Category Archives: Jennifer Kahnweiler

Introverted Thought Collaborators

What a stimulating talk I had recently with thought leader gurus Mitchell Levy and Michael Procopio!

They have a unique angle to thought leadership. “M and M” showcase a person each week who has a unique point of view. But instead of having them go on about their subject matter they conduct an informal and free ranging conversation focused on how to become and remain a thought leader.

One of the ideas we discussed was what I call “

Thought Collaboration.” For me, being ahead of the curve involves connecting and communicating with other people. I use Twitter as my preferred social media platform. When there I am exposed to articles from publications I wouldn’t normally read. I follow people in the arts, in science and politics and also learn from my speaking audiences.

And then I share and retweet other people’s ideas. Besides learning and growing myself, I have found my Twitter followers to have increased substantially when I do this.

I have also learned from introverted quiet influencers that spreading ideas is a critical part of the thought collaboration equation. We share new findings, challenge each other’s ideas and we all become better informed and knowledgeable.

M and M and I discussed how introverted thought leaders and collaborators can use social media to reach a wider audience. A thoughtful use of social media helps you to move people to action, develop and grow a wider audience, achieve visibility and teach and learn.

So what can you do to become a Thought Collaborator today? Start by listening and watching the slew of great interviews the thought leader guys have already posted.

Thought Leader Life shows here.

Leading With Opportunity

Leading with opportunity

Guest Post by Bill Treasurer

I am so honored to have my good friend Bill Treasurer join us this week for a guest post. Bill opened doors for me as a first time author and  continues to challenge me to be my best. He is the author of the newly released edition of Leaders Open Doors, one of my favorite books about leadership. It is short, powerful and filled with stories and applicable actions. Successful introverted leaders consistently demonstrate the four factors Bill beautifully describes below. And true to Bill’s nature, he is donating all the proceeds from the book to programs that support children with special needs. 


Providing people with meaningful, skill-stretching opportunities is a leader’s most important job. That’s not an overstatement. Providing people with enriching opportunities is so important that Albert Einstein said, “All that is valuable in human society depends on the opportunity for development accorded the individual.”


Einstein knew that opportunity has always been life’s most powerful motivator. People will move mountains for a leader as long as moving the mountain provides them with enriching opportunities. It’s in the pursuit of opportunities that people can try themselves, test themselves, better themselves, and even find themselves. A big part of a leader’s job is to provide people with opportunities to grow, progress, and evolve. Leaders have to be opportunity-creators.


Think of a leader who has made a positive impact on your own career or life. Pick someone you actually worked for, not someone on the world stage. There’s a good chance the leader was someone who gave you an opportunity to prove yourself to yourself. The leader likely included you on opportunities that were exciting to pursue and helped you sharpen your skills in the process of pursuing them. Finally, the leader likely stayed involved by guiding, coaching, and supporting you too.

Leading through opportunity requires matching the opportunity to the person and then helping him or her exploit the opportunity for all it’s worth. Doing that means attending to these four factors:

  • Know Your Employees: Be knowledgeable about the backgrounds, needs, and desires of your employees. Ask them directly about their career goals and aspirations. What do they want to get out of this job?
  • Match Suitedness: Draw connections between the opportunity and the developmental needs of your employees. When opportunities are identified, ask, “Whose growth and development would pursing this opportunity most advance?”
  • Envision the Desired Results: Have a clear picture of the desired benefits that given opportunities present for the employee and the organization. Do some “future-casting” with your employee, thinking through the potential benefits that could be gained if the opportunity is successful. Also identify the actions that will maximize the probability of success.
  • Provide Ongoing Support: Genuinely want, and support, your employee’s success. Stay involved by periodically asking what support they need from you, removing barriers that might block their progress. Offer encouragement and guidance when they meet roadblocks and bottlenecks.

When you really know the aims of your employees, when you’ve assigned them to juicy opportunities that are ripe for their skills, and when you’ve worked with them to develop a clear picture of a successful outcome, you can’t help but take a strong interest in their success. And when your people are successful, you’re not just an effective leader, you’re an opportunity leader!


Bill Treasurer is the Chief Encouragement Officer of Giant Leap Consulting and author of Leaders Open Doors, which focuses on how leaders create growth through opportunity. 100% of the book’s royalties are being donated to programs that support children with special needs. Bill is also the author of Courage Goes to Work, Right Risk, and Courageous Leadership, and has led courage-building workshops across the world for NASA, Accenture, CNN, PNC Bank, SPANX, Hugo Boss, Saks Fifth Avenue, and the US Department of Veterans Affairs, and many others. Contact Bill at, or on Twitter at @btreasurer.


Career Evaluation: Look In The Rearview Mirror

Introverts, Jennifer Kahnweiler

After the NSA-GA radio show with NSA-GA President and host Dez Thornton.

In hindsight, what are some of the lessons you learned from your career?

One of the things that happens when you step into the “seasoned” category is that younger people start asking you about your past. It has been a strange and gratifying experience; now that I am able to connect the dots from my various career experiences, things seem to make more sense. For instance, my job as a career coach helped me recently when I was responding to a reporter’s rapid fire questions about introvert angst. From this rearview mirror perspective I see the same issues repeatedly emerge.

Another example: Spending too much $ on the wrong biz service providers emerges again and again (and again) in the “lessons learned category.” I am a slow learner!

In an interview I did last month with Dez Thornton, top notch speaker, President of NSA-GA and host of the radio show Speaking Insights  we discussed the story behind The Introverted Leader and Quiet Influence . I focused on lessons learned from my speaking career. In one story I described leaving the room because I didn’t know how to handle the hostility of a group of downsized IBM employees in the first wave of job cuts ever. But that experience made me realize that I needed to acknowledge the resistance, hurt and anger those people felt; not be afraid to confront those feelings and succumb to my own fears.

It does feel weird to quote myself but it certainly wouldn’t hurt to pay attention to my own words again! Here are a few:

” Before I selected a niche I didn’t feel like I had a leadership identity when I was speaking on the topic of leadership.”

” The connection is what counts and it leads to business.”

” Speak a lot for practice.”

” Get work from the work that you do.”

” Partner with organizations when you want to work internationally.”

“The book and the speech are symbiotic.”

” I own the role of speaker now from being involved with the National Speakers Association.

What are your quotes as you look In your own rearview mirror? 




Do Extrovert Personality Traits Work on A Mission To Mars?

Extrovert Personality Traits

Extroverted Spaceman played by George Clooney

I have some bad news to break to you Extroverts itching to  jump on board the next NASA Mars Mission. You best wait for some Introverts to balance out the equation.   According to an interesting new study reported in Live Science  extrovert personality traits contribute to success but need to be balanced with those of introverts.

The research team of  experts pulled data from previous space missions as well as  mission simulations of a 100 days or more.

Study researcher Suzanne Bell  of DePaul University in Chicago spoke about the plusses and minuses of having Extroverts aboard. She said that the talkative extrovert can really get annoying to the introverts on the flight.

The article described it this way, ” Typically, extroverts — who tend to be sociable, outgoing, energetic and assertive — are good to have on work teams because they speak up and engage in conversations about what needs to be done, which is good for planning, Bell said. And because of their social interactions, extroverts tend to have a good understanding of who knows what on a team (such as who the experts in a certain field are), which helps foster coordination.” 

The researchers said that the extroverts may have a hard time adapting to the lack of stimulation.

“People who are extroverted might have a hard time coping because they want to be doing a lot; they want to be engaged in a lot of things,” said study researcher Shanique Brown, a graduate student in industrial and organizational psychology at DePaul. “And [on these missions], there won’t be that much to do — things become monotonous after a while, and you’re seeing the same people.”

Bell noted that a team of all introverts is also not the solution. The question is, where’s the balance, and once we find the balance, what can we do through training” to promote team compatibility?” she said. 

The article focuses on the pros and cons of extrovert personality traits on board. I can imagine that the introverted personality traits of solitude, careful preparation, focused conversations and a high tolerance for calm are a few of the assets out in space.  I wonder if George Clooney’s fate in Gravity is an example of what happens to Extroverts on their way to Mars?:)




Being An Introvert




Thankfully the veil of confusion and ignorance over introversion is slowly lifting. More people realize that being an introvert does not mean you are a wallflower, misfit or anti-social geek. They realize that introverts have many strengths and draw on their vibrant internal energy. The explosion of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, a plethora of press attention on introversion and the popularity of Susan Cain’s book Quiet and others have all contributed to this welcome shift.

Between 2009, the publication date of my first book, The Introverted Leader and 2013 when Quiet Influence came out I have tracked this openness to learning about the topic of how Introverts can thrive and how we can get the best out of them in the workplace.  As an example, here are some comments I received after a program I delivered last week at Freddie Mac where introversion is being embraced and seen as another key element of valuing differences:

“ I didn’t realize I really am more introverted and need to honor my time for solitude.”


“I learned a lot about my sister and her potential to become a great leader. I also learned more about the introverted part of myself. “


“ I am going to swing by my boss’ office today and give him his needed face time.”


“I reached out to a colleague by phone rather than email, I really needed him to hear my voice.”


How much do you know about introversion? Take this quiz to test your knowledge about how being an introvert and using the strengths of quiet influence can make a real difference in getting results.



Librarians Exert Quiet Influence Behind the Scenes

Genevieve S. Owens_Read Poster

ALECTS President Genevieve Owens

In preparation for my talk at the American Library Association conference in Las Vegas, NV on June 30th, I have been following the lead of my hosts and doing my research. It has been quite a learning journey so far.

The division that has invited me is called ALCTS  (pronounced “Alects”),  The Association for Library Collections and Technical Services. Their President, Genevieve Owens, is a true introverted leader who uses her quiet strengths to direct the Williamsburg, VA Regional Library. She told me ALCTS members are involved with Cataloging and Metadata, Acquisition and Ordering, Collecting and Managing Materials and Preservation.

Some of you may remember the blog post I wrote last year called Libraries (Quietly) Rock  about an encounter with a wonderful Archivist named Maxine Ducey (now retired) at The University of Wisconsin Center for Theater and Film Research. She was the careful guardian of  my Dad, Alvin Boretz’s script collection for  50 years.  Dad depended on librarians in a pre-internet age. They were his true research partners. These fine professionals will always have a special place in my heart for this and many other reasons. And as I learn more about the complex challenges today’s librarians face, my admiration only increases.

In my phone conversations with them, several have described their “behind the scenes roles.” David Miller, Head of Technical Services for the Levin Library at Curry College in Milton, MA  told me, “Our outcome is not visible. Like in theater, no one sees the designers and technicians but without them, the event doesn’t happen.” It seems to me that these professionals are the best example of Quiet Influence, making a real difference without a lot of fanfare.

Librarians are fighting for relevancy and want more tools to do so, Genevieve told me. Resources are not free and staff are needed to help us navigate the many data bases out there. Have you noticed coffee bars in libraries and community events taking place in your local library? These are all designed to meet the public where they are. The ALCTS members also told me that the biggest change is the shift to Linked Data and Metadata. New skill sets are needed for this movement away from the traditional catalog. In a day of tight budgets librarians are asking, “What practices do we want to keep?”  “What can be abandoned to build the collections we want? The library is a “growing organism,” David Miller said.

In a future post, I will share what librarians really like about being research librarians. Stay tuned and tell me what your experience has been with librarians. I would love to hear about it.

Do Your Thinking On The Page


I have been trying to get to places on time lately and last Saturday  night I was rewarded. Husband Bill and I arrived at the Atlanta Contemporary Arts Center to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Atlanta Writer’s Club. I ran into my friend Georgia Lee who had been shepherding the guest author Augusten Burroughs around all week for her SCAD’s Ivy Hall Writer’s program.

After Georgia asked if we wanted to meet Augusten,  we found ourselves alone with him.  The conversation was relaxed and low-key. We chatted about having worked as counselors in Amherst, MA, the backdrop for Running With Scissors his brilliant, sometimes rough memoir. Husband Bill had run a room for troubled kids in the regional high school.  Augusten told him they surely would have met had he not dropped out of school.

At one point I asked Augusten what he thought about writers as introverts. He said that he loved to be alone but also enjoyed times like this, a chance to engage with and meet new people. He stressed the need for community.

In his talk to our group, he described his writing process as a very solitary one. “I am on the bed with my two dogs, 8 hours a day, every day” he said. You WRITE.  It is about discipline and “Inspiration is a luxury.”

I was reminded of by what my dad, writer Alvin Boretz always said. “You don’t TALK about writing. You WRITE.”

We took our seats and listened to him patiently respond to questions from the audience, most of which I am sure he has been asked hundreds of times before. Here are a few of his responses and quotes that I was able to capture:

* When writing memoirs don’t worry about people’s feelings.

* He also doesn’t fret about his critics and doesn’t read reviews.

* “Writers are collectors, shoplifters and eavesdroppers.”

*”There is no exploration in what you know.”  When he is stuck he does something totally different  to wake up another side of himself. “Take a pottery class” or “study rocks”, he said.

“Do your thinking on the page”

Three were many more gems that rolled off his tongue and I plan on diving into those books of his I haven’t read yet. Read Magical Thinking and Dry  if you want to get a good taste of his writing.

Thank you Augusten for being as authentic in person as you are on the page.  I am not waiting for inspiration but will follow your lead….. with one exception.  Fred the cat is my companion as I write this piece:)



Millennial Ryan Jenkins Gets the Introverted Person

I am so grateful to have friends like Ryan Jenkins. Ryan is a dynamic speaker and blogger and has deep knowledge in all things Millennial. It helps that he is one. We have had many stimulating chats about his generation. Where does the introverted person find a place in the world of technology and in groups? How can you work a day job and build a vibrant, thriving “side hustle.”

Ryan’s energy and smarts comes through on his regular podcasts. He does his homework and reaches out far and wide to find experts to challenge conventional thinking.  If you like what you hear, then do take a minute to rate and review his Next Generation Podcast on ITunes.  It will help his thoughtful dialogues find an even wider audience.

This recent podcast is reflective of our natural conversations. One of the topics we discussed is why introverts are natural leaders for Millennials (hint: listening is involved). Thank you Ryan for keeping it real, being such a curious soul and appreciating the introverts in your life (including maybe you?)

Title: Next Generation Catalyst Podcast #011: Finding Quiet Influence In A Noisy World And The Rise Of The Introverted Leader With Jennifer Kahnweiler [Podcast]