Tag Archives: quiet influence

The Quiet Leadership Speaker Who Stunned the Crowd

The quiet leadership speaker who stunned the crowd.

In the last few days, we have learned more about Robert F. Smith, leadership speaker and Austin billionaire who quietly announced at the 2019 Morehouse College commencement that he was paying off the student loans of each and every one of the 400 graduates. There was shock and then sheer exuberance at the realization that this tremendous financial burden would be lifted.This generous gift will change the lives of these graduates who can feel free to move ahead in their careers without the burden of financial debt.

So who is this man who performed such a generous gesture? There isn’t a ton on line about him but what videos and clips exist reveal a person who doesn’t want the spotlight except when he must stand in it. This makes me wonder if Robert Smith may be introverted in temperament. Introverts shy away from lots of attention unless it serves a purpose..

In videos of his speeches and interviews he describes how he learned and grew in his career.

What else about Mr. Smith have we learned?
  • He believes in having grit,…”calling someone each day for 5 months finally materializing in something you what you want” was an example he shared.
  • Discover the joy of figuring things out. “Fight through those problems.
  • He admired James Bond growing up.
  • He builds and develop people in his company, Vista Equity Partners. 
  • He is a deep thinker as evidenced in his interviews. A technology and business background supports this.
  • He gives to many causes, In addition to Morehousethe NY Times reports that “Cornell renamed its School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering after Mr. Smith, and he has made major gifts to the National Museum of African-American History and Culture and other cultural institutions. “
  • He  seized opportunities in each position he was in at Kraft, Goldman Sachs and Bell Labs before he founded his company.
  • He believes in the importance of studying. “You can make more money being smart than being strong or fast.” No one else can take intellectual property from you.

Robert F. Smith  has stayed under the radar until now. The NY Times reported, “Though he shunned the spotlight for many years, he has recently embraced a more public role, speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and making major charitable contributions.”

Mr. Smith opened his heart and his purse. Whether he is an introvert or not may be revealed. What is certain, is that this leadership speaker has changed the course of hundreds of lives.

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? 

 

 

 

ALA Appreciates Introverts

 

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At the book signing with Librarian Catherine Noble, an attendee at the Quiet Influence presentation.

 

It was a privilege to speak last week at the American Library Association conference in Las Vegas, NV.  The focus of my talk was on how librarians can address the leadership challenges they face today not by morphing into Extroverts but by drawing from an array of “introvert friendly” tools and approaches.

Prior to the speech I interviewed several leaders who were attending the program. I learned about how maintaining relevancy, shifting to linked data and generational shifts in the workplace are some of the hurdles faced by librarians today. 

Libraries and librarians have had a special place in my heart. My Dad, Alvin Boretz was a screenwriter who grew up in the Depression and books where his lifeblood. The library was his second home and it became mine. Dad led the renovation and transformation of our local library. In an act of seeming reciprocity, the library system returned a gift to him.  In later years, his collection of scripts, notes, letters and research were catalogued at the Film and Theater Archives at the University of Wisconsin . I wrote a blog post about the wonderful librarian who took on the project as well as our visit to that special place.

I will always remember the warm reception and appreciation for introverts shown by the crowd. At the book signing after my talk participants received copies of Quiet Influence: The Introvert’s Guide To Making A Difference and Steve Piersanti, CEO of Berrett-Koehler  spoke with a few of the people waiting on line.  One young woman, Jessica Johnson, a masters candidate in Library and Information Science at Emporia State University, shared the sentiment many people expressed.  She said, ” ……I felt that you were talking to me.  I can be myself and don’t have to try to be someone else.”

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Quiet Influence the Peter Drucker Way

I am delighted that my friend and colleague Bruce Rosenstein offered to write a guest post for this blog. Bruce is a quiet influencer himself who has written two wonderful books on the larger than life father of modern management, Peter Drucker. His first book that drew on Drucker’s unique insights is called Living in More Than One World  and is a guide for living a full life. I highly recommend it. Through personal interviews and exhaustive research Create Your Future the Peter Drucker Way: Developing and Applying a Forward Focused Mindset  shows the reader how the future must be created day by day – rather than be left to chance or fate. The quotes in the book are keepers for sure.  A few that I have already posted on my wall are:

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Social Media Tip: Shine The Spotlight On Others

spotlight3 (1)One of the six strengths of Quiet Influencers is the thoughtful use of social media. I have been particularly struck with how generous many of them are in giving away their content and ideas.

One great example of this is found with my friend Jesse Stoner. She is co-author with Ken Blanchard of Full Steam Ahead and writes a popular leadership blog. Jesse also has 25,000 Twitter followers. She has brilliant ideas about how to create a vision for yourself, your organization and your team. But she doesn’t rely exclusively on her own intellectual property. Jesse wisely weaves in the lessons of others to deepen her own thinking and make us challenge our own. For instance, recently she ran a series of terrific guest posts from top leadership thinkers like Doug Conant, Jim Kouzes, Barry Posner and Shilpa Jain. The  comments were equally as intriguing as the blog posts and are still creating buzz in the leadership development community.

So what are some other ways to shine the spotlight on others?  Continue reading

How Do You Fit In A Group of Talkers?

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My colleague Susan Cain, Author of the blockbuster Quiet  asked me to respond to one of her readers. Here is what Susan wrote: “I received a letter from a reader named “Lily” who describes herself as extremely quiet and shy.  Lily is part of a women’s group called the “Super Women Sisterhood” which is comprised of eight very boisterous, extroverted women.  When Lily attends the meetings she feels invisible and overwhelmed, and she worries that the women feel she is being anti-social or snobby. She wants to feel comfortable with the “Super Women Sisterhood” because she feels it will become a supportive, nurturing environment once they understand her.  She asked me to suggest some strategies or ice breakers to help her connect to the women and help them bond and learn more about each other. Continue reading

Making Your Presentations Pop


 

Presentations are evolving in intriguing ways.  Quiet Influencers who can synthesize data by packing a powerful visual punch win points. Many of my introverted clients find that the anxiety of public speaking lessens when they prepare high impact visuals. These images can express more than any words.
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No free drink?

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My friend Marty sent me a text, “Hey, I saw your mug flying home on Delta tonight.” That was a nice surprise and an honor. Delta picked Quiet Influence:The Introvert’s Guide To Making a Difference for it’s “Hot List” in May’s Sky Magazine.

Filled with pride, I tried asking the flight attendant if I could get a free flight (or even a free drink?) but she smiled and said, “That’s nice, but sorry.” Not even any perks for writing most of the book on your airplanes?:) I think I will try working on my Quiet Influence Quotient  to get some sway on my hometown airline.