. And I consider myself to be champion of introverts. I was working in the companies that you mentioned in the intro for a number of years and also had my own consulting and coaching practices through that cycle, and I kept coming up with the same theme and working with individuals who were trying to advance their careers or navigate the organization. And that was that they were frustrated as introverts. I had identified them that way because I was aware of the different personality types from my trainings as a counselor and as a coach and an OG consultant. I had that awareness that many more people have today. But back then it wasn’t so common when I started out my career. And so I kept coming up with the same–hearing about the same challenges and observing that introverts were hitting a wall oftentimes with promotions, with opportunities to be on cool projects with not being heard in meetings. And it really concerned me and I was coaching people individually and doing a lot of training in leadership classes, when it occurred to me that I needed to provide more resources. I looked for a book on the topic and had a very difficult time finding anything. And like a lot of authors will say they write the book that they want to read. So that’s really how it happened for me professionally.

I observed that introverts were hitting a wall oftentimes with promotions, with opportunities to be on cool projects with not being heard in meetings.--@jennkahnweiler Click To Tweet

Ben: So one thing that you mentioned at the conference, your husband is an introvert, right?

Jennifer: Oh yes. No doubt about that. If you met him, you would have no doubt, Bill is definitely an introvert. I say that, but he presents, you know, he’s got social skills and that’s one thing that we should probably implode that myth that introverts don’t, like you have, have great social interaction skills. But my first insight as I was sharing at the conference when I’m early on in our relationship and after we got married even, I was perplexed because we would be with people then and you could probably relate to this, right? That then afterwards in the car on the ride home, there was total silence. Crickets as they say, you know, and I couldn’t get him to talk about the evening because as I knew as an extrovert experiences make sense for extroverts as they verbalize them. And so there was a disconnect there because he, all he wanted to do was be silent and go within himself so he could decompress from the evening. So, uh, yeah, absolutely. He’s been my– I laugh about the day. We both laugh about him being the case study for a lot of my work. I’ll check with him all the time. And sometimes he even says, “Jennifer, you need to read the book to remind yourself” because as an extrovert, we forget sometimes to respect the silence of the quiet.

Jennifer: Didn’t you also say you have an extrovert in your family as well?

Ben: I’m actually the only introvert in my nuclear family. My wife is an ENFJ, which I believe when we were talking that’s what you are also. And she’s done a lot of communicating, writing, training-type things. Both my kids were extroverts and they all process externally. So as an introvert in the household, I’m quite happy to be quiet and engrossed in whatever I’m watching or reading, and they’re bored and they want to go out and do something because that external stimulation is so important to them. I found it absolutely fascinating that you were writing about this from an extrovert’s point of view. And I think that’s really important, because I know that some of the conversations I have with extroverts, there’s the, well, why? What’s all this focus on introverts? Why do you need to write about introverts? Extroverts are important people too.

Jennifer: Exactly, And I just will go back on something you said. I tried to represent the view of an introvert in all of my writing. I’ve written four books actually with the second edition of The Introverted Leader just coming out. And what I really try to do, Ben, is to put a journalist hat on and I do my research. It’s all qualitative research and I look back on my trainings and I gather notes from all my interviews that I do in my questionnaires, but it really comes down to me trying to tell the story, not so much from the extrovert wearing the extrovert hat, but of course that’s lens is always going to be there, so I try to check myself by surrounding myself with editors and my team who are mostly introverted, and as I mentioned, my spouse and I try to run everything by them, but I’ll say that extroverts really never are going to know, just like introverts don’t really know. what it’s like to sit in the shoes of a real introvert and vice versa. I think it’s difficult to imagine because for extroverts, it’s just not, as you say, sitting alone for any extended period of time can really be deflating rather than energizing, which it is for the introvert. So I think I tried to tell the story but always know that, I’m never going to know exactly what it’s like.

For extroverts, sitting alone for any extended period of time can really be deflating rather than energizing @JennKahnweiler Click To Tweet

Ben: Yeah, I think that makes a lot of sense. Somewhere I came across the phrase that extroverts are bored by themselves in both senses of the word. So it was pretty funny.

Jennifer: That statement, bored by themselves. Yeah. No, no, no. I think one thing that I’ll say Ben, is we’ve been talking about introverts now for 10 years. It started the rebel–as I call it, the rise of the introverts. There’s been so much more written about it. As you say, people are talking about it, and I think one of the positives in addition to more awareness, which to me is absolutely critical, especially when you think about children who grew up years ago feeling different and becoming more what we might call shy, because there wasn’t an acceptance in our extroverted-type society for introverts to really own who they were. But we’re seeing more of that. And the other trend that we’re seeing now–on a positive note–is that extroverts, Ben, I think are realizing it is a spectrum and that we all have introversion within us. And so I think we’re seeing such a growth in the meditation movement and Yoga and Quiet, just people wanting quiet as a reaction to, against the digital overload. Um, so I am seeing extroverts say to me, “Oh, you know, I did take some time and it, and it was really great for me to plan and to just get focused.” I don’t know if you’ve observed that as well.

Over the last ten years, we're seeing the rise of the introverts. @JennKahnweiler Click To Tweet

Trends-on a positive note, extroverts are realizing it is a spectrum and that we all have introversion within us. @JennKahnweiler Click To Tweet

Ben: I’ve seen some of it. I feel like I am far from an activist personality, but it feels like that once I started speaking about introverts and introverted leadership, I just had so many people start talking to me about how important it was for them to hear the message that they could be leaders. And I think most of the extroverts that I know, they know me pretty well at this point in time and they know in some ways I’m a strong advocate for introverts. It’s interesting because one of the things I wanted to ask you about was what the reception has been by extroverts. The extroverts I know that–there are a few who have teasingly asked me why am I just talking about introverts and because a lot of the leadership things go for everyone, but one thing I was really curious about, and you spoke at the NYSERNET conference was The Genius of Opposites, where you’re essentially trying to get probably both sides–if we want to call it sides–so it’s really a spectrum. We want them to understand that both groups have things to offer in the workplace and it’s important to tap into that group that’s usually quiet. I was curious what the reception has been, especially by extroverts or by introverts–whether that’s really too generalized?

We want them to understand that both groups (extroverts and introverts) have things to offer in the workplace and it's important to tap into that group that's usually quiet. Click To Tweet

How important it is for introverts to hear the message that they could be leaders. @benwoelk Click To Tweet

Jennifer: That’s interesting you’re asking that question. I only have very anecdotal data on this, but I still think we have a long way to go for extroverts, Ben, to think that there is a problem. Like just as you were referring to people say–kind of giving you–making fun of it sort of in a in a kind, but in a joking way. (I’m not sure that’s all kind!” I think people make change in my opinion and my experience when there is pain, when there is a discomfort, and on the positive side, I guess I’m–you can call me a Pollyanna. I do see things from–try to look at the glass more half full, and I’ll give both sides of it. I think on the glass half-full side, I’m seeing more and more leaders and managers who are extroverts recognize that introversion is a part of a diversity issue.

Jennifer: And so if they are not hearing from 40 to 60 percent of their team and really engaging those individuals, then they are missing out. Not just as a nice to have, but it’s a must have. They need those ideas. They need that innovation. It affects the bottom line. Let’s face it, from a gets–and their results are less. So I think the ones that are starting to see that and pull back the curtain and say, yeah, we need to look at how do we deal with introverts. I’m seeing more of that, and that’s why I’m busy speaking, and that’s why we’re doing more work in companies, but on the other side of it, there are still many extroverts who think that introverts should just get it together and just act like they are, and they oftentimes will say to an introverted leader, and I wonder if you’ve heard this, “Well, no, no, you’re really not an introvert. I mean, no, you’re definitely not. I mean, you’re not showing any of those characteristics.”? Have you ever heard that from people yourself?

If extroverts are not hearing from 40 to 60 percent of their team and really engaging those individuals (introverts), then they are missing out. @JennKahnweiler Click To Tweet

Ben: When I’m in a conference framework? No one would ever guess that I’m an introvert.

Jennifer: There you go!

Ben: I’ve done interviews with people and we’ve talked about introverted leadership, and then when they’ve met me at a conference, they’re telling me, “You’re crazy! You’re not an introvert!”, but I draw back to the “how do I recharge?” and I can be very “on.” I can be very social. I still don’t like introducing myself to people and just going up and talking to people. I find that to be a challenge, but there’s some situations where I know I need to be doing that, so I do it. I play whatever role, but I feel like–paying the price might be a bit strong, but I definitely will need several days of recharge time after going to a conference where I’m on all the time.

Ben: It’s a spectrum. If it was not a spectrum, none of this would make any sense, but I feel like yes, I am very extroverted for an introvert at this point in my life. But I also know that looking back many years ago when we first got married, my wife was concerned whether I’d ever get up and talk to anyone and ever be social at all. And of course with her being an extrovert, the social was very, very important for her. So I have changed or grown a lot over the years and I think I’ve learned to accept that I need to guard my energy. So I’m saying that, but I don’t guard my energy at these conferences at all, and what I find is that I need to recoup the energy afterwards, but I’m also recognizing that I think part of it is I feel like it’s always on becoming a bit of a spokesperson for the introverts in my professions and I think that makes a difference as well.

Jennifer: And I applaud you for that. We need more people like you who are advocates throughout every industry in every part of the world. And I really liked what you said about how you’ve evolved and developed, and I think you think of it like a muscle and you strengthen those skills. But back to people discounting the fact that you’re an introvert, I think people need to push back and say, “No, I’m really introverted. I’m using those skills,” and the unwritten texts that I would hope extroverts pick up is the same for them. You guys need to be quiet and you’re more effective when extroverts, when we listen, when we pause, when we take time to prepare; all of those strengths and skills that introverts bring to the table and that I encourage the introverts to amplify.

We need more introverts who are advocates throughout every industry in every part of the world. @JennKahnweiler Click To Tweet

Jennifer: So take your example of the social networking–that I think I may have mentioned in this talk that I gave–that it’s probably one of the biggest challenges that introverts talk about in addition to public speaking and being in meetings, socializing and networking. And so, as an example of that, you take preparation, which is your sweet spot or one of them, reflecting and thinking about the conference you’re going to, to use your example. Think, “Okay, let me look at the schedule. First of all, let me guard my time. When can I take breaks? Okay. I planned it out.” Things might change. Like I think at the conference we were at they changed the room or they changed the time. Just be aware that things could change, but that you plan for that. You plan for those and you protect those times because otherwise as you said, you will, you really will deflate.

Jennifer: And then the other thing related to the networking is you planned how, what–maybe some icebreakers–things that you’re going to say, like, “What’s been keeping you busy lately?” And figure out how you’re going to follow up with people so that you make those conferences worth it to you and you build connections and relationships. I just went to one and I’m trying to think about how do I stay connected with these people in this group that I met? It was so dynamic. So how do we take that forward? While an introvert would reflect on that, right? And they would think about, okay, what’s the strategy, rather than moving to the next conference or the next stimuli, right before doing that. So I have to tap into my introverted side, and so the thing I came up with this morning is, “Okay. Let me propose to the group that we put together like a WhatsApp texting group so that we can stay connected.” So I think both styles have so many strengths that we bring to the table and we just need to get in touch with those, own them, and then leverage them.

Ben: Yeah. I think one other thing about the conferences, I tend to go to the same ones year after year and I know people now, so I think that gives me a comfort level because part of it is coming together and seeing our large dysfunctional family [Jennifer laughing]. But at least for all–most of us are friends, and you get that sense of belonging and I’m comfortable. I know these people. I know they’re not judging me. It’s harder when I go to something I’ve never been to before and I don’t know anyone there, but something else that you mentioned that I didn’t start doing until a couple of years ago was how do you really continue that conference experience in the sense of how do you continue those relationships? How do you build on the relationships? And the first time I spoke by myself on introverted leadership a couple of years ago, one of the things I did coming out of it after I had numerous introverts come talk to me after my presentation, which was the opening presentation the first day of the conference, or one of the opening presentations that day, I set up an online community using Slack as a tool. And we have since built that community into–there are over 200 people signed up on it.

How do you really continue that conference experience in the sense of how do you continue those relationships? @benwoelk Click To Tweet

Jennifer: Wow.

Ben: Not all introverts. We do let some extroverts in–on good behavior.

Jennifer: Well maybe you’ll vouch for me and put me in and recommend me to it. I’d love to be involved. [Laughing]

Ben: Oh absolutely. But it’s been great. It’s not like everybody’s chatty all the time, but it gives us an opportunity to discuss issues that concern some of us. And often we’ll find a book that we’re all interested in and start kind of working through that together and discussing it. So it’s been great in terms of actually continuing the relationships.

Jennifer: Wonderful. Wonderful. And you’re bringing up another strength–or two of them–of introverted leaders, and that is writing and also a thoughtful use of technology, and so I love that you’re doing that. So I’d love to have that link and kind of weigh in there and listen and learn from your community. I really applaud you for that.

Ben: Well, thank you. That would be awesome. So I did want to go back to your second edition of your book that’s just come out and your reasons for writing it, what you’re hoping readers will take away from it, and then maybe what are the key factors in it that you see for introverts who want to be leaders or who are already in leadership.

Jennifer: Okay. Wonderful. Well I thank you for asking about that. It is called The Introverted Leader: Building On Your Quiet Strength, and I’m very fortunate to feel grateful that it seems to be doing quite well and I’m just trying to get it into the hands of a lot of people so that we can have a–it’s basically based–it comes from the lessons that I’ve learned from my work with introverted leaders and from all different functions and industries, people, everybody have endorsed it from Arianna Huffington, to Adam Grant, Dan Pink, (all introverts), Beverly Tatum. And they all reinforce the lessons that were shared there.

Jennifer: And I built on the model that I came up with over 10 years ago, that we’ve now had a chance to really get into the hands of thousands of people. And that’s the Four Ps, which consists of what introverted leaders do. And they Prepare. They are Present. They Push, and they Practice, and they do that in very intentional ways. The way you were describing with your group and that you’ve got after the conference. And I have a lot of tools and techniques, you know, I’m all about application. I’ve always been. There’s not a whole lot of theory in there, but it’s how do you deliver a powerful presentation? How do you enter that networking event so you’re effective? And again, it’s not lessons that I’m necessarily sharing. Of course, I’m taking from my experience in this field for so many years, but it really does come–and all the examples come from–introverts who have been using these approaches and techniques.

Jennifer: I think it’s pretty easy to go through. It is based on–you can take a quiz that’s on my website at JenniferKahnweiler.com. It’s also in the book, and it tells you what area perhaps you need to work on a little bit more that’s going to be useful to you and your current and future role. And then it also says what you’re doing well and how you want to build on that. I think you have a copy of the book. It’s very practical and I’m very proud of it from just having worked–when you write a book, you’re not sure how it’s going to land and you just want to get people to read it and use it and find it useful.

Ben: I think that’s really great. I understand the uncertainty of how things are going to be received. I had the same issue with the whole doing-a-podcast thing.

Jennifer: And I applaud you for that. [Laughing] You went in there. You’re not expecting to be perfect. You’re learning as you go and I think that’s fantastic.

Ben: Yeah. And it’s funny because I had no idea if there’d be any listeners or not, and I had ideas of what I was going to do to host the content and all of that sort of thing. And then I launched, and, “Oh my gosh, I’ve got listeners!”, and had to make some changes right away to make sure the content would always be accessible to them. But it’s funny. So you mentioned the four Ps as kind of the crux of the book in a lot of ways, in terms of introverts recognizing that those are their strengths, and that’s one of the things I found also, is reminding introverts that they have strengths, and that not everything is a weakness or shortcoming as they may have perceived it to be, seems to be an absolutely key piece of this. One thing I’ve mentioned in some of my other writings and talking is just this whole–sometimes, at least for me, I kind of want the external validation that yes, I can do these things.

Ben: I don’t know that that’s typical for an introvert, though I suspect some of it is, because we think and dwell and dwell and maybe overthink things some. But for me, little things which just seem funny on the face of it. I’ve been doing technical communication and then information security work for decades now. But I didn’t have a degree in anything like that, and I was actually a History doctoral student of all things and that wasn’t practical enough for me. So I appreciate your emphasis on the practical, but I found that I ended up seeking external certifications just so I can say,  “Hey, I’ve got this degree in this now. I’m a Certified Information Systems Security Professional.” But for me, it was more proving–I think in ways it was proving to myself that I could do these things.

Ben: So I do think that building confidence in introverts and helping them understand their strengths and the areas that they can really leverage and focus on, I think is a huge contribution, because at least from what I’ve found, that seems to be the key. You talk to people and, “I can’t be a leader.” “I have no leadership qualities.” “I’m not this charismatic leader who stands in front of everyone and tells everyone what to do.” “I don’t like being the public face of something!” To actually be able to come to that group of people and explain that these are your strengths. Being an introvert is not a handicap. I really see it as a strength in a lot of ways. (Although our business schools aren’t there at this point in time.) But I think this whole giving them the confidence they need and helping them understand that they have the innate skills, and giving them the tools to leverage those, is a really key contribution.

Building confidence in introverts and helping them understand their strengths and the areas that they can really leverage and focus on, I think is a huge contribution. @benwoelk Click To Tweet

Jennifer: Yes, Ben. I agree with that. And two reactions to what you just shared: the confidence factor you mentioned, giving them the confidence. I think it really does come from within and I think that we can be the spark. People who are sharing this message and I guess we’re the champions, the advocates, can really create awareness so that people do increase their confidence. And just one quick image I’d like to share. When I started doing my talks, I would ask people in the audience, and they’re primarily introverted audiences. I’d say what are the characteristics and strengths of introverts? And there’d be a little silence and that’s okay. I’ve learned to live with silence and then slowly but surely, there’d be like a trickle, “listeners,” “we observe,” “we prepare”, “we’re analytical.” It goes on and on.

Jennifer: And as those words would come out into the room, they would be voiced in the room. I’d look around (no matter how large the group) and I would literally see people change their body language. They would sit up a little straighter in their chairs. I even saw some quizzical looks with smiles, and it was very reinforcing to me, because the body and the face don’t lie, right? They say what people are feeling, and that has been replicated hundreds, if not thousands of times in the last 10 years. So I think I try to keep that in mind and if we could do that around the world, we’d have people sitting up straighter in their chairs and owning this, that definitely in my belief is related to an increase in confidence and then performance.

Ben: Yeah. I think it’s the key. It’s providing inspiration and that is such a cool story that you’re actually saying that you’re seeing the change of body language. You don’t get to do that when you’re presenting over the web or speaking through a podcast.

Jennifer: Well, let me–I’ll push back a little. I do a lot of online classes and I actually, a lot of my introverted clients will say that is their preferred method of learning, or one of the key… And you may invalidate that or not, but when people get on the phone, when you do let them put their voice in the room, you hear it in their voice, Ben,  you hear it in their voice, and as you know with your Slack community, there is a lot of engagement on the chats. So you get a lot of activity–rather than in some online classes you’ve probably been involved in, too, where it’s like nothing. You just have the instructor teaching. There’s a lot of engagement. So, yeah, I think that all those platforms are our ways to also tap into the enthusiasm.

Ben: I think that’s really great. Jennifer. This has been a great conversation. I know you mentioned that you had been working on another book and I’m curious about the research that you’re doing and where that’s going.

Jennifer: Yes. Ben, thank you for asking about my new research, which I’m so excited about. We are going to be working now in moving into a new direction with the whole introvert conversation, and that is taking a look at how do we shift the culture–the workplace culture, where it’s already happening, some, but we want to understand what companies are doing to create an environment that embraces and supports introverts. And by the way, when you do that, in my belief, you’re also supporting the entire community. At this point I’m going to just put this out to your audience, too, “What sort of best practices have you seen in terms of your workplace design in terms of some of the management practices and leadership practices that you feel are supportive of introverts? How about with meetings or how about with hiring?”, all of the parts that make that make up the whole of working in an organization. We are seeing best practices emerge and bubble up, but I want to highlight those, and I want to help people to replicate that as change agents in their own cultures.

Jennifer: So I’m very excited and I can’t wait to do another podcast with you to share with you some of the results I’m getting. We’re doing a survey coming up in the next few weeks and I’ll be sure to share that with you and could with your listeners as well.

Ben: Thank you. I really appreciate that and I actually really appreciate your support of the podcast. Like I said, it’s been a bit of an experiment and a bit of a new journey for me and it’s been exciting, but there’s obviously some concerns in trepidation to start with with it.

Jennifer: Well, you’re a risk taker. You took, you took a risk and I would push back and say it’s not an experiment and you’ve got a podcast now, Ben. It’s needed and let’s get the word out for sure. I’d love to hear from listeners. People can reach me through my website at JenniferKahnweiler.com. Just Google me and you’ll find me, and I’d love to connect on social media. I’m active on Linkedin and instagram and would love to just, include people in the conversation and expand this movement. So thank you so much for the work you’re doing.

Ben: Thank you Jennifer for joining us today. I’ve really enjoyed the conversation. I do look forward to having you back on in hearing about this research. It’s going to be really interesting.

Extras

Ben and Jennifer

Ben and Jennifer at the NYSERNet Conference 2018.

 








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