Category Archives: introversion

  • 0
Melanie Seibert headshot

Episode 018: Melanie Seibert–Collaboration as an Introvert

Category:introversion,Introverted Leadership,Podcast,techcomm

Episode 018 Show Notes: Melanie Seibert

Introduction

Melanie Seibert headshot

Melanie Seibert and Ben Woelk chat about what it means to be a content strategist and collaboration as an introvert.

Key concepts

  • Content strategy
  • Collaborative workspaces
  • Creativity exercises

Quotable

So for an introvert, it’s really interesting to be expected to be in office during core business hours every day and working and collaborating closely with people. So it’s interesting to have the opportunity to do that and to find a balance between wanting to sort of get away and do my thinking alone, and then having collaboration time with other people.

Being an introvert to me and my personality means that I sort of shy–I tend to shy away from conflict. I don’t feel super comfortable in a situation where I’m expected to sort of take the lead and command people to do things. That makes me pretty uncomfortable. So my style is more–I like to collaborate with people. I like to support the people on the team and we all together sort of create a great experience for the client.

I’ve learned over time that collaboration, while it’s not sort of my natural mode, is definitely more than worth the sort of effort that it takes me to kind of get out of my comfort zone, because the outputs–the products that we make–are so much better when I’m collaborating with other people.

When you get in a room with more than one person and you’re all focused on the same thing, you can get perspectives that you wouldn’t have access to otherwise.

I’ve been in settings before where being an introvert was difficult because the organization didn’t understand or value introverts as leaders as much. They definitely had a view of leadership as a command-and-control type of leadership. And so in that type of environment, an introvert could be seen as ineffective.

It’s kind of fascinating how you need the time and the quiet and the space, or the books even, to recharge. But you’re still able to go out and be very very social. So you’ve definitely built on that skill.

Resources or Products Mentioned in this Episode

Links

Transcript

Ben: Joining us today is Melanie Seibert. Melanie is a senior content strategist at Willow Tree, Inc.. She’s taught content strategy at General Assembly and helped create digital experiences for Razorfish, RackSpace, and C-Panel. Melanie opines about content strategy on her blog, Prose Kiln at ProseKiln.com. I met Melanie last spring at the STC Summit Conference in Orlando, Florida. You can contact Melanie on Twitter at @Melanie_Seibert, I encourage our listeners to visit HopefortheIntrovert.com, where you’ll find complete show notes including a transcript of today’s conversation.

Ben: Hi Melanie. I’m really excited you’re joining us today. I’m looking forward to chatting with you.

Melanie: Hey Ben. Yeah, it’s really great to be chatting with you again.

Ben: Great! So I want to find out a little bit more about Content Strategy, because I’m not sure how much our listeners will know about this, and honestly, I didn’t know much about it myself until a couple of years ago when I ended up on that Content Strategists list and figured I’d better look this up, and then discovered, “Oh yes, I do do content strategy.” I just wasn’t aware of it. [Melanie laughing] So what can you tell us about your job? What does it mean to be a content strategist? And what is your workplace like?

Melanie: Yeah, that’s a great question. So, I got into content strategy. I was a technical writer at a software company and I found that I was documenting UIs [user interfaces] where I had feedback for the Ui itself. So, I would say something like, “Oh, I think that we maybe don’t need to document this, if we change the interface a certain way.” And started really looking into and getting interested in Usability and User Experience from that, and learned that there’s this thing called content strategy. And at the time, Christina Halvorson had just published the first edition of the book Content Strategy for the Web, which was the first book–really popular book about content strategy that I knew about and that I read. And as soon as I learned about it, I was kind of hooked. I had been working as a writer for a really long time and started asking a lot of questions about why are we writing certain things or how should we write them. And the idea of content strategy is really to set up writers and content creators for success. So doing the planning, and the research, and the scheduling, and answering the questions of why, so that when it comes time to create content, writers have that information, and are supported in their role.

Melanie: And that was just super appealing to me, so I’ve been a content strategist ever since then. Today, I work at Willow Tree, which is an agency that makes mobile apps, websites, things like chatbots. But we got our start–the agency got its start–as an app agency. So it’s really a different type of environment for me. I’ve been here for two years. I had never really worked with mobile apps before I came to Willow Tree, but I’ve learned a ton about content strategy and how content works in mobile apps. So it’s been super fun. The company is really amazing, too. The culture’s great. The people are super competent and driven and I learn a ton from them. One thing that’s really interesting about my workplace, is that the company has a really strong point of view on co-location. So for an introvert, it’s really interesting to be expected to be in office during core business hours every day and working and collaborating closely with people. So it’s interesting to have the opportunity to do that and to find a balance between wanting to sort of get away and do my thinking alone, and then having collaboration time with other people.

It's interesting to collaborate with people and find a balance between wanting to get away and do my thinking alone, and then having collaboration time with other people. Melanie Seibert Click To Tweet

Ben: So it sounds like an interesting challenge for you being in that kind of workplace in general as a content strategist and maybe work in life in general. Melanie, you said you’re an introvert in the workplace, which obviously was one of the main reasons you’re a guest on the program today. How do you find that being an introvert affects how you approach your work and maybe how does that translate to how you approach life in general? And if so, how?

Melanie: Yeah, so it definitely does. Being an introvert to me and my personality means that I sort of shy–I tend to shy away from conflict. I don’t feel super comfortable in a situation where I’m expected to sort of take the lead and command people to do things. That makes me pretty uncomfortable. So my style is more–I like to collaborate with people. I like to support the people on the team and we all together sort of create a great experience for the client.

Being an introvert to me and my personality means that I tend to shy away from conflict. I don't feel super comfortable in a situation where I'm expected to sort of take the lead and command people to do things. Melanie Seibert Click To Tweet

On style--I like to collaborate with people. I like to support the people on the team and we all together sort of create a great experience for the client. Melanie Seibert Click To Tweet

Ben: Let’s talk a little bit more about what it’s like being an introvert in your workplace, what you’re finding as challenges and in terms of what do you think of strengths that you have in doing that?

Melanie: Yeah, so as I mentioned, we’re collaborating a lot in my workplace, and sort of my natural bent is to want to sort of go into a hole, and think and do my work alone. I kind of learned that early on in school projects where you realize that you have more control over the output if you just work on it yourself. You don’t have to sort of rely on anyone else, but that obviously doesn’t work when you’re working on a team and you’re working across disciplines to try to create something. So I’ve learned over time that collaboration, while it’s not sort of my natural mode, is definitely more than worth the sort of effort that it takes me to kind of get out of my comfort zone, because the outputs–the products that we make–are so much better when I’m collaborating with other people. People just bring perspectives–that it doesn’t matter really how long you spent thinking about something yourself. When you get in a room with more than one person and you’re all focused on the same thing, you can get perspectives that you wouldn’t have access to otherwise. So it’s–it’s really been actually helpful for me to grow and kind of learn the value of collaboration.

We're collaborating a lot in my workplace, and sort of my natural bent as an introvert is to want to sort of go into a hole, and think and do my work alone. Melanie Seibert Click To Tweet

I've learned over time that collaboration, while it's not sort of my natural mode, is definitely more than worth the sort of effort that it takes me to get out of my comfort zone, because the outputs are so much better. Melanie… Click To Tweet

When you get in a room with more than one person and you're all focused on the same thing, you can get perspectives that you wouldn't have access to otherwise. Melanie Seibert Click To Tweet

Melanie:  I’ve also had issues in previous–I’ve been in settings before where being an introvert was difficult because the organization didn’t understand or value introverts as leaders as much. They definitely had a view of leadership as a command-and-control type of leadership. And so in that type of environment, an introvert could be seen as ineffective. And so in that past job, I really didn’t have an opportunity to grow because I wasn’t considered to be sort of leader material. So it took a while over time to sort of learn that I have strengths in other areas than commanding. I have strengths in collaboration. Sort of positivity is a strength that I usually bring to the team. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the Gallup Strengths Finder, but it’s another type of personality inventory where they sort of list–there are 34 strengths and you have a top ten and a top five. And so the idea is that everyone sort of has their own unique mix of strengths and it’s not that there’s one combination that a leader must have. You can be any combination of strengths and be a leader or be a valuable team member. So it’s taken me some time to figure that out, but I’ve definitely learned that over the years.

I've been in settings before where being an introvert was difficult because the organization didn't understand or value introverts as leaders as much. Melanie Seibert Click To Tweet

They had a view of leadership as a command-and-control type of leadership. In that environment, an introvert could be seen as ineffective. Melanie Seibert Click To Tweet

Ben: You talked about how in your workplace–that you’re in an environment where you’re expected to collaborate with everyone. In some of my discussions with other guests, one of the big challenges for them has been being in meetings–I guess or collaborative sessions, where as introverts we are so used to processing internally and in many ways finishing our processing and coming up with a well-rounded or well-defined response. How does that work for you? And when you say that you’re–is everybody around a table? Is everybody in a room? How does this actually work?

Melanie: Yeah, there are different types of workshops or activities that we do together, but I will say that typically people are around the table. We have whiteboards, and I think what helps is giving people space and time within the meeting to sort of think. We’ve done activities where there’s a prompt and you’re given two minutes–or five minutes–to think and write something down and then everyone comes back and shares their ideas. Those types of things for me are really great because I don’t feel like I have to sort of jump in, and if everybody’s writing something down then you kind of go around the room and give everyone a chance. So it’s not just the most outspoken people who are contributing. Everybody’s expected to contribute and it just kind of sets up that dynamic so that you don’t–it helps to mitigate that, because I don’t think–I think that’s a common problem. I definitely have that problem. I don’t like to interrupt people. I don’t like to sort of speak up and raise my hand if there’s a momentum to the conversation. So I always assumed that there are other people in the room like me. I think that having an activity that’s crafted with that in mind is pretty helpful. Another thing that I like is to sort of think about it ahead of time. So if you can provide people with the material or whatever it is you’re going to be discussing prior to the meeting, I always like to take that away and look at it ahead of the meeting because I’m the same way. I take time to process and think about things. I’m not as good on my sheet. So that really helps.

Ben: It’s interesting timing wise, because the podcast, I’m currently working on editing with Helen Harbord, I met at TCUK in England early this last fall, and the discussion we were having around meeting behavior got into there are really two types of indiv–I’m sure there are more than two types.–that we talked about two types of people in meetings. You have people like us who are very much waiting for an opportunity to speak, waiting for the other person to stop. But then you have other people who will speak until they’re actually interrupted. So, and don’t assume–and they don’t necessarily assume that anyone else has anything to say unless they actually jump in and interrupt. So we were kind of laughing about that dynamic and how difficult that could be in any kind of workplace setting where you’ve..So you have the A types who do this and the B types who do that. So it’s just funny because some of the themes that we have are recurring. They’re just very common challenges for us as introverts.

Ben: So you had mentioned–we do a pre-podcast questionnaire that we–that I send to our guests so that we’ve got a little bit of a framework about what we’re going to talk about. One of the things that you mentioned on there is that you have, I believe it’s online courses that you’ve developed. Could you talk a little bit about that?

Melanie: Yeah. I got into developing online classes after I learned about General Assembly. And I was working in Austin, Texas at the time and General Assembly was new. If you don’t know what General Assembly is, it’s a company that offers classes to help people. I would say mainly career switching type of folks who want to get into tech or UX or design. It offers classes and I was interested to see whether they had anything on content strategy, because I just think content strategy is like so fascinating and I just wanted to share it with people. And I also feel like it’s a really great career option for people who are in marketing or copywriting or tech writing who sort of find themselves asking a lot of the questions about why we’re doing what we’re doing. So I contacted them and they let me do sort of a two hour Intro to Content Strategy, and I posted about this on my social media and my friends from other cities kept emailing me and saying this is really cool. Is it online anywhere? And at the time they didn’t have online courses and I said, “Well no, but I’m sure if you go online and Google you can probably find something similar.” But when I went online I really had a hard time–at the time this was probably two years ago–finding online courses on content strategy. So I just took that course and took that feedback and made it an online course. So today I have two courses. One’s free and if you go to my website you can sign up for it. It’s just a series of seven emails that come to your inbox and it’s seven discrete lessons and things that you can start doing right away to sort of dip your toe into content strategy and see what it’s like, and if that’s the kind of thing that interests you. And then I also have for people who want to keep going and learn more. I do have a paid course and they’re both listed there on my website.

Ben: I will take a look at that. Like I had mentioned I found out I was a content strategist because the term was relatively new in the industry, and I’m interested in seeing what I can find out from the course, but I do recommend it to our listeners.

Ben: Well, Melanie has been great having our conversation today. I appreciate your time!

Melanie: Yeah, thank you!

Extras

Become a Content Strategist promo

Content Strategy for Web Professionals promo


  • 0
Roxy Greninger

Episode 017: Roxy Greninger–A Life Lived for Others

Category:introversion,introverts,personality,Podcast

Episode 017 Show Notes: Roxy Greninger

Introduction

Roxy Greninger

Roxy Greninger and Ben Woelk discuss living a life focused on others, the impact of childhood experiences, and finally–the impetus for the Hope for the Introvert podcast.

Key concepts

  • Influencers
  • Growing up and your circle
  • Community
  • Being exposed to diverse people
  • Growing up as an introvert
  • Why the Hope for the Introvert podcast

Quotable

This is part of where I got the idea for Grow Your Circle because I started looking back, getting back to basics, looking back to my roots and thinking of these influencers, these experiences that had cast such a bright light on my life.

I was like your opposite of Dennis the Menace, but I was in my neighbor’s houses, hanging out with these adult neighbors. And the same thing, you know, with the ladies of the shop.

Being exposed to people with visible disabilities at a very young age, which was very important to me to do for my son as he was growing up, because I think if you grow up without having diverse people that look and sound differently than you, it’s scary, right?

I think I’ve always chatted with strangers and had a comfort level. And I think it was because my family brought me out into the world to see different people and not feared difference, um, but embrace it and actually, like I–I crave it, right? Like I need–I need to challenge myself. I need to experience new people, new thoughts, new things or I just feel, I don’t know. It doesn’t feel right.

You see things that I don’t think many of us see. We may see the person who’s acting oddly for whatever reason and see that as somebody we’re uncomfortable with and we want to move away from. In some ways you move towards those people to see what they need, rather than shying away from them.

It’s kind of fascinating how you need the time and the quiet and the space, or the books even, to recharge. But you’re still able to go out and be very very social. So you’ve definitely built on that skill.

Resources or Products Mentioned in this Episode

Links

Transcript

Ben [reprise]: And I think this idea of being the brightest part of someone’s day is, it’s pretty amazing and it’s, you know, pretty humbling when you’re able to do that as well. So I think it’s a very, very cool thing. I’m always struck when I’m talking with you about how intentional you are about these various things that you’re involved in. Now I’m going to repeat that because I did have music noise come in, so I’m always struck when I talked to you about how intentional you are in the way you approach things. We were talking briefly last week even in terms of ensuring that you’re exposing yourself to musical genres that you don’t really prefer, but you want to understand why other, why they’re popular and why certain songs that people appreciate them and I just find it really interesting because you have this intentionality that I don’t honestly believe that most of us do. I think many of us kind of go through our day and we look back on our day and while you know it was another day, but the idea of really not. It’s not. You’re not talking about being the bright spot of one person’s Day. You’re talking about being the bright spot of each person that you encounter during the day and it’s such a different credo in a sense of a way to live. Then I think it’s a very positive, obviously a positive example for us.

Roxy: That’s a good question. I don’t even. I don’t know. So Oregon raised, right? I know that I had a diverse group of friends, I don’t remember them being friends with each other, which was always kind of a burden, right? Like you want to have a birthday party, but none of your friends know each other or get along with each other. And also I think–I think I spent a lot of time with adults as a child. I had the fortune of being raised in an art shop, if you will. My grandmother had a ceramics shop, ceramics and porcelain dolls and it wasn’t limited to ceramics and porcelain dolls. So she taught in that shop. And this is part of where I got the idea for Grow Your Circle because I started looking back, getting back to basics, looking back to my roots and thinking of these influencers, these experiences that had cast such a bright light on my life.

Roxy: So thinking of the women that came into that shop and they had such a–such a sense of community. They would come in. They would–they had a kind of unspoken seating arrangement where they would set up–and I would just run around that shop. I mean, I was in that shop from the time you could keep the paintbrush out of my mouth until we moved to New York–my mom and I moved to New York. So, they were like family, these just hundreds of women in the community. And anytime my grandmother needed something, anytime my mom needed something, there was–there was always–you always knew someone. There was always someone who had something that–they could help or an uncle or a somebody. Right? So, we had a lot of fun there.

Roxy: And then also thinking of my neighborhood. I had one neighbor who was an avid bicyclist and when I bought my first road bicycle–not, not my Huffy with the tassels–he went to a garage sale with me.  I was a teenager and I remember he came with my mom and I to help look it over and make sure that it was a good investment, right? I was using my first wages when I was like 13 years old or something. And the neighbor across the street was a florist and I remember I would just go up and chat with these neighbors, because I had that comfort level with speaking to strange–I don’t want to say to strangers, but to strangers that I knew were within the circle, right?

Roxy: They were in the shop where they were neighbors. And I remember being invited into her house and she had let me help her do her florist arrangements. She taught me how to make peanut butter and jelly. I had another neighbor who was a teacher and you’ll–you’ll appreciate this. You’re a professor. So, she was a second grade teacher, or excuse me, she was a fifth grade teacher and I was in second grade, and she gave me the answer key and let me grade her students math work, right? And so I just–I was like your opposite of Dennis the Menace, but I was in my neighbor’s houses, hanging out with these adult neighbors. And the same thing, you know, with the ladies of the shop.

Roxy: My grandmother would also take me to the nursing home. She volunteered avidly in the community and one of the things that she did was to go to the nursing home, although I think she might’ve been paid for that–that wasn’t a volunteer opportunity, but I was volunteering. I wasn’t paid. And I know there was one day out of the month that the disability–the folks with disabilities would come in a van. And I think that one she did for free as a generosity to the community. But I remember being exposed to people with visible disabilities at a very young age, which was very important to me to do for my son as he was growing up, because I think if you grow up without having diverse people that look and sound differently than you, it’s scary, right?

I think if you grow up without having diverse people that look and sound differently than you, it's scary, right? Roxy Click To Tweet

Roxy: So when you’re exposed to someone who’s in a wheelchair and doesn’t have control of their speech or might have, for lack of a better term, like they’re drooling or these things, you might not even look at them or notice them. So it was very important for me to have my son volunteer with me when I moved to New York. So you get to the answer–that was a roundabout way. Just trying to navigate through my childhood. I think I’ve always chatted with strangers and had a comfort level. And I think it was because my family brought me out into the world to see different people and not feared difference, um, but embrace it and actually, like I–I crave it, right? Like I need–I need to challenge myself. I need to experience new people, new thoughts, new things or I just feel, I don’t know. It doesn’t feel right.

I need to challenge myself. I need to experience new people, new thoughts, new things , or it just doesn't feel right. Roxy Click To Tweet

Ben: It’s interesting. I wrote a blog post a few months ago about saying, “Yes and?” to Leadership Opportunities. But one of the things that I’ve found when I was researching the blog posts was a quote by Albert Einstein in which he says “Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.” And I think listening to you and talking about your ability to talk to–I will say adults rather than strangers I think. But your ability to interact with adults and really be a servant leader in many ways and be of service to others, I think as you know, is what we’re seeing with this. And it just seems to be such a part of your DNA at this point that you see–you see things probably through your upbringing. You see things that I don’t think many of us see. We may see the person who’s acting oddly for whatever reason and see that as somebody we’re uncomfortable with and we want to move away from. In some ways you move towards those people to see what they need, rather than shying away from them.

Albert Einstein--Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile. Click To Tweet

Roxy: I agree wholeheartedly. I just thought of another example that sounds like you might say that it’s unique and me, but if it’s something that someone doesn’t find that they have, it’s a skill to hone. Right? So there was a program back home and it was called the Pitchford boys, and it’s no longer in place, which is unfortunate, but it was kind of like a second chance.The Pitchford program was for boys who might have gotten in trouble–juvenile trouble from anything from theft to violence to–you name it, right? And they were under 18 so they couldn’t go to jail.

Roxy: So they would send them to this ranch that was down the road from my house, and they would serve time on the ranch doing farm work, and I’m working with the agriculture there and when they’d proven that they could show respect and be trusted–It was a privilege to go to school–then they would be assimilated into the school system. When they rode the bus with me–I lived kind of out in the middle of nowhere. I’m already in the middle of nowhere! And I got to know them and there were just always new kids in the program and you could either be afraid of them and sit at the front of the bus and don’t talk to them. And you know, they can be crass, right? Can say things that are rude. But if you jump right in and you get to know them and ask them questions, you really get to understand why they behave the way that they do. And you know what unfortunate circumstances led to their being there. It was such a great relationship to have like that. I’d have year after year with many of them. I think there was only one of them that ever truly didn’t belong there. And he was the only one that ever scared all of us. [Laughing] And he was very short–for a short time on the bus.

Roxy: But, I think that anyone–I work very closely with our Center for Youth which serves the homeless children’s population. And a lot of people in Rochester don’t even realize how many homeless children there are. They look around and say “Where, where are these homeless children?” And they’re there. You don’t have to look very hard to see them. Or, when you see a family that’s suffering or see a family that talks or acts differently than you, and then they have a hardship, are you quick to dismiss them because they didn’t have the same things you had and the same advantages that you had? It’s definitely a skill that I think people should invest a little time in if they don’t feel that they have it. It’s–it’s just humankind. It was just being kind and considerate of–Don’t, don’t fear a homeless person. I don’t hand dollars to homeless people. I invest my money in legitimate programs. But, don’t be afraid of them! I think that’s another–another conversation. What media has done to make us afraid of the homeless population and assuming that they all have mental health and they’re all going to attack you on the street. But that’s a different–that’s a different soapbox conversation. [Laughing]

Ben: Yeah, we’ll do that on another segment at some point in time. [Roxy laughing.] So one thing that’s funny about this, is that you’ve identified as an introvert, but we also talked about how you were a sociable introvert, and when you were growing up you were in a lot of conversations with people that say a classic–if there is such a thing–introvert would have found very difficult to even engage in. So it’s, it’s, it’s kind of fascinating how you need the time and the quiet and the space, or the books even, to recharge. But you’re still able to go out and be very very social. So you’ve definitely built on that skill.

You need the time and the quiet and the space, or the books even, to recharge. But you're still able to go out and be very very social. So you've definitely built on that skill. Click To Tweet

Roxy: I’ll tell you what I missed as a child was hours and hours and hours of quiet play. I loved building houses for my dolls. My mom did some design work and I always had access to supplies, right? So I was always building houses out of U-Haul boxes and carpet swatches and things like that. And I noticed right away when my son was growing up–he’s an extrovert–and I noticed such a difference in–not behavior, but just he as a very small child needed to be in the same room with us. He did not ever want to play by himself in his room. And I thought it was so strange, I didn’t force it, but I thought it was so strange, that he wouldn’t just play, and I could get him playing and then if I left the room, it wasn’t very long before he would come find me and bring his toys out to the space where I was.

Roxy: And that continued on and, you know, even to now, like he will–if he’s in his room, it’s because he’s on social media with his friends. He’s FaceTiming or Snapchatting with friends or he immediately wants to run out and hang out with friends. And not just because he’s a teenager, but because that’s just innately who he is. But yeah, hours of quiet time for me. I would play in the backyard by myself. Sing songs, choreograph dances all by myself, right? So I saw it at a very early age that I didn’t know I needed it until you start working and you start–I don’t want to say being robbed of your time–but your time becomes less of your own when you’re an adult.

Ben: No, absolutely. And I’m looking back at my childhood, and we won’t go into any depth on it, but I also grew up in kind of the end of the bus stop, and a quarter mile into the orange grove to get to the farmhouse I grew up in. And we didn’t have close neighbors and I was an–I did have a sister a couple of years younger–but we’re both introverts, and we could amuse ourselves for hours doing whatever.

Ben: Ironically, one story that goes with that: The house I grew up in has actually become a museum at this point in time because it’s one of the few surviving examples of what they called Florida Vernacular Architecture. It was built in the late 1800s, and I didn’t realize it had happened, but they did some archaeological digs up near the house. And one of the things they actually dug up was plastic Flintstones dinosaur bones that my sister and I had apparently buried in the hope that some archaeologists at some point in time would dig things up and find it. So it was this ability to be amused–I’m not sure what that says [laughing], but this ability to have that kind of play and whether individually or with just the two of us that I find really interesting, and there’s always a debate about whether it’s nature or nurture in terms of introversion or what that combination might be.

Ben: One thing that I referenced earlier in our conversation was that you were really the catalyst for starting the Hope for the Introvert podcasts. And I kind of wanted to revisit that. It’s pretty recent. It’s only a few months ago where this came up. But what were your thoughts around why you thought there should be a podcast like this? It’s not like it’s the only introvert podcast out there.

Roxy: Yeah, I–it totally draws from my current influences. So within my circle I follow a variety of YouTubers and motivational speakers if you’ll call them that. Celebrity types. And they’re constantly talking about their evolution into how they became who they are. And it’s fascinating to me to see the progress that they’ve made. And when you were talking about your blog and talking about your work, it just, it just fit, right? I just made the connection between what I see them doing, and you’re at the beginning phases of where they were and where they’ve gone to. I can–I can almost see your path right when you were talking to me. And also, maximizing your audience. Not everybody reads blogs, believe it or not, right? So, myself, I–I read. I don’t know if I read blogs. I read books, but I’m more so try to maximize how I’m getting input, and that comes by way of podcasts, that comes by way of audio book. Although I found it to be dangerous reading audio books on the Thruway because I also like to take notes, and so I end up pausing the audio book more–more times than not because I can’t take notes. But yeah. it just–it just seemed like a natural fit to suggest podcast foryou because the influences that are around me now are doing it, right? So if you had the same influences that I did absent me, you–you would have had a natural progression into a podcast, I feel as–as well without me.

Ben: As we’ve usually found in our conversations, Roxy and I have covered a good deal of ground here and uncovered subjects that we didn’t really plan to talk about at all, but which I hope have been of interest to you as listeners and now you have a little bit about–a little bit of the background about why I’m doing a podcast. So, if you’re enjoying this, you can thank Roxy for her influence on this and her urging me to do it. So again, Roxy, I’d like to thank you again for joining us today.

Roxy: Thank you so much for having me, Ben. It’s such a privilege and an honor to be part of your podcast and I hope to join you again.

Ben: Awesome. I think that’s definite.

Extras

The Flintstones logo
The Flintstones was a Hanna-Barbara series that ran from 1960-1966.


  • 0
Roxy Greninger

Episode 016: Roxy Greninger–Culture Consultant and Brightest Part

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

Episode 016 Show Notes: Roxy Greninger

Introduction

Roxy Greninger

Roxy Greninger and Ben Woelk discuss Roxy’s role as a culture consultant and being the brightest part of someone’s day.

Key concepts

  • Changing a business culture
  • Re-engineering content
  • StrengthsFinder
  • Being intentional
  • Being the brightest spot of someone’s day

Quotable

You need to be intentional as an organization to drive your culture. Our purpose of our culture team is to help attract and retain the best and the brightest talent.

“We pass these things on.” And I said, that’s exactly what happens in–in culture, in general. We pass these rules or these norms on to each other because we teach each other. And that’s exactly what happens in an organization.

Our company has laid out values and behaviors that aren’t just words on a wall. They’re not–it’s not a poster in the break room, right? These are things that we live and breathe every day

My “why,” my vision and all that makes me happy–is being the brightest part of someone’s day. And I know that sounds corny, but like–and it’s not a difficult goal to reach–but at the end of the day, if I can look backwards and say I made someone smile today, or I brought some relief to someone, or I helped someone, or, you know “fill in the blank,” that I help influence or positively impact that person in some small way, then I’ve fulfilled my day.

I feel like it’s very important for us to recognize those strengths and leverage them, whether it be for your work or your fulfillment. If you’re missing one of them, you’ll notice it. You’ll not feel that you have that connection or that purpose.

Resources or Products Mentioned in this Episode

Links

Transcript

Ben: Joining us today is Roxy Greninger. Roxy Works for Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield as a Culture Program Consultant. Roxy describes herself as Texas-born, Oregon-raised, and New York-refined.

Ben: Hi Roxy. I’m so excited you’re joining us today. We’ve had some fascinating and far ranging conversations and I look forward to seeing where we go today.

Ben: So you are a culture program consultant, which sounds like a totally exotic and intriguing role to have in a company. I suspect it’s not quite as exotic as it sounds. Could you tell us a little bit about the cultural program?

Roxy: Sure. There’s a few of us and what’s unique about the three of us with that title is that we are all tasked with varying things–varying projects and various work–which is just great, right? And anytime you have multiple people doing the same role, you should always look to leverage their strengths. And that’s just what our leader has done, but the culture program consultant by design–I think more organizations are finding themselves with some sort of a culture team or culture leader, someone who’s focus is on the culture, and it’s because you need to be intentional as an organization to drive your culture. Our purpose of our culture team is to help attract and retain the best and the brightest talent.

You need to be intentional as an organization to drive your culture. Our purpose of our culture team is to help attract and retain the best and the brightest talent. Roxy Click To Tweet

Roxy: And it’s not just about attracting the talent, because once you get them in the door, they need to stay there. So that’s the retain part, right? So we see a lot of flashy companies, really big companies writing books and kind of paving the industry and they do fun things and you see Ping Pong tournaments, and water slides, and all these really wacky things. And so people think that it’s just a lot of fun and it’s a lot of frivolity–I guess if that’s even a word–frivolousness, and that’s not what it is. It’s really about helping develop people and know themselves and reach the fullest potential. Developing the strategy for the organization, working with the leaders, right, to make sure that they’re setting the example for the rest of the organization and demonstrating the values and behaviors that the organization desires. Right? So for our company, we have a mission, we have a vision just like every other company and we have a strategy to achieve that mission.

Roxy: And one of our strategies is to motivate the workforce. And that’s–that’s my job all day, right, is what needs to be done to motivate the workforce. There’s part of it is a little dance around psychology. It’s important that people feel that they have some control, that they have decision making, and that they’re heard. So our company has laid out values and behaviors that aren’t just words on a wall. They’re not–it’s not a poster in the break room, right? These are things that we live and breathe every day and our culture has changed a lot in the 13 years I’ve been with the organization. It’s really evolved in a positive way. Thirteen years ago I probably honestly only stuck around because the benefits were good, right? Then as the focus, the intention on culture has come full circle, we’ve heard more improvements. People are happier. They’re showing up to work with better ideas. They can be more innovative.

On culture--Company values and behaviors that aren't just words on a wall. They're not a poster in the break room, right? These are things that we live and breathe every day. Roxy Click To Tweet

Roxy: We have a huge focus now on diversity. That’s another department. We work closely with them. But that’s another major piece of it, is every voice needs to be heard–diversity of thought, diversity of your experiences. We all have unique experiences and we have to recognize that. So there’s a whole team that is focused on diversity of our employees and the diversity of thought, so that we can innovate. And yeah, it is–I think of it–it is kind of an exotic title, but it’s very much project management and learning and development, I think that I bring to the team, I do a lot of readings. I love to re-engineer content. Of course, I credit and cite the source, but I like to re-engineer it in a way that the average person can receive it, and they don’t have to spend as much time reading all the books or watching all the videos, which is something that I enjoy doing. So it’s a happy balance.

I love to re-engineer content. Of course, I credit and cite the source, but I like to re-engineer it in a way that the average person can receive it, Roxy Click To Tweet

Ben: And I, and I may or may not be right about this at all, but is the pace of change? You said it had changed a lot in the 13 years. And I’d also mentioned that sounds like an exotic position, but it sounds like–it takes a lot of time for change, usually. Correct?

Roxy: Oh, absolutely! It’s not something you can be impatient about and… I just did a workshop for our college interns over the summer and the way that I explained it is–culture is contagious, so you don’t just wake up one day and decide you’re going to change your culture. And the story that I told them or the, the, the challenge that I asked them during the workshop was I, I had a lab coat on and I, you know, had some colored waters in some beakers and made it look more like a science room. But I asked them, does anyone know why? First of all I did like a poll–Does everyone know that you don’t wear white after Labor Day? And they all at least had heard of it. So that was good. And then I said, does anyone know why you don’t wear white after Labor Day?

Roxy: And nobody knew. And that was kind of surprising because, you know, with the different videos and things that pop up on Facebook, we all kind of know these, these fun little trivia these days. So fortunately for me, no one knew the answer, so I said, “Well, it actually started after the Civil War, when there was all these self-made millionaires popping up everywhere, and the high society ladies of old money decided that they wanted a way to identify the new money so that they could shun them.” And so the story goes that they came up with these fashion rules so that they could spot the new money and shun them. So basically one of the rules was you don’t wear white after Labor Day and they came up with that rule because it’s just normal to wear white in the summer.

Roxy: It’s a lighter color, but they made it a rule. So if you wore a white gown to a Christmas ball or gala, they would snub you. They would shun you. And so I said, “That was almost a 100 or over 100 years ago. How is it that something that was so malicious in nature that was created back then, still a thing now that we embrace and teach our children? And the hands started going up and you know, people were like, oh, because I said, “Who told you?” And they said, my grandmother and my mother, my whoever. And I said, “We pass these things on.” And I said, that’s exactly what happens in–in culture, in general. We pass these rules or these norms on to each other because we teach each other. And that’s exactly what happens in an organization.

We pass these things on. That's exactly what happens in culture, We pass these rules or these norms on to each other because we teach each other. And that's exactly what happens in an organization. Roxy Click To Tweet

Roxy: So when you think you’re helping someone by saying, “Oh, you have to wear–Ladies, you have to wear nylons in our organization.” Well, no! There’s actually no corporate policy that says you have to wear nylons. But this is one of those things that in some areas, the employees here were under the impression that they had to wear nylons with a skirt. And it’s just funny because you have these little pockets where people believe, well, that’s what you have to do. Well, who gets to decide what you have to do? Is it a corporate policy or is it a “that’s what we’ve kind of been doing for awhile?” So yeah, we really just asked the question, “Who gets to decide? Fill in the blank and challenge those norms. So, it could be as little as meeting culture, Do you put an agenda on your meeting invite? It could be different depending on which team you work in and what leader you have or what coworkers you have. So these things don’t change easily. I can’t just wake up one day and say, “Hey organization.  We’re all gonna do this.” Sometimes we can. Sometimes things are mandated and we have to do them. But the way that we behave and treat each other and some of these things that we’ve accepted into our norms, are much more difficult to challenge.

Ben: So how would you go about measuring success? How do you? I mean, we’re talking about–some things are overnight things because they’re mandated, but many of these things seem to take a good amount of time. And what do you do trying to determine if your efforts are successful?

Roxy: Yeah! The organization has a survey. We use a vendor that helps us measure, using a survey assessment–measure the feedback from the employees. And we asked the same questions year after year and we gauged the responses. So for that, it’s a numbers answer. Personally, I like to read between the lines and really understand the feedback that’s going along with those numbers, because it’s not about the numbers. It’s about the people, right? So we have the number that’s helpful. But for me it’s–it’s how do I feel? Right? And it’s really hard to get a measure on how do I feel. There could be something going on. If I come to work and I’m working through a frustration with a particular work group, depending on who I come in contact with. It varies from person to person and rightly so. It should.

Roxy: So, yes, the organization does use the assessment, but for me personally in my role, I like to observe and I like to listen and I like to just pay attention, which again, I think is one of those things where introverts just excel at because I can be the one in the room leading the conversation and jumping in and giving feedback, but I can also very easily be the person in the room who’s sitting back and watching the body language and reading between the lines and listening to somebody give an idea and then shut down because maybe their idea was rejected and they didn’t feel that they wanted to really press that idea or share the backup context that would help others see their idea. So, I’m kind of more of the observer and I’m weaving in the development pieces that go along with that.

Ben: Well, that’s awesome. So you mentioned that your strength of being able to listen and I think observe–I mean that is one of the strengths of introverts in general are supposed to be, and clearly, talking about how you’re leveraging that in terms of the culture change work. What else do you believe to be your biggest strengths? So how are you leveraging the StrengthsFinders?

Roxy: I think when I first found out what they were, it was a kind of disbelief. I didn’t quite understand what they were. And then over time, as somebody gave me a little plaque and they were sitting on my shelf, I’m at my desk and over time, as I would see them on a daily basis, and I would look back to what the definitions were, I started to realize that I had tendencies that explained why those were my strengths. So the F and I think by order, the first strength is Strategic. For me, when I come up with ideas or when I give answers to solve problems, it’s not always a fix for today. It’s a longer term fix or it’s something where I’m thinking I’m trying to pull in all the information that I have to make the smartest decision or the decision that’s gonna enter you no longer test of time.

Roxy: For me, the strategic definitely shows up, and sometimes I have to warn people, “Just FYI, I’m strategic. Sorry, if I’m jumping ahead.” And then also Learner and Input are two of my strengths. I’m so Learner. You’ve probably heard me talking about how I love to read. I average a book a week, and I just can’t get enough, right? I love learning new things. I find myself putting myself in awkward, uncomfortable, new positions in order to learn new things. And the Input, I just want to gather as much input as I can about something. And that’s part of the Strategic, a strength, the need there to fill all the input in order to make those decisions, But it’s also part of the Maximizer. So that’s another strength, once I learn all this content and I pull in all this input, I want to be able to maximize it.

I love learning new things. I find myself putting myself in awkward, uncomfortable, new positions in order to learn new things. Roxy Click To Tweet

Roxy: I want to be able to tell everyone about it and help them connect with it. And I just gave away the fifth strength which is Connectedness. And so I do–I see connection in everything and value in everything. And when I have that connection and that value in everything, it’s inspiring, it’s motivating, it’s uplifting. So I try to see the connection or value in every interaction and something–I actually just started this week. A few weeks ago I had recommended to someone I was talking to, to start a gratitude journal, and that’s a popular thing. A lot of people are doing it. I tried it myself and it just–the well kept running dry, right? And it sounds horrible, but it was more of a, at the end of the day make sure you do your gratitude. And I was like, “Oh, I’m thankful for my family.” It was kind of growing repetitive, but this person had a specific need and she was feeling really down, and I said, “Hey, have you tried this?”

Roxy: And so I was thinking about it and I was thinking back to me, back to my “why,” my vision and all that makes me happy–is being the brightest part of someone’s day. And I know that sounds corny, but like–and it’s not a difficult goal to reach–but at the end of the day, if I can look backwards and say I made someone smile today, or I brought some relief to someone, or I helped someone, or, you know “fill in the blank,” that I help influence or positively impact that person in some small way, then I’ve fulfilled my day. Like that’s it, right? So I shifted the journal from Gratitude to “That’s my Purpose.” And if I–and any goal–this is my recommendation to anyone. If you have a goal or something you’re trying to accomplish, if you can dedicate that much time every day towards that goal, you will reach that goal.

My vision and all that makes me happy--is being the brightest part of someone's day. Roxy Click To Tweet

At the end of the day, if I can look backwards and say I made someone smile today, or I brought some relief to someone, that I help influence or positively impact that person in some small way, then I've fulfilled my day. Roxy Click To Tweet

Roxy: And so for me it was, it was just a happy reminder of if you look backwards on your day. You’re going to see that you’re naturally helping. You’re naturally doing these things, bringing some sort of positive light into–anyone, whether it’s personal, family, work, anything–it could be the cashier at the register for all I know, if I just smile and say, Have a good day.” And they perk up. That’s–that’s awesome for me. As I started doing that journal and I found while journaling, the strengths were shining through in those examples again, and I was like, “Whoa! There it is again–those, those strengths.” That connection, finding myself at a place for a reason.

Roxy: Maybe I went to the estate sale and didn’t buy anything. And someone might look at that and say, “Oh, what a waste of time. You went there, you spent the money on the gas, and you didn’t buy anything.” Well, I like to look at the actual connection I had. Someone there was moving a table and nobody was helping her. So I offered to help and she said, “I’m 75 years old. I don’t know what I was thinking by trying to carry this table.” And that was it. That was that little interaction. We put the table in her car and she left, and I heard her telling someone on her way out that, “Oh, that nice young lady. They’re at the end of the line, helped me with the table.” Of course, I don’t know why no one else helped her, but that was it. Like I was meant to be there for that purpose and that was the brightest part of my day. But, I feel like it’s very important for us to recognize those strengths and leverage them, whether it be for your work or your fulfillment. If you’re missing one of them, you’ll notice it. You’ll not feel that you have that connection or that purpose.

It's very important for us to recognize your strengths and leverage them, be it for your work or your fulfillment. If you're missing one of them, you'll notice. You'll not feel that you have that connection or that purpose. Roxy Click To Tweet

Ben: What’s interesting is that you talked about “at the end of the day.” My thoughts immediately leapt to the song in Les Miserables, which talks about “At the end of the day, you’re another day older,” but it’s  almost all negative. It’s like there’s nothing. It’s just kinda the end of the day. It talks about “one day less to be living.” It’s not a positive song. But to hear you talking about this, it’s such a different and refreshing way to approach life in terms of you go to an event, you go to something that says an estate sale. You didn’t see anything you wanted to buy, but you found a way to have an impact on someone’s life. And I think that you have a gift there that many of us–it just doesn’t necessarily even occur to us. And “Oh, I went to the sale, I didn’t find anything and somebody was struggling with a table, and I should have helped them with the table” sort of thing, instead of jumping up there and making a difference for someone.

Ben: And I think this idea of being the brightest part of someone’s day is–it’s pretty amazing and it’s pretty humbling when you’re able to do that as well. So I think it’s a very, very cool thing. I’m always struck when I talk with you about how intentional you are in the way you approach these various things. We were talking briefly last week even in terms of ensuring that you’re exposing yourself to musical genres that you don’t really prefer, but you want to understand why other–why they’re popular and why certain songs that people appreciate them and I just find it really interesting because you have this intentionality that I don’t honestly believe that most of us do. I think many of us kind of go through our day and we look back on our day and well, it was another day, but the idea of really not–it’s not–you’re not talking about being the bright spot of one person’s day. You’re talking about being the bright spot of each person that you encounter during the day and it’s such a different credo in a sense of a way to live. Then I think it’s a very positive, obviously a positive example for us.

Extras

Organizational culture is a big deal and can have a direct impact on innovation. I read Daniel Coyle, The Culture Code: the Secrets of Highly Successful Groups earlier this year as part of the Next Big Idea Book Club (10% off subscription). I highly recommend both! Ben


  • 0
Roxy Greninger

Episode 015: Roxy Greninger–Growing Your Circle

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

Episode 015 Show Notes: Roxy Greninger

Introduction

Roxy Greninger

Roxy Greninger and Ben Woelk discuss Roxy’s work with Growing Your Circle and her experience at Spectrum 2018 of finding her tribe.  

Key concepts

  • Grow Your Circle
  • Outgoing introverts
  • Unexpected benefits of attending a conference

Quotable

I think that people don’t always have a clear definition of what an introvert is. So if you ask just a random person, what would they picture? They picture someone who’s quiet, maybe shy, definitely afraid of public speaking, and that’s not the case for me.

“What are you doing on this planet? What do you want to leave behind or how do you want to be remembered?” And you kind of start to ask yourself more thought-provoking questions around that. What are your strengths? And then you build upon that circle. So you are at the center of your circle, and then the people that surround you are the various layers of that circle, and the influence that they have on you.

So many people came up and talked to me afterwards and really talked to me during the course of the conference, that I started to get an understanding how important it was for introverts to understand that they were okay. There was nothing wrong with them for being introverts, but also to understand that there were more of them, that there was a sense of tribal group, or a circle in some ways as well.–Ben

Think about different people and the influence that they have on your circle, it could come and go. You could see them once a year, you could see them once in your lifetime, but they leave that resonating impact on that ring of your circle.

By all accounts, we want to be different, we want to be unique, but it’s wired into us to find similarities and develop our tribe. It’s a safety mechanism. It’s just natural that you want to feel similar to others, and not be the outsider.

Resources or Products Mentioned in this Episode

Links

Transcript

Ben:  Joining us today is Roxy Greninger. Roxy Works for Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield as a Culture Program Consultant. Roxy describes herself as Texas-born, Oregon-raised, and New York-refined. I met Roxy at the STC Rochester Spectrum Conference where she presented on Growing Your Circle. Roxy has since joined the Society for Technical Communication and is co-Vice President and 2019 Spectrum Conference co-chair. Roxy was also the catalyst for starting the Hope for the Introvert podcast, but we’ll talk about that a bit later. Roxy blogs at www.RoxyLorraine.Com. You can contact Roxy on Linkedin or at RoxyLorraine@Gmail.com.

Ben: Hi Roxy. I’m so excited you’re joining us today. We’ve had some fascinating and far ranging conversations and I look forward to seeing where we go today.

Roxy: Hey Ben. Thanks for having me. I’m excited to be on Hope for the Introvert.

Ben: Absolutely! So Roxy, you’ve mentioned to me that people are often surprised that you’re an introvert. Why is that?

Roxy: I think that people don’t always have a clear definition of what an introvert is. So if you ask just a random person, what would they picture? They picture someone who’s quiet, maybe shy, definitely afraid of public speaking, and that’s not the case for me. So I call myself an outgoing introvert. So for me it’s more–I love being around people, I love talking to people, but it doesn’t give me a charge. It actually drains me. So at the end of the day I need to be kind to myself and have some quiet time for reflection or artwork. Just recharging really. I’d call it recharge my batteries.

People don't always have a clear definition of what an introvert is. What would a random person picture? They picture someone who's quiet, maybe shy, definitely afraid of public speaking, and that's not the case for me.--Roxy Click To Tweet

Ben: Yeah. And that’s pretty typical for an introvert. Needing that time to recharge. It seems to be THE thing that makes a difference between extroverts and introverts. So when did you actually discover or decide that you were an introvert and how did that make you feel? What has the journey been like?

Roxy: It was about eight years ago during an Art of Leadership workshop here at Excellus, and during that time we took a number of assessments to learn about ourselves, which I found to be the most beneficial activity I’ve ever done. You would think, after 30 some odd years, you know yourself, but you really don’t. And having done that assessment, we learned if we were an introvert or an extrovert, our communication styles, which was also very helpful. And our strengths, right? So we use the five Strengths–StrengthsFinders 2.0 to learn about ourselves and how we work with others. So for me it was very affirming to know that I was an introvert, and that I wasn’t weird or that there was something wrong with me, if you will, that I felt so tired or a little withdrawn after extensive periods of time with people. And also to realize that there were other people like me was very affirming.

Ben: Well, that’s awesome.

Roxy:The affirmation that being–finding out that you’re an introvert–has on you, and anytime that I’m sure you, having led presentations on introversion, you’ll probably find or recognize that people come up to you afterwards and say, “Wow! That really meant something to me.” And being in a room full of other people who are similar is so important. Some of my favorite readings are just based on human behavior and why we have that need to feel the same. We by all accounts, we want to be different, we want to be unique, but it’s wired into us to find similarities and develop our tribe. It’s a safety mechanism. It’s just natural that you want to feel similar to others, and not be the outsider.

By all accounts, we want to be different, we want to be unique, but it's wired into us to find similarities and develop our tribe.--Roxy Greninger Click To Tweet

Ben: Yeah, I think that makes a lot of sense. And it’s interesting because I first presented on introversion–I first presented several years ago with a friend of mine–but I presented on it back in the spring of 2016 and I had that same experience that you’re talking about. So many people came up and talked to me afterwards and really talked to me during the course of the conference, that I started to get an understanding how important it was for introverts to understand that they were okay. There was nothing wrong with them for being introverts, but also to understand that there were more of them, that there was a sense of tribal group, or a circle in some ways as well.

So many people came up and talked to me afterwards and really talked to me during the course of the conference, that I started to get an understanding how important it was for introverts to understand that they were okay. Click To Tweet

Ben: Now, when you spoke at Spectrum, you actually spoke during our leadership program and you spoke on Grow Your Circle, which is something that you’ve been working on. Can you talk a little bit about that? It was very well received by the attendees at the conference and I think it would be exciting for them to know what you’re working on.

Roxy: Yeah. I’m fascinated again, by development of people. I’m starting with myself back in 2010. So this idea came to me when we talk about developing your–growing your tribe. (Building your tribe is, I think, one saying in the community.) Networking is another term that people use. And so what I started to find out about wellness and well being,  when you boil everything down, it really needs to start with you. You need to know yourself and you need to know what drives you, in order to know what motivates you, in order to succeed and feel fulfillment and purpose in this life. So when I spoke, the grow your circle is just that you start with you and you ask yourself, it sounds like an easy question, but it’s a really hard question to answer…

Roxy: “What are you doing on this planet? What do you want to leave behind or how do you want to be remembered?” And you kind of start to ask yourself more thought-provoking questions around that. What are your strengths? And then you build upon that circle. So you are at the center of your circle, and then the people that surround you are the various layers of that circle, and the influence that they have on you. So you’ve got another ring of of emotional and physical, which is met by–you have doctors and specialists that are helping with your physical well being. Maybe you have a fitness coach, you’ve got emotional support from your parents, from your siblings, your family, and others. And then there’s another layer of the ring which is career and financial stability, which aren’t necessarily the same, but they certainly can go hand in hand whether you’re self employed or employed by someone else. And whether you’re wealthy or not wealthy, it’s your comfort level with your financial situation, your financial wellness.

What are you doing on this planet? What do you want to leave behind or how do you want to be remembered? Click To Tweet

Roxy: The final ring is social and community. And that’s the biggest ring. That’s where your friends are. That’s where your neighbors are. So when you think about different people and the influence that they have on your circle, it could come and go. You could see them once a year, you could see them once in your lifetime, but they leave that resonating impact on that ring of your circle. It’s also important to think about if you’re trying to hang on to people in your circle because you feel like you’re required to or obligated to. Are they really helping or having a positive influence on you, or are you able to just say they’ve brought me joy and, and maybe your paths–it’s time to part ways, right?

Think about different people and the influence that they have on your circle, it could come and go. You could see them once a year, you could see them once in your lifetime, but they leave that resonating impact on that ring of your… Click To Tweet

Roxy:  So that’s really helpful when you have that circle fully developed. You’re able to maximize your potential. And other people struggle with adding more folks to their circle. Right? So what I spoke about at the conference was there are other ways to grow your circle. You can follow a favorite author or celebrity and they influence you, right? So if you watch TV or if you read books,  or if you follow a celebrity on social media, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, they buy a product and you find yourself buying a product, you better bet you’re being influenced by them. It’s things like that to think about who’s influencing you and is it a positive influence, is it an influence towards your purpose and what you’re trying to accomplish in this life and it’s going to fluctuate.

Ben: You know, I love the idea of the resonating impact. It could be for good or for bad as well.

Roxy: Absolutely!

Ben: But it’s really interesting thinking about just that ongoing sound. Essentially you are having an impact in your life because they’ve–hard to find the words around this, and I think of it more of a pebble. Throwing the pebble in the water and the ripples spreading out. But this is more of the sense of they’ve struck the bell and the peal just kind of continues for awhile.

Roxy: Absolutely!

Ben: So I think it’s a pretty cool analogy and an interesting way to look at it.

Roxy: It’s very helpful to realize that this is not limited to the work life or the personal life, right? This is you. This is your circle. This is 24/7. I think a lot of development programs focus on you within the walls of your workplace or they focus on, you know, self help you outside the workplace. And that’s where they fall short, that you’re not looking at your overall self. And a lot of people are in an unhealthy situation, whether it’s mentally unhealthy or physically unhealthy. They’re working themselves so hard that they’re finding that they have heart disease or stress or anxiety, and all these things, you know catch up to you. And I think in the presentation I referenced, just like when you’re on the airplane and the flight attendant tells you that you have to put your mask on yourself first. If you want to help anybody else, you really do.

Roxy:That rings true with grow your circle. Like you need to look at yourself first and not think about, you know, what decisions you’ve made that have been influenced by, let’s say your parents, right? That’s sometimes the hardest one because they’re your parents, or other influencers like your boss–are you doing work that you love doing or are the assignments that you’re doing, you’re doing them because that’s what you’re being told to do? Or do you feel that you are bringing a passion and meaning to purpose? To the world? So that’s where people get hung up in they find a little depression or demotivation with particular jobs. And that for me overlaps with my work at Excellus, which is why I love thinking about these things outside of the workplace as well as inside the workplace.

Ben: I felt like it was a very well received presentation and it’s funny because I connected with you at the conference and we did a follow-up conversation later. There just seems to be so much of interest to discuss together. But, you’ve also stepped into a leadership role in an organization that you had not had any real familiarity with prior to that. And I’m curious about why you agreed to do that.

Roxy: Yeah. I was–I was shocked. I didn’t know that STC was a thing [laughing]. So I was–I was delighted. I was asked by one of the other co-chairs if I had some content that I’d be willing to present, and I was kind of excited to try and be given the opportunity to try something new, try some content that I hadn’t presented before and this was that opportunity. And after the presentation, I admittedly was kind of surprised there weren’t a lot of questions in the room, but I should have guessed that it was probably primarily a room full of introverts. Each one of those guests came up to me afterwards to say in which ways the presentation connected with them and/or resonated with them. And I was blown away and I’m just shocked that I didn’t know that the Society for Technical Communication existed.

Roxy: And as I had the opportunity to sit through the different presenters, they were speaking my language, they’re reading the same books that I read and they’re talking about technologies that I’m interested in. Sometimes I find myself in a situation at work where my colleagues–they appreciate that I read as much as I do or that I have information about new technology coming out. But you know, that that’s me. They look to me and say, “That’s great. That’s Roxy.” But here’s a whole bunch of Roxy’s, right? I mean, it was–it was unique. We’re all different, you know, it was, it was fulfilling and it was energizing to be with people that had another layer of similarities and wanted to connect with me.

Roxy, I think I had like 20 LinkedIn requests the first day and it’s such a diverse group of people that I just walked away feeling tired, yes, from being around people, but also very energized by, you know, the amount of input and I’m learning that those are a few of my strengths out of the five strengths. So for me that fulfilled a piece of my strengths, that I look for. And so when it was brought to my attention that there was an opportunity to be a leader in the role, I–I hesitated at first because I don’t want to just jump in and have too many things that I’m juggling, but I really thought that I might be able to bring a different perspective and diversify the chapter thinking a little bit, because I do have a marketing background. I’m not a traditional technical writer. I’ve written documentation for our company– training documentation. I do have an IT degree but I’m not in an IT role now. So I thought that that would bring a different perspective to the chapter and the way we do things and maybe just help lead some positive change.

Ben: Yeah, I think there’s some great opportunities there and it’s funny you talk about how you were energized being around the people and still very tired at the end of the day from doing that. But that’s kind of been my experience with this organization and another organization I’m involved with, that as I’ve established relationships, the opportunity to essentially hang out with that group of people is just great and I find that I don’t want to give that up, and I end up being totally, totally exhausted by the time I finally do. But it’s one of those things, It’s probably not the right analogy, but a candle can only burn brightly for so long and then you need to–really terrible analogy, and that it needs to rest for awhile–which again, terrible analogy. So we’re replacing the wick, whatever you want to call it, needs both. Obviously. a flashlight needs to recharge the batteries and that’s the introvert analogy that usually works with that!

Extras

Grow Your Circle Presentation

Grow Your Circle diagram


  • 0

Episode 014: Ben Woelk–Lessons Learned on an Introvert’s Journey to Leadership

Category:EDUCAUSE,introversion,Introverted Leadership,introverts,Leadership,Lessons Learned,personality,Podcast

Episode 014 Show Notes: Ben Woelk

Introduction

Ben Woelk discusses lessons learned on his introvert’s journey to leadership. This post is based on an article previously published on October 17, 2016 in the EDUCAUSE Review: The Professional Commons Blog and on benwoelk.com.

Key concepts

  • Self understanding is the key for being a good leader
  • Identify and harness your introvert strengths
  • Growing in leadership comes from practicing leadership
  • In networking, depth is more important than breadth

Quotable

My introversion informs my approach to leadership, and I’ve found that self-understanding has helped me learn how to harness my strengths as an introvert to become an influential leader and to achieve great results.

My willingness to accept volunteer tasks has enabled me to share ideas and develop my leadership abilities.

I had to see something on paper stating that I could be a leader before I could accept that ability. I needed the affirmation.

Teams often follow leaders who express their ideas confidently and quickly, neither of which are guarantors that the ideas are actually good.

You won’t grow in leadership if you don’t take advantage of opportunities to practice leadership.

Don’t avoid networking events. You don’t have to meet and engage in small talk with everyone. Find one or two people with whom to have an in-depth conversation, and follow up later. Depth is more important than breadth.

Resources or Products Mentioned in this Episode

Links

Transcript

Many of us might agree that Western society lauds extroverted leaders and their accomplishments. However, introverts make great contributions and can be effective leaders too. As IT professionals, many of you are introverts, and you certainly work with a lot of introverts. Those of us who are introverts may not believe or recognize that we have strong leadership skills, and we certainly don’t seem like the extroverted leaders that are the norm in Western society.

I’m an introverted leader, despite outward appearances. I’ve presented at conferences numerous times, and overall, I’m able to mix well in business settings. Many people who see me in that very public context are surprised that I’m an introvert. My introversion informs my approach to leadership, and I’ve found that self-understanding has helped me learn how to harness my strengths as an introvert to become an influential leader and to achieve great results.

My introversion informs my approach to leadership, and I’ve found that self-understanding has helped me learn how to harness my strengths as an introvert to become an influential leader and to achieve great results. Click To Tweet

I thought it might be helpful to share a bit of my journey to leadership, to talk about what’s worked for me, and to provide strategies for both discovering your introvert strengths and maximizing them in your workplaces.

First Things First: What’s an Introvert?

Please regard this section as a generalization constructed from a number of sources. Introversion and extroversion lie along a spectrum. Individuals may be more or less extroverted or introverted. It’s also important to note that social anxiety or fear of public speaking does not necessarily mean that someone is introverted. (Many articles and discussions state that public speaking is the number-one fear for most people.)

For the purposes of this blog post, I’ll characterize extroverts and introverts as follows:

  • Extroverts focus on the outer world of people and things. They tend to be active and have a wide breadth of interests. They understand things through experience. They may be reward seekers and desire fame. They are energized by contact and activities undertaken with others.
  • Introverts have a rich inward-looking life of ideas. They tend to have a depth of interest, preferring specialization to a breadth of knowledge. They may mull over thoughts and concepts, but not express those thoughts verbally or externally. Introverts recharge themselves by withdrawing from the hubbub to places of quiet and solitude.

Reading these descriptions, can you see where you might fit on the spectrum?

Applying Introverted Strengths to Leadership

There are many approaches to leadership, and we often hear about highly extroverted, “take charge” leaders who have very public presences. However, as Susan Cain and others have pointed out, there’s no correlation between success in leadership and extroversion. Examples of introverted leaders include Albert Einstein, Steve Wozniak, and Abraham Lincoln. What made them good leaders? In what ways were they influential?

  • Einstein was known for his depth and clarity of thought (and his genius). He had the ability to look at all angles to a problem and develop innovative (and often unexpected) solutions.
  • Wozniak was responsible for many of Apple’s innovations, even though Steve Jobs was the best-known leader and public spokesperson for Apple. Working outside the limelight, Wozniak was able to engineer technological breakthroughs. Together, Jobs and Wozniak arguably revolutionized the end-user computing experience.
  • Lincoln was not gregarious and certainly not known as a compelling public speaker. Yet he was a deep strategic thinker and provided leadership during what may have been the most trying times for the United States.

All were introverted leaders, and all were very effective.

My Background

I’ve had a career that spans many disciplines, including a stint as a doctoral student in early modern European history, a technical communicator, and an information security practitioner. (I took a rather circuitous route to my current position as program manager in the Information Security Office at the Rochester Institute of Technology.)

As a doctoral student, I tended to be very reticent in classes, not wanting to contribute to discussions in which I was sure everyone else was much more knowledgeable.

In my work as a technical communicator, I documented ISO 9000 processes, created hardware and software documentation, and eventually moved into a consulting position where I had responsibility for end-user communications for an IT organization in a local Fortune 500 company.

As a security awareness professional, I communicate to my campus community about information security issues and threats, develop training courses in digital self-defense, and contribute to the greater information security community through my Introverted Leadership Blog and the EDUCAUSE HEISC Awareness and Training Working Group(HEISC is the Higher Education Information Security Council).

I didn’t seek leadership positions and preferred to remain in the background. The last place I wanted to be was the center of attention with colleagues looking to me for direction. Happily, my willingness to accept volunteer tasks has enabled me to share ideas and develop my leadership abilities.

My willingness to accept volunteer tasks has enabled me to share ideas and develop my leadership abilities. Click To Tweet

My Transformation into a Leader

Although there are many formative steps I could look back on, the steps below have probably helped me the most.

Gaining a Better Understanding of Introversion

I read Cain’s book Quiet shortly after it came out. I found her research and discussion around various facets of introversion in American culture to be compelling. Leveraging her work and other sources, I co-presented on the subject of introverted leadership at a few conferences. The topic was popular, and we had standing-room-only crowds. At that point, I realized that this subject was of great interest to my professional colleagues, both in technical communication and in information security. I was intrigued and did further research into what it meant to be an introvert who was also a leader.

Understanding My Personality/Temperament Type

There are various tools for determining your personality/temperament type and many resources discussing the leadership styles most appropriate to those types. Around the time I stepped into a leadership role, I became acquainted with the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and the work of David Keirsey on temperament. I’m not going to give an in-depth description of MBTI or temperament here. In short, the MBTI and similar tests provide a series of questions; your responses group you into specific personality or temperament types: Introvert/Extravert; iNtuitive/Sensing; Thinking/Feeling; Judging/Perceiving. The types, which are identified through the four pairs, are not distributed evenly throughout the population. The results fall along a continuum, so not every INTJ will be the same. (Obviously, we’re more complex than a four-letter descriptor can convey.)

I’m an INTJ (Introverted-iNtuitive-Thinking-Judging). Keirsey describes the INTJ as a Mastermind. (Others assign the term Scientist to this combination of traits.) Finding out I was an INTJ was important to me because the description affirmed my ability to lead (albeit reluctantly), discussed my strengths and weaknesses, and provided strategies for success as a leader. I had to see something on paper stating that I could be a leader before I could accept that ability. I needed the affirmation. There are times I feel like the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz, needing a diploma (or confirmation in print) to prove to myself that I have a brain.

I had to see something on paper stating that I could be a leader before I could accept that ability. I needed the affirmation. Click To Tweet

Understanding How I Communicate and Work Best

By and large, introverts are not comfortable being asked to give an immediate response to suggestions, nor do they enjoy engaging in small talk. Click To Tweet

By and large, introverts are not comfortable being asked to give an immediate response to suggestions, nor do they enjoy engaging in small talk. I’m not at my best when asked to provide an on-the-spot answer to how I might handle a specific problem or an idea for the best way to move forward. However, when given time, I can respond with a well-thought-out and nuanced response. I’ve also found that I communicate best in writing, although my oral communication skills have become stronger over time and I’m now a seasoned presenter.

I prefer to work individually, and my work is not necessarily done at a steady pace. I enjoy “collisions” with other thinkers, but I prefer not to work in teams. Teams often follow leaders who express their ideas confidently and quickly, neither of which are guarantors that the ideas are actually good. Individual conversations, on the other hand, can often lead to breakthroughs and innovations.

Teams often follow leaders who express their ideas confidently and quickly, neither of which are guarantors that the ideas are actually good. Click To Tweet

Building on Small Successes

I’ve had many opportunities to grow in leadership, but they’ve occurred primarily outside of my professional work environment and often in nonprofit organizations, which are always looking for competent and dedicated volunteers. For me, that leadership path has been through two organizations: the Society for Technical Communication (STC), an international organization devoted to furthering technical communication and educating its members; and the EDUCAUSE HEISC. As I volunteered in STC, I was asked to serve in a variety of positions with increasing responsibilities. I was eventually elected president of the Rochester Chapter and later served on the board of directors at the international level. For HEISC, I served as co-chair of the Awareness and Training Working Group. In that role, I’ve had the opportunity to facilitate a group of talented information security professionals.

I didn’t seek leadership positions in these organizations, but for almost every opportunity presented to me, I’ve said “yes.” Click To Tweet

I didn’t seek leadership positions in these organizations, but for almost every opportunity presented to me, I’ve said “yes.” I’ve also asked myself: “How can I make a difference in the organization?” (Say “yes” when given an opportunity to serve. You won’t grow in leadership if you don’t take advantage of opportunities to practice leadership.)

You won’t grow in leadership if you don’t take advantage of opportunities to practice leadership. Click To Tweet

Making It Personal: Examining My Strengths and Growth Opportunities

From my discussion above, it’s clear that self-discovery has been an important component in how I’ve learned to harness my introvert strengths and become a leader. From my readings about personality/temperament and my experience as a leader, I’ve discovered that my strengths include my ability to identify gaps, my desire to make a difference, my commitment to practicing a servant leadership model, and my drive to pursue excellence. I’m also competitive. (That competitiveness can be both a strength and a weakness. I can push myself and others toward goals. However, I also have an innate desire to win at whatever I’m engaged in.)

Self-discovery also means you uncover your weaknesses, or growth opportunities. For me, those growth opportunities include overcoming my desire to avoid conflict, pushing past my reticence to contribute in discussions, not overanalyzing opportunities or situations before moving forward, and harnessing my competitiveness.

Where Do You Go from Here?

I recommend the following activities to help you uncover and actualize your introvert strengths and become an influencer.

  • Get to know yourself. Take one of the personality or temperament assessments offered at Keirsey.com, HumanMetrics, or 16 Personalities. Read Quiet and some of the other introversion resources listed below.
  • Control your environment. If you’re in an open-plan office, find ways to define your personal space to increase your ability to stay focused. (See Morgan, 5 Ways, for some great ideas.)
  • Communicate your value. Keep a record of your accomplishments and make sure your management understands how you communicate and work best and how you can add the most value. Take advantage of the unhurried nature of social media to leverage the playing field by using the opportunity to clearly articulate your thoughts.
  • Leverage your introversion. You have tremendous abilities to provide superior solutions because, given sufficient time, you can often see all facets of a problem and devise a comprehensive solution.
  • Don’t avoid networking events. You don’t have to meet and engage in small talk with everyone. Find one or two people with whom to have an in-depth conversation, and follow up later. Depth is more important than breadth.
  • Recharge (in solitude) as needed!

Don’t avoid networking events. You don’t have to meet and engage in small talk with everyone. Find one or two people with whom to have an in-depth conversation, and follow up later. Depth is more important than breadth. Click To Tweet

Conclusion

By no means do I consider myself to have “arrived,” but I am surprised by how far I’ve been willing to journey in the last ten years as I’ve leveraged my introversion to lead in a way that’s natural for me. I hope the thoughts above can help stimulate your thinking about how you can leverage your introversion — and also leverage the strengths of the introverts you manage (and make them happier members of the workforce).

You’ve read a bit of my story. If you’re an introvert, what has been your experience in the workplace? If you’re an extrovert, how have you worked successfully with introverts both as their colleague and as their manager? What strategies have worked for you? Please join the conversation. I’d love to hear your stories!

Resources

Cain, Susan. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. New York: Crown Publishers, 2012.

Kahnweiler, Jennifer B. The Introverted Leader: Building on Your Quiet Strength. 2nd edition. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2018.

Keirsey, David. Please Understand Me II: Temperament, Character, Intelligence. Delmar, CA: Prometheus Nemesis Book Company, 1998.

Laney, Marti Olsen. The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World. New York: Workman Publishing Company, 2002.

Morgan, Elan. “5 Ways to Love Your Open-Plan Office.” Quiet Revolution.

Myers, Isabel Briggs, and Peter B. Myers. Gifts Differing. Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press, 1980.

Petrilli, Lisa. The Introvert’s Guide to Success in Business and Leadership. Chicago: C-Level Strategies, 2011.

Extras

Ben recently keynoted the fall 2018 TCUK Conference in Daventry, England with this topic. You can find audio-visual recordings of Lessons Learned on an Introvert’s Journey to Leadership at https://benwoelk.com/audio-and-video/ and presentations at https://www.slideshare.net/bwoelk.


Site Search

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 2,024 other subscribers

Categories

Support Introverted Leadership on Patreon

Blubrry affiliate banner