Category Archives: introversion

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Marcy Phelps headshot

Episode 021: Marcy Phelps–Introvert Strengths

Category:introversion,Introverted Leadership,Leadership,Podcast

Episode 021 Show Notes: Marcy Phelps

Introduction

Marcy Phelps headshot

Marcy Phelps and Ben Woelk talk about how knowing introvert strengths empowers introverted leaders.

Key concepts

  • Serving on a non-profit board
  • Mentoring is a great form of leadership
  • Mentoring benefits the mentor and the mentee
  • Start your leadership journey by starting small

Quotable

Mentoring is a great leadership role for introverts, because we are so good at one-on-one and listening and hearing what people need.

Mentoring goes both ways. Both the mentor and mentee benefit from the experience.

I thought introversion was something I had to overcome and there was something wrong with me, until I read that book Quiet by Susan Cain.

How different introverts feel, like a weight is lifted off of them, and they understand that they have strengths which are every bit equal or sometimes better than some other leadership characteristics.

I didn’t realize is how dramatic a change it can make for introverts when they realize that what they’ve believed has been a handicap can actually be turned into a strength.

Resources or Products Mentioned in this Episode

Links

Transcript

Ben: Joining us today is Marcy Phelps. As the founder and president of Denver-based Marcy Phelps and Associates, Inc. (formerly Phelps Researching), Marcy helps clients manage risk and prevent fraud. She started her firm in 2000 after earning a Master’s degree in Library and Information Services from the University of Denver, and is a Colorado-licensed private investigator and a Certified Fraud Examiner. Marcy blogs about investigative research at www.marcyphelps.com/blog. You can contact Marcy through the blog or on LinkedIn as Marcy Phelps. I encourage our listeners to visit Hope for the Introvert.com where you’ll find complete show notes including a transcript of today’s conversation.

Ben: You mentioned AIIP, the Association of Independent Information Professionals. What you didn’t mention at the time when you mentioned it earlier in the conversation, was that you were actually a past president and currently a director for the organization?

Marcy: No, I was a director and then I became the president a few years after that.

Ben: What led you into doing that? Professional organizations have a little bit different cultures depending on the organization. Was this something–you had an opponent? Did you have to actively campaign, or is it quieter than that? I know when I ran for Vice President of the Society for Technical Communication, I probably made a lot more noise in terms of campaigning than most other people have. which I’ve had mixed feelings about since. But I’m curious what you found that experience like from one, deciding that you wanted to become a candidate for either the board or the presidency, and what it was like going through that whole campaign, in a sense?

Marcy: Well, I was pretty lucky. It’s very low key in AIIP. Before I ran for president, the role was uncontested. The board selected the president–the candidate–and then the membership votes, Yea or Nay. The year I was asked by the board to run, they changed the policies and procedures and they allowed nominations from the floor, including self nominations. so I was the first president to run in a contested election. So it’s funny you should mention that. And I immediately felt awkward about it. But then I realized it wasn’t a real campaign. I needed to put out a few messages myself and my plans for the presidency if I was elected. Even that felt a little odd, I have to say. But it was very low key. So I was lucky. And, I wound up being elected so I didn’t really have to do too much. It was awkward though. Excuse me. It was awkward because it was the first time it had ever happened in the association, so nobody knew quite what to do.

Ben: That’s funny. What happens with STC, on the local level with chapters, it’s very rare that there are contested elections. It’s difficult enough to get people who are willing to serve. But at the Society level, they’re always–well for some of the positions there are always multiple candidates, especially for the vice president-president, immediate past president sequence. But for some of the other positions, they will often or sometimes decide just to have the one candidate and than it’s a Yea or Nay. But it is interesting how these organizations are different. So one of the things I’ve found and I’ve found now that I’m on the board, and this is my second term on the board with STC, is that does give me a different role. It does give me a different role when I go to a conference, and I’m not able to not be engaged with people there. So I kind of have to make a point of making sure that I am stepping outside my comfort zone and engaging people there. I want them to feel welcome. Yeah, it is different when you go with a specific role.

Marcy: Well, and I have to say, AIIP is a very unique association. We’re smaller and we don’t have chapters, so our annual conference is a big deal. It’s like going to hang out with family. It really is. It’s a smaller group. We spend the first hour of the conference–everybody comes up and gives their thirty second introduction. It’s very easy for an introvert to mix and mingle at an AIIP Conference. It’s very intimate and like family.

Ben: Great! One of the questions that I have–and for our listeners–one of the things that we do with these podcasts is provide our guests with a structure of the things that we’re going to talk about., so it’s not very, very awkward! We started touching on this already, but besides being the past president and a past director for AIP, in what other ways do you feel like you’ve been an influencer or leader, outside of that organization or inside of it, either way?

Marcy: Well, in AIP, I am also a mentor. We have a mentoring program and I’m currently mentoring another private investigator. Not everybody in AIIP is a private investigator, but we were connected because of that. So that is one type of leadership role. And I think it’s a great one for introverts, because we are so good at one-on-one and listening and hearing what people need. So that’s been very rewarding. Especially with this mentee, he’s very, very sharp and I think I’m learning more than he might be, but that’s a really great way to get into leadership a leadership role.

Mentoring is a great leadership role for introverts, because we are so good at one-on-one and listening and hearing what people need. Click To Tweet

Marcy: Also, as a solopreneur, I bring in subcontractors to work with me. I have one subcontractor on a regular basis, and then others that I bring in when I need help on a specific topic–verifying a degree from a very small Swedish university where no one speaks English–that kind of thing. Managing, recruiting, managing and managing the quality, that’s another leadership role I think outside of association work. I used to play golf and there wereonly day leagues for women, and I was frustrated because there were several of us who worked. So I put together a league in the evening for people who worked in the daytime–those kinds of things.

Ben: Great! It’s interesting what you’re saying about your current mentee and learning from him. I have found the same thing through every mentoring experience that I’ve been part of. The assumption from the outside, I think, is always that they’re one way, but I’ve never found it to be that way. I found them to be–well, not only the rewarding fact of feeling like you’re helping somebody along in their career, but also the fact that I benefit from those conversations as well.

Mentoring goes both ways. Both the mentor and mentee benefit from the experience. Click To Tweet

Marcy: Absolutely, Ben. I learn something new from every mentee. Even the ones that don’t work out really well, they kind of confirm what I need to know about running a business, so I learned from the smart people who are doing really well and then I learned from even the not so great experiences,

Ben: Another question for you–and the podcast essentially is–part of our whole reason for doing this is to help people who are leaders and introverts. What recommendations do you have for introverts who want to become influencers or leaders?

Marcy: Well, I recommend probably starting small. Just get involved in an organization that you feel comfortable with, and start volunteering on a smaller committee with them, and getting involved and meeting people that way. Volunteering is a fabulous way to get to know people and work your way up maybe to chairing a committee or something like that, or serving on the board of a smaller association. I think mentoring, again, something face to face or small group like that. Probably just start small and work up and you’d be surprised!  Leadership I don’t think requires that you have to be an extrovert. I think leadership–introverts are good at leadership and we shouldn’t be scared by it.

Ben: That takes us to another focus on this. A lot of –I don’t know if it’s press or things that are out there–and I know I had a friend share an article with me today–there seems to be a perception that being introverted is a handicap or weakness and not a strength. What is your perspective on that?

Marcy: That one really annoys me. I thought it was too. I thought it was something I had to overcome and there was something wrong with me, until I read that book Quiet by Susan Cain, The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking. I love that book and I highly recommend it because I kind of found it empowering because she emphasizes that theme that this is not a defect or a handicap that you need to overcome. You have to adapt. You have to make it work for you. But it’s not something I need to apologize for anymore. I found that book very empowering in that way.

I thought introversion was something I had to overcome and there was something wrong with me, until I read that book Quiet by Susan Cain, Click To Tweet

Ben: Yeah. And I would say that I did too. I read it I think the year it came out, and It was just–I describe it as transformative, because it–and I’m not sure how I felt about being introverted either way before that, but I have talked to so many people the first time they go through that book or the first time they’re exposed to any of the current writing around introverts and leadership or anything like that. How different they feel. Just that it’s like a weight is lifted off of them, and they understand that they have strengths which are every bit equal–or sometimes better–than some other leadership characteristics that are out there. And I think they find it empowering. I think it’s a great word for it. It’s been a great–it’s kind of been the introvert manifesto over the last decade.

How different introverts feel, like a weight is lifted off of them, and they understand that they have strengths which are every bit equal or sometimes better than some other leadership characteristics. Click To Tweet

Marcy: I think it’s a big relief. I don’t think I’ve mentioned this to you earlier, but I used to have a blog called Power Networking for Introverts, because my friends encouraged me to do that because they thought I was so great at networking even though I’m an–I was an introvert, and I wrote about that concept in one of my posts, and the response was incredible. People saying, “Thank you, this was a huge relief. I thought there was something wrong with me.” That was really–that was striking. That was striking,

Ben: Is that post still available?

Marcy: No, I took that all down. That was a very, very long time ago. But you’ve given me an idea of something to write about,

Ben: So when you get that posted, or whatever you’re going to end up doing, let me know and I will provide a link to it. Because like you’ve said, for me, the most amazing part of this whole journey and starting to work on leadership and introversion, has really been seeing what a huge difference it can make in people’s lives. And that in many ways was unexpected. Even though I knew it had made a big difference for me in terms of how I understood how I could be a leader and things like that. What I didn’t realize is how dramatic a change it can make for people when they realize that what they’ve believed has been a handicap can actually be turned into a strength.

I didn't realize is how dramatic a change it can make for introverts when they realize that what they've believed has been a handicap can actually be turned into a strength. Click To Tweet

Marcy: Yes. Yes. And isn’t it amazing the power of the content you put out there sometimes. Sometimes, you never realize the effect it’s going to have on someone.

Ben: So I have a question not on the questionnaire. Marcy, what is one thing about you that people would be surprised to learn? And you can take a minute and think about it.

Marcy: Oh boy. I have a black belt in taekwondo. I haven’t practiced taekwondo in a long time, but I did obtain my first degree black belt some time ago.

Ben: That’s awesome. I certainly had no idea of that!

Marcy: That was hard. I had a hard time with the sparring part, having the intent of striking somebody. I had trouble with that, and that’s not necessarily the intent. The intent is to defend yourself, but you have to sometimes strike others to do that. And I had a hard time with that. I was raised, you know, you’re not supposed to hit people, and um [laughing], but I loved it. I loved the discipline and it was something to do with my young sons. It’s not a lot of things mothers can do with their sons, that’s–you know–sportswise. So, so that’s one thing. I don’t know. I’m pretty open. [laughing]There’s not much that people don’t know about me because I write, and I’m pretty much a what you see is what you get kind of person.

Ben: Ok, great! So, any other parting thoughts?

Marcy:  Parting thoughts. Just again, focus on your strengths as an introvert because we have so many and very valuable strengths. Like Susan Cain says, it’s kind of a noisy world and our quiet can be very powerful. And also remember that there are workarounds. It’s just like in technology, when something doesn’t work, we find a workaround. Our introversion–we just find a workaround. I know in my business I have to get out there and be with people and interact. So, I just make it happen by figuring out my workarounds.

Ben: Sounds great! Thank you, Marcy for a great interview.


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Marcy Phelps headshot

Episode 020: Marcy Phelps–Designing Your Career Around Your Introversion

Category:introversion,introverts,Podcast

Episode 020 Show Notes: Marcy Phelps

Introduction

Marcy Phelps headshot

Marcy Phelps and Ben Woelk talk about how she’s designing her career as a PI around her introversion, and networking at conferences.

Key concepts

  • Career goals may change when exposed to new options
  • You can build a career that suits your temperament
  • Conferences can be both draining and rewarding
  • Networking may not be what you think it is

Quotable

I think I’ve designed my career pretty much around my introversion. I found out early on that working in an office. I was actually trained as a teacher. I found that being with all those people all day was so physically and emotionally draining that it was hard to actually get work done.

We as introverts, we don’t really like to shine the light on ourselves that much. So we focus on others a lot, and I think we’re in general, pretty good listeners.

I think as an entrepreneur you have to be really  attuned to client needs. You can’t say this is how we do things. You have to do them according to what clients need them done.

I think actually being a speaker helps. When you’re speaking at a conference, people will introduce themselves to you. So it’s kind of nice in that respect.

You mention networking, and people think big event and you’re wearing a name tag. Trying to make conversations with people you don’t know. But networking basically just means building and maintaining a group or a network.

Resources or Products Mentioned in this Episode

Links

Transcript

Ben: Joining us today is Marcy Phelps. As the founder and president of Denver-based Marcy Phelps and Associates, Inc. (formerly Phelps Researching), Marcy helps clients manage risk and prevent fraud. She started her firm in 2000 after earning a Master’s degree in Library and Information Services from the University of Denver, and is a Colorado-licensed private investigator and a Certified Fraud Examiner. Marcy blogs about investigative research at www.marcyphelps.com/blog. You can contact Marcy through the blog or on LinkedIn as Marcy Phelps. I encourage our listeners to visit Hope for the Introvert.com where you’ll find complete show notes including a transcript of today’s conversation.

Ben: Hi Marcy. I’m really excited you’re joining us today. Looking forward to chatting with you. Can you tell us about your job? And what does it mean to be an investigative researcher and what is your workplace like?

Marcy: An investigative researcher uses available information either on the web or sometimes through conversations–interviews–to answer our client’s questions. I’m not the kind of PI that’s out doing surveillance. I’m most likely sitting here in front of the computer checking up through public records, other public sources and not so public sources. That’s pretty much what an investigator searches. And my workplace,  I absolutely love. I’ve worked from home and my home office is just sunny and I have a great view, and I have two dogs that keep me company and bark at people. And I really enjoy working here. It’s very conducive to focus, which I I need for my job.

Ben: Yeah, I understand that. So you work as a licensed private investigator, but not like the type of PI that does surveillance. So your clients aren’t really individuals. Right?

Marcy: Exactly. I work for corporations, law firms, sometimes, nonprofit associations. But I don’t work directly with individuals, so I’m not chasing somebody’s deadbeat husband–that type of work that’s more corporate work–due diligence investigations, and asset investigations, that type of work. It’s focused on fraud–fraud prevention or identifying fraud.

Ben: So how did you go from getting a master’s degree in library and information sciences or information services, excuse me, to doing what you’re doing now?

Marcy: It’s been a quite a pivot–actually a few pivots. In grad school I just knew I didn’t want to be that typical librarian in a public library. I think public librarians do great work. I’m not suited for it. And, I just wasn’t quite sure what that looked like–what non traditional librarianship would look like. And then I was offered a position. My last year in school, someone asked if I wanted to join a project to create an online library, a virtual library for online learners. And, it was fascinating work and very innovative at the time in 1999. And I said, “Well, if they’re going to pay me to work from home and do research, who else would?”, and about that time I found out about AIIP, The Association of Independent Information Professionals, and I found that there were a bunch of people who were doing the kind of work I was doing–online database research, and doing it as their own business.

Marcy: And I was fascinated, and it wasn’t too long after that that I started my own business. I started out doing business and marketing type of research for years. I started my business in 2000. And eventually I was introduced to a private investigator who needed some help with some Internet research–news in social media. He had a media researcher he worked with for years who was retiring. And we got connected and I became fascinated with his work, and  he encouraged me to become a PI myself, which I eventually did. It was really a nice encounter and great work. And it’s been fabulous ever since. I just love my work.

Ben:  And it looks like you’re coming up almost on 20 years of doing it now.

Marcy: 20 years of owning my business. I became a PI about four years ago, so I made that big pivot about five years ago.

Ben: It sounds like an interesting story. I don’t know if it’s an unusual path for people or not, but it seems to be a good fit for you. IN general, how does being an introvert affect how you approach your work and life in general?

Marcy: It definitely comes into play a lot. I think I’ve designed my career pretty much around my introversion. I found out early on that working in an office. I was actually trained as a teacher. I found that being with all those people all day was so physically and emotionally draining that it was hard to actually get work done. So that is probably the biggest reason that I was so attracted to this idea of starting my own business and working from home. So, I’ve pretty much designed that around my introversion, and my life, I guess. Unfortunately I’m married to somebody who’s not an introvert, or fortunately I must say. And it’s an interesting dynamic, but you make workarounds, and it’s not like I don’t interact with people at all, but I have to prepare myself and I have to spend a little time recuperating, too.

I think I've designed my career pretty much around my introversion. I found out early on that working in an office with all those people all day was so physically and emotionally draining that it was hard to actually get work done. Click To Tweet

Ben: I totally get that. And my spouse is an extrovert as well. Both my kids were extroverts, so I was really the only introvert in the household, and it does take a while to make those adjustments so that we can–tolerate is by far the wrong word here–so that we can support each other in terms of the things that we need in our lives. For me, working on a university campus, I’ve seen enough people during the day that I’m quite satisfied with that. And I’d just as soon not do anything once I get home. For my wife, she typically works from home as an independent consultant, but as an extrovert, that means she doesn’t get the time around people that she really needs to flourish. So we’ve had to kind of work through how that works out for us. So it’s definitely an interesting dynamic.

Ben: What do you feel your biggest strengths are as an introvert? And in what ways have you leveraged those strengths?

Marcy: We as introverts, we don’t really like to shine the light on ourselves that much. So we focus on others a lot, and I think we’re in general, pretty good listeners and that’s really helped me with marketing. It’s helped me with my client projects or cases. I can really say I’ve worked on how to listen, listen really well and understand what they really, really want. What’s under the questions they’re asking because that’s not always what people want in my business. So I have to do a lot of digging and interviews. You have to be a very good listener in an interview. You have to know how to ask questions, but then you have to know how to shut up. So, I think that’s really helped me in my investigative work and my marketing to clients, just really able to find out what potential clients really want.

As introverts, we don't really like to shine the light on ourselves that much. So we focus on others a lot, and I think we're in general, pretty good listeners Click To Tweet

Ben: That sounds great. Other strengths that you feel like you have, we can go wherever you want with that. Go ahead with start with being adaptable, if you want to explore that a little bit.

Marcy: I think as an entrepreneur you have to be really  attuned to client needs. You can’t say this is how we do things. You have to do them according to what clients need them done. So I think that’s helped me in my business. Maybe it’s also helped me as an introvert because I’m able to do things that a lot of people would say, “Oh, introverts wouldn’t ordinarily be doing those kinds of things.” But I can adapt.

Marcy: I’m very adaptable. For example, I do public speaking and believe it or not, I think a lot of public speakers are introverts. And the problem is that it all happens at one time of the year. It seems. I have four events just in May that I’m attending conferences. You have to be part of the action all day. I have to mingle with people. It’s really very kind of stressful for an introvert. So I adapt. I have to go, these are things that are very good to do for my business and I have to make sure I can do them even though I’m an introvert, so I schedule time for myself when I get back and don’t have high expectations about what I’m going to get done or any more mingling. So that kind of conference schedule where everything seems to be packed with them.

I think as an entrepreneur you have to be really attuned to client needs. You can't say this is how we do things. You have to do them according to what clients need them done. Click To Tweet

Ben: Mine is, well, this weekend I have a ton of stuff, but then I kind of have a month and then I’ve got back-to-back conferences. So I fully understand where you’re coming from on that. And I also have the absolutely having to have downtime after the conference because it is exhausting.

Marcy: Oh yes. Oh absolutely. I’m not used to being with that many people in one week. It is physically and emotionally draining, stimulating as well. I learn, I meet fabulous people. I don’t want to make it sound like this is a horrible thing to do. I love going to conferences and meeting new people. It’s just I have to manage, adapt to my core, the way I do things.

Ben: You mentioned when you were talking about many speakers actually being introverts. And I do think there’s a misconception about that in general. And that would go for singers or other musicians as well, or even actors or actresses. But I do think there’s that overall, “Well, you’re an introvert, you must be shy. You must be reticent.” And I think that you know clearly not the case.

Ben: But I am curious about one thing. When you go to these conferences, part of my being comfortable with these conferences is that I tend to go to the same ones. So there’s a core group of people that I look forward to seeing every year. And after you’ve been a couple of times you’ve kind of established your group that you’re going to hang out with. But I also recognize that I’m also going in different roles sometimes where I have to introduce myself to a lot of people, which is definitely not what I would prefer to do. Normally. I do tend to be shy (is the right word or not), but I’d much rather not be introducing myself to tons of people. I just find it uncomfortable. How do you handle the networking and the actual people part of these conferences?

Marcy: Well, in small doses, hopefully. I think actually being a speaker helps. When you’re speaking at a conference, people will introduce themselves to you. So it’s kind of nice in that respect. It, which is lovely when people do, they kind of take it off of me, but that helps. But, I guess it’s just like anything else. I don’t like to do. It’s something that’s temporary. I’m just going to do it for this two-hour networking event or whatever. And then I reward myself afterwards. I get to go back to my room for an hour and recuperate before the dinner event, or I get to take a walk out in the sunshine. I reward myself with something I really like, but think about how good it feels when I take that time to myself too.

I think actually being a speaker helps. When you're speaking at a conference, people will introduce themselves to you. So it's kind of nice in that respect. Click To Tweet

Marcy: So I just have to pace myself and tell myself that it’s fun. I, I actually do enjoy talking to people. It’s not like it’s painful for me when I’m doing it. I’m having fun. It’s just planning in those rest times and I’m trying to plan maybe more one-on-one networking. That’s the other thing, Ben, networking has a bad definition or a bad rap. You mention networking, and people think big event and you’re wearing a name tag. Trying to make conversations with people you don’t know. But networking basically just means building and maintaining a group or a network–your connections, and yes, large events with the name tag are one way to do it, but there’s so many different ways to network. I think that’s another way I’ve adapted. A lot of times if I’m not speaking and I’m not expected to mingle, rather than mingle with the large groups, I’ll set up one-on-one coffees or lunch.

You mention networking, and people think big event and you're wearing a name tag. Trying to make conversations with people you don't know. But networking basically just means building and maintaining a group or a network. Click To Tweet

Ben: I try to do that as well. I do think there’s always been a misconception that networking is about quantity and how many people you can introduce yourselves to and give business cards or vice versa or their LinkedIn names. But I’ve find the same thing. I’m quite comfortable talking one on one with people, though it certainly helps once we’ve found a shared interest or something to give us a framework to talk around.

Marcy: Which you usually do, you can always talk about, like I said, if you’re a speaker or they’re a speaker, that gives you an immediate opening of something to talk about. or you can talk about the most recent session and what’s the most useful session.


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Melanie Seibert headshot

Episode 019: Melanie Seibert: Applying Insights from Personality Inventories

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

Episode 019 Show Notes: Melanie Seibert

Introduction

Melanie Seibert headshot

Melanie Seibert and Ben Woelk chat about being surprised at the insights from StrengthsFinder and other inventories, and applying these insights in the workplace.

Key concepts

  • StrengthsFinder and other inventories
  • You don’t always get what you want to
  • The lingering impact of limiting statements

Quotable

You don’t have to be a certain personality type to be a leader. You can be an introvert. You can be creative. You can be analytical, whatever. @melanie_seibert

I knew in my mind the qualities that I wanted to have and it was an adjustment to accept the strengths that I actually do have and see how I can use those, instead of trying to be someone I’m not. @melanie_seibert

Statements made about you early in your life (such as you won’t be creative) can have a big impact on what you believe about yourself. Depending on how you take them, can probably limit yourself quite a bit. @benwoelk

How important it is to have a team where people are complementary, so that those strengths are there, but also where there are weaknesses those are bolstered and really shored up by having the right people on the team. @benwoelk

As an INFJ, I’m just really fascinated with people’s stories, and how people work on the inside. @melanie_seibert

Personality inventories give us permission to do things that we thought we weren’t suited for, and I feel like that sense of having permission is helpful to some people. I just want to encourage people to not doubt that they can be leaders. @melanie_seibert

Resources or Products Mentioned in this Episode

  • Prose Kiln
  • StrengthsFinder
  • Keirsey Temperament Sorter
  • DISC

Links

Transcript

Ben: So welcome back Melanie. I’m looking forward to more conversation. It’s been fascinating so far.

Ben:  What do you think your biggest strengths are? And we started to talk a little bit about the StrengthsFinder, and I have actually not taken that one yet. I’ve done the Enneagram (which I can’t remember any of the detail on) and DISC, which I’m really not super fond of. And of course the Myers-Briggs/Keirsey type things. I have not yet done the StrengthsFinder thing. Tell me a little bit about that test. I guess what would be really interesting, I think, would be if you have any idea what you felt like your strengths were before you took the test, and whether you learned something from that test that surprised you.

Melanie: Yeah. So the StrengthsFinder is really interesting because the way–I learned about it when I went to work at Rackspace, and they as an organization have every person who’s hired take the StrengthsFinder before you start, and then when you start you get your results. And there are sort of orientation meetings to talk about what it means and how to work with different people. So they told us that when the researchers who created StrengthsFinder ultimately first set out, they wanted to find, was what are the traits of leaders. What are all the common personality traits that leaders have, and they expected to find when they interviewed executives and managers and those type of people–they expected to find common traits across everyone. And what they actually found was these 34 different strengths that were in different combinations for every leader. So it was surprising to them.

Melanie: But, the takeaway from that is that you don’t have to be a certain personality type to be a leader. You can be an introvert. You can be creative. You can be analytical, whatever. And so it’s funny that you say what was I expecting, because I was in this mode where I was like–I’m going to be a content strategist now. I’m going from being a writer, which is sort of a more creative role, to being strategic and analytical and thinking more big picture. And so I was really hoping to get a–there’s a strength called strategic. There’s a strength called communication. And there’s–there are a few others that look–there’s one called self assurance that I really wanted, but I just knew that wasn’t gonna happen. So, when I finally got my results, communication, strategic, self-assurance were way down towards the bottom, and at the top I had connectedness, input, positivity, relater. I can’t remember all of them right offhand, but I had adaptability, and I was just like, “Oh man!” All these–they sounded very sort of unappealing and wishy-washy to me at the time. But over time, I’ve really learned to value and I’ll see myself doing things and if I do a certain thing, well I’m like, “That’s because I have connectedness.” Like I’m always connecting people with resources, or I just find that super satisfying to–I don’t know–help people learn about something, and I’ll tell them, “Oh, there’s this great book that I read or whatever.”

You don't have to be a certain personality type to be a leader. You can be an introvert. You can be creative. You can be analytical, whatever. @melanie_seibert Click To Tweet

Melanie: And there’s value to that. So, I think positivity is probably the only strength that I have that is actually–at the time they counted it as a leadership type of strength. It lets you influence people and it lets you influence people’s behavior. There are others that I definitely don’t have as much of. One is command, which is where you’re just like totally comfortable being the boss, and one is woo, which they say it stands for winning others over, which means you’re kind of like the salesman. You’re like everyone’s best friend. You meet a person and you’re like their best friend within two minutes, and you’re all buddy buddy with them, and then when you meet someone else you’re sort of their best friend. So it’s like, I don’t know, it’s very charming. Sounds like an extrovert thing. I don’t know, I can talk about it all day.

Ben: It sounds like a courtship-type thing. When you said the wooing part, I mean that’s the context, but it sounds appropriate for what you’re talking about as well. It’s funny to me that when you took the inventory that you were hoping to have strengths in certain areas.

Melanie: Yeah, I mean I don’t think I knew the words for them, or what the outputs would be, but I knew in my mind the qualities that I wanted to have, like how I wanted to see myself, and it was an adjustment to accepting the strengths that I actually do have and seeing how I can actually use those, instead of trying to be someone I’m not. Basically, like I’m never going to be–the boss had self assurance and I was so jealous because I want to be able to just walk into a meeting and lead the meeting and feel totally comfortable doing that, and just assume that people are going to accept my ideas, ’cause I have the best ideas, and that type of thing. I’m just never going to be comfortable doing that. I’m always going to be a little bit more reserved, a little bit more like tentative. Like I think this is the best course of action, but I’m always open to feedback, or if other people have other ideas, let’s hear ’em. That type of thing. So it was definitely a process.

I knew in my mind the qualities that I wanted to have and it was an adjustment to accept the strengths that I actually do have and see how I can use those, instead of trying to be someone I'm not. @melanie_seibert Click To Tweet

Ben: Yeah. It sounds like it was a very–very much a self discovery thing. With some of it too, and some of it just does seem to be putting the words around what those strengths were. It’s funny because when I took the Keirsey.com Temperament Inventory, I was really surprised at some of the results of it, and I talked to my wife about it and then said, “Well, this is funny. Did you know that it says I’m really, really willfully independent?” And so that, “Yes!” [Melanie laughing] So it’s like the things that were not a surprise to people who knew me, but they were certainly a surprise to me. And what I found most helpful with the inventory I took, and I think this is true for many of them, is that it does help you identify your strengths.

Ben: And for me it was even to the point of, “Oh, Keirsey says I’m an INTJ.” Keirsey says, “Oh, they can be good leaders. I must be able to be a good leader.” And that was actually my reaction to it, because I grew up with that Western ideal of what leaders must be like, and knowing I was not this charismatic individual who was going to stand in front of everyone, or be commanding or anything else. It was just really wild to me to discover that, I could actually be a good leader. I learned things, like I’m innovative–creative and that should be an obvious thing, but I still go back to conversations in elementary school that I remember my parents having with my teachers, where they basically said, “Well, he’ll be able to learn anything at all, but he’s–he’s not going to be creative.” And that kind of thing–as surface as it seems like it should be–that really stuck with me. And I was really surprised that “Oh my goodness, I can be creative. I can be innovative.” And I embrace that now. But I did–It was like I didn’t even know it was a possibility. So it’s kind of funny, because for me it’s kind of how these, not really random comments, but how these statements early on in your life can have a big impact on what you believe about yourself. And probably, depending on how you take them can probably limit yourself quite a bit.

Statements made about you early in your life (such as you won't be creative) can have a big impact on what you believe about yourself. Depending on how you take them, can probably limit yourself quite a bit. @benwoelk @introvert_leadr Click To Tweet

Melanie: Yeah. Isn’t that funny? It’s almost like it’s liberating because someone’s giving you permission, you know, saying, “Yes, it’s okay. You can be creative.” You know, it’s–it’s really amazing how we internalize those impressions. I think I had a similar impression of myself. I don’t remember anyone ever telling me you can’t be creative, but I definitely–I–oh man, this is embarrassing! I walked into a job interview for a copywriting job when I was in my early twenties and the hiring manager said, “Well, are you creative?” And I said, “No,” [laughing] because I really don’t think of myself as creative. But later I was just like, well, first of all that was really dumb thing to say in a job interview. You don’t ever say that. But secondly, it’s not true because I’ve seen where I can be creative in ways that maybe I didn’t realize. So yeah, I definitely had a similar experience

Ben: It’s funny, and I imagine talking to a lot of people, we’d find out that there were little things that people said, and they took them to heart, or that these things have had an impact on them. So I think it’s great. I think all of these inventories are really useful. Some of them I personally like more than others, but in general I think they’re useful because I think that whole self discovery piece is really important. It’s so–I mean for me–I mean I haven’t, like I said, I have not done StrengthFinder yet, but it’s going to come back with strategic. Everything else that I’ve looked at talks about being strategic, and that helps me in terms of understanding what I’m good at and what I’m not good at. I’m in the process of planning a party (and this will release after this party occurs), but it’s a surprise party, and their are logistics, and I am going crazy because I don’t like dealing with the logistics. That level of detail as opposed to the overall strategy thing, I’m just finding to be a really, really big challenge. So it also, I think, points to how important it is to have a team where people are complementary, so that those strengths are there, but also where there are weaknesses (and we all have them), where those are bolstered and really shored up by having the right people on the team.

How important it is to have a team where people are complementary, so that those strengths are there, but also where there are weaknesses those are bolstered and really shored up by having the right people on the team. @benwoelk Click To Tweet

Melanie: Yeah, absolutely. And I think that was one reason why Rackspace really invested in that methodology, and also understanding your own strengths and understanding that someone else is not going to see the problem the same way you are, and there is a place for both people on the team. We really need each other. And in fact, their whole philosophy was, “If you’re not good at something, then let somebody who is naturally good at it do it, and you develop your strengths, not your weaknesses,” which is kind of a whole other kind of interesting take. But their point was you’re going to go farther building on your strengths, then you will be than you will trying to mitigate your weaknesses. So, work together. And so, it’s really interesting.

If you're not good at something, then let somebody who is naturally good at it do it, and you develop your strengths, not your weaknesses. @melanie_seibert Click To Tweet

Ben: I think that makes sense. I can see the downside of that. I mean, I think if it’s a case where your weaknesses are, I’m going to say, non-strengths, your weaknesses are impeding your ability to do something, then you obviously need to work on them. But in theory it makes perfect sense, because if you want to basically get the best part of each person and their best viewpoints involved, it seems like the product would naturally be stronger because you are leveraging everyone’s strengths. I can see the wisdom in that. It’s an interesting discussion.

Ben: You had mentioned that in a previous job that the leadership thing didn’t really pan out, because they were looking for a specific type of leader, more of a command-and-control type situation. And I know when–I don’t like being on either side of that. I cannot stand being micromanaged, and I probably, if anything, don’t necessarily provide as much management input with people who are doing things for me as I need to, because I’m very much, “Well I’m happy with whatever way you do it and I expect you to use your strengths, whatever you’re doing.” But I can see how that’s been a bit of a bit of a challenge at times as well.

Ben: We started to talk a little bit about what it’s like being an introvert in the workplace, and maybe not in a–well you are in a senior content strategist role. So it is a leader role in a way, or very much a leader role. How about in general in life, do you find that being an introvert impacts how you act in other situations or social situations?

Melanie: Yeah. So it’s really interesting that you sent me the link to the Keirsey Personality Inventory. I’m not sure if I’m calling it the right thing, but my profile there is the Counselor. So I’m the person who, it doesn’t matter if it’s at work or at church or at home, people are always coming to me with their problems. I had someone–a relative–texting me last night with what was a parenting question, and I think, I’m not sure why that is, but it has something to do with I’m really comfortable listening to people, and I’m very nosy, so I want to know everyone’s business, and I want to know all about their problems, and I really want to know what they’re really thinking, like what is really going on with this person under the surface. And for some reason, I’m just fascinated. So it’s not an altruistic thing necessarily. It’s kind of a selfish thing. I’m just really fascinated with people’s stories, and how people work on the inside. So yeah, that definitely does come out in my sort of daily life. Like, people will open up and tell me things, and it turns out that if you listen to people, you’ll be surprised at the things that they will tell you. I’m always sort of asking for information and expecting people to say, “Well, no, I don’t want to talk about that.” Or, “That’s too personal,” and it is really unusual for a person to say that. People will tell you a lot. I think a lot of people just really want to be listened to. I do find that.

As an INFJ, I'm just really fascinated with people's stories, and how people work on the inside. @melanie_seibert Click To Tweet

Ben: Especially if they think they can trust you. And that you will give them good input, but–and obviously not take the information and use it for whatever purposes. It’s funny because I look at our initial guest list on the podcast, and you are the fourth or fifth INFJ that I’ve had on the podcast, and in some ways it makes sense, but if you look at the Keirsey Temperament Sorter or the Myers Briggs, and the statistics around it, INFJ is the most rare temperament type.

Melanie: Really!

Ben: So I just find it really intriguing that I have so many friends who are INFJs.

Melanie: I’m curious to know which temperament types are the most common, so I’m going to have to do some Googling after this.

Ben: I don’t have the numbers handy, but one of the big differences that Keirsey talks about is that you have your Ns who are the intuitives and you have your Ss who are more concrete. There are far more concrete thinkers in our world than there are people who are intuitive, like INTJ or INFJ or anything like that. And I think from what I’ve been able to tell, the Ss are more much more practically focused, which is probably a good thing, because I know I can be very abstract and thinking about possibilities and things like that. So I think the Ss are pretty much holding us together. While some of us are very speculative and want to come up and try all these new ideas and things. And the INFJ as a guest doesn’t totally surprise me, because we’re all very interested in this whole temperament thing now and how it impacts things. And I think we tend to be naturally more introspective, not even just as introverts, but especially with being intuitive instead.

Melanie: That makes a lot of sense. And also if you’re talking to people in sort of technology-related fields, I feel like that N orientation where you’re thinking about possibilities and trying to innovate, that is definitely encouraged more in tech and in the type of world where we work, so that also might have something to do with it. That is really interesting.

Ben: I’d like to talk a little bit about recommendations you might have for introverts who want to become influencers or leaders. What recommendations would you have?

Melanie: Yeah, I guess my main recommendation is to, as we discussed earlier, we talked about how the personality inventories gave us permission to do things that we sort of thought we weren’t suited for, and I feel like that sense of having permission is helpful to some people, and so I just want to encourage people to not doubt that they can be leaders. I’m reading a book right now. It’s about systems thinking, and it’s very much about learning and leading, and the author is very against this idea that only executives are leaders or only managers are leaders. And I definitely had thought of it that way. You know, I think of the organization, you have your org chart and there are the people at the top of the org chart and those are the leaders.

Personality inventories give us permission to do things that we thought we weren't suited for, and I feel like that sense of having permission is helpful to some people. I just want to encourage people to not doubt that they can be… Click To Tweet

Melanie: But in reality a lot of the change in organizations comes from the individual contributors or the people who have a lot of credibility amongst their coworkers, and they become leaders that way, even if they don’t have formal or structural power to command people to do things a different way, it’s much more effective. Change is much more effective when it comes from sort of that level, that individual level. And so in that sense we’re all leaders, if we’re engaged and we’re motivated at work, we can be leaders at work. And there are a lot of different ways to be a leader. So if you’re working in a setting where your leadership style really isn’t valued, that doesn’t mean that you’re not a leader or that you can’t be a leader. You might just not be in the right place, that you might not be in a place that really values the contributions that you have to give. Because that’s where I found myself, and I had to find a place where I could contribute something that the organization would value. So I guess that’s my main recommendation. It’s not very sort of technical, but I feel like it is important to some people.

A lot of the change in organizations comes from the individual contributors who have credibility amongst their coworkers. They become leaders that way, even if they don't have formal or structural power. @melanie_seibert Click To Tweet

If you're working in a setting where your leadership style really isn't valued, that doesn't mean that you're not a leader or that you can't be a leader. You might just not be in the right place. @melanie_seibert Click To Tweet

Ben: I appreciate your time and thanks for a great interview!

Melanie: Thanks, Ben! It’s been great chatting with you.


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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

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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

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