Emotional Intelligence - Introvert or Extrovert?

Approximate Reading time: Three minutes and 30 seconds

Recently I was listening to an excellent podcast (link here) in which Michael Kitces was interviewing Manisha Thakor (founder of Money Zen) about building your own media brand in an authentic way. Yes, that is a buzzword-filled subject, but I was curious. For at least the first 30 minutes or so, they talked at length about being introverts, surprising given that they make their living speaking in front of people and both have huge relationship networks. This conversation spoke to me, as I am an introvert, so I thought I would share a few observations and recommend some followup reading. Enjoy.

During my junior year at Wake Forest University, I took a Psychology class and one of the only things I recall is that the Myers Briggs test informed me that I was an introvert. During the following 20 or so years I never really understood what this meant for me personally. Ambivert ArrowHowever, what I did know is that serving as a highly visible executive most of those years, I spent significant time engaging in intensely extroverted activities. In particular, I found that when I was in front of a large audience, I was very anxious ahead of the event, and physically wiped out after.  About 15 years ago, my executive coach helped me realize that for an introvert, anxiety and the resulting adrenaline rush surrounding the extroverted activity was like a poison to my body.  Ultimately, I developed routines and structures around which I could plan for these events without as much negative fallout.

So what is the point?

According to research, at least 40% of the population is introverted, yet our culture assumes extroversion is required to be successful in many important roles, in both business and life. One study showed that at least 65 percent of senior corporate executives saw introversion as a "barrier" to leadership. Many assume leaders, like me, are naturally extroverted. They also assume that because I am blessed with a large national relationship network that I like to be out and about in large groups of people all the time.  Nothing could be further from the truth. 

Know Yourself!

I am what Susan Cain refers to in her book Quiet as an ambivert, which means I can easily cross over to the other side for an event or interaction, but it also means I will be exhausted for a period afterwards.  I then cope by having down time and alone time. My wife is wired the same way, and we can sit for hours together and not say a word. The key is we understand how God made us, and we manage our time and rest accordingly. Try this quiz to find out how you are wired!

Advisors and Leaders

Introvert during conversationMany also assume that to be a successful financial advisor or business leader, you have to be extroverted. Again, nothing could be further from the truth.  It is very likely that some of the folks with whom you interact and admire are introverts at some level who have determined how to cope in environments requiring extroversion. I would suggest that introverts would be preferred as advisors as they are naturally better listeners and generally calmer and more patient (I am not the latter by the way…exceptions exist everywhere!).

Emotional Intelligence

I recommend that both introverts and extroverts read Susan Cain’s book and watch her TED talk. I have shared this information dozens of times, and given away countless copies of the book. Everyone who has absorbed the information has been grateful and felt better armed to work with a diverse community.

Self-awareness(EQ) is an essential skill to have. Awareness and understanding of those not like you is equally useful and particularly powerful.

I welcome any feedback or comments you may have at tommy.mayes@blueprintip.com.

For more thoughts on ways to invest in an emotionally intelligent strategy, visit www.blueprintip.com.


Recommended followup:
Susan Cain, Ted Talk February 2012
Quiet – The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain
Personality Quizwww.quietrev.com
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Past performance is not indicative of future results. The material above has been provided for informational purposes only, and is not intended as legal or investment advice or a recommendation of any particular security or strategy. The investment strategy and themes discussed herein may be unsuitable for investors depending on their specific investment objectives and financial situation. Information obtained from third-party sources is believed to be reliable though its accuracy is not guaranteed, and Blueprint Investment Partners makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy or completeness of the information, which should not be used as the basis of any investment decision. Information contained on third party websites that Blueprint Investment Partners LLC (“Blueprint”) may link to are not reviewed in their entirety for accuracy and Blueprint assumes no liability for the information contained on these websites. Opinions expressed in this commentary reflect subjective judgments of the author based on conditions at the time of writing and are subject to change without notice. No part of this material may be reproduced in any form, or referred to in any other publication, without express written permission from Blueprint.  For more information about Blueprint Investment Partners, including our Form ADV Part 2A Brochure, please visit https://adviserinfo.sec.gov or contact us at (800) 704-6913

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