Tag Archives: the introverted leader

Key Lessons From Introverted Leaders Around the World

Interviews with Introverted Leaders Around the World

Clockwise l to r, Richar Ruiz(Paraguay), Jill Chang (Taiwan), Steve Glaveski (Australia) Johanna Vondeling (US), Frank Hagenow(Germany) and Faris Khalifeh (Canada)

Last year I decided that I wanted to go deeper with some of the terrific introverted leaders I have encountered in my work. What were some of their key lessons? I started an interview series called “Introverted Leaders Around the World.” And I am so glad I did!

These leaders are consultants, executives, and entrepreneurs. They identify as introverts but sometimes aren’t sure about where they fall on a given day.  Others are introvert advocates. And in these short talks we connected on many levels, despite our different personality styles, nationalities, gender, and sometimes age. Here are some snapshots of lessons I gleaned from a few of them. I hope you will check out all of the interviews on my YouTube channel.

Richard Ruiz

My first interview was with a psychologist and life coach, Richar Ruiz. Richar is a delightful person who learned English by watching movies. He puts the spotlight on introverts and highlights their strengths. He helps them gain confidence by teaching them public speaking and storytelling skills. Paraguay is an introverted country and his take on how that has impacted people is fascinating.

Johanna Vondeling

Johanna Vondeling is President and Publisher of Berrett-Koehler Publishers in Oakland, CA. She is an introverted leader who has progressed through an impressive career in the male-dominated leadership ranks of publishing. In our interview, Johanna advises introverts to connect with people before networking events to set up appointments and follow up after events. “Listening is your superpower,” Johanna says. “And as an introvert, you have that skill. People need to be heard! She has noted that in her role of President, “People value that I am quiet.” Johanna says she believes her role as a leader is to “facilitate the brilliance in the room.”

Steve Glaveski

Steve Glaveski is an introverted entrepreneur, author, and podcast host from Melbourne, Australia. He also emphasizes the listening power of introverts. He said that introverts connect the dots and are problem solvers. Steve advises to “hold strong opinions loosely” and that we can’t be SURE about anything. Steve pushes himself with solitary sports and finds joy in mentoring young people. One listener was inspired by Steve’s comments to write, ” I tend to be more methodical or thoughtful while planning. My partners tend to be better at bringing a lot of people around the project. One thing we have had in common is an entrepreneurial mindset and willingness to take risks.”

I had the pleasure of being on Steve’s podcast, Future Squared. You can listen here if you want to get a sense of his great questioning ability.

Check out the other accomplished introverted leaders and advocates on our channel. And be sure to subscribe to get updates on all of our videos. We are looking to book more great guests so please send them our way! Thanks.

Lessons from Introvert Island: The Power of Quiet

The beach at Spring Bay, British Virgin Gorda. Photo taken by Adam Goldberg https://agoldbergphoto.com/


I recently returned to the island of Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands. It’s been a year since Hurricane Irma reaped its devastation, leaving 95% of the quiet island’s residents homeless and without power for weeks. 

Rising from this storm, came numerous stories of resilience and inspiration. Neighbors helped neighbors. Private individuals stepped up and volunteered with donations of food, supplies, and funds to help the island get on its feet again. People created new jobs for themselves. Out of the “mash up” as they called it, folks are slowly getting their footing. You hear the sounds of buzz saws and drills everywhere. And there was great applause as one small guest house was finished hours before the guests arrived. 

The post-traumatic stress of this event impacted everyone, but slowly tourism is returning and houses are being built. We loved visiting with our friends on the island who we have known for over 35 years. They smiled, but keep working together to rebuild.

I wrote the post below 2 years ago, but the lessons about quiet and calm are even more relevant to me in the shadow and aftermath of Irma. 

Calling Mom 

As I sat on a beach in the British Virgin Islands, I called my 96-year-old mom, Lucille. It was snowing in NYC and I wanted to make sure she was safe and sound in her apartment. After assuring me that I “shouldn’t worry,” I held the phone up to the sound of the gentle waves and described the bright blue sky to her. Mom had been to that same place 30 years before and she described snorkeling from that same beach. The fish were beautiful, she said. I told her she could still visit that place anytime she wants to by closing her eyes and imagining the quiet, serene scene of warmth and sunlight. I want to follow my own advice.

Introverts Know How To Get Quiet 

One of the many strengths of introverts is that they are able to get quiet and engage in an active inner life. One way to do that is through guided imagery. WEB MD says, “You can achieve a relaxed state when you imagine all the details of a safe, comfortable place, such as a beach or a garden. This relaxed state may aid healing, learning, creativity, and performance. It may help you feel more in control of your emotions and thought processes, which may improve your attitude, health, and sense of well-being.”

Introverts Can Be Alone 

Introverts relish being alone. Stepping away from phones, the news, and the busyness of life allowed me to step into my introverted side and be present. I noticed the changing weather, the sounds of roosters, the soft breezes, the far away airplane engine, and even a barracuda’s sleek lines as we passed each other under water.

Early one morning I walked to a nearby beach. I sat down and leaned against a large boulder. Except for the crashing waves and my footprints in the deep, wet sand I was totally alone. It was exhilarating and so rare an experience in today’s world.

Return to the Island 

Thanks to the brain’s ability to take me back, I will conjure up that scene when I start to feel overwhelmed or anxious. I believe it will become easier the more I do it. I can return to the island and regain the power of quiet. Guided imagery is a gift we all have access to any time, in any place.

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.



Listen and then do something

Blogger and Skillsoft leader Shawn Hunter has a background as interesting as it gets. As a former ranch hand and teacher in Korea he brings a quirky wit and counterintuitive view to each of his interviews. I had the pleasure of participating in one of Skillsoft’s leadership conversations that Shawn hosted from his barn in Maine. As his dog Penny slept on the couch we talked about how quiet influencers shine. (I tried not to think about the 450 listeners on the line so that I could follow Shawn’s provocative questions:)). Give a listen and let us know what you think.

Shawn wrote a piece about the overuse of listening that I think you might enjoy. I believe that any strength overused does become a weakness and he highlights the points in QI about how too much listening can be a barrier in making a difference.



“What books would you bring on introvert island?”

imagesI have met some wonderful colleagues like Beth Buelow  coach and author who is bringing the introvert message to light. She proved to a be terrific interviewer in a recent podcast and used the quiet strength of preparation to make that happen.

My favorite Beth question? “What 3 books would you bring on introvert island and why?” What is making you smile inside today was another(great introvert question by the way)

Curious what your answers would be:)

Acting “As If” – The Introvert’s Key to Success in Public Speaking

Explanation of  Quiz answer #2 “How Well Do You Know Introverts” Quiz.

#2. Introverts are typically not good at public speaking. FALSE

Being introverted does not mean you can’t also be a phenomenal speaker. Introverts often use their natural strength of preparation to sound smooth and clear in their message. And just like an actor that goes into character they often perform brilliantly in their roles. In fact, a large majority of actors and comedians are actually introverted in temperament. They rehearse and then step into character.

Making a presentation to two or twenty people is the way to educate, inform and influence others. Introverts know this is an important vehicle for imparting their message and gaining visibility in their organization. They agree with  Warren Buffet, who said that “public speaking can be our greatest asset or our worst liability.”

Often they will act “as if” they are confident, suave and sure of their message. Paul, an IT consultant I interviewed for The Introverted Leader shared that he imagined himself as James Bond when making presentations.  He even wore the right sunglasses and clothes to get himself into the role.

What are other techniques introverts use to excel at successful public speaking? They use visualization where they imagine a successful speech before it occurs. Others push themselves to speak up in meetings, to their boss and even on the grocery store line. They also pump themselves up by replacing negative self-talk with positive statements.

And after the presentation? A welcome retreat to solitude usually does the trick.

Focused Conversation vs. Small Talk

I promised to explain the answers to the “How Well Do You Know Introverts” Quiz. Here is #1.

“Introverts prefer focused conversation to small talk.”

A focused conversation is not the same as the chit chat that can drive you up the wall and out the door. Instead, these are dialogues with a specific point in which you combine listening and purposeful talking. Focused conversation helps you to truly share your ideas with others and learn about what they believe and feel.

Small talk is usually about more superficial topics and, while it may be a way to segway to more meaningful conversation, introverts don’t see the point. Small talk also takes place in bursts with several people (think cocktail parties). The kind of conversations introverts prefer are  one-on-one or in small groups.

Doug Conant, the former CEO of Campbell Soup Company said that “the action is in the interaction.” I agree. It is in these meaningful back and forths that we build relationships and influence others.

Before the memories fade -travels in SE Asia

Did you know that …

… when crossing the street, you just keep on walking, even though there are hundreds of moving motorbikes?


… speakers are often treated like rock stars in parts of Asia?


… a fruit called Durian smells like “sheet”?


… that most city people go back to the country to visit their family on the weekends, returning with gifts of food?


Don’t worry, I didn’t either.


That is the great thing about traveling to places as different as Singapore and Vietnam. My world widened in ways I never could have imagined and I am still digesting the experience. You simply can’t beat the steep learning curve of traveling.


There were some hurdles. Traveling so far away isn’t easy ─ the oppressive heat, the jet lag and the immersion in strange tonalities that make saying thank you (“Com on”) nearly impossible. Yet, I wouldn’t have traded this golden opportunity for anything.

Husband Bill and I planned a vacation around my speeches on The Introverted Leader. First stop was the HR Summit, the largest HR conference in SE Asia where a receptive crowd showed up. On to Hanoi, Vietnam where the American Center at the U.S. Embassy and Thai Books (The Vietnamese publisher of my book) played co-hosts.

We arrived early on a Saturday morning and leaders from many fields and industries ended up filling the 300 + seats. There is a growing, university educated generation in this fast growing country. These hard working, emerging leaders continually strive to develop themselves. For instance, my interpreter has two technology businesses and a company that translates talks for foreign diplomats and executives.

Before the memories fade,  I want to share some impressions and lessons I learned along the way:

  • A Singaporean working mom shares how stressed out her young children are from working so hard at school.
  • Our Saigon guide instructs Bill (in graphic detail) how to take a live duck and prepare it for a special dinner feast. Still waiting for that duck, Bill!
  • A restaurant manager in the city of Hue reveals how his wife’s career advancement as a teacher was blocked when she married him. Why? Because of a difference in their religions.
  • Photos and videos are a universal language. Glad I updated mine.
  • It is a myth that Asians don’t laugh. Most humor does cross continents. Being authentic works.
  • Using local references helps to build credibility with an audience.
  • Slowing down your speech is appreciated by those who don’t speak English as their native language.

Check out our photos on Facebook.