Extroverted Introvert for Business
I recently gave a talk at the Sage Summit in Atlanta. My topic was “Become a Solopreneur Millionaire”. I gave a lot of great tips, but the one thing that I revealed to the audience that seemed to resonate the most was my admitting that I am actually an introvert who extroverted herself for business purposes. I immediately received a series of questions.
How are you able to give such engaging talks? How were you able to go on a cable TV show? You are often on the news answering tax questions live – how can you do that if you are shy? You seem so gregarious and outgoing – how is this possible? I responded in the same way to each question – I do it out of necessity.
I liken my situation to my favorite entertainer, Beyonce. And yes, if you watched CNBC’s “The Partner” you are probably tired of hearing me reference Beyonce, but this is my truth. Beyonce once said that she calls her on stage persona Sasha Fierce. She admits that is not how she normally is in real life, but that’s what fills the seats in concerts. In my business Buffie the Tax Heiress, all of my ads contain an image of my alter ego designed by me and my client, celebrity photographer Derek Blanks. One side is the extroverted, loud, outrageous, diva, larger than life Buffie, and the other side of the image depicts the nerdy, shy, reserved, quiet, reclusive Buffie.
I realized early in my career that if I wanted to be truly successful, I would have to become an extrovert for business. People just aren’t drawn to super quiet, timid, shy people. We are all drawn to people with huge personalities. That’s why we all love celebrities so much. Now, don’t get me wrong. I am still myself. I just amp up my real personality a few thousand percent for business! Somehow when I become outgoing Buffie, I am able to do it in part because SHE actually is a part of my personality that my anxiety causes me to hide. I feel safe being HER because if SHE isn’t liked, I can say to myself they don’t like HER not ME. Sounds crazy, right? Well, it works for me.
I don’t care if you sell products or services you will need to become an extrovert for business to be really successful. Take President Obama and Marcus Lemonis for example. I have had the pleasure of meeting them both, and they are clearly introverts who do what they have to do to be successful. So, how do you extrovert yourself occasionally? I practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. I literally look at myself in the mirror and say “right now I have to give this talk and even though my anxiety is heightened and I’d rather be at home alone with a book and my dog in a quiet corner, I owe the people who paid money or willingly gave of their most valuable asset, their time, a good talk.” I am then able to transform into extroverted Buffie. However, I can only be extroverted Buffie for so long. If I don’t allow myself time alone and try to be extroverted Buffie for too long, I transform back into introvert Buffie in a rather dramatic way. Kind of like what happened to Cinderella at the stroke of midnight. The light leaves my eyes, and I will become a quiet, shy, and timid person who desperately needs time alone. Some people misinterpret this for weakness or losing my sense of self. And that couldn’t be farther from the truth. My social energy just has a daily expiration. No biggie. I am always Buffie. I just have to have time to be alone each day to recharge. And because I am a very self aware person, when I need time alone or rest I will give myself what I need no matter the cost. Does this sound familiar? This happened to me in a rather dramatic way on cable TV.
So, my advice for introverted solopreneurs is to start practicing mindfulness. First listen to some classical music for fifteen minutes. I prefer Claude Debussy. It helps me center myself. Then tell yourself that you will only concentrate on the task at hand while still acknowledging how you feel in the moment. What helps me is to say my talk is only 45 minutes and after that I can go home and play with my dog, Louie. Begin working on being able to pull out the extroverted side of yourself for business occasionally. If that side doesn’t exist or you don’t quite know how to channel it, CREATE IT. Fake it until you make it, boo! And no matter what, give yourself time to be alone to recharge so you don’t look totally cray like I did on television, lol.