Sometimes introverts are sneaky. Like my friend, Lisa Petrilli. I’ve known her for a few years but would have never guessed that she’s an introvert. If you don’t know Lisa, she’s amazing. And amazingly accomplished.
CEO of Chicago based C-Level Strategies, Chief Relationship Officer of the CEO Connection, and COO/CMO of To Be A Woman global platform. Quite a handful of impressive accomplishments for someone who doesn’t like the limelight.
Lisa has spent her entire career in the world of business and leadership. One of the things she recognized in the last few years is that, despite a fantastic education (bachelor’s degree in business from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business – one of the top business schools in the country, and an MBA from Northwestern’s Kellog Graduate School of business – no slouch either), there was something missing. She realized there was never a course of study in all of that business-focused education, that showed students how to understand and then leverage their personal strengths and personality traits to be successful in the world of business and leadership.
Thinking back on my own educational experience, that’s really not all that surprising. School is often about the mechanics of whatever field of study you’re pursuing and less about the psychology of things – including what it is that makes you tick – much less how to effectively deal with people who are different personality types than our own. We rarely learn about personality tests and other assessment tools until we’re out in the workplace – and mostly just jump in and either figure it out, or sink.
The Thing That Changed Everything
Lisa experienced a pivotal event that made her realize she had to change the way she did things. She realized that she couldn’t let her personal preference of being in small groups over large groups of people get in the way of her career success. She wanted more. Have you ever had one of those moments?
Lisa’s pivotal moment was at a retirement party for one of the top execs in her $10 billion company. She was young and reluctant to attend, fearing she would have no one to talk with, that she’d be embarrassed as a result and she really, really dreaded the thought of going. In fact, she came close to not going, and it wasn’t the first time she’d made a decision like that. Instead of giving in to her internal demons and ditching the party, Lisa squared her shoulders, put her fears aside and went.
And what she discovered surprised her – a relatively empty room! Only close friends and colleagues of the top executive were in attendance and many of Lisa’s colleagues at that very large company had, apparently, let their own fears get in the way and opted not to attend.
And what happened as a result of Lisa making it to that party also surprised her. She had lots of opportunities for one-on-one conversations with a number of the company’s top executives. That experience, and the fact that she moved toward the first step – and conquered her shyness made a big difference. She went to the party and that one decision – that one action – actually helped her career in ways that she might never have dreamed.
Career-Altering Lessons Learned
So, while Lisa didn’t learn much about introverts or extroverts in school, she did learn about them in an up close and personal way – in the school of real life. And she learned two important lessons that stuck with her and which have become part of her foundation for success:
1. Avoid Avoidance. Get out of your comfort zone. On a regular basis. From my own life experience, I can promise that just about every single time you do this, you’ll find it worthwhile. I can’t tell you how many times when I forced myself to do something I really didn’t want to do or go somewhere I didin’t really want to go, I reaped more benefits than I ever imagined.
2. One-on-One Conversations Can be a Lifeline. Even if you’re an introvert, when you find yourself a room full of people, don’t think about the group as a whole, just think about breaking down the crowd into bite-sized bits. Focus on talking with people one-on-one. That way you can still create and nurture business relationships.
Lisa successfully leveraged her introverted strengths such that 10 years out of grad school, she was responsible for a $750 million business. She also spent time as an executive leadership trainer and during that time really came to a better understanding of the differences between being an introvert and an extrovert. When she returned to leading businesses, she used those lessons on a daily basis.
Lisa’s blog, which is always on my “must read” list, and the response of her engaged community of readers when she started writing about introversion and leadership, ultimately inspired her to write The Introvert’s Guide to Success in Business and Leadership. The book is written with a view toward empowering introverts around the world to learn more about themselves and, in the process, give themselves permission to be more successful than they ever thought possible. The book also helps extroverts understand more about working with introverts and how they can collectively both capitalize on the strengths of one another for success in business and leadership.
Wanna Know a Secret About Me?
Now that I’ve told you all this, I’ll let you in on a little secret. I’m shy. Really shy. I know, it seems so surprising, whether you “know” me in real life or know me through our interactions online. Well, it’s true. And I’ve spent my whole life covering up my shyness with a façade and a whole bunch of false bravado. And I’m damn good at it!
Truth is, I loathe walking into a room full of people where I don’t know anyone and have been known to come up with a million excuses not to do so. I married a guy who has more personality and charisma in his pinky finger than any other man I’d ever known, and love it that he sails into every room and immediately owns it – so that I don’t have to!
And part of the secret to my success, in business, leadership and life has been doing what Lisa discovered on her journey to understand how to leverage introversion. I consistently push myself to do things I don’t really want to do, and I deal with my inherent tendency to be an introvert with a wicked sense of humor, and by being goofy (which comes naturally), and always seeking out opportunities for one-on-one conversations.
So if you’ve read this post and found yourself nodding, I hope you’ll be intrigued enough – and invested enough in your career success – to buy Lisa’s book. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know that I don’t promote things I don’t believe in – I promote things that I really and truly believe are awesome. And Lisa’s book, well, it’s nothing short of that.
The Introvert’s Guide to Success in Business and Leadership is NOW AVAILABLE for purchase for just $7.99! And she’s given us a code so that you can buy it and receive a 30% discount when you DOWNLOAD it at www.TheIntrovertsGuide.net! It includes a special bonus section for extroverts on how to successfully lead introverts!
You can also BUY it NOW at Amazon for Kindle!